First Man

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First Man



Ryan Gosling can’t act.

I don’t know how this guy keeps getting work. Well, I know he keeps getting work because he’s great looking and because his movies make money. But I really don’t understand how he bamboozles people into mistaking him for an actor.

Ryan Gosling’s most effective performance was as a cyborg in “Blade Runner 2049.” That’s because playing a non-human robot is what he does in every role.

Standing tall and looking beautiful in the face of adversity is modeling, not acting. I would expect a more expressive performance from Lindsay Lohan in “Sharknado 5: Great White Sharkclone” than Ryan Gosling in his next movie.

It may seem like I’m overreacting here. But I see a lot of movies and it would be awful for me if Ryan Gosling’s understated acting method became more common. It makes for boring cinema.

Some of the most ridiculous scenes in “First Man” are when Gosling’s Neil Armstrong learns that one of his friends and colleagues has died. “Oh” and “thanks,” he responds, completely stone-faced.

Darn it, Gosling, I know that there are strong silent-type men in this world. But every guy you play ends up being a strong silent-type. And characters who speak in complete sentences and laugh sometimes and have a range of emotion are more interesting.

So, I suppose I have to explain how “First Man” is getting glowing reviews and Oscar buzz.

Firstly, a solid 55% of viewers enjoy watching endless close-ups of Ryan Gosling’s face. Heck, I’ll bet if Lili Reinhart played Neil Armstrong, I’d have given the movie ***1/2.

Secondly, the action scenes in “First Man” are very well done.

Director Damien Chazelle proved that he is talented with his intense breakthrough indie hit “Whiplash.” Then he proved that he is ambitious with the extraordinarily bad and insufferable musical “La La Land.”

It turns out that Chazelle’s greatest talent is making realistic action scenes. I had assumed that the 1969 lunar mission involved one rocket ship flying to the moon and then flying home. Chazelle takes the time to explain the sophisticated truth about how men really got to the moon.

Apparently, a huge mega rocket ship took off from Florida. Once outside of the earth’s atmosphere, most of the rocket was discarded and a smaller space vessel drifted to the moon. Once near the moon, a smaller lunar module actually landed on the surface. Then a small piece of the lunar module flew back up to the moon’s orbit and docked with the main space vessel for the return flight to earth.

In other words, landing on the moon and bringing the astronauts back safely was a mind-blowing scientific achievement. The 1966 Gemini 8 scene where Neil Armstrong succeeds in docking one space craft to another for the first time is brilliantly shot and heart-pounding.

But every time an action scene fires up your interest, an awkward dramatic scene brings us back to tedium. Clare Foy has nothing to do but pout and glare as Neil Armstrong’s put-upon wife. We get it: Armstrong was a terrible, neglectful husband and father. It doesn’t make the movie any better to keep nailing that point home.

Corey Stoll (“House of Cards”) stands out like a diamond in the rough as the brutally honest Buzz Aldrin. Every time he says something funny and entertaining, the other characters look angry and confused. It’s like they don’t want to be reminded that the movie world they inhabit is so humorless and antiseptic.

At the end of “First Man,” we are left with a greater understanding and appreciation of the 1969 moon landing. But we have no insight into the motivations of the men who risked their lives to get there and we know little about Neil Armstrong. Thanks for nothing, Ryan Gosling; stick to playing cyborgs.


Anita Hill: Speaking Truth to Power

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Anita Hill: Speaking Truth to Power



I loathe Political Correctness.

I admire people who speak their mind with eloquence, intelligence, and offensiveness. If I don’t offend at least one person with this article, I have become too boring and cowardly to deserve a column.

The PC police should get the heck out of our schools and college campuses. But they are welcome to stay in my place of employment.

In my office, we are not supposed to talk about politics, religion, race, sex, gender, and sexuality. There is no touching apart from fist bumps and any manager caught having a relationship with an underling is immediately fired.

I think all these rules are great. Instead of Mad Men-esque mad houses, 21st Century offices are comfortable and inclusive places to work.

“Boo hoo,” some people say. “Men are too afraid to even hug or flirt in the office now.” To me, that’s a very small price to pay for women to be able to have a career without being forced to negotiate a minefield of objectification and Sexual Harassment.


