Retrospective, Damn

Well it has been another year, we have all gotten through it despite the idiocy of the nation and constant upheaval to our peace. I wanted to wait before I said anything, before I looked backwards or forwards, you know dip my toes in the waters of 2016 before washing away 2015. So now I have waited, based on the first two weeks of the new year, well it doesn’t seem it will get better. Here is my quick look and thoughts on what was and what will be.

Politics, Damn

It does not seem that we are in for a civil debate leading up to the election of a new POTUS to bring our nation together. Indeed not, instead no matter who the two leading parties nominate I think we can look forward to a nasty year of sniping, pettiness and below the belt ugliness. Never mind, the world and the nation are burning like Rome and our political discourse has descended into the outhouse. An interesting view of all the current candidates was provided by the New York Times.

The GOP has brought to the table their ‘Best and Brightest’, if this is the truth we are in terrible trouble. This is what left swimming in their pool, it is a terrible thing the American people have done raising up the Id of the GOP to become the nominee for their party. I foresee a split in the ‘Grand Old Party’ coming soon. Truly, the sane ones (yes, there are still a few) remaining within the GOP are beginning to speak out, against the insanity that is Trump and Cruz, never mind the rest who are simply sideshows at this point.

The ratings are from the Conservative Review

The ratings are from the Conservative Review

The Democrats are not offering much better though, don’t hate. Where is the young blood we need for new ideas? What do we have leading the charge, a woman with questionable ethics who considers herself having the ‘right’ to be POTUS, that she is ‘inevitable’. A man who has some great ideas that are not sustainable and who frankly is 74 years old, yes I know ageism on my part but I think we need to consider the consequences of the office of President when we vote, the health and age of our nominee’s is an issue. I couldn’t find a similar map and rating for the two viable Democrats, but go here to Inside Gov, you can play beat the contender to your hearts content.

Democrats

Violence, Guns and Damn

We can’t look back without considering the violence, our addiction to it as a nation. Start with police violence, last year there were twelve hundred and two (1,202) American citizens killed by police. Do any of us wonder what is wrong with this? I certainly do. When do we start to demand a change in the behavior of those who are hired and paid by us to protect and serve us? At what point do we start to question the legitimacy of ‘internal’ investigations into police involved shootings? When do we demand all police involved shootings, especially those that end in the death of a citizen be reported to the FBI, just like all other murders; today the only way we know is private organizations such as Killed by Police who do painstaking data collection.

We had some terrible and tragic examples of what wholesale availability of guns, combined with ideological hate can do. Despite our blood soaked streets and churches, we continue the battle with little success to close the loopholes. We are a nation that loves our guns, loves our ‘right’ to own them, shoot them, carry them openly (unless you aren’t Caucasian). We are a nation that will make excuses for every Son-of-a-Bitch that shoots up a neighborhood, a theater, a church taking innocent lives in the process; well that is so long as the shooter is Caucasian. The Gun Violence Archives provide the clearest view of just how bad it is out there.

The President took action, too little too late in my humble opinion. The problem with Executive Actions? The next POTUS can, with the flourish of a pen undo each and every one.

Weather, Damn

We took it hard last year, or should I say Gaia put it to us. Between Earthquakes, Volcanos, Tornados and just plain old weather to kill we got hit hard across the world. Yet still there are those who would deny there is something wrong, something changing that perhaps we should be listening to what the earth and Climate Scientist are telling us.

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Refugee Migration, Damn

The politicians would have us believe there is one answer, most of us with even a single brain cell know there is more to it. We are a polyglot nation, it has always been our strength yet it has also been a source of struggle as new immigrant communities attempt to integrate. Now we have refugees from nations we broke, who are not like us and who we have painted as the enemy. The thousand year old war between Christianity and Islam continues, this shit isn’t new we just have better and more destructive weapons.

Can we deny we disrupted the peace? Can we deny we created much of the problem with our ‘Nation Building’, our ‘Manifest Destiny’ attitudes and our belief we have the ‘right’ to stomp into any nation and do as we wish. Now, we have created a problem for the world. On the other hand, shouldn’t we be asking the question; ‘Why are so many young men coming, without women and children?’ I think about this one, let the women, the children, the aged come let’s get them out of harm’s way but let their men fight for their independence and their safety. Is this harsh? Maybe it is, but in all honesty I don’t want our young men and women fighting for a nation or a people that will not fight for themselves.

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Some Things That Didn’t Suck

The Stars and Bars came down over the State House of South Carolina, finally. This was a hard fought battle but it happened and it was in my opinion epic.

Marriage was made legal nationally, the Supreme Court ruled that all people could legally marry and have their marriages recognized. It was another hard fought battle, it was an epic win and many of my friends rushed to make their long standing partnerships ‘legal’.

This year saw the proliferation of transparency, technology in the hands of everyday citizens is adding to our discourse. We are using the tools we have for more than selfies and pictures of breakfast, instead stopping to film what might be critical to stopping racism, police violence and other acts that have always been part of society, but never part of our dialog.

Closing, Damn

There are other notable things, good and bad. I simply picked a few. I could go on and on and on. Do I think 2016 will be significantly better? Truthfully? No, I think we are scraping the bottom of the barrel right now, I think Presidential politics will see us with the tragic and terrible before November. I think the inbred idiots in Oregon with their guns and chest beating are the tip of the iceberg. I think those who hate government but desire to be part of it are the problem and we, the people get the government we deserve.

 

Save Your Prayers For The Living

angry-godThey profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

Titus 1:16

 

Your prayers are useless. Your prayers are insulting, always coming after the fact and as an afterthought. Want to pray? Pray for a change, pray there are no more victims of gun violence, pray the NRA becomes known as a criminal enterprise, and pray Congress finds their heart and starts to do something to change the vicious and violent nation we live in. Then when you get off your sanctimonious knees find your heart and demand change, do something, take action.

I am tired of it all. Aren’t you?

I am weary as hell of turning on the news and seeing another mass murder, another report of a school, church, theater or mall shot up and dozens dead. I am mind numb with the senseless death 11202102_486110584889188_3832410922166378229_nin every city, of the thousands of our youth, lying on cold streets in pools of their own blood. I am shattered by the number of guns bought and sold daily in this nation without a single thought to how they will be used, without a background check or any other validation or identification. I am stunned that we still can’t do even the simplest of things, a national background check versus what we have today the useless state by state checks that allow for loophole after loophole to be casually meandered through by those who would do grave harm.

