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.

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Wrapping up the Year – Phil Robertson and A&E

I thought I would take a moment and walk back thru the various topics and events I took time to blog about over the last year.  To be honest, in re-reading some of my posts I was, if nothing else, rather wordy but if I keep in mind that my original intent of this blog was to look for some means of catharsis, I’m not surprised at the brain dumps I’ve shared.  In looking back I managed to hit a broad set of subjects from gun control (coming into 2013 on the heels of Newtown, CT) to the Presidential primaries and the election to a good amount of time on the current state of the country as it relates to where we are in the LGBT discussion.  Overall, I’d say the year was more good than bad as we managed to keep the Republicans out of the White House and the country actually moved ahead in a positive manner when it came to rights of members of the LGBT community.  Not only are the majority of Americans supportive of gay rights, we now have I believe 18 states where gays can legally marry – quite an increase from where we started the year.  Top this with the defeat of DOMA and overall not bad although the journey ahead is still long and will be painful.

Sadly though, we have actually taken steps backwards when it comes to gun control and the violence and death that inevitably links itself to owning a gun.  One does have to wonder why is is so easy to quickly forget the people innocently massacred this past year by people who are obviously able to legally obtain weapons when in most cases they probably shouldn’t be walking the streets among the rest of us.  No doubt this will be a topic of future posts as I expect there will be numerous incidents in the coming year where the idiocy of our fascination with guns and the right to kill will result in more death and mayhem.

credit to: StickerGiant.com Inc.

credit to: StickerGiant.com Inc.

But as my last post of 2013, I thought I’d stay with a topic I’ve commented on numerous times this past year.  And in this case I get to wrap up a number of my rants into one situation – that of Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty and the recent attention he has received given his ongoing display of bigotry and ignorance.  I won’t spend too much time on his comments about how happy black citizens were in 50’s and 60’s in his home state of Louisiana but just that professed opinion (which I have no doubt he actually believes) pretty much defines Robertson for what he is.  When we look at his homophobic view of gays and his justification thru religion and the bible, I again froth at the mouth at the obvious schizophrenic nature of many who profess to be followers of Jesus and his ways but yet preach hate and intolerance.  In the case of Robertson, like many “born again” Christians, we have people who were pretty much shits and lowlifes who all of a sudden become good people and all is forgotten because they found God.  Pretty convenient and quite the means for Phil to become a patriarch who can stand up and profess more knowledge and wisdom on how others should lead their lives.  Lest we not forget that Phil had quite the struggle with alcohol, ran into issues with the law based on his inability to control himself and managed to actually abandon his wife and 3 kids early in their marriage.  Even his shallow-thinking wife, Kay, admitted that he was running around on her during that time – but, nice excuse, it wasn’t really Phil, it was the devil.  Where is Flip Wilson when you need him.  For those who feel that Robertson has it figured out I do point them to reasonably recent comments he made on marriage and the benefits of marrying when the girl is still around 16 or 17 because once they hit their twenties, all they want is to pick your pockets.  Wow, pretty enlightened.  But again, I forget we are talking about Louisiana whose primary contribution to society has been muskrat stew and levees.

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Pre-Jesus Phil

I’ll admit, I’ve watched Duck Dynasty quite regularly and despite the religious overtones, the right-wing attitudes and the crap coming out of Phil’s mouth,  I did stay tuned given the entertainment value – nothing I haven’t had to tolerate in just normal day-to-day living.  To be honest, most of us know this was mostly schtick made up for the camera.  It wasn’t that long ago that none of the Robertsons had beards.  When the comments Robertson made in GQ came out and A&E initially suspended Robertson, I did take the time to let A&E know I supported their decision.  I guess I was in the minority as A&E has since managed to retreat from their position and reinstate Phil just in time for the filming of the next season.  In hindsight how stupid was I to think that A&E wouldn’t whore themselves out as soon as the dollars became the focus – in actuality that is what almost every decision in today’s world is really about.

