The Problem with Power

Watching the events that have unfolded over the past several days should shake this nation to its core. Without change, we will not survive as a free nation. The problem of taking and abusing power is endemic and at its base are people of weak character, challenged intellectual capacity and a “follower” lemming mentality. Whether it be members of Police Departments, the Secret Service, the National Guard, the Armed Services, The NRA, Neo-Nazis, protestors who storm state capitals with assault weapons, these are people who spend their lives being scared, realizing they have little to raise them up and realizing they are powerless against others with influence. These are the individuals who see guns and a badge or shield of some sort as the means to “be” powerful or at least feel something approaching adequacy.

Can this be fixed in the individual? Not at all since it reaches down into the depths of what makes an individual. It started as children who never felt they made the grade or never excelled at anything. It is part of the psyche, it is part of the soul of the individual. Watching the “police” responses to those peacefully protesting in our cities gives a good view into many of these people. No, not every one of those in uniform and in riot gear but the thought (or excuses) that “it only a few bad ones” is wrong. It is not everyone but it is endemic in these organizations we have evolved to maintain order. It is more than a few which means the fix is more than firing a couple when an obviously horrific act occurs – as it did in the murder of George Floyd. These organizations draw a good number of individuals who see it as a means to feel better and to exercise strength that without their uniform and weapons just won’t happen. Power without earning it. How convenient. It is time to start over. Watching many of the police who took their level of intensity over the top with the protesters was horrifying. Shades of 1968 as we watched police using tear gas, rubber bullets, batons and their shields as weapons to actually injure people. This was not maintaining order. This was the look of a fascist state.

It is time for a purge of active personnel that includes anyone who has shown their willingness to step over the line. It is time to stop the Police Unions whose first job is to protect their members no matter what. It is time for real external review boards to monitor, discipline and dismiss. It is time that police unions be disbanded or be made to focus only on just job benefits not job guarantees. It is time that psychological tests and instruments be mandated as a means to getting any job where a gun and position of power over the community is present.

It is time that people stand up for injustice and wrongs against other people. It doesn’t work to set up racial, ethnic, religious or whatever slice of life we have as a focus of who needs to change or who needs to take what action. At this juncture, we all have a way to go.

And we need a President who sets an example and who doesn’t cover the fact he is a pussy with power plays.

The Whole World is Watching…The Whole World is Watching.

Chicago Transit Authority – “Prologue, August 29, 1968”

There have been only a handful of times where I have looked around and wondered what the hell is going on and how did we get there. I expect that many are at that point as we watch what has unfolded over the past several days. Aside from the unnecessary deaths that have occurred following and including the murder of George Floyd, most disheartening is the fact that if we were really paying attention, none of this should be surprising at all.

I am now well past 60 and three-quarters of the way to my 70th birthday. Interesting how age provides perspective that one never thinks they don’t have in their younger years. Not sure I’m that much smarter – just more experienced and more aware. As I watch what is going on in our country at this time, I can’t help to be brought back to some of the earlier times where our country seemed to be splitting in two. I’m sure it wasn’t the first time for the US but I remember how the 1960’s was playing out. While the long and arduous civil rights journey has started decades earlier, it was the first decade and time where civil rights was actually taken seriously – by some – and change was underway. President Johnson had begun the effort to move the country forward, signing and putting into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964, soon followed by the Voting Rights Act in 1965. Even for a young teenager, it just seemed right. But this was too much for many, leading to the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr and Bobby Kennedy in the latter part of the decade.

We, as a country, were also well into the Viet Nam conflict and the country’s appetite for what was becoming seen as an unjust war was reaching most of us as we watched bodies piling up – on both sides. It had taken it’s toll on President Johnson and was severely impacting any unity in the country. I was coming of age, so to speak, in the later 1960’s and I remember distinctly the events at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, taking place in Chicago that year. We all sat and watched on TV as Chicago police, under orders from Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, beat demonstrators with nightsticks as they arrested them. I believe this is where the idea of the “Establishment” leading to an “Us vs. Them” mentality worked its way into our young minds. This was just the beginning. It is now over 50 years since then where the chant of the Chicago demonstrators “The whole world is watching” was picked up by a new group in their first album – Chicago Transit Authority – soon to be known as Chicago, one of the most popular groups of the 70’s.

