Unloaded Excuses

Gun-Safety (1)

There is a popular internet meme/tweet going around in the gun rights/control debate.  It says

“The Sandy Hook Massacre was the end of the Gun Control Debate.  Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.”

This quote encapsulates how I feel.  It describes the resignation felt by those that support gun control and gun safety laws.  Naturally gun rights advocates express their outrage differently.  Laced with lamentations that they do care about the senseless loss of the lives of nearly two dozen children.  However, needless to say, they do not share my frustrations with the gross lack of reforms seen to prevent such mass massacres from occurring.  Their resignation lies elsewhere.  They’ve resigned to the new normal.  The new normal of mass shootings in Tuscon, Aurora, Wisconsin, Washington D.C., Fort Hood and now of course in Charleston, Chattanooga, Lafayette and Roanoke, Virginia.  Sadly this “new normal” is not exactly new.  Mass shootings have been happening since guns were invented really.  They have just been more pronounced since the Sandy Hook Massacre.  Moreover, murder and death by firearms are just as old.  And over the last 15 years, our gun death rate and homicide by firearm rate has been consistently high.  Higher than all other advanced nations.  Yet, we’ve done very little in terms of enacting more efficient gun control and gun safety measures over the last five years.  What we have done over that time is make a bunch of excuses as to WHY we haven’t done anything as a nation.

Over the last month we’ve had approximately three very high profile shootings and I’ve heard my fill of these excuses.  And since I’ve grown tired of hearing them, rejecting them and repudiating them, I’ve felt the need to present to you Your Friendly Neighborhood Arguments Against Gun Activists:

1.  “Criminals will get guns anyway.”
This is the excuse used when there is any sort of measures proposed to limit the proliferation of firearms in America.  Gun activists will immediately point out that even if you banned guns, increased background checks, pass gun storage laws, stopped straw purchases or any number of sensible measures, they will say criminals will get guns anyway.  As if their next statement is “so why even try stopping them?”  They just assume by the virtue of a criminal being a criminal that they can just get a gun… somehow.  Which is the fallacy of this argument.  They never think about HOW these criminals are getting their guns.  Their logic(or lack thereof) ends there.  I suppose they think this is The Matrix, where a criminal will just call a number and VOOOOSH!  Streams of guns just surround them for their choosing.  Or maybe this is Grand Theft Auto and all a criminal has to do is enter in a cheat code and BEEP BEEP BOOP, their inventory is just filled with any kind of gun they wanted.  The reality is, no matter how much they want to ignore it, these guns are coming from somewhere. More than likely, they’re coming from “responsible” gun owner via theft or irresponsible gun sellers via unlicensed and fairly unregulated sales. Fact is, there are no weapon factories in the south side of Chicago or wrecked inner cities of America. You know what is though? Pawn and gun shops. Lots of them.  You find out where guns are coming from, then have the will to do something about it will go a long way to solving our gun problem.

2.  “More guns equal less crime.”/”Chicago has the strictest laws and the most murders in the country.”
A popular thought by gun activist is a believed correlation between the amount of crime in a particular area being endemically linked to the number of firearms in that area.  They believe(wrongly) that the more guns there are in a given area, they lower the crime rate.  Inversely they also believe(wrongly) that the tougher restrictions on firearm ownership in a given area will also make that area less safe.  Nevermind the logic leap of such an area being LESS safe because of the number of guns owned, they often point to the city of Chicago.  The reality is that Chicago is the exact opposite of “more guns means less crime.”  There are PLENTY of guns in Chicago.  More than most if not all American cities. By that virtue it isn’t surprising that their homicide rate is also the highest in the country as well.  And again, despite what is believed, more goes does not equal less crime.  In fact, sever studies have repeatedly shown it’s the exact opposite that is true.  More guns actually mean more murder.  Legal or otherwise.  It has been shown that states with higher rates of firearm ownership DO have higher homicide rates.  This is due in part to the ease for potential homicide perpetrators to obtain a gun in states were guns are more prevalent.  Coincidentally, this is very much the case in southern states.

