The more it stays the same…

credit: worldnewscurator.com

credit: worldnewscurator.com

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

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

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

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

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

Credit: LA Times

Credit: LA Times

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

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

William Shockley…in another Flavor?

Maybe it is Brain surgery...

Maybe it is Brain surgery…

Interesting paths that some individuals take to relative notoriety.  Dr. Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon and the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at the prestigious Johns Hopkins Hospital, has made the rounds as of recent from addressing President and Mrs. Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C to wowing the crowds at CPAC.  Hard not to make a splash at CPAC when you take an obviously successful black man who is Republican and have him attack Obama policies…but again, he was preaching to the choir, so to speak.  Apparently quite the Christian also.  But just when you have an new face in the Republican camp who is all of a sudden being talked about as the next best thing next to sliced bread who will be a leading contender for the 2016 Republican amazing race, it becomes obvious they left the bread in the toaster a little too long.  The good Dr. choose poorly and joined Sean Hannity on Fox News and again, quickly provided evidence of why the Republicans are where they are and why many even within the party are shaking their heads in wonderment.  If you missed it, the exchange basically was as follows:

HANNITY: All right, last question, we have the issue of the Supreme Court dealing with two issues involving gay marriage. I’ve asked you a lot of questions. I’ve never asked you that, what are your thoughts?

CARSON: Well, my thoughts are that marriage is between a man and a woman. It’s a well-established, fundamental pillar of society and no group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality. It doesn’t matter what they are. They don’t get to change the definition. So he, it’s not something that is against gays, it’s against anybody who wants to come along and change the fundamental definitions of pillars of society. It has significant ramifications.

Huh?  You’ve got to be kidding – say what?  Brain surgeon?

So here we have someone who is apparently an esteemed surgeon (questionable) who equates gays with pedophiles and people into bestiality.  Excuse me?  I wouldn’t let this guy near my brain if it was leaking out all over the floor.  I guess the good news is we can really see what this guy is made of and where his values lie.  Reach a little further back into his views and you get that which is the hallmark of these conservatives and right-wing nut jobs – “I can tell you what to do and how to live but don’t try to do that to me.”

In his book America the Beautiful, he shares the following view:
“I have no problem whatsoever with allowing gay people to live as they please, as long as they don’t try to impose their lifestyle on everyone else. Marriage is a very sacred institution and should not be degraded by allowing every other type of relationship to be made equivalent to it.”

Interesting point I must have missed – I didn’t realize the gays were trying to “impose” their lifestyle on everyone else.  I might be a little slow but I still don’t get how gay marriage somehow changes marriage between a man and a women.  Is this anything like gay teachers trying to convert children to their lifestyle?  In all honesty, in looking around at the state of most heterosexual marriages, one might be able to easily make the case that it needs a little help or change.
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So again we have someone who gets a great deal of attention as a conservative who manages to step wholeheartedly into the pit of ignorance by demonstrating not only an opinion that most in this country would obviously abhor (at least if they are younger than 40 years old if we go by polls) but also the stupidity to say it aloud so there is no room for error when someone looking and listening to him tries to figure out if this is someone to whom they can relate as a person.  I guess the net result of the comments made in this last election cycle by the likes of Todd Akin and Richard Murdoch (and even the 47% speech by Romney) hasn’t made much of an impression on some in the party.
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What I might suggest to the good Dr. here is a quick review of the position taken not all that long ago by another Republican. William Shockley.  William Shockley won the Nobel Prize for inventing the transistor, founded Silicon Valley, was a virulent racist, and donated sperm to a sperm bank for the super intelligent.  So on one hand a rather accomplished physicist and inventor.  On another hand, he managed to pretty much put it all out there with his views of blacks.  While teaching at Stanford he became intrigued by racial questions and population control, and began publicly claiming that blacks are less intelligent than whites, by genetics and heredity.  Shockley believed that the higher rate of reproduction among the less intelligent was having a dysgenic effect, and that a drop in average intelligence would ultimately lead to a decline in civilization.  When asked if his views amounted to racism, he famously answered “If you found a breed of dog that was unreliable and temperamental, why shouldn’t you regard it in a less favorable light?”
William Shockley showing off his latest invention - Siamese Tea Cups