Back in 1991, I didn’t even know what Sexual Harassment is. I’ll bet I wasn’t alone. And that was a problem.

The problem of mass ignorance was solved in a big way when President Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court.

University of Oklahoma Law Professor Anita Hill was expecting a call from the FBI and she was ready to tell the truth when it came. Hill reported that Judge Thomas had made her work life uncomfortable when he was her boss at the EEOC in 1981.

Anita Hill was called to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“I didn’t anticipate any partisanship,” Hill recalls. “I was expecting that the Senators were going to ask me questions to help learn whether Clarence Thomas was qualified.” Come on..really, Professor Hill? I’m sorry: either she is lying or she was shamefully ignorant about the basic realities of politics in America. Especially for a law professor who worked for the government in DC for years.

Apart from that embarrassing quote, Anita Hill comes off as brave, poised, and downright heroic.

The first half of “Speaking Power to Truth” is terrific. Documentarian Freida Lee Mock shines a spotlight on the awful senators who cross-examined Anita Hill like she was a hostile witness. We cringe as the senators cruelly make her repeat the same humiliating details over and over again.

Ms. Hill never wavered as she exposed fundamental truths about men in power.

The second half of the documentary is useless. Frieda Lee Mock just follows present day (2014) Anita Hill around on as she earns a living as a public speaker. If you watch this movie, I urge you to turn it off after 45 minutes.

#MeToo is a great. Anita Hill is great. I agree with almost everything Frieda Lee Mock has to say. I have a fundamental disagreement, however, with her assertion that we can uncover the truth about past harassment incidents.

It’s one thing to believe a victim’s story, it’s another thing to believe you are capable of knowing the truth about an incident from ten years ago. Zero people know the absolute truth, not even the people who were involved.

Victims of Sexual Harassment have their memory tarnished by trauma and time. And perpetrators of Sexual Harassment will honestly remember themselves as acting less creepily than they actually did.

Sleezy men don’t think they are bad people or want to be bad people. For the most part, they are acting out creepy behavior that they learned from men growing up or foolishly mistaking the friendliness of their female co-worker as possible romantic interest.

That’s why I am passionately in favor of strict PC rules in the workplace. They don’t just make office life better for women, they clearly help men. They teach creepy men the rules of gentlemanly behavior that their fathers should have taught them.

More gentleman and fewer creeps makes my office – and America – a better place. Thank you, PC Police! (Get the heck out of the classroom, though. Seriously).


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Once upon a time, Capital One pitchman and big time Knicks fan Spike Lee was a serious filmmaker. At the height of artistic prowess (1992), Lee released an important cinematic classic: “Malcolm X.”

Spike Lee presents Malcolm X as an articulate, visionary, hateful philosopher.

In X’s version of history, the black race was the first and intrinsically the best. The white race isn’t just inferior, it is made up of devils. Consequently, as history has proven, assimilation and peaceful cooperation with white society is foolish and self-destructive. In his more charitable hours, Malcolm X called for a total separation of the races. He predicted, however, that the violent annihilation of the white race was inevitable.

After “Malcolm X,” Spike Lee kept making movies. But nobody watched and nobody cared. Sorry, but that’s the truth. I’ll bet you can’t name more than two of Lee’s last five films. Don’t worry, I can’t either. And I’m a film critic.

“BlacKkKlansman” is Spike Lee’s most popular movie in ages. But it is not a great film. It is a sad demonstration that the young genius who made “Do the Right Thing” and “Malcolm X” has become a childish, angry, and artistically vacant old man.

It is the early 1970s. John David Washington stars as Ron Stallworth: the first black cop in Colorado Springs. He is ambitious and fearless. Stallworth decides to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan by calling Klansmen, feigning a white voice, and using lots of racial slurs.

It works perfectly and soon Ron Stallworth is a member in good standing of the Klan. When Stallworth has to meet his fellow Klansmen face to face, another cop – Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) – stands in for him.

It’s a cool story of some truly audacious undercover cops. But in Spike Lee’s incapable hands, the drama and the intellectual stimulation never heats up.

