enter promo code to honor george washington

Today is Presidents’ Day in These United States. Well, sorta kinda. In some of These United States, it’s President’s Day. It’s an apostrophe thing. But there are some states that do away with the apostrophe altogether, in which case it’s Presidents Day.

But a lot of These United States don’t hold with lumping all those presidents together; they’re more exclusive. In a lot of places, the day is all about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, both of who were born in February. So those states call this holiday Washington-Lincoln’s Birthday. Or, in some places, Washington and Lincoln Day. In Alabama, they dump Lincoln and substitute Jefferson, so they’re celebrating George Washington/Thomas Jefferson Birthday. And in Arkansas it’s both George Washington’s Birthday AND Daisy Gatson Bates Day (and if you don’t know who Daisy Gatson Bates is, I recommend Wikipedia).

george-washington

Originally, of course, this was just George Washington’s Birthday — and there are still four states (including the one where I’m currently parked) that have stuck with the original version. And that’s why in Iowa today, we’re celebrating the birthday of the First President of…fuck, wait.

Okay, it’s not actually his birthday. George was born on February 22, 1732. A century and a half later, in 1879, Congress decided we needed to honor the first president, so they decided to make his birthday a federal holiday. Folks working in the federal government could take the day off to — well, it’s not exactly clear what they were expected to do on George’s birthday, but not going to work was a big part of it. Also, to honor our first president, many shops closed their doors and conducted no commercial business.

At any rate, that’s why we’re celebrating George Washington’s birthday…fuck, wait.

washington-birthday

Okay, turns out George Washington was officially born on February 11, 1731 — not on February 22, 1732. The problem was George was born in Virginia, and Virginia was part of the British Empire, and the British Empire was still using the Julian calendar because the British Empire wasn’t a Catholic empire and even though the Catholic countries of the world had switched to the better Gregorian calendar in 1582, the British Empire wasn’t about to give in to calendar fashion because, dammit, it was the British Empire, don’t you know. Then in 1752 they decided there wasn’t anything terribly wrong with the Gregorian calendar, so they adopted it and George Washington’s birthday went from February 11, 1731 to February 22, 1732.

And that’s why every February 22nd, we celebrate…fuck, wait.

Okay. In 1951 this guy named Harold Stonebridge Fischer formed something he called the President’s Day National Committee. His plan was to create a holiday to celebrate ALL the presidents, not just one. He wanted the holiday to be celebrated on March 4, because that was the traditional date on which new presidents were inaugurated (not George Washington, of course, because he was the very first president and we were basically just faking everything back then, hoping it would all work out somehow). Fischer pimped that proposal for something like twenty years with absolutely no success whatsoever. But some Congressional folks liked the notion of fucking around with federal holidays, and in 1971 they passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.

The Uniform Monday Holiday Act essentially said ‘Hey America, we don’t really care what day Washington was born on, or when World War One ended, or what day y’all have been celebrating Memorial Day, and does anybody even know why we’ve been doing Columbus Day on the 12th day of October, seriously? So we’re just moving those holidays to a Monday, so we can all have a long weekend. You can thank us later.’ Granted, some of those holidays have been re-shifted back to their original dates, because we’re still just basically faking it, hoping it will all work out somehow.

georgewashiong-sale-02-21-2013

Anyway, that is why we celebrate the first president — or some of the presidents — or all of the presidents — or some of the presidents and maybe some folks who weren’t president at all — on the third Monday of February. And that’s why all the mattress stores and shoe emporiums are slashing prices. At least that’s what we’re doing now. Who the hell knows what’s going to happen now that Comrade Trump has parked his ass in the Oval Office, and Republicans run both houses of Congress.

That business of faking it and hoping? It still applies. But hey, at least some folks get a three-day weekend. So there’s that.

the logan act (with optional pirate stuff)

Right, there goes Michael T. Flynn, out the back door of the Trump White House. Now that we’re finished applauding his resignation, folks are wondering about a couple of things. First, can he be prosecuted under the Logan Act? And second, should he be prosecuted.

