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When riots aren’t riots

June 11th, 2022|Football, Politics|

“I want to make it clear that our organization will not tolerate any equivalency between those who demanded justice in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the actions of those on Jan. 6 who sought to topple our government.”

— Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera, after fining his defensive coordinator, Jack Del Rio, $100,000 for comparing the Jan. 6 capitol riots to the BLM riots in 2020.

Read those words and let their meaning sink in.

Thank God I’m not woke.

Not only does Rivera say there’s no equivalency to the despicable riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and the equally despicable riots in multiple American cities in the Summer of 2020, but he also says that no one associated with his organization will be allowed to suggest that there is — which is exactly what wokeism demands: Submission and compliance.

Again, thank God I’m not woke.

No, Sen. Manchin, you don’t understand guns

June 7th, 2022|Gun Rights, Politics|

Why do politicians who push gun bans always start by touting their merits as a hunter and/or sports shooter?

Take U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, the moderate West Virginia Democrat who is usually a voice of reason but on guns repeats the same mistruths as so many of his colleagues. Speaking to CNN today, Manchin said this:

“I never thought I had a need for that type of a high-capacity automatic weapon. I like to shoot, I like to go out and hunt. I like to go out sports shooting. I do all of that. But I’ve never felt I needed something of that magnitude.”

I would certainly hope that anyone who likes to shoot, go out and hunt, and go out sports shooting would know that an AR-15 is not an automatic weapon. It’s one of the biggest lies of the gun control lobby — referring to semi-automatic civilian-grade weapons as fully-automatic military-grade weapons. Those who say it are either people who don’t know firearms and say it innocently because they’ve been duped, or people who are intentionally trying to mislead others.

So which one are you, Sen. Manchin?

Matthew McConaughey’s call for action

June 7th, 2022|Gun Rights, Politics|

Writing for the Austin American-Statesman today, Hollywood celebrity and Uvalde native Matthew McConaughey makes the case for what he calls “gun responsibility”:

I believe that responsible, law-abiding Americans have a Second Amendment right, enshrined by our founders, to bear arms. I also believe we have a cultural obligation to take steps toward slowing down the senseless killing of our children. The debate about gun control has delivered nothing but status quo. It’s time we talk about gun responsibility.

There is a difference between control and responsibility. The first is a mandate that can infringe on our right; the second is a duty that will preserve it. There is no constitutional barrier to gun responsibility. Keeping firearms out of the hands of dangerous people is not only the responsible thing to do, it is the best way to protect the Second Amendment. We can do both.

Specifically, McConaughey lays out four steps he’d like to see taken:

1.) A background check for all gun purchases;
2.) Increasing the age to purchase assault rifles from 18 to 21;
3.) Making Red Flag Laws the law of the land;
4.) A waiting period for purchasing assault rifles.

I’m not saying that I agree with all four of McConaughey’s proposals, though I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to any of the four if it can be demonstrated that they’ll reduce shootings and gun deaths. Frankly, I’m not convinced that any of the four will reduce the mass shootings we’re seeing in this country. But my mind is open and can be persuaded.

Whether or not I agree with McConaughey’s proposals, though, this is the kind of refreshing take we need from Hollywood celebrities and other influencers of opinion. I applaud McConaughey for being able and willing to discuss compromising measures to tackle gun violence without falling on the tired old proposals to ban or confiscate firearms.

I’m no fool; I know there will be plenty of gun rights advocates who will say “absolutely not!” to McConaughey’s proposals. They’ll say the same things they always say: “No compromise, ever.” Or, “Give ’em an inch and they’ll take a mile.” Or, “It’s a gun ban in disguise.” Et cetera. But count me as one gun rights advocate who believes there’s room for action to be taken to control guns without compromising the rights of gun-owning Americans.

