Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston

DOUBLE STANDARD

Monday, December 31, 2012

FOX NEWS Idiots

The idiots at the fake cable news outlet, FAUX NOOZ, had a hell of a time earlier this month making sure their moronic followers believed that Secretary Hillary Clinton faked her concussion to avoid testifying on the Benghazi tragedy.

Secy. Clinton has subsequently been hospitalized for a blood clot which, according to reports, is a result of the concussion she suffered.

The conservative blogsphere, and its harridans, were grunting like wild swine about Secy. Clinton's feigned injury for days, mocking her and her condition.

Now that it is crystal clear that their wild imaginings never happened, we're waiting to hear the biggest of the idiots--John Bolton, Charles Krauthammer, and all of the pea brains at FAUX NOOZ apologize for their insults to Secretary of State Clinton.

I doubt we'll hear anything of the sort.  The biggest and loudest mouths are also the smallest minds.

Here're the reactions when Secretary Clinton first suffered her concussion:




Fox's Evening Shows Mock Hillary Clinton's Concussion December 20, 2012 12:26 AM EST ››› ANDY NEWBOLD 

 Nearly all of Fox News' evening news shows ridiculed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for having to postpone her testimony on the Benghazi attack because of a concussion she suffered after fainting due to dehydration. 

Their mockery was an attempt to downplay the concussion and suggest Clinton was faking injury to avoid giving testimony, a notion the State Department has called "wild speculation based on no information." 

 The Washington Post reported on December 15 that Clinton sustained a concussion after she fainted due to dehydration while at home a week prior. After the incident, the State Department explained that Clinton would have to postpone her testimony about the attack on Benghazi due to the concussion. 

Following the State Department's announcement, Fox News contributor John Bolton, appearing on On The Record, suggested Clinton was faking "diplomatic illness" to avoid testifying about Benghazi. The State Department's Victoria Nuland lashed out at Bolton for his remarks, labeling them "wild speculation based on no information." 

 Now Fox News' evening shows have decided to join Bolton in accusing Clinton of faking her condition and make it seem she is trying to avoid giving her testimony. 

Co-host of Fox News' The Five, Kimberly Guilfoyle, accused Clinton of running "a duck and cover" after suffering the concussion. Co-host Greg Gutfeld went on to ask, "How can she get a concussion when she has been ducking everything [related to Benghazi]?"


Yesterday's TWEETS:


roadkillrefugee@rkref John Bolton was top adviser to Romney and expected to get a cabinet post in a Romney admin. Bolton argued Hillary was faking her concussion. 


 Andrew Kaczynski@BuzzFeedAndrew Charles @krauthammer called Clinton's concussion "acute Benghazi allergy." 

 Jeff Greenfield@greenfield64 Wonder if those sarcastically doubting Sec. Clinton's health will have the decency to apologize....I'm not exactly holding my breath. 30 Dec 12 


Krauthammer is a particular sort of worm: 

"How Low Could Krauthammer Go? This low: he accused the secretary of state of lying about her concussion, saying that she had the equivalent of "acute Benghazi allergy". He wasn't the only one. I'm used to the true crazies casting wild accusations about Hillary Clinton - but this is a test case of how deep the rot has gotten." --Andrew Sullivan


Gutter politics brought to us by the GOP and its "news" outlet.

The Character Assassination of Hillary Clinton by Kathleen Parker

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday Night Poetry

The Problem With Meaning 

Meaning is an old shoe laboring on Mondays 
to blister your walk on pathless grass. 
A low-watt bulb tires of the news, but opens  

an eye each time a paradigm shifts into view 
and faith launches examinations, 
accurate as heat-seeking missiles. 

You recall everything, fall into a trap 
of details. The best you can do is qualify facts. 
Each word becomes a symbol for poultry, petals 

or diamonds. Nothing is pinned to corkboard. 
Tomorrow the papers get thrown out. Despair 
solves one part of this agony as you see possibilities 

when a look over the shoulder divines 
a bloated construction, approaching ripe as a fig. 
Being is not doing as the philosopher suggests. 

Sit for a time in the salon of interpretations, 
try to secure the perimeters of wind. 
Qualm forms a sheltering impass 

for hinge and proviso, points its wet finger 
at the enigmatic apple. It won't be long 
before your lamb is brought to the stone, 

 before you wipe away the allegations 
 you find on your shoes.

                                      --S.K.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Frank Luntz? Really?




Pollster Frank Luntz, who has studied attitudes about gun control, said on Wednesday that he doesn’t “think the NRA is listening” to the American public in the wake of the massacre of 20 children at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school. 

 “The public wants guns out of the schools, not in the schools,” Luntz said on CBS’s “This Morning.” “And they are not asking for a security official or someone else. I don’t think the NRA is listening. 

I don’t think they understand most Americans would protect the Second Amendment rights and yet agree with the idea that not every human being should own a gun, not every gun should be available at anytime, anywhere, for anyone. At gun shows, you should not be able to buy something there without any kind of check whatsoever.”

Support for stricter gun laws at a 10-year high.


Republican Party on Gun Control

Freedom Group, a gunmaker ripe for an ethical takeover

h/t taospeaks

Monday, December 24, 2012

PEACE


Quincy Market, Boston, Mass., December 24, 2012




Christopher Columbus Park, North End, Boston, Mass.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sunday Night Poetry

Personal 

 Don’t take it personal, they said; 
but I did, I took it all quite personal— . 

the breeze and the river and the color of the fields; 
the price of grapefruit and stamps, 

the wet hair of women in the rain— 
And I cursed what hurt me  

and I praised what gave me joy, 
the most simple-minded of possible responses. 