On May 4, 1970, members of the Ohio National Guard fired into a crowd of Kent State University demonstrators, killing four and wounding nine Kent State students.

Another “Us vs. Them”. Demonstrations grew across college campuses around the country. We became more distinctly aware of our generation vs. theirs. For many of us, racial division wasn’t really a big deal. Not sure why but I don’t recall any issues in college because someone was a different color or because they didn’t look the same as most of us. We had bigger things to do. It was a great time – our generation had moved into a space unoccupied by our parents – and the Establishment they represented. Sex, drugs and Rock and Roll, so to speak. But we got pulled back into it on occasion – Vietnam kept us engaged. As freshmen, we sat in the dorm watching TV as the Selective Service Draft Lottery was going on, each one of us knowing that if our number (birthday) got picked early enough, our lives would be dramatically changed as we would likely find ourselves embroiled in the Establishment’s Vietnam War. We had bigger concerns than the skin color of those around us. But we were college kids. For many in the country, the impact of the Civil Rights movement and what followed just solidified the racism and hatred that remains strong today.

Most of us have labored under the thought that in the past 50+ years the racial divide had been closing and that we were always moving forward. Donald Trump has brought that idea to a screaming halt. While he himself hasn’t caused the hate and discord, he has given it a platform and the energy of resurgence. This false sense of progress most of us have had is probably worse than if the reality of race inequality was obvious all along. Maybe we wouldn’t have taken our eyes of the ball. Maybe it would not have been so easy to assume. Maybe more real progress could have been made. Maybe we should have paid more attention to the riots we’ve seen over the years.

Our great country isn’t really so great after all. Making America Great Again has been shown in all it’s glory to make it a return to a time of demonstrated intolerance. It isn’t really a surprise when we look at those most responsible for Trump’s victory. They are those people most threatened by change. These are the people who never really accomplished much personal growth. Some might be “successful” in terms of what they have but they are stunted human beings. If someone else succeeds then they don’t believe they can. In comparison to others, they always fall short so they need someone a few rungs down on the ladder. I still don’t understand the mindsets or the attitudes but they would likely have criticisms and reservations about me. Am I always right? Not by a long shot. I can be an asshole and I can be intolerant but I am an equal opportunity asshole and intolerant. But I can judge myself to some degree by looking at the children we raised and the adults they have become…and I think their intolerance of hate and inequity speaks volumes.

There is still no other place I would want to have grown up and raised my children but I am disheartened by what we have not accomplished as a people who have generally had it much better and much easier than most other countries. But this is not the America on which our values have been based for much of our existence. It is time that we actually need to get a leader who knows how to lead (where is Obama when we need him?) and we need that person quickly. Without leadership, we are like an orchestra without a conductor – a lot of noise and everyone on their own. Not music I want to hear. No matter what, the path forward, assuming we get our act together at all, is a long one.

But here we are again – The Whole World is Watching…

You Can’t Cure Stupid…

Report Card

No, this time I’m not writing about the idiot-in-chief sitting in the Oval Office — although he is a mix of stupid, malice and money – not a great combination evidenced in what we have seen and become in the past three years. But I digress.

It has been a great many years since anyone has found my level of patience to be something to recognize as a core strength, even in normal times. It is a trait that I think has served me well over my long career but has taken it’s toll on most of those who have been forced to spend time around me.  It is something one would think with retirement should have ebbed a bit. Well, that’s apparently not happening – especially now.

