Crime Stories

Hello out there. It’s officially hurricane season. That’s no big deal for most of the mainland U.S. I live near Chicago. So, not to worry. But that’s not to say I don’t care, since I have relatives who live in Florida. It’s a crapshoot as to if and where a hurricane may make landfall as it churns along in the Atlantic, with forecasters and their computer models projecting (it’s actually called “reasoning by inference”) what path it may take after feeding the data into the projection process. Certainly, however, one particular part of the U.S., that being the unincorporated territory of Puerto Rico, likely is more on edge than any of its neighboring island countries.

Why? Well, it was broadsided by hurricane Maria last season. Other places took a battering from Maria as well, but nine months after Maria left Puerto Rico pretty much flattened, much of the island still has no electric power. And, after the island’s officials initial and ongoing claims that only 64 people died in that storm, a recent Harvard University study now estimates that at least 4,600 people have died directly or subsequently due to factors triggered by Maria. That’s twice as many hapless victims of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the U.S. It’s close to the number of U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq, and nearly twice the casualties of our war on terror war in Afghanistan (and counting, in both cases, sadly, absurdly, and seemingly with no end in sight). But unlike those casualties of war, our government didn’t initiate hurricane Maria. Mother nature, the only real “superpower” there is, brought about this loss of life. However, whether our government intentionally sent troops into harms way, or Maria put the people of Puerto in her crosshairs, the U.S. government has some skin in the game as far as monitoring, managing and potentially mitigating the effects of the those two foreign military  invasions as well as the carnage in our “unincorporated territory”  caused by the hurricane.

The current administration, while not the one that started the body counts in Iraq and Afghanistan, seems to have little interest in dramatically altering the foreign policy decisions that beat the war drums, post 911. The current administration, perhaps not surprisingly given the perpetual psychosis that is its most salient characteristic, is also not very interested in the dead or dying in Puerto Rico. 4,600 dead from Maria, and nine months later, the island remains mostly a shambles. I guess building a wall along the Rio Grand trumps re-building anything in P.R.

Shameful indifference even in the abstract, but when looked at closely, an act of criminal neglect, though with the political party I have long since labeled Murder, Incorporated in power, not shocking. The modus operandi of those now in power is clearly one that is bereft of empathy or compassion for the general public here and elsewhere. Washington, D.C. a la the beltway, is Psycho City. It’s a virtual asylum for the politically sociopathic insane, where indeed the inmates are running the facility. Some of its peripheral partners-in-crime do live in far-flung outposts across this country, and are bona-fide drinkers of Psycho City Killer Kool-Aid. I have some in my family. Ugh. Perhaps we “free thinkers”  all know someone who drinks that un-Kool-Aid.  Thus all the divisiveness, the rancid discourse. A slow but steady descent into a quotidian quandary, a daily dose of disbelief, disapproval, disappointment inducing political fatigue, at least for those of us waiting for deliverance from this monstrous aberration that is Trumpistan. Oh, and other political derailments that go back to Reagan starting in 1981.

Can you say stolen elections? No? Then do some research on it. Criminal, says I.

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While many of us wait, thrust into an existential version of Estragon and Pozzo,  waiting on that guy Godot to show up and make it all better, there are occasional instances of the political Gang That Can’t Govern Straight, led by the Guy Who Can’t Think Straight (or morally), actually stumbling ass-backwards into doing something that–while not intended–represents a token form of righting a wrong. What could that be? Did Small Hands impulsively demand action for Puerto Rico? Did he abruptly decide to Tweet the U.S. back into the Climate Accord? Or Tweet re-enrolling our country into the Iran nuclear deal? Did he admit to being on Ambien everyday which, according to Roseanne Barr, has the side-effect of turning one into a ranting racist? Right a wrong? Admit being wrong? What is it?