And while a mandatory waiting period to purchase an AR-15, or having to be 21 to purchase an AR-15, would certainly be an inconvenience for a lot of people who would never dream of using their semi-automatic rifle to murder someone, it’s certainly a much more reasonable step towards starting a meaningful conversation than calling for gun confiscations, like Saturday’s USA Today column that foolishly called for using a giant magnet to suck up everyone’s gun if it were possible.

It gets really old, hearing politicians and pundits call for “common sense gun laws,” and then in the next breath pushing a weapons ban or buyback program. Those aren’t common sense gun laws. Those are extreme measures that don’t have support in this country. And so while one side is pushing for gun bans and the other side is pushing back against the idea, nothing continues to get done while more mass shootings continue to take place. And around and around we go. Even if I might not agree with every point he makes, we need someone with a voice to start a conversation that has a chance to win support from both sides. Kudos to Matthew McConaughey for doing that.

UnAmerican, you say?

June 6th, 2022|Politics|

Now Trump — and his allies — are despicably planning to counterprogram the January 6 hearings that aim to explain to the American people about the efforts to prevent the peaceful transfer of power. It’s the very definition of un-American.

Dean Obeidallah for CNN

I’m no defender of President Donald Trump’s actions on Jan. 6. But Democrats weighted a congressional committee to investigate what happened that day, and they’ve hired a former network news producer to dramatize the primetime “revelation” of their findings. As Axios reports today:

I’m told Goldston is busily producing Thursday’s 8 p.m. ET hearing as if it were a blockbuster investigative special.

  • He plans to make it raw enough so that skeptical journalists will find the material fresh, and chew over the disclosures in future coverage.

  • And he wants it to draw the eyeballs of Americans who haven’t followed the ins and outs of the Capitol riot probe.

Firstly, I’m pretty sure if the evidence the Democrats have — the evidence that Obeidallah and CNN are crowing about so proudly — was really all that damning, they wouldn’t need to dramatize the presentation. Facts tend to speak for themselves.

Secondly, even if it could be claimed with a straight face that the approach to the Jan. 6 congressional probe has been straight-laced up to this point, there’s no better example of playing politics with the issue than hiring a former TV producer to come on board and create a dramatic production — and then you want to accuse Republicans of being un-American. Good grief.

Here’s what’s going to happen Thursday night: Democrats are going to screech about how traitorous Trump and his team were on Jan. 6, and act as if Jan. 6 is the worst political scandal in history. Republicans are going to dismiss the revelations as partisan pandering. But for the American public as a whole, the needle isn’t going to move. Trump is almost certainly not going to be the Republican nominee for president in 2024, but the focus of Democrats and their media allies (chiefly, CNN) will risk generating voter sympathy for the former president. The night will end with President Joe Biden’s approval rating still lower than Trump’s. After a few days of bickering, we’ll all move on to whatever political issue comes next … and it’s probably going to be an issue of the Biden administration’s creation, since Team Biden can’t seem to avoid tripping over its own feet these days.

The worst argument

June 5th, 2022|Uncategorized|

There are a lot of mistruths and misinformation centered around America’s great gun debate. But a new one emerged after Uvalde, and it might be the worst so far:

It cannot be emphasized enough, however, exactly what the AR-15 is: It is a weapon of war. It was made to blow humans apart. It is successful in doing just that. The requests for DNA tests in Uvalde stand as a testament to the gun’s success, but the conclusion that the weapon excelled at blowing people apart was well documented by the U.S. military itself during early field tests.

This ridiculous claim was made by Murtaza Hussain, who said the Uvalde victims “were so grievously injured that it was likely impossible to identify their bodies,” because they were shot with an AR-15.

Hussain is basing his claims on a wild presumption that he made because Uvalde authorities asked parents for DNA samples to establish the identities of the children who had been killed inside the school.

But Hussain is certainly not alone. He’s joined by none other than the likes of President Joe Biden:

The damage was so devastating in Uvalde, parents had to do DNA swabs to identify the remains of their children — 9- and 10-year-old children.