I am exhausted by the excuses presented by the media, government Representatives and of course those spokespersons for the gun manufactures the NRA, for why yet another mass killing has happened.  Everything from ‘Beta Male Syndrome’, just what the hell is this anyway? Boys don’t feel they are getting enough female attention so they buy guns and blow shit up?  To the random, mental health issues; okay everyone has a bit of crazy these days. Then we have the easy to identify, my wife left me so I am going to kill her and everyone else around her, there are a few of these. Of course, we have the failing to make the grade so let me kill those professors and students who might be better than me. Finally we have the just plain old racist, bigot assholes who think there is a need to kill those ‘not like them’ out of what, fear and hate.

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The face of the mass murder from 1984 to today

It isn’t getting better, it is getting worse. This ignorance, the pure unhealthy love affair this nation has with violence is making our small bit of this world a terrible place to live and to raise our children. From mass murders in theaters, churches, classrooms and malls to the random murders on the streets; it is getting worse. Fear and violence, children lying dead, by the hand of a parent, classmate, cop or random drive-by. Truly does it matter how a child dies? I can tell you it doesn’t matter to the parents who must search for a small casket to bury that child.

Your prayers are useless. Who needs or wants your prayers? Surely, though they might be polite and thank you, not those who are left behind. Not those who must bury their beloved family members, their children, siblings or spouses because some asshole with access to a guns and more rounds of ammunition than a platoon needs on maneuvers decided today was the day they would kill human beings. Not the walking wounded who must live every single day with the nightmares and physical results of the shots fired by a random stranger or loved one, who must face their changed circumstances and the even in some cases their shortened life expectancy, not because of their poor choices but because they were in the were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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Your offer to pray for any of us, yes us, without action is an insult. If I hear one more person tell the victims of gun violence they are praying I believe I will scream.

For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

James 2:26

Let me help, please let me help your understanding if there is any confusion at all. Guns have no purpose but to kill. Killing is the only purpose of a gun. Don’t try to make it out to be anything other than what it is, those who want to paint lovely pictures about skeet shooting, range shooting and target shooting need to step off, you only do this so you are better killers with guns. Guns, allDomestic-Violence-9Women-1_Meme-noURL guns from the smallest ladylike pistol to the biggest cannon have one single purpose, to kill; whether killing people or animals for food. Guns are designed to kill as efficiently as possible, depending on their design they kill one thing or have the potential to kill many things with a single pull of the trigger. Guns are tools of murder and destruction, this is their single and only purpose. They cannot be compared to anything else, nothing else at all. I have seen in social media guns compared to many other things over the years as the debate for gun control rages, let me try to set the record straight:

Cars ≠ Guns

Knives ≠ Guns

Baseball Bats ≠ Guns

Explosives ≠ Guns

Fire ≠ Guns

Poison ≠ Guns

Water ≠ Guns

Narcotics ≠ Guns

Hammers ≠ Guns

All of the above have been cited as things people use to kill with, things people would use to kill with if they didn’t have access to guns. This is true, these are all things you might use to kill another human being with if you didn’t have access to a gun or guns. The difference between these things and guns? All of the above have a purpose other than to kill another living creature, all have a reason to exist, yes even poison has a purpose other than to kill a living creature, in some cases it is to kill weeds in your yard, in some cases it is to alleviate pain. It is impossible to make the argument that guns and any of the above are in any way, shape or form equal any of the above they are not.

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Save your prayers, they are useless pandering. Save your tears, they are frankly too damn late.

Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.

Psalms 34:13

http://timelines.latimes.com/deadliest-shooting-rampages/

http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/

http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2015/09/us/the-loneliest-club/?sr=sharebar_twitter

I Am

I AM.

Such simple and stark words, I AM. So often we are cautioned to remove ‘I’ from our thinking, from our language, from our definitions of self even. Yet how do we speak to who we are what we are without ‘I AM’. The truth is, until we define who we are as individuals, what we stand for, what we believe it is difficult to move through the world in a meaningful way. We can move like zombies, brainless, dumb to the world around us; but to what purpose? How do we serve even ourselves if we have no ‘self’, no ‘I AM’.

I AM.

Through life’s tumbles and stumbles I believe there is a distinct possibility I know 85% of the conundrum of ‘I AM’. We all ask this question, of who we are and what we are. It is a question we start asking at an early age and continue to ask throughout most of our life. Many of us change our ‘I AM’, sometimes through our life experience and sometimes simply as we search for what fits us best. My ‘I AM’ is a combination of everything, how I was born, what was done to me, what I have done and the choices I have made along the way.

This is my ‘I AM’.

I am human, first and maybe most importantly. No better, no different from any other human I run across in my daily life. What separates me from other humans is nothing but the surface stuff but certainly not our shared humanity.

I am a woman, always. This more than many other things defines me, defines my thinking and how I move through the world.  Vintage_photo_nude_woman_1

I am White of mostly Southern European extraction, though according to the DNA testing we had done some time ago there is a bit of other things thrown in there. It is my understanding some of my heritage is rooted in the Southern European Romany, however this is family lore only.

I am a feminist, not a man-hater but instead a believer in women and their innate power, strength, ability and capability.

I am a political progressive. Not a Democrat, not a Liberal but instead an Independent Progressive. I make no bones or apologies about my leanings; there are certainly some Socialist elements to my political stances. There are components in my thinking that lean outward, toward social good rather than inward toward personal enrichment (Capitalism). My tendency toward compassion, toward helping those of less fortune than I is ingrained a part of my core being, not learned but rather a ‘born this way’ feature of my personality.

I am a person of great spiritual faith and depth. I believe there is something greater than me; I simply do not believe that thing is an Old White Man on a Cloud in the Sky. I am not Christian; I am angry-godwithout a religious affiliation. I was raised in a mixed Christian household, depending on whom you asked, we were Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian or other. I have read the Bible, cover to cover more than once. I have read other holy books, thinking there must be a reason people are willing to kill and die for their ‘God’, their faith or their religion. The one thing I have come away with, there is nothing religion can offer me, not one damned thing man can offer me through religion.

