The Eight Year Filibuster (A little essay for Juneteenth)

20130619-185755.jpg

I haven’t posted on this blog for some time now. I have taken a break from the news, politics, etc. Don’t get me wrong I am still listening to NPR and reading the BBC and a few other news sources. But I have had to take time from attempting to analyze what I have read and heard in order to express a cogent and perhaps even useful commentary.

What I realized after mulling this situation over and discussing it with some friends is that what passes for news these days is so cliche-ridden and tabloidesque that I could say little more about it than that. And there is no point in repeating every day that the quality and content of the news has gotten pretty lame.

What’s curious is that I have still been getting viewers on my blog. Not many but a steady stream of folks who seem to think I might have something interesting to say. So out of respect for these blog-scouring readers I decided that I should probably not abandon this blog thdough the thought had occurred to me a few times.

What I have come to realize is that the news is dominated by many of the same mind-numbing stories repeated over and over. Congress is deadlocked, the Republicans blame the Democrats, the Democrats blame the Republicans and so on. But what occurred to me in my little “aha” moment is that, in terms of the dynamics of communication, these news stories have much in common with filibusters. Think about it, a filibuster is just talking to waste time like running out the game clock in a basketball game. The content of a filibuster is never reported because it is never relevant. It is just words to fill time.

So this is what we’ve come to now. News outlets are reporting a lot of time wasting stories, the same ones basically that they reported yesterday and the day after. Even the most learned analyses are repeated over and over. That, I believe, is why my mind has felt so foggy.

I can and have written about other things but until today haven’t felt like I have anything worth blogging in the realm of politics. While I care about the issues of the day I have not found the news media particularly useful to me. And it might be some time before I write another blog post because I don’t want to waste my time or certainly that of those faithful blog trollers who seem to keep finding this blog. (I do appreciate that, by the way)

In effect we have been living in one large filibuster, verbose without relevant content and not much hope of that changing. It is as though the lawmakers are just pouting and not playing nice since the election of 2008. And the news media is reporting on that unchanging and mostly irrelevant dialog. I have to wonder if things will even change noticeably after the 2016 elections.

So what is Juneteenth and what has that got to do with filibusters as a metaphor for this boring news? Juneteenth is a portmanteau of the words “June” and “nineteenth”. On June nineteenth federal troops entered the state of Texas. This slave state had seceded from the union in 1861 and the troops were there to establish federal authority following the Civil War and to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation (signed September 22, 1862 with the effective date of January 1, 1863). Celebrations of “Emancipation Day” or “Freedom Day” are now frequently celebrated on this day and it is recognized as a holiday in 42 states (the eight hold out states are Arizona, Hawaii, Maryland, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah).

20130619-190016.jpg

Historians looking back at these eight years in history will make note of the fact that we have elected our first black president to two terms in office. Whether their analyses will find that to be a reason for the deadlocked and worthless Congress remains to be seen but I doubt that anyone will be able to dismiss this fact completely. It appears to this writer that the conservative forces in this country, no longer able to be as direct in their racist attitudes, have resorted to the childish and ultimately destructive tactics of basically putting the country on hold until we can get a white guy in there again.

To be fair there is always some game playing and posturing following elections as the fantasies of power and control get exercised and no doubt there will be a strong reaction if and when we elect a female president. But the shameful thing on this Juneteenth is that we have hardly scratched that surface of equality and civil rights even though the Emancipation Proclamation was singed 147 years ago.

So Happy Juneteenth to my progressive friends. We have a long way to go and though the revolution might be televised there is likely no one paying much attention.

20130619-190328.jpg

 

Posted in accountability, Democrats, holidays, media, News Cycle, non-solutions, origins, Politics, racism, Republicans, white people, Women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sequestration of Congressmen?

Surfing the blogosphere I came across an obscure little site which, curiously, goes offline and occasionally disappears from the major search engines. In fact I have not been able to find it for a few weeks now. It goes (went?) under the curious title ‘Management of Political Diseases’.

There were never any photographs and I could never find any way to contact the owner/blogger. I am not sure I would have wanted him/her having my contact information anyway. The agendas presented were consistently radical and far off the grid.

I write about it now because of the recent news item of the three women who had been missing for ten years having been found alive and now are rescued. The idea of removing people from the grid is curious. And the fact that it could be accomplished “under the radar” for ten years is stunning to say the least.