There are, of course, problems. At least three problems. The first is the Logan Act is of questionable constitutionality. It’s never been really tested in court; nobody has ever been prosecuted for violating the Logan Act. Not even George Logan, after whom the law was named. The second problem is more political. The recently appointed Attorney General of These United States is Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, who is undoubtedly tickled pink that the Logan Act is of questionable constitutionality. It gives Sessions the perfect opportunity to practice looking severe without having to actually do anything. The third problem is this: just what the fuck IS the Logan Act, and what was it intended to do?

The Logan Act is a perfect example of how history, which can be singularly cool, has a reputation for being mind-numbingly dull. I mean, we’re talking revolutions and piracy on the high seas — and that’s some seriously exciting shit, right there. But reading the Logan Act — well, it’s not long enough to actually put you to sleep, but it’ll make your mind wander. Anyway, here’s the history.

Not actually a French ship attacking a US merchant, but c'mon -- it's pirate stuff.

Not actually a French ship attacking a U.S. merchant vessel, but c’mon — it’s pirate stuff.

We (and by ‘we’ I mean ‘These United States’) had us a revolution. I’m assuming you already know this. A few years later, France had its own revolution. France had been pretty helpful to our revolution and they quite understandably expected the new U.S. to give them a reach-around. We didn’t — at least not to their satisfaction. So France got pissy and authorized French ships to plunder American merchant ships. President John Adams sent some envoys to France to straighten out the mess. The French listened to their arguments, then politely told the envoys “S’il vous plaît, uriner une corde.” Or words to that effect. The envoys returned to the U.S., reported they’d failed miserably, then went to a bar and made rude remarks about the French (I’m not entirely sure about that last bit with the bar and rude remarks, but it’s what I would have done if the French had told me to go piss up a rope).

Enter Dr. George Logan, a Philadelphia Quaker. Logan decided he couldn’t screw things up any worse, so he sailed to France, chatted with Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord and the good folks of the French Directory — and hey, bingo, the French changed their minds and stopped the plundering. Yay, sounding of trumpets, release of doves, everybody wins, right?

Dr. George Logan, Quaker and Freelance Diplomat.

Dr. George Logan, Quaker and Freelance Diplomat.

Right. Except for the politicians back in the U.S. who weren’t happy with civilians conducting unauthorized negotiations with foreign governments. Which is perfectly understandable. I mean, George Logan might have done a fine job, but the next guy might get us in a war. So they passed the Logan Act to prevent that sort of thing from happening again.

It’s easy to see why nobody has been prosecuted under the Logan Act. Back in the late 1700s, civilians could get away with pulling shit like that. Today, that’s not going to happen. Ain’t no Quaker going to show up on Pakistan’s doorstep (even if Pakistan had a doorstep, which it doesn’t) and negotiate a nuclear arms deal. And if General Michael Flynn had been an ordinary citizen, nobody in the Russian embassy would have paid any attention to him when he discussed the sanctions imposed on Russia by President Obama.

But that’s exactly why the Logan Act could be used in this case — because General Michael Flynn was NOT an ordinary citizen. He was an advisor to the President-Elect. He was expected to become President Trump’s National Security Advisor. He had influence and power, and even though he had no authority from the sitting POTUS, he had presumptive authority from the President-Elect.

Assuming Flynn actually did discuss lifting Obama’s sanctions on Russia (and since the transcripts of Flynn’s calls haven’t been made public, we can’t know that for certain), then he was a nominal civilian with enough influence to effectively undermine an action taken by the President of These United States. That’s a big fucking deal, and it’s exactly the sort of thing the Logan Act should be used to deter.

It’s absolutely worth testing the constitutionality of the Logan Act in this case. But somehow, I doubt the pixie-eared Attorney General will do that.

pissing on the constitution

How’d that happen? How the hell did that happen? How could those flannel-wearing meshback motherfuckers be acquitted of crimes they so obviously committed?