William Shockley showing off his latest invention – Siamese Tea Cups

So, I ask Dr. Ben how different his views of gays as equals to the rest of us are from how Shockley viewed blacks a few decades ago.  Looks like some haven’t learned much about how it feels to be looked as inferior.   And these are supposedly the “smart’ ones.  I might suggest that Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus consider reprinting the latest Republican Manifesto so maybe a wider population can “get it”.
                                                                                                                                            RNC Growth                                                 growthRNC

Time to get off the Religious Bandwagon

Source and owner of picture = dingo.care2.com

Source and owner of picture = dingo.care2.com

With all eyes on the Supreme Court today with what will eventually be an historic ruling and leap forward, I still find it amazing the people who stand against what is an obvious (to some of us) civil right for our LGBT citizens.  It remains tiring and disheartening that I needed to have the conversation with my son today to not let this ongoing crap and the ignorant comments get to him as it is really just a matter of time as law catches up with where the majority in our country are going with gay rights and gay marriage.    Yes, it might not be this time around where we get it right but it is inevitable.  What is just and what is right will prevail.  We have time on our side as many of the naysayer’s are of that “Greatest Generation” and they will not die off soon enough.  Giving them that honor (Tom Brokow – you are undoubtedly an asshole) just because they served in WWII managed to dismiss the fact that they have been one of the most bigoted, most selfish and most self-entitled generation this nation has ever seen.  But I digress – we still have all the other bible thumpers – most of whom are religious in name only and then only when it serves their personal need.  These are also people who hide their prejudice behind some crap out of the bible – a novel from the hands of pure mortals at best.  I might have a little more respect if these same people actually lived their life based on the purported beliefs but these are the same people who make up the 41% of people in marriages that admit to infidelity or the 57% of men and 51% of women who admit the same (and these are just the ones who admit it).  If the bible is your only course of pushback to gay marriage, your platform is rapidly shrinking and will likely catch up to your brain shortly.

Source and owner of picture = i.imgur.com

Source and owner of picture = i.imgur.com

But again I digress.  I’m thinking that maybe it is time to take this same approach these anti-gay people are taking and start to apply it to other human traits/characteristics/whatever you want to call it but basically aspects of being a person that you really have no control over and were likely pretty much born with – yes, pretty much like those people who are gay ( and it you still believe it’s a choice, it is time to take that gun you are so afraid is going to be taken from you and do us a big favor and move ahead with an unassisted suicide event.)

Let’s look at a few of the options.

Intelligence – Maybe we need to start looking at people’s IQ as a means of differentiation and begin to allocate access to things based on level of intelligence.  Maybe if your IQ is under 120, you should be limited in access to certain societal institutions – like access to college or maybe even high school if you’re too far down that IQ scale.  Maybe we should limit the jobs available to these dumbbells as our economy as an institution is one we should be protecting from those who contribute little.  You can still get married but only to other people of lower IQ but I think we might want to limit your ability to have a baby as if you aren’t able to really add to the family as an institution in a positive sense, maybe a limit is in order.   Not sure you should be able to drive a car – I don’t think I need to elaborate on the benefit of that direction – have you been out there on the road recently?

Attractiveness – We could look at how attractive people are and limit certain access based on where they are on the ugly scale.  We could actually memorialize height and weight as a differentiator.  As I understand it there are many clubs that ugly people already can’t get into.   There are other aspects of this that exist already so this one is already underway.

Statistic Verification
Source: American Psychological Association, Smart Money, Princeton University
Research Date: 11.27.2012
Attractive People Success Statistics Data
Percent chance an attractive person will receive a callback after an interview 72.32 %
Percent chance an unattractive person will receive a callback after an interview 62.02 %
Percent more that attractive workers earn than unattractive 10 %
Average lifetime earning difference $230,000
Average salary for people with low self-esteem $50,323
Average salary for people with high self-esteem $78,927
Average salary for someone who was 6’0″ at age 18 $51,880
Average salary for someone who was 5’1″ at age 18 $40,000
Percent of salary increase with each standard deviation increase in facial symmetry 8%

I won’t belabor the points here but at some level this is all wrong.  And it seems stupid when you put it on paper but yet it is not all that different.  Discrimination is wrong no matter the justification or rationalization.  It is not up to any one individual or group to limit the access a person has to that society has to offer or to impede their ability to live a life equal to the rest of us based on their own personal beliefs.  I’ve said it before and I don’t know how people don’t see it (maybe it’s the intelligence factor cited above) but just because you believe something and choose to live your life a certain way doesn’t give you the right to force that on everyone else. I do wonder what you are really scared of because that is the only thing that explains this unthinking and unfeeling behavior.   Your justification, usually based on some religious doctrine or belief, doesn’t hold water into society today.  We don’t all want to follow your God (and most of you really don’t anyhow) and we don’t want your rules to be our rules.  I don’t force my ways or beliefs on you – I might think you are stupid or an asshole – but I’m not asking you to do it my way.  And don’t limit my son’s ability to live and enjoy life to its fullest.  When you do I don’t just think you are stupid or an asshole – you have removed all doubt.