I am pro-life. Yes, this is a true statement but it might confuse you. I am a staunch supporter of women’s absolute right to decide whether to end a pregnancy. This is true whether it is the morning after, early in the pregnancy or late in the pregnancy due to unforeseen and tragic circumstances. My stance goes much deeper. I am pro-life, I support any program that enriches, encourages and enables the lives of human beings already born, already living on this earth, we share. I believe strongly we should work to reduce abortion through making contraception readily accessible to all women, make childcare programs available, make sex education appropriate, factual and early enough to count. I believe we value life by ensuring healthcare for all, encouraging education and providing it to all members of society equally. We value life by removing weapons from our streets, making it more difficult to purchase and maintain arsenals, dismantling Stand Your Ground Laws and the Castle Doctrine in our states and shutting down the internet sellers of bullets by the thousands. I believe we value life by raising the minimum wage thus providing at least a ‘living wage’ for families with born children. We value life by insuring our elderly are cared for and their retirement funds are paid through Social Security. We value life by ending the Death Penalty. This is the short list, this is what makes me Pro-Life, anything less is anti-life.

I am a humanist. Yes, I think this is the best description of me. I believe in Human Rights first. I believe it is impossible for us to achieve a civil society without Human Rights taking a step forward. For far too long we have allowed a small cadre of selfish men to march this nation slowly into perdition. We have allowed the Human Rights of many of our citizens be trampled under the heels of kochbrotherthose who simply wished power and riches at the expense of all of us. We were comfortable with the social hierarchy as long as we weren’t on the bottom, so long as we could stand on the shoulder of someone else and point to their disadvantage we were fine thinking maybe we weren’t so bad off. The truth is, we are all the same, the only thing that separates us is the color of our American Express, the size of our bank accounts.

I am a person with a vast capacity too love and a desire to love and be loved. This is perhaps one of my greatest strengths and greatest weakness’. This desire to see the best in people, to believe others want what is best for me allows me to see the world through rose-colored glasses and never question motives, to retain a level of naivety despite my experiences and history; this desire and capacity to love allows me to retain an innocence, but it also breaks my heart.

For all my faults, for all my failures, for all that I am still seeking about myself there are some things I am certain of, these are some of them and oddly they haven’t changed in forty years. I have grown in my understanding, but my core values haven’t changed since I was seventeen years old.

Combinination

Heretic in the House

joanstilkestake

Remember, Val, that only 60 years ago, that same argument would have been used to shut YOU up? Because what you believe now is mainstream, but would have been heresy to the mainstream back then.

The above is a quoted from a comment I received recently on another post I wrote. I had to sit back and consider the context, the person and the content of my post. I will grant the commenter is very much on the other side of the political aisle from me on nearly all subjects. I had to wonder though, did they listen to the video or simply take for granted there was nothing fundamentally wrong only that I disagreed with it and thus it was fine except it represented ideals I disagreed with.

So then I thought about my political positions, my social positions and wondered am I really that radical are my positions which are more accepted today than 60 years ago, would they have been heresy 60 years ago as my commenter suggests. I wondered about this the entire day, thought I would take some of my more ‘radical’ positions, compare them to 60 years ago, and see.


tumblr_mj4iy9ckaL1rpj3m6o1_500Civil Rightsyes, I believe strongly every single citizen of the United States of America should enjoy the same exact rights. This includes access to jobs, education, voting, housing and all the other ‘rights’ and ‘privileges’ of being a citizen. I believe strongly there should be no impediments to these rights. I include in these rights the freedom to marry, which I believe is a civil right and requires only recognition by the state and federal government, the issue of Church is not relevant and is independent of Civil Rights.

I suppose there might be some legitimacy to the argument of my heresy. Certainly, I do not support the suppression of any person or group of people and sixty years ago, it was the norm to do so.  Hell, today it is the norm to continue to do so. Pile on the kindling and get the stake ready, there might be a bonfire in my future.

Women’s Rights – this is likely part of the Civil Rights issue, but yes, I am a supporter of Women and their rights. I am a feminist, I believe women should be able to work and be paid equally to men. I believe women should be able to choose Suffragette Float, New York 1913 Courtesy Wikipediawhether to marry, where and how to work and even more importantly that we should be equally represented. Today, we are not it is my hope someday we are since we are slightly more than 50% of the population.

Well there is another one where I am a heretic and would have been 60 years ago too. In fact, I have been a feminist since my early teen years.

Pro-Choice – I am and don’t equivocate about it. No woman should ever be forced, as I was to have an abortion. No woman should ever be forced to carry a pregnancy to term. I am not Pro-Abortion; I think most women approach this choice as a last resort and with heartbreak. Nevertheless, it is no other persons business. It is the pregnant woman and her medical provider, sometimes it is also her partner but most of the time it is her and her alone that images (3)must make this choice. You, me, the state and certainly the church going throng of ijits attempting to shove their ‘beliefs’ down her throat and up her uterus; they have no place in her decision. Beyond the issue of abortion is the very real issue of women and their ability to access preventive care, this is also necessary and constantly at risk. I am a proponent of birth control, a proponent of women and men receiving education and the means to prevent pregnancy and I am perfectly willing to have my tax dollars pay for it.

Alrighty then, another heretical soapbox I stand on. I stand firmly on this one too. Boy oh boy, that kindling is getting piled higher the bonfire is going to burn bright soon.

Freedom of and from Religion – big one here but my belief that I should be free from religion within my government is supported by the US Constitution. The very first amendment of the US Constitution, the very first sentence: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; could it be any clearer than this. We are not now nor have we ever been a theocracy. We are not now, nor have we ever been a Christian Nation. What we are now and have always been a nation with a population of primarily Christians of different denomination who are unable to agree even among themselves. The founding fathers of this nation understood the problems of nations ruled by the Church, whether it be the Catholic Church or the Church of England, they built into our Constitution protections to prevent this from happening here. This nation was intended to be a Democratic Republic, without Church interference; one that allowed representation of all people whether Christian or other. It was not until the 1950’s that God was inserted into our Pledge and onto our currency, previous to this God was not there we stayed true to our founding principles.

