Thursday, February 16, 2006

Hunt or Ride

A meme has been going around conservative circles in the last few days since the VP shot his friend in the chest...

Boy isn't that just a surreal statement? Of course it isn't really true either, but it sounds fun don't it?

Anyway, the meme goes like this "Would you rather go hunting with Dick Cheney, or drive over a bridge with Ted Kennedy". This of course is a reference to Teds apparent drunk driving and negligent homicide of MaryJo Kopechne in 1969 on chappaquidick island off of Marthas Vineyard.

Now, I'm not goin to say this isn't at al serious, any time there is an accident with a firearm it's serious; but liberals are trying to make something huge out of this.

Not only that, but they are trying to say that what Cheney did was far WORSE than whatever Kennedy "allegedly" did.

Ok, no.

This came by my email from a maling list I'm on:

Indeed, it is quite obvious the the Vice President has committed a crime just like a Senator did. He shot someone, who may wind up dying as a result, he tried to keep it quiet, and now he refuses to respond to questions about it openly.

Such criminal activity from the administration and Republicans!
Well, at least he was polite. Completely wrong, but polite. What's sad is that I know the person who wrote this is a smart man. I know he FACTUALLY knows what he has said is ridiculous, but it doesnt matter, because he finds what he said emotionally satisfying and ideologically sound.

Seriously, there is no comparison here. Let's break down Cheneys so called "crime"

Cheney was following a rising bird with the muzzle, ignored his surroundings, didnt clear his front arc, and fired too closely to his friend Harry Whittington, who was standing about 30 yards away. The cone of shot spread out far enough that Whittington was struck by several pellets of birdshot.

1. No crime was commited under any penal law in Texas, or most any other state

2. No serious injury resulted from the shot itself. The pellets barely broke the skin. In fact the guy was hurt worse than almost everyone ever shot with birdshot from 30 yards away has been, because 1 #8 pellet (which is 1/16th of an inch across and weighs less than a grain of rice) managed worked its way under a rib, he's 78, and he suffers from arrythmia. It was more the shock of being shot than anything else.

3. The VP tried to keep it quiet? Please. That statement is ridiculous on its face

4. He won't answer questions about it? So what. The full details of the incident have been reported, the only purpose for answering further questions is to try and embarrasss the man further.

I do just wish someone would get these "Cheneys tried to kill a man" idiots to understand that getting hit with a few birdshot pellets from 30 yards away while wearing heavy clothing, is generally a lot like having sand thrown at you when a car speeds off (yes I’ve had it happen).

There are people who do stupid shit like this for FUN, getting dressed up in heavy leather clothing, and shooting at each other with very light bird shot, or rock salt. Some people used to train dogs with a light load of birdshot even; shooting them in the ass with it as negative reinforcement.

Is it painful, sure; but it's not usually life threatening.

This guy was spectacularly unlucky to be at exactly the wrong spot (probably just off the bore axis), and Cheney was an idiot for focusing on the bird to the exclusion of everything else, but seriously, birdshot at 30 yards? I mean come on.

Suggesting this is anything more than stupidity and negligence on the part of the VP the worst sort of tinfoil hattery.

I would direct all of you who think that this is all that serious to this link:

Now let us compare and contrast. Cheney is one man ignoring safety rules while shooting, and a few pellets of birdshot hit his friend accidentally.

Chappaquidick was a drunken overgrown fratboy who jsut happened to be a senator leaving the scene of a fatality accident, not reporting it for hours, then using family influence and money to avoid jail time.

Let's leave aside theory and speculation, and not even consider what we can prove (which is pretty daming); let's jsut consider what Kennedy admitted to:

Kennedy pleaded to, and was convicted of leaving the scene of an accident after causing injury, normally a felony charge. As part of his plea he admitted to responsibility for the accident; that he had been drinking, he left the scene knowing that the girl was drowning, and he then waited several hours before notifying police; contacting his lawyer in the mean time.