The evanescent site had been proposing pretty much the same thing but with lawmakers and other politicians. It focused on the frustration of the author (or authors) with today’s deadlocked politics and proposed the strategic removal of certain “dissenters” from the grid, the sequestering or quarantining of individuals viewed as “diseased” and contaminants of progress.

The analogy is a curious one. And analogies are practically the life blood of rhetoric. Successful use of analogies have served many successful political efforts from Roman civilizations to the Nazi party to Republicans and Democrats. And it doesn’t matter if the analogies are accurate or appropriate, just that they resonate with a given constituency.

Think about it. Are there just a few “infected” people encumbering the workings of government? And can their temporary removal rehabilitate the process? I don’t know. But I am not surprised to have seen such radical suggestions in light of the political gridlock of the past few years.

It appears to me that this blog has again disappeared, perhaps because of the appearance of similar ideas in the public media. And I don’t know if any such plans are being made or attempted but I do know that I would not want to be a public figure these days.

Posted in accountability, crime, cults, Democrats, esoterica, media, News Cycle, Politics, Republicans, solutions | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Many Does It Take?

20130419-192333.jpg
How many people would it take to shut down a major American city for a day or two? Well, apparently two.

The Boston Marathon bombing and subsequent manhunt has bathed us all in a media-fueled thrall for some four days now and shut down the greater Boston area for two days. And it was accomplished by two naturalized American citizens acting pretty much alone apparently.

This raises an obvious question: Can this happen again? Of course it can. By posturing properly and pushing the right buttons and adding a little stealth it is very likely that this could easily happen again.

Why someone would want this to happen does not matter. Rationality does not help here. For that matter neither does personal right to own a gun. The second amendment in all its glory does nothing to help. Homeland security is also of questionable value. The Boston bombers were American citizens and were captured largely due to cooperation between ordinary citizens and local police. Granted the photos distributed by the media were crucial but the confusion injected by the ratings hungry misreporting and/or sensationalizing of the situation clouded the issue and created unnecessary anxiety.

If you think about it this was a sort of ‘Our Town’-ish grassroots type success. There was not much time for or focus on politics. Even the high profile officials handling this gave practically no nod to their political affiliations. Even the White House played a largely supportive role. Of course gun control efforts were shut down during the fracas by our dysfunctional legislators but that is no surprise.

I hope that this sort of thing does not happen again but I would love to see such successful attention-grabbing put to the service of progressive social agendas. About that I could write a nice little blog commentary.

Posted in accountability, Boston Marathon bombings, crime, cults, Gun regulation, Guns, management, mass murder, media, News Cycle, Newtown, NRA, Politics, solutions | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

All Flags Should Be Permanently at Half Mast

clinterror

Yet another public act of violence and the best response that can possibly be made is for flags to fly at half mast.  A more appropriate response might be the passing of those gun laws but that is not going to happen.

So I propose that all U.S. flags be mandated to remain at half mast until we manage to go one day without someone being killed.  Sounds outrageously left-wing and ridiculously optimistic even to me.  But the fact is that we have run out of ways to respond in a meaningful way to violence in this country.  I’m not sure that any other country could be said to be in a better position for that matter.  The world is in a state of seemingly permanent and escalating violence.

English: Protester demonstrating against polic...

English: Protester demonstrating against police misuse of the Terrorism Act 2000 in Trafalgar Square, London, on 23 January 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another similarly theatrical response is the decision to treat this attack as an act of terrorism.  What is the thinking that goes into that?  Isn’t a street gang murder an act of terrorism of one faction on another?  Are those not public enough to merit classification as terrorism?  How about economic terrorism?  Digital terrorism?  I also propose that every crime be labeled a terrorist act until we can go at least one day without a crime.  To approach this reasonably we must recognize that terrorism is not, by definition, necessarily from another country.  We have plenty of our own.

English: Number of terrorist incidents for 200...

English: Number of terrorist incidents for 2009 (January – June). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maybe there is a way to make a reality show about acts of terrorism.   Could make some money maybe.  It would help distract from any real reality issues such as our boringly deadlocked legislators.

There is little in the news about substantively optimistic events.  Sports victories, science discoveries and the non-bleeding news stories fail to impress me.  I want to hear that the economy is fixed and that I can sell my house and at least break even.  I want to hear that payroll taxes have been rolled back again so I can live less closely to my own personal financial cliff.  Haven’t heard anything remotely like that in years now.

