Maine Writer

Its about people and issues I care about.

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Location: Topsham, MAINE, United States

My blogs are dedicated to the issues I care about. Thank you to all who take the time to read something I've written.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

White House Correspondant's Dinner - President Obama Tells Diversity Truth Through Humor

“If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh..." Oscar Wilde

During President Obama's stand up on April 27, he told White House correspondent's:

"I know, Republicans are still sorting out what happened in (the 2012 election), but one thing they all agree on is they need to do a better job reaching out to minorities.  And look, call me self-centered, but I can think of one minority they could start with.  (Laughter.)  Hello?  Think of me as a trial run, you know?  (Laughter.)  See how it goes.  (Laughter.)"

"Hello" is right on, Mr President! In spite of mega-millions spent on campaign strategy and wasteful advertising, Republicans need to come to grips with the voter reality - obstructing progressive agenda programs will get them absolutely nowhere.  

Republicans must come to grips with their own minority status - minority groups are growing and they identify with their own.  Given no appealing leadership alternative to vote for, they'll likely put the ballot check mark alongside someone with whom they identify.

President Obama and his wife Michelle are representative of the faces of the world's diverse racial population, especially in America, where minority groups of color are growing in numbers.  Their charisma and leadership of America are beacons of hope for those who still believe in the achievement of the "American Dream".

Regardless of how stubbornly Republicans are obstructing domestic progress, by supporting the #stupid_sequester budget cuts, and trying to eliminate social safety nets like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare, I predict the GOP will loose every national election until they either (a) become more politically mainstream than the radical right wing T-party (I'm beginning to cynically call them the "pee-party"; or (b) GOP must agree to raise taxes on the rich and super rich, to help support programs for minority groups, who understand how these entitlements are earned benefits. 

Nevertheless, Republicans obviously don't "get" how reaching out to President Obama could, indeed, gain their domestic austerity agenda some momentum with racial minority groups.  Many minorities understand arithmetic and fiscal management much better than many in our US government.  But, instead of supporting President Obama, the GOP is obsessed with opposing the rising tide of our nation's racial diversity.  While conservative GOP shroud themselves in opposition to benevolent domestic programs, the tide of racial diversity is rising and, eventually, the critical mass will wash the right wing opposition away, like a political storm surge.

Therefore, while President Obama joked with the White House Correspondent's about his status as a minority, the fact is, his "truth through humor"  should be taken very seriously by Republicans. 

Meanwhile, Republican might engage in some charm offensive of their own with diverse groups, by practicing their minority outreach on our Commander and Diversity Leader in Chief.  

As the 2012 presidential election proved, Republicans obviously need to charm and recruit minority groups. They can begin by practicing with our President Barack Obama.

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Smart Obamacare or Stupid Sequester - Where the Republicans Should Focus

Republicans are wasting time trying to repeal the Health Care Affordability Act aka "Obamacare" when their energy should be focused on the here and now "stupid sequester".

GOP slams the Obamacare 2014 roll out. Rather than work collaboratively to support Obamacare, Republicans are wasting time, energy, and money to oppose and repeal it altogether.  Moreover, with federal sequester budget cuts causing real time angst and economic impact on the public, Republicans, instead, are diverting political energies away from fixing the stupidity  of their self inflicted pain. They're wasting their efforts fighting an established health care law, validated by the Supreme Court.

What's behind this "bumper election season" push back on Obamacare are critics who claim the Obamacare roll out is laced with complications.  

"The rollout of Obamacare is sure to hit some bumps in the road", reports Stephanie Condon in "Health Care In America". 

After Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who helped draft the health care law, used the phrase "train wreck" to characterize the potentially rocky implementation of the law, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called for President Obama to explain the hardships they'll face after the law is implemented.

But, Senator McConnell won't explain to the American people why the "stupid sequester" cuts, passed  by Congress, are still in place, while Americans are facing "hardships" as a result of sequester's implementation.