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In truth, my views are not so different from others of 60 years ago and even further back. They saw this coming; they saw the problems of allowing the Christian crazies get hold of the government. So no I don’t think I will get any additional kindling for my views on this one. Get your church out of the government. The churches already receive tax exemptions, I already pay for your views to be heard I should not also have live with your views through legislation in my bedroom and elsewhere in my life.

Guns and Violenceobviously I am not mainstream on this one and never will be. I believe strongly I and my children, my grandchildren and all the generations to come should be safe from violence in the streets. I believe guns do not make us safe but instead create a society where we are more prone to violence not less so. The Constitution does not promote individual ownership of arsenals; it promotes a well-regulated militia, which has only recently been interpreted to mean children-guns-nraindividual ownership. Historically, it was much different. That this nation turns its back on the death and mayhem created by guns and gun ownership simply saddens me.

Interestingly through the first part of the 20th century, most of the legislation passed regarding guns and gun control fell firmly in what I would consider my camp. In fact, all of it, at both the federal and state level placed restrictions on the types of guns that could be sold, who could sell and transport them and who could own them and for what purpose. It wasn’t until the rise of the Right-Wing Anti-Government lunatic fringe and the true shift of the NRA in the mid 1990’s things changed dramatically. Ruby Ridge and Waco are the two defining moments that brought the fringe to the front. Since the mid 90’s the swing to the Right on the issue of guns has been dramatic and with horrifying results.

Call me a heretic, call my views heresy I am good with that. When any of you lay in the street with three bullets in you and wonder if you will survive, talk to me about how good guns are. When any of you bury a child due to violence, please give me a call and let’s discuss the need for more guns on the street I will be happy to debate this with you. Pile up the kindling boys and girls I am ready for the fire. On this one though, I was aligned with those in positions of authority, hell me and the NRA agreed 60 years ago now that is damned frightening.

Linda1I just picked a few of the key issue; I could likely do this for many other key issues of the day. Tell you what though, ask me anything and let’s see if I am truly a heretic. I am guessing I am only a heretic if you compare me to the other side of the aisle, not necessarily to 60 years ago. I will do my best to answer in context of both today and the 60-year mark though.

Ravening Wolves

Gray-Wolf.-Courtesy-U.S.-Fish-Wildlife-Service27 Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, to shed blood, to destroy people, and to get dishonest gain.28 Her prophets plastered them with untempered mortar, seeing false visions, and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ when the Lord had not spoken. 29 The people of the land have used oppressions, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger.

Ezekiel 22-27:29 


There is nothing to say about passion that hasn’t been said before, except this, it festers under the skin, like a wound that never quite heals. We search for that salve we can rub across the wound and for a brief moment, it works, then we realize the salve was full of grit and all we have done is taken the top layer off and opened it up to the air.

Damn that hurt, again.

I have become cynical. I weep at the history, I weep in pain some days as well. But I have become cynical. As I look down the barrel of another surgical intervention, I have become furious at the lack of compassion and empathy this nation has for the weak, the aged, the young, the disenfranchised, those different from ourselves. We celebrate the ignorant among us, whether this celebration is through their election to high office or their constant media attention, it is nonetheless a celebration. Meanwhile, we ignore sometimes even vilify those who do good works, those who deserve our attention through their contributions to society, our communities and our lives.

I weep when I consider the consequences of our apathy. I am appalled when I realized we are more concerned with the size of Kim Kardashian’s ass than we are with just how diminished the office of the President is by the disrespect shown to kim-kardashian-ass-memes-funny-6this President by every member of the GOP in elected office today. Really people, is this what we have become? I am disgusted that every single Sunday I hear the same tired conspiracy nut jobs (IRS, Benghazi, Sharia Law and Muslims, Guns Guns and More Guns, oh and let’s not forget there is no Global Warming and Make War not Peace).

I shudder when I listen to the first off the Clown Bus to enter the fray officially tell me to ‘Imagine’ a world he envisions,  one based on Christians values and morals. I cannot begin to imagine a world where all bets are off and corporations and people in his tax bracket will have all the rights and breaks while the rest of us suffer the consequences of his worldview. This though is the world of no empathy and no compassion Mr. Cruz wants us to imagine.

Of course, Phil Robertson falls right in line with Ted and his ideas. At a prayer meeting yesterday this is what Phil, the patriarch of the Duck Dynasty family had to say about those who didn’t profess a Christian view. This is what we would have to look forward to if Ted became president of the United States of America.

The worst part is, some of this is already happening across this land. Laws to strip those who are not Christian, White, Heterosexual are already being passed. Laws to enable businesses to discriminate against others based on their ‘Christian’ beliefs are passing state legislatures across the land. These new discrimination laws are enabled by people like Ted Cruz and encouraged by the fact that Phil Robertson and his network still exist on without any of us saying no, you are not allowed to say these things and stand on the First Amendment as your protection. You are not allowed to pretend it is just a joke ‘fantasy’ to threaten rape of young girls, decapitation of women, neutering of men simply because they are not of the same faith as you. What the hell is wrong with people they think this is ‘okay’.

Which leads me to the next problem, as a victim of violence I look at this nation and think to myself always when will it end? When is enough ever going to be enough, when will we say as a nation, not another child, another man, another woman will lie in our streets. When will we say not another parent will bury their child, not another child will pick up a gun in play and end up killing their sibling. When will we say enough? When will we say the police are not sanctioned to murder our citizens? When will we say enough? Surely, there comes a point in time when the lives of our citizens are of greater value than the profits of the corporations manufacturing the guns that are killing us. Certainly, at some point enough of us will stop and think, the laws in place today are not protecting anyone but those who are profiting most by our deaths, by the deaths of our children.

Then I saw this and I was brought to my knees. I realized it was us, Elyse over at Fifty Four and a Half simply put it out there and I found it stunningly simple and in your face.

Which leads me here to this, another great example the debate, of what is wrong with us as a nation and a people,. Is this ‘Free Speech’, the First Amendment at its finest? Or is it something worse, something so deeply disturbed I cannot even find the words. You tell me, with no lead in other than to say I had to watch it twice before finally realizing it is parody but also defines the the terrible ease with which anyone could do exactly what this video lays out, step by step.