I wake every day expecting some shooting, disaster, threat, failure, loss of income, increase in bills, lack of any progress from my government.  I have no plans to be a part of any violence and hope that I never will be but I do understand some of the mindset that must underlie those who do participate in such things.

my terrorism suspicion slip

my terrorism suspicion slip (Photo credit: langalex)

“I’d like to kiss you, I’d love you hold you,
I ain’t got no time for that now” – Life During War Time, David Byrne

If we are torn away from our reality shows, our distractions, our routines that help us believe that fiction that things are gonna be OK then we see the world for what it is, hopelessly deranged.  Perhaps the entertainment media should be indicted for their failure to capture enough of an audience to include terrorists who would become pacified too if they basked in the wonders of mass media.  No news, no views, then by definition no opposing views, just hypnotic and soothing drivel, but drivel with the power to engage.

The world actually is a place now where it is not unreasonable to think that the best you may ever be able to achieve is to blow yourself up and be able to believe that it makes you saintly, patriotic or both.  The problem is generational not national.  There are so many places that live is such desperation that we can’t reasonably expect them to be able to transcend such a mindset.  We can’t even reasonably expect that of ourselves or even of our children I suppose.

Watching the latest coverage I am increasingly convinced that this is one of those reality shows except in this one people actually get harmed and die.  They play these things periodically because it shows how well our government and law enforcement can perform.  Before the Boston Marathon show we were treated to the Newtown show and many before that going back to The 9/11 show and more before that.  Because pacified people periodically need something to stimulate them and these shows get very high ratings.

Posted in accountability, apocalypse, Boston Marathon bombings, budget crisis, Gun regulation, mass murder, media, military, News Cycle, Newtown, non-solutions, police, Politics, solutions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Poker Game Where No One Has a Strong Hand, the Naked Congressman (or Congresswoman)

dogmgr

Question: What looks most like a dog in a hole?

Answer: A dog out of a hole.

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.

Groucho Marx

What relevance does this silliness have to this blog post on politics?  Well, very little actually.  Except that it is as relevant as the text of nearly any given filibuster.

Congressional Filibuster Record by Party 1992 ...

Congressional Filibuster Record by Party 1992 – 2011 (Photo credit: Cory M. Grenier)

What is a filibuster?  It is a time wasting tactic which is allowed by Congressional procedure to basically waste time and prevent action on a given bill which the filibustering party does not want voted upon.  It is the equivalent of pouting in terms of it’s intellectual content.  And I find it embarrassing that it is allowed and that it is being used with increasing frequency in our legislative chambers.

The term “filibuster” derives from the Spanish language word “filibustero”, itself deriving originally from the Dutch language “vrijbuiter” with the meaning of privateer, pirate, robber.  While the practice goes back to ancient Rome the word did not enter the English language until the 1850s.

But I digress from the subject of my title.  I am not and will not filibuster, at least here.

In a poker game the basic idea is to acquire the highest ranked hand either by having been dealt that hand or by being able to exchange cards within the rules of the particular type of poker you are playing to attain the highest ranked hand.  It is basically a random process unless, of course, you cheat.

But the strategy of winning poker relies heavily on the practice of “bluffing”.  Bluffing is a form of deception in which you succeed in implying that you have a better hand than you actually do.  If you succeed then your opponents will likely give up or “throw in their hand” and you can conceivably win even if you have a low ranked hand.

Here is where we come back to politics.   I am suggesting that poker is a fair analogy to the way our legislators have been acting of late.  Each bluffing the other party or faction, is trying to get the others to believe that they hold a strong hand.  Only these days it appears that no one has a strong hand.  Everyone is bluffing.

Like the fairy tale, the emperor has no clothes and it is only the true believers that are willing to say that he or she actually has the “new clothes” and pretend to see them.

So what are you wearing to the chamber today, Congressman? ” Well I have this fine filibuster as you can plainly see and an ace in the hole.  I dare you to challenge me.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How to Not Solve Gun Violence

20130409-134816.jpg

“Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is argument of tyrants, it is the creed of slaves.”
– William Pitt the Younger, 1783

Let me be clear. I am in favor of sensible gun control, background checks and loophole closures on regulatory laws. But I do not believe that these measures will directly affect gun violence or violence in general. Rather the effect will be indirect and symbolic at best.