Simple. It’s called jury nullification. Basically, that means a jury decides to acquit the defendants even though they’re factually guilty of violating the law because the jurors believe the law itself is wrong or that it’s been wrongly applied.

It’s infuriating sometimes — and this time in particular — but in the long run, jury nullification is mostly a good thing. The most famous case on American soil was that of Peter Zenger, a journalist for the New York Weekly Journal back in 1734. That’s right, 1734, when this country was still a British colony. Zenger published some snarky shit about the Royal Governor of colonial New York, for which the governor had him arrested and charged with seditious libel. This was a pretty heavy crime back then. Seditious libel is when somebody prints snarky shit about the Queen or her officials.

Remember, Zenger had very clearly published snarky shit about a royal governor. He’d committed the crime. That boy was dead guilty. But the jury acquitted him after about (and I’m not making this up) ten minutes of deliberation. This was the case that set the precedent on which the First Amendment rests — which is that publishing snarky shit isn’t a crime if the snarky shit is true.

Jury nullification in defense of free speech

Jury nullification in defense of free speech

Before the U.S. Civil War, jury nullification was used to acquit defendants charged with harboring slaves in violation of the Fugitive Slave Laws. People were clearly guilty of hiding fugitive slaves, but juries found them not guilty anyway. The same thing happened during Prohibition in the 1930s — juries acquitted defendants who were obviously guilty of breaking both Federal and State alcohol control laws.We also see jury nullification used in some ‘mercy killing’ cases. And, of course, we’ve seen the practice at its worst in cases where all-white juries in the South acquitted white defendants of lynching black men.

So what happened in Oregon yesterday is part of an American tradition. It still makes me completely fucking furious to see these yahoos skate, of course. I’m fairly certain this verdict will encourage more of this sort of shit. It especially saddens and disgusts me that a group of armed fuckwits who seized a government facility will mostly walk while Native Americans peacefully attempting to prevent the physical (and, to them, the spiritual) desecration of their land by a goddamn oil company are being arrested. And we know with mathematical certainly what would have happened if folks associated with Black Lives Matter had pulled the same idiotic shit that the Bundyistas pulled.

Jury nullification in defense of armed seizure of federal property

Jury nullification in defense of armed seizure of federal property

But there it is. The Bundy lawyers were able to convince a sympathetic jury that their clients should be acquitted even though they were factually guilty. It’s true, the Bundys are still in jail and will be tried for other crimes committed in another state — but that doesn’t change the fact that yesterday they successfully pissed all over the Constitution.

The only good news to be found in this is that the Constitution is strong enough that it permits people to occasionally piss all over it.

thoughts on sand

I was walking along the lake shore, not thinking about anything in particular. Just casually looking at the birds, watching the dragonflies that hunt the small ponds along the lake, listening to the gulls arguing, enjoying the way the sand shifted under my feet. Here’s an interesting thing about sand: it behaves more like a liquid when it’s dry, and more like a solid when it’s wet.

I was just walking in the sand by the lake, idly scanning the ground for interesting chunks of driftwood or colorful stones. And I saw this:

sand3

Somebody had lost a beach shoe. Nothing really out of the ordinary. And a dog had padded by. Also pretty common; lots of people take their dogs to the lake. At some point, a raccoon had wandered along the same bit of sand; the woods around the lake are a haven for raccoon. And now I was standing there. That layering of temporal events pleased me for some reason — four creatures had crossed that same little patch of sand, separated only by a period of time.

This sort of thing happens to me all the time. I see something, and neurons start firing in my brain. I saw that lost beach shoe and the dog’s paw print and the raccoon track, and thoughts start turning over in my mind. Because it wasn’t just us that had crossed that bit of sand. Dozens of creatures had walked, slithered, or hopped across that same spot. Thousands of dozens. Millions of thousands of dozens. I mean, some three hundred million years ago, this entire area was under water; it was the sandy bottom of a great inland sea — a sea that dried up, only to be replaced by another inland sea a couple hundred million years later. Then that sea dried up as well. Now there’s just sand.

sand1

 

Well, not just sand. There’s also a lake. Six thousand acres of water. Almost ten square miles. Not a natural lake, though. Technically, it’s a reservoir — a man-made lake; an intentional containment of the Des Moines River. The lake was created about 50 years ago to try to control the periodic flooding that plagued the city of Des Moines for over a century. The flooding also troubled the native people who’d settled at the confluence of the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers seven thousand years earlier.

