Tag: National Rifle Association (NRA)

It’s all right there, if you want to see…

It’s all right there, if you want to see…

ol·i·gar·chy (noun ˈä-lə-ˌgär-kē, ˈō-; plural: ol·i·gar·chies)
Full Definition of OLIGARCHY:
1 :  government by the few
2 :  a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes; also:  a group exercising such control [emphasis mine]

On April 9, 2014, this report was released on Princeton University’s website, and it’s shaken up news reports all over the world. It might come as no surprise to you, dear reader, that I’m not shocked at all by the finding. In fact, I’ve been using the term for at least the last several years, to describe in various threads just exactly what our country has become. If you think we’ve somehow escaped notice, think again:

The Telegraph: The US is an oligarchy, study concludes

Defence Pakistan: US is an oligarchy not a democracy, says scientific study

UPI: The US is not a democracy but an oligarchy, study concludes

All of a sudden, this is news. Only it’s not news.

 New York Times: Oligarchy, American Style (11/3/2011)

Mother Jones: How the Oligarchs Took America (12/2/2010)

Robert Reich’s film, Inequality For All, does a spectacular job of tying all the loose ends together to explain what happened to the U.S.A. over the last 30 years. I’ve written a lot about the symptoms in the last year and a half, but nothing connects them half as well as this simple, elegant movie.

Too many people spend their time repeating the talking points without understand the source of the platform. They trust the office without paying attention to the officer. They don’t know how to read between the lines because their education fails to explain that the subtext is just as important as the message. We got where we are today because the Republicans beat the Libertarians in 1980, and the Libertarians took a different path.

You can (and should) go back in this blog and read the articles I’ve posted on the Koch brothers, you can listen to the things Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have to say (because comedy is the best source of truth these days), or you can analyze the political rhetoric that’s starting to hit for each of the Senate and House races this year, but the bottom line is, we have maybe two years to get our act together and do something about the GO(T)P.

They’ve got a lock on two of the four (yes, four) branches of government: The Supreme Court and the House. Without cooperation across the aisles, the Senate is barely holding on. Today, the Senate leans Democratic, but that’s not a given based on the 2014 election analysis.

If the Senate flips back to the GO(T)P, and we put another Republican in the office of President, we can write off our country. The poor will become modern-day serfs and the middle class will join them because that class is a modern myth. The combined branches will finally get to do what they always wanted – rewrite the Constitution with impunity.

The Presidency depends on having enough votes in key states – most of which are undergoing the same sort of voter crap that Florida’s done. We tip one or the other (senate or presidency) in the direction of the GOP, and what little remains of our safety nets will disappear completely. Want some practice at reading between the lines? Try these articles out for size:

Huffington Post: Florida’s 13th District Bellwether Report: Why Obamacare’s Least Of Democrats’ Worries

Christian Science Monitor: Court rules Florida voter purge illegal, but will it stop GOP voting tweaks?

Purge the rolls of Democrats, lean a little in the direction most conservatives think they need to go, or split the vote a little more with the splinter parties (Green or Socialist) and the GOP will have what they want: Total control of the US government. Once that happens, they can rewrite our constitution, revise the rules for who gets to vote. Can’t happen? We have three Supreme Court Justices who are on the edge of retirement, and the guessing game for who will retire first, and who will replace them, is heating up. Have a good look at the Tea Party line and platform and you’ll see the fundamentals of the Neo-Fascists who are presently armed to the teeth, thanks to the NRA.

We can still stop the madness, but it’s getting harder, not easier. I’d hoped the GOP was the party of the Old White Male, but that ignores the younger population who are moving in through the Tea Party. I recognize that the Democrats have issues, but the things they want to support – the Social Safety Net, universal health care, public education – will ALL go away if they lose.  So like I said: We’ve got maybe two years to turn this around. We can’t wait until 2020. This election is important. The next one is critical.

And here we are…

And here we are…

At 11:58 pm on Monday, September 30, 2013.

Lest there be any question or confusion in anyone’s mind over who is directly responsible for the closure of our national parks, the sudden and explicable shutting down of services far and wide throughout the country, and the eternal brinkmanship of the Tea Party, this article sums it up for you:

Boehner Refuses To Allow Vote on Popular Democratic Bill That Would Avoid Government Shutdown

That’s right, kids. The Hydra is just about ready to eat itself, and all because political theatre is more important than running the country.