I believe that the increase in mass killings, gun violence, violence in general is due to an overall sense of desperation, a sense of “no one has your back”. The safety nets are old and ineffective. The police are more likely to harm you than protect you. You will not be able to afford to retire. Your pension, your social security, your healthcare are no longer certain. Your investments (if you even have them) are being stolen from you. There is disorder and danger everywhere. Nowhere is your safety guaranteed.

What reaction can reasonably be expected given these circumstances? Well I think that the analogy of the “foxhole” is most useful here. You are alone, watching your own back, brandishing whatever weapons you have acquired. And you know the cavalry, the rescuers are not coming. They don’t exist. They too are in their foxholes fighting to hold on to what little they have left just like you.

This is not mental illness. This is reality. Psychiatry has drugs available to reduce your anxiety, to help you sleep, to help you stay awake, to attenuate the symptoms of depression. And we are learning that the side effects of these drugs may do as much or more damage as they do good.

So what is the solution you ask? Are you just one of those naysayers with whiny complaints and denigration of others’ efforts with no idea of how to solve these problems? Or are you one of the monolithic self-assured types with a ready simple solution in your pocket?

“When I was younger, so much younger than today,
I never needed anybody’s help in any way.
But now these daya are gone, I’m not so self assured…”
-The Beatles, “Help”

Well I guess I’m closest to the monolithic type here though I am not so self-assured and my solutions while simple in concept are not so simple to implement. I have written elsewhere in this blog (look up the previous posts if you need verification) that I believe the problem to be one of too much pressure on the middle and lower income classes in our society.

As we regulate guns we see increases in police violence, military violence, violence and killings without guns, etc. As one problem is “solved” another rears its ugly head.

While I believe that gun control legislation is a necessary step I also believe that until we solve the huge inequities in our world we will see little substantive reduction in violence in that world. I believe that this problem can only be solved on an international level and not simply by the United States alone.

Until we are able to establish stability in the classes that contain the large numbers of people in the middle and lower income classes we will have to live with violence of all sorts including guns, poisonings, knifings, bludgeonings, thefts, computer hackings, racism, class-ism and countless other types of violence and prejudice. It is anyone’s guess as to who or what group will be targeted next. There will be individuals, corporations, governments, innocent and not-so-innocent groups. No one is immune though some have more protection (not guns but security).

Unfortunately I see little if anything being done about social and economic inequities so I see no end in sight for violence. Perhaps we are going through another “dark age” or the actual “end times” if there is such a thing.

 

Posted in accountability, budget crisis, crime, Democrats, Gun regulation, Guns, healthcare, management, mass murder, mental illness, military, News Cycle, non-solutions, NRA, Occupy Movement, police, Politics, prophecy, racism, Religion, Republicans, second amendment, solutions, the end, white people, Women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Oh, No! Not Another Pope

For the first time in almost 600 years a sitting Pope has resigned. The last was Pope Gregory XII in 1415. And unending speculations and analyses have come forth over that. Some claim he this move weakens the church, some claim it strengthens the church. Only time will tell.

The election of a new pope is always a big deal. It is cloaked in grand ceremony and anticipated with great speculation and heavy news coverage. Every pope is different and some are more progressive than others. Pope John XXIII is the first pope I remember. His papacy ran from 1958 to 1963 and signaled one of the biggest changes in the Catholic Church with Vatican II which he opened in 1962. The fact that he did not live to oversee its conclusion has led to speculation as to how it would have been if he had. Nonetheless he was a highly influential leader and was subsequently declared a saint in 2000.

His successor Pope Paul VI and then the short-lived reign of John Paul I. John Paul II, the first Polish Pope, was the first pope in my memory to have an impact similar to that of John XVIII.

Benedict XVI certainly had his share of controversy, not the least of which is his having been a member of the Nazi Youth. And his rule was marked by the peak of the child sexual abuse cases which continue to plague the church.

I am hardly an expert on papal history and will not attempt to comment on the careers of these men save for a few observations. But I have been witness to the impact of some of these changes in my part of the world and am given to wonder what is in store for the next era.

Certainly there are the hopes that the next pope will liberalize the Catholic Church and take further steps to recognize and respect other religions. On another level there is the possibility being discussed of having the first American pope but that would be more of historical interest I think. It seems to me that the discussions of the papacy are largely centered on traditions and deviations from traditions rather than concerns about global and political impacts.