Where I will most typically go quickly off the rails is in the face of stupidity and ignorance. Unfortunately the opportunities to experience those ever-present qualities among our fine citizens of this great nation abound. In normal times, I am reminded that I should recognize that it is a reality of life and that stupidity is a way of life for many and that is not going to change. I get it but don’t really accept it – I guess then I don’t really get it. But at this time when we have been now almost two months into this pandemic, I again struggle. maybe even more so given that the stupidity and ignorance of many wandering aimlessly out in public can, and likely will, add to the death toll…and unfortunately it won’t just be the stupid and ignorant whose herd we are ultimately thinning.

Why this today? Well, I just returned from what I thought was going to be a quick trip to the grocery store. Could I have done without it? Probably yes, but stubbornness sits up there with impatience in my makeup…again something those around me would not debate. I can rationalize my trek a bit given I don’t step foot in the store without my N95 mask and disposable gloves, as well as a Clorox disinfectant wipe or two in my pocket. I should have known as I wandered up to the entrance and two people wandered out sans mask (of any kind). While the store was not overly crowded, I was astonished by the number of people wandering the aisles without masks. Like to say it was mostly younger people who a often immune from those things that knock us seniors off balance but no, many were my peers. I, at least, can still move reasonably fast. Most of these people couldn’t get out of the way of a launched germ if they tried. I was also amazed at the number of children wandering around with a parent wearing a mask but they weren’t. I know there are times you would like to get rid of your kid but not sure this way works…especially since if they get Covid-19, then it is likely shortly coming your way. For many of these same people the concept of social distance appeared to also be something said in a foreign language. So, here we are weeks into this crisis and it now dawns on me why the media and most every health professional on TV still repeats the same instruction time after time after time after time. It isn’t just to annoy me, it is for the stupid and the ignorant.

Beyond these fine people, I also was blessed to experience a number of the people working in our fine supermarket, Giant Foods in Bartonsville, PA.  Now I do realize that we are in a crisis and “normal” (whatever that is) is off to the wayside.  However, not sure why given you would expect that most of us want to spend as little time in a store as possible and at the same time the store would most likely also want us out as soon as possible so we can’t spend too much time noticing how many shelves are not stocked, they only had two checkout lines open.  The self checkout, where I’ll usually try to go so I don’t have to depend on someone else, was not an option this time around and there was a line, no exaggeration, probably 10 or 11 people long – of course all practicing the recommended social distancing.  So, using my best judgement I looked at all the carts in front of me and did a quick evaluation of which line would go fastest.  Well, pretty much missed it.  At one point, with two people still ahead of me and nothing moving ahead of me for probably 10 minutes, I did wander around to see if the cashier I picked only had one arm.  Well, she had two but, aside from not moving very fast, she was dealing with a woman in line with no mask or gloves (see previous paragraph) and, no exaggeration, probably 25 bags or so…the cashier was doing all the bagging – ringing up 2 or 3 items, stopping to bag them, repeat and rinse…and she wasn’t wearing a mask either.  She was making sure she stayed behind the two foot wide, bulletproof barrier the store had put up so there wasn’t too much room to move. In fairness to my lack of patience (rationalizing more likely), the two people in front of me and the two behind me also weren’t too happy as I could hear muffled comments thru their masks.  Then it was my turn.  Of course I’m not patient enough to wait for someone else to bag my stuff so first I asked her if she was required to bag (which she wasn’t, just laziness on those ahead of me) so I bagged and did my part to moved things along.  By this time, I was convinced my frozen items were already thawed and our dinner tonight was going to be a bit different and much larger than planned.

Now on a more positive note (at least to like-minded folks), after seeing those many who feel no need to protect either themselves or the rest of us, I will make what to many would be a vast generalization. What I’m seeing among those idiots unfettered with masks are the Trump Nation.  A horde of people (“deplorables” fits here) who aspire to be something or someone they can never be. They have been too stupid and too ignorant most all their lives to achieve much and now they have been taken in by that lump of shit in the Whitehouse (I guess that could apply to many there) who has convinced them that many of us have been looking down on them for far too long and he is their savior…how fitting with Easter just around the corner.  Just thinning the herd….