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So to follow a theme I’ve set in previous blogs, those of us who are somewhat educated and actually believe in human rights can speak equally loud on the reversal of A&E’s stance on Robertson by making it clear where we are spending our time and money.  If we don’t watch Duck Dynasty, that potentially drops advertising revenue.  I will not watch it again.  This is again an opportunity where we need to speak up and make it clear that there are some beliefs we can’t support.  And it’s not about Free Speech and First Amendment rights – nice try – you can all say anything you want – it’s just that the rest of the world has equal right to say what they won’t accept or support.  To stay on a theme – Most importantly we can speak thru our wallets.

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You mean Racism is still a problem?

Talk of the news stations last night and all the Sunday morning new shows this morning was unsurprisingly the “Not Guilty” verdict from the Zimmerman trial.  Like any trial with this much attention, the final verdict elicits a variety of responses that cover every gamut of the situation – whether legal, social, racial, etc.  To be honest, while I believe the situation to be a travesty – when a young life is lost it can’t be anything but that.  However, my biggest surprise was that it appeared the jury actually maintained a purely legal perspective and decision, not that Zimmerman was found Not Guilty.  Given the law in Florida and the points of consideration that should have been the focus, the outcome was not a surprise.  Sorry, the trial and it’s outcome isn’t really about the problem that a black child can’t get a bag of Skittles and an Arizona Iced Tea without being concerned about being shot – despite the number of predominantly black panelists that made that the point of order this morning.  That argument isn’t going to bring anybody in this country closer to being open-minded and accepting.    Yes, a travesty and tragedy that speaks volumes of how we treat each other but it will not be fixed in the courtroom other than from a legal perspective.

That being said, there are obviously many more issues and factors in play here.  I was astonished with the number of panelists on news shows this morning that raise the specter that racism exists in this country.  Really?  I didn’t even think that was the elephant in the room.  I must have missed the announcement that we as a country have overcome bigotry.  I say bigotry because this problem challenging us is bigger than racism as the problem is bigger than the color of one’s skin.  In any case I would submit the first step, if we are to make any progress on the issues of how blacks are viewed and treated (a reality), we need to move from one case like this.  Turning the results and reactions to a specific trial into the rallying call or headline of actions is a risky and often “one step forward and two steps back” approach.  I remind everyone of the OJ Simpson trial and the reactions that followed.

It would seem to me it is more important to look at some of the broader questions and challenges here.

Haven’t heard much about gun control in this case – seems to me to be another poster child for why we shouldn’t just let any one walk around with a firearm.  Sure make the case that if Zimmerman hadn’t left his car, Martin would be alive.  Imagine if Zimmerman didn’t have a gun – he probably wouldn’t have even been out there on his neighborhood watch as this wasn’t a man who appeared to have a lot of extra testosterone – except when buoyed by a weapon.  Sounds familiar to many of our gun loving citizens.

More importantly, I’m going to position a view that will piss off many as it will be received as a statement that somehow attributes responsibility for the death of this young man and the bigotry as a whole back to the black community (or any minority community for that matter) which it does not because my point is really about us as a country and a society and the responsibility we owe to the society we live in.  And my position stands for any segment of our population, no matter the minority we speak to.  If you as a minority want to be treated differently and not be pre-judged, profiled, whatever, then practice what you preach.  Don’t expect that behavior in others if you can’t live it yourself.  In this case I will pick on the black community for one particular reason – the view of the majority of blacks towards the LGBT community is one of almost total intolerance.  I won’t start throwing the data out there but if we look at gay marriage, equal rights under the law, just a view of gays in general, the black community has a rather dismal history of anything approaching acceptance.  On the scale of bigotry, in this area it doesn’t look too good.  Yes, I know all about the religious basis of it all and I’m sure you can rationalize a great deal of it but at the end of it all, it is still bullshit.  I’m met many a racist who has easily found a rationalization for their view.