Sequester cuts have caused angst by slowing down tax refunds from the Internal Revenue Service, cancelled community economic boosting programs associated  with the popular Blue Angels air shows and forced federal workers to take furlough days.  Air traffic controllers have also been furloughed by the FAA, as a result of the sequester, causing unnecessary flight delays.

On the other hand, Obamacare improved access to health care by expanding insurance coverage to children up to 28 years old who can now be covered by parental insurance policies and eliminated pre-existing conditions as a reason to refuse health care coverage. Obamacare also provides reimbursement coverage for some cancer prevention  procedures like mammograms and colonoscopies.   

It makes no sense for our US Congress to waste time repealing Obamacare, when their efforts could fix the harmfully stupid sequester.  Hopefully, American voters will replace Senator McConnell and his Republican colleagues, who are intent on wasting tax payer money to muckrake our nation's health care law, while ignoring a repeal of the sequester.

Doyle McManus describes the self inflicted stupidity of the sequester in the Los Angeles Times links below,0,7013539.column

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Boston Marathon Bombing is Among a Cluster - We're Missing Warning Signs

Boston Marathon's bombing on April 15th was an unanticipated assault on innocent people that raises alert signals for potential future heinous incidents. Perhaps knowing this potential reality is why former President George W. Bush was so concerned about the Boston attack.

“I was deeply concerned that this could have been another highly organized attack on the country and it still may be,” Bush said of the Boston Marathon bombing. “Again, I don’t know the facts, but I do know it’s really hard to protect the homeland. Those who want to do harm only have to be right one time, and we have to be right 100 percent of the time.”  

Three people were killed and more than 200 were injured in the Boston bombings on Patriot's Day.  Police arrested Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a 19-year-old college student, following an intense manhunt last Friday. His brother and alleged coconspirator, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed in a shootout with police earlier that day.

The day before the Tsarnaev brothers were captured, a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, exploded after a fire, killing at least 14 people and leaving hundreds more injured. In his interview with ABC News, Bush said that the twin tragedies reminded him of his time in the White House.

“It did hearken back to days where you become comforter-in-chief, you try to help heal souls that are hurting,” Bush said.

Moreover, the assumption of a potential coordinated attack was supported by a cluster of incidents that may be unrelated but sure are coincidental.

1.  April 15 - Boston Marathon attack on the city's Boylston Street.
2.  April - Ricin poison laced envelops sent to Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker and President Barack Obama - Charges were dropped in the case against Paul Kevin Curtis.  Everett Dutschke has since been arrested.
3.  April 22 - Canadian Broadcasting (CBC) reports of a thwarted bombing plot in Montreal, an Al Qaeda terror attempt targeting a US bound train. (Police say they arrested two men accused of conspiring to carry out an "al-Qaeda supported" attack targeting a Via passenger train in the Greater Toronto Area, following a cross-border investigation that involved Canadian and American law enforcement.)
4. April 14 -horrific West Texas fertilizer explosion kills first responders who rushed in to help victims. At least 14 people were killed, 200 injured and dozens of buildings were damaged in the blast. Investigators have not determined what started the blast or whether it was intentional. At least two lawsuits have been filed against Adair Grain Inc., which operated the West Fertilizer plant.
5.  April 22 - Man escapes by boat after trying to enter a Tennessee nuclear power plant as described in this Associated Press release:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — An East Tennessee nuclear power plant has added security patrols after a weekend incident in which an officer exchanged gunfire with a man who then fled on a boat.

The FBI and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission are investigating the shooting that occurred around 2 a.m. Sunday at Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA) Watts Bar nuclear power plant near Spring City, Tenn., about 60 miles southwest of Knoxville.

Officials say no recent threats were made against the plant or its staff, but TVA spokesman Jim Hopson said security at the plant remains heightened and more security patrols are being performed there.