Trump_Golum1

Wow – A tough 22 months

I have been absent from posts here on my blog now for almost 22 months.  I was brought back to it given notification that I had a new follower who somehow came across my blogs.  In coming back and reviewing the history of my rantings, I quickly returned to a certain level of excitement that I had back then when I was somewhat prolific in posts.  Given all going on (and going wrong) in our country at the moment, the timing is good.

I had spent considerable time commenting on what, at the time, were my perspectives on most everything I thought was going wrong in our country.  Interestingly enough, most of the posts back then were about the current idiot in the White House (yes, I realize that most everyone working as part of the current administration could fit that description) but I mean that fat, lard ass, Trump, who single-handedly, has reduced the reputation of the United States to the level of those third rate countries run by dictators and authoritarians (Trump’s heros) around the globe.  My previous posts were geared more to my issues with Trump.  What has become increasingly clear is that our real issue is not entirely with Trump (although there are a litany of issues that reside there) but more so with those in our country who continue to vehemently support and defend him.  While I see less people with red MAGA hats and teeshirts walking around (mostly given they are really cowards when facing others), it is apparent that “the basket of deplorables” remains in place and our great country has far too many people whose level of growth – intellectual, emotional, social, etc., etc.) remains stunted and at the level that is exceeded in many cases by a normal 4 year old.

When I first started my blog, I was still working and I used the blog as a means to blow off steam – as well to possibly annoy some people who might stumble across my rantings.  The good news is on two fronts.  First, based on comments, I did annoy at least one or two of those who spent the time to read my ramblings.  I do believe it also gave me an outlet to vent – which I needed given where I was in my career and life goals.  At this point, I am now retired (actually five years retired) and my angst has pretty much settled down to a level that is considerably less and hopefully much more reasonable and tolerable – especially given the state of affairs in which we find ourselves.  I am in a good place overall with little worries in my day to day wanderings and pretty comfortable across the board with most in everything in my life.  I have spent most of my existence internally focused (the ultimate introvert in psychological terms), I can look back with pride on my career accomplishments as well as my relationship with my wife of 38 years as well as the children (now successful adults) we raised.  I don’t have too many day to day worries, I don’t worry about meeting my financial commitments at the end of the month and I am relatively healthy for a 66 year old.  We’ve moved into the grandchild stage of our lives and it is pretty great.

However good my life is, there unfortunately remains that part of me the looks around at where we, as a country, seem to be, and it is disheartening at best.  It is a travesty and a profound disaster at its’ worst.  It is time, I think, to return to my “blow off steam” outlet and start posting again.  Much to speak to and much to raise attention on.  If there is any doubt as to where I particularly lean, a quick read of my older posts will make it very clear.  I will admit I’m pretty stoked to watch the next few months play out as the Trump horde continues down the path towards impeachment.  Between here and Twitter (where I’ve been pretty much focused on Trump’s posts), it should be fun.  Stay posted.  In the meantime, since I usually post some sort of photo, here’s one of my favorites that provides great insight into the oval office idiot.  Nothing like a bit of self-awareness….then again, what good is a piece of toilet paper if it isn’t attached to a piece of shit.

TrumpTP

 

Donnie “Fatboy” Trump – Surprised?

It would appear it is time to come back to my blog and re-visit many of the same topics I’ve visited in the past.  Interesting how many blog posts I made regarding our idiot president.  The sad thing is how predictable the current situation really should have been – I would offer anyone reading to take a trip back thru my posts – I would like to repeat some of the points I’ve made previously but there are far too many that are relevant.

Recognizing I have often managed to get a bit long-winded, this time around I’m intending to be bit more terse and to the point – don’t think any of us has much time to waste given the debacle underway.

To my blog title – should we be surprised when we look at Trump and his WH staff – not really.  I have to think that some of this is the result of what happened when we decided it was time to take the special education students and mainstream them into regular classrooms.  Made everyone think they were the same and could do the same – I’m betting that Kushner was the AV guy.

And speaking of Steve Bannon – pretty amazing there could be someone working in the WH who makes Cheney look reasonable….