But until the minority segments of our society can show equal openness and acceptance to the LGBT community that matches what they want, expect and demand for themselves, my words to you are pretty much get ready for more of the same – it is unfair, it is unacceptable and it is horrific but if you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.  Ye Reap what Ye Sow.  Karma’s a bitch.

Yep, we’ve got quite a journey ahead.

Gun Control – Gone but hopefully not Forgotten

Over the recent weeks I’ve been somewhat distracted from this blog – quite a change from the time where it seemed I put something new out there almost every day.  Part of me has been distracted with the loss of our pet, Gunther, 5-6 weeks ago.  It is still hard to pretty much do anything without realizing how integral he was to our house, our family and the rhythm we came to expect and enjoy.  Boy, the pain and the tears stay pretty close to the surface – more a testament to how great a little guy he was.  I’ve also had another shoulder surgery a couple of weeks back – due to a great extent of me maybe not taking the first one as seriously as I should – I’ve been a lot less active this time around including doing a bit less typing.  So I have some excuses but when I look around there seems to be somewhat of a diminished intensity on areas or issues which were pretty important not that long ago.  We are definitely a society with ADHD – how quickly we let things pass and become non-issues when something new shows up.  Pretty sad overall.  But not enough reason to give up.  I stay stubbornly positive in hoping that knowledge and commonsense will ultimately prevail – maybe not because I necessarily believe it deep down but I’m not sure I can make my head get around the fact that ignorance and emotion will rule the day.

adhd

 

So with that, let’s talk gun control again.  I read an interesting and relevant article in the May 2013 Scientific American – not a magazine I usually read as most of it typically flies over my head but my son frequents it and this recent one ended up on our kitchen table as one of the key articles was on 3-D printing – a new world (well relatively new to consumers) our household recently entered into.  In any case, I came across a great article by Michael Shermer, who is the publisher of Skeptic magazine where he attempts to add some facts to the current discussion and takes on the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre and the view that essentially more guns are the only way to make things better.  He sites a couple of studies on guns that paint an interesting picture – one that many of us I think already know (that more guns mean more problems) but the stats are interesting so I thought I’d share some of them as well as the link to the article (which I would strongly you read and take way what you may) – http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=gun-science-proves-arming-untrained-citizens-bad-idea

 

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credit: factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com

 

Some highlights for those of you who don’t want to read it all (credit again to Mr. Shermer in Scientific American – May 2013 issue as I’ve shared this verbatim) –

 

A 1998 study in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery that found that “every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides.” Pistol owners’ fantasy of blowing away home-invading bad guys or street toughs holding up liquor stores is a myth debunked by the data showing that a gun is 22 times more likely to be used in a criminal assault, an accidental death or injury, a suicide attempt or a homicide than it is for self-defense.

From a 2013 book from Johns Hopkins University Press entitled Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis, edited by Daniel W. Webster and Jon S. Vernick, both professors in health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In addition to the 31,672 people killed by guns in 2010, another 73,505 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for nonfatal bullet wounds, and 337,960 nonfatal violent crimes were committed with guns. Of those 31,672 dead, 61 percent were suicides, and the vast majority of the rest were homicides by people who knew one another.  For example, of the 1,082 women and 267 men killed in 2010 by their intimate partners, 54 percent were shot by guns. Over the past quarter of a century, guns were involved in greater number of intimate partner homicides than all other causes combined. When a woman is murdered, it is most likely by her intimate partner with a gun.

US-Gun-Control-Laws-85835243137

 

For gun nuts who really don’t care, numbers and statistics are, well, just numbers and statistics.  But for the rest of us who could easily be one of the statistics above, I’d actually want to make sure we don’t lose sight of how important an issue this is.  Newtown shouldn’t just be a distant memory.  Pretty disappointing how quickly we all forget.  Equally scary that the likes of Wayne LaPierre gets his way and sees validation of his views in the inaction and antipathy of the American public.