The government reminded me of my father, 
with its deafness and its laws, . 

and the weather reminded me of my mom, 
with her tropical squalls.  

Enjoy it while you can, they said of Happiness 
Think first, they said of Talk . 

Get over it, they said 
at the School of Broken Hearts 

 but I couldn’t and I didn’t 
and I don’t believe in the clean break; 

 I believe in the compound fracture 
served with a sauce of dirty regret,  

I believe in saying it all 
and taking it all back . 

and saying it again for good measure 
while the air fills up with I’m-Sorries . 

like wheeling birds 
and the trees look seasick in the wind.  

Oh life! Can you blame me 
for making a scene?  

You were that yellow caboose, 
the moon disappearing over a ridge of cloud. 

I was the dog, chained in some fool’s backyard; 
barking and barking: . 

trying to convince everything else 
to take it personal too. 

      ----Tony Hoagland

The NRA Obstructs Even RESEARCH into Gun Deaths

JAMA, Journal of the American Medical Association explains:



Silencing the Science on Gun Research


"...in 1996, pro-gun members of Congress mounted an all-out effort to eliminate the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although they failed to defund the center, the House of Representatives removed $2.6 million from the CDC's budget—precisely the amount the agency had spent on firearm injury research the previous year. Funding was restored in joint conference committee, but the money was earmarked for traumatic brain injury. The effect was sharply reduced support for firearm injury research. To ensure that the CDC and its grantees got the message, the following language was added to the final appropriation: “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.” Precisely what was or was not permitted under the clause was unclear. But no federal employee was willing to risk his or her career or the agency's funding to find out. 

Extramural support for firearm injury prevention research quickly dried up. Even today, 17 years after this legislative action, the CDC's website lacks specific links to information about preventing firearm-related violence. When other agencies funded high-quality research, similar action was taken. In 2009, Branas et al5 published the results of a case-control study that examined whether carrying a gun increases or decreases the risk of firearm assault. In contrast to earlier research, this particular study was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Two years later, Congress extended the restrictive language it had previously applied to the CDC to all Department of Health and Human Services agencies, including the National Institutes of Health. 

These are not the only efforts to keep important health information from the public and patients. For example, in 1997, Cummings et al used state-level data from Washington to study the association between purchase of a handgun and the subsequent risk of homicide or suicide. Similar studies could not be conducted today because Washington State's firearm registration files are no longer accessible.  

In 2011, Florida's legislature passed and Governor Scott signed HB 155, which subjects the state's health care practitioners to possible sanctions, including loss of license, if they discuss or record information about firearm safety that a medical board later determines was not “relevant” or was “unnecessarily harassing.” 


A US district judge has since issued a preliminary injunction to block enforcement of this law, but the matter is still in litigation. 

Similar bills have been proposed in 7 other states."





Read the rest HERE to understand the evil that is the NRA and its evil influence on our government.  


UPDATE:  STATS ON USA GUN VIOLENCE


The number of deaths by firearms in the United States was 32,000 last year. 

Around 11,000 were gun homicides. To understand how staggeringly high this number is, compare it to the rate in other rich countries. England and Wales have about 50 gun homicides a year -- 3 percent of our rate per 100,000 people. 

Many people believe that America is simply a more violent, individualistic society. But again, the data clarify. For most crimes -- theft, burglary, robbery, assault -- the United States is within the range of other advanced countries. 

The category in which the U.S. rate is magnitudes higher is gun homicides. The U.S. gun homicide rate is 30 times that of France or Australia, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, and 12 times higher than the average for other developed countries. 

Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald

Perfect Sermon for Sunday: 

"Come, then. Let us weep for the 20 children shot to pieces by the young man who invaded their elementary school wielding semiautomatic weapons. Let us mourn for the six adults who could not save the children, could not save themselves, who died as the children died, shot multiple times at close range. Let us whisper our sorrows and shed our tears. Let us stagger against one another in our mountainous grief. Let us light our candles and leave them at makeshift shrines to be cared for by the uncaring sun and rain. 

 But let us also understand these as acts of moral masturbation, in that they satisfy some need, yet have no chance of producing anything of lasting consequence. Let us not pretend our sorrow in this moment means a damn thing or changes a damn thing, because it doesn’t and won’t. Not until or unless the American nation is finally willing to confront its unholy gun love." 

 [skip]

 "Certainly the magnitude of what happened in Newtown seems to have imposed a rare lucidity upon the debate. One sees Sen. Joe Manchin, conservative Democrat from West Virginia and a staunch ally of the NRA, calling for gun control, and it is cause for hope. Then one hears Sen. Joe Lieberman suggest that video games may have played a role in the shooting. And Mike Huckabee says maybe it happened because the government no longer mandates prayer in schools. And Bob McDonnell, Virginia’s Republican governor, suggests the teachers should have been armed (as if the problem is that there were too few guns in that school). And hope chokes. 

 We have paid and continue to pay an obscene price for this lesson some of us obstinately refuse to learn. We paid it in Tucson and we paid it on the campus of Virginia Tech. We paid it at Columbine High and at a midnight showing of a Batman movie in Aurora, Colo. We’ve paid it in Compton, Calif., and Chicago, Ill., Washington, DC., and Norcross, Ga., We’ve paid it in Gilbert, Ariz., Bechtelsville, Penn., Prince George’s County, Md., Bay City, Tex., Copley, Ohio, Lauderdale Lakes and North Miami, Fla. Now we pay it in Newtown, Conn., in the blood of teachers and young children. 