I will take the time to re-publish a few past nuggets of info –

Trump’s Political Success – what it really says

No matter the current polls and rhetoric about the Republican race and ongoing surprise about the early and ongoing dominance of Trump, there should really be no surprise.  It isn’t really about Trump the man – who in reality is pretty much a know nothing, self centered, bullying narcissist.  Sadly, it is really about the people who make up a good deal of our country. A sad commentary indeed.

The vehemence shown by his supporters is driven to a great extent by those who represent the worst of who we, as a country, pretend to have moved past as a people and society.  In many ways we are less prejudiced, more tolerant, more accepting but it is really more generational than anything else.  However, we still maintain a large contingent of racists, bigots, haters and uneducated slow thinkers who feel that anyone on whom they can trounce only makes their squalid existence look more palatable.

Trump has zeroed in on the same people who drove the Tea Party phenomenon several years back (take a look at some of my earlier posts to get a better look at that crew).  It is a group of people who want everything  for themselves (because they are the only ones who really work hard and deserve it) and nothing for anyone else who disagrees with their views.  He feeds on those who, not surprisingly, are led around by many of the those religious giants such as Jerry Falwell, Jim Bakker, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen and Pat Robertson – all (including Trump) willing to live a life of luxury on the backs of the ignorant and stupid.   They all prey on the unquestioning among us.  They all throw around sound-bytes, little snippets of “wisdom” that hook into people’s doubts and insecurities.  The one group continually cites the Bible but does little that really demonstrates they live it.  They make these unimportant people feel important and that their wants and desires will be answered despite the evidence to the contrary that those like Trump are really taking it to the bank.  I strongly doubt that Trump (or any of those beacons of religion I cite) have ever stepped foot in a Walmart or a McDonalds.  Not likely any of them ever had to put Christmas purchases on layaway because they were living paycheck to paycheck.  But this is only evident to those who aren’t among this group – not that we are necessarily better (although we really are) but we are definitely smarter.  We see the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes.

Einstein

The good news – many of these people are the elders among us so they have a limited shelf life.   In reality it has already begun to impact the religious institutions in our country.  Look at the numbers of those who consider themselves aligned with a religion and the future is pretty obvious.  For those who will be around for awhile longer, since they aren’t really the movers and the shakers, their influence, like sound-bytes, have no real depth or longevity.  They will continue to make news as the next Trump shows up because we are always looking for the next flavor of the day but at the end of it all, they add no value and only detract and diminish what we want to be as a country.  Time cures all ills.

Trump – We’ve seen this before

One has to wonder if much of what we see with Trump is mostly his uncontrolled ego with his mouth moving faster than what his limited brain can process and with his ego what it is, an inability to backtrack on anything.  However, this last salvo of forbidding any Muslim from entering the US should make any thinking (and rational) US citizen sit up and take notice.  The lack of real outrage (not political driven) speaks to how America has changed in the last 50 years.  It is a sad commentary on much of the American mindset that a person as disgusting as Trump can garner the support he can.

Is it a surprise?  Not really as most Americans seem to be afraid of everything – which by itself is not entirely unreasonable but it becomes so when there is no action other than to blindly follow someone who appears as a father figure who can pat you on the head and tell you they will fix everything.  No thinking required – only feeling.  And to ensure they keep that “responsibility” whole, they play on fear – the most base of emotions.  It works well – particularly on those whom are not the smartest or most successful.  It is most effective on those who really don’t want to (or can’t) think for themselves.

Not something new – the church has done it for centuries.  In our country, the KuKluxKlan and the Neo-Nazis has kept their membership alive with similar approaches.

But looking on a broader scale, there has been one individual who managed to perfect the approach – nice company Donald!

