GUN EMPOWERMENT: “I AM THE TRUE ALPHA MALE”

On May 23, 2014 in Isla Vista, California, Elliot Rodger murdered six people and injured thirteen others before taking his own life.  These words are from his “manifesto” e-mailed moments after he began is killing spree:

Elliot Rodgers

Elliot Rodgers

“I don’t know why you girls are so repulsed by me.” “I am polite. I am the ultimate gentleman. And yet, you girls never give me a chance. I don’t know why.”

“I deserve girls much more than all those slobs,”

“You will finally see that I am, in truth, the superior one, the true alpha male.”

The e-mail titled “My Twisted World” and the video titled “Elliot Rodger’s Retribution” that he uploaded to Youtube speak to the personal issues Elliot was dealing with that led him to commit this horrific crime.

The Rodger’s family attorney stated that Elliot had been “receiving psychiatric treatment” for years for a never diagnosed mental illness.  Rodger claimed that he was “increasingly bullied” during high school.  After high school Rodger became more and more isolated, claiming that he was unable to make friends.  Women rejected him, men taunted and picked on him.  Not exactly the picture of an “alpha male.”

So exactly when did Elliot Rodger become ” the superior one?”  Was it when he picked up that semi-automatic handgun?  Did he become the “true alpha male” when he “racked the slide” and chambered that first round.  Was it when he stabbed and killed the three males in his apartment? Questions?  Yes.  But the answers can be found within the questions.

I don’t want to hear that three people were killed by stabbing, that most were injured by the car he was driving.  These are facts, but facts that belie the truth.

The truth is that having a gun was all the empowerment Rodgers needed to pursue his horrific agenda. Elliot had a beef with the girls who “never give me a chance.”  He had a beef with the “slobs” that get the girls he deserve’s much more.  All of these girls and slobs were having a party inside his head, and he wasn’t invited.  Poor thing. So he decided that he was going to show them.

So  now 7 people are dead, including Rodgers, more are injured and America is, once again, in shock.

Now some will say that “only” four people died directly from gunfire, the rest by stabbing and the injured were hurt by his vehicle, but let’s not continue to deceive ourselves.  The empowerment of this person was a direct result of having a gun.  The gun made him “the true alpha male.”

I wondered why Wayne LaPierre was, and is, so out front in defense of the NRA for it’s complicity in our gun violence problem.  I’ve concluded that this is by design.  As long as we see Wayne LaPierre and the NRA as the problem, we are not looking at where the real problems lay.  LaPierre and his cohorts are not the whole problem, a part of it perhaps, but, they are part of a planned mis-direction.  As long as we are looking at them we are not seeing that the real problem is living next door to us, driving down our streets, eating beside us in restaurants, sharing a pew in our churches.  “Good guys with guns,” becoming “bad guys with guns,” sometimes right before our eyes.

I’m not suggesting that we ignore LaPierre and his cohorts, just [that] we not become so distracted by them, by our animus toward them, that we not focus on “what is” the real problem.  The NRA hasn’t killed anyone.  They just sit back, relax, and then ultimately laugh all the way to the bank as we continue to fight for the right to kill one another.

They laugh because the joke is indeed on us.

They are the ringmasters in this circus, and we are the clowns.

RAY’S DAY!

February 3, 2013 was the Baltimore Ravens day.  They won Super Bowl XLVII and now sit on top of the football world..  World champions.  And with that, Ray Lewis joins John Elway, Jerome Bettis, and Michael Strahan, as one the NFL’s elite players to resign after a successful run to the top.

So, on Feb. 4th, I settled in to read the various reports about Ray’s final battle.  The warrior ending his final game, standing erect and proud.  17 years of combat, 17 years in the trenches, all leading to this, the last dance, at the final prom of a glorious career.  And what a career!

The website “Athlon Sports” ranks Ray the greatest middle linebacker in NFL history.  This is how writer Nathan Rush describes him:

ray lewis pre game

ray lewis pre game (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Ray Lewis, Baltimore Ravens (1996-2012)
2000 Defensive Player of the Year
2003 Defensive Player of the Year
7-time first-team All-Pro
13-time Pro Bowler
Super Bowl XXXV MVP
Super Bowl XXXV champion
Super Bowl XLVII champion
“It’s hard to argue with No. 52 — whose off-the-charts football IQ, spiritual leadership and on-field accomplishments are unmatched. Along with his overflowing trophy case, Lewis posted 41.5 sacks, 31 INTs returned for 503 yards and three TDs, 19 forced fumbles, 20 fumble recoveries and one safety in the regular season; and six forced fumbles, two INTs returned for 54 yards and one TD, and two sacks in the playoffs. And that dance. Don’t forget Ray’s dance.”

http://www.athlonsports.com/nfl/25-greatest-middle-linebackers-nfl-history

Hard to argue, yes, yet for many fans (and I use that word cautiously) this sparkling career is not enough.  They argue that Mr. Lewis should not be a first ballot hall-of-famer, in fact some say he shouldn’t be in the Hall at all.  That is quite simply, ridiculous!  A lot of those who are against him say it is because of his involvement in the incident after Super Bowl XXXIV in Atlanta, January 31, 2000 where two men, Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar, were killed after an altercation outside of the Cobalt Lounge, just north of downtown.  Though initially indicted on murder and aggravated assault charges, those charges were dismissed and Ray pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and testified against two other defendants.  His punishment was a years probation by the courts and a $250,000 fine by the NFL.  Was it enough?  The courts said yes.  The NFL said yes.  For some, though, no penalty is sufficient.

They have called him a murderer and a thug.  They have use his out-of-court settlements in two potential civil suits as an admission of guilt.  (He must be guilty of something, or why would he settle?)  They have attacked his off-field personal life.  (As if an athlete or any entertainer, for that matter, should be held to a standard different from the rest of America)

Now, it’s not as though Ray does not have his supporters.  There’s one group that I call true football fans whose only concerns are what goes on between the lines.  These are the people who appreciate Ray for his on-field accomplishments, his leadership on the field, and his motivation in the “room.”  To them, only the above mentioned statistics matter.

Then there are the fans of Ray.  These are the people who believe in Ray’s redemption.  Here’s an example:

favoriteson:

“An under-appreciated fact about Ray Lewis. He left U Miami after 3 years in 1996 to sign with the Ravens, not having finished college. But in 2004, he completed his fourth year and got a degree from Univ. of Maryland. Obviously, he did  not need his BA degree for any financial or employment reason, and he did it by taking tough college courses, not ones designed for athletes. He did this because it demonstrated his appreciation for education. Yes, he did make some poor choices when younger, but he clearly turned his life around. How many other pro sports stars return to finish college? Ray Lewis did.”