No, of course none of the above. But he did suggest something that, while obviously devious at its core and self-serving as a strategy against the Justice Department, does in my opinion, have merit: a possible pardoning of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Blago, as even the media prefers to refer to him, was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2009. His crime? Well, I’d say, for being a stupid fuck. Blago tried to power-peddle Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat after the 2008 election of Obama as President. Federal prosecutors evidently decided Blago was a most dangerous public official for doing so, and with Blagojevich’s blustering and posturing and flaunting in the media using one of the most blatant fallacies of reasoning, the red herring strategy, became all the more foolishly unlikable. But did his attempt to barter that seat cause anyone, anyone, to die? Or to be wounded, possibly crippled? Did it cost the U.S. taxpayers tens of billions of dollars and kill, cripple or leave anyone, anywhere harmed?

Of course it didn’t. It was a dumb-ass gambit played out by a dumb-ass. 14 years for that? Let’s see, what other public official’s actions did directly cause several thousand of our military personnel (see above) to die, and tens upon tens of thousands to be wounded, and possibly several hundred thousand civilians to die? No, not Small Hands (though he is the “leader” now of Murder, Inc.).

This person would be George W. Bush. Oh, and Dick Cheney. And others who now have been shown to have violated our Constitution, the Geneva Convention and assorted international laws to get the Pentagon (and most of the gullible general public to agree) to get our military deployed to Iraq. It was all a con job, proven as such. Bald faced lies. But G.W.B. was never indicted, let alone tried, let alone convicted for what are bona-fide crimes against humanity. In fact, several European countries have threatened to arrest Bush, Cheney and others if they set foot in their countries! 

The irony of Blagojevich’s 14 year sentence for being a bumbling blowhard is that particular Senate seat once held the derriere of Barack Obama who,  sworn in as President and soon asked by the press corp if he intended to seek indictments against the Bush administration, said something along the lines of “let’s look to the future”. There’s a new sheriff in town, albiet one not interested in righting that particular deadly wrong.

So much for justice being blind.

I’ve read mostly condemnations of the possible commutation of the rest of Blago’s sentence (he’s served several years of it with several to go). Of course there’s opposition because A) it’s Small Hands cynically targeting the Justice Department that is currently seeking to bring him to “justice” for, well, take your pick of offenses. And B) Blago is still an unlikeable guy. But did his crime deserve the time he was sentenced to? Hell no, not as long as those who are labeled as war criminals still get to walk freely about, writing books that are revisionist claptrap and touted by parts of the media in the process. Thanks, Oprah…

I don’t lose sleep over Blago and his being screwed by an absurd sentence for such a doofus means of trying to fill that empty seat. But I know hypocrisy when I smell it. So, please, Small Hands, you whack-a-doodle who just happens to have been allowed to become President, with the power to pardon part of that gig, let Blago-a-go-go!  You don’t actually give a rat’s ass about him, but he’s served enough time for a victimless crime (not counting himself, natch). Absurd on its surface. Criminally abusive relative to a fair approach to crime and punishment.

But to quote from Blue Oyster Cult’s great song about a certain large lizard named Godzilla:

History shows again and again how

nature points out the folly of man…

 

 

  

 

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Torture Du Jour

Gina Haspel, a career CIA officer is currently undergoing her Senate intelligence hearing, having been nominated by Small Hands to become the CIA’s chief. Like all of Mr.Apprentice’s appointees, this one has serious baggage that needs to be rummaged through during the hearing process. The most alarming bit of what the fuck is this doing in your bag?, is her having been the supervisor of the CIA’s counter terrorism center in Thailand post 9-11. You may recall: rendition, detention and interrogation, which was made known during our military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq as means of getting prisoners to, well, tell whatever they knew that might be deemed useful to our side. Supposedly to keep we the people back home safe. Water boarding was one documented form of, hey, let’s call it what it was, okay? Yes. Torture. Torture?! Are we (our government, in this case) barbarians? Torture? You know, supposedly too abhorrent a descent into cold-blooded brutality behind closed doors.

Water boarding proceeds as so: cover the prisoner’s face with a cloth or towel, tie him down to–a board–and pour water onto his face. The sensation (so I have read) is akin to a drowning. Hey, war is hell, right?  And that hell doesn’t stop upon capture or surrender. Apparently. Just ask Senator John McCain, who spent over five years in a North Vietnam POW camp, where he was tortured. He opposes Haspel’s candidacy to lead the CIA, having stated “Ms.Haspel’s role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing. Her refusal to acknowledge torture as immorality is disqualifying”. And McCain is a Republican. His politics are a mixed bag, but on this topic his credibility is off the charts.

