"Finance is a gun. Politics is knowing when to pull the trigger." -- Don Lucchesi, The Godfather Part III
In another time, in a different America, people might call what follows here Common Sense. But I'm not Thomas Paine, and this America is a psychedelic distortion of the one he imagined and advocated.
Wayne LaPierre, grand dragon of the National Rifle Association, insists the best way to diminish gun violence is through more guns.
Many are outraged by his comments. He wants armed guards in all our schools. "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun," he says, "is a good guy with a gun."
Then he goes on to insist the best way to ensure the well-being of the Second Amendment is to infringe on the First Amendment. To emphasize the point, he cites two movies. One was released in 1994 and the other in 2000. They are monumental totems, no doubt, in the deranged bad guy with a gun Zeitgeist of 2012.
Sadly, I'm not outraged. But it's not that I'm inured to it, either. It is commerce. I accept it, as part of the American distortion.
One beautiful day in the imagination of Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola, expounding on the assassination of his friend and associate Moe Greene, Hyman Roth explained it perfectly and succinctly to Michael Corleone.
"So when he turned up dead, I let it go," Roth said. "And I said to myself, this is the business we have chosen. I didn't ask who gave the order, because it had nothing to do with business."
To Wayne LaPierre, that is common sense. He gets paid about $900,000 a year by gun manufacturers and sellers to make sure they can continue manufacturing and selling guns. He is in the paranoia business. Violent death is his métier. The fear of it. The joy of it. The delightful existence of it.
And don't for a minute think he really wants to do away with those violent video games and movies he excoriates. They breed new customers. Those video gamers, those moviegoers, they are more than one line item in every five-year and 10-year business plan of every gun manufacturer in the world.
The only way forward, the only way out of this morass is to drive madly, insanely, way past the red line on the tachometer, right down the middle of highway.
It's the only way forward on guns. It's the only way forward on the fiscal cliff nonsense. It's the only way forward, period.
Thelma and Louise ain't the way out. They used a gun, they used Brad Pitt, they took a joy ride over the edge right into oblivion, and they destroyed a perfectly good '66 Thunderbird convertible in the process. If that last bit of information doesn't make you see the light, you're hopeless. A perfectly cherry vintage T-bird turned needlessly to mangled scrap tainted by the blood and guts of two beautiful women. Just because they took the wrong right turn and veered off the center of the highway.
Whether you are a sunshine patriot or a summer soldier, regardless of how these times are trying your soul, there is a way to avoid the fate of Thelma and Louise, a way toward American clarity.
Radical centrism now.
This time, change doesn't start with the people, it starts in the White House and on Capitol Hill. You've chosen the business of politics, now do it the way it should be done.
Fill a room with smoke and cut a damn deal.
The Speaker gives a little on taxes, maybe dive down to $650,000. The president gives a little on entitlements, maybe he gets to 66 or 67 for Medicare in the next 10 years.
The Democrats deliver all their votes in favor of the new deal. The Speaker delivers enough Republican votes to pass this new deal. (I use the term advisedly; it worked really well for FDR when he was in a similar mess.)
And then that same coalition does the one thing that really makes this work. The coalition proves it is a new deal and a new day as we begin the new year. This Coalition for American Clarity discards the factionalism, regionalism and partisanship that causes the American distortion, and, when the next Congress convenes in January, defeats the assaults from the left and the right and together elects John Boehner Speaker of the House -- with as many Democratic and Republican votes as it takes.
Politics is knowing when to pull the trigger. America knows the time is now.