We have paid more than enough. And our choice could be not be more clear. We can continue with acts of moral masturbation. We can harrumph and pontificate about how the problem is video games or the problem is a lack of prayer or the problem is too few guns. Or we can finally agree that the problem is obvious: too many people who should not have guns, do. 

 Unless we achieve the simple courage to reach that consensus, nothing else we do will change anything. Let us weep, let us mourn. Let us whisper sorrow and shed tears. Meanwhile, frightened children return to school in Newtown. 

 And bullets keep raining down." 


Friday, December 21, 2012

THE INSANITY OF THE NRA

UPDATE BELOW


"Those of you who saw NRA president Wayne LaPierre’s bizarre, borderline hallucinatory press conference on Friday may have noticed a common theme in his policy proposals: The only way to reduce gun violence, according to the National Rifle Association, is through enforcing a perpetual state of martial law in the public education system and civil society at large. 

The state, according to LaPierre, should permanently deploy an armed security guard to every public school in America. Furthermore, it should create a national database to keep tabs on the mentally ill (and note here that he doesn’t distinguish between the mentally ill population at large and the handful of people within that category who are potentially violent). 

So to clarify: Regulation is too hasty, and there’s no point in tackling systemic background issues like structural inequality or inadequate mental health treatment. The sensible, moderate solution is to transform America into a something close to a neo-Spartan military state. 

It should now be basically obvious to everyone that the NRA, for all of its pious genuflecting in the direction of the Second Amendment, is not a civil liberties organization. Civil liberties organizations support neither preemptive surveillance on the sick nor perpetual pseudo-paramilitary lockdown in elementary schools. 

While the NRA and its allies may oppose gun control on the grounds that it inhibits liberty, their “solution” requires far greater government intrusion and coercion. Such is the case with much “small government” anti-regulationism. 

The minimal state which the right so often fetishizes is, in fact, anything but. Any government which sees its essential function as security will inevitably have to continually escalate security in order to enforce its anti-regulatory position. 

To put it another way: the only way the so-called night-watchman state can function is with ever-increasing numbers of night-watchmen, armed with ever-larger guns. 

Gun control is becoming ever more popular, but the National Rifle Association and its corporate backers find the idea of stricter regulation intolerable. So their solution is top-down coercion and security-statism. 

The fact that this proposal is couched in the language of individual liberties should only cause us to reflect on how thin the right wing’s conception of liberty really is." --, @resnikoff
12:47 pm on 12/21/2012

UPDATE

While the NRA Was on TV Talking About the Need for More Guns Some Guy Was Walking Up and Down a Road in Pennsylvania Shooting People






What Will the NRA Say Today?

Let's see if the organization will deliver any recommendations that will address the slaughter that happened one week ago today:

UPDATE:

The NRA spokesman, Wayne LaPierre, essentially said in his remarks that the country should become an armed police state.  The NRA's solution to the gun culture?  Armed police at all schools--he didn't say how we'd pay for that, estimates are that would cost the government $5.5 billion.  But what about private schools?  Nursery schools?  Daycare centers?  Then what about other unprotected vulnerable venues, say, nursing homes for the elderly? I didn't listen to much else after his insane suggestion, so I don't know if he mentioned anything about any restrictions on gun sales or ammo sales.  What the NRA did show the American people today is that it is an irrational lobby for the gun manufacturers, and they care not one whit for the safety and care of our children.

So what the brilliant minds in the NRA have proposed today is turning this country into an armed government police state.  This coming from the organization that warns its members to arm itself against a possible takeover of the government.  If that isn't a definition of insanity, I don't know what is.  


NYTimes: "Businesses and special-interest groups often cloak their profit motives in the garb of constitutional rights — think Big Tobacco and its opposition to restrictions on smoking in public places and bold warnings on cigarette packages. The Supreme Court has made clear that the right to bear arms is not absolute and is subject to regulations and controls. Yet the N.R.A. clings to its groundless arguments that tough regulations violate the Second Amendment. Many of those arguments serve no purpose other than to increase the sales of guns and bullets."

 USAToday: "In both smoking and drinking, progress has been driven by a blend of changing public attitudes and responsive government policies. Could the same thing happen for guns? The moment is ripe. The slaughter of 20 children ages 6 and 7 was an event so unimaginably awful that it might have created the sort of sustained public pressure that other horrific shootings have somehow never managed to build. Here, too, there's a valuable lesson from America's history of dealing with alcohol.

Even aside from constitutional considerations, attempts to outlaw handguns won't work any better than banning booze did during Prohibition. But sensible gun restrictions seem more possible than at any time since an assault-weapons ban expired in 2004. These include a broadened ban on military-style semiautomatic rifles and high-capacity clips, and background checks on all gun sales."


Chicago Sun-Times:  "When it comes to government action, Obama already knows what to do. The nation has been debating gun-control measures for decades, forever studying and talking, but always failing to take action. 

The top items on the to-do list are ready to go [...] Will new laws wipe out all gun violence? Of course not. But imagine, for a moment, that your child was the one saved because the Newtown shooter had a slightly less powerful gun or 20 fewer rounds of ammunition. Today’s the day to act."




While Congress and the President negotiate our fiscal future, our first concern should be whether or not we will continue on the path we are currently on:  Unending horrendous gun deaths in this country (predictions are that by 2015 gun deaths will outnumber motor vehicle deaths), and accepting, as part of our American culture, the slaughter of more children, women, and men.