We know people lived here seven thousand years ago because we’ve found their bodies. A woman and a child, well-preserved skeletons sealed in a layer of sandy clay deposited by a sudden flood. It’s only relatively recently that humans developed the technology (and the audacity and arrogance) to dam up the river and create a lake. The dam and the lake hasn’t put an end to the flooding, but it’s certainly reduced the damage.

sand5

A lost beach shoe and a raccoon print in the sand, and my mind went caroming off of disappearing Paleozoic seas and banging into ancient human settlements and human high-handedness toward nature. But even while a chunk of my brain was knocking around notions of time and human presumption, I couldn’t help being drawn by how gracefully the water and wind have shaped the lake shore.

I found myself paying attention to how the moisture content of the sand shifted its color along with its consistency — how the farther I got from the water, the more pale the sand became. I started to notice how the granularity of the sand changed — how some was more coarse and some was incredibly fine. I paid more attention to how the wind revealed layers of different color in the sand, how driftwood bleached into various subtle shades.

sand4

There was something wonderful and beautiful about how dried leaves gathered gracefully in fluid self-organized, breeze-driven groups. There was something fascinating about how different waterlines arranged themselves; you could gauge the strength of various storms by the arrangements of the detritus and the driftwood and how far they’d been driven from the waterline by the wind and the waves.

None of this is stable. It’s changing all the time. The change is sometimes radical and quick and violent, but mostly it’s slow. I know I can return to this same spot in a couple of weeks and find that same driftwood log and those same weeds; I know I can return in six months and find that same log, though it will likely be surrounded by different detritus. There is continuity. Continuity, but not sameness.

sand6

There’s a good chance that the next time I return to the lake, that lost beach shoe will still be there. The dog’s paw print and the raccoon track probably won’t. The sand, though, it’ll still be there. Long after I’m dead and gone, long after that shoe disintegrates, long after the driftwood deteriorates into nothing, the sand will still be there.

There are people who collect sand as a hobby. They’re called arenophiles. The word comes from the Latin term for sand: harena. That’s also the root of the word arena. What does sand have to do with an arena? The Romans understood that the best and easiest way to soak up the blood spilled from their arena spectacles — the gladiator fights, the chariot races, the beast contests — was to lay down a layer of sand. Before there was a Coliseum, there was sand.

There’s always sand.

 

applause for the chain reaction

I watched the early part of last night’s debate between the Republican candidates vying for the presidential nomination. I watched and applauded.

Why did I applaud? I’ll tell you.

In 1913 a German chemist named Max Bodenstein had an epiphany. He was doing some research on the mechanisms of the chemical reaction between hydrogen and chlorine, and he…okay, wait.

You probably read the mechanisms of the chemical reaction between hydrogen and chlorine and immediately began thinking “Dude, I thought this was about the debate; maybe I should see if there are any new videos of koala bears playing bocce ball on Buzzfeed.” A little patience, please. There’s an actual point to this. I’m not just tossing German chemists around willy nilly. Honest.

Max Bodenstein

Max Bodenstein

Right, so Max Bodenstein was noodling around with some hydrogen and chlorine molecules and he noticed something interesting. That shit exploded. Now, you don’t have to be a German chemist to know that explosions are cool, but Max wanted to understand why that shit exploded. What he discovered was that — and okay, this is going to get a wee bit sciencey here — the reaction of the parent hydrogen and chlorine molecules created some new unstable molecules. Those unstable molecules interacted with the parent molecules in ways that were a LOT more energetic than the original reaction — and that created MORE unstable molecules, which reacted again with the parent molecules and dot dot dot hey, bingo, that shit explodes.