3.  “More people die from car accidents/drunk drivers than are ever killed by guns.”
Another popular excuse given by gun activist.  To divert attention from the fact that firearms are made for the single purpose of killing by highlighting the idea that car accidents and drunk drivers kill much more people than guns ever do.  Sadly, this is becoming increasingly untrue.  In 2013, 10,076 people were killed by drunk drivers.  In that year, 11,208 were murdered by a firearm.  In all, there were 33,804 motor vehicle deaths from any method and 33,636 firearm deaths.  The two numbers are virtually identical.  Point of fact, gun deaths have eclipsed motor vehicle deaths for people aged 15-24.  What gun activist are focusing on is the fact that traditionally motor vehicle deaths have been one of the leading causes of deaths in America.  What they are ignoring is the fact that over the years effectively because of the rate of death, automobiles and the laws governing the use of automobiles have drastically improved to safeguard our society that depends on their use to get from one place to another.  They are not made to kill.  They’re made to drive.  Car technologies and road laws are constantly changing.  As far as drunk drivers are concerned, 40 or 50 years ago if a law enforcement officer pulled you over, he’d ask you to sleep it off on the side of the road or at worse, get driven home by the police or taken to jail(not arrested) until you sobered up.  Those laws changed.  Why?  Because people were dying and our society had the will to stop it.  Unfortunately we don’t when faced with firearms.

4.  “Only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
Of all the excuses given by gun activist, this one, coincidentally enough just happens to be one of the more valid ones.  Unfortunately, this is a sad side effect of our overall problem with firearms.  Our society has had so many mass shootings over the last 50 years that law enforcement has had to become more proficient in stopping them from getting worse.  Sadly, this had hardly been a deterrent to bad guys who have guns.  They still kill masses of people with firearms before they’re stopped.  Coupled with the fact that Columbine High School had an armed guard in the facility and Virginia Tech had an entire police force at it’s disposal.  Granted, the United States is the exception when it comes to mass shootings, the occurrence on military installations is not an unknown phenomena.  In 1994, four killed and 23 wounded on Fairchild Air Force Base.  In 1995, on Fort Bragg, 1 killed, 18 wounded.  Fort Hood has had two shootings in the last six years, 13 killed in 2009 and three in 2014.  2013 saw 12 killed in Washington D.C.’s Naval Yard.  these are places with more than their share of good guys with guns.  At the end of the day, those are the ones trusted with the need to carry firearms.  If I’m in a dark and crowded theater where someone gets up and starts shooting indiscriminately, are you really going to trust some good guy with a gun to have the wherewithal to find and eliminate an active shooter in such conditions?  I certainly wouldn’t.  You are more likely to be shot by him than you are the shooter himself.  That said, the reality of what really stops a bad guy with a gun is the bad guy with a gun himself, when he commits suicide.  This brings me to the next excuse.

5.  “Let’s focus on mental health issues instead.”
The argument I’m hearing most recently from gun activist and conservatives, again as a diversion from the actual problem with firearms themselves is to point out that the true culprit in America’s gun problem is mental health issues.  Of course this would make more sense if the United States had MORE mentally unstable people than the rest of the world, but we have to face the fact that we do not.  Though, it could be argued that our American culture is more violent and has less value of life than others, however as overall focus on mental health, the proportion of those with mental health issues does not match the rate of firearm deaths(not homicides).  In comparison to other nations, our gun death rate is fifty times higher than some other advanced, first world nations.  If you really want to believe that mental health is the true problem, then you have to believe that we have fifty times as many mentally disturbed people.  More than that, it’s an odd reality that those who constantly point to mental health being a problem exclusively support politicians who do the same and then have the audacity to continously cut or oppose funding for mental health services and healthcare in genenal. That is like saying the dog afe your homework and not even owning a dog. However, all of this ignores the full number of homicides in America.  Mental health problems may explain the 15,000 to 20,000 suicides every year or some of the mass shootings that we see on the news every month now.  But mental health does not explain the other 10,000 deaths that occur every year in America.  Mental health does not explain gang violence and narcotic turf wars that wreck American cities for decades.  That is only explained by the over accessibility of firearms and the lack of focus on consequences of their usage.