Hitler1       Hitler_Quote1

 

 

Walmart – Ripe for Scams and Fraud

It has been quite a while since I last posted.  Not that there hasn’t been the idiocy or stupid people tricks all around – just a quick look at Donald Trump and where he is at the moment speaks volumes (when someone can make George W. Bush look somewhat reasonable, that’s something).  But I have grown somewhat tired of bitching about most of the crap going on around this country mostly because I’m not sure there is anything that can be done to fix things – sad that I’ve come to that point but there is little hope when we have Trump and Carson maintaining their leads in the Republican side of the presidential race.  But I digress.

I was greeted today with an email from my credit card company regarding potentially fraudulent activity on my card.  Given the holidays, I’ve been using my card quite a bit but when I went thru my recent transactions, there were twenty-one separate $50 transactions on my account – all the same day and all at what appears to be the same Walmart.  My obvious guess is that someone purchased gift cards – 21 at the same time for a total of over $1000.  Okay, maybe one could say they have a large family and are never sure of what everyone needs so gift cards work.  But in any case, how does a company see that type of transaction and not verify identity?  I won’t go down the path of who takes checkout jobs at Walmart but any retail corporation worth anything and with any integrity, ensures that processes are in place and are followed in order to protect consumers.

Should I be surprised – not given Walmart’s track record with how they do business and how they treat their employees but just the same I’m pretty pissed.  Not because I have any financial exposure but at the end of the day we again have a situation where the scammers and cheats get away with the easy path.

To be honest, I stopped visiting Walmart years ago so this won’t change my shopping habits but I thought it might work well if I informed anyone looking for a place to run a scam or to make fraudulent transactions that they should first consider their local Walmart. Might as well go where the low hanging fruit is.

Is that Jim Crow I Hear Cawing?

Credit: Steve Benson/The Republic

Credit: Steve Benson/The Republic

I’ve often pondered if people in our country are actually more stupid than they were years ago.  You would think that with all the advances in technology, education, you name it, we would get a bit smarter over time or if nothing else at least a little less ignorant.  When it comes down to it I expect the percentages of smart vs not-smart haven’t necessarily changed a great deal – despite the opportunities for people to learn and experience more given great strides in education and the advances we all experience in technology.  I think part of it is just that there are a lot more people overall and there just seem to be a lot more stupid people walking around.  I think the other thing that has happened is there are many more opportunities for people to demonstrate the breadth and depth of their stupidity and/or ignorance so many who in the past might have gone unnoticed are now out in the open.

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. – Abraham Lincoln

And for those of you of more a religious persuasion –

“Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.” – Proverbs 17:28

Arizona Legislators in Session

Arizona Legislators in Session

In the broader sense, the issue of gay rights is one of the opportunities for people to show their stupid and ignorant side.   The latest example is the current legislation that has passed in Arizona that allows business owners asserting their religious beliefs to refuse service to gays.  In fairness to Arizona, they are not alone in their efforts to return their state to “better times” when the various Jim Crow laws legitimized discrimination and prejudice and worked very effectively to limit the rights of people in our country whom were not of the same mindset or belief system.  Similar religious protection legislation has been introduced in Ohio, Mississippi, Idaho, South Dakota, Tennessee and Oklahoma – not really a surprise given not one of these states is ever recognized for progressive thinking.   Here again, under the guise of religion, we have a situation where one works to justify a horrid and what will eventually be recognized as illegal legislation.  The fact that the element of discrimination is entirely ignored by the legislators in Arizona is something I just don’t get although I do believe that religion can be mind-numbing when put in the hands of people who probably don’t think for themselves anyhow.   So it all comes down to Gov. Jan Brewer and her next move.

Someone should have mentioned SPF30...