Regardless of who is elected the tasks at hand are great, at least in terms of the role of the Catholic Church and it’s role in the world. But I have to wonder if these tasks are so difficult because the church itself has lost relevance in the modern world. With its stances on the roles of women in the church, gays in the church and its unforgivable refusal to deal with sex abuse the church has lost its credibility for me.

Having been raised Roman Catholic I tried to see beauty in the church and its teachings. I did see some of that beauty but it has since been eclipsed by the wholly inadequate way in which I have seen the church deal with the modern world. I will look to the papal election with the interest I would the election of an official from a distant town whose impact will likely not touch my life.

Posted in accountability, papacy, Religion, sexual abuse, Women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Django and the White Fascination With Black Culture

Even before the emancipation proclamation there was white guilt over slavery. The so-called ‘cakewalk’ was a dance which, by varying accounts, was a parody by slaves of white people dancing or, in another incarnation, a dance by whites attempting to imitate the dancing among their slaves. They were attracted to the dancing styles of their slaves.

Despite the ostensible separation of whites and blacks there has been a persistent fascination with black culture by white people. Take the example of jazz. Jazz is an authentic American art form which has its roots in black culture, in ragtime, blues, worksongs and gospel. From the beginning it was something that fascinated white people who then imitated it, attempted to co-opt it, make it their own. Admittedly many of these imitations were, like the cakewalk, pretty bad. But some were serious attempts at emulation.

From the very beginnings of jazz there have been white people who were attracted to it, recognized it as an art form. Some simply attempted to profit from it, to take the profit away from black people as they were accustomed. But it is the people who recognized it as an art form and promoted it that I want to focus upon here.

Witness the proliferation of ‘Dixieland’ jazz with white players. Woody Allen fronts such an ensemble and the music is featured in some of his films. He is a filmmaker who manages to shoot in New York and present a tableau free of people of color yet he pays homage to the New Orleans style with his band.

People well-versed in jazz history can name quite a few white artists who contributed most admirably to the development of jazz: George Shearing, Benny Goodman, the Dorsey brothers, etc. to name but a few. Of course it is also worth noting that the major innovations in jazz seem to have been done by black people: Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Miles Davis, etc.

It is clear that white people have embraced jazz as a viable art form one that inspired their own creativity. Take, for example, George Gershwin. His feel for rhythm and melody produced some of the greatest songs of the twentieth century. His opera, ‘Porgy and Bess’ has rightfully been praised as a masterpiece. Gershwin is one of the more visible artists whose work was heavily informed and inspired by jazz, by black culture.

As mentioned before there were attempts at maintaining the separation of whites and blacks but white audiences still filled the ‘Cotton Club’ and similar venues to see the genius of the masters of the form. As the twentieth century progressed, of course, the ability to maintain the separation became progressively more difficult. White people couldn’t stay away.

Rock and roll with artists like Sam Cooke, Little Richard and so many wonderful Doo-Wop groups took hold of the youth of the 50s and 60s in spite of the attempts of parents and clergy efforts to exorcise the “demon” that possessed their children. Some of the (unintentionally) funniest efforts to take control of this music include covers of ‘Tutti Frutti’ by Pat Boone and similar pale imitations of the real thing by Elvis Presley and Bill Haley. But none of these imitations succeeded in winning the hearts and minds of the white kids.

I present these musings as prologue to this essay because I wish to suggest that there is significant precedent on which to base an assertion. I believe that the most loving and successful art by white people in forms that originated in black culture are actually homage to those forms and are, in the sense of psychohistory, an attempt by white people to come to terms with white guilt and to exorcise the demons of the practice of slavery.

The photo parody at the head of this essay is not intended to disparage either the book or the film ‘The Help’ except to say that it is important to note that the perspective of both the book and the film is that of white people. This does not necessarily detract from the value of them but it does give a clue as to why black people are less enamored of the work. It is not black people’s’ experience of the events. It is a white person’s perspective in an attempt to come to terms with those events.

So we come now to the Quentin Tarantino movie, ‘Django’. In an interview on NPR I heard Tarantino discussing the genesis of this film and reflecting on his youth and upbringing. He had a great deal of contact with black culture and he stated at one point, “…black culture is my culture.” Some will see that as an overstatement but I took it as a sincere One. Indeed he has absorbed a great deal of black culture and credits that with much of his success today.