So, “enhanced interrogation” (akin to George Orwell’s glossary of dystopian terms in his novel 1984) in current Homeland Security lingo. Water, water everywhere, and far too much to think. Until the watering stops long enough to ask for desired responses. Hmmm. Perhaps one would say anything to prevent another dousing. Ya think?

Then there’s electricity. Again, as torture. High voltage, low current and a picana, used to shock the prisoner. Often water–again the water–is thrown over the victim to reduce the electrical resistance of the skin and to increase the effects of the shock. Zap! What, still not ready to fess up? Then clip the electrodes to said prisoner’s genitals and zap! ZAP! Feel like talking now? We can stay here and do this all night, asshole!

Oh, there’s more nasty means of getting desired info from a prisoners, even if he likely doesn’t really know sophisticated enemy attack plans. Here is what the captured “enemy combatant” likely believes as default information: he is fighting for Allah against the Great Satan, with Osama Bin still serving as motivation. But it is torture making him produce even the flimsiest valued insight. The United Nations labels torture as “inhumane and degrading”.  For whatever that is worth (apparently not much).

Now back to Haspel’s candidacy and her obvious link to the documented torture of prisoners. Red flags, as usual, as far as the qualifications for another potential Cabinet member, The committee judging her worthiness does have some naysayers, a few Democrats prodding her about admitting torture is immoral. She spun rambling, dissembling, responses to that simple yes or no question numerous times, like Ginger Rogers cutting up a dance floor freestyle. Blah blah blah, my moral compass is blah blah blah. My parents raised me right blah blah blah. Listening to her refuse to answer that basic question in which she knew there absolutely was one clearly correct response was a felony case of tortured pretzel illogic.

So, okay. She shouldn’t get the job. But she will. She’ll get confirmed. Again, what’s to derail her confirmation? Remember, the impotent Democrats have NO MEANS TO STOP IT.  Call the vote. Confirm and be done with it. There aren’t enough senators from either party with a spine to derail President Twit’s cynical, counter-intuitive choices that are not only suspect, but in many cases akin to the proverbial fox being put in charge of the hen-house.  Need I remind any free thinkers who runs the cabinet agencies right now? A parade of a shady neo-con shills like Neil Gorsuch confirmed to the Supreme Court, only after his nomination having been stolen from President Obama by the GOP controlled congress. Betsy De Vos? Scott Pruitt? Jeff Sessions? Confirmed in spite of being unqualified. Hey, it’s what Trumpty Dumpty GOP-ers do these days. What they don’t do is govern. Well, they do, but not for you nor I.

I really can’t bring myself to indulge in much more consternation about the disastrous night of November 8, 2016 . For the voters who gave Ms.Clinton the popular count victory (and don’t even start with it’s Bernie’s fault!) and true “progressives” the daily news is no news at all. It’s like a sickening loop of dreadful sitcom TV. Or worse it’s reality TV from the West Wing. It’s Archie Bunker, President. To me it’s now all a form of drip, drip, drip torture, a dull, achy kind that frames day-to-day life, inducing the gag response when logic and reason are no longer part of the discourse. Critical thinking may as well be magical thinking. Up is down. Wrong is right. Unacceptable is acceptable. Immoral is moral. Losing is winning.

I do try not to think about what passes for analysis, opinion, or “news” regarding any particulars of this fucked up, viral-like freaky fever dream, really. This blog posting comes courtesy of what’s left of my indignation in the face of the farce that is 2018, America. However, it’s actually been downhill for decades. Almost 40 years of electing cads, creeps, scoundrels, bait-and-switchers, puppets and assorted empty suits.

Composing this was a bit tortuous. Hey, suffering builds character, no? Not sure about that, but writing this blog still works as therapy, in a way. Blow off some steam. Wait for deliverance. Patience. Like waiting for that Godot guy.