When it hits close to home…

Senator Portman with his own sort of coming out.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Santorum_StanL

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

Fire with Fire

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

Anon1

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

Stupid is as Stupid does…

 

One thing I’ll say for Republicans – they really don’t know when to keep their mouths shut.  Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia can take his place with the likes of Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana with what we can only hope is a similar result.  At a Chamber of Congress meeting this week in Georgia, Gingrey not only defended both Akin and Murdock to some extent, he shared his own experience that “adrenaline can prevent pregnancies, and that women who are frightened during sex will not ovulate”.  Sounds like just another take on Akin’s view of pregnancy after rape that “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”  We have here another discourse by a man who seems to be somewhat out of touch with the reality of women’s lives – demonstrating, at best, insensitivity – at worse, a rather pompous and callous view of women.  As Gingrey has been an OB-GYN physician since 1975, this gives pause to never lose sight that 50% of doctors finish at the bottom of their class.

Of course Gingrey, after having time to think about it (or at least beginning to hear the proverbial shit hit the fan) subsequently followed up with a further explanation and said the comments he made on rape “misconstrued” his own position on the topic but here we again have the chance to see the real view of a politician when he responds off-the-cuff and without monitoring his own sound bite.   Again, I can’t tell anyone what they should believe and what they can say.  I’m just more amazed at the stupidity that gets displayed – and these are people in position to make decisions for our country – scary and disturbing.

So let’s take a roll call –

Todd Akin - Defeated 2012

Todd Akin – Defeated 2012

 

Richard Murdock - Defeated 2012

Richard Murdock – Defeated 2012

Can we go for #3?

Can we go for #3?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll just hoping they keep up the good work – this is one way to reduce the number of seats the Republicans hold.

And in this corner, representing the gun nuts…

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

thCAEIMYLB

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

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

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

Credit: progressiveerupts.blogspot.com

Credit: progressiveerupts.blogspot.com

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

And which side do we believe this fine individual stands?

And which side do we believe this fine person stands?

Wrapping up 2012

I am never one to lament the completion of another year as I spend relatively little time looking backwards.  To be honest, much to the chagrin of my wife (who is quite the planner), I spend relatively little time looking forward either as I’m usually absorbed in the here and now.   I find there is enough to deal with in the present.  As with most of my years on this earth (and there have now been almost 60 of them), 2012 was a year with some good and some bad – and in some cases pretty horrid.  Luckily, my life and my sphere of influence fell mostly on the side of the good stuff.  I am happy with that but I am disheartened by all the not so good stuff I see around me – again feeling lucky that most all of it has chosen to remain outside of me and my family but never feeling so insulated and safe to not recognize that at any moment it could easily intrude.  That possibility is never that far away and with everything going on in this country at the moment, nothing is a certainty.

While most anyone else probably doesn’t care about the personal side of my life, this is really for me – by seeing it in writing it re-emphasizes the gift I have and how lucky I am to have the people around me who are my immediate family.  It ensures I never take it all for granted.

Let’s talk about the good first.

  • I remain happily married and in love – kind of corny on one hand but having the type of relationship I have with my wife after 32 years is one that happens far too little in our society – I am very fortunate.
  • All four of us in the immediate family are healthy.  Those of us over 55 are feeling our age but that’s it.  There is nothing life threatening we need to deal with and we can do most everything we want – and I am thankful for that.  My joints make much more noise than they ever have but I take this over most of the alternatives.
  • As a family we have remained pretty much unscathed by the economic travesties of the past couple of years.
  • My two kids continue success in their careers and jobs – and they have good jobs.  Not as a result of luck because they have both worked hard and have not waited for things to be handed to them.  And I am (we are) extremely proud to have raised these types of adults.
  • I can also see the fruits of the time and effort we put into parenting over oh so many years (and it never really stops – it just changes).  I believe my kids are contributing members of society.  Perfect with no faults – not at all – they were raised by imperfect but caring parents.  They are thoughtful, intelligent and caring of everything that is around them.  They are not myopic and self-centered which seems to be more the rule than the exception any more.