Max Bodenstein was the first guy to describe a chain reaction. Any time you hear the phrase chain reaction, you have Max to thank for it.

Why am I talking about obscure German chemists? Because what we’re seeing in the current campaign for the Republican party’s presidential nomination is the explosion that comes at the end of a slow series of chain reactions that began in the 1980s. And that chain reaction began in 1978 when an obscure Georgia politician named Newt Gingrich read James Clavell’s potboiler Shōgun.

shogun

Okay, now you’re saying to yourself “Dude…the fuck? First German chemists and now this? What?” I know this sounds like I’m going off on another tangent. Again, patience.

The novel is grounded in the rise to power of a crafty, patient, manipulative leader of a Japanese samurai faction. Newt Gingrich modeled himself after the character, and it changed his approach to politics. To that point, modern US politics was primarily about policy differences. Gingrich made the usual claims that his opponent’s policies were ineffective and possibly harmful, but he also began to accuse his opponents of actively and intentionally trying to destroy everything that is and was good about the nation. His opponents weren’t merely wrong in their policy positions, they were traitorous. He began to depict Democrats as an actual threat that needed to be stopped in order to save the nation. There was no more ‘loyal opposition.’ There were only enemies to be defeated.

And hey, it worked. Republicans began to get elected in greater numbers. It’s worked for about 35 years now. They stopped proposing serious policies and relied on talking points and accusations. They stopped practicing governance, and focused instead on expanding and maintaining their power. They turned Republican politics into mummery.

Mummers

Mummers

The problem, though, was that the Republicans were confident they could control the toxic chain reaction of their politics. And at first, it seemed like they could But each successive election created more unstable molecules, which interacted with the existing unstable molecules, creating still more unstable molecules and dot dot dot hey, bingo, that shit explodes.

We’re talking about a sudden, violent increase in pressure generating large amounts of heat and destructive shock waves that travel outward from the point of explosion and produce a loud bang. Like this:

A chemical explosion -- thanks, Max Bodenstein.

Trump!

The Republican party is exploding in fairly slow motion right in front of us. It’s kind of sad, really. Inevitable and necessary, but still sad because they mixed the hydrogen and chlorine together without any thought that it would explode in their faces.

Sad, but also sort of funny and completely appropriate. Why? Because etymology! The term explode comes from the Latin explodere — the prefix ex– meaning ‘out’ and plaudere meaning ‘to clap one’s hands’ (the same Latin root gives us the term applaud). That’s right, folks — originally explode meant to make a loud noise to drive demons away or actors off the stage.

This is why I applauded last night’s Republican debate. The sooner these fuckwits get off the stage, the better.

terror-asses

Right. Okay, you guys say you want to talk about the Great Bird Sanctuary Treason Plot of Harney County. I can do that. It’s an extraordinarily stupid act, and it’ll probably just dissipate in a couple of weeks, leaving behind nothing but some trash and the fetid stink of disappointed testosterone — but sure, we can talk about it. First, though, I’m going to insist on a tangent. Maybe two tangents; I haven’t decided yet.

Harney County, Oregon. Named for William Selby Harney, a 19th century military man who fought in the Indian Wars, and the Mexican-American War (which, I should point out for Trump supporters, was a war between Mexico and the United States and NOT a war on Mexican-Americans), and the American Civil War. General Harney was also deeply involved in the Pig War.

General William S. Harney

General William S. Harney, who knew a thing or two about escalating a minor fuss.

Okay, the Pig War. I’m going to guess you’re probably unfamiliar with the Pig War of 1859. I’m also going to guess you’d be happy to remain unfamiliar with it. Too bad, on account of it’s sort of relevant. The Pig War was basically a dispute over who controlled a chunk of land. In this case, the chunk of land was the San Juan Islands, which are located between Vancouver and the U.S. mainland. Both the U.S. and the U.K. claimed sovereignty over the islands. They set up a commission to settle the fuss, which of course meant the dispute dragged out for years.