6.  “Murderers would find another way to kill if they didn’t have guns.”
This is actually the lamest excuse gun advocates use.  It’s a complete discernment from facts and logic that to give it the time of day would waste my time and yours.  But since I like being thorough, let me put it in simple terms:  They are not finding any other way to kill.  They are killing because they have guns.  Duh.  It has made murderers way more effective killers than any other advance nation on earth.  Don’t believe me?  Here’s an example.  On December 14th of 2012, a mentally disturbed man walked into an elementary school and brutally attacked over 20 kids.  If you think I’m talking about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, you’re wrong.  I am talking about the Chenpeng Primary School knife attack on the same day.  Other than being on two complete opposite sides of the world, the two have two outstanding differences.  One, the Chenpeng attacker had a knife and the Sandy Hook shooter had a gun.  And secondly, 26 died in Sandy Hook while NONE died in Chenpeng.  23 sets of parents were able to hug their children at the end of the night on December 14 of that year.  Meanwhile in America, 20 sets of parents would never get that chance again.  Excusing gun crimes by supposing murderers will use other instruments to facilitate death is asinine and not serious.  If murderers could just as easy kill someone another way, they don’t do it.  By simple physics, math and construction, murderers are using guns for a specific reason.  They are more efficient.  There is a reason why you have NEVER heard of a “mass batting”.  You can’t fit a car in your bedroom.  A drug dealer protecting his corner with a pocket knife is going to get laughed at.  If someone has the intent to kill, they’re going to use the option that gives them the best result.  And we’re letting it happen.

7.  “My right to own whatever gun I want is Constitutionally protected.  You can’t infringe upon that.”
This is the one excuse that is the fall-back excuse given by gun activist, partly due to the fact that it is technically right.  However, what they have to realize is that right as defined in the Constitution is not what it’s been made to be.  In 2008, when the Supreme Court struck down Washington D.C.’s handgun ban, one of the courts most conservative judges, Antonin Scalia stated “like most rights, the Second Amendment is not unlimited.”  And though gun rights were further expanded with that decision, U.S. history is filled with laws that have restricted the proliferation of firearms and destructive devices from personal ownership and dictated who can own them and on what terms.  From the National Firearms Act in 1934 to the Assault Weapons Ban in 1994.  The idea that lawmakers cannot restrict access of any firearm because of the 2nd Amendment ignores those prior laws or any other regulations that have been in place such as licensure and permits, waiting periods, background checks and gun storage laws.  Then there’s also the actual interpretation of the 2nd Amendment:

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

What’s often ignored when you’re told about the “right to bear arms” is the first part of the Amendment that specifically states “A well regulated militia” and “being necessary to the security of a free state”.  The Founding Fathers put those clauses in the Amendment because in order to arm our milita, individual citizens, who make up our militia, needed the right to bear arms and have them readily available.  But it was there for the security of a free state.  Though, gun rights have extended since then, the Founders knew exactly why we needed that right and the use as it is being used now was never their intent.  Their words say so themselves.

8.  “Criminals commit crime.  That’s why they’re criminals.”
On August 26, Vester Lee Flanagan, Jr., who was recently fired from his job as a WDBJ reporter, took a gun that he had purchased a few months prior and approached former coworkers, reporter Allison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward, and shot them to death before leaving the scene and later shooting himself.  Prior to that act, Flanagan was a reporter, some described as angry and standoffish.  He might have also been described as ornery or rude.  What you could not describe as was criminal.  March 10, 2009, Michael Kenneth McLendon was a factory worker and laborer before he made the decision to shoot to death his family and bystanders.  He might have been called a loner or anti-social or even well-liked.  What he was not known as was criminal.  Adam Lanza was not a criminal.  Nidal Hassan was a decorated veteran.  He was not a criminal.  In 1984 James Huberty was a self-described survivalist and a security guard before he shot and killed 21 people in a San Diego McDonalds.  Then he was a criminal.  George Hennard was a honorably discharged sailor when he shot and killed 23 people in a Texas cafeteria and then became a criminal.  Seung-Hui Choi was student prior to shooting and killing 32 people in Virginia Tech.  Then he became a criminal. Fact of the matter is most murderers are not criminals prior to their actions.  They might be mentally ill.  They might be under threat or feel they’re threatened.  But they are not criminals.  So to assume that someone is a criminal and they’re just going to commit a crime anyway ignores a multitude of reasons why crimes and murders are committed and by who.  Often is the case that criminals are not the ones committing crime.  They just become criminals after their crime is committed.