Well that is my rant for the day my friends. Passion, if we don’t get it and soon we lose everything we stand for as a people, everything we once stood for as a nation. We have been slowly eroded; we have stripped down bare and shown the very worst of ourselves for the past six years. We have shown our dark and ugly side and those of us who should have stood up and spoken up, we did little and said little. We should be ashamed for allowing it to go so far. For those of us with the means to do something, we should be ashamed for not doing enough, for staying home when we should have been in the streets even where we might not have been fully embraced. It is time, it is past time that we push the boundaries and demand the change we need to make this a nation worth living in and fighting for, not just for some people but all people. We cannot afford to do otherwise.

Want to tell A & E what you think about Phil Robertson and Duck Dynasty: aefeedback@aenetworks.com

Our Apathy is Killing Me

OpEdAnother day, another week, another spree of violence from more cretins with axes to grind and tendencies to believe conspiracies and live in fear and self-righteous entitlement. Isn’t it fascinating the very same people who point outward, complaining about all those ‘others’ who live on the teat of the government dole, tend to be the ones who live on the brink of tumbling into the chasm, needing a handout in the worst kind of way. Yet, they are constantly complaining about those ‘others’ that are destroying the fabric of America, you know the ones they are always talking about;

  • The folks on Unemployment
  • The folks working two or three jobs on Welfare
  • The folks needing to feed their children on SNAP
  • The folks on Medicaid and Medicare even
  • The folks on Social Security
  • The folks getting student aid (Pell Grants or Student Loans)

Did I catch all those government programs? What I failed to mention, in every case those complaining about these programs seem to think, truthfully they strongly believe most of those within the system are the problem and they are also ‘other’, meaning they aren’t of European (Caucasian) descent and in some or maybe many cases they might not even be Christian. It seems we, as a people find it entirely acceptable for people in media and elected positions to hurl the most egregious and base insults towards our fellow citizens without consequence. We have sunk so low we willingly turn away from the ugliest vitriol dripping from the mouths of those we elect and those who are paid to act as the gauge of our culture, we shrug their words off and demand no consequences from them for their divisive actions.

Our nation is being torn apart, yet we shrug and turn away, sometimes we even laugh at the ignorance of the utterances. Shouldn’t we instead be holding these bigots, these racists, these homophobes, these sexists, these misanthropes to a higher standard and with them ourselves. How dare we, as a people and a nation turn away from these terrible acts and words and not demand better, not demand something change. How dare any of us sit back, shrug and pretend not to see what is happening to this nation, even as we sip our coffee.

I can only say, What the Fuck is wrong with us that we don’t put two and two together and come up with four. Instead we sit back and say, ‘oh, well this isn’t so bad’. Really? This isn’t so bad, when pray tell have any of us seen it worse? Answer me this, when have any of us seen it worse than it is today. The origin of, ‘Take our Country Back’, the battle cry of the Tea Party movement, comes directly from the last gasp of a scared and aging demographic, you know the ones I mentioned them before.

  • White, Older
  • Disenfranchised
  • Mostly Southern (started here

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  • Low Information
  • Low income
  • Christian

Don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying all White Men above a certain age are members of the Tea Party, they most certainly are not; fortunately there are many who don’t fall into the Disenfranchised / Low Information category. Unfortunately, for all of us there are those who saw a void and scrambled to fill it, these horror stories of the modern age have been building on the fear and disenchantment of the European male for decades and in 2008 the movement exploded with the election of Barack Obama. The fear mongers saw the opportunity and jumped in with both feet and all their financial assets, they founded the Tea Party in all of its loud and proud glory. Spun off from the John Birch Society, The Heritage Foundation, Freedom Works, Americans for Prosperity, The KKK; The Tea Party has inherited the weight of each of these, hidden under their sheen of new money and attempts at political respectability.

Fred Koch => John Birch Society=>David & Charles Koch =>Americans for Prosperity+John Birch Society=>ALEC=>Citizen United=>CPAC

It is insidious and ugly, it is apparently the New American Way. When you add to this mix the KKK, Patriot and Nationalist Groups, Radical Christians Identity Groups then throw in a few Skinheads and a couple of White Nationalists all of whom seem to relate to and populate the Tea Party. But no, the Tea Party isn’t Racist and didn’t suddenly grow from the election of the very first Black President of the United States of America, except, look at these:

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How to account for a 755% growth since the election of Barack Obama if it isn’t the color of his skin? Whatever some of us might wish it otherwise, there is an underlying truth we must accept, the first Black President has brought out the very worst, brought to the surface what already existed. It isn’t his politics, it isn’t that he is a bad President, it isn’t his ability to lead. It is one simple defining characteristic, it is that he is ‘other’. This simple truth has led to the dividing of a nation and many other issues including escalating violence.

I struggle to write these days, I do. I struggle with the violence. I struggle with the constant seemingly never ending days of spree shooting, school shootings and people no matter how many have died, making excuses, blaming the victims or worse, ignoring the real problem in favor of screaming their Second Amendment rights trump all else. My heart breaks for the families of all those who have lost their lives, some days I can’t face the news; truly I sit on my bed and tears simply flow down my cheeks silently, my shoulders shake and I wish for someone to hold me as I weep.

I blame these venomous and bile filled horror stories siting in their studios and back offices for the state of the Union.

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This is just a small selection of who I blame, a mix of elected officials some still seated, some revered for ‘past accomplishments’, some on their way out, some media pundits, some of course dead and deified by those who apparently have forgotten what they truly did during their time in office. This is enough, I didn’t bother to put SCOTUS up, I do blame them as well. I blame the sell out to NRA, the fear the entire Congress apparently feel each time NRA is whispered in their ears, never mind we have had seventy four (74) school shooting since Sandy Hook, can you imagine? Seventy-four school shootings since twenty babies were shot dead in their school rooms and we still haven’t done a damned thing to stem the tide of blood running in the streets.

Screen_Shot_2014-06-10_at_1.48.46_PM

Map Image; Image Credit: Twitter/Mark Gongloff

I blame us. That is right, I blame all of us for not having the wherewithal to get up off our azzes and say “No More”. For being so damned apathetic we willing shrug our shoulders and say, ‘there is nothing we can do’.