Reax to the NRA today:



"I actually fell for it. I actually though the NRA would come out with some concessions - closing the gun show loophole, at the very least. I really should have known better. This morning Wayne LaPierre gave one of the most cynical and cowardly speeches I've ever heard. Blaming everyone and everything other than guns and access to them." 

" After reading the transcript of the NRA’s press conference where they had promised "meaningful contributions" to the discussion after Newtown, I’m surprised that I’m amazed, but I am. This is epistemic closure beyond the inability of the right-wing to believe the reality of last November’s re-election of Obama. For years, the NRA has been stoking fears of "jackbooted thugs" from the Federal government. Now they propose putting an armed government employee in every single school across America."


"You are witnessing the total implosion of the right in the United States: the defeat of Boehner’s ridiculous Plan B and this speech by the NRA."

Thursday, December 20, 2012

As we begin the needed debate on our gun culture, keep this in mind:




The Uses and Limits of Knowledge About Guns 

PAUL WALDMAN
DECEMBER 18, 2012

"Some details are important, but people who know a lot about guns have no more moral claim to a voice in this debate.


We're about to start the portion of this debate where we begin discussing specific actions the government might take to address gun violence. And as we do, particularly when it comes to those measures that concern the guns themselves (as opposed to measures focused on the people who can get them or the conditions of their purchase), it's likely that gun advocates will start complaining that there's a problem with all these effete urban northeastern liberals making laws governing guns they know nothing about. This isn't new; for instance, gun advocates have long hated the term "assault weapon," since it doesn't mean anything in particular (after all, every gun is a weapon designed for assault).


 We should be very wary of the argument that people who have a lot of experience with guns have some kind of greater moral claim to a voice in this debate (and we should also be wary, as Elsbeth Reeve writes, of coastal urbanite conservatives claiming to speak for "real America" about guns). Yes, having everyone get their facts straight is important. But every one of us is potentially affected by guns, whether we ever bother to pick one up or not. That's kind of the whole point. 


You don't have to know how to disassemble and clean a Glock to want your kid not to be shot by one."

h/t Digby


And the madness in Florida and its "Stand Your Ground" idiocy continues.


Meanwhile, the GOP is losing ground with Americans.  A majority says the Republican Party is too extremist.

"For the first time, a majority of Americans now say the Republican Party is too extreme, according to a poll released Thursday by CNN/ORC. 

 Fifty-three percent of people, including 22 percent of Republicans, said the GOP's views and policies have pushed them beyond the mainstream. 

The number is up dramatically from previous years. In 2010, fewer than 40 percent thought the party was too extreme. 

 Democrats were considered to be a "generally mainstream" party by 57 percent in the new poll. 

"That's due in part to the fact that the Republican brand is not doing all that well," said Keating Holland, CNN's polling director. 

 Americans also say that they have far more confidence in President Barack Obama than in congressional Republicans, and that Republicans should compromise more in finding bipartisan solutions."

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

James Dobson is Wrong!

James Dobson, Focus on the Family:


"Our country really does seem in complete disarray. I’m not talking politically, I’m not talking about the result of the November sixth election; I am saying that something has gone wrong in America and that we have turned our back on God. I mean millions of people have decided that God doesn’t exist, or he’s irrelevant to me and we have killed fifty-four million babies and the institution of marriage is right on the verge of a complete redefinition. 

 Believe me, that is going to have consequences too. And a lot of these things are happening around us, and somebody is going to get mad at me for saying what I am about to say right now, but I am going to give you my honest opinion: I think we have turned our back on the Scripture and on God Almighty and I think he has allowed judgment to fall upon us. I think that’s what’s going on."



I really don't know who this James Dobson is, since I normally don't listen to or read anything by such attention-seeking pseudo-pastors like him, or Huckabee, or some guy named Bryan Fisher.  IMO, they're not men of any sort of god.  They're money-making celebs with a religious schtick, unlike the real thing, such as our friend, Dave Miller, who actually does the hard, unglamorous work of ministering in the field with little or no recognition and even less money.  Dave is the living example of being our brothers' and sisters' keeper and caring for the least among us.  He's the real thing.

Is there any rational person who actually believes that a god's "judgment" would be to slaughter innocent children and adults because some folks in this country don't read a religion's holy book, or because gays who love each other can marry, or because children don't pray out loud to one particular god in our public schools?  

What utter rubbish!  Who listens to this, or worse, believes it?  

Those children and adults in Newtown died because we've accepted a culture of violence and guns and thrown up our hands believing there's nothing we can do to stop it.  I don't believe that.  I believe we will have to change; and if that means putting some needed restrictions on the 2nd Amendment, so be it.  We will survive as a free nation if we must do that.  Don't believe the NRA or anyone else who tells you differently.

The Newtown massacre did not happen because we "turned our backs" on God, it happened because we turned our backs on common sense gun restrictions and allowed a political entity, the NRA, that represents gun manufacturers and that influences and threatens any politician who tries to do anything about gun control, we allowed that association to become more important than the lives of our precious children.

The Huckabees, Fishers, and Dobsons in this country seem to be in collusion with those who want you to look everywhere but at our violent, gun-soaked culture to explain the slaughter that happened in Newtown last Friday.  They're wrong.  And this time, we need to tell them so.

Marriage equality, pro-choice, and freedom to believe or NOT believe in gods did not kill 27 people in Newtown.  A disturbed young man with easy access to lethal weapons did.