 

 

The more it stays the same…

credit: worldnewscurator.com

credit: worldnewscurator.com

“All in all, today was a pretty shameful day for Washington.” – President Obama

While this statement was pretty much focused on the unsuccessful gun control efforts driven by the massacre in Newtown, the ramifications and considerations are obviously more widespread than just that incident.  Yes, the NRA is a big part of the issues of the level of violence we are seeing – not all but a strong contributor.  However, we are a nation of ADHD.  The outrage and attention this past week on the events that began on Monday at the Boston Marathon will all but disappear to most by the end of the month.  The shock and sadness from the recent tragedy at the Texas fertilizer plant will begin to fade for most within two weeks.  Most in this country have all but forgotten about the 21 children brutally murdered less than 4 months ago.  The inability of our people to sustain any real focused intensity for any extended period coupled with the obvious apathy and unwillingness to take action of any sort leaves most decisions to the small few in Washington DC who, to any person who actually pays attention and can think, have little interest in reflecting the wishes of our people.  We have become accustomed to violence to the extent that I would suggest that no other civilized country is at.  And much of it sits with our love affair with guns.  Ignoring over 11,000 gun-related deaths a year should be no easy matter but yet it is.

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Can we just blame the politicians?  Not entirely but we the people are who should shoulder the real blame.  We put them there and we let then stay there.  These politicians really voted against increased gun control because of the 10% of the American public against the increased control vs. the 90% who supported it.  Figure that math out.  Many of the politicians knew the bill was the right thing to do but voted against it because those 10% are the ones they know will come out to vote.  So the problem is with the 90% who voice that they care but are too lazy to extend the effort to execute their civic duty.  How sad is that.  I will guess that those 10% also were the ones that took the time and energy to write or call their politicians and made their voice heard.  I actually wrote to mine this time around – and I’d like to think that it had some impact on Senator Pat Toomey’s (my senator in PA) decision to join Senator Joe Manchin in legislation that would have made it harder for criminals and the dangerously mentally ill to obtain guns while preserving the rights of law-abiding people to do so.  Both Senators are from gun happy states and they figured it out and potentially put their next election at risk – and maybe they heard more from the people they represent.  But obviously in many other states, the senators either didn’t hear from their constituents and/or lacked the conscience or fortitude to do what it right and what is needed to better protect our people.    People, time to pick up a pen, a phone or your keyboard – is it really that hard to take that small step?

On the other hand, we still have organizations like the NRA who actually exist primarily to ensure that business, in this case gun manufacturers (and related industries) make as large a profit as possible.  I, for one, have quite a problem with the power that has been handed off to an organization like the NRA.  No matter their stated intent or objectives as an organization, there is something wrong where an entity that only really represents the interest of 10% of our country can influence so much.  So to all you NRA supporters – do you really think they are looking out for your best interest?  And it extends well beyond this recent stance against universal background checks. We can also see it in another perspective that is directly tied to the Boston Marathon bombings.  Luckily, given the events of the week we have a conclusion (of a sort) in less than 5 days – we know who, which is really the core of any other actions.  But let’s say that events didn’t unfold as they did and the perpetrators were a little smarter and we didn’t know who they were.  We would still be looking at evidence left behind and a good deal of effort would be on the homemade bomb remnants, looking for traces of where things came from as a way to track back to individuals.  If we were dependent on this evidence at this point, we can thank the NRA for the difficulty that would be encountered in tracing back where the devices were made based on the explosives used.  And as a result, we are all a bit more at risk.