gunther1

On the personal “not so good” side, I actually can’t come up with too much that has happened this past year.  In fact there is only one thing that has been bad that I can really think of.  For anyone who has a family pet, you will understand.  For the rest of you, probably not.   If you look at the photos in my blog header and probably dispersed around other places, you will see a few of Gunther – our Jack Russell who has been a member of our family for the past 13 years.  I’ve had a good number of dogs over my time but there has been none that have been like him.  He is the embodiment of attitude and coolness.  This was a dog that was all id, in your face, spirited beyond belief but loveable and warm through it all.  His health issues began actually almost two years ago but it has been this past year we’ve watched him change the most.  Where he was a friend to any person who walked into our house, he now moves away from everyone other than a couple of us – even those he readily jumped on just a short time ago.  He is often confused and seems disoriented – his cataracts have gotten worse so it’s hard to tell if it is because he can’t see or if it is really the canine dementia the vet has diagnosed.   We are lucky (again) that we have the resources to make sure he gets the treatment and care that he needs.  Not sure if cataract surgery is in the future or if the medicine for the dementia will actually help him but I am hopeful.  I know I’m blessed that this has been the only real downer on my year but that doesn’t take away the pain of watching the changes taking place and knowing what is happening to him – hoping his discomfort is more evident to us than to him.

On a broader note, some of the most recent happenings in our country have been tough to watch and often harder to understand.  I don’t have answers to all the problems as I don’t believe there is any problem that has one or two causes and given the complexity of people and their varied ways of perceiving that around themselves, there will never be a “fix” that everyone sees the same way.  That being said, there is some common sense that might factor into what we do or at least how we approach some of our issues of the day.  Nothing magic or deep on my part or even maybe helpful but given this blog was a way to dump that which is in my head, so be it.

Guns and killing in America  – Good topic top of mind – and one that could use some common sense applied.

  • Let’s start with the premise that I don’t think that anyone really wants to take everyone’s gun away from them.  I could give two hoots about what animals you want to kill – I don’t do it, I don’t really understand it.  I have had guns and I’ve hunted – first time out deer hunting I quickly realized I couldn’t ever shoot a deer – and luckily one never showed up.  I hear the talk of personal freedom, 2nd amendment, it’s an equalizer, etc. etc.  I look around and see the evidence that guns breed more violence and death.  There is no other civilized country with the number of guns we have in the US and there is no other country with a murder rate that comes close to ours.  Not sure that adding more guns to the mix will improve the situation if we are really focused on reducing gun violence.  Banning assault weapons and mega-clips seems to be a logical step forward.  Yes, it won’t get rid of the guns and clips already out there.  But if logic were to prevail, if we are not making more assault weapons then there won’t be more people with them.  Does it fix the problem and make sure that no-one will again use an assault rifle or use a mega-clip to kill a bunch of people?  Not at all but if it keeps someone who doesn’t have one now from getting one and creating another Newtown incident then maybe it makes sense.
  • Armed guards in our schools – unfortunately, the state of our society has already resulted in some surprisingly high number of schools where there are already armed guards protecting something.  I would surmise it might not be a result of protecting against terrorist or crazy person attacks but more for internal school problems but that is neither here nor there.  As has been heavily discussed, Columbine had armed guards.  Will it possibly stop another Newtown?  It might and if I follow the logic I see on an assault weapon ban, if having an armed guard saves lives in one instance, maybe it makes sense.  That being said, having the likes of a Wayne La Pierre walking the halls to protect our children sends chills down my spine.  While I have no doubt there are NRA members with the right skills – both gun and people – to maybe pull it off, sorry, if armed guards is the answer, then we need to talk about some real special people.  The last thing we need is an internal disaster resulting from this “fix”.  Arming school administrators and teachers – sorry – that is another disaster waiting to happen.   Pretty sad this is even a topic we need to discuss.
  • Violence in the movies and in video games – nice, easy target but if we again use common sense, the US isn’t the only country with violent movies and video games.  Take a look at Japan – not without violent movies and definitely not without violent video games – take a look at their murder rate.  Is the amount of violence a problem?  I think there is something wrong here but focusing on this area isn’t going to get the desired results.
  • Taking religion out of schools – Mike Huckabee, a man who never saw a barbecue he didn’t like, was quick to jump to this one.  Not much to say other than “what an asshole”.
Dora has more to her than I would have thought!