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/nfl/news/20130204/ray-lewis-baltimore-ravens-super-bowl-xlvii/#ixzz2LXoPhEXu

This was written about Ray in his “wiki” biography:

“Lewis has been heavily involved in charitable activities throughout his professional career. He started the Ray Lewis 52 Foundation which is a nonprofit corporation whose mission is to provide personal and economic assistance to disadvantaged youth. The foundation has funded such events as adopting 10 families in the Baltimore City community for the holidays, an annual celebrity auction and bowling tournament, the Great Maryland Duck Derby, Thanksgiving food drives on North Avenue in Baltimore, and Ray’s Summer Days. All proceeds have helped fund the Ray Lewis Foundation.

Lewis has since been involved in pressing political, business, and philanthropic leaders for a stronger commitment to disability sports both here and in the developing world. Lewis was also honored with a JB award (named in honor of CBS broadcaster James Brown) during the 2006 off-season and received the “Act of Kindness” Award for his work in the community.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Lewis

I looked up a definition of the word “redemption” and this is what I found:

1. improving of something: the act of saving something or somebody from a declined, dilapidated, or corrupted state and restoring it, him, or her to a better condition

2. redeemed state: the improved state of somebody or something saved from apparently irreversible decline

3. atonement for human sin: deliverance from the sins of humanity by the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross

Using the above definitions as a measurement, it’s easy for me to accept that Ray has redeemed his life.  For many, though, it’s not enough.  Many, in spite of the evidence, don’t want to believe that Ray did not personally wield a knife and kill those two men.

It was to those “haters,” and I call them that because their hatred of Ray is all they evidence, that I wrote a comment on a Sports Illustrated article titled “Imperfect and slowed, but Lewis ends career on top with Ravens” written by Don Banks.  Here is my comment and the conversation that ensued:

IsaacLittsey:

“In the 2nd month of the year 2018, there will be weeping, wailing and the gnashing of teeth.  For on a date set forth by the NFL it will be announced that Ray Lewis, in his first year of eligibility, has been selected to enter the hallowed halls of the National Football Hall Of Fame and take his place among the “Football elites.”This, for some, will be difficult to understand, and perhaps even more difficult to accept.  Perhaps some will turn away from the game (there’s always that other type of football), maybe turn away from sports all together.  If so, well, so be it.That day, though, is going to be Ray’s day, a day of celebration, and I will be there.  Look, in spite of what’s being said, the man murdered no one, nor was he charged with murder.  His obstruction charge was because he was loyal to the people that  were with him.That there was no convictions in the case is solely the fault of law enforcement, giddy with the thought of arresting a celebrity that they lost sight of what their objective should have been, the search for truth and justice.  But I’m sure you “haters” know that.  If not, so be “that,” too.  Just go on hating.There’s a song that goes “Haters want to hate, Lovers want to love.  I don’t even want, none of the above,” sung by Dave Chappelle on his comedy show.  If you can find the song, listen to the line after that.”

 ryjpoll:

@IsaacLittsey   “His obstruction charge was because he was loyal to the people that were with him.”I would never be loyal to someone who committed double homicide.  How anyone could defend this man is beyond me.  It has nothing to with being a hater as so many try to say, it has to do with being an honorable human being with integrity   Has anyone asked Ray what God thinks about his actions that night and his silence since?  Pure hypocrisy.”

Fifilo:

@ryjpoll @IsaacLittsey  “Ah, if that after life of his he believes is real he’ll be in the Hall of Flame”

Steve Kostyk:

@IsaacLittsey  “Oh….he was just ‘loyal’ to the killers…..REALLY?”

IsaacLittsey:

@Steve Kostyk @IsaacLittsey   “Oh….and which “killers” were those?  Look two people died as a consequence of the actions on that night.  That is truly sad.  That no one has been punished for the crime is just as sad, if not more so.  The stated accounts of the events of that night seem to support the belief that the victims may have played a part, a significant part, in bringing about this horrific tragedy.  If true, the accounts include statements from witnesses that the victims may have instigated and then escalated the situation, first verbally and then physically assaulting Mr. Lewis’ party, then the results, though terrible, were predictable.

The burden of prosecuting this was on the system and the system failed.  Determining what happened that night and convicting the responsible persons was the responsibility of the system.Mr. Lewis was originally charged with the killings, but those charges were subsequently dropped.  No one saw or claimed to see Mr. Lewis assault or kill anyone.  His charge was then reduced to obstruction of justice.Mr. Lewis admitted his part in this situation, pleaded guilty, and then testified in open court as to what he knew and saw happen.  More than that, I don’t know what he could have done.The court’s seems to be satisfied by what he has admitted to, and his testimony, and has moved on.Perhaps, just perhaps, we should be as well.”

maekchu:

@IsaacLittsey @Steve Kostyk    “So since the justice system was incompetent and couldn’t even convict more obvious killers than Christopher Dorner, we are to just move on and forget the whole thing? Your point that since nobody was ever convicted and Lewis was loyal to his murderous friends, all should be forgiven is beyond asinine.If Lewis wasn’t famous with lots of money, he’d be in jail. Yeah, he’s not the first celebrity to avoid responsibility for his crimes and he won’t be the last.  But please don’t defend the guy because he was lucky and wealthy enough to avoid jail time. You can’t absolve a person for their crimes simply because the judicial system was incompetent.”

IsaacLittsey:

@maekchu @IsaacLittsey @Steve Kostyk   “Ever think that, their incompetence aside, that they did not convict him because he was not guilty?  I’m not sure how Dorner got into the conversation, but……  Look he pleaded guilty to what he was guilty of.  What is ‘asinine” is to continue down this path.  The courts have moved on.  The league has moved on.  Ray has moved on.  As such, so shall I.  I’m Out!”

Peace

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/nfl/news/20130204/ray-lewis-baltimore-ravens-super-bowl-xlvii/#ixzz2L7TixPZI

Finally there are those, like myself, who believe him innocent of murder.  When a commentor, responding to favoriteson’s question, “How many other pro sports stars return to finish college? Ray Lewis did,” with this question:

@favoriteson   “

How many other pro sports stars have murdered people?  Ray Lewis did.”

This is how commentor DantesInferno responded:

DantesInferno:

“Get over yourself.  Ray Lewis didn’t murder anyone.  Those of you who come on here saying Lewis is a murderer need to check the FACTS before you accuse a man of killing another man.  Ray Lewis WAS at that bar that night.  Ray Lewis was hanging out with some people he knew from his past who were shady characters.  Ray Lewis did NOT stab anyone that night.  If he is guilty of anything, it is that he is guilty of hanging out with the wrong crowd.  Before anyone goes and compares Lewis to OJ (So I guess OJ didn’t kill his wife because he was found not guilty by the courts), no one has ever accused Lewis of actually murdering anyone.  If he is guilty by association, then take a good look at your friends and your friends of friends and tell me there are no skeletons in their closet that you could be guilty by association as well.”