Someone should have mentioned SPF30…

Do we trust Brewer will do the right thing and veto this law?  Remember this is the same woman who felt it appropriate to derisively wag her bony finger at President Obama on the tarmac during a visit to Arizona and who was too busy to attend a Governor’s dinner at the White House.  This is also the same woman who eliminated the Arizona KidsCare progam which provided healthcare to uninsured children and stopped Medicaid payments for transplants.  She loves guns and hates immigrants. This is the woman who in 2012 signed a law that barred state funding from going to any organization that provides abortion services. This meant that Planned Parenthood, which doesn’t use state money for abortions, was be deprived of funds they would have used to provide all manner of sexual health services, including services used by victims of sexual assault.  Bad enough on its own but when one considers that her son, Ronald, has been a patient at the state mental hospital for the last 20+ years after he was found not guilty of kidnap and sexual assault by reason of insanity.  In 1989, Ronald Brewer allegedly broke into a woman’s apartment, slapped her several times, and committed sex acts on her. After his 1990 indictment, his mother claimed that Ronald had “decompensated,” a psychiatric defense which means that although he’d been functioning normally before the attack, his state deteriorated. His lawyers argued that Ronald didn’t know, at the time, that what he was doing was wrong, and a judge agreed, committing Ronald indefinitely to the state’s hospital, where he still lives although he is free to leave with staff or with his parents.  Even more interesting is that in the days before Jan Brewer was sworn in as the state’s governor in 2009, Ronald’s criminal records were sealed – his case being only four out of 40,000 total criminal cases that were sealed in Maricopa County in Arizona in 2009.   She is the Tin Man – the epitome of a 2014 Tea Party Republican – a self-serving, do as I say not as I do, hate-mongering homophobe.

At least they were able to sit and get service....

At least they were able to sit and get service….

To allow this Arizona legislation to go forward brings us back to a time of which we should all be ashamed – but unfortunately only some of us are.  Religious Freedom my ass.

2014 – In with a Bang

We are undoubtedly a nation with ADHD as evidenced by what has been almost a complete disappearance of any real focus on gun control this past year.  A small flurry to give some lip service so that the gun nuts (and those politicians bought by the gun nuts) don’t look like they don’t care at all but really more marching in place.  Most of these politicians had more important tasks at hand – like figuring out how to make the poor even poorer or how to bring our country to the edge of economic collapse.  But I digress.  It is not like we haven’t had the opportunity to have our attention clearly focused if we wanted to.  Since the tragedy of Sandy Hook Elementary a little over a year ago, there has been no dearth of events to remind us of the travesty of an ineffective Congress aligned with an all-powerful gun lobby.  Even if we ignore the 35,000 Americans killed by guns in the last year, it is hard to pass by the 30+ incidents of mass murder with a gun.  In this year alone, not even a month into the new year, there have been at least 8 incidents in schools with guns – elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and colleges – seems it is pretty much that no level is left out.  Of course pro-gun advocates immediately took to the mattresses to push for the elimination of so-called “gun-free zones” intended to keep areas with children and young adults free from guns.   More rhetoric from the gun-toting right that more guns is better.  This past weekend, the Mall shootings in Maryland again remind us all that none of us are really safe when we leave our houses.  And apparently even in our own house many of us manage to have our potential of death by gun rise – as has been recently publicized (but not new news), in houses where there is a gun a person is twice as likely to be murdered and 3 times more likely to commit suicide.  At least they keep it at home.   And if you are a woman, the likelihood off being murdered is even higher.   For you gun nuts who want to call bullshit, even the holy grail of news for people whom don’t want to think for themselves, Fox News, reported on the story – http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/01/21/gun-ownership-tied-to-three-fold-increase-in-suicide-risk/

 

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The answer is not simple in the details given the complexity of the problem.  To be perfectly honest, I am not in a place at all where I believe that guns should be outlawed.  I understand the important role they have played in our history but that lone isn’t reason to continue to maintain this national stupidity.  So if you want to shoot your food, go for it.  If you want a gun for protection, OK that is understandable – especially with the number of nuts out there.  Yes, there are alot of areas to be addressed beyond just increased gun control laws.  However, the solution of more guns doesn’t really seem to make a whole lot of sense.  The NRA mantra of more good guys with guns to take on the bad guys with guns just results in more people dead.  Pretty simple calculation and logic – more guns means more houses with guns which means more dead people (even just looking at the above stats).  We also have little chance of reducing the power and influence of the gun lobby but we can influence while picking out our legislators.  Let’s also get off the emotion train that somehow fuels thru rhetoric our inalienable right to have guns.  Ok but even if we go with the position that the 2nd amendment guarantees people the right to have guns, there is nothing in the amendment that precludes things like universal background checks or limiting gun magazine size to maybe a reasonable 6 or 7  (at least less than 10) bullets.