I blame us. For every child that dies. For every father who weeps at the loss of his only son. For every mother who buries her child. I blame us. We don’t owe the NRA a damned thing, we owe our children a better world. Hell, we owe ourselves a better world than the one we have today. We owe ourselves safer streets than the ones we have today. I know I don’t feel safe going into downtown Dallas where men with small penises have supplemented their insufficiency by strapping large guns across their chests or backs simply to ‘prove’ their manhood. It use to be they would buy good cars, I tell you what I want to go back to those days.

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I don’t know about any of you, I am tired. I am tired of the idiots. I am tired of the hate. I am tired of the divisive trash talking BS coming out of the media and my elected officials. Let’s start calling things what they are maybe then we can start healing wounds and moving this nation forward.

  • People who kill police officers screaming about revolutions and draping those dead officers in the Tea Party flag, they are Domestic Terrorists.
  • The people out on the Bundy ranch with their guns, who pointed said guns at federal officers during the commission of their duties; they are criminals. By the way, so is Cliven Bundy.
  • Rush Limbaugh is a Racist and a Sexist.
  • Sean Hannity is a Racist and has used his position to stir Domestic Terrorism and Criminal activity.
  • The United States of America is NOT a Christian nation it is a Democratic Republic, stop saying it is anything else.

I am certain there is more. The problem is right now, we are moving further and further to the Right. If we don’t stop this tumble we will very quickly find ourselves living under a Christian Taliban. Our rights will be gone, Civil Rights will be a thing of the past, Voting Rights for but the wealthy a thing of the past. Shrug your shoulders if you like, think I am overreacting if you want. The truth of the matter is, Congress has dug their heels in, despite this Eric Cantor lost his seat for being ‘not conservative enough’.

Think about that one. Then think about November 2014 and consider what will happen if you remain apathetic.


 

Hate Groups Growing: http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2012/spring/the-year-in-hate-and-extremism

In their own words:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/10/26/913651/-The-Republicans-in-their-own-words-Part-2-bigotry-hate-and-violence

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/10/27/914152/-The-Republicans-in-their-own-words-Part-3-Big-Fat-Liars-and-hypocrites

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/10/28/914514/-The-Republicans-in-their-own-words-Part-4-Let-em-eat-applesauce

http://www.teapartyslogans.com/cgi-bin/web/index.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/

Jill Sobule, Protest Song: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jill-sobule/protest-song-we-want-our-america-back_b_1097453.html

 

 

 

 

Hope and Apathy

soapboxpilePlease read here for the best synopsis of Fridays mass killing, my friend Jueseppi has done a spectacular job of putting it all together: http://theobamacrat.com/2014/05/25/university-of-california-santa-barbara-isla-vista-shooting-rampage-7-reported-dead-including-22-year-old-shooter-elliot-rodger/


 

I had planned to stay silent over the killings in Isla Vista on Friday, what is one more voice after all. The truth is I planned to stay silent because it is impossible for me to write through my heartache at more young lives lost. As I write this, my heart is cracking, tears periodically leak from my eyes and stream down my cheeks. I cannot help but think of the families of those who lost their lives. I cannot help but think of those who will have the long road ahead of them toward recovery, the fears they will face, the triggers they will have to overcome, the nightmares that will awaken them in the future all because we failed them, because one man with a gun decided to take retribution for his failure with women.

I think this father’s grief says it best:

Twenty-two years ago, I got lucky. I lived when I wasn’t supposed to. Friday night six young people lost their lives. Yes, I am aware the killer also lost his life, frankly I do not care that he is dead. I am sorry for his parents, they lost their child but he took the lives of six others before he died, he attempted to take the lives of seven others. Had he been successful his minimum body count would have been thirteen, had he achieved his true aim it would have been much higher.

Already in much of the mainstream media, this mass murderer is being referred to as a ‘child’ with psychological problems, trying to excuse his behavior, trying to give him an out for his spree. Not only will I not name him, let the Devil do that while he burns in hell, I will not excuse him or anyone else I blame for the lost lives on Friday.

So let’s clear some of the excuses off the table, first this is not a ‘child’ this was a twenty-two year old man, a fully grown man, in college, living in an apartment, with a car (a BMW no less) and an income, albeit likely one he didn’t earn. The next thing we should be clear about is the childhood diagnosis of High-Functioning Asperger Syndrome, while he might not have been as socially adept as his peers due to Asperger Syndrome; his family had the means to provide him the very best treatment and education throughout his life. It is unlikely he was that far behind unless the diagnosis of High-Functioning was incorrect, based on his videos and his ‘manifesto’ he was simply selfish, spoiled and self-centered. I accept the diagnosis of Asperger, it appears he wasn’t a ‘normal’ twenty-two year-old, this does not however, make him mentally deficient, insane or otherwise incapable of knowing right from wrong.

Let’s be really clear, he was a twenty-two year-old man who believed the world and women in particular owed him something, in this case owed him ‘sex’, the fact that he remained a virgin at his age bothered him immensely. That he believed he was a ‘god’ compared to others who he saw with the women he wanted, as seen from a quote from one of his videos:

“I see so many beautiful, blonde haired girls. So many beautiful blonde-haired girls walking around everywhere. In your revealing shorts. Your cascading blonde hair. Your pretty faces. And I want one for a girlfriend… I’m 22 years old and I’ve never had a girlfriend. I’m still a virgin. I’ve never had the pleasure of having sex with a girl. Sleeping with a girl. Kissing a girl. I’ve never even held a girl’s hand,”

Or another quote:

“Girls gave their affection and sex and love to other men but never to me”

Now, six young people are dead and seven others will have to live with his actions, because this man, believed he was owed and took it in his head to follow through with his threat:

“If I had it in my power. I would stop at nothing to reduce every single one of you to mountains of skulls and rivers of blood,” adding “You deserve to be annihilated, and I will give that to you,” he said, speaking of what he termed his “day of retribution.”

When it all goes wrong, this is what happens. This is the aftermath, this is what happens to communities.

How many must die before we get right with our children? How many times does this have to happen before we stop the insanity of out of control gun laws that allow massacres on the streets of our nation to happen indiscriminately? When are we going to demand change and why aren’t we asking the relevant questions such as, where did he get a gun?

That last question isn’t as obvious as it might sound, as someone with a ‘disorder’, not insane but not entirely normal either, he would be on a list that would bar him from gun ownership in a sane world. We don’t live in a sane world though, do we?