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/nfl/news/20130204/ray-lewis-baltimore-ravens-super-bowl-xlvii/#ixzz2LXoqSTdO

And from the article entitled “The Gospel According to Ray” written by S.L. Price, in a Sports Illustrated cover story published November, 2006:

“The prosecution’s case against Lewis fell apart quickly, and the murder charges were dropped. Lewis pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor obstruction of justice, was sentenced to a year’s probation and testified in the case against Oakley and Sweeting. As he walked down the courthouse steps in June 2000, Ray turned to Sunseria and said, “Mama, you have a changed man.” In ’04 Lewis settled civil suits with members of both victims’ families for roughly $2 million. He addressed the families during mediation for the settlement, at once expressing sorrow and raging over his certainty that he’d been prosecuted solely because he was rich. Still, some family members will never be soothed by the settlement or Lewis‘s perceived transformation. “I hope he can actively feel what it means to have a loved one taken away, the way my nephew was,” says Lollar’s aunt, Thomasaina Threatt.

“The saddest thing?” Lewis says now. “Take me out of that equation, you got two young dead black kids on the street. The second sad part is, because of the court system and the prosecutor’s lies, I got two families hating me for something I didn’t have a hand in, and the people who killed their children are free. The people who killed their children could be having dinner with them and they’d never know. Because all they know is the big name, Ray Lewis.”

Hero to villain, good to bad, is a very quick walk in America. The reverse is much more difficult; the fall is always easier to believe than the redemption, if only because nobody wants to be played for a sucker. Yet suddenly Cindy Lollar-Owens is willing to try. She helped raise Richard Lollar in Akron and for six years has been a persistent voice blaming Lewis for the deaths of her nephew and Baker. In 2001 she stood outside the stadium in Tampa where Lewis would win his Super Bowl MVP award, holding a photo collage of her nephew. More than once when Baltimore played in Cleveland she passed out fliers there demanding justice.

But last month, after restating that belief in a phone interview, she called back. “This is my conscience,” she said. “I’ve been praying on it, and I’m saying I believe [ Lewis] was totally set up. I didn’t want to say nothing; I was worried about how my family would feel. Come to realize, I’ve got to live with myself.”

Lollar-Owens says that before her father died of cancer in 2002, he told her she had to speak about her change of heart. It has taken her four years. She has talked to Lewis only once, by phone after the 2001 Super Bowl. She says he called to tell her he was sorry for her loss. “There was something in his voice,” she says. “I just felt he was innocent.”

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1108943/index.htm

People can and will believe whatever they choose regarding Ray’s innocent or guilt, but the witnesses and the court gathered evidence have absolved him of the charge of murder.  Indeed, the court found him to be guilty only of the obstruction charge he admitted to.  A family member believes him to be innocent [of murder].  ESPN believes him to be innocent of murder, or they would not have hired him for the upcoming NFL season.  If anyone has knowledge that speaks to other than that, then they should show it.  If not….!

This passage from Mr. Banks Sports Illustrated article describes what his teammates thought about Ray, and, what Ray thought about them:

Ray Lewis

Ray Lewis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Lewis wasn’t the reason the Ravens won on this night. In fact, he had a downright brutal game in the first half, consistently getting blocked out of plays or looking old and slow in attempted coverage of 49ers dyanmic tight end Vernon Davis. But Lewis was one of the reasons why the Ravens were here in the first place, because his return to the lineup after missing 10 weeks with a torn triceps coincided with the beginning of Baltimore’s unexpected playoff run.

His well-choreographed retirement plans gave his Ravens teammates a cause to rally around, and they seized it. They wanted to take him out a winner, and he wanted to share with them the feeling of winning it all, being as he was the one and only Ravens still playing from the franchise’s 2000 Super Bowl team.

And when the Ravens needed some defense, and the game hung in the balance, it was Lewis and Co. who held the line against the onrushing 49ers, rising up to stiffen and not break after San Francisco reached the Baltimore 5-yard line with three cracks at taking the lead inside of two minutes. It was one last chance for Lewis to be the man in the middle for the Ravens, and the history books will show he rose to the occasion.

‘Honestly, the most exciting thing ever was the conversations that we were having at the goal line,” Lewis said. “Nobody ever panicked, everybody looked at each other, and there was no panic. When you have that, when your back is against the wall, and they have three more plays at the goal line, if we all do our jobs, they won’t get in. For us to stand up like that, it is just a testament of what we’ve been through and how much trust we had all year with each other. To me that was one of the most amazing goal-line stands I’ve ever been a part of in my career. What better way to do it than on the Super Bowl stage?'”

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/nfl/news/20130204/ray-lewis-baltimore-ravens-super-bowl-xlvii/#ixzz2LXr0QGPj

You are right Ray, “What better way to do it than on the Super Bowl Stage?”  Now, the Hall of Fame stage, awaits!!!!!

And That Dance. Don’t Forget That Dance.

A DISCUSSION ABOUT GUN VIOLENCE V: TWO MONTHS AFTER SANDY HOOK

It has been two months to the day since “Sandy Hook” went from being a noun, to a descriptive verb, to a rallying cry.  America has been forever changed by the massacre of 20 children and 7 adults that morning in Newtown, Ct.  The evidence of that change is found in the fact that people everywhere are sharing their experiences, their concerns, their fears and more importantly their wishes and desires about gun regulations and about the consequences of gun violence in their communities.

So, it seems we can have a discussion about guns after all.  Truth be told, though, this is a discussion that has been going on all along.  What is sad is that it has taken the tragic events of the last few months to raise the volume.  I’ve been tracking the comments on the various sites across the internet and it is absolutely amazing what is being revealed.  People do care about the violence in their cities and towns, in their neighborhoods, in their schools, churches, and movie theaters.

In August of last year, when I began writing about gun violence, the loudest voices in the room were those who claimed to be defenders of the 2nd Amendment.  I say claimed to be, because, as it has become quite obvious, it is not the constitution that they are defending, it is their right to be paranoid and afraid.  The 2nd Amendment is not under attack, what is, though, is the sensibilities and security of the American people.

That is why it is so important that we, the no longer silent majority, continue to make feelings known.  The more we discuss guns and the consequences of gun ownership, the more we see and hear that Americans are concerned about those consequences.

Let’s take a look back over the last two months and see where the discussion has led, and is leading, us.

“It has scarred the soul of America.”

That was Joe Scarborough speaking about the horrors of the massacre that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Ct., on December 14 of last year:

“This week, after the most horrific act, I think, in recent American history other than 9/11 — I can’t think of anything that has scarred the soul of Americans more than what happened at Sandy Hook — you have had complete, utter silence from Republican leaders on some of these key issues. And, so, there are Americans out there who are thinking, “Wait a second. Is this the party of lower taxes or is this the party of assault weapons and high-capacity magazine clips?”

You could tell by listening to him and watching his face on television how deeply he was affected by that tragedy. But that was nothing compared to what was to come.

It was during the second hour of the three-hour Morning Joe program that former Florida Congressman Joe Scarborough hosts along with Mika Brzezinski that Kansas Representative Tim Huelskamp came on to discuss the breakdown in negotiations between Republicans over the looming “fiscal cliff,” that aired on December 21, 2012.