So what is so at risk when gun control is discussed.  First let me separate out normal gun owners from gun nuts.  Interestingly, most gun owners have no problem with Universal Background checks or even many of the changes that have been proposed over the past year.  Most of these people might actually be reasonable and rational people – they do have some concern for their loved ones and they don’t see any imminent government takeover looming.  So we really need to focus on two areas.  The real gun nuts and the industries/individuals that are economically tied to guns.  So the NRA, gun makers, gun dealers, Congress – it’s really all about money.  Companies aren’t giving up large profits and politicians aren’t giving up deep pockets. Wayne LaPierre, the NRA mouthpiece isn’t going to give up his $1 million salary for the sake of anyone’s safety. To be honest, Wayne is pretty much in the realm of the TV Evangelist – just hawking a different religion but still living the high life on the backs of those without.  Our answer here is thru the power of the vote.  Our only road is to make sure your legislator – at whatever level – knows you won’t vote for him or her if they continue to ignore this issue.

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For the “average” American gun nut, it has to go much deeper on a psychological level.  There has to be something missing in these people – most likely a level of self-confidence.  I would suggest that most of them are pretty much scared of everything around them.  They always see danger lurking in the shadows.  They see their weapon as the “great equalizer”.  All of a sudden they can go from powerless to powerful.  From small and inconsequential to large and impactful.  But only really in their minds.  In our world today it doesn’t really come down to “who has the biggest gun”.   But it makes them feel better even though to most of the rest of us they really look like idiots.  If it wasn’t that they were actually dangerous at some point it would almost be laughable.  To be honest, I’m not sure what you do with these people.  There is no reason or rational place to discuss or reach agreement.  When all you see is “the government” coming to take your guns, not much else rings true or really important.  I think we need to give them less attention and over time maybe they will start to thin out a bit given the stats we see on guns and murder and suicide.  Unfortunately until then, we’ll continue to see incidents like this weekend in Maryland where we don’t really know the beef the shooter had but in feeling powerful and somehow rationalizing a response of murder there are now two families mourning the loss of young ones.  We need to fix our politicians and take away the power of the gun lobby as the juice they spew only emboldens the gun nuts and somehow gives merit to their fears.  Back to the power of the note and the vote – let them know and then follow it up at the ballot.

 

Now speaking of gun nuts, here in Pennsylvania we can’t go too far without a small look at one of our illustrious police chiefs who has taken it upon himself to make it clear to the world that his right to free speech and to bear arms is at risk and to prove it he takes an automatic weapon (not his – he likely couldn’t afford it) and goes on a video rant about his issues with the local government, including shooting at targets he names after two local Gilberton board members (who would be part of the decision to fire him).  This is one angry Police Chief – only to be outdone by many of the individuals commenting on the various articles about what a great role model he was and there should be more law enforcement leaders like him out there.  Interesting amount of bigotry and prejudice-laced talk – but not a surprise given my original direction of how afraid these people are of most everything that doesn’t look, think or talk like they do.    In any case, a few pictures are worth a thousand words –

 

Mark Kessler - Boy Police Chief

Mark Kessler – Boy Police Chief

 

Kessler showing off his political persuasion

Kessler showing off his political persuasion

 

 

Have to wonder who is covering french fry duty at the local McDs

Kessler “militia types” – Have to wonder who is covering french fry duty at the local McDs

 

And for those who believe Kessler actually has the ability to do the job, a little fact to remember – he managed to shoot himself in the hand during an off-duty bar visit where he attempted to keep order.  One last bit of distressing news – he is also a member of the local school board – bet you those budget meetings are interesting…..definitely the caliber of individual I would want making education decisions for my children.