And The Washington Post:

A shot fired from a handgun might enter and exit the torso cleanly; it might miss vital organs. Bullets fired from an AR-15 are akin to an explosion within the body. They cause maximum damage. The family of those killed in Uvalde were asked to provide DNA samples to identify the victims. There was maximum damage.

And a host of others.

All of these assumptions are based on a request made by the Uvalde justice of the peace, Eulalia Diaz, for DNA samples from parents.

We don’t know why Diaz made that request, which is presumably unusual even in mass shootings. The closest we come to an explanation is from the New York Post:

The process of identifying the children was excruciating, because Diaz noted that “children don’t carry IDs, they don’t have name badges.”

Many of the bodies were in bad shape, having been riddled with bullets. Diaz tried to spare the parents as much pain as possible, hoping to positively identify the murdered children through descriptions their parents gave of clothing they wore to school that day, or from photos parents showed him.

If any of the bodies were “riddled with bullets,” that would certainly make sense that they were unrecognizable. And it certainly makes sense that at least some of the bodies might have been riddled with bullets, since we know that police left the gunman behind a locked door with the children and their teachers for more than an hour, giving him time to inflict maximum damage.

However, what should go without being said is that almost any firearm — rifle or handgun, regardless of caliber — can be used to render a victim unrecognizable if enough bullets are fired into the body. But that’s not the argument that’s being made in the aftermath of Uvalde. The argument that’s being crafted from the DNA request is that you need DNA to identify someone after they’re shot with an AR-15. I’ve heard the claim repeated from multiple people in the past week. And, quite frankly, it’s bullshit.

It’s the kind of argument that will go over well with people who know little or nothing about firearms — which is exactly who the argument is intended for. The entire argument of any form of political lobbying is to convince enough people of your point of view that Congress is forced to act. And that’s why it’s important that gun owners do their part to educate the non-gun-owning public on the realities of firearms. Because we certainly cannot rely on the mainstream media to do it.

Anyone who is familiar with firearms knows that the .223 — the standard caliber of an AR-15 rifle — is actually a very small round. It’s illegal to use to hunt big game animals in some states precisely because it can’t be relied on to efficiently put down an animal cleanly if the shot isn’t placed correctly. Does that sound like the sort of gun that would render a victim unrecognizable? Of course not.

It cannot (and should not) be denied that a .223 is a high-velocity round that can cause a lot of damage. However, that leads to another basic point of firearms: A bullet causes its most significant damage INSIDE the body — between the entrance and exit. The entrance wound itself is roughly the size of the bullet — meaning that someone shot by an AR-15 is certainly not going to be unrecognizable. The exit wound tends to be slightly larger, and in some cases can be significantly larger, depending on the path the bullet takes through the body. But, again, it’s certainly not going to render someone unrecognizable. (Don’t believe me? Google it.)

Inside the body, yes, a .223 bullet fired from an AR-15 can cause devastating damage to organs and arteries — much moreso than a handgun, which is relatively low-velocity by comparison. However,  what you aren’t likely to see mentioned by people who use this fact as a reason for banning AR-15s is that virtually any rifle is a high-velocity firearm that will cause devastating damage inside the body — and a lot of them are shooting projectiles that are much larger than the .223 bullet that comes from an AR-15. Why isn’t this mentioned? Because, typically, people who lobby for the AR-15 to be banned believe there’s momentum for convincing lawmakers to ban the AR-15, while they correctly realize that calling for the banning of all rifles would be an overreach that Americans would never stand for. So instead of making an argument that’s based on facts, they make an argument that appeals to emotion.

I’m here to tell you that if banning AR-15s would stop mass murders in America, I’d be first on board to write a letter to my congressman. But it won’t. And that’s why it’s important that we debate this issue with facts, not emotion.

So, in closing: If you want to call for AR-15s to be banned, that’s your right. But don’t make ludicrous arguments to back up your point, like saying that someone shot with an AR-15 has to be identified by DNA. And if you don’t want AR-15s to be banned, do all law-abiding gun owners a favor and educate the non-gun-owning public who are being duped by politicians and the news media.