As the segment appeared to be coming to an end, Mika asked the congressman if it was time to reconsider his position on the assault weapon ban that had expired in 2004?

Rep. Huelskamp said that, as a congressman, he was bothered by how individuals politicized the tragedy so quickly.  He said that the country has a cultural problem, and added, it’s not a gun problem, it’s a people problem.

Moments later, Joe Scarborough laid into Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp, after the congressman accused the MSNBC host and other gun control advocates of pushing “a political agenda” in wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy.

Here’s how the discussion went:

“There’s been a lot of misleading statements including those that have been said right here … that’s the reality here. It’s not a gun problem. There’s a person doing that,” Huelskamp pressed.

“Oh really?” Scarborough said. “Do you think I have a constitutional right to have an assault weapon?”

Huelskamp said it was a constitutional issue and added, “Let’s step back. Let’s not build on the tragedy in Connecticut and use that to actually push a political agenda.”

Scarborough seemed to grow incensed. “Use that? To push a political agenda?” Scarborough asked.

“Oh, absolutely,” Huelskamp said. “This president and his folks are using this to push—”

Scarborough interrupted the Kansas congressman and said, “Let’s talk about September 11th, congressman. Were there some changes made in this country because of the tragedy of September 11th? Was that just using a tragedy — 3,000 deaths — to try to make americans safer? Do you dare come on my show and say I am using the slaughter of 20 little 6 and 7-year-old children; I’m using that for political purposes, Tim?”

“Joe, how many children do you have?” Huelskamp asked.

“I’ve got four children, Tim. Answer my question,” Scarborough said.

“So do I. And I refuse to let you say that because you have children, or anybody else, that we need to actually politicize this. But I see folks in Washington — I don’t know about you. I don’t watch your show. You’re trying to politicize this,” Hueslkamp charged.

“Tim, I’m not going to let you say that I am, quote, politicizing the slaughter of 26 or 27 children. But you said anybody that’s talking about this … Maybe some of us just believe that we have to do whatever we can — whether it’s looking at mental health, whether it’s looking at violent culture of video games and Hollywood movies, whether it’s looking at the proliferation of these weapons, whether it’s looking at what happened in Oregon, what happened in Colorado, what happened in Virginia, what happened in Connecticut, what continues happening, congressman.”

He added, “So we can’t at least talk about guns without you questioning my integrity and saying that I’m using the death of 20 children to try to make life for my children a little bit safer? We can’t even talk about it without you coming on this show and insulting me personally?”

It seemed to me watching this back and forth, that Joe, a staunch 2nd Amendment supporter, and let me say a constitutional and fiscal conservative had, or has, come to grips with the hard reality of what life is like outside of the bubble.  The tragic deaths of those 27 people on that otherwise quiet and ordinary Friday morning struck home to him much in the same way it strikes home for so many Americans each and every day.  You can watch the interview at:   http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036789/ns/msnbc_tv-morning_joe/#50268883

N.R.A. Response to Sandy Hook

That same day, a few hours later, National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre appeared at what was called a press conference, but was really more of a speech.  When most of America was expecting some form of acknowledgement of the problems brought on by this insane proliferation of “Weapons of Mass Murder,” what we were given was a doubling down on their stance that this is not a gun problem.  He called it a “cultural problem,” a “mental health problem,” he blamed movies and video games.  In fact, what he stated was that we need to arm teachers, place armed guards in our schools.

Mr. LaPierre’s words:

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.”

And later in his “speech”:

“Before Congress reconvenes, before we engage in any lengthy debate over legislation, regulation or anything else, as soon as our kids return to school after the holiday break, we need to have every single school in America immediately deploy a protection program proven to work —and by that I mean armed security.”

 Well, Mr. LaPierre, there were good guys with guns at Fort Hood, there were good guys with guns at Virginia Tech, there were good guys with guns at Columbine High School and at the Tulsa Courthouse.  Still, people were killed!

And what about the psychological and sociological effects of having our children studying and trying to learn in “armed camps?”  Think for a moment just what type of learning environment that might be.

President Obama’s Response

On the 19th of December President Obama announced the establishment of the “Gun Violence Task Force.”

“The fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing.”

“The fact that we can’t prevent every act of violence doesn’t mean we can’t steadily reduce the violence.”

These were the President’s words as he tasked Vice-President Biden with the responsibility of overseeing the development of policy’s that will address causes and consequences of gun violence in America.  President Obama also promised to speak about gun violence in his upcoming inaugural address.  (Which he did.)

Meanwhile More Madness

As of Friday January 11, at 4:00 pm, four weeks after the tragedy, http://www.Slate.com and @GunDeaths was reporting that 734 people, Americans, had been killed since the start of the massacre at Sandy Hook.  That’s more than 28 people, Americans, per day.

During that same time, we had several “gun advocates” appear on various media outlets, to defend guns and the right to own them.  Their lack of sensitivity to what is happening all around them, indeed, all around America was absolutely amazing.

This was Alex Jones, radio host, on the Piers Morgan program on CNN, January 7th:

“I’m here to tell you, 1776 will commence again if you try to take our firearms! Doesn’t matter how many lemmings you get out there on the street, begging for ’em to have their guns taken. We will not relinquish them. Do you understand?! That’s why you’re going to fail, and the establishment knows, no matter how much propaganda, the republic will rise again!”

Then there was James Yeager, CEO of a company called Tactical Response who, on January 9th, posted a video on YouTube.  This is from the site “LiveLeak.com” :

In the original video, he started by admitting that he’s “kind of mad.” Then, he launched into a diatribe about Vice President Joe Biden’s recent claim that President Barack Obama may rely upon executive orders to tackle the issue.

“Vice President Biden is asking the president to bypass Congress and use executive privilege, executive order to ban assault rifles and to impose stricter gun control,” said Yeager. “F**k that.”

And he wasn’t done there. The Tactical Response leader said that such actions on behalf of the Obama administration would “spark a civil war” and that he would be “glad to fire the first shot.”

“I’m not putting up with it. You shouldn’t put up with it,” he continued. “And I need all you patriots to start thinking about what you’re going to do, load your damn mags, make sure your rifle’s clean, pack a backpack with some food in it and get ready to fight.”

From there, his comments only intensified. After pledging that he wouldn’t put up with increased gun control initiatives being advocated by the federal government of late, Yeager pledged — to the extreme – to defend his right to firearms.

“I’m not letting my country be ruled by a dictator. I’m not letting anybody take my guns!,” he added. “If it goes one inch further, I’m going to start killing people.”

You can read the entire article and view the YouTube video at:   http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=a73_1357945092

On January 11th on CNN, there was Larry Ward, national chairman for “Gun Appreciation Day,” speaking about the event scheduled for January 19th, two days before the national holiday designated to celebrate the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin L. King.  There is no small irony in the fact that this “first-ever” event was announced on January 8th, 25 days after Sandy Hook, and scheduled for the Saturday preceding Rev. King’s birthday holiday.  But what is really disgusting is his assertion that Rev. King would co-sign on this idiocy.