Three Stooges

Three Stooges

We live in a world where Ted Nugent, Sarah Palin and Wayne LaPierre have more power to determine whether our children will be safe on the streets and in their schoolrooms than the majority of Americans.

Please note, none of them are elected officials, I can tell you what all of them have in common though:

RACISM, NRA, SYG and a complete lack of intellectual discernment.

Worse yet? Most recent polls show their messaging is getting through to the ignorant and uninformed, their constant flow of misinformation is having an impact and more citizens of this nation are leaping on the bandwagon. More Americans believe gun control laws should be ‘less’ strict rather than more strict, this coming from the most recent Gallup Poll. As gun deaths rise, as mass murder rises, as our children lay bleeding in the streets, the school yards and even in their own homes; Americans look and shrug their shoulders and say to themselves fuck it, open the floodgates.

How many more must die? How many more mothers and fathers must bury their children in the cold earth?

Twenty-two years ago, my father got lucky. Mr. Martinez and the other parents of Friday’s mass killing were not as lucky. I am heartbroken for them, shattered for them. My friend said the following to me, knowing I sign my e-mail ‘helplessly hopeful”:

Well, in “Hopeland”, things are OK. Here in reality where I live, this shit ain’t ovah. There will be many more shooting rampages to come. Get yo popcorn and get ready for the show.”

It was somewhat cruel, I know the monsters are out there, he isn’t wrong though is he; until we, as citizens get up off our apathetic asses and demand change we are lost and the victims will continue to pile up. Hope, it isn’t enough and it will not stem the tears of all the parents who lose their children. We must take our nation back from those who would destroy it. We must stand up and say no more.

What soothes my heart at times like this:


 

http://everytown.org/

http://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/tc/aspergers-syndrome-topic-overview

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/aspergers-syndrome/basics/definition/con-20029249

http://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/asperger-syndrome

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/05/24/the-nra-s-all-out-assault-on-accurate-information-about-gun-deaths.html

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/homicide.htm

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/crime/2012/12/gun_death_tally_every_american_gun_death_since_newtown_sandy_hook_shooting.html

Remembering Chris Keith, aka “The Adventures of a Thrifty Mama”

Another woman, a mother and her son touched by violence who ultimately lost their lives, leaving three other children behind. This is the face of domestic abuse. Please read and if you can help, please do so.

Poor as Folk

I “met” Chris through my Facebook page for my personal blog crazy dumbsaint of the mind and I in turn become a fan of her blog Adventures of a Thrifty Mama in the City ‘Stead, and then later we got to know each other outside of blogging. For those  who don’t know how online friendships work, they might be confused when I call Chris my friend. Online friendships are funny things and sometimes it happens that the people you trust online with your experiences  and thoughts are these people you’ve never even had so much as a cup of coffee with.

Chris & I had a lot in common. We were both struggling to feed our families real food on a food stamp budget and defied being stereotyped as “welfare mom living off the system”. We both were striving  to create a sustainable  and secure food sovereignty for ourselves…

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Never Judge

Where else but the Southern United States would a magazine named Garden & Gun find a readership? Yes, you read correctly Garden & Gun.gardengun1

Pretty isn’t it.

When I first saw this magazine at my local Central Market, just sitting in the rack waving at me, I stared, mouth likely hanging open. I was flabbergasted I was stunned! Truthfully, I nearly burst out in laughter right there in the check-out line, thinking to myself, “nowhere else but here would anyone think to create such a shiny, beautiful magazine named Garden & Gun, nowhere but here in the South, because nowhere but here in the Southlands of the USofA would anyone think this goes together like milk and cookies!”

Gotta get me a UZZI to kill me some varmints’ dagnabit!

If you know me at all, even a little bit you know despite the rather pricey $5.99 cover I simply had to make the purchase, had to know what was inside. There truly wasn’t anything on the cover, other than the name itself that hinted at the ‘real’ contents, what could possibly be inside? Oh, oh my not only do they have a print magazine all glossy and beautiful, they have an electronic delivery of their super-duper Garden & Gun (don’t you just love the juxtaposition of those words).

Here I am, eating from my wonderful fruit salad I made yesterday, all this wonderful fresh goodness and perusing my Gardens & Guns expecting the worst. Imagine my surprise; it wasn’t at all gardengun3 what I expected. Sure, there were advertisements’ for sport shooting at, well those clay things hurled in the air. But there were also beautiful garden pictures, spectacular recipes like the one on page 44 for Tomato Pie (yum), music reviews, book reviews, walks through fabulous houses, humor and so much more. All of it done well, written really well and the pictures, my oh my, the pictures some of them are simply stunning.

So this was a surprise, one that led me to the online magazine just to take a quick peek. What I found was some more of the same. To put things in perspective, this is what is on offering at Garden & Gun, online which pretty closely follows their print magazine.

gardengun2

This one I just had to share with you all: http://gardenandgun.com/article/letter-harper-lee

I am going to admit, it is highly unlikely I will subscribe to Garden & Gun. I am simply not a hunting, sport shooting or fishing fancier and there is plenty of this in the magazine. I started out, when I bought this magazine at the check-out stand, when it was waving me down, screaming at me; well I started out with the plan to be ugly, knowing I would be able to write ugly, snarky things about the magazine and my beloved Southlands and those who inhabit this diverse and wonderful part of our nation. I started simply knowing only here could you combine Gardens and Guns and come out with something truly obnoxious and disturbing that others would find worth reading. Kickm

I was wrong, this truly is well done.

So much for my preconceived notions, what do they say? Oh, yes that’s right…..Never Judge A Book by its Cover.

FISA and all that Jazz

soapboxpileThere has been a great deal of bitching, whining and otherwise raising the roof regarding the loss of our civil liberties lately. I am all over this issue, I don’t like it and neither should you. In fact, we should be storming the halls of Congress, raising our voices on the lawn of the White House in protest; demanding a reinstatement of our Constitution. Power once given is difficult to take back, authority once ceded is nearly impossible to demand returned to the powerless.

Let us all admit it, when the planes flew into the towers on September 11, 2001 we were all shocked and dismayed. We had been attacked, successfully by what we considered unsophisticated enemies. American lives were lost and we mourned, it was a terrible day. In the midst of our mourning, we were bombarded by fear mongering, more attacks were coming and none of us were safe not in our homes, not in our places of work, nowhere. The ‘Terrorists’, they were coming to kill us all!