Dora has more to her than I would have thought!

 

End of the day, as President Obama has said, because the problem is too complex isn’t a reason not to do something.  If we can save one life, it is a start and an action worth taking.

Looking ahead I expect there is much more to rant about and I expect 2013 will offer plenty of fodder to continue my blog.  Speaking of fodder, how about that Congress?

 

At least there is one thing on which we can all agree!

At least there is one thing on which we can all agree!

Happy New Year to all.    Here’s to a great 2013 for everyone.  A little peace and prosperity for all.

th

NRA – What is your rationale this time around?

heston_NRA2

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

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

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

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

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

If You’re a Republican, Politics Trumps America Every Time

McCain caught doing his best Rodney “I don’t get no respect” Dangerfield imitation

There is no doubt the killing of four Americans in Benghazi is a tragedy and there should be the required reviews and assessment of the situation to learn what we can, understand what was not done that maybe should have been and to work to reduce the likelihood this will happen again.  I say reduce as I expect to take any position that implies there is anything we can do that will prevent these sort of incidents in the future would be stupid and illogical – especially given the temperament of the world today.  I would doubt that any ambassador or any staff member in a US embassy in most of the rest of the world recognizes they take the position with some element of risk being evident.   Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do everything we can to protect them but we are not dealing with people or situations where we can anticipate every move and action.   There are actions to be taken but to turn this political is unacceptable.  This brings me to today’s “Head in the Butt” award.

The Dynamic Duo of 2008 – Two halfwits not adding up to a whole

There was a time where I had a lot of respect and time for John McCain.  He was a man who had served his country and a man who appeared to obviously have some standards for which he stood – and he actually seemed to be a pretty nice guy  – at least from afar.  My naiveté.  As he took the national and global stage in his run for President, it quickly became clear that behind the public persona I had seen was someone who was pretty much a jerk, someone who was pretty angry and basically a man who was pretty much a bastard.  With his pick of Palin for VP he further showed his inability to understand what was important and the degree of his shortsightedness.  To think he could have foisted that half-wit of a governor on this country is unconscionable and the fact he would allow the Republican Party to push that on him puts his leadership ability seriously in question.  His recent attacks on Obama and Susan Rice continue to show this is a man who has an ax to grind and again reminds us of the Peter Principle in practice.  I can only imagine where this country would be four years later and with the challenges we have faced.  But I digress.  These most recent McCain political attacks show that he is no different from the rest of his party and he will put politics before country.   His grandstanding and his obvious lack of civility brings only one good thing to the forefront – we get to see the newly enthused Barack Obama start to show the muscle and attitude many of us have figured was there and were waiting to see.  So on that note, thanks, John.  You’re still an asshole but every cloud has a silver lining.

So today, please take a bow and accept the most recent “Head in the Butt” award.  In reality, I think it is long overdue.

There was a close runner up but not this time Lindsey.   Lindsey Graham, by joining the same chorus with McCain, definitely put himself in contention for the “Head in the Butt” award.  Unfortunately, this time around you weren’t quite up to the same level of cluelessness but I have to give you some slack given your area of study in college – one I expect leaves you entirely out of step with many of us but probably more in line (or at least a little ahead) with many of your Republican peers.  Your B.A. in Pseudoscience actually implies you have some inkling that science might have some bearing in our lives.  I, for one, didn’t know this even existed as a major in any college.  It seems somewhat contrary to most of what I would expect from any college curriculum but that could be my shortcoming.  For others in my same stead, Pseudoscience is often characterized by the use of vague, exaggerated or unprovable claims, an over-reliance on confirmation rather than rigorous attempts at refutation, a lack of openness to evaluation by other experts, and a general absence of systematic processes to rationally develop theories (Wikipedia).  I expect this helps when you want to basically ignore fact and make it up as it meets your need.  So, Lindsey, I’m not of the mindset you should get the “Head up the Butt” award but have no issue giving you a runner up prize of the other award of notice – the “Bag of Shit” award seems appropriate given I can’t expect you to look at anything beyond the use of vague and unprovable claims.

Yes Lindsey, that is pretty rank – on par with your recent attack on Susan Rice.