However, while the commission was doing whatever bullshit commissions do, people went on living on the islands. One of those people was an American named Lyman Cutlar, who had himself a nice little garden where he grew potatoes. Another of those people was a British citizen named Charles Griffin, originally from Ireland. Charles raised pigs. On the 15th day of June, 1859 one of his pigs (identified in court documents as ‘a large black pig’ though it’s unclear if that’s a physical description of the pig itself or a reference to the creature’s breed–a Cornwall Black, which is generally referred to as a Large Black) ate some of Lyman’s potatoes. Lyman shot and killed the pig. Charles objected to what he perceived as unmerited swine assassination. Lyman offered to pay Charles US$10 for the dead pig. Charles refused, demanding $100 (which, let’s face it, is an astonishing price for a dead pig, regardless of how large and black it is). Lyman refused, saying “Your pig was trespassing and eating my potatoes.” Charles responded “My pig doesn’t recognize your property boundaries, and besides it’s your responsibility to keep your potatoes out of my very fine pig.”

A Cornwall Black pig

The Cornwall Black pig, a breed notorious for their appetite for pilfered potatoes

Charles asked the British authorities to arrest Lyman for murdering his pig. And they said “Yeah, okay, why not?” Lyman in turn asked U.S. authorities to protect him from the British. And they said, “Sure, okay, we can do that.” Because people are generally really fucking stupid, by August 10th, the British had five warships anchored off the San Juan islands, with some 2000 troops prepared to arrest Lyman Cutlar for killing Charles Griffin’s potato-eating pig. The U.S. had about 400 men with a couple dozen cannons under the command of Gen. Harney, prepared to help Lyman Cutlar protect his potatoes from being molested by wandering swine.

This standoff lasted for thirteen years (during which Harney and many of the troops went off to fight in the American Civil War, and most of the British troops went off to wave goodbye to some other part of the fading British Empire) until October of 1872, when an international tribunal chaired by Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany in Geneva, Switzerland ruled that the San Juan Islands belonged to the United States. Therefore, Charles Griffin and his tuber-ingesting pig could go fuck themselves.

Seventeen years after that, in 1889, Oregon established a county comprised of more than ten thousand square miles and named it after Gen. Harney, who at some point in time probably had to pass through the area on his way to someplace else. We’re talking about 10,000 square miles, you guys, with a population of just over 7,000 people. This place is seriously rural. And in 1908 the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was created in Harney County.

This guy claims he couldn't spend Christmas with his children because he had to drive to Oregon to defend the right of a large black pig to eat potatoes. Or something.

This guy claims he couldn’t spend Christmas with his children because he had to drive to Oregon to defend the right of a large black pig to eat potatoes. Or something.

And hey, nobody paid a lick of attention to the place until a couple of days ago. Which is when a dozen or so ten-gallon fuckwits, mostly from Idaho and Arizona, ‘seized’ one of the unoccupied buildings on the refuge. By ‘seized’ I mean they broke open the door, walked in, and marked their territory by spraying White Christian Cowboy musk all over the place.

A lot of folks are outraged that these guys aren’t being referred to as terrorists. They’re angry that these people aren’t being treated to the same sort of rapid response military force commonly used against unarmed black pedestrians. Which is totally justifiable anger and outrage. There’s absolutely no doubt this event would be reported differently and handled differently if the occupying fuckwits were fuckwits of color or Muslim fuckwits.

But are these guys terrorists? I have to say no. I mean, terrorists cause terror. It’s right there in the name. Terrorists are scary. These guys are terror-asses. For the most part, the public is treating them with well-earned derision. Their dramatic Red Dawn farewell YouTube messages are alternately sad and hilarious. Their insistence that they’re fighting tyranny by occupying a bird sanctuary in seriously rural Oregon in the middle of the goddamn winter is so patently ridiculous that it belongs in a Monty Python skit.

This guy claims he went to Oregon to die for the cause so that no other person ever has to suffer the injustice of going to prison for setting fire to government-owned land.