Enter The Patriot Act of 2001, signed by President George W. Bush on October 26. Approved by a nearly unanimous House (357 to 66) on October 23, with Democrats the largest portion of the dissenters.  The700.hq Bill moved onto the Senate where it passed on October 25, with a vote of 98-1. This Act opened the floodgates, giving law enforcement the right to search, seize, listen and otherwise trample your civil liberties granted under the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution.

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The Patriot Act has been reauthorized twice, once in 2005 by George W. Bush, once by Barack H. Obama. Those who are screeching about FISA, undue seizures, wiretapping and the loss of privacy must go all the way back to 2001 and remember their willingness to give up their civil liberties for the bullshit idea of safety from those terrible terrorist hiding behind every corner and down every dark alley.

The reality is this; you are more likely to die in one of the following ways:

Falling in Bathtub, Drowning or other injury since 20021 – 3,000

Talking, Texting and otherwise acting in ignorance on your phone while driving2 – 54,000

2nd Amendment Homicides (1 decade of carnage 2001 – 2011)3 – 130,347

2nd Amendment Justifiable Homicides – 5,924

2nd Amendment Unintentional Homicides – 4,764

2nd Amendment Suicides (1 decade of why not leave this mess) – 195,096

Death by Lightening (2003 – 2012)4 – 418

Here you go a picture just to put it in perspective –

killrates

If you remove the horrible September 11, 2001 event from the average on Terrorism, this number is reduced to two (2) per year. Even lightning has a better chance to kill you if you are stupid enough to stand out in a storm.

I loved the idea of death by weather; well I had to give you this one –

Weatherkill

Weather Kills, certainly more on average than Terrorist but still not more than Azzhats with Guns

Amazing isn’t it? On the 6-month anniversary of Sandy Hook today, we haven’t done a damned thing at a federal level on Gun Sanity. Those morons in Congress, couldn’t even pass a Federal Background Check, not even that in 6 months, yet look at the numbers.

Some state governors’ struggle, weighing their party line with the will of the people of their state. Only yesterday Governor Brian Sandavol of Nevada vetoed a bill sent to his desk to strengthen background checks, call in support indicated the people of Nevada supported this bill overwhelmingly 86% to 13%, didn’t matter he chose party politics and vetoed.

Since Newtown, there have been 5,047 gun deaths in the US. These are what we know about, sometimes these numbers are hard to get. I love this chart:

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/crime/2012/12/gun_death_tally_every_american_gun_death_since_newtown_sandy_hook_shooting.html

Despite the Boston Marathon bombing, which was tragic you are more likely to be murdered by a toddler than killed by a terrorist in the US (list provided by Opposing Views).

  • Jan. 10: 6-year-old playmate shoots and kills 4-year-old Trinity Ross, Kansas City, Kan.
  • Feb. 11: 4-year-old Joshua Johnson shoots and kills himself, Memphis, Tenn.
  • Feb. 24: 4-year-old Jaiden Pratt dies after shooting himself in the stomach while his father sleeps, Houston.
  • March 30: 4-year-old Rahquel Carr shot and killed either by 6-year-old brother or another young playmate, Miami.
  • April 6: Josephine Fanning, 48, shot and killed by 4-year-old boy at a barbecue, Wilson County, Tenn.
  • kidswithgunsApril 8: 4-year-old shoots and kills 6-year-old friend Brandon Holt, Toms River, N.J.
  • April 9: 3-year-old is killed after he finds a pink gun that he thinks is a toy, Greenville, S.C.
  • April 30: 2-year-old Caroline Sparks killed by her 5-year-old brother with his Cricket “My First Rifle” marketed to kids, Cumberland County, Ky.
  • May 1: 3-year-old Darrien Nez shoots himself in the face and dies after finding his grandmother’s gun, Yuma, Ariz.
  • May 7: 3-year-old Jadarrius Speights fatally shoots himself with his uncle’s gun, Tampa, Fla.
  • June 7: 4-year-old fatally shoots his father, Green Beret Justin Thomas, Prescott Valley, Ariz.

Should we be worried? We absolutely should be worried, we should be damned worried for our own future and future generations and more Civil Liberties are eroded, more economic opportunities are lost and Civil Rights are contracted rather than expanded. We should be shaking in our boots. Then, when we are done with our whining about what we have given away, we should put on our big girl and boy panties and get to work.

We created the Tyrants currently filling up Washington and spewing the bile. We continue to elect them. We allow them to abuse this nation with their arrogance and ignorance. We do this with our failure to take action and thus we have no one to blame but ourselves for the outcome. Our legacy to future generations?

  • Economic Failure of a once brilliant nation
  • Rampant poverty, including homelessness, starvation, rise in disease
  • Joblessness
  • 3rd world nation status.Bridge Collapse
  • Unbreathable Air
  • Undrinkable Water
  • Failed Infrastructure
  • Widespread Illiteracy, failed education systems
  • Theocracy and Feudalism replacing Democratic Republic

We are well on our way to all of these. In some cases, we are already there. Is this the legacy we want for our children? So FISA courts through the continued reauthorization of The Patriot Act, allow your e-mail, phone records and all sorts of other personal information to be combed. The Second Amendment seems to be the only piece of the Constitution anyone gives a good damn about, I mean really who doesn’t want to shoot’um up in the streets just cause you look different, strange, odd, or by damned you might by an f’ng terrorist or a kid with skittles.

Worried? I know I am and so should all the rest of us be. I have a far better chance of being shot in the street by an azzhat with an attitude than being killed by a terrorist attack, but this nation spends $750 billion on The War on Terrorism while bridges are falling down.

Think about it, when will we be marching again to regain what is being stolen from us?

1 Bathtub accidents statistics gathered from a variety of sites, used 300 per year as the average.

2 Statistic gathered from a variety of sites, texting has been available since 2004. Included standard phone use in calculation, which has been available far longer. It is estimated accident rate is increasing by 4% per year. Used 6,000 per year as the fatality rate.

3 http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/united-states

4 http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/stats/03-12_deaths_by_state.pdf

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