In exchange for this plea, Kennedy recieved a two month suspended sentence for an offense would normally carry a minimum two year sentence (though all but 180 days would normally have been suspended).

This would normally mean his censure and expulsion from the senate as a convicted felon, however there is an interesting technicality of Massachusetts law, in that misdemeanors and felonies are not directly counted as such. In Massachusetts, for most crimes, if you recieve a sentence of greater than two years, you are accorded felon status; if less than two years you are simply a misdemeanant (yes, we have had misdemeanor murders before).

This technicality LEGALLY allowed Kennedy to remain in the senate. His extreme popularity in the state, and the recent asassination of his other brother allowed him to do so politically.
NOTE: I grew up in Boston, and more relevant to this discussion I grew up in
Massachusetts politics. My grandfather was Robert Dinsmore, a former state rep, and state senate candidate who ran against Kennedy for U.S. senate in '76. He of course was soundly defeated.
Theres an old saying from Huey Long "The only way I could lose this election, is if they found me in bed with a dead girl, or a live boy". Well the girl was dead, but she wasn't in bed with him, so teddy got a free pass.

By any rational measure, Kennedy should have been removed from the senate for his negligence; and really he should have been charged with, and convicted of, negligent homicide in the death of MaryJo Kopechne. He didnt because of money and politics.

Cheney ignored the four rules, and a man was hurt because of it.

We shouldn't make light of this; it is a serious issue, but it isn't a crime.

The first rule of firearms safety is always treat all weapons as if they are loaded
The second rule is to never point the muzzle at anything you arent willing to destroy or kill
The third rule is to always keep your finger off the trigger until your target is clearly identified, and you are ready to fire
The fourth rule is to always be sure of your target, and what is beside and behind it

Cheney ignored three out of these four rules, and a man was hurt because of it. That is a big deal.

Any shooter that I'm training that covers anyone else with the muzzle of an unloaded gun gets one warning, they do it again and they are ejected from the class. If they do it with a hot weapon they are immediately ejected, and banned from ever attending one of my classes again.

There are some friends I won't shoot with anymore, because I consider their firearms handling to be unsafe. Cheney has proven that he is not a responsible shooter.

That said, it has nothing to do with his performance as VP; and it isn't a crime.

The press is all energized because, well frankly they don't like the man, but more importantly, they are OUTRAGED, that they weren't brought into every tiny detail immediately; and that the VP wont answer their questions personally.

I'm sorry, but who the hell do they think they are?

Seriously, WHY SHOULD HE talk to the press about it? Because they expect him to? So what. The so called "publics right to know" is bull. Thats nothing more than the press masturbating. Hell, even if the PUBLIC wants to know about it, it's not like we have the right to demand he answer whatever question we can think up. That's just crass.

There is no scandal here; no coverup... hell theres nothing to coverup except a little embarassment. Unless the guy dies, it's basically nothing; and if the guy DOES die, it's because he was 78 had arrythmia,and got the shock of his life.
NOTE: Actually, there would be one hell of a civil suit here if Whittington wanted to pursue one.
By all reports Whittington is fine, but that said, if he does die I suppose you could make a case for negligent homicide. Cheney was clearly negligent in not making sure his forward arc was clear, which is the most basic principal of safe shotgunning. If Cheney is to be charged with negligent homicide, he must resign to face the charges (he can't be charged while serving as VP).

Negligent homicide or not, it's not like they have tired to hide the facts of the case. Just because the press thinks they deserve to be spoon fed everything as it happens doent make it true. Politicians don't have to tell the press a damn thing if they don't want to. THe press arent judges or juries, they dont have the power to compel testimony; and they don't have "the right to know". Honestly, neither does the public, unless a crime has been commited, or it seriously effects the way the country is run.

The public has a right to know about how this country is run. What a politican does on their own time, providing it is legal and ethical, is none of our damned business (and I said the same thing about Clinton by the way).

Shooting someone by accident isn't a crime, and it isn't an ethics violation, its a stupidity violation.

Unfortunately, stupidity does not disqualify one for office.