This guy claims he went to Oregon to die for the cause so that no other person ever has to suffer the injustice of going to prison for setting fire to government-owned land.

But hey, they’re there and something needs to be done about it, right? So, what to do? I’d suggest the very worst thing we could do would be to treat these as a threat to national security. This is NOT an armed insurrection. It’s NOT an act of sedition that warrants an armed assault. It’s a pathetic, testosterone-driven cry for attention.

Don’t get me wrong. I think every one of these paunchy, beef-witted, potato-heads ought to be arrested and charged with a Federal crime. I think those who can be proven to have carried a firearm in this mewling exercise should be charged with a felony, in the hope that they’ll be prohibited from legally buying or owning a weapon again. I also believe these idjits who yearn for another civil war in the United States can be a genuine existential threat to the security of the United States. But occupying the Welcome Center of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge doesn’t merit a major response.

I think it would be a serious mistake to turn this clay-brained episode into the sort of military stand-off the occupiers (and the newsfotainment media) are after. That would just grant them legitimacy, which they don’t deserve. Even the folks on FreeRepublic are mocking these guys–that’s how completely fucking stupid this is.

Here is a pig stealing a potato. Alert the media.

Here is a pig stealing a potato. Alert the media.

This is only a big deal if we make it one. This ‘occupation’ doesn’t deserve the attention we’d give to a potato-thieving pig.

sorry, but no

You know how sometimes you’ll overhear a snippet of conversation and you pause in whatever it is you’re doing, waiting to hear more? That happened to me this weekend. I was at the market, baked goods aisle, and I heard this:

“Well, I don’t agree with everything he says, but Ben Carson has a valid point…”

And I skidded to a stop (right in front of the fresh-baked pumpkin bars). Ben Carson has a point. A valid point. Okay. That’s possible. You know, if we’re talking about pediatric neurosurgery, then yeah, sure, he could have a valid point. Otherwise…

“…the Nazis did impose gun control on the Jews. Maybe if they’d had a chance to…”

Ah, okay, no. No, Ben Carson does not have a valid point. Ben Carson is nowhere near having a valid point. He’s not on the same map as a valid point. If Ben Carson was the head of NASA, a valid point would be Matt Damon abandoned on Mars — only without the potatoes. Ben Carson’s valid point is a parrot pining for the fjords.

Dr. Ben Carson believes he has a valid point. He is, sadly, wrong.

Dr. Ben Carson believes he has a valid point. He is, sadly, wrong.

I wrote about this whole Nazi gun control bullshit a couple of years ago, and I won’t bother to repeat it now. But anybody willing spend a little time actually looking at history can put a stake through the heart of that lie.

“Maybe if they’d had a chance to defend themselves, the Holocaust wouldn’t have happened.”

Sweet Jeebus Jack-o-lantern, how fucking stupid do you have to be to believe this? Look, Poland had an army. Maybe not the world’s best army, but an actual army. Soldiers who’d been trained. Professional soldiers. The German army kicked the shit out of them in five weeks. Belgium had an army; so did the Netherlands. The Nazis walked over them in short order. Norway and Denmark both had armies, and they fell in a month. The French had an army, and it was actually a fairly good one — more than a hundred divisions, including one of the best armored mobile forces in the world. They held out against the German army for two months before surrendering.

But hey, if only ordinary Jewish citizens — all those doctors, cobblers, merchants, teachers, musicians, butchers, scholars — if only they’d had guns. Sure, they weren’t trained in combat, and sure, they were scattered in hundreds of cities across half a dozen different nations — but if only they’d been able to own rifles and shotguns and pistols, then maybe the Holocaust wouldn’t have happened.

Except, of course, history shows that German citizens could possess guns (and so could Jews until 1938). And history also shows the armies of at least eight European nations were unable to stop the Nazis. So to believe Jews With Guns could have prevented the Holocaust you have to first ignore historical realty and…well, reality in general.

In other words, you have to be like Ben Carson.