Maybe November 6, 2018 he’ll at least be sighted coming around the bend…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Solomon Says

As the world churns. Things fall apart. The center cannot hold. Or,  it cannot hold forever. Also, as King Solomon is purported to have said in response to a sultan asking for a sentence that would apply in both good times and bad:  This too will pass away. It has been 16 months (in my world it seems like 16 years) into Trumplandia and his tumultuous 3-ring circus act’s center (pole) should  have steadily been shaken into collapse by now, taking the entire tent down with it. But never mind. THIS TOO WILL PASS AWAY. 

Apparently, however, as those 16 months have indicated, it will take a political earthquake of 9.0 or above to finally bring down what is a pretty flimsy political structure in the first place. Go figure. If you are a whack-a-doodle Trump-o-phile, then you can still gloat and strut about like the political jackass that you are, but there’s a cliff waiting on all of your kind. The question is, when will that precipice appear and your blind faith lead you over it, into the awaiting Abyss of Boneheads below?

Anyway,  time is a tyrant. Everything is literally a matter of time. 

And to many of us, the time is ripe for action! Now!

Yeah, I agree, but we need to strike at just the right time. When will that time arrive? Barring a coup d’etat, it won’t begin in a direct, meaningful way, be it modestly or writ large until this early November, 2018. If you want to honor the wisdom of Solomon, go to the voting booths in November and start pulling up the tent pegs and let the collapse begin. I’m thinking at this particular time, 18 months after yet another corrupted election result, it might be THE moment of clarity for we the people.  Storm the ballot box, jettison some of the foulest congress critters, the  flotsam and jetsam within it emitting a political stench across this country.  And that pertains to both sides of the aisle. There is good reason to be optimistic all these mind-numbing months into the morass of the most dysfunctional administration ever. For instance,  there’s #metoo, #blacklivesmatter, the Parkland high school kids and their apparent ever-wider-reaching indignation and contempt for a government that can’t/won’t protect them.   Not to mention the disgust of an anti-environmental EPA. Not to mention, the banksters. Corporate welfare. Racial and religious scapegoating. War mongering. This should be a no-brainer, come November, given all the formal voices of opposition to the venal and vile cast of characters littering the political landscape.

It is May 1 as I write this posting. To some, it’s May Day. What about it? Sure,  it’s rent payment day. Car payment day. And so forth, perhaps. But on May Day, in 1886, more than 300,000 workers in 13,000 businesses across the U.S. walked off their jobs in the first May Day celebration. They wanted better working conditions. Ultimately came the International Workers of the World  (you have nothing to lose but your chains). The Robber Barons would be put in their place. And they were.

Well, happy May Day. But look ahead, not back. Pencil in November 8th, 2018. Show up. Throw the bums out. At least start cleaning house. Then the thing that needs to fall apart will sooner see the day when its center collapses. 

Do it for yourself, and with a tip of the cap to good ol’ King Solomon,

 

 

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Waterloo, Anyone?

You might have heard the expression the fish stinks from the head-down. Yesterday I wrote about how I am encouraged by the Parkland teens who, in the aftermath of their high school becoming a killing ground for the latest psycho with access to high-powered weapons, have become quite vocal in their revulsion of the massacre. They are equally repulsed by the blatant unwillingness of elected “leaders” to do anything–anything!–to help prevent another such incident, given that in their mid-to-late teens they have already lived long enough to notice what happened at their school happens just about anywhere, and isn’t an infrequent, nightmarish, event.

I was reminded by a trusted voice of reason who read my posting, that those teens are up against much more than the NRA. Indeed, as my friend noted, we live in a corporatocracy. More than half of our federal budget goes to the Pentagon and its attendant “military, industrial complex,” as famously first warned against by President Eisenhower 60 years ago. Ike’s warning certainly was prescient, given our ever-expanding military presence since the end of World War II. 

Yes, the righteous indignation of those young voices of dissent–mostly not yet of legal voting age–are up against a massively monetized, multi-national, media-abetted, take-no-prisoners, system that does not give a fuck about their concerns, or the concerns of anyone who can’t help put more money in their already stuffed pockets. Teenagers up against the biggest, baddest, predatory, most rotten stinking fish from its gory head to its gaudy tail. I may be CRAZY to think their energy, that has seemingly lit a small fire that lights their way, will find enough forward momentum to provide the oxygen that can turn that small fire into a firestorm.

Recall, those of a certain age that, not long after Ike’s famous quote, the U.S. became embroiled in the Vietnam War, and it didn’t take too many years before youthful protestors, mostly college aged, took to the streets and said, enough is enough. They were ignored, then vilified, then bashed by police, but they never backed down. And as that war dragged on, more and more of “middle America” became engaged in voicing its opposition to the war. At this same time–the mid 1960s to early 1970s, the civil rights movement and the women’s movement had joined in protesting against that era’s version of a fish that stunk from its head down. The war ended, as the public demanded. Civil rights causes gained traction as did women’s rights. Yes, war, racism and misogyny are still issues, still part of a work-in-progress effort to create a better world. And good luck with that, for sure.

However, showing up, in larger and larger numbers can break through the current incarnation of a compliant, collusive media that is also corporatized, anti-democratic and very dangerous as such. It’s still up to we the people to smarten up and help fan that Parkland flame that might flutter or flicker, but that has real, palpable potential to burn those hands that feeds that stinking fish. If we voted for Trumpistan (and stupidly, we did, no matter who did or did not vote) we can vote against it. The best form of protest: an informed, critically thought out vote.

David and Goliath, right.  That’s just a mind-set, however. Believing becomes seeing, and if one refuses to believe they have any voice, any ability as an individual, to help inact positive change…well…they won’t see much beyond the end of their noses.

If those individual teenagers–united to affect a bullhorn–can articulate their rage at such an early age, and gain more traction by not shutting up, not backing down, by inspiring others who see what certain of us also see, also think, also feel, then it is possible that the NRA, along with the quid pro quo of a predatory form of capitalism and it callous, dispassionate agenda, can be replaced. The government works for us. We do not work for them. That is a fact. What seems to be a system so large and powerful that one might easily feel helpless in its presence is nothing more than a state of mind. Ask Emma Gonzalez if she believes the system is indomitable. She and her Parkland classmates put most of a lazy, stupid, short attention-span, instant gratification-seeking, heads inserted into asses, electorate to shame. And again, Emma and her ilk are likely not yet of legal voting age!

But they will be.

Trumpistan. A fish that stinks alright. A fish so flawed, so repulsive to the senses, that I would like to believe that it will implode in its own Waterloo. But why wait for it to self destruct? The future is, if one is willing to embrace the notion,  now. Help fan that Parkland flame.

Waterloo, anyone? Let’s drain that swamp of all its stench-ridden denizens.

 

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19,190 Days

 

On October 1, 2017, Stephen Paddock, using an AR-15, semi-automatic assault style rifle, among other weapons, shot and killed 58 people from his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, situated on the Las Vegas strip. His randomly chosen targets were across the way, just past Las Vegas Boulevard, attending an outdoor country music festival. The best estimate of how long his rampage lasted is ten minutes. Over 800 people were wounded. By the time police stormed his room, Paddock had killed himself. This incident claimed the most lives of any prior mass shooting.

The 58  dead and 850 or so wounded was a stunning, horrifying event. To many Americans of a certain age, however, the word shocking may not have been the primary emotional response. After all, mass shootings are not exactly uncommon in the United States. In fact, such killing sprees have become, well, relatively speaking, rather ordinary, as a classification of such crimes.

How Ordinary? I have noted 17 such incidents between 1966 and as recent as February 14, 2018, ranging from the 58 in Las Vegas to 9 victims in 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina. There are about another 15 such events that took the lives of several people during this same time frame. When researching these sickening statistics, I did experience a moment of emotional shock, but that response was a factor of how many more times this sort of  crime has occurred than I suspected.  Being one of those “Americans of a certain age,” I thought I could give a pretty good guess at the actual number, but more than 30?! 

The high school shooting last month in Parkland, Florida, while totaling not even one-third of the Las Vegas dead, has apparently–and finally?–set in motion an angry and highly visible reaction from many of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School survivors. These are high school students demanding congress finally stand up to the NRA and its pro-gun (including AR-15 and such) agenda. As I blogged a few years back in relation to the NRA and its rather blatant ability to cower most congress critters into bending to its will, that after 21 six and seven-year old children were slaughtered using an assault-type weapon at Sandy Hook elementary school in 2012, and congress refused to pass even a wimpy upgrade of background checks on those seeking to purchase guns, that the NRA had won. Game over.

Twenty-one 6 and 7 year olds, literally ripped apart by the use of a military-style weapon?! And congress does nothing?!

So, I am cautiously optimistic that perhaps the NRA may have encountered part of our citizenry that won’t back down from the NRA. Those teens! Their ideals and righteous indignation are bullet proof, one might say.

And yes, it is about time congress, collectively, that it grows a damn backbone and place the value of a life over the blood money they get from the deep-pocketed NRA.

While Parkland is still fresh in our memory, it having occurred on Valentine Day of this year, a distant or non-existent memory for many is an event that took place on August 1, 1966, 19,190 days earlier. That hot summer day in Austin, Texas, on the campus of the University of Texas, found Charles Whitman, and ex-marine sharpshooter, managing to take an arsenal of weapons up near the top of the campus clock tower, some 231 feet above ground. He proceeded to launch a sniper attack on random targets, mostly young college students, for 96 minutes. By the time two police offices worked their way up to Whitman’s sniper nest, and shot him dead, 14 people lay dead and dozens of others were wounded. Ultimately, as time passed, a total of 17 people would be counted as his victims from his attack. Ironically, the same number of dead as from Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school on Valentine Day.

I sense a certain bitter irony connecting Whitman’s 17 victims from Nikolas Cruz, the perpetrator of the 17 dead from MSD high in Parkland, Florida. Whitman, using a M-1 military carbine, chose a college campus to commit his carnage. Cruz, using an AR-15, took less than 10 minutes. The students killed by the Tower shooter were outside of classrooms, casually strolling the campus area below Whitman’s position, while Cruz’ were inside classrooms. The M-1 is an authentic military weapon, eventually replaced by the M-16 military assault weapon, which the AR-15 somewhat shares in its design and manner of discharging its bullets. Whitman was a sniper, and while randomly picking targets, was invisible, essentially, to those below who slowly realized what was happening. Cruz simply went into the school and started shooting his semi-automatic AR-15, and it took only seconds for the students and staff to realize what horror was being visited upon them.

How are the two events, 19,190 days apart ironic? August 1, 1966. The Tower killings absolutely sent shock waves throughout the country. What reason did Whitman have to dispassionately murder innocents below his perch? Was he crazy? Of course, he was. But he was a crazy person who had that M-1 (and other weapons). Cruz, still among the living is crazy. The approximate 500 people shot dead by someone with one type of weapon or another over those 19,190 days were virtually all random victims of the now generic crazed gunman. A university here or there, a high school here or there, a cafeteria, a church, a Buddhist temple, a nightclub, a McDonald’s, a naval yard, a military base, a regional center, a movie theater, an elementary school. Here or there. And so…

…Is anyplace really safe?

Not really. A naval base in Maryland? A military base at Ft.Hood, Texas? Not even those places were safe from a crazy with a gun. Not encouraging! These killings. Crazy, indeed.

And  the NRA somewhat agrees! Its various babblers talk about about these mass shootings being a mental health issue. Bad people with guns. Crazy people. Guns don’t go crazy on their own. That’s impossible, right?But a crazy person with easily legal access to anything from a .22 caliber pop gun to those AR-15s, would seem to have an “accomplice” before, during and after the act of shooting up random places, here and there, most anywhere. If another person in any way aided the mass shooter he or she would be charged with aiding and abetting first-degree murder. So, the material, mechanical matter of a weapon that can shoot bullets one at a time or rapidly fire, is certainly a accomplice.  The NRA and congress, however, seem not to want to hold the weapon of choice accountable, ever, unlike a human being who helps facilitate a crime.

Crazy, eh? Bull goose loony nuts, yeah, methinks. From Whitman in 1966 to Cruz in 2018, this country has become ever and ever-more increasingly gun crazy. It’s the 85 ton, Kevlar vest-wearing, gorilla in the room, okay? That gorilla insists that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” in spite of the fact that those “people” with a gun or AR-15 in their hand, couldn’t possibly be as lethal in their expression of madness, now played out in smaller increments of time without them. Those weapons of mass destruction are here and there, and seemingly everywhere. 

Sure, mental illness is a de facto reality when asking “why did this happen?” but the bigger question is why is a crazed gunman’s constant companion the type of  device designed primarily to kill other humans, not considered the more significant issue here than whether or not mental illness, uh, triggered their manner of expressing disappointment, disapproval, writ large or small?

Well this Boomer wants to believe that those teenagers from Parkland, and their counterparts from around the country who walked out of classes for 17 symbolic minutes this week, are just CRAZY enough to stand their ground and force the gun lobby and its bought-and-paid-for government mouth pieces to engage in sincere and sane consideration of their demands. Their demands are quite simple: why should so many people, whether in church or school, or a mall or restaurant, a movie theater or walking causally on campus grounds have to wonder if the next crazy person with a gun will somehow, randomly decide that killing them solves anything? So, DO something to protect us, protect everyone! Sounds sane to me.

Or am I crazy to think this time, things will truly be different?

 

 

 

 

  

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Lives Over Money

Parkland, Florida. The crazed shooter and 17 dead. Over the past 20 years, just about every level of formal education, from those 1st graders at Sandy Hook, to Virginia Tech, has gone through what is now commonly referred to as the active shooter nightmare. Of course, gun-toting wackos have shot up businesses, malls, movie theaters, fast food restaurants, commuter trains and seemingly any place that is not as well monitored as White House Security.

Having a blog ago vented about our 2nd Amendment-crazed, gung-ho, gun happy country and the NRA’s death grip on congress, I will get to this installment’s main line of thought: maybe, just maybe, there is a serious sense of urgency and needed action that is resonating with young people. By young, I don’t mean college aged young as with the 60s and their take-it-to-the-streets protests and administrative building sit-ins protesting the Vietnam War, or civil rights or the women’s movement–or, as in the famous line from the 1950s-era film The Wild One, when Marlon Brando, wearing his badass biker leather responds to a small town local who asks “What are you against?” responds, with casual, contained contempt, “What have ya got?”.

At first a handful of the students who lived that recent waking nightmare in Parkland spoke up, articulating their anger and disgust with the plain-as-daylight disinclination for our government to do something to protect students everywhere from another possible instantaneous transition from being in chemistry class to it being in a kill-zone.  Righteous anger, for damn sure. But that NRA. They snickered at Sandy Hook and dared congress to tighten gun laws. I would expect more of the same and still might, except…

…there might be a chance that high school students across the country, and others far and wide might join in voicing their we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore! response. Perhaps now IS the time to discuss gun control, then force action that leans towards sane, rational regulations.

But it’s mostly the teens that have come together and confronted our politics-as-usual approach to responding to yet another mass shooting that has me thinking the NRA and their bought and paid for lackeys in congress might have met their match. It’s still a long shot, inasmuch as the media can decide not to let their voices be heard any more than minimally necessary. But maybe even the lap-dog media (which gave President Looney Tunes a couple $ billion of free campaign air time during the 2016 primary season) may not be able to shut out these young people and their demands for action.

Based on the  official reaction to the protestors by the NRA (rather hysterically calling the protests staged and a form of creeping European socialism) and even some red state governor’s willingness to tighten gun laws, perhaps there’s reason for hope. After all, if the current crop of high school students, who will ultimately become of voting age, tell their local NRA leaning reps that it’s gun reform or you’re out of office, then maybe the GOP and many Democratic as well will finally grow a spine. In that case, with a spine finally part of their political anatomy, they’ll choose, as one of the protesters has put it, to morally place life over money, and reject the NRA’s ugly, Neanderthal ideology regarding not infringing on that 2nd Amendment.

It’s still more a pipe dream in my world rather than a safe bet, but back in the 60s,  many of the youth of America looked around, recognized what they felt were significant wrongs, and then took action. What were they against? Well, there was a lot back then–as noted above–and there’s a lot now. Yeah, the environment, consumer protections, immigration, LGBT issues, a rigged economy (do you have to ask who it is rigged for?) and seemingly endless wars in which we have those all-volunteer boots on the ground. Oh, and did I mention the environment, as in our planet may be on life support in the next half century? But none of those issues are any longer important to those dead 17 students and staff at the high school in Florida. Or those killed by any of the other “active shooter” scenarios that occur with such frequency now that they have become less and less shocking, though ever-more saddening. It’s very difficult for someone to care when he or she is lying on a slab in the morgue riddled by bullets from large, lethal weapons.

So, I tip my hat to the Parkland protesters and their widening ripple effect that is reaching their peer’s ears and making them wonder, at far too early an age to have to worry of such a thing, that some legally mentally ill but still able to legally buy an AR-15, might be living in their neighborhood, and decide that it’s time for him to act. Shouldn’t teenagers have a less terrifying thought in their heads? The fact that in many cases that is the thought in their head is, possibly, exactly the catalyst for them to act. As some are!

Time will tell. Lives over money. Hard to argue against that choice, right? Sure. No doubt, though, too radical a concept for the 2nd Amendment gun nuts and the NRA, I’m sure. These vocal high school students have been radicalized themselves. It must be a shocking thing for the gun lobby to have to spin against money trumping life. But they will try. It’s up to not just frightened teens, but the public-at-large to act.  Call to action, folks.

No time to waste. You and I know, somewhere, right now: there’s a man with gun over there, telling us we’d better beware.

 

 

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Get a Grip

17 more shooting victims. Mostly high schoolers and some staff. Shocked! Shocked? No way. Disgust, yes, but who can be shocked any longer? In just the past two years more people have been killed in this country by bullets than died in the Vietnam conflict. That means more than 58,000 people have been shot dead. The Vietnam body count spanned 10 years.

I opined after the Sandy Hook school massacre of 26 mostly 1st graders, back in 2011, that when the response from our elected “leaders” was nothing but lip service, that our country’s NRA strangle hold on the non discussion discussing the grotesque gun problem was OVER. Finito. If those children’s lives taken by a wacko with access to deadly ballistic weapons didn’t muster enough moral courage by our government to finally get a grip on reality and legislate against the ease with which people can legally get a literal grip on military style assault weapons, what could EVER provoke some sanity against the 2nd Amendment fanatic, mendacious mantra that is used to preempt serious responses to the never-ending carnage?

The main response is either “it’s too soon” to talk gun control after each massacre (i.e. let’s not politicize the tragedy) or “our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families”

Well, Sandy Hook is a bit more than six years ago. Not soon enough yet for that sober assessment of gun purchase policy, I guess. Not enough prayers either, it seems.

Oh, wait. It’s a “mental health” issue. The guns aren’t to blame. Big pharma to the rescue, with an uptick in ordering those straight white coocoo vests. Problem all solved! Guns don’t kill people. When will the rest of us finally understand?

Psycho babble…

…insane thinking. And that IS a problem. 80% of the public wants tightening of the swiss cheese gun legislation that currently permits the right to own guns of all sizes, and the right to use them no matter how fucking tightly wound and ready to snap may be the weapons-consumer;  no infringement on that 2nd Amendment!, and so the legal transaction takes place in purchasing a gatling gun, a bazooka, or a rocket launcher. No weapon is too badass, Rambo-ready for the next random splatter fest in the sociopathic pantheon of NRA slippery slope pretzel illogic

Well, I stand by Sandy Hook as the apparent exact point in time when the NRA could smugly claim END OF DISCUSSION. Seriously. No action even after that sickening episode of Gun Crazy?

So, what’s left? Oh, right those prayers! But to what god? I can’t think of any god who would approve of these savage acts of insane hate, so if the prayers have been going out, like desperate appeals to our legislators time and time again, I’d say both pleas for positive action are falling on earthly and heavenly deaf ears.

I know congress is bought and paid for by the NRA but…why…can’t our prayers be granted? Hey, up there. Will you please help down here?!

Cue the crickets…

Maybe the NRA has bought off all deities too. I wouldn’t put it pass that organization to at least try, goddamnit.

 

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