The film’s best scene is early on when Det. Stallworth attends a rally featuring civil rights legend Stokely Carmichael. Carmichael’s Black Power sermon is amazing. But the words are Carmichael’s, not Spike Lee’s. Merely quoting a great man doesn’t make for great cinema.

The relationship between Stallworth and a pig-hating student activist doesn’t make a lot of sense. The subplot about the nastiest Klansman suspecting that Flip Zimmerman is Jewish goes nowhere and fizzles out. For a film about uncover cops risking their lives, “BlacKkKlansman” is surprisingly low on dramatic tension.

The ending of the film is really embarrassing. I’m surprised no one at the studio had the guts to dare Mr. Lee to do better. The scripted portion of the movie ends with a silly prank call to David Duke. Har har.

And then – suddenly – we are taken to Charlottesville, VA and shown graphic, upsetting footage of the violence last summer. It is jarring, tear-jerking, and artlessly provocative.

After all these years, it feels like Spike Lee is still itching for a Malcolm X-inspired race war. Fortunately, he will die disappointed.

In the end, sadly, Spike Lee is just like his beloved New York Knicks. They were a powerful force in the 20th Century. Since then, they’re kind of a pathetic joke.

Black Panther

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Black Panther



I had no interest in watching “Black Panther.” Normally, I don’t see Hollywood superhero movies. It has been a long time since I really liked one. (“Spider-Man 2,” 2004).

My best friend saw “Black Panther” last week and told me it is worth seeing. My wife saw it and told me that I’d find it interesting.

So, I gave in and watched “Black Panther.” I was right the first time when I had no interest.

I feel old and out of touch saying this, but I doubt that I’ll ever understand the appeal of 21st Century action flicks.

When I was a kid, action movies were fairly lousy, but at least they took place in the real world: with real cars, real fists, and real stuntmen performing real acts of heroism that are at least slightly plausible.

Now action flicks are nothing more than cartoons: computer-generated images of masked comic book characters performing impossible feats of acrobatics. And I’m supposed to care? About what? A bunch of 0s and 1s?

The last time “Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler and co-star Michael B. Jordan teamed up, they made the 2015 Rocky sequel “Creed.”

“Creed” had characters I deeply cared about and the fight scenes took place on real sets with real human beings. “Creed” is an emotionally powerful four-star classic. “Black Panther” can’t come close.


“Black Panther” is about the fantastic fictional country of Wakanda. Wakanda is the only African country that has never been colonized. Coogler’s point that colonization is always bad for those being colonized is well-taken.

In addition to being inventive and industrious, Wakandans have the good fortune of living in a region rich in the rare metal Vibranium. Vibranium is used in their infrastructure, weapons, and even medicine.

The hero of “Black Panther” is new King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman). He is an enlightened, restrained monarch. He resists pressure from humanitarians to allow refugees into Wakanda. And he resists pressure from expansionists to use Wakanda’s superior weaponry to dictate how other countries behave.

The villain of “Black Panther” is rival Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan). He is driven by righteous fury to use Wakandan power to overthrow white empires and create a new world run by dark-skinned peoples.

The first three quarters of “Black Panther” is pretty solid. I absolutely hate the final act.

The climactic one on one battle between T’Challa and Erik is just plain boring. To my eyes, it looked like a pair of poorly-lit cat cartoons flying all over the place and preposterously punching in midair.

It wasn’t even good by cartoon fighting standards. I was more emotionally invested when Popeye fought Bluto. I was more emotionally invested when Peter Griffin fought that big chicken.

The ending of “Black Panther” is infuriating and depressing. I was rooting for King T’Challa because he was humble and anti-colonialism. Then, suddenly, he pulls an ugly 180 and sets up shop in Oakland, California – with a new mission to help African-Americans be more like Wakandans.

Wait…what?! Wakanda was blessed with a magical metal and it just had a hideous civil war. Meanwhile, American blacks have been dealt a horrible hand by history and they have made immense contributions to world culture and art. Wakandans should be learning from Americans, it seems to me; not the other way around.

The heroic king suddenly transformed into T’Challa Kipling: a cultural colonizer suffering from Non-White Man’s Burden. Is self-righteous paternalism less obnoxious when it is coming from people who share your skin color? Ryan Coogler thinks so. To me, it was a sad ending to a mediocre movie.

