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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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.

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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.

Romney – the Chameleon

I was actually looking for more detail on the Romney stand on Global Warming this morning when I came across a recently posted article by Paul Davies in the Philly Post.  The article,

“Mitt Romney Has Perfected Flip-Flopping – Which side of the Republican candidate would show up at the White House?” 

can be found at  http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2012/08/08/mitt-romney-flip-flopping/.  It is quite a well written piece that I suggest everyone read but more impressive is the video embedded in the article which takes the various and everchanging positions of Mitt over the years and displays them very elegantly and effectively.  Say what you will about the Media, it makes it difficult for a politician to duck and run from previous statements and positions they’ve taken.  I’ve included that video below.  It is a bit longer than most (almost 20 minutes) which speaks volumes as to the contradictions and changes we can see in Mitt over his political career.

Now, if only we had a voting public with the intelligence to realize what it going on and the common sense to see that there is a problem here.

I can only hope but my expectations are low.

Mitt – what the hell?

Just don’t expect an answer with any detail…

The following two paragraphs from NBCNews.com –

Mitt Romney said Wednesday that more restrictive gun laws would likely not have prevented last week’s deadly mass shooting at a Colorado Cineplex, and argued that it would take Americans changing their hearts, not their legislation, to prevent similar future attacks.

“Political implications, legal implications are something which will be sorted out down the road,” Romney told NBC’s Brian Williams during an exclusive interview in London. “But I don’t happen to believe that America needs new gun laws. A lot of what this young man did was clearly against the law. But the fact that it was against the law did not prevent it from happening.”

Once again, Mitt shows his acute grasp of the details (not), his uncanny ability to hone in on what the real issue is (not) all the while basically sticking to his high level talking points.   Yes Mitt, it is illegal to murder so you are right there were actions this cretin did that were against the law.  No brainer.  However, the crux of the issue here is the means by which he accomplished the illegal acts were all done legally,  He bought his guns legally, he purchased the ammunition legally, I expect he acquired most of the items in his apartment legally.  Would stricter gun laws have stopped him from killing?  Probably not, as you are right at some level that laws don’t stop people from taking actions that are clearly illegal.  If it were only so easy.  However, there are changes to current gun laws that could have reduced the magnitude of the massacre or at least alerted someone to something being out of sorts and possibly resulted in a bit more attention before the fact.  Not sure why anyone needs an assault weapon – the cases of a herd of deer attacking a hunter are few if any.  Purchasing four weapons in a relative short period of time might call into question motive.  Acquiring 6000 round of ammunition might point to something beyond casual use of a gun.  No matter what we do to laws in this country, we will not free ourselves from individuals who are bent on mayhem and murder but we shouldn’t make it so easy.

Let’s take two aspects of Mitt’s statements and look at them with a sharper eye –

First, taking a stance that we can work on the legal implications somewhere down the road is, to an extent, why we are where we are today with gun laws.  If we are to interpret this part of his statement to include the possibility of tightening gun laws at some later time, we are now decades into the debate which really hasn’t changed to any great extent.  Very effective strategy – kick it down the road so there are no political ramifications today.  Mitt needs all the help he can get and alienating the gun lobby won’t help.

“It would take Americans changing their hearts” – sounds like a plan but in reality the hearts of Americans have actually been looking for stricter gun laws for years.  Back in 1990, almost 4 out of 5 Americans wanted stricter gun laws.  Sounds to me like the hearts were there a while ago.  Unfortunately, this is one more case where the hearts and money of lobbyists trump what the American people really want.  And that is unlikely to change in any time soon as money still buys influence – not the desires of the people in this country.  The vast majority will continue to work under the illusion that people like Mitt actually are working in their best interest all the while the Republican Party is shitting all over their tables and telling then it is a feast.

So essentially, Mitt has said “fuck you” in so many words and continues his journey of talking without really saying anything that will stick.

Sounds like a leader to me.

Speaking of Lobbyists – interesting article posted by the Huffington Post today – seems Mitt understands that role much better than most of us realize –

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/26/mitt-romney-olympics_n_1704261.html?utm_hp_ref=elections-2012