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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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.

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)

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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?

NRA – What is your rationale this time around?

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Here it is again.  This time in Connecticut – 26 people, 20 of them young children killed by some idiot who was only powerful because he had a gun.  A gun that can kill another person without thought and without consequence.  Just days ago, in Oregon, another killer who chose to walk into a mall and just take out two people he didn’t know.  Again a gun – this time one he apparently stole but again, an individual who was nothing without the feel of cold steel and mayhem in his hands.

We will again hear the rhetoric and the utter bullshit from the NRA and those staunch believers that it isn’t the gun that kills – it is the person.  Tell that to the parents of one of the 1st graders who will not wake up on Christmas morning in a little over a week.  Tell that to the spouse of one of the people killed in the mall in Oregon who now gets to face raising a family as a single head of household.  Let’s here about the fact that the individual who kills with a gun has something wrong with them and they would kill even without a gun.  Nice try – I would submit that without a gun available to the cretin who killed children today in Newtown would not have 27 notches on his belt.

Lest we forget, this is just one more tragedy in a year that has seen this happen more than I think I’ve ever seen it happen before.  A quick look back thru the postings I’ve made this year shows me that this is the 3rd or 4th time I’ve commented on this same sort of tragedy.  Different day, different place, different number of deaths but at the end of it, people dead because someone had a gun.

Is this time for a debate about gun control?  Not really – it is time to actually think and understand what is really important today in society.  It is time to move beyond politics.  Maybe it is time to think about protecting the rights and lives of the masses rather than focusing so much on the rights of the individual.  Of course you diehard NRA dimwits won’t see it.  While I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, I’d like to have the conversation with you right after you got the call it was your child, your spouse, your grandchild – someone very important to you was one of the victims.  Maybe your cold and selfish heart would open a wee bit and maybe you would look beyond your own need for once.  And maybe I would tell you I told you so.

In the meantime, the rest of you who maintain your total anti-gun control stance – take a moment and think about those 25 or so families whose lives will never be the same again because of the power of your lobby.  Way to go….

Add one more notch to the belt of NRA

Headlines : Police constable, civilian killed as gunman opens fire near Texas A&M (today), Sikh Temple massacre, Aurora Colorado Movie Theater shootings, a massacre at a Seattle Cafe killing six, Seven dead in Oikos University shooting – these have all occurred since April this year.  With the possible exception of today’s murder, all the weapons have been legally purchased.  While the NRA and vocal gun nuts out there will continue to spew their usual crap around like “guns don’t kill people…” and continue to inaccurately cite the 2nd amendment, we continue to see blameless citizens killed and injured all around us.  To many, these numbers are not large and in the scheme of real numbers of those killed vs. the total population, they are not (aren’t statistics great!) however, I would challenge these people against any changes in gun control laws to show me another country, civilized (and I wonder about us at times) or not, that anywhere approaches a similar number of massacres and killings that we are seeing in increasing numbers.  For me, it isn’t about pure numbers – I don’t need to see a certain threshold to see we have a problem here.  But then again, I like to think I am reasonably intelligent and can see the forest thru the trees.

Do we think his fingers are still wrapped around that gun?

I don’t expect any NRA member or current anti-gun control person to care but I did find some interesting data that speaks to the growing issue we all face with people (anyone basically) having relatively easy access to weapons.  I’m still wondering the need to have assault rifles and high-capacity clip handguns within easy reach but that is just me.  Mother Jones, a nonprofit news organization that specializes in investigative, political, and social justice reporting (non-political despite yelling to the contrary), has pulled together some interesting information and statistics tracing the history of mass shootings in the US over the past 30 years.

Suggest you actually read the article (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/mass-shootings-map) but thought I would give a view into some of the more interesting data I found in the article.  Point of consideration when you look at the data, all the shootings that made the “list” happened during a single incident and in a public place and resulted in at least 4 people being killed (not including the shooter if we were so lucky to have him immediately out of society).

All following content credit to Mother Jones.

 

Credit: Sodahead.com