Monday, December 17, 2012

Some facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States


15 OF THE 25 WORST MASS SHOOTINGS IN THE PAST 50 YEARS TOOK PLACE IN THE UNITED STATES.


More information from the Washington Post to help us understand America's gun culture and its deadly influence:




Shooting sprees are not rare in the United States. 


 Mother Jones has tracked and mapped every shooting spree in the last three decades. “Since 1982, there have been at least 61 mass murders carried out with firearms across the country, with the killings unfolding in 30 states from Massachusetts to Hawaii,” they found. And in most cases, the killers had obtained their weapons legally. 2. 15 of the 25 worst mass shootings in the last 50 years took place in the United States. Time has the full list here. In second place is Finland, with two entries.


Lots of guns don’t necessarily mean lots of shootings, as you can see in Israel and Switzerland.* 

As David Lamp writes at Cato, “In Israel and Switzerland, for example, a license to possess guns is available on demand to every law-abiding adult, and guns are easily obtainable in both nations. Both countries also allow widespread carrying of concealed firearms, and yet, admits Dr. Arthur Kellerman, one of the foremost medical advocates of gun control, Switzerland and Israel ‘have rates of homicide that are low despite rates of home firearm ownership that are at least as high as those in the United States.’”

 *Correction: The info is out-of-date, if not completely wrong. Israel and Switzerland have tightened their gun laws substantially, and now pursue an entirely different approach than the United States. More details here. 


Of the 11 deadliest shootings in the US, five have happened from 2007 onward.

That doesn’t include Friday’s shooting in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. The AP put the early reported death toll at 27, which would make it the second-deadliest mass shooting in US history.



America is an unusually violent country. 

But we’re not as violent as we used to be. Kieran Healy, a sociologist at Duke University, made this graph of “deaths due to assault” in the United States and other developed countries. We are a clear outlier.



As Healy writes, “The most striking features of the data are (1) how much more violent the U.S. is than other OECD countries (except possibly Estonia and Mexico, not shown here), and (2) the degree of change—and recently, decline—there has been in the U.S. time series considered by itself.”



The South is the most violent region in the United States. 

In a subsequent post, Healy drilled further into the numbers and looked at deaths due to assault in different regions of the country. Just as the United States is a clear outlier in the international context, the South is a clear outlier in the national context:




More guns tend to mean more homicide. 

The Harvard Injury Control Research Center assessed the literature on guns and homicide and found that there’s substantial evidence that indicates more guns means more murders. This holds true whether you’re looking at different countries or different states. Citations here.

States with stricter gun control laws have fewer deaths from gun-related violence. 

Last year, economist Richard Florida dove deep into the correlations between gun deaths and other kinds of social indicators. Some of what he found was, perhaps, unexpected: Higher populations, more stress, more immigrants, and more mental illness were not correlated with more deaths from gun violence. But one thing he found was, perhaps, perfectly predictable: States with tighter gun control laws appear to have fewer gun-related deaths. The disclaimer here is that correlation is not causation. But correlations can be suggestive:


MORE HERE.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sunday Night Poem

TRAGEDY

It begins to sink in. Dead
Is dead, not just not
Here. The knife never dulls,
Does it, Dearie,
On the blade side.

Now the daily face-rain is over
The edge of a moment.
The ash box and I bide our time.
This is typical. This is classical.
This is what tragedy was

Always trying to teach us.
Those toga wrapped torsos,
That chattering
Chorus, those women
With Psyche-knots in the center

Of a circular stage,
Under an Athenian sun,
Foreign enough now to confound
The eye that knows nothing
Of them but what comes crawling

Larva-like out of a book.
In yesterday's dream
We and others all
Wrapped ourselves in sheets
And went flying. Something

Like Peter Pan. Something
Like a child who will always be
A child. Who would never grow up
And who now never will become
Because his eyes have been

Ceased shut and will not open ever.

                                --Mary Jo Bang, from Elegy

OUR MOLOCH by Gary Wills




Gary Wills expresses this far better than I ever could.

Please read it:





First Moloch, horrid king, besmear’d with blood 
Of human sacrifice, and parents’ tears, 
Though for the noise of Drums and Timbrels loud 
Their children’s cries unheard, that pass’d through fire 
To his grim idol. (Paradise Lost 1.392-96)

 Read again those lines, with recent images seared into our brains—“besmeared with blood” and “parents’ tears.” They give the real meaning of what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School Friday morning. That horror cannot be blamed just on one unhinged person. It was the sacrifice we as a culture made, and continually make, to our demonic god. We guarantee that crazed man after crazed man will have a flood of killing power readily supplied him. We have to make that offering, out of devotion to our Moloch, our god. The gun is our Moloch. We sacrifice children to him daily—sometimes, as at Sandy Hook, by directly throwing them into the fire-hose of bullets from our protected private killing machines, sometimes by blighting our children’s lives by the death of a parent, a schoolmate, a teacher, a protector. Sometime this is done by mass killings (eight this year), sometimes by private offerings to the god (thousands this year).

 The gun is not a mere tool, a bit of technology, a political issue, a point of debate. It is an object of reverence. Devotion to it precludes interruption with the sacrifices it entails. Like most gods, it does what it will, and cannot be questioned. Its acolytes think it is capable only of good things. It guarantees life and safety and freedom. It even guarantees law. Law grows from it. Then how can law question it?