9.  “Why take away my right to defend my home or my family?”
This sounds like a simplistic and defensive excuse of persecution.  Gun activist, first build the straw man that there’s any sort of grand-scale movement of absolute disarmament.  There isn’t.  That alone should dissuade any fears that someone is trying to take away a right of self-defense by killing, which unfortunately is perfectly legal and has been for over 200 years.  But for the sake of argument, let’s stretch the inability of our civil society to the land of hypotheticals and assume that we were actually able to ban firearms from public ownership.  The gun activist assumes that now that firearms are banned that they are no long able to protect their home and family, because they’re thinking killing someone to death is the only way of doing that.  That might have been so in 1815 or even 1915, but it’s definitely not the case in 2015.  To put it succinctly, you do not need a firearm to protect yourself.  Inevitably the gun activist would automatically assume I’m suggesting that their next best option is fist-fighting, which it isn’t.  Again, that might have been the case 200 years ago, but in 2015, there are better and safer ways to protect yourself.  Non-lethal or less-than-lethal weaponry have been proven as effective in self defense as firearms.  They do not kill.  There’s less force and better to control.  They can still be used over clothing and at distance and against multiple targets.  Targets have a nervous reaction, which cannot be helped and it can last several minutes, which allows you ample time to get away or deal more damage as you see fit.  Our basic human nature should be to not kill.  And more importantly when optioned with firearms, you also have to consider the danger it increases in the home.  Several studies have shown that guns in the home are more likely to be involved in more accidental shootings, domestic assaults and suicides than used to injure or kill in self defense.  It’s a fact of actual numbers.  There are 30,000 gun deaths in America every year and only 10,000 are typically homicides.  With numbers like this, I’m convinced if someone really wanted to defend their family, they’d keep guns out of their homes.

10. “Guns are protecting against a tyrannical government.”/”Hitler and Stalin banned guns first.”
The argument that the 2nd Amendment was put in place, not to arm our army, but to take arms against our government, though inherently wrong to begin with, doesn’t take into account that the most destructive devices then were dynamite and cannonballs.  Those and a couple of muskets might have been able to repel British invaders 200 years ago, but in any modern society, you will definitely need much more than that to match the might of what any government is packing.  Just ask David Koresh.  On top of that, you know what the U.S. government has?  Tanks.  Missile silos and launchers, stealth bombs, fighter jets, naval destroyers, C4, chemical and biological weapons.  None of which are practically available to your typical gun activist.  So expecting you and your Saturday Night Special is going to sufficiently able you to stop government from doing what they want is absolutely laughable.  Their next logical extension is to then claim that a dictatorship and a tyrannical government like Nazi Germany prevented their populace from owning firearm in order to disarm them from an eventual takeover.  This however is also factually incorrect as well.  Hitler didn’t specifically ban guns.  They were effectively banned after World War I.  Hitler did in fact relax laws regulating gun ownership.  He did restrict the right of Jews from owning guns, but he also restricted the right of Jews from living in his society in any form.  Actually, allowing Jews or any other group a tyrannical government targets as bad to own guns would have provided such a dictator even MORE reason to hasten their restriction and persecution. And again, there’s not institutional armed structure to adequately defend against a militarized complex that most advanced nations have. Even still Nazi Concentration Camps initially appeared in 1933, five whole years before the gun ownership laws in 1938.  At the end of the day, they like any other society has the means of arming itself against a government that’s tyrannical.  However, history shows us that this would only be a viable option if power was taken by force and often it is swept into power.


 

So there you have it.  All the excuses given by gun activist to side step the issue of gun violence.  They like to claim this is a new normal that we can do nothing about or there is nothing that can be done about an out of control murder rate.  Ultimately, there will be others like claims like “only bad guys will have guns” assuming there’s a real movement for absolute disarmament again and assuming there’s absolutely no movement from getting illgeal guns out of the hand of criminals.  They say that no amount of laws can prevent something like what happened this week in Roanoke.  Fact is, there are plenty of regulations that we could pass tomorrow that would not only reduce the number of illegal guns in circulation but protect our society and we’ve effectively ignored it all.  Increased gun storage laws is a good start.  We could actually have the firearms made with better technology.  Increase liability laws and insurance laws when firearms are used in commission of a felony. Here in Virginia and along with several other states in the nation allow private sale of firearms without background check.  The bottom line is, it’s past time we stop making excuses for gun violence.  Especially when those excuses come up empty when faced with the facts of what we need to do.