Back to Django. I saw this film not knowing what to expect. I had stopped following Tarantino’s work pretty much since ‘Kill Bill’. What I saw was a story of a freed slave coming to conquer the white slave owners and reclaim his bride at first with the assistance of white people but then alone. I saw serious attempts to honestly depict some of the actual cruelty of slavery and the sadistic actions of white slave owners. I did not see racism in the core of the film. I saw Tarantino’s fascination with and genuine affection for black culture.

The character of Django is, i believe, that of a comic book superhero with essentially superhuman powers (and luck) who comes to right the wrongs done to him and, potentially, to his people. Just as Spider Man, Superman, Batman, etc.(and later Wonder Woman and the female superheros) conquer crime, Nazis, etc. as the tenor of the times require Django is a superhero who comes to assuage white guilt and perhaps offer acknowledgement and even apology for the sins of 400 years of black slavery from which whites profited. But even though he is a black man onscreen saving black people he is a white superhero ultimately solving white people’s problems.

Has Django or ‘The Help’ solved the problem of racism? Of course not. That would be a very racist statement. These films and other art forms produced by white people and informed by black culture are, I believe, a step in the long process of coming to terms with what my ancestors have done and an attempt to offer some small reparation for an insult that was repeated by many generations. I eagerly await more films by black directors and writers who will present a perspective more satisfying to black audiences (and instructive to white audiences).

I don’t know how many more generations will repeat the sins of racism (would that this were the last) but I take some comfort in the fact that there are some white people willing to make an effort, who attempt to be anti-racist. I can’t end racism by myself but I am glad to have Django to lend me a hand.

Posted in Art, Debates, media, movies, Politics, racism, white people | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fixing Gun Violence

President Obama has signed some twenty-three executive orders about gun regulation. Of course the heavily racist “fears” about him and his administration were running on high shortly after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Just like when you were a kid and did something you knew was wrong the NRA and its fanatical adherents were already anticipating that they were about to be taken out to the wood shed for a beating. Preemptive strikes were made in statements which pretty much all said, “Obama is gonna take our guns” with implied or, no doubt in some cases, explicit racial slurs attached.

The president has responded most admirably I think to deal with this awful chapter of history. He seemed to really feel the tears that welled up as he made his statements to the country after the attack. And he lent his warm and dignified presence mourning beside the families who lost their children and other loved ones that day.

His executive orders and his statements on gun regulation issues are exactly what we should expect of our chief executive. After such an incident an appropriate legislative response is required. We know Congress has been clearly incapable of passing much more than salary increases for themselves or further curtailing our right to privacy.


And, as with everything that this president has attempted, his gun regulation efforts are meeting with profound and paranoid resistance. Not only are we going to have a our gun “rights” restricted but it will be done by a black man. That rattles the cages of those right wingers something fierce.

Who is responsible for gun safety and regulations? Well nominally it would be the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (did they recently append “explosives” as a part of their title?). So that would be the federal government.

But those who cry so loudly for FEMA assistance when natural disaster strikes cling at times like these to libertarian ideals of self-reliance with the familiar catch phrases like “guns don’t kill people….etc.” All these people want their guns and have for years allowed for the gaping loopholes in gun shows that circumvent the existing laws on the books regulating gun ownership.

Keep in mind that these same people had no argument whatsoever with stricter gun regulation after they saw the armed black militias of the Black Panthers and the Nation of Islam. It is pretty clear that these groups, despite misdirecting rhetoric, want only white people or at least the privileged class to own guns. The NRA basically supported the Gun Control Act of 1968 which arguably made it easier to take guns away from radical organizations.

And then we have the NRA. The National Rifle Association, established in 1871 (about the same time as the Ku Klux Klan) ostensibly to improve marksmanship which was so shabby during the Civil War. They are a “non-profit” organization which, since about 1977 has shifted its focus from marksmanship to “protecting the second amendment”. (For the record the text of said amendment is: “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”.) At least the part about owning guns. They never seem to talk about that lead phrase about the “well-regulated militia”.

In 2008 a Supreme Court case (District of Columbia v. Heller) de-emphasized the ‘militia’ clause and, for the first time, defined the “right to bear arms” specifically as an individual right. That is the right to bear arms is interpreted as not dependent on membership in a militia but rather a right unto itself. Notably this decision was handed down after the Virginia Tech Massacre of 2007 in which 32 people were killed by a lone gunman.