But why? Why?

Here’s what’s been brewing in my head the last two weeks, thanks to yet another mass shooting, in my neck of the woods. Better buckle your seatbelts and hang on. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis driven by delusions

On September 16, 2013, something remarkable happened. Again.

13 people died, including a mentally ill man, aged 34. Those are the details you can gather from the article above. Additional details have surfaced about how Alexis’ behavior was cause for concern, but not sufficiently off to justify actual medical treatment. He was, as far as anyone knew, fit enough to hold a security clearance and to purchase guns and ammunition. And as soon as the act was over, and it was clear the shooter was dead, all we had left was a series of clues that added up to a head-scratchingly vague image of what drove this man to commit random murders that morning.

This time, the discussion of gun control ended before it even had a chance to start, because the timing was so close to the end of the government’s fiscal year, even this tremendous loss of life, just a short mile or so away from Capitol Hill, was insufficient to jumpstart the discussion of sane guidelines for owning and operating a firearm.

Stunning, really, because one short week later, all the news reports could talk about was whether there would be compromise.

I could have told them then that there wouldn’t be. There’s no reason for compromise. You can’t compromise with terrorists.

These senselessness acts of violence and mayhem are no less vile than the one perpetrated by the members of our House of Representatives against this country and our people. Republicants, Thuglicans, Tea Publicans – call them what you want, but whatever, you need to wake up and realize that the whole group is suffering from a case of paranoid schizophrenia, and we have left the disease untreated because we can’t seem to figure out what to do with the mentally ill.

These citizens, armed with hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars are telling the rest of us that we’re to blame for the mess our country is in.

A ‘post-democracy’ phase

Really?

Why are we in this mess today?

Because people in Ohio (a state bought and sold by ALEC) elected John Boehner again in 2012.

Boehner has zero interest in working the differences out. It’s not why he was elected.

The extreme Right elected him and his ilk because they don’t WANT the rest of the country to know that the way to fix the problem is to reverse 30 years of Trickle Down Damage, brought on by people who believed the horse hockey Saint Reagan fed them when he said all we needed to do was make it easier for the rich to spend their money and everyone would win.

It took 30 years for us to get where we are today, and the plutocracy like what they have just fine. Keep the scum down and they can’t rise up like they did in France because they’re too busy chasing turban-wrapped shadows and uppity black Presidents. 

When Mitt Romney made those ill-timed comments and the nice guy waiting tables caught him on camera, he wasn’t talking to the general voters. He was talking to his infernal brotherhood. And now, his puppet masters are mad because they didn’t get their way last November, so here we are, 45 minutes after midnight and not a budget in sight. 

The only way this has to do with the Democrats is that they are not the Tea Party. Ergo, they are W.R.O.N.G.

And the worst thing is, every last one of the Tea Party’s supporters has swallowed the crap the Koch brothers have fed them through the last 30 years. Y’all should be ashamed of yourselves.

The only difference between what Aaron Alexis did and what the House Republicans are doing now is that he was shot for his crimes. Instant retribution. The House of Representatives is still getting a big, fat paycheck (more in a year than I’ve made in the last 10 years, combined). They’re not going to see anything happen – at least until November 2014. (See that countdown ticker to the right? That’s how long we have before we can fix this mess.)

The last time the government shut down, Newt Gingrich was in the driver seat. Even Newt has figured out this is wrong-headed.

Newt Gingrich: ‘No Grand Strategy’ Around Possible Government Shutdown

Maybe the Affordable Care Act will do what we haven’t been able to accomplish since the GOP sucked the life out of the House in the 1990s – finally win the government back so that we can rise back up to our former glory as a compassionate country that takes care of its own. Instead of throwing our most vulnerable citizens under the bus, perhaps we can find a way to make it possible for us to enjoy life again. But first, the Tea Party has to go.

Someone needs to stop the insanity.

And the sooner, the better.

An a-HAH moment worthy of exploration…

An a-HAH moment worthy of exploration…

On Facebook, where I can often be found expounding on issues that I imagine many of my friends would simply rather ignore, I’ve gotten involved in a conversation about Baltimore’s crime rate. Well, not that, exactly, because the discussion has devolved into an argument about gun control and whether it is constitutional.

One of the points included a reference to United States v. Miller.

I think I’ve read the Wikipedia page before, but today’s read of the statements brought new insight which would, I imagine, cause all other arguments to fall apart:

Imagine for a moment that men and women who keep such arms do so at the pleasure of the military and can thus be called to serve BECAUSE they keep them.

Think on that for a moment. Chew it thoroughly. Because the first part, so often missed, regarding the Second Amendment involves the existence and necessity of a well-regulated militia. The whole amendment reads thusly:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Now I’ve read some things that are concerning the true meaning of “militia” in context of the Bill of Rights when it was originally ratified in December 15, 1791, submitted by James Madison prior to his presidency and while the U.S. Constitution was still in its infancy. I’ve come to associate the term Militia with the Southern Militias whose specific purpose was to put down Indian uprisings and keep the slave population enslaved.

Fast forward a few hundred years. We don’t have a slave population (at least, not the way we once did in this country) and we haven’t had a civil war in 150 years. And our guns aren’t muskets anymore.

Just the same, imagine for a moment that such a burden is actually placed on the gun owners themselves. As a gun owner, you are expected to render your services up to the U.S. of A. at any moment simply because you own a gun.

I wonder just how fast we would see the backpedaling on the sanctity of the Second Amendment and gun ownership in this country. After all, if we have militias why do we need the National Guard?

If the rights and responsibilities of gun ownership include an instant ticket to the draft, how fast would the National Rifle Association’s tune change?

In fact, I wonder that this actual approach has not yet been tried by gun control advocates, because it sure makes sense to me.

We could decommission more of our standing troops in favor of employing those with guns to serve in the National Guard at the will of government. We could save a whole bunch of money, keeping those weekend warriors who don’t have guns at home and deploy only those with guns into battle. Training would fall on the government. No more out of pocket costs for weapons or ammo. We’d have no trouble eliciting gun registration because that’s what guns are for, after all: The protection of our sovereign territory.

If the purpose of owning a gun is to protect the country (as a well-regulated Militia ought to do), it only makes sense that gun owners should expect to be pressed into service anytime, anywhere.

Am I right?

Slate.com: Rethinking Gun Control – Surprising findings from a comprehensive report on gun violence.

Connecting the Dots, Part 2

Connecting the Dots, Part 2

United States of ALEC from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.

On October 11, 2012, I wrote the following post: Do you know ALEC? If not, you should. And you should be afraid. Continue reading “Connecting the Dots, Part 2”

Did I hear you right…?

Did I hear you right…?

You know, aside from the questionable benefits of drinking overpriced coffee or (in the case of last Friday) tea, and solid support for Marriage Equality – among other things – I gotta give Starbucks credit for hiring people who are generally literate.

Last Friday, I walked in fresh from a philosophical lunchtime discussion that was about to get a lot deeper, about the detrimental effects a professor whose delivery method lacks quite a bit in terms of clarity but who claims to be an authority, and what his impressionable students take away with them having encountered his authoritarian views on the subject.

The subject came up because I was simply appalled at the description said prof gave of a historical British figure, Benjamin Disraeli, the only “Jewish” prime minister of Britain. (a technicality, because Disraeli became a member of the Anglican Church at the age of 12).

It wasn’t the mention of Disraeli but the racial description that caught me off guard. I imagine the point was that this is what people thought of him, but the stereotypical framing of Disraeli’s features, his “annoying voice” (as seen in the movies…yes, really) were classic. And (IMNSHO) dead wrong. How do you prolong a stereotype? Repeat it. In class. When students are hanging on to every word as if it might appear on a test, which is possible.

So we talked about this, at length, at lunch. I know the guy means well, but if I hadn’t been running late, I might have stopped and given my prof a piece of my mind. I’ll be over it again by Wednesday, so I’ll let it rest for now, but on Friday we continued to discuss the subject, up to the point where the barista was working on filling measuring cups with hot steamed milk. She overheard the conversation and pointed me to the article below.

TED Talks: Chimamanda Adichie:
The danger of a single story

I’ll admit, I’ve been on TED a few times, and I’m pleased that NPR is picking up on these stories as jumping off points, so I get to hear about them more often than I have in a while, but she caught me off guard by agreeing with me on the subject. Bravo for her!

If we only hear one point of view, we might never know there are other points to believe. If the only stories we read are about people who are not us, we lose our own stories and we lose our frame of reference. It’s the danger I see in religious-based homeschooling as well. If you restrict the teaching so you never cover science, if your only sources for truth are intentionally omitting  important data, you’ll never know what you’re missing.

And if a professor draws a conclusion that Disraeli is the epitome of a Jew because he has short dark curly hair, small, beady eyes and a big nose, then that’s what you will come to expect. If you opt not to open your eyes to reality, you’ll be surprised to find people of African descent with blue eyes because it never occurs to you that blue eyes are recessive, not impossible. (I made that mistake 20 years ago and never forgot the look on my doctor’s face when I expressed surprise. I should have known better. Now I do.)

This point was so shocking, I lost a portion of the lecture in trying to wrap my mind around what he said.

If we are surprised at the political leanings of the White Student Union of Towson, we should look to our educators. These kids had to learn it somewhere. But that’s not all. Take a gander at the comments in this article from Towson’s Patch.

White Student Union Speaker Preaches Racial Separateness
More than 200 people visited Towson University to hear Jared Taylor, a self-described “racial realist.”

We’re on shaky ground in my class. We’re getting ready to talk about pre-Nazi Germany. Just as it’s easy to fall into the trap of self-diagnosis when one is a medical student, it’s also too easy to see Nazis everywhere. Trouble is, the Tea Party has built much of its party line on the foundation of racial supremacy, intolerance and nationalism, the same foundation on which the Nazis rose to power.

It’s hard not to see them everywhere. The only question (and I think it’s a good one) is whether we have enough of a balance to keep the wolves at bay. There’s an awful lot of paranoia out there right now, and a whole bunch of it is armed to the teeth, supported by the NRA and by power brokers like the Koch brothers.

“Just because you’re paranoid
doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”

–Joseph Heller, Catch-22

Rachel Maddow has it right.

Rachel Maddow has it right.

The Rachel Maddow Show covered Sandy Hook in crystal clear terms. If you are at all squeamish about discussions over how the students and teachers of the school lost their lives…watch this anyway. She bases her report on an article in the Hartford Courant

The Rachel Maddow Show: March 14, 2013,

First Segment

Don’t want to take the time to watch? Let me save you some time. Here’s the transcript of Rachel’s show, dated March 14, 2013, published on the same site.

This summary of all that Rachel’s report represents, the timeline of the murders (a graphic description of the event and not for the faint of heart, but mandatory reading for anyone who wants to block the efforts to ban high-capacity weapons), including how the Bush Administration’s deconstruction of Senator Feinstein’s law ultimately led to this tragedy, together with the unspeakably snide, condescending, patronizing attack by Texas Senator Ted Cruz leaves me absolutely speechless.

So, frankly, does any pro-gun attack on Senator Feinstein.

I dare anyone–ANYONE–who speaks against Senator Feinstein’s experience in San Francisco, at ground zero for Mayor Mosconi and Supervisor Harvey Milk’s assassination, or in that office building in San Francisco in 1993 to put themselves in her place and still tell me they don’t understand the Senator’s views  about assault weapons.

Let me summarize: It took just over five minutes for the shooter to walk into the school, shoot every one of the teachers and kids in his path and exhaust his four high-capacity cartridges before turning the pistol on himself.

Five minutes.

Here’s an exercise for you.

Look at your clock. The one over the stove, next to the desk, on your computer, on your phone. Whatever.

Don’t look away from the clock. Don’t listen to the radio. Turn off the video and stop reading.

Feel how long five minutes is.

Ready?

Go.

Now imagine.

Imagine the horror of being in Sandy Hook Elementary School as this is happening.

Imagine being six.

Being the only student in your classroom to make it out alive, and then only because you played possum.

Imagine how this experience has changed you.

You’re just six. You have your whole life ahead of you while your classmates are gone.

Blown away.

And then tell me why you need that high-capacity cartridge again.

Because if you can still feel so strongly about the right to promote this carnage, to allow unfettered access to these weapons, you can go find somewhere more appropriate for your exercise of that particular freedom. You do not stand for the right to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness.

These weapons do NOTHING to support our three basic rights as outlined by the Declaration of Independence.

I don’t particularly want you or your high-capacity guns near me, my friends or family.

Thank you, Rachel, for your perspective.

It’s all there. All you have to do is look…

It’s all there. All you have to do is look…

Sedition:

In lawsedition is overt conduct, such as speech and organization, that is deemed by the legal authority to tend toward insurrection against the established order. Sedition often includes subversion of a constitution and incitement of discontent (or resistance) to lawful authority. Sedition may include any commotion, though not aimed at direct and open violence against the laws. Seditious words in writing are seditious libel. A seditionist is one who engages in or promotes the interests of sedition.

Typically, sedition is considered a subversive act, and the overt acts that may be prosecutable under sedition laws vary from one legal code to another. Where the history of these legal codes has been traced, there is also a record of the change in the definition of the elements constituting sedition at certain points in history. This overview has served to develop a sociological definition of sedition as well, within the study of state persecution.

The difference between sedition and treason consists primarily in the subjective ultimate object of the violation to the public peace. Sedition does not consist of levying war against a government nor of adhering to its enemies, giving enemies aid, and giving enemies comfort. Nor does it consist, in most representative democracies, of peaceful protest against a government, nor of attempting to change the government by democratic means (such as direct democracy or constitutional convention).

Sedition is the stirring up of rebellion against the government in power. Treason is the violation of allegiance to one’s sovereign or state, giving aid to enemies, or levying war against one’s state. Sedition is encouraging one’s fellow citizens to rebel against their state, whereas treason is actually betraying one’s country by aiding and abetting another state. Sedition laws somewhat equate to terrorism and public order laws.

people think that the Republicans  are afraid -- that the economy will be harmed when tax rates go up on the  rich. It`s the opposite of the truth. They are terrified that when tax  rates go up on the rich, it`s not going to harm the economy. And 30 years  of ridiculous orthodox are going to go down the drain with it. - Nick Hanauer

Courtesy of http://stfuhypocrisy.tumblr.com/post/35992280941/people-think-that-the-republicans-are-afraid

The above quote comes from an episode of THE ED SHOW with ED SCHULTZ on MSNBC aired November 16, 2012. You’ll find the quote a little over halfway down the transcript, but it’s all there.

Special abilities are often called gifts. Some folks might consider it mind reading, but I was apparently gifted with an ability to match patterns. I solve jigsaw puzzles with a speed and drive that excludes all else. So here’s my pattern-matching gift to you, courtesy of my curse. But it doesn’t take a genius (and I’m not that), to see where we are headed.

What isn’t clear at this point is what the revolution will look like when it happens, but happen it will, so long as the American Aristocracy continues to hold firm to the belief that wealth entitlement is a right in this country, and that sharing is not necessary to the overall health of the country. The French learned this lesson, but not before tens of thousands lost their lives, including the king and queen.

Robert Reich knows it. The Sequester and the Tea Party Plot, posted on February 28, 2013, includes this damning statement regarding the Tea Party: “Sequestration grew out of a strategy hatched soon after they took over the House in 2011, to achieve their goals by holding hostage the full faith and credit of the United States – notwithstanding the Constitution’s instruction that the public debt of the United States “not be questioned.””

Ezra Klein of the Washington Post’s WONKBlog posted this on March 2, 2013: This is why Obama can’t make a deal with Republicans. He knows it too.

So do the folks at Mashable: Viral Video Shows the Extent of U.S. Wealth Inequality

The links at the end of the video are here, for those of you who just can’t stand to see these claims without the statistics to back them up:

Finally, there’s this, from UNCOMMON SENSE: TO NAVIGATE UNCHARTED WATERS OF 21ST CENTURY LIFE:

Stranded Island Dilemma

The Tea Party is amazingly good at pointing the fingers elsewhere and laying blame, and for that I suppose they will be remembered as a modern equivalent to Robespierre’s single-minded, blood-thirsty Mountain, the organization that finally brought down the French Aristocracy, except for one key point, and a major point at that: The Tea Party does NOT represent you.

Read that again.

The Tea Party does NOT represent you.

They never have. They, and many Tea-leaning Libertarians, believe in the very fiber of their beings, that this country was not formed to do any of the things outlined by Jefferson and the rest of the men who drafted and signed on to the Declaration of Independence.

Quite the contrary. They wish to restore the country to its original aristocratic roots, to ensure that those who have achieved all their wealth, the modern-day First Estate, remain exactly where they are, and that the rest of us should be reduced to the serfs we are.

To achieve their goals, they will do anything they can to subvert the standing administration, because they were all elected legally to their positions.

Our founders could not have foreseen the Gerrymander. They could not imagine automatic weapons. They had no concept that our country’s ruling class might one day look different from them: white males of western European descent. It never, ever, occurred to them that we might one day look down the gun barrels at each other, and fight to the death to protect wealth we have NO chance of ever achieving ourselves. They drive their own Grand Bargain, in which the poor simply die off and the wealthy walk over their bones.

I am not exaggerating.

I have lost friends who knew me casually out of the political context because they are certain I am absolutely dead wrong and unable to listen to reason. They imagine themselves at the forefront of the debate, because the rhetoric must mean them when it comes to giving up wealth. I don’t have many friends whose incomes exceed the six figure mark, and the vast number of them don’t have a lot of patience for the stupidity playing out in Washington and in the back rooms of local political offices across the country. The core reason people have walked away, aside from my inability to keep my politics to myself, is the fundamental assumption that I am somehow after their guns, their religion, their way of life.

I represent the Ebil Liberal.

No matter how many times or ways I can illustrate where these ideas are coming or the inherent problems with them, there is simply no telling them they are wrong, and that the country will do just fine on its current trajectory.

Just today, I saw a post that says, essentially, the Ninth Amendment entitles me to do whatever I want, because my rights already exist. (Okay, that’s not what he said, but what’s sauce for the gander…) It is, in essence, the same divine right by which the French Aristocracy died. You can do whatever you want, as long as I can do whatever I want, and no rule of law can touch me because my rights trump your laws.

I will freely admit that I have never, ever understood the Libertarian mind. I don’t think I ever, ever will. This isn’t just a fight to keep and bear arms, or to protect the safety net, or to ensure domestic tranquility. This is the ultimate in brinksmanship. This time, I don’t know that the United States of America can handle the stress. With hundreds of thousands laid off on top of an already fragile economy, there’s simply nowhere else to go. Relying on the sweet hereafter as an alternative simply isn’t enough.

We are less than two years from the next round of elections, but that could well be too late. It certainly won’t be enough to clear the Senate, and will change all too little in the House.

Buckle up. We’re in for a bumpy year.

Can’t happen here…

Can’t happen here…

Yesterday I saw this article from the New York Times come across my Facebook news feed. I know it’s starting to make the rounds. If you haven’t seen it yet, you might want to take the time to read.

The Holocaust Just Got More Shocking

From the article:

“Auschwitz and a handful of other concentration camps have come to symbolize the Nazi killing machine in the public consciousness. Likewise, the Nazi system for imprisoning Jewish families in hometown ghettos has become associated with a single site — the Warsaw Ghetto, famous for the 1943 uprising. But these sites, infamous though they are, represent only a minuscule fraction of the entire German network, the new research makes painfully clear.”

What bothers me most isn’t the stunning magnitude of the study, though I think it ought to come as no surprise, but how the information got lost in the first place. I don’t find the discovery surprising at all.

Many people assume blithely that the Nazi movement was limited to a few camps. Some even deny it happened at all. We’re not talking about the Japanese Internment Camps or today’s immigrant tent cities. Imagine for a moment that for every city, town, hamlet or village in the US there was at least one area where people were rounded up, forced into slavery, required to do hideous acts or simply killed outright because of their beliefs, sexuality or heritage.

Cabaret: Tomorrow belongs to me

Can’t imagine it now, can you, because we’re above that sort of thing here. We learned our lessons. We’re not Nazi Germany.

Right. Yes. Sure.

Only we haven’t ALL learned this truth. Some of us in the US still believe the despicable actions of our southern forefathers were justifiable because people of African descent simply were not human. And that doesn’t begin to cover the atrocious treatment of Native Americans, or of today’s immigrant populations.