 

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We Need To Have A Talk About Donald Trump…

Trump 2016

Dear Republican Friends,

We need to have a talk about Donald Trump and his 2016 candidacy for President.  I hear what many of you are saying and how you feel about the multitude of candidates you have running for your Party’s nomination.  But your actions speak louder than words and your words betray your thoughts.  We are coming up on two months since Trump has officially announced that he’s a candidate for our nation’s highest office back in June.  And those two months have been wrought with badgering, insults, brutish and boastful behavior that he has yet to back down from or apologize for.

To quickly rundown the list of statements and behaviors made by Trump, starting with his announcement on June 16th, he claimed that Mexico is sending rapist, among other criminals, bringing illegal drugs among many other problems.  In the same kick-off speech, he goes on to say how he would beat China, complain about Obamacare, ISIS and our steadily declining unemployment rate, which he seem to not know has dropped by any reasonable metric.  By the end of that same day however, he reiterated his unrealistic demand to force Mexico to build a wall on the border, forcing them to pay for it and “behave”.  By the following month, at the Family Leadership Summit in Iowa, he told a crowd that John McCain is not a war hero or only became a war hero because he got captured, which he did not think was worth admiration.  A few days later he would blame Senator McCain for the deplorable state of veteran care in America.  Prior to the first Republican debate, he defended a claim he made last year about Americans not willing to elect another African-American President because of Barack Obama(because we’re all the same, of course), by saying President Obama has done nothing for African-Americans and our income levels, unemployment levels are the worst ever.  All of which is absolutely untrue, but he says it unchecked and unsourced.  And then, at the Republican debate last week, when confronted with his disgusting and hurtful language degrading women and his stated positions supporting abortion, Hillary Clinton and universal health care, he defends his actions and by the next day blaming moderator and question-asker Megyn Kelly insisting that she had blood coming out of her eyes and out her “wherever”, claming she was emotionally unstable.  All of this comes on top of his typical behaviors of bullying and insulting reporters and other candidates alike and after years of not simply being critical of President Obama but continually doubting his validity to even been President or EVEN an American citizen.

To succinctly put it:  Donald Trump is an asshole.  You know this.  He is definitely not Your Friendly Neighborhood Presidential Candidate.  However, with all that said, I continually hear from my conservative friends that you not only agree that Trump is all I say he is but claim to not be supporting him for President.  And with that said, Donald Trump is still leading in nearly every poll in the Republican Primaries.  Trump is solidly in lead even after all of the insults and taunts that most sane people would shun immediately.  He still leads in New Hampshire.  He’s taken the lead in Iowa.  He has lead every national poll since the beginning of July.  I’ve heard Republican friends tell me you’re supporting Marco Rubio.  I’ve heard you tell me you’re supporting Carly Fiorina.  I’ve heard you tell me you’re supporting Rand Paul or Ben Carson or Scott Walker… yet Donald Trump is STILL in the lead.

So knowing all that I have just explained, I am convinced that rather I am being lied to or you are lying to yourselves.  But the worse part about this all isn’t simply Donald Trump being an asshole while still being the most favored Republican candidate(not saying the two are linked(no seriously(but you gotta admit it’s a pretty amazing coincidence(that the favorite candidate among Republicans is an asshole)))), but the worst part is that he has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about!  He’s too wrong on issues, offering harmfully little depth in any of his claims.  It’s not just a disagreement on principle.  He just doesn’t know what he’s talking about overall.  Just yesterday he claimed that he could simplify the tax code to put H&R Block out of business?  Well, how?  How in the world does he think he can possibly do that?  Going back to his bogus claim that he’s going to force Mexico to build a wall on the border. It would be hard enough to explain how he’s going to get that done himself, but what in God’s name makes him think he can force another country to do something they don’t want to do?  Sanctions?  Make the Mexican government struggle even harder to provide for their people, which will inevitable make more want to come here for better opportunities?  That would exacerbate an immigration problem he think he’s solving.