Good grief

June 4th, 2022|Human Nature, Pop Culture|

The trial has turned into a public orgy of misogyny. While most of the vitriol is nominally directed at Heard, it is hard to shake the feeling that really, it is directed at all women – and in particular, at those of us who spoke out about gendered abuse and sexual violence during the height of the #MeToo movement. We are in a moment of virulent antifeminist backlash, and the modest gains that were made in that era are being retracted with a gleeful display of victim-blaming at a massive scale. One woman has been made into a symbol of a movement that many view with fear and hatred, and she’s being punished for that movement. In this way, Heard is still in an abusive relationship. But now, it’s not just with Depp, but with the whole country.

Moira Donegan for The Guardian

I’m not sure it beats the Vox report for the awfullest take of the week, but it sure runs a close second.

Why are the leftist “Me Too” activists working so hard to prop up Amber Heard? Especially when she was thoroughly exposed during the trial.

ESPN gets trolled in a disastrous way, and Tennessee fans are outraged

June 4th, 2022|Baseball|

If you don’t frequent Twitter, you might be unaware that there is an absolute war going on between Tennessee fans and Arkansas fans. And, last night, ESPN got sucked into that war in a disastrous way, claiming that a Tennessee star player was taking performance enhancing drugs and speculating that the rest of the team could be doing the same.

The war between the Vols and the Hogs is mostly being waged by Arkansas fans. While Tennessee fans have been enjoying their baseball team’s resounding success — this Vols team might solidify itself as the best college baseball team in history if it wins the national championship — they’ve been living rent-free in the heads of Arkansas fans.

Arkansas, you see, is one of the SEC’s baseball blue bloods. So is Vanderbilt. Tennessee is viewed (wrongly, if you’re familiar with the program’s past) as being the new kid on the block. And not just any new kid, but the brash, loud-mouthed new kid. Vols coach Tony Vitello and his players make up the kind of team that you either love or hate. There’s not much room for middle ground. So if you’re another SEC team that’s suddenly been supplanted by this Tennessee team, you obviously hate them. 

That brings us to Friday night’s shenanigans. Shortly before the start of the Vols’ game against Alabama State to open NCAA tournament play in Knoxville, UT announced that standout catcher Evan Russell would not be available for Friday’s game, and that Vitello would address his status after the game.

It was a bit of a weird way to announce that a starter would be unavailable, the sort of statement that lends itself to speculation. And Twitter did what Twitter does best: Speculate.

Arkansas and Vanderbilt fans loved it. Enter a poseur who calls himself David Marts. He’s an Arkansas fan, who apparently loves to play the part of Twitter troll. So, posing as a Tennessee fan, he tweeted this:

Keep in mind that this Marts character doesn’t have any journalistic credibility, nor does he claim to have. But that didn’t stop one of ESPN’s top college baseball analysts from stepping in it…big-time. During a completely different game, a regional between Oklahoma State and Missouri State, Troy Eklund said this during the live broadcast:

 

Eklund said: “It was pretty crazy. He failed a drug test. So Evan Russell is suspended for the rest of the season. So Tennessee is going to have the whole rest of the team tested tomorrow, or the NCAA is. So it’s going to be interesting to see if that’s just a one player thing or if it’s going to be throughout that entire program. Performance-enhancing drugs is what it was said. That’s a big blow to the Vols.”

Except that isn’t at all true. By the time Eklund was uttering those remarks, Vitello had already said in his postgame press conference in Knoxville that it was a medical issue that kept Russell out of the game against Alabama State. Eklund’s broadcast partner remarked on that, but acted skeptical. However, the PED story was thoroughly debunked by Saturday morning. Russell has been cleared to play in the Vols’ Saturday game, and Tennessee issued a statement:

“Evan Russell’s absence last night had nothing to do with any violation of team, NCAA or SEC rules. We have been in contact with ESPN and they are aware of the situation regarding last night’s comments made on their broadcast. ESPN is handling the situation and we are expecting a public apology from them later today.”