Its power to do good is matched by its incapacity to do anything wrong. It cannot kill. Thwarting the god is what kills. If it seems to kill, that is only because the god’s bottomless appetite for death has not been adequately fed. The answer to problems caused by guns is more guns, millions of guns, guns everywhere, carried openly, carried secretly, in bars, in churches, in offices, in government buildings.

Only the lack of guns can be a curse, not their beneficent omnipresence. Adoration of Moloch permeates the country, imposing a hushed silence as he works his will. One cannot question his rites, even as the blood is gushing through the idol’s teeth. The White House spokesman invokes the silence of traditional in religious ceremony. “It is not the time” to question Moloch. No time is the right for showing disrespect for Moloch.

The fact that the gun is a reverenced god can be seen in its manifold and apparently resistless powers. How do we worship it? Let us count the ways:

 1. It has the power to destroy the reasoning process. It forbids making logical connections. We are required to deny that there is any connection between the fact that we have the greatest number of guns in private hands and the greatest number of deaths from them. Denial on this scale always comes from or is protected by religious fundamentalism. Thus do we deny global warming, or evolution, or biblical errancy. Reason is helpless before such abject faith.

2. It has the power to turn all our politicians as a class into invertebrate and mute attendants at the shrine. None dare suggest that Moloch can in any way be reined in without being denounced by the pope of this religion, National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre, as trying to destroy Moloch, to take away all guns. They whimper and say they never entertained such heresy. Many flourish their guns while campaigning, or boast that they have themselves hunted “vermin.” Better that the children die or their lives be blasted than that a politician should risk an election against the dread sentence of NRA excommunication.

3. It has the power to distort our constitutional thinking. It says that the right to “bear arms,” a military term, gives anyone, anywhere in our country, the power to mow down civilians with military weapons. Even the Supreme Court has been cowed, reversing its own long history of recognizing that the Second Amendment applied to militias. Now the court feels bound to guarantee that any every madman can indulge his “religion” of slaughter. Moloch brooks no dissent, even from the highest court in the land.

Though LaPierre is the pope of this religion, its most successful Peter the Hermit, preaching the crusade for Moloch, was Charlton Heston, a symbol of the Americanism of loving guns. I have often thought that we should raise a statue of Heston at each of the many sites of multiple murders around our land. We would soon have armies of statues, whole droves of Heston acolytes standing sentry at the shrines of Moloch dotting the landscape. Molochism is the one religion that can never be separated from the state. The state itself bows down to Moloch, and protects the sacrifices made to him. So let us celebrate the falling bodies and rising statues as a demonstration of our fealty, our bondage, to the great god Gun.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

"The NRA and other gun lobbyists can take great pride..."




"We are in this life, it's been said, to help each other get through it. We do this with ritual and process. In the next days and week, there will be the rituals of wakes and funerals, memorial services and assemblies. They are there for a reason — they help, they are what we have, we must embrace them. 

There are few occasions as emotionally painful as a child's funeral, and few as necessary. And then there will be process, starting with the law enforcement and medical investigations, and perhaps leading to changes in public policy. Or — looking at recent mass shootings — talk of change but no actual new laws or policies. 

The first response to mass shootings usually has to do with gun control. With the country awash in handguns — 300 million by one estimate — it's not clear if guns can be controlled any longer. The National Rifle Association and other gun lobbyists can take great pride; they've brought gun ownership within reach of every psycho and wing nut with a crazed rage to kill. 

 Yet we must try." --Hartford Courant



"In this country, you can legally buy assault weapons. What does that say about us? 

Think about it. We have a national legislative body that fears the clout of the National Rifle Assn. more than it worries about the consequences of allowing people to buy weapons designed for war."--Steve Lopez, LATimes



"Yes, the pro-gun forces have been winning lately. 

But their promises of a safer America based on more and more guns are proving to be empty. 

 Big change often starts with small battles, and we need to get aggressive about those smaller battles now. We can approve an assault weapons ban. We can write a stiff concealed carry law in Illinois in response to a judicial ruling tossing out our outright ban. 

 And we should keep going, developing and implementing new solutions until our nation is as safe as we can make it. 

 As Tom Mauser, father of a student killed in the Columbine High School shootings, says, “If you don’t start now, you’re not going to get anywhere.” --Chicago Sun Times





"...we will argue again about guns, or, rather, about why our politicians are hardly even arguing about guns any more. There are those who will object, who will say gun policy has nothing to do with any single event, that tragedies should not be exploited for political purpose. We know many of our readers are among this group. And then there will be others, ourselves included, who will say, whatever the facts of this case, that the country would be safer with fewer guns, that mass killings are more difficult with knives, that it is not the Second Amendment but political cowardice that precludes sensible regulation. That we are not supposed to exploit tragedy to talk about this issue, but that in the absence of tragedy it never gets talked about at all. 


 In the meantime new names will be inscribed on that peculiar American roll call of grief: Newtown, Connecticut. Sandy Hook Elementary School. Names so ordinary, so American, so unthreatening, that in their very recitation they refute what we all would like to believe: It couldn’t happen here."--Washington Post

Friday, December 14, 2012

America, you HAVE to do something about this!


"America sees far more gun violence than countries in Europe, and Canada, India and Australia, which is perhaps how it gets its bloody reputation among comparatively peaceful nations." --WaPo




And I refuse to listen to anyone who says "this is not the time."  When  20 grammar school children are slaughtered, it is EXACTLY the time to talk about this and to finally do something about our sick gun culture.