“Black Panther” is just another Hollywood superhero movie. I don’t understand who would rather see average “Black Panther” than amazing “Creed.”

According to the box office, 9 out of 10 people would rather see “Black Panther.”

Oh, well. I’m the 10th. And I’m right.

The Post

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The Post



After the indefensible disaster of the Iraq War, we are not as quick to trust politicians when they try to get involved in foreign conflicts.

In 2013, President Obama tried his best to rally our support for war when Syrian President Assad defied Obama’s Line in the Sand. We were just about to go to war against Damascus and possibly Russia when the American people resoundingly and smartly rose up against it.

So… what is a militarist regime to do when its people don’t trust it and are sick of war? Battle secretly, of course!

The US is still actively involved in Libya. Our bombing raids destroyed a stable, anti-Islamist, pro-minority regime and replaced it with chaos, Al-Qaeda, and a return to the slave trade. And we’re still there finding new ways to mess the place up.

Our military has been working hand in hand with Saudi Arabia to decimate Yemen since 2015. It never bothered to tell us why.

There are US boots in Pakistan even though it is not even clear whether the regime in Islamabad is our ally or a pro-Taliban, pro-terrorism arch enemy.

There is an enduring military and CIA presence in Chad, Congo, Ethiopia and Somalia. They figure that you don’t know where those countries are and don’t care how many people we kill there.

Oh, by the way, the military is still meddling in Syria, too, even though we told them not to.

THE story of the Obama years was how the War on Terror went underground. But it wasn’t covered because the Establishment Media is shameless and terrible.


Apparently, that was not always the case.

Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” tells the semi-gripping story of how the feisty editor (Tom Hanks) and the brave publisher (Meryl Streep) of the Washington Post defied the Nixon Administration and published the Pentagon Papers in 1971.

The Pentagon Papers were a secret report by then-Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara that explored the consequences of American actions in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967.

The two most damning aspects of the Pentagon Papers was the revelation that Presidents Kennedy and Johnson actively lied to the American people about what was really happening in Vietnam. And the upsetting fact that the military agreed that the war was unwinnable as early as 1965 but sent two million more men there, anyway.

We are supposed to feel like the Washington Post reporters were brave to publish the Pentagon Papers because the Nixon White House had filed a court injunction trying to criminalize the publication of military secrets.

Spielberg tried to spin this into a life and death battle for the free press. It wasn’t. It was little more than an ill-conceived dirty trick by the White House against hostile newspapers that Nixon feared were working to destroy him. He was dead right, by the way.

The more compelling drama comes from publisher Kay Graham’s difficult decision to betray her close friends Lady Bird Johnson and Robert McNamara by making them look bad in her newspaper.

“The Post” is an awkward failure by an aging director who may be losing his edge for good. Every conclusion that Spielberg makes is either childishly obvious or completely wrong.

His primary argument is that the Pentagon Papers marks the end of the era where newspaper bigwigs befriended and protected politicians.

The last decade proves that this is total hogwash. The press kept silent about the secret wars of the Obama years because it adored the President.

And if American reporters ever decide to shine a spotlight on the lies and abuses of our military and CIA, it will not be because they care about the lives of brown and black people. It will be because they want to destroy a President who refuses to be friends with them.

    State of Marriage

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Vermont Movie on Netflix

State of Marriage



It’s amazing how quickly and completely the Gay Marriage movement conquered the Western World.

Gay marriage activists went from a disdained minority around the turn of the century to undisputed champions by 2015.

The Gay Marriage lobby is the NRA of the Left. Like the NRA, the Gay Marriage lobby won legislative and court victories. And more importantly, they changed people’s minds. There are plenty of Democrats who quietly accept the fact that guns are legal. And there are millions of Republicans now who would be delighted to attend a gay wedding.


Like most people at the turn of the century, I was opposed to the State granting marriage licenses to gay people. Not for the reasons that you think, though.

Firstly, more legal marriages inevitably leads to more divorces. And I’m against anything that further enriches divorce lawyers.

I don’t think that the government should be involved in marriages at all. A marriage should be a non-legal agreement based on love, not money. It should be a vow between two people and their close friends and family. Uncle Sam should have no say in it.