This is from a January 11, article published in the Huffington Post by writer Cavan Sieczkowski:

Larry Ward, chairman of Gun Appreciation Day, appeared on CNN Friday to defend the nationwide gun rally, which is scheduled for Jan. 19 — just two days before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Talking Points Memo notes.

Ward insists that Gun Appreciation Day, which calls on gun activists across the nation to rally in support of the right to bear arms and against President Barack Obama’s “post-Sandy Hook assault on gun rights,” actually “honors the legacy of Dr. King.”

“We are looking for a peaceful protest,” Ward said. Continuing, “I think Martin Luther King, Jr. would agree with me if he were alive today that if African-Americans had been given the right to keep and bear arms from day one of the country’s founding, perhaps slavery might not have been a chapter in our history.”

Maria Roach, founder of United for Change USA, an organization dedicated to prison reform and gun violence prevention, called Ward’s comments simply “ridiculous.”

“Slavery means that you are a possession,” she said on CNN. “Slaves were a possession, just like a gun.” She continued to criticize Ward for celebrating weapons just two days before celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., who was assassinated in 1968 by a single shot.

Think Progress’ Aviva Shen notes the caveats in Ward’s armed-slaves argument:

Ward also neglects to mention that in fact there were many armed uprisings by slaves, as early as 1526. Armed revolts almost always failed, and often led to retribution by the slave owners, who had the justice system on their side. Most famously, Nat Turner led a rebellion that resulted in 60 white deaths and 100 black deaths. The state later executed 56 blacks accused of being involved in the insurrection, and white mobs beat and killed at least 200 others in revenge.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/11/larry-ward-guns-african-americans-prevented-slavery-_n_2457479.html

You can watch the entire CNN interview at:

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2013/01/11/exp-costello-gun-appreciation-day.cnn

And finally there is Ted Nugent.  Ted’s a man of many quotes, but the only truly relevant one is this, spoken at the NRA convention in April 2012:

”If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.”

All of these people have “moon-walked” back from their statements, saying they were either miss-quoted or miss-construed, except Ted (April’s coming, though), but this speaks to the insanity that we are dealing with, as this discussion goes forward.

The People Speak

When President Obama charged VP Biden and the task force with bringing to him a list of proposals that he, and the American people, might consider as potential solutions to the gun violence problem in our country he asked that it be completed within 2 months.  Mr Biden’s efforts took half of that time.

Here is what the Vice President’s task force presented:

1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.

2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.

3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.

4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.
5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.

6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.

7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.

8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).

9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.

10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.

11. Nominate an ATF director.

12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.

13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.

14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.

15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.

16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.

17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.

18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.

19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.

20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.

21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.

22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.

23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.

Upon reading this list, you will notice that none of the proposals in any way limits the legal acquiring, possession, or use of guns.  You can’t tell that by listening to many of the so-called 2nd amendment advocates, though.  Nowhere is there any discussion about gun confiscation.

Here are excerpts from the Presidents speech in Newtown, before signing the executive order for these proposals:

“And so what we should be thinking about, is our responsibility to care for them, and shield them from harm, and give them the tools they need to grow up, and do everything that they’re capable of doing. Not just to pursue their own dreams, but to help build this country. This is our first task as a society, keeping our children safe. This is how we will be judged. And their voices should compel us to change.

And that’s why last month, I asked Joe to lead an effort, along with members of my cabinet, to come up with some concrete steps we can take right now to keep our children safe, to help prevent mass shootings, to reduce the broader epidemic of gun violence in this country.

And we can’t put this off any longer.

Just last Thursday, as TV networks were covering one of Joe’s meetings on this topic, news broke of another school shooting, this one in California.

In the month since 20 precious children and six brave adults were violently taken from us at Sandy Hook Elementary, more than 900 of our fellow Americans have reportedly died at the end of a gun — 900 in the past month.

And every day we wait the number will keep growing.

So I’m putting forward a specific set of proposals based on the work of Joe’s task force. And in the days ahead I intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality.

Because while there is no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence completely, no piece of legislation that will prevent every tragedy, every act of evil, if there’s even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there’s even one life that can be saved, then we’ve got an obligation to try.”

Read the entire speech at:   http://www.defensivecarry.com/forum/second-amendment-gun-legislation-discussion/157317-transcript-obamas-speech1-16-13-a.html

They Were “For It Before They Were Against It”

Nothing, in the Newtown speech, was said about taking away a person’s guns, either.  As the discussion continued we began to learn more about those who are arguing against change.  Some of them, particularly in the conservative leadership, and the NRA, have supported gun restrictions in the past.

In an article “Don’t Blame Liberals for Gun Control” in FrontPageMagazine.com,  Monday, January 8, 2001, Richard Poe writes:

“ANTI-GUN CRUSADERS seem worried about the advent of a Republican administration. Heaven knows why. Republicans, in recent years, have managed to do nearly as much damage to the Second Amendment as Democrats.In 1969, journalist William Safire asked Richard Nixon what he thought about gun control. “Guns are an abomination,” Nixon replied. According to Safire, Nixon went on to confess that, “Free from fear of gun owners’ retaliation at the polls, he favored making handguns illegal and requiring licenses for hunting rifles.”

It was President George Bush, Sr. who banned the import of “assault weapons” in 1989, and promoted the view that Americans should only be allowed to own weapons suitable for “sporting purposes.”

It was Governor Ronald Reagan of California who signed the Mulford Act in 1967, “prohibiting the carrying of firearms on one’s person or in a vehicle, in any public place or on any public street.” The law was aimed at stopping the Black Panthers, but affected all gun owners.

Twenty-four years later, Reagan was still pushing gun control. “I support the Brady Bill,” he said in a March 28, 1991 speech, “and I urge the Congress to enact it without further delay.”

One of the most aggressive gun control advocates today is Republican mayor Rudolph Giuliani of New York City, whose administration sued 26 gun manufacturers in June 2000, and whose police commissioner, Howard Safir, proposed a nationwide plan for gun licensing, complete with yearly “safety” inspections.

Another Republican, New York State Governor George Pataki, on August 10, 2000, signed into law what The New York Times called “the nation’s strictest gun controls,” a radical program mandating trigger locks, background checks at gun shows and “ballistic fingerprinting” of guns sold in the state. It also raised the legal age to buy a handgun to 21 and banned “assault weapons,” the sale or possession of which would now be punishable by seven years in prison.