Trump has said a lot while saying nothing at all.  Yet, he finds a level of support that’s hardly ever seen for anyone with such a woeful lack of experience and dearth of any civility and accountability that we demand from our leaders.  But all I hear from those that DO support him is “he speaks his mind” and “tells the truth”.  Even though he’s not.  But that doesn’t stop anyone from supporting him.  He might speak his mind, but why is this a good thing?  In Trump’s case, it’s better to remain silent and thought to be a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.  His supporters are under the impression that because he’s not a career politician that he’s not corrupt and can say or do whatever it takes to “get the job done”.  The problem with this perception is a false narrative on the premise that he’s not an elected official and has his hands clean of the politics as usual.  On the contrary, Donald Trump has been involved in politics longer than many of the current candidates for president.  Since 1990 he’s given to a variety of candidates, many of whom some VERY prominent Democrats(Charles Rangel, Chuck Schumer, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy and Harry Reid to name a few).  In fact, during the course of his financial support to Democrats, he’s also supported them ideologically as well, in regards to abortion, healthcare and gun control.  Hell, on many of these issues, Trump was more liberal than I was up until a month ago.  Some may think he’s not the type of career politician that’s beholden to special interest and owes no favors, but the reality is he IS the special interest our politicians are beholden to.  Donald Trump is the very type that creates the narrative which we constantly blame political leaders for.  It’s donors like Trump that involves themselves in the political process and force their agenda on the rest of us with higher and higher dollar amounts.  And Trump has made no secret of his wealth and influence on politicians.  But he’s so unsoiled.  Or we’re lead to believe.

Donald Trump and his supporters are under some impression that once he’s able to become president he will save America.  Never mind the fact that he has no serious path to get there, but unless he crowns himself king or expect the nation to forget about the gaping asshole he’s been for the last five years, he’s going find out exactly what keeping it real really means in politics.  You don’t win without the support of those in the middle and you can’t govern without any support from those that oppose you.  That’s not how this works.  Ask our last two presidents.  And they, for the most part, weren’t gaping assholes that went out their way to insult anyone that would think a negative thought of them.  Trump believes that his will is enough to convince people to ignore his less than stellar demeanor that has turned off even the most staunchest of conservatives.  In two short months Donald Trump has made a mockery of the Republican Party and of the process itself.  We’ve often boosted celebrity candidates that are the flavor of the month like a Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson, but they ultimately fizzle out.  Donald Trump shouldn’t be any different.  Fact of the matter is, his vulgarity and flimsy grasp on technicalities should hasten his decline.  However, there has been nothing he has said or done to have yet caused this to happen.  It has possibly strengthened it unfortunately.  And my conservative friends, you have to come to grips with the monster you’ve created and the beast you keep on feeding.  No matter how much you pretend to ignore him or to detest him.  Contrary to what many Democrats may believe, you actually do have a number of candidates that can when a general election.  Donald Trump is not one of them.  I know that.  You know that.  But he still there.  You have to take responsbility for this.  Or at least explain why your party so strongly supports a deplorable human being like Donald Trump.  Yeah he speaks plainly and taps into anger of the electorate.  So does that guy from high school that still think’s Obama is the communist, muslim anti-christ that decorates your Facebook feed with outlandish articles every other day.  That don’t mean you take those jokers seriously.  So why is Donald Trump any different?  He’s the Emperor with no clothes.  He’s the wizard behind the curtain.  He’s the iceberg in front of the Titanic.  Except he’s just the tip of an iceberg with nothing beneath the surface of the ocean.  Now, I understand you must me feeling a certain way about all this.  But Trump is your front-runner.  You have to take responsibility for that.  If he wins your nomination, he will eat your party alive.  If he loses the nomination, he won’t go away, but he’ll stick around to take the air out of the room.  We all know he can’t win against a Democratic nominee, like Hillary Clinton.  But he can cause the Republican Party to lose.  Is that really what you want?  If so, by all means, keep doing what you’re doing.  Democrats are fine with it.  If not, stop pretending Donald Trump and all his ignorance is that marginalized protest candidate that can’t win and realize what he’s doing to your party.

If you really want to win the 2016 Presidential Election, you must stop Donald Trump.  Or the Democrats will do both.

Truly,

Your Friendly Neighborhood Black Man