I am 100% pro-gay. But, at least back in 2000, I was 101% anti-government. And I was opposed to anything that gives the government more knowledge of us and power over us.

It always seemed odd to me that the very people who usually say “stay out of our bedroom” were suddenly demanding that Uncle Sam saunter in and sanctify what they are doing in their bedroom with moderately priced legal documents.


With so many different groups of people opposed to gay marriage, it is astounding that change won out. ‘Change’ is easy to say but hard to accomplish. Gay Rights advocates were able to fundamentally change the definition of marriage that had existed since the beginning of recorded history. It’s an epic accomplishment.

“State of Marriage” chronicles the handful of lawyers and activists who took on the Status Quo and won. It all started right here in Vermont.


The undisputed heroes of this story are Vermont lawyer couple Beth Robinson and Susan Murray.

Fueled by passion and Pixy Stix, Robinson worked in her private practice by day and spent most every night putting together a case against the State of Vermont.

In Baker v Vermont (1999), Beth Robinson hardly mentioned her homosexual clients at all. Instead, she told a story of when – not too many generations ago – interracial marriage was illegal everywhere and frowned upon by all. She praised the courts of the mid-20th Century for changing America’s marriage rules for the better.

Robinson’s analogy was perfect and her legal argument was splendid. The Court sided with the Plaintiffs. (Robinson herself was appointed to the Vermont Supreme Court in 2011).

From there, Robinson, Murray, and their team successfully lobbied the Vermont Legislature to legalize Civil Unions – which gave gay couples all the rights of married couples.

Some were disappointed that the new law stopped short of granting full marriage equality. But they couldn’t see the big picture. The tide of history had turned in their favor. And there was no going back.


I am not opposed to gay marriage anymore. Is anyone?

Director Jeff Kaufman makes it seem like the legal and legislative victories were the only story; he ignores the victory that social justice warriors had over our hearts and minds. He interviewed too many people who were believers all along. But he didn’t interview any of the 50 million Americans who had their mind changed.

In less than a generation, gay marriage went from a fringe issue to the agreed upon standard of the Western World. I would like to see a great movie about how this revolution came to pass. Sadly, “State of Marriage” isn’t it.

Emmanuel Macron: Behind the Rise

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Emmanuel Macron: Behind the Rise



President Obama’s legacy has been hopelessly distorted by partisanship.

The American Right has spun Obama into something that he never was or tried to be: a Progressive.

Ask a Republican, and he will tell you that the President was an anti-American Socialist Peacenik.

Amusingly, the American Left has decided to defend this Funhouse Mirror version of Obama that never really existed. Ask a Democrat, and she will try to defend his foreign policy on humanitarian grounds and defend his health care plan on Progressive grounds.

The reality is that Barak Obama was as moderate as a leader can be. Every action existed to maintain continuity.

During the heart of the banking crisis, he let political donors at Citigroup choose his cabinet. Sorry, Obama fans, but you can read it for yourself in the leaked email from Citi to John Podesta on Oct 8, 2008. The Obama team was tightly allied with Wall Street from day one.

Obama’s foreign policy was a clever continuation of Bush’s War on Terror. Using drone strikes and covert actions, Obama kept his foot on the pedal of relentless Middle East murder and meddling while reducing the number of American body bags to a more tolerable level.

The Affordable Care Act is little more than a scheme to try to keep the current for-profit system going a few more years by extorting money from young, healthy people who need cash way more than health insurance.

In the end, Obama achieved minimal change. The only question is whether his campaign slogan “Change” was always intended as a cynical irony.


Now France has its own Barak Obama. His name is Emmanuel Macron. Macron is young, good-looking, smart, and charismatic. And he’s the living embodiment of the status quo.

“Behind the Rise” is a worshipful documentary that follows his successful candidacy for President. The documentary urges us to fall in love with the man. And urges us not to think too much about what he represents.

Emmanuel Macron is the insider’s insider. First he was an investment banker at Rothschild & Co. More recently, he was Deputy Secretary-General under President Francois Hollande.

Last year, Macron bolted from Hollande’s Party and formed his own Party: En Marche! (which means Onward!). See what he did there? Macron fights tooth and nail to defend the status quo, but he does it under the slick banner of Progressivism.