Those who think either the Holocaust was exaggerated or didn’t happen at all seem to have that same sense of justification for holding and amassing guns today. Witness this:

Gun Activists Warn Obama is Raising a Private Black Army to Massacre White Americans

Now before you go all crazy on me, I know already that gun advocates are not all extremists. Not all Christians are fundamentalists, either. And not all Jews support Israel. You have only to go outside your local frame of reference to find people who ARE extremists and who DO believe that if you’re not an English-speaking Christian, you’re worthless. And you’ll be surprised, I suspect, to find just how many people agree with the people in this video.

It’s scary to think how many people there are in the US who would think nothing at all of advocating the same sort of violence. We don’t have numbers because our system of government allows so very much autonomy between the states. Our system of information sharing is deeply flawed. Each state manages its own criminal records and laws. Some states go out of their way to avoid reciprocity, claiming States’ Rights.

The overall effect is that one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing. Given the mob mentality that doesn’t just promote hatred but provides the fuel for acting on it, we may wake up one day and discover the problem is everywhere, right here in our own backyard.

It’s not the government in this country that we should worry about. It’s the rest of the hive mind.

In the dialogue between our various religious factions, we constantly lose sight of the tolerance that helped found this country. There isn’t a single document at the federal level that says the US is all about English-speaking Christians. Maybe that is enough to keep dogma from destroying our country and its multitude of cultures, but I’m not ready to believe that an American Holocaust can’t happen.

Bloomberg Businessweek sums up the problem of gun control and the current debate nicely: A DOJ Memo Shows Why the NRA Wins on Gun Control, but much more telling are the comments. You often hear people say you should ignore the comments in these articles or YouTube videos, but I suggest reading them. The education is there for the taking. You just have to know where to look.

Learn to recognize hate speech and the organizations that promote it and stop supporting them before it’s too late.

The end of the beginning…

The end of the beginning…

This week I did something I haven’t done since 1987. I attended classes in college.

There’s a long, relatively ugly story about why it took so long for me to go back, stemming from experiences with failure to meet expectations, ill-defined goals, and misunderstanding bureaucracy that might see the light of day here someday, but not now.

Trying to tie up loose ends so that I could be sure to have enough brain-space to focus on the two classes, I’ve devoted a bunch of time to filing (or round filing) an enormous amount of clutter around the house. There’s other clutter in my head that will take more than just opening a box, sifting its contents and pitching out the stuff I don’t need. Too much, really, to sum up here, and mostly trivial at that.

The highlights taking up brain space now include:

1. The ongoing gun ownership/regulation/insurance debate.

2. My petition to the White House: Repeal the USA Patriot Act in its entirety, which garnered enough signatures to go public but is now languishing in sophomore territory as the days tick down. 25,000 signatures before Feb. 7 seems unobtainable at this point. [The petition’s gone now; so sorry.]

3.  A long-term video sharing project; and,

4. Class reading – Western Civilization to Modern Times and 2-D Basic Design (Art 101).

That, plus my 20-hour job and the day-to-day chores (cooking, laundry, bill-paying and sleep, in pretty much that order), make up the majority of this week’s activities.

Obviously, something had to give, and this blog was something. I intend to keep at it, though, because the things I post are important to me, and ought to be important to you, whether or not you like what I have to say about them. I don’t plan to abandon this ongoing project now that I’ve started it.

Taking Western Civ this semester seems counterproductive if my goal for school is to formalize my web design and multimedia experience, so I can make a full-time job materialize. You’d be right, except that I am finding out all sorts of things I missed when I took history classes in the past. I’m seeking connections and reflecting on them here. What better way to understand those connections than to study them, especially as they relate to 1 and 2 above.

The reading is dense, to be sure. It’s giving me the opportunity to exercise my brain, which I think needs to happen. And I’m getting out of the house and out of the office. Change should, in theory, be good for me. Going to school means I can also get sharp about negotiating for my benefits.

So if you miss me, let me know.

And now a couple of words about 1., because I can’t resist the opportunity. Going to be brief, because I need to get ready for class, but also needs to be said.

WTF, NRA?

Seriously?!?