Gun control crusaders argue that the Republicans are simply yielding to grassroots pressure, to gain political advantage. But polls show little evidence of such pressure.”

http://archive.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=22064

The NRA once had a far more moderate opinion on gun restrictions, evidenced in the article “The NRA vs. The NRA” by , posted on the LA Progressive site:

“The NRA was generally silent on the issue of gun control as a national issue until the National Firearms Act of 1934 was being debated in Congress. The legislation imposed a steep tax, along with registration requirements, on what was termed “gangster guns”: machine guns and sawed-off shotguns. Aside from exempting handguns from the act, arguing that people needed them for home protection, the NRA supported the legislation as “reasonable, sensible, and fair.”

In the 1960s, in the wake of the assassinations of the Kennedy brothers and Dr. Martin Luther King, the NRA once again supported the push for new federal gun laws. When the final version of the Gun Control Act was adopted in 1968, NRA President Franklin Orth said the “measure as a whole appears to be one that the sportsmen of America can live with.”

But during this same period, fewer people were buying guns for hunting, and more for protection. Ironically, this attitude was held both by whites, and by newly forming black militant groups like the Black Panthers (originally the Black Panther Party for Self Defense).

It was during this time that then-Governor Ronald Reagan voiced his support for gun control.

Supporting legislation by Alameda County Assemblyman Don Mulford to control armed black militants like Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, Reagan said he saw “no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons,” calling guns a “ridiculous way to solve problems that have to be solved among people of good will.” In a later press conference, Reagan said the Mulford Act “would work no hardship on the honest citizen.”

It was during this time, also that the NRA suffered its version of a palace coup, when hard-liner factions led by Harlon Carter transformed the NRA into a lobbying powerhouse, committed to a more aggressive view of what the Second Amendment promised.

Soon after this, the NRA began demonizing any Federal law enforcement agencies, particularly the BATFE (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives) as “jack-booted government thugs.” Current NRA president Wayne LaPierre warned members that anyone who wears a badge has “the government’s go-ahead to harass, intimidate, even murder law-abiding citizens.”

In an effort to exert further influence on national electoral politics, the NRA endorsed its first presidential candidate in 1980. Ironically, their choice was Ronald Reagan, the governor who gave California one of the strictest gun control regimes in the United States.”

http://www.laprogressive.com/national-rifle-association/

Wayne LaPierre’s warning about people with badges, at that time, sounds eerily  like the same warning coming from the Black Panther Party, just a few short years before.

A few years later, Mr. LaPierre and the NRA’s positions shifted once again.  Speaking before the Congress in May of 1999, in the aftermath of the Columbine tragedy, Mr. LaPierre had this to say:

“We think it ‘s reasonable to provide mandatory instant criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show. No loopholes anywhere for anyone. That means closing the Hinckley loophole so the records of those adjudicated mental ill are in the system.

This isn ‘t new, or a change of position, or a concession. I’ve been on record on this point consistently, from our national meeting in Denver, to paid national ads and position papers, to
news interviews and press appearances. But I ‘ve repeatedly emphasized that this Administration must stop illegally keeping records of lawful gun buyers.

In fact, it ‘s the media ‘s well-kept secret that the NRA was an early architect and supporter of the National Instant Check System now in place. Congressman McCollum knows we worked with him on instant checks more than a decade ago.

We think it ‘s reasonable to provide for instant checks at gun shows just like at gun stores and
pawn shops. But what ‘s unreasonable is how the proposed Lautenberg legislation ignores the 250,000 prohibited people like felons who ‘ve walked away from gun stores –instead of being prosecuted for a federal felony for trying to buy a gun.”

http://judiciary.house.gov/legacy/lapierre.htm

The “Lautenberg” legislation referred to in the quote is the “Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban” sponsored by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) as an amendment to “Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997, that was enacted in 1996.  The act bans shipment, transport, ownership and use of guns or ammunition by individuals convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence, or who are under a restraining (protection) order for domestic abuse in all 50 states. The act also makes it unlawful to knowingly sell or give a firearm or ammunition to such persons.

Many Faces, One Voice, for Change!

There were a number of other actions and some restrictions that Mr. LaPierre and the NRA found reasonable, all having the same of similar caveats, but virtually all are considered non-reasonable deal breakers now.  But there is now another group in the game offering the American people a different deal, a better deal.  This is no longer just a “my thoughts and prayers” or “my heart goes out to” group, these people are asking the question, “what can we do help solve this problem, now?”

The just mentioned “other group” is not just one concerned entity but several, previously non-connected, but now united in their efforts to bring about change.  Included are these organizations:

There are others, local and national, that need your face, your voice, your support.  If you search “gun control advocacy groups” on the internet, you will find them.

Many of us have joined one or more of these groups, and others like them, for reasons not related to gun violence and it’s effects on our society, and for many of these groups their priorities  have been adjusted to include this fight.

What we now have is many faces but one voice speaking out for change.  We are fighting this battle on all fronts, from municipalities to the federal government and this time is different.  Where a company stands on this issue is now becoming a determinant as to where we spend our time and resources, and it is having a real effect.

A significant percentage of Americans support changes in our gun policies as evidenced by a Fox News Poll conducted by Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R). (Jan. 15-17, 2013. 1,008 registered voters nationwide. Margin of error ± 3.)

“Do you favor or oppose each of the following proposals to reduce gun violence? . . .” Each asked of half the sample, margin of error ± 4

 
    Favor Oppose Unsure    
    % % %    
 
 

“Requiring criminal background checks on all gun buyers, including those buying at gun shows and private sales”

 

1/15-17/13

91 8 1    
 

“Providing services for mentally ill people who show violent tendencies”

 

1/15-17/13

89 9 2    
 

“Improving enforcement of existing gun laws”

 

1/15-17/13

86 12 3    
 

“Requiring mental health checks on all gun buyers”

 

1/15-17/13

83 15 2    
 

“Requiring criminal background checks on anyone buying bullets and ammunition”

 

1/15-17/13

80 19 1    
 

“Putting armed guards in schools for protection”

 

1/15-17/13

60 36 4    
 

“Banning high-capacity ammunition clips that can shoot dozens of bullets without stopping to reload”

 

1/15-17/13

56 38 6    
 

“Banning assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons”

 

1/15-17/13

54 42 3    
 

“Reducing access to violent movies and video games”

 

1/15-17/13

52 43 5    
 

“Allowing teachers and school officials to carry guns on school grounds”

 

1/15-17/13

42 52 6

http://www.pollingreport.com/guns.htm

President Obama has used both his inaugural and the state of the union addresses to speak to this problem and rally the support of responsible thinking Americans.  The problems we face extend far beyond gun violence, but the solutions to many of our problems begin with reducing it and the impact that it is having throughout our nation.

Where companies build or expand their businesses is determined by how safe an area is.  Where people chose to invest in home ownership is determined by how safe and secure an area is.  Where we send our children to school, where we shop, where we play, all of these are areas where people want to feel safe and secure.  We can and must do everything in our power to make this change.

The President, Vice-President and their task-force have spoken.  Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly have spoken.  The citizens of the cities of Newtown, Aurora, Oak Creek, Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit and so many more are bravely speaking up.