The incident began when a security officer was driving a routine patrol around the grounds and spotted a person on the bank of the Tennessee River, which lies on the eastern border of the facility.

Hopson said the man was on the perimeter of the TVA property and several hundred yards from the site's protected area where the reactor and power production facilities are. The plant has two nuclear units, but one is operating and the other is currently under construction.

Boaters are allowed in the river near the facility, but are not allowed on the banks, Hopson explained. He said the officer was by his vehicle up above the bank and was talking with the man to determine why he was there when the man shot at the officer multiple times.

The above incidents are a cluster of seemingly unrelated incidents. Nevertheless, they are connected to one another because of their correlation to real or perceived terrorism.

Tragically, no country on earth is immune from terrorist attacks, but the cluster of incidents is concerning. Diligence is essential because the occurrences, reported only a few days apart, in our homeland or targeted to America, are ominous harbingers of more lurking dangers.  

It's not only Al Qaeda we should be terrified about, either.  

Farah Stockman reports in the Boston Globe how we must be diligent about home grown terrorism. She reports about  Marc Sageman, a forensic psychiatrist who once worked for the CIA, who made a bold prediction: Al Qaeda’s glory days were over. The greatest threat now was not a plot hatched and paid for by a mastermind in Afghanistan, but rather the ideas of countless “homegrown wannabes” in Europe and the United States.  “The threat is no longer ‘foreign fanatics,’ but people who grew up in the West,” he wrote in his book “Leaderless Jihad.”

Frankly, the future of terrorism and the mayhem it intentionally distributes like poisonous dust, is with us now.  It's not an organized enemy.

But the cluster of events President Bush reacted to by his concern is a well timed warning.  We must study the nature of terrorism and figure out how to eradicate its root causes, before more cluster incidents turn out to eventually become a repeat of the terror of September 11, 2001.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Preventable Gun Violence Deaths - When Victims are Victimized

All gun violence deaths are preventable, so, let's do more to prevent them.

Gun violence deaths are more easily preventable than treatments and interventions for bacterial infections, viruses or chronic illnesses  There's only one cause of gun violence deaths - and it's a highly visible vector.  Guns.  If guns were bird flu viruses,  would they be outlawed? 

Nevertheless, many Americans have adopted gun ownership as an inalienable right under our US Constitution's Second Amendment, regardless of how many innocent people are murdered as a result of  wrong minded or mentally ill gun owners who deliberately inflict harm. 

Compounding the tragedy of gun violence is the "in your face" attitude of those who want to protect gun ownership rights, regardless of the consequences of unbridled and unregulated access to weapons intended to murder humans.
Moreover, the tragic distress caused by gun violence is exacerbated when families of preventable death victims are, themselves, victimized by zealots who simply don't want anybody to infringe on their right to own guns, regardless of the pain it causes to others. Brave parents of the innocent Sandy Hook Elementary School children, who were murdered on December 14, 2012, in Newton CT, went to the public and the US Congress to petition for expanded background checks, prior to gun purchases. But their petition was overruled by the Senate. While these families grieved and witnessed the US Senate vote to defeat the background checks legislation, some other right wing commentators gloated, while a majority of the nation mourned.  It defies our democratic "gravity" that a majority of Americans supported expanded background checks prior to gun purchases, yet our elected political leaders voted against the will of the people!

There are political consequences for the politicians who voted against the will of the people and defeated the background checks legislation.

Even if some who opposed common sense regulation of gun ownership somehow manage to escape political retribution, their legacy will forever be tainted as a result of their "no" vote. In fact, they'll live their lives  knowing they compounded the victimization of at least 20 grieving families of Sandy Hook Elementary children by defeating the legislation in full view of the victims families, and a nation that largely supported the regulation. 

Americans support expanding background checks for gun owners.