Vols athletic director Danny White also said this on Twitter:

“Thrilled to update that Evan Russell is feeling better and back with the team. Sad that over the last 24 hours this young man has had to endure speculation and criticism. In the future I hope that the media will prioritize the health of our student-athletes over unfounded rumors.”

It goes without saying that Eklund’s remarks were an egregious mistake. He took a tweet from a guy with a very small Twitter presence and ran with it as truth, repeating it on a live broadcast as if it were fact. But he compounded his mistake with his speculation: “It’s going to be interesting to see if that’s just a one player thing or if it’s going to be throughout that entire program.” That is simply inexcusable. You can’t just chalk that up as a mistake, apologize, and let it ride. There has to be repercussions.

You might be wondering why a guy like Eklund, who is a reputable college baseball commentator, would make such a poor rush to judgment. Well, there’s this: He is a former Arkansas player. It looks like he has gotten sucked into the whole Tennessee vs. Arkansas brouhaha and was a little too anxious for a false report about Tennessee to be true.

It should go without saying that Eklund should be suspended by ESPN for the remainder of the season.

Update: Eklund apologizes…

Does it make you sick? It should

June 4th, 2022|Politics|

“The attack went for so long, witnesses said, that the gunman had time to taunt his victims before killing them, even putting on songs that one student described to CNN as ‘I-want-people-to-die music.’ ”

— Peggy Noonan for the Wall Street Journal

While I agree with Noonan’s premise, I’ll disagree on one major point. She says Uvalde was the worst U.S. police scandal since George Floyd. No, it was the worst U.S. police scandal ever. And none other even comes close. It’s not just the way things played out at that elementary school, but the cover-up that began almost immediately. It’s sickening, and jobs should be lost.

Lol

June 4th, 2022|Politics|

Johnny Depp’s legal victory and the death of Roe v. Wade are part of the same toxic cultural movement.

— Vox

Ladies and gentlemen, perhaps the worst political take you’ll read this week.

Vols’ Vitello is the face of college baseball

June 4th, 2022|Baseball|

“When I came here, we weren’t really expected to do much. We were kind of the laughingstock of the SEC,” said first baseman Luc Lipcius, a sixth-year graduate student. “And then ‘V’ and his coaching staff, they came in, they did their thing. … Now we’re on top of the SEC.”

And possibly there to stay. Vitello initially focused his recruiting efforts in Tennessee but has started to branch out to his home state. The Vols already have verbal commitments from two of the best young pitchers in St. Louis: Lindbergh junior Dane Bjorn and St. Louis U. High sophomore Andrew DuMont. In Columbia, Rock Bridge freshman infielder Ty Thompson — a freshman! — has already pledged a commitment to Vitello.

The fans love him, too. Vitello’s fiery side got the best of him in an April game against Alabama when he bumped an umpire during an on-field argument, leading to a four-game suspension. But the SEC coach of the year turned the incident into a positive and further endeared himself to Vols fans. During the suspension, he attended a fraternity event on campus and wore a sign offering chest bumps for $2, with proceeds going to the Wounded Warrior Project.

— St. Louis Today

They’ll have to win the College World Series to solidify the title, but this Tennessee team might be the best team in college baseball history. Nobody, and I mean nobody, saw that coming when Tony Vitello was hired five years ago.

The speed of the program’s resurrection under Vitello has been dizzying. V’s dad talks about only 100 or so people being in the stands for the first game his son coached in Knoxville. Now tickets to a Tennessee baseball game are tougher to find than tickets to any other sporting event on campus. But the real question is how many people would attend a UT baseball game if this weekend’s regionals were being played at Neyland Stadium instead of Lindsey Nelson Stadium? 20,000? 30,000? Maybe even 40,000? It would certainly be a lot. East Tennessee is baseball crazy all of a sudden.