"I don't feel like writing about anything today in light of the unspeakable tragedy that occurred this morning in Connecticut. What is there to say? Who could pull the trigger on a five year old? It's sickening. I'm sad and angry. And I just wish I could give all those people their lives back. I wish I could fill up the hole in those parents' hearts. I wish I had any hope whatsoever that we could, as a society, do something to make tragedies like this less common and less deadly. But I don't even know if we can force the House of Representatives to hold a hearing on this massacre. I'm just feeling frustrated." --Booman Tribune



I have called my representatives here in Massachusetts and told them I want something done, and I will call the White House and do the same.  And I have been in contact with other parents and grandparents who feel just as angry and feed up as I do.

I absolutely refuse to listen to anyone who rationalizes this slaughter by saying "some crazy person will always find a way to commit murder."

I REFUSE to listen to that BS.  And it is cowardly BS.  Other countries don't have the level of gun violence that we do.

We are the ONLY country with this sort of level of gun violence, and I point my finger at the venal, evil people who run the NRA and threaten any politician who dares to speak up for stricter gun control.

We parents and grandparents will be heard.

I will work tirelessly to get stricter and harsher gun control laws passed, no matter what it takes.  And so will the people I've spoken with today.

Praying will not bring back those babies--yes, babies! More than prayers is needed.

We need action.  And resolve.

I have grandchildren who attend public schools.  The politicians don't care if they're slaughtered like helpless lambs, I DO!  No parent or grandparent should ever have to bury their little children for merely having attended school.

This is a national disgrace.


And the NRA is evil.




"Guns don't attack children; psychopaths and sadists do. But guns uniquely allow a psychopath to wreak death and devastation on such a large scale so quickly and easily. America is the only country in which this happens again -- and again and again."





 "Only with gun violence do we respond to repeated tragedies by saying that mourning is acceptable but discussing how to prevent more tragedies is not. But that’s unacceptable. As others have observed, talking about how to stop mass shootings in the aftermath of a string of mass shootings isn’t “too soon.” It’s much too late."--E.Klein


"A permissive gun regime is not the only reason that the United States suffers so many atrocities like the one in Connecticut. An inadequate mental health system is surely at least as important a part of the answer, as are half a dozen other factors arising from some of the deepest wellsprings of American culture. Nor can anybody promise that more rational gun laws would prevent each and every mass murder in this country. Gun killings do occur even in countries that restrict guns with maximum severity. But we can say that if the United States worked harder to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, there would be many, many fewer atrocities like the one in Connecticut." --D.Frum


More HERE from our good friend, TAO.


Why America Lets the Killings Continue By GREGORY GIBSON 

Published: December 14, 2012 --NYTimes

MY wife and I learned about the Connecticut school shootings on our way home from the cemetery, where we had just finished observing the 20th anniversary of our son’s murder. Our son Galen, who was 18, and a teacher were killed on Dec. 14, 1992, by a deranged student who went on a shooting rampage at Simon’s Rock College in western Massachusetts. 

Galen was a gifted kid, and Simon’s Rock seemed like the perfect place for him. He’d never been happier. The killer had a vastly different reaction to this environment. After run-ins with college officials, he vowed to “bring the college to its knees.” 

He bought an SKS at a gun shop down the road, and obtained oversize clips and ammunition through the mail. In the wake of Galen’s murder, I wrote a book about the shooting. In it I suggested that we view gun crime as a public health issue, much the same as smoking or pesticides. I spent a number of years attending rallies, signing petitions, writing letters and making speeches, but eventually I gave up. 

Gun control, such a live issue in the “early” days of school shootings, inexplicably became a third-rail issue for politicians. I came to realize that, in essence, this is the way we in America want things to be. We want our freedom, and we want our firearms, and if we have to endure the occasional school shooting, so be it. 

A terrible shame, but hey — didn’t some guy in China just do the same thing with a knife? Still, whatever your position on gun control, it is impossible not react with horror to news of the shootings in Connecticut. 

Our horror is nuanced by knowledge of what those families are going through, and what they will have to endure in years to come. More horrible still — to me at least — is the inevitable lament, “How could we have let this happen?”



"The assault weapons ban enacted under President Clinton was deficient and has expired. Mr. Obama talked about the need for “common sense” gun control after the movie theater slaughter in Aurora, Colo., and he hinted during the campaign that he might support a new assault weapons ban, presumably if someone else introduced it. 

 Republicans will never do that, because they are mired in an ideology that opposes any gun control. After each tragedy, including this one, some litter the Internet with grotesque suggestions that it would be better if everyone (kindergarten teachers?) were armed. Far too many Democrats also live in fear of the gun lobby and will not support an assault weapons ban, or a ban on high-capacity bullet clips or any one of a half-dozen other sensible ideas. 

 Mr. Obama said today that “we have been through this too many times” and “that “we are going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.” When will that day come? It did not come after the 1999 Columbine shooting, or the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, or the murders in Aurora. 

 The more that we hear about gun control and nothing happens, the less we can believe it will ever come. Certainly, it will not unless Mr. Obama and Congressional leaders show the courage to make it happen."--NYTimes

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Massachusetts Garners High Marks on International Science and Math Tests



Another reason I'm grateful I live here!

I've read on blogs the disparaging remarks calling Massachusetts "Assachusetts" and "Taxachusetts," but now we can quietly enjoy the last laugh on all who have denigrated this little gem of a state.

And who wouldn't be happy and proud to read this:


"Massachusetts eighth-graders outperformed most countries on a highly regarded international math and science exam, according to results being released Tuesday, offering fresh evidence that the state’s educational system rivals academically powerful ­nations around the globe.