We all need to get a grip, and not on objects in our holsters. The Wild West was mostly myth, and a brief one at that. We don’t live in Tombstone, AZ, and even if we did, it’s mostly a tourist trap today. The sooner we stop romanticizing war, spies, gunslingers and violence in general, the better we will be at seeing people at either end of the gun.

The NRA represents the economic interests of gun manufacturers. They don’t give a flying you-know-what about you, your home or your family. They just want you to keep their clients in business and they will do whatever it takes to make sure that happens. Corporate Greed, meet the 98%.

Just say NO!

Today’s the day.

Today’s the day.

There is no irony for me today, no sense of amusement that our recognized Inauguration Day falls today on the same Monday when we honor the life and recognize the too-early death of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Yesterday, in our congregation, we sang this anthem and spent a time considering not just its historical significance but also how far we still have to go before we can truly say that all men and women are free in this country.

Too often in the last few weeks have I heard that we are all entitled to keep our guns, that the KKK would not have been controlled without them. And yet, I have come to realize the truth, so simply stated and yet so lost in the mists of time, that without them slavery would have ended before the Declaration of Independence was signed by rich white men who made decisions on behalf of other rich white men.

Given our past year’s worth of revelations, I am sad to say that so little has changed.

I can boil our country’s problems down to keywords. I don’t have to talk about them. I only have to say their names and you will know what I am talking about. That is the awesome and terrible power of the Internet and of the media. From Hurricane Sandy to Sandy Hook, from Aurora to Afghanistan, Algeria, Syria and Israel. From Pakistan to Palestine, there is great injustice in the world, but no less great than right here in the good old U. S. of A.

Selma, Montgomery, Memphis, Jackson, Birmingham and Atlanta stand as just a few reminders of our country’s dark past – one I don’t share except by the color of my skin, because my family did not arrive in Brooklyn, NY until the turn of the last century. Although I don’t share that past, I am no less appalled. Rather, I am learning to make changes so that we can truly fulfill our potential as leaders in democracy and freedom for all.

Today, we have a new form of slavery – just as despicable and yet so little recognized that we prefer to think of THEM and justify all sorts of horrible things because of our obviously European roots. The “war on drugs,” rights to gun ownership, arguments against affirmative action, public school access – these all have a common thread of race that ties them together and keeps our classes apart.

Public schools have become prisons designed to indoctrinate instead of inspiring our children to do better. We want our children to toe the line, to become polite, subservient cogs in the machinery of our corporate system. We eject those who fail to fit, forcing most into what amounts to a lifetime of slavery. We should be appalled at the statistics, not just of the prison populations but of the total number of people we lose every year to violence in general.

In Australia, after a mass shooting in 1996 led to sweeping gun ownership reforms, the University of Sidney launched a web site which I discovered yesterday in response to a conversation on Facebook about gun ownership. The conversation started with an image on the Being Liberal Facebook Page, but it didn’t end there, because a friend posted a link to gun homicides in the US, thinking (I assume) that was the end of the discussion. The fact is, his numbers were deceptive because they ignore all the OTHER deaths by gun in this country and elsewhere. It’s a sad testament to the power of the National Rifle Association that we have to go outside our country to find accurate statistics for gun violence.

From their own web site: “GunPolicy.org is hosted by the Sydney School of Public Health, [at] the University of Sydney. The School provides internationally recognised leadership in public health by advancing and disseminating knowledge — in this case, supporting global efforts to prevent gun injury.”

The Unitarian Universalists have launched a new campaign: Thirty Days of Love. The movement calls for us to think about mass incarceration not just to take criminals off our streets, but as an opportunity to see WHO is being swept into prison and the effect imprisonment has on our country.

On August 28, 1963, a little over two months before I was born, Rev. King gave his “I have a dream” speech, not quite 15 miles from where I live now. It saddens me to know that we still have so far to go to achieve Rev. King’s dream.

President Barack Obama took the oath of office yesterday, so that he can carry on the work he began four years ago. There is still a great deal to do, so long as there are still people who think of him as “uppity” and unfit for office simply because of the color of his skin. I don’t often pray, and seldom to god, but I will pray that the people in this country and elsewhere learn to understand and savor our differences and to choose responsibility over prejudice.

We have a long way to go.

Theme: Elation by Kaira.