While Marine Le Pen relentlessly focused on France’s need to leave the EU and reclaim its borders, Macron felt no need to discuss issues at all. Throughout the movie, he mostly just smiles, tries to look dashing, and accuses his opponent of bigotry.

Apparently, Macron was right. He beat Ms. Le Pen in a landslide. Le Pen is the better person, but she was not a great candidate. She did a lousy job of reaching out to France’s growing minority population.

The winner of the France’s next election will be the one who communicates that the choice is not between Christianity and Islam; it’s between the Globalists and the people.

The problems plaguing France are unemployment, unchecked borders, and uncontrolled terrorism. The ultimate victims are poor, peaceful young French Muslims who just want to assimilate and work. They need change more than anyone.

The same bland agreeable nature that made Macron an appealing candidate will make him entirely incapable of leading France through the tough road ahead.

America has already been through this. Even though Barak Obama remained personally popular, his party and the American Establishment itself lost their credibility during his Presidency.

Change is no longer a cynical slogan. It’s a desperate need. The Establishment won with Obama and Macron. But we won’t be fooled anymore.
Après Macron, le déluge.


Targeted: Exposing the Gun Control Agenda

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Targeted: Exposing the Gun Control Agenda



The NRA is right about gun control for the wrong reasons. And gun control advocates are wrong about gun control for all the right reasons.

Love them or loathe them, you have to hand it to them: the NRA is winning. If Tom Brady and Charlie Sheen had a baby and that baby grew up to be a lobbying group, that group would be the NRA.

The true extent of their victory was demonstrated every time President Obama made a speech about gun control. After every mass shooting – like clockwork – the President would implore America to finally crack down on legal weapons sales. Every impassioned speech had the same result: people rushed out to buy more guns.

In other words, the NRA reduced the most powerful man on earth into a mere gun-selling patsy.

How did the NRA become the Harlem Globetrotters and how did gun control advocates become the Washington Generals?

Cynical people will say that the NRA did it by paying off politicians. But that’s only half the story. The NRA needed to convince the public that gun control is bad and/or useless. And they did it using a brilliant combination of truth and lies.

“Targeted” is a big budget propaganda documentary written and directed by 22 year old Jesse Winton. He presents the topic with the wide-eyed earnestness of a college kid who just discovered politics.

I’m not saying that young Mr. Winton was paid by the NRA. But it is clear that he is a recent convert to their religion and his faith is unquestionable.

Gun control advocates have one message: restricting gun sales will save lives. Impressively, the NRA has even found a way to fight back on that seemingly unarguable point.

Jesse Winton tries to convince himself and the audience that fewer guns won’t lead to fewer shootings based on statistics from Chicago and Australia. I’m basically pro-NRA, but – good grief – this argument is absurd.

If you close every ski slope, America will have fewer broken legs. If you close every McDonald’s, America will have fewer Big Macs. And if you close every gun store, America will have fewer gun deaths and mass shootings. It IS that simple. I am sincerely impressed that the NRA has found a way to convince half of our country that 2 minus 1 equals 5.

Everyone is against mass shootings. But I came across an interesting statistic recently: 100% of people who were killed by guns were going to die of something else eventually.

Every person in human history died. Only a tiny percentage of them ever lived in freedom.

“Targeted” does a slightly better job of showing how essential gun rights are to our identity as a free people.

If you think we are such a free people that we have liberties to spare, you view the United States differently than I do. We are certainly freer than slaves, Soviets, and Saudis. But we are not as free as we should be.

The government in Washington has the power to draft a boy right out of high school, train him to kill, send him to Vietnam, and then force him to murder people based on nothing more than a Domino Theory. That is a proven fact. And gun control advocates want to give these maniacs more power over us? I do not.

I’d say that it is the feds – not the people – who have proven that they can’t be trusted with firearms. The day after the government voluntarily throws away all of its tanks and bombs and drones is the day that they have any place asking us to lay down our arms.

The NRA is full of it when it says that banning all guns wouldn’t make us a little safer.

However, I’m still on the NRA’s side.

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

-Benjamin Franklin.