The polls say “now is the time.”  It’s time to add your face, your voice, to this call for action.  It’s time for a change!

A DISCUSSION ABOUT GUN VIOLENCE IV: “FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS”

For Whom The Bell Tolls (No Man Is An Island),

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod(*) be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory(*) were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

A poem by, John Donne(1)

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

America, here is a list of the “Deadliest U.S. Shootings”(3):

Sept. 6, 1949: Camden, N.J.; 13 dead

Aug. 1, 1966: University of Texas at Austin; 16 dead + shooter

July 18, 1984: McDonald’s restaurant in San Ysidro, Calif.; 21 dead + shooter

Aug. 20, 1986: Post office in Edmond, Okla.; 14 dead + shooter

Oct. 16, 1991: Luby’s Cafeteria, in Killeen, Tex.; 23 dead + shooter

April 20, 1999: Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.; 13 dead + 2 shooters

April 16, 2007: Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg; 32 dead + shooter

April 3, 2009: Immigration services center in Binghamton, N.Y.; 13 dead + shooter

Nov. 5, 2009: Soldier Readiness Processing Center at Fort Hood, Texas; 13 dead

July 20, 2012: Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colo.; 12 dead

Dec. 14, 2012:  Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Ct.; 26 dead + shooter

“The Bell” has tolled for all of them.  Did you hear it?

America, just this year we’ve had(4):

February 22: Su Jung Health Sauna in Norcross, GA; 4 dead + shooter

February 27: Chardon High School in Chardon, OH; 3 dead, 3 wounded

March 6: Tulsa Courthouse in Tulsa, OK; 3 wounded, shooter wounded

March 8: University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pittsburgh, PA; 1 dead + shooter, 7 wounded

April 2: Oikos University in Oakland, CA; 7 dead, 3 injured

May 30: Cafe Racer in Seattle,WA; 4 dead + shooter, 1 wounded

June 9: Auburn University pool party in Auburn, AL; 3 dead, 3 injured

July 17: Copper Top bar in Tuscaloosa, AL; 18 injured or wounded

August 5: Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, WI; 6 dead + shooter

October 21: Azana Day Spa in Brookfield, WI; 3 dead + shooter, 4 injured

December 11: Clackamas Town Center in  Clackamas, OR; 2 dead + shooter 

Did you hear “The Bell” then?  Can you hear it now?

Then there is this, America:

(6/11/12)  Chicago Shootings: 8 Killed, At Least 46 Wounded By Gun Violence Over Warm Weekend   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/11/chicago-shootings-8-dead-_n_1586322.html

(6/24/12)  4 Dead, 31 Wounded In Shootings This Weekend  http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/06/24/3-dead-24-wounded-in-shootings-this-weekend/

(12/3/12)  Chicago Shootings: 8 Killed, At Least 30 Wounded In Weekend Violence  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/03/chicago-shootings-8-kille_n_2232075.html

“The Bell” is tolling for them, also.  Are you listening?

How about the anguished cries of those left. A Dad.  A Mom.  Sisters and Brothers.  Family and Friends.  Do you hear them, America?

How do we stop this insanity?  When will it end?  Is all we have to offer the dead, our thoughts and prayers?  Is all we have to offer the survivors and their family and friends, our deepest sympathy’s and support?  America, I believe that we are so much better than this.  We can not, we must not, allow this to become the new standard, for living here.  It doesn’t matter where you stand on 2nd Amendment Rights, this cannot be acceptable.  There is no reason or rationale that makes this sane.

As for the perpetrators, how have they become so isolated?  So disconnected as to think that it is they alone that matter, nothing or nobody else?  It’s all about them, not the victims, not the survivors, not their families and friends?  The poem begins with “no man is an island, entirely of itself.”  They have to be made to understand, we have to understand, that they are we and we are they.  Not as an eye or an arm that, once ill, can be excised and discarded, but as a genetically joined part of the whole that must be made well or the whole will perish.  We must fix us to ultimately fix them.

There is no shame in admitting that this situation is evolving beyond our ability to manage.  The shame is vainly allowing it to continue in spite of what it is doing to our culture, to our society.  It is argued that guns are not the problem, but if that is so, then that only leaves us.  If we are the problem and we have easy access to guns then they [the guns] become the manifestation of our problems.  Guns become the easy way out.  But there is a finality about there use.  Guns are made to kill!  Those who manage to survive them are fortunate, lucky, blessed, whatever you want to call it, but if you are shot by a gun, you are supposed to die.   Life is not a video game that you can reset or reboot.

While researching this post I came across a study on Ernest Hemingway’s book “For Whom The Bell Tolls.”  The question was asked, “What does the novel’s title mean? For whom does the bell toll? What bell?”  Here is how it was answered:

“The phrase “for whom the bell tolls” comes from a short essay by the seventeenth-century British poet and religious writer John Donne. Hemingway excerpts a portion of the essay in the epigraph to his novel. In’Donne’s essay, “For whom does the bell toll?” is the imaginary question of a man who hears a funeral bell and asks about the person who has died. Donne’s answer to this question is that, because none of us stands alone in the world, each human death affects all of us. Every funeral bell, therefore, “tolls for thee.”(2)

The problem is that from perpetrators to victims, from survivors to spectators, when we look around what we see is “Them.”  That “Them,” though, is “Us.”  The “Thee” from the prose is “We,” as in “We the People of the United States.”  From our leaders to our everyday citizens we must stop the divisive rhetoric.  Dr. Drew Pinsky speaking to Wolf Blitzer on Friday stated, “It is time for our government and our culture to act like a healthy family.  Divisiveness is starting to have it’s effect among the most vulnerable amongst us, and it is time to stop.  We have to lead our way out of this, and we need our leaders to behave in a healthy manor.

I agree with Dr. Drew, and I would like to add that, we need leadership on all levels.  This is not just a problem for our President or our legislators.  We need leaders on all levels to step up and lead.  Governors, Mayors, School Administrators.  Fathers, Mothers, Aunts and Uncles, we all have a responsibility to take ownership of this problem and deal with it.  Gun control may help, but “self-control” is the ultimate answer.  In lieu of that control of self, action to reduce or eliminate the easy access to guns is our only remaining hope.

As for all of those defenders of 2nd Amendment Rights who blindly serve the interest of the NRA over their own and those of our nation, well, they should be forced to “toll the bell,” one peel each for each person that dies as a result of their commitment.  Perhaps if they can’t see what their intransigence brings about, then they can hear it up close and personal.

Hear it and know, that, “The Bell Tolls For Thee!”