As horrified as people initially are after mass killings the support for gun regulation remains pretty limited with a tremendous force on the pro-gun side ready to challenge any attempt to restrict gun ownership. If you’re like me this all seems terribly illogical. And even when 20 elementary school children were killed in December, 2012 the debate raged on. Even more illogical have been the suggestion that the solution is more guns, armed guards, arming teachers, etc. I would have thought that the murder of truly innocent children would have tipped the scales in the other direction. Silly me.

Newtown boasts a census of just over 25,000 people of whom a little more than 95% are white. It is located in Fairfield County which has voted more than 50% Democratic since 2000. But gun ownership has been very much favored here. Perhaps that will change? I don’t think so.

So let’s get back to the issue of who is responsible. Nominally the ATF, the federal government is responsible for the control of firearms. However the NRA has been very high-profile and their lobbyists have spent a great deal of money ($10 million in 2008 alone)to convince law makers to reject attempts at gun regulation.

Now I think that this amount of influence should carry with it some responsibility. And, for that matter, I question the non-profit status of an organization which has that kind of money and political influence. But the NRA stands virtually unchallenged in this respect. They say that they do training and put together safety protocols, etc., etc. But the fact remains that the availability of the weapons used in the Newtown killings and just about any other mass murder you can name is arrogantly supported by this organization.

The challenges to the NRA have been largely done through arguing the pro-regulation side of cases. The NRA is challenged in debate rhetoric but I am aware of no legal action specifically against the NRA. Perhaps it is time for those directly affected by gun violence to bring suit against the NRA for their very significant role in keeping guns available and blocking regulations efforts. They support the rights of individuals but they appear to be doing nothing for society as a whole.

Perhaps an enterprising attorney or law firm would be willing to take on a suit against the NRA and gun manufacturers and sellers for their role in the deaths and injuries that have resulted from gun violence. Imagine the NRA having to spend $10 million on mental health care or school security. Or imagine the taxes we could collect if they were no longer allowed to be classified as non-profit. That would be nice. But I think that anyone who tries to bring such an action would probably get shot.

Posted in accountability, crime, cults, Debates, Democrats, Gun regulation, Guns, mass murder, media, News Cycle, Newtown, Politics, Republicans, second amendment, white people | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cliff Equality

>liberty hides

The term “fiscal cliff” is wearing away at my last nerve. This buzzword is supposed to mean something scary I guess. But who is it that needs to be afraid of the cliff. Not Congress. Not the president. So who does that leave? Yes, us, the American people. And it is for this reason that I propose the adoption of a new kind of cliff, one which is more equal.

Here in California we had a problem getting our legislature to pass a budget. But after a cleverly designed “cliff” the problem seems to have been resolved. The cliff was a resolution in which the legislature agreed that they would not be paid unless they successfully passed a budget. And though they approached the cliff by waiting to the last minute to pass that budget they chose to set aside their differences in favor of getting paid. And a budget was passed.

The problem with the federal fiscal cliff is that the ones who wind up going over the cliff first are (as usual) those who can least afford it. The working class will see significant taxes come out of their paychecks come January. Those who are just barely making ends meet will find that they no longer can be met. But the President and Congress risk little more than not getting elected when their term is up. And by that time they can probably rely on Americans’ short memory to assure that they can again bamboozle them into electing them again. (I know, I know the president can’t be elected again but bear with me for the sake of argument.)

In an earlier blog post I proposed a solution to the health care crisis: Put Congress on Blue Cross. And I am suggesting something similar for such partisan battles as the fiscal cliff. The point here is for our legislators to actually feel our pain, to share in the loss of income or the hassles of dealing with conventional insurance plans.

I think that all three branches of government should simply not be paid until they solve the budget crisis. Never mind the blame game. It won’t matter at whom they can successfully point their fingers because they, the lawmakers, will not be paid until they do thier jobs. the ones we elected them to do. We did it in California so there is a precedent.

I realize that this will not help the current crisis but for the future I think that we need to hold our employees accountable the way our employers hold us accountable. No work, no pay. Simple as that.

The next time we have such a partisan crisis we need to be able to invoke a statute which will provide us with more of a guarantee that our civil servants serve us by doing the jobs for which they were hired. Never mind filibuster reforms, they’ll stop talking and start acting if their wallets are impacted, I guarantee you.

Another way of putting it, using another time worn phrase these days would be to say we are putting them…ahem…”under the gun”.

Posted in accountability, apocalypse, budget crisis, Debates, Democrats, healthcare, Humor, media, News Cycle, Politics, Republicans | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment