The Soul of America?

Red America sure is a strange place to me. They wave the flag with such vigor and then go about trying to prevent those who might vote differently than them from having their say. In the 60s it was primarily African Americans who had their attention, now they have expanded way beyond that group. Red America makes no sense to me.

Every gun tragedy that happens in our country causes Red America to pass more laws to make it easier to get guns. If you don’t believe that read this quote.

the five years since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School “have seen one of the most intense bursts of gun legislation in U.S. history.” More than two dozen states have passed new gun laws. And in almost all cases these laws have made it easier to buy or carry guns…

In Republican states, they found, a mass killing “increases the number of enacted laws that loosen gun restrictions by 75 percent.” In Democratic states, mass shootings have no significant effect on laws passed.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/06/opinion/guns-soul-of-america

Is the soul of America so tainted now with violence, selfishness, aggressiveness, and misguided religious zealots, that it will soon morph into something else? I guess only time will tell. Is our current president now the norm for our society or can we go back to a country that cares for one another and doesn’t see everyone that might disagree with him as an enemy?  Only time will tell I guess…

Disappointment …

This is going to be one of those personal posts for me as it delves into my inner being but it needs to come out.  I think it is natural that when a person starts to realize his mortality that he tries to summarize his life and the world around him. For some it is about legacy, some just tr I have been doing that a lot the last few months. It is not that I  think I will die anytime soon but of course I have much more life behind me than ahead.

I have been searching for that one word to summarize my overall feelings about living in this world and that word seems to be “disappointment”. I know that sounds kind of dark and to some degree it is but it also  indicates that I have mostly dreamed of something better, 2017-01-03_13-00-01.pngmuch better for both me and humanity in general.

It is not that I think my life was wasted or I did not have much joy but instead it is about all the lost opportunities that presented themselves that I, or we as a corporate  group, failed to grab hold of.  For the most part I am happy with the way my life has turned out.  Even though I was late to the marriage scene I have enjoyed the 30+ years with my soulmate and wife. They are the same person by the way. 🙂 I had a well paying job and managed to stay with it for the 30 years necessary to get a pretty good lifetime pension. That is a very rare thing in this country today and I do feel fortunate for that.

On a personal level, I wished I had been able to have some kids. They would have helped shape my view of the future. That disappointment was primarily the result of not getting married earlier in life. Looking back that was likely due to my undiagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome hindering my social progress.

2017-01-03_12-53-48.pngI wish I had taken more time and had some form of guidance in my career choice.  I was really not tuned to be an engineer so I pretty much became a mediocre one.  I now say that I was just born 25 years to early. I found my natural occupation in the development of software (apps to all you younger guys). The logic that is required for that trade was a central part of my being all along and I just didn’t realize it. I am joyful that I did mange to work in that area the last 5 years of my career but that period was really just at the beginning of this current revolution.

I discovered early on my talents toward the written word but failed to do anything with it.  There were just no guidance counselors in my very small high school to help me in that regard. I effortlessly got A’s in all my English composition classes in both high school and college and that should have clued me that I was in the wrong field. Engineering is just not about writing.  Too many lost personal opportunities is a disappointment to me.

Looking beyond myself I am disappointed that the world is so divided into an us/them mentality and that constant wars and the resulting death seems to be the norm in my lifetime.   It is a disappointment that we spend more on our military complex than the rest of the world combined. Our obsession with guns is also an extreme disappointment.  If we could have stepped back from this dark trench we could have accomplished so many more things and saved so many lives.

I am disappointed….. with a tinge of regret I guess…

I Might Be More British Than American…

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When I came across this post in Instagram from my friends at BBC America I had a flashing thought that I may be more British than American.  I’m pretty sure my distant ancestors came from the Great British Empire a few hundred years ago so maybe it is in my blood.   I love looking at things from a philosophical angle and I devour almost everything on BBC America. We just seem to think the same way.

With two hundred and fifty years of history to look back on I kind of think we may have messed up by going our own way back then.  We were too impatient and impetuous to know what was good for us. British folks just seem to be more grounded than we Americans. Looking at our current political situation does nothing but to reinforce that feeling.

And then there are guns…  In Britain there are just not many of them around.  Even the police don’t carry them on their person while on patrol.  In a year the gun deaths in Britain equal about one weeks worth in the U.S.  Our obsession with guns is literally killing us. I, like my British friends, think that we could learn a lot about this from them if we only opened our minds.

Then there is medical care… In Britain it is just part of the social fabric of the nation that medical care is a right for everyone. We in the U.S. seem to believe it should be proportioned out depending on how much money you have.  In the U.S. we spend about $10,000 per person for healthcare. In Britain it is a little over $3,000 and if you listen to all the British expats in the U.S. they simply don’t see the U.S. version, if you can even get it, being any better than what they have at home.

These types of things have convinced me that I am more British than American.  The Brits say that Americans are basically brash in-your-face people and I for the most part see the same thing. I wonder what this country would look like if those young impertinent rebels had been defeated the same as the American South was during our Civil War?

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t see Britain as being superior in every way compared to the U.S. They have had their messy empire conquests the same as we have. Their basic belief in class and aristocracy turns me off and their politics sometimes almost border on the current insane politics of today in the U.S.  Nothing or no one is perfect but I still kind of think I may be more British than American…

I do love my country but I think we could learn a lot from  the rest of the world. If only we were not so brash and in-your-face to think that our way is the only way..

Guns and the Great USA…

I know guns are an emotional topic for many in this country. It is kind of like the immigration issue. Many of us have compassion for those who struggle to come to the “land of opportunity” but others see those coming, both legally and illegally, as someone to fear.  They fear they are rapists and murderers or at least taking away their jobs. Some see threats, some see love. I guess that is American diversity for you.

The sad fact is that there are now more guns in this country than there are people. I hear the latest episode of the guy to went in and shot over one hundred people has caused the gun model he used to fly off the shelves! How sick is that.  I also learned that those who own guns often times own many of them. It is not unusual to see “gun collectors” having dozens of guns in their collections.

In many ways America is a land of obsessions. We have the privilege of having most of the necessities in life satisfied and that allow us to unreasonably seek out unnecessary things. Then there are the survivalists among us who are preparing for doomsday. They say with their firepower to hold off the hordes they will be the ones who will survive. Personally I can’t imagine that kind of lifestyle that fixates on such a scenario.  Give me love not fear for the cornerstone of my life.

Guns, especially assault rifles, are solely a means of human destruction. To think that they are a necessity is absurd if you ask me. America is a land of obsession. The definition of obsessions that it is an unhealthy and compulsive preoccupation with something or someone.  Yeah, that fits gun ownership to a T but that is not our only obsession.

We seem to be obsessed with having whatever the marketers point us to.  Now it is not good enough to have a comfortable home to provide us with shelter.  Now we must have outdoor fire pits, outdoor kitchens, even living rooms. We must have the latest designs and will go into serious debt to get them.

Its great that America, the land of opportunity, provides us with the ability to obsess over whatever we want but acting on those obsessions can be a very damaging thing to ourselves and especially our society.

Guns need food. Starve them.

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Ammunition degrades because the gunpower inside of it does not last forever in the compressed state that it lives….

For most people, the decline in accuracy is mitigated somewhat by the fact that they never use their firearms for self-defense purposes. But it really can be a problem in the long-run. And that’s why ammo manufacturers are even more profitable than gun manufacturers.

Because ammunition is gun food, if we can starve the guns a bit, or change the way ammunition sales are regulated and controlled, perhaps we can change the way guns are used.

SOURCE: Guns need food. Starve them..

If you have read anything here you know that I am not a gun fan. I do believe that the second amendment was necessary 250 years ago because local militias were the standard for our country so we needed to make sure that people could supply their own guns.  The only militias around today are like those nuts in Oregon who want to shut down government, not protect it. The second amendment has simply outlived its time, kind of like saying a person of color is only 2/5 of a citizen. Neither apply in today’s society if they ever did in the past.

I personally know how addictive smoking is. It took me years to finally get up the courage to quit. I think guns are pretty much the same thing. The the power of guns are addictive; when you own a gun you hold the power to easily take away a life, especially the “bad” guys (but who are the bad guys varies depending on your attitude). Our addiction to guns is fed to us at a very early age. Well over half the video games sold today involve using guns. There are so many show on TV that show taking a life is just an ordinary thing.

I didn’t realize that bullets got old and needed to be regularly replaced.  The idea of bullets are the food for guns is a creative way to attack our obsession for these weapons of destruction. I like the idea of restricting ammunition purchases  as cited in the article but I would attack the problem from a different angle.

Let’s treat bullets the same as we do cigarettes:

  • We start with the premise that you have a right to own a gun but do you really need one?
  • We show very graphic pictures of the results of guns in our society.  Show how many more people getting killed by their own guns than killing people who might attack them. Show gory pictures of kids killing themselves or other kids accidentally with guns in the house.
  • We tax the hell out of bullets. Gradually increase the cost of bullets to compensate the damage they do. Make them so expensive that you must give up something you consider valuable in order to afford them.
  • Keep hitting on it so that eventually it will soak in that guns just aren’t worth the deadly cost of owning them.

I know it took years to go from almost half of us smoking to now where less than 17% of us do but it has eventually happened. Only the most excessively addicted still smoke.

I know it will be impossible to take away guns in any near term but we can, like cigarettes, eventually make people realize just how damaging  and costly they are to our society….

Guns don’t kill people, bullets do….

Killed by the NRA…

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The title for this post should be used every time another senseless death occurs because of unstable people getting their hands on guns. If the current batch of politicians are so afraid of the NRA then it is time for them to go…. no matter their party affiliation.

Which Came First??

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“Which came first, the chicken or the egg??” has been the question of the day for as long as I remember. But I have a different version now. Which came first a ranting populace or radical right radio?? Lets look at that question some in this post.

I know that Rush Limbaugh has been around a long time now.  He has made millions of bucks ranting about almost everything. I also know that there is a faction within our population who simply adore him and listen to him constantly. He is without a doubt their hero.  He has been so popular that now there are look-a-likes everywhere you turn.

I also know that ranting in the comments section of most Internet new sites has been viral for quite some time. Are all these ranters simply screaming what Limbaugh taught them are is Limbaugh listening to them for his rants? That is the question.  But sadly we seem to be approaching a tipping point of these folks.

It seems that if the nation is to survive we progressives are going to have to save it. (oh I can hear the ranters scream with this one!!!)  It is going to be up to us to put some sanity back into our political processes. The GOP is simply getting way too out of hand to save themselves let alone our country.

I must admit I never gave President Reagan much credit for anything good that happened in the 1980s. He just seemed to be a B-class actor reading the script that people (read Rumsfeld and Chaney) put in front of him. But now I realize that he was much more of a forward thinker than I ever imagined. Little did I realize that when he went about about shutting down all the mental healthcare facilities in this country  he was actually  using those cast out to fill the base of the GOP in the 21st century.  Go figure…. 🙂

 

 

Good Guys With Guns???

“The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.” LaPierre and gun-rights advocates point to research that supports this argument, chiefly a 1994 study by Gary Kleck, a Florida State University criminologist. Based on a telephone survey of about 6,000 people, Kleck concluded that guns are used defensively to stop a range of crimes, from simple assault to burglary to rape, up to 2.5 million times a year. But other academics and statisticians have criticized Kleck’s conclusions, saying he relied on firearms owners’ self-reporting their defensive gun use — problematic because some respondents might have categorized aggressive, unlawful gun use as self-defense — and then extrapolated that unreliable data to cover the entire nation. Those critics point to other figures that suggest defensive gun use is actually quite rare….

 

Will a gun make you safer?
Most Americans think so. According to recent Gallup polls, 63 percent of adults believe having a gun in the house will make them safer and 56 percent think the country would be safer if more people carried concealed weapons. But numerous studies suggest that owning a gun can actually increase a person’s risk of bodily harm and death. Research published this year in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that the 80 million Americans who keep guns in the home were 90 percent more likely to die by homicide than Americans who don’t. A paper in the American Journal of Public Health, meanwhile, determined that a person with a gun was 4.5 times more likely to be shot in an assault than someone who was unarmed…

 

What about home intrusions?
Having a gun close at hand might make you feel better protected against violent burglars, but in fact the annual per capita risk of death during a home invasion is 0.0000002 percent — essentially zero. On the other hand, a 2014 study from the University of California, San Francisco, shows that people with a gun in the house are three times as likely to kill themselves as non-firearm owners. More than 20,000 Americans shoot themselves to death each year, accounting for two-thirds of gun fatalities. “It’s not that gun owners are more suicidal,” said Catherine Barber, who heads a suicide prevention project at the Harvard School of Public Health. “It’s that they’re more likely to die in the event that they become suicidal, because they are using a gun.”

Source: The truth about guns and self-defense

For the most part I will let the quote above speak for me on this topic. The overwhelming evidence shows that the prevalence of guns in this country make us less, not more, safe.   I know the NRA and their supporters can hire someone who “proves” that is not the case by using very biased statistics.  I know that the same way as the climate-deniers can show that everything is fine even when 95% of those knowledgeable in this field say everything is not fine and if we don’t change our ways we are eventually dooming our planet.

Just look at  murder rates, suicide rates, happiness statistics in countries that have stringent gun control laws in place and it will be hard for even the most avid gun activist to deny that guns are a problem.

 

When Is ENOUGH, ENOUGH

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The epidemic of gun violence in America has become the new normal. We can’t just blame it on the brokenness of the world, pray for peace, and move on, worried that anything more will be seen as politicizing tragedy. What is tragic is that those who have the ability to DO something about this crisis refuse to offer more than simplistic sentiments on Twitter before getting caught in a circular argument about our rights as Americans….

Tell your elected officials that while the NRA may give them a positive rating — and bankroll their campaigns — they’re failing the American people by refusing to offer any semblance of common sense measures that could save lives.

Source: Sojo Mail from Jim Wallis

They haven’t finished reporting on the nut who went into a Planned Parenthood clinic and killed people before the next one occurred. This one is the 350th or so mass murder this year in the U.S.  while mass murders in countries such as Britain which has strict gun control is in the single digits.  It totally confounds me how all those gun lovers seem oblivious to the almost daily carnage.  I just can’t understand how so many can turn a blind eye to all this preventable violence. It is just beyond words…… and anything even resembling sanity… only in America….

Stuff Happens….

Mr. Obama ordered flags at the White House on Friday to half-staff to honor the victims of the shooting. “When Americans are killed in mine disasters, we work to make mines safer,” he said on Thursday night as early reports of the dead and injured in Oregon reached the White House. “When Americans are killed in floods and hurricanes, we make communities safer. When roads are unsafe, we fix them to reduce auto fatalities. We have seatbelt laws because we know it saves lives.”

Source: Obama Rebukes Bush on ‘Stuff Happens’ Reaction to Oregon Shootings – The New York Times

2015-11-04_07-43-09The above quote comes from President Obama in the aftermath of one of our seemingly weekly mass murders in this country.  Presidential candidate Bush’s comments on the topic were “stuff happen”. All the other cart full of GOP candidates pretty much said the same thing.   All these guys need hope that their loved ones are not in the wrong place at the wrong time when “stuff happen”.

If a terrorist from outside our country had killed nine and injured several more of our citizens I’m sure all those in congress would immediately rush to increase our military spending so that we can go after the perps who conspired to kill. Instead when it is a domestic terrorist they silently sit on their hands. The tragedy of that bi-polar response is numbing to me.

I am proud to be an American and to be able to live in this country but that does not mean that I can’t criticize it when we do dumb things and this lack of adequate gun control is definitely a dumb thing.

I will get off my soapbox now and wait a week or two until the next time innocents are killed by our obsession for guns before I bring it up again.

Halloween….

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Banner Ed CartoonsI don’t know any parent in his right mind that would now allow their kids to trick or treat a house they didn’t intimately know the people behind the door.  It wouldn’t totally surprise me to see this scenario being played out…

Even In Small Town America…

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Pope Francis recently spoke out about “unbridled capitalism”. A good example of that is the unregulated sales of guns in this country. Even my small town of 2,000 now has a gun shop where anyone can buy just about any weapon they choose.  Capitalism is the best economic system in the world but when it is unfettered from any moral requirements it is perhaps among the worst…