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

These famous words by John Donne were not originally written as a poem – the passage is taken from the 1624 Meditation 17, from Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions and is prose. The words of the original passage are as follows(2):

John Donne
Meditation 17
Devotions upon Emergent Occasions

“No man is an iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friendsor of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee….” 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Please visit and support “Mayors Against Illegal Guns,”  http://www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org/html/home/home.shtml

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

(*)DEFINITIONS  (Bing Dictionary):

Clod (n);  lump of earth: a large lump of soil

Promontory (n);  projecting point of land: a point of land that juts out into the sea

REFERENCES

(1) http://www.famousliteraryworks.com/donne_for_whom_the_bell_tolls.htm

(2) http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/belltolls/study.html#explanation1

(3) http://now.msn.com/newtown-school-shooting-ranks-among-the-worst-in-history?ocid=ansnowrel1

(4) http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-57559329-504083/mass-shootings-in-2012-crimesider-reports-on-this-years-public-shootings/

MY “THANKS GIVING”

I give thanks for:

My Life and my Wife, Linda Jo.  I list them together because they are interconnected in a fashion, as to not be distinguishable, one from the other.

My Daughter(step), Monica.  Who has redefined, for me, the words “joy and pride”

My Mom, Elisabeth.  From whose womb this life’s journey began.  Without whose love, understanding, and guidance, this destination would not be met.

My Sisters and Brothers, Linda Alice, Keith, Arthur, Amy-jo, Jenni-ann, and Lisabette-sue.  They are a cadre of love, not always spoken, but always felt.

My Family, no longer physically with me, but permanent residents in my heart.

My Friends, far too many to list.  Who, just by being there, have insulated me from a cold world, with the warmth of their love.

My acquaintances, people I’ve met along this path of life.  Who have touched and shaped me in profound ways.

My GOD, for all of the above, and above all, for being GOD.

*          *          *          *          *

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

A THANKSGIVING THOUGHT

Tomorrow being Thanksgiving Day, I would like to share this thought.  I hope you enjoy it.

THANKFULNESS

First among the things to be thankful for is a thankful spirit.  Some people would grumble at the accommodations in Heaven if they ever got there.  They take their blessings here so much as a matter of course, that even a day of general thanksgiving once in a year is more than they feel any need of.  And if their personal blessings in any measure fail, gratitude for what they have had or still enjoy is the last thing they think of.  Another class really desire to be thankful, but they are  naturally despondent.  Their sky is as dark with clouds as though a special “Old Probabilities” were employed to keep it full.  They go through the world in a deprecating spirit, hoping things may turn out well yet fearing for the worst.  We always feel glad for this class when Thanksgiving Day comes around.  They then have an official warrant for gratitude,  If their own hearts do not formulate blessings, they can listen to the sermon, or look to the President’s proclamation.

How different with the thankful heart!  What a gift it is to be born with an outlook toward the bright side of things!  And if not so by nature, what a triumph of grace to be made thankful through a renewed heart!  It is so much more comfortable and rational to see what we have to be thankful for and to rejoice accordingly, than to have our vision forever filled with our lacks and our needs.  Happy are they who possess this gift?   Blessings may fail and fortunes vary, but the thankful heart remains.  The Happy past, at least, is secure–and Heaven is ahead.

(attributed to “Golden Rule”)

(This passage was taken from the collection “Leaves of Gold,” edited by Clyde Francis Lytle.)

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *    *     *

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, EVERYONE

WELCOME TO THE 2014 ELECTION! “IT’S ON AND POPPIN’!”

Two weeks removed from national election, that re-elected President Barack Obama, the 2014 mid-term elections are “on and poppin’.”  I wonder if the Democratic Party has sufficiently learned from the debacle of 2010.

It is obvious that the Republican’s have not learned any lessons from this last election season, so the test is, will the Democratic Party stand by what they profess and force the Republican Party to stand by their failed logic, and their total disdain for the American people, and the election process, that returned the President to office, and gained seats in both the Senate and the House of Representatives for them?

At stake, for the Democrats, at the national level, is a possible re-taking of the House of Representatives and gaining a filibuster-proof Senate.  At the local level there are several “red-state” Governorship’s and State Legislatures in play.

From what I’ve read, the assault on women’s reproductive choices, by Republicans, has resumed with refreshed attempts around the country to try to circumvent Roe v. Wade, using the states as their primary vehicle.  The war on the uninsured and the poor is advancing with Republican Governor’s rejecting certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Provisions such as the “insurance exchanges” for entrepreneurs and small businesses with less than 50 employees, and refusing to expand Medicaid services for individuals and families living at or near poverty levels, and the poor.

Yogi Berra said it best, “It’s like deja vu all over again.”

As for the battle over reproductive choices, that’s a battle Democrat’s and Progressives should welcome.  A true conservative court will stand by the rights of the individual against the state.  A Republican court will not.  Chief Justice Roberts has shown, with his decision on the ACA, that he does not want his court to be branded as the “Republican Court.”  Notwithstanding some of the other Justices, it is my belief that the right’s of the individual will prevail.  We’ve seen that already with laws like “stand your ground,” and “open carry” laws, for guns.  We just have to be prepared, and willing to fight for what’s right.

Now, about the ACA.  Caught inside the Republican bubble, they believed that the President would not be re-elected, they believed that the ACA would not stand constitutional muster, they believed that their party would win the Senate and increase their majority in the House.  After the ACA was upheld by the SCOTUS, they believed that, when elected, a Romney/Ryan administration would repeal it, or at the least not fund or enforce it.  With this as their thinking, many of them simply did not prepare to commit to the exchanges by the deadline.  They also knew that the Federal government would step in and create the exchanges if they fail to do so.

As you know, the Medicaid expansion provision will mean approximately 17 millions people will receive coverage they otherwise would not have, and will mean the hiring or re-hiring of thousands of people nationwide, to handle the increased case loads.  The Republican Governors, as one of their excuses, claim they cannot afford to implement the exchanges or the expansion, though the Act will pay 100% of the cost for 2 years and 90% of the cost of the expansion for many years after that.  Another excuse is that they don’t want the Federal Government interfering in their state policies.  Their reticence means that millions will not be covered and thousands of jobs will not be made available, simply, because of their politics.

That being said, [this] becomes a prime opportunity for Democratic candidates as they begin their campaigns.  Many of November’s winning Democratic Party candidates ran on these very issues.  I wouldn’t wait another minute in these “Red States,” to force the Republican politicians, from the state legislatures to the Congress, to declare where they stand, on the record, about these issues, and challenge them publicly, about their stance.

These red states are among the most in need of the ACA and their Governor’s, State Houses, and Congressmen and women, should be forced to explain to their constituents why Obamacare is not being made available to them.  At the same time, the “Blue State Governments” should boldly tout the advantages of the Act to their constituents.  Their “red state” neighbors, seeing the benefits of the Act will challenge their leadership to comply, or opportunities will be created for Democrats to take over these State Houses and Legislatures, and to represent them in the Congress.

These are just a couple of the issues that will define this election.  There’s also Planned Parenthood, personhood, voter ID, state election laws, and much more.

We, Democrats and Progressives, must understand that we cannot relax.  2014 will be here before we know it and the race to the “mid-terms” has already begun.  It’s “ON AND POPPIN’.”

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