Almost 40 years ago the government developed a way to mark explosives to help trace terrorist bombs. But Congress blocked the research, even after a test of the device helped catch a bomber in Baltimore.  Who was behind Congress in voting it down? – the explosives industry and the National Rifle Association, citing safety concerns.  More likely driven by lost profit resulting from increased costs and oversight of the process.  Then the Oklahoma City bombing put it back on the table and President Clinton proposed legislation to resume the Treasury Department study of the feasibility of mixing tracers, called “taggants,” into dynamite and other explosives. There was discussion to include the fertilizer used to make the Oklahoma City bomb, or other materials that detonate such bombs.  A blast would scatter these tiny plastic tracers, which survive as a clue to help find the bomber.   Opponents said the government had not proved the devices were safe. Tampering with explosives could put miners and others who work with them at risk, the Institute of Makers of Explosives said. Opponents also argued that the taggant program would be too expensive.  The NRA again raised similar safety complaints about taggants in gunpowder, and also likened it to federal registration of firearms. The government wanted to mark the black powder used by owners of old-style muzzle loading guns because it is often used in pipe bombs.  Oh-oh – another possibility of federal government in their house. Again, Congress took direction from the NRA and cut off all funding of the taggant program.  Interesting, one of the phrases thrown around a the time was “The problem’s not fertilizer, the problem’s people.”  Boy, does that sound familiar to the rhetoric of the pro-gun lobby today.  Different day, same shit.

Credit: LA Times

Credit: LA Times

Will increasing the gun laws fix every problem and keep incidents like Newtown from ever happening?  Not at all and that argument by the NRA should be soundly called as bullshit.  To not realize as a country that we need to take steps to begin to reduce the likelihood is where the focus and conversation should be.  I have reached a point in my life where absolutes never matter – it’s really about the journey to get there and what we can accomplish on that path forward.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step” – Old Chinese Proverb

Life Isn’t a Smorgasbord…

Not sure if fits...just love the picture!

Not sure if fits…just love the picture!

Gun Control, Abortion Rights, LBGT Civil Rights (someone please tell me how this is not a Civil Rights issue) – quite a bit going on this week and next.  As our Congress spends the majority of time playing pocket pool and continues to demonstrate ineptitude beyond belief, they systematically ignore where this country has been and is heading in these areas.  Recent legislative efforts by Kansas and North Dakota (again, both states that never make the top 10 list for admirable points for which most strive) to outlaw abortion, again demonstrates a vendetta against Women’s rights and a direction counter where most people in this country are.  The Supreme Court this week will hear two cases crucial to the pace of progress in giving LGBT citizens their civil rights and equality under the law.  Gun Control – little progress in even what a thinking and feeling person might think would be an easy step forward – Universal background checks.

Are you sure you want to go back to Kansas?

Are you sure you want to go back to Kansas?

In every case the American public who, as a whole, is well ahead of the political musings and stances, makes it clear they support abortion rights (a woman’s right to choice, let’s be clear), LGBT equality and the right to marry, and better gun control (in particular Universal background checks).  The problem is in the details as we look at the state and local level and the way political divisions have been drawn. We end up with a clear division of view of where the Federal should have rule and set law and where it should fall to the State and Local.  While I don’t always believe the Federal Government is right and should be making choices for States, I would be more inclined to move decision-making for these specific issues I’ve cited to the State and Local levels if I actually believed they had the intellectual and social where-with-all to make smart decisions.  Again, my judgment to sure but making decisions based on bible teachings, views that harken back to how we used to treat both women and Blacks in our country and lastly, some misguided view that the government is trying to take everyone’s weapons seems to fall short of the yardstick of a civilized and informed society.

“Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.” – Mark Twain

That being said, I am willing to take a shot at letting the states have their way.  We can move these sorts of decisions out there and let the states decide for their people.  However, I suggest we should also begin to play approach out to the full extent of the concept.  If you really want the Federal government out of your shorts, sounds good to me but then let’s make it incumbent on the States to then provide everything the Federal Government provides today – try that for health care costs.  We can let the States deal with the repercussions of making abortions illegal.  We can watch as States continue to outlaw LGBT Civil Rights.  We can let more idiots own guns in those States that want it and watch more people die from the results.  End of the day, the costs, both financial and social, can sit with the State.

What happens is that we get more pockets of the same type of people living in different states as people with a social conscience and intellect migrate either to those more progressive states.  We can watch the distribution of income and educated people move around at the same time – sorry but I would expect that the median income and level of education isn’t going to rise in the South or places like North Dakota and Kansas.  And these states will lose most everyone there who have kept their state within arm’s-length of civility and humanity (maybe even Texas has a few).   At some point it will become obvious that the longer-term impact of attitudes and mindsets from the 50’s isn’t a step forward.  Sad commentary but maybe we let them have what they want.  I for one might actually see my Federal tax bill drop a bit when I’m no longer having my tax dollars going to states that are the “Takers” and depend on Federal support to run their states – interesting that as of 2011, we now have 30 of the 50 states having 1/3rd of their state budget dependent on Federal funding (my state is one of them) and two states (Oklahoma and Louisiana) with more than 50% of their state budget Federally funded.

Fed Taxes/Benefit Balance

Fed Taxes/Benefit Balance

 

Sometimes you just can’t protect people from themselves.  However, we can only hope that people at some point realize that life isn’t a smorgasbord – it’s basically “Eat what’s on  your plate” – some you want and some you don’t but in the end it’s all there for a reason.  And if you’re good, you might get some .

“All government — indeed, every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue and every prudent act — is founded on compromise and barter.” – Edmund Burke 

When it hits close to home…

Senator Portman with his own sort of coming out.

Senator Portman with his own sort of coming out.  (Photo credit – MSN.com)

Not to pick on Sen. Portman per se but I find it very insightful that we again have a situation where we have a politician who maintains a political position which might be contrary to what their constituents want to see UNTIL somehow it comes home to roost.  The following (a part of which I have included) was reported on MSN this morning –

“Sen. Rob Portman, who voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, says he has changed his mind on the matter since one of his sons came out as gay in 2011.

 CINCINNATI — Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman is now supporting gay marriage and says his reversal on the issue began when he learned one of his sons is gay.

Ohio’s junior senator disclosed his change of heart in interviews with several Ohio newspapers and CNN. In an op-ed published Friday in The Columbus Dispatch, he said the decision came after a lot of thought.

“I have come to believe that if two people are prepared to make a lifetime commitment to love and care for each other in good times and in bad, the government shouldn’t deny them the opportunity to get married,” he wrote.

As a member of the House in 1996, Portman voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman and bars federal recognition of same-sex marriage.

Portman said his views on gay marriage began changing in 2011 when his son, Will, then a freshman at Yale University, told his parents that he was gay and that it wasn’t a choice but “part of who he was.” Portman said he and his wife, Jane, were very surprised but also supportive.

He said it prompted him to reconsider gay marriage from a different perspective — that of a father who wants all three of his children to have happy lives with people they love.”

I expect the sentiment shared by Portman as to the different perspective driving his change of heart is not one that will change most of those stone-hearted anti-gay politicians (or any other person of influence in any position of authority) who seem to look through political, religious, etc. lens as they continue to treat many of our citizens as 2nd class people, at best, and lesser human beings, at worse.  I said the same thing after the Sandy Hook travesty that maybe when the anti-gun control lobby people actually have someone in their family killed in a similar manner (or any manner with a gun to be honest) we might be able to manage our issues with guns with a little more common sense     A little sad that it takes a personal event to get someone to take notice and to start to feel a little.  I would suggest that empathy is a quality that goes much too unnoticed as we evaluate and elect our leaders and that maybe it is time people begin to not look at caring and understanding as a weakness and maybe see it for the benefit it brings. But this all requires some thinking and empathy to get there.  And we have a long way to go.

Santorum_StanL

Now the next question is at what point will one of Ricky Santorum’s five sons comes out – and how apoplectic will Ricky become….

Guns, Guns and More Guns – Whether you want them or not

Just when you think we have reached a point where nothing is really a surprise, news comes along that shows we can still get those “you’ve got to be kidding” moments.  With today’s social media impact and how quickly notoriety can be attained, there are those events or happenings where you quickly realize this is really for someone’s 5 minutes of fame – but then there are those that still stand out demonstrating we haven’t reached the height possible when it comes to stupidity at worse, short-sightedness at best.  In our paper this morning we had an article citing the number of local governments in several states where the latest focus on new laws are ones that, by law, require citizens to maintain both weapons and ammunition in their homes.  These communities in Maine, Idaho and Georgia (all no doubt in my top 10 places I’d want to live) have taken a view that more guns mean a higher level of safety.  The good news is that most of these laws, if passed (and I expect they will get passed in some jurisdictions) are unenforceable.

brady-campaign-god-bless-america-gun-violence

 

Speaking of Georgia – Georgia has moved to ease rules preventing some mentally ill people from getting licenses to carry firearms.  Legislators in Georgia’s House voted 117-56 this week to allow people who have voluntarily sought inpatient treatment for mental illness or substance abuse to get licenses.  So apparently knowing you have a mental illness is good enough puts you on par with the rest of the people of Georgia.  Maybe that isn’t as far-fetched as it seems at first glance.  This is further evidenced by that fact that Georgia is also considering whether to change its laws to allow people to carry guns in churches, bars and on college campuses, contrary to what’s happening elsewhere in the United States.  Okay – we can still get more stupid.

Credit: LA Times

Credit: LA Times

 

In another of those states that make you cringe a bit when you think “civilized”, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed a law giving school boards in the state the ability to allow teachers to carry guns in the classroom.  I guess that this was the one chance that South Dakota could be first in the country – let’s keep an eye out for that first headline where a student or teacher is killed in a SD classroom.

However, there is some upside to movement in this direction.  It is a well documented statistically that homes where guns are present have a considerably higher likelihood of someone in that home getting killed by a gun –  I expect this same result can be extended on a town or community level requiring citizens to all be armed can only help thin the gene pool of some of these dickheads and mini-minds.  Works for me.

Just waiting for foot to be inserted...

Just waiting for foot to be inserted…

 

I also can’t help but think that this all also has the makings of wet dream material for Wayne LaPierre – sorry – not a pretty picture but can’t you just see this halfwit drooling while reading these news stories?

Fire with Fire

It has now been probably 10 minutes since President Obama finished the news conference on actions to curb gun violence in our country.  While I don’t tweet or watch trending issues among those that do, I expect the internet is swarming with irate NRAers and the rhetoric will take on an even higher dimension of fear and threat as the efforts Obama has put into play become more real.  I expect there are those already heading out to re-supply their food and ammunition coffers as they undoubtedly see this as only one step from the government knocking down their doors to take their guns.  Just that picture alone and that there are those who actually believe it is pretty amazing.  I have to wonder how some of these people would score on an MMPI, Rorschach Ink Blot or even Myers-Briggs Personality test.   But I digress.  It is obvious that Congress will likely be a large part of the problem in making change so depending on that will be futile.  As the President said it will be incumbent on all of us to make sure our politicians not only understand what we want but that we will hold them accountable for their actions – or lack there of – in not taking the wants and needs of the majority of the US public into account when making the decisions they do.  We need to make it clear that while these politicians might fear a loss of money from the NRA and other related lobbyists, those we elect must realize that all that money won’t make a difference when they are no longer in office.  It is time to tell these politicians we will not only not support and not vote for them, we will actually vote against them – no matter who is running.  Start the letters, emails, phone calls, whatever works for you.

Anon1

In the meantime, speaking of fire with fire.  While not really surprised at the depth of human nature the NRA has stooped with their latest ad drawing the President’s children into the issue, it becomes increasingly clear we are not dealing with thinking and feeling human beings.  It is obvious that common sense, compassion, empathy, and a myriad of other real capabilities will not work with these people.  It is time to take it to a level they understand.  It would be nice if the group Anonymous had some sort of signal like Gotham City had for Batman when they needed him that we could just shine it up onto the clouds but let me just reach out and make a suggestion to them – I doubt they haven’t started down this path on their own but wouldn’t it be a nice gesture if we could see the names, home addresses, pictures, personal email addresses, telephone numbers of not only all the leadership of the NRA (both past and present) but also have the same info for all their families – wives, children and grandchildren as the case may be – posted somewhere out for all to see.  Of course they would cry “foul” but maybe this would jolt some of them into some semblance of human form.  If it was good enough for the Westboro Baptist Church, why not the NRA.  Both pretty despicable organizations.

And in this corner, representing the gun nuts…

In the face of the tragedies we’ve seen in this nation in the last couple of years that have resulted from our inability to control firearms in the face of providing safety for our people, the one in Newtown should be haunting everyone in this country.  Surprise! In less than three weeks, the faces of the children and the heartache of the families seems to have been lost on those gun advocates and right-wing nut jobs who claim to be the real patriots and who seem to feel that more force is the only way to deal with the ever-growing problem we have with guns in this country.   It is everything else that is wrong that needs to be addressed before there is any consideration of changes in gun law.  I, for one, am glad to see how vociferous and angry these zealots get as it demonstrates very clearly the edge many of these gun owners walk when it comes to being a bit crazy.  I am also hoping that the rest of our country – the ones who haven’t historically been convinced that unbridled gun ownership and rights isn’t necessarily a good thing – might take a look at some of these people and the interviews or videos they are putting out there and start to think that maybe something is wrong with this picture.  When you finish looking at these people and really listen to what they say, I ask you “Are these the people you want roaming the halls of our schools protecting our children?”.  They seem a bit on the crazy side to me – from watching the spittle build in the corners of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre’s mouth as he worked himself up with David Gregory on “Meet the Press” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDgvHJ8ZkTc)

thCAEIMYLB

or wondering at what point Radio host Alex Jones was going to knock Piers Morgan off his chair on “Piers Morgan Tonight” in his lesson on world history around what happens when governments (although I didn’t hear one example of  a democracy) taking guns from the people (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/08/alex-jones-piers-morgan-guns_n_2429161.html)

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to a rather disturbing video by James Yeager, CEO of Tactical Response, a Tennessee company that trains people in weapon and tactical skills (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/10/james-yeager-start-killing-people-obama-gun-policy_n_2448751.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular) – if I were a neighbor of this dipshit, I might be a little concerned. (Note:  if you attempt to view this video using your Ipad it will not be successful as it appears this requires Flash to play correctly – I’m looking for an alternative way to post – apologies. In the meantime, I believe you can get this directly using the YouTube app on your Ipad – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9sMv9mcdc4 – not the best copy but give it a shot).

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These are only a couple of the people who are driving an agenda that will undoubtedly lead to more deaths.  There are more out there that fear government takeover or confiscation of their weapons – not sure what they are hearing that the rest of us seem to be missing but it gets scarier.  One last perennial favorite nut in this space shouldn’t be ignored.  Ted Nugent, long time nut, shared this opinion of what it coming – “There will come a time when the gun owners of America, the law-abiding gun  owners of America, will be the Rosa Parks and we will sit down on the front seat  of the bus, case closed.”  You should take a look at this article (at http://www.wnd.com/2013/01/ted-nugent-gun-owners-the-next-rosa-parks/#sYG7lmuWXlow7jbx.99) but I would suggest you take a look at the comments to the “news” story – even more scary.  Also, keep in mind, Ted is such a great patriot that he made an interesting choice when faced with going to Vietnam.  What a patriot!

Credit: progressiveerupts.blogspot.com

Credit: progressiveerupts.blogspot.com

Last thought – specific to Ted, given his remarks prior to this past presidential election that he (Ted) would either be in jail or dead by April 2013 if Obama is re-elected.  Well, let’s hope he doesn’t end up in jail in the next couple of months.

And which side do we believe this fine individual stands?

And which side do we believe this fine person stands?