 In the science part of the test, only Singapore outscored Massachusetts eighth-graders.

In math, Massachusetts trailed only South Korea, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, and Japan; 63 countries took the test.

 The impressive showing on the Trends in International Math and ­Science Study, more commonly known as TIMSS, bodes well for Massachusetts as it tries to build a larger and more sophisticated workforce in the sciences and emerging technologies. 

[skip]

The goal is to enable the state to compete more aggressively on the global stage to attract businesses. Last year, about 600,000 fourth- and eighth-graders took the exam, which has been given every four years since 1995. Some sections of a country, such as Massachusetts, participated in the exam on their own. 

 In Massachusetts, 2,000 eighth-graders from 56 randomly selected schools across the state took the exam, the cost of which was covered by the ­National Center for Education Statistics. (Massachusetts fourth-graders did not participate because of budget constraints.) 

 Massachusetts not only outperformed the United States as a whole, but also all of the other states that took part as independent entities: Minnesota, North Carolina, Indiana, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, ­California, and Alabama. 

 “I am tremendously proud of our students for once again performing as global leaders in math and science,” said Governor Patrick. “Our record of leadership in student achievement isn’t by accident – it’s because we have chosen to invest deeply in education, knowing that our students will determine the future success of our economy and our Commonwealth.”



Boston Globe



Massachusetts is committed to excellence in science and math--those subjects that will keep our country competitive in the global economy.  Last year this news was welcomed as well:



State Outcomes in Math and Science Education Reveal Big Disparities
College Park, MD, July 1, 2011 —

"In a new ranking of how well the states' K-12 schools are preparing their students for science and engineering careers, Massachusetts leads the pack, while Mississippi trails behind as 'worst in the United States.' The rankings are reported in the summer issue of the Newsletter of the Forum on Education of the American Physical Society.

 "We're not trying to criticize the states at the bottom," says Susan White of the Statistical Research Center at the American Institute of Physics (AIP), who developed the new Science and Engineering Readiness Index (SERI) with physicist Paul Cottle of Florida State University (FSU). "But states need to know how they're doing in order to improve."


Tax dollars invested in public education have paid off handsomely.  I hope the rest of the country takes note of what can be accomplished when people value science and math over superstition and ignorance.

Well done Massachusetts!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The History of the Real War on Christmas

Here's a bit of history on who really waged a War on Christmas:


"When the Puritans came over on the Mayflower in 1620, they brought with them their strict ways, their religious views and their distaste for Christmas. Although Christmas was widely celebrated in Europe as a Christian holiday marking the birth of Jesus Christ, Puritans saw it as a false holiday with stronger ties to Paganism than Christianity.

As pious and reserved Christians, Puritans also took a dislike to the drinking and dancing associated with the holiday. After the Puritans left the Old World, they decided to leave these holiday traditions behind. Instead of feasting and giving gifts, Puritans commemorated Christmas by praying, reflecting on sin and working instead of resting. The Puritans even forced non-Puritan colonists, such as the Presbyterians, to work on Christmas day.

In his journal, William Bradford recorded a disagreement that ensued between him and some newly arrived non-Puritan colonists on Christmas day in 1621:

 “One the day called Christmasday, the Gov r caled them out to worke, (as was used,) but the most of this new-company excused them selves and said it wente against their consciences to work on that day. So the Gov r tould them that if they made it mater of conscience, he would spare them till they were better informed. … [Later] he found them in the streete at play, openly; some pitching the barr and some at stoole-ball, and shuch like sports. So he went to them, and tooke away their implements, and tould them that was against his conscience, that they should play and others worke. If they made the keeping of it mater of devotion, let them kepe their houses, but ther should be no gameing or revelling in the streets. Since which time nothing hath been attempted that way, at least openly.”



On May 11, 1659, the Massachusetts Bay Colony legislature even went so far as to officially ban Christmas and gave anyone found celebrating it a fine of five shillings. The legislature stated the ban was needed “For preventing disorders arising in severall places within this jurisdiceon, by reason of some still observing such ffestivalls as were superstitiously kept in other countrys, to the great dishonnor of God & offence of others, it is therefore ordered … that whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by for-bearing of labour, feasting, or any other way, upon any such account as aforesaid, every such person so offending shall pay for every such offence five shillings, as a fine to the county. 

 The ban remained in place for 22 years until it was repealed after a new surge of European immigrants brought a demand for the holiday in the late 1600s. 

Even though the ban was lifted, Christmas was not warmly embraced by the Puritans and it remained a dull and muted holiday over two centuries later."

SOURCE


The folks at FAUX NOOZ, and particularly Bill O'Reilly, have had a jolly time for the last few years whining and promoting the ridiculous idea that there's a "War on Christmas."  The non-controversy is another way for the folks at the fake cable news station to get people feeling victimized, aggrieved, and stirred up enough to keep them watching their star fruitcakes lament the "secularization" of their special holy day. 

There is no war on a holiday that begins sometime after Labor Day and is the biggest money-spending season of the year.  We are deluged with images and messages for buying stuff the minute the last summer rose dies and before the leaves start turning colors.

Our local CVS pharmacy began playing Christmas songs the day after Halloween and Christmas decorations have been up since the first of November.  

There is no war on Christmas when people say "Happy Holidays" or send cards that say "Seasons Greetings."

When someone suggests that there is a war on Christmas, remind them of our heritage and our history--when Christmas was banned for everyone.  That was when we had a real "war on Christmas," and it was the Christian majority at the time who waged it.