The 45 Senators who voted "no" have twice victimized the victims of preventable gun violence

Every one of the 45 must be voted out of office and here are their names:

REPUBLICANS who voted against the Gun Background Checks
Lamar Alexander (R-TN) (isn't he a pro-life Republican?)
Kelly Ayotte (R- NH) (shame on her!)
  • John Barrasso (R-WY)
  • Roy Blunt (R-MO)
  • John Boozman (R-AR)
  • Richard Burr (R-NC)
  • Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
  • Dan Coats (R-IN)
  • Tom Coburn (R-OK)
  • Thad Cochran (R-MS)
  • Bob Corker (R-TN)
  • John Cornyn (R-TX)
  • Mike Crapo (R-ID)
  • Ted Cruz (R-TX)
  • Michael Enzi (R-WY)
  • Deb Fischer (R-NE)
  • Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
  • Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
  • Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
  • Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
  • Dean Heller (R-NV)
  • John Hoeven (R-ND)
  • Jim Inhofe (R-OK)
  • Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
  • Mike Johanns (R-NE)
  • Ron Johnson (R-WI)
  • Mike Lee (R-UT)
  • Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
  • Jerry Moran (R-KS)
  • Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
  • Rand Paul (R-KY)
  • Rob Portman (R-OH)
  • James Risch (R-ID)
  • Pat Roberts (R-KS)
  • Marco Rubio (R-FL)
  • Timothy Scott (R-SC)
  • Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
  • Richard Shelby (R-AL)
  • John Thune (R-SD)
  • David Vitter (R-LA)
  • Roger Wicker (R-MS)
  • Max Baucus (D-MT)    
  • Mark Begich (D-AK)    
  • Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)    
  • Mark Pryor (D-AR)    
  • Harry Reid (D-NV)  (Voted "no" as a procedural move to preserve option to reintroduce the bill.)

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Monday, April 22, 2013

As Stupid Sequester Cuts Take Hold - Republicans Wrongly Point to Earned Entitlements to Their Peril

"No one ever says they'll wonder if the US Army will be there when they get old...." James Surowiecki

Social Security and Medicare are earned entitlements, therefore, not responsible for the deficit the US Congress racked up when the Republicans launched two unfunded wars (Iraq and Afghanistan  and the Medicare Part D drug benefit.  

So, when the #stupid_sequester (a Twitter handle) began on March 1st, the same Republicans who dug the deficit hole should raise the revenues to fill it - and keep their hands off of Social Security and Medicare.  

Following is an opinion from The Financial Page of The New Yorker (December 24 and 31, 2012) by James Surowiecki, explaining how Republicans are wrong minded about cuts to Social Security and Medicare:  "In Funds We Trust":

One of the most influential ideas in Washington these days is that Social Security and Medicare are on the verge of going bust. 

Earlier this month, Senator Lindsey Graham warned of the “imminent bankruptcy” of these insurance programs for the elderly, and Republican leaders are citing the threat of insolvency as a reason that entitlement reform must be part of any fiscal-cliff deal. The argument sounds reasonable enough, but it’s really a bid to turn the great political strength of these programs—the fact that they were designed to be self-supporting—into a weakness.

Unlike most government programs, Social Security and, in part, Medicare are funded by payroll taxes dedicated specifically to them. Some of the tax revenue pays for current benefits; anything that’s left over goes into trust funds for the future. The programs were designed this way for political reasons. When F.D.R. introduced Social Security, he calculated that funding it through a payroll tax rather than out of general tax revenue would make people think of the program not as welfare but as an entitlement—as something that they had paid for and had a right to. Many liberals initially opposed the idea, because payroll tax rates aren’t progressive (everyone pays the same rate) and because they tax only labor income. But the system proved as resilient as F.D.R. had predicted, and when Lyndon Johnson introduced Medicare, in the nineteen-sixties, he adopted it, too. Over the years, Social Security and Medicare taxes have risen sharply, to the point where payroll taxes account for thirty-six per cent of all federal revenue. Today, most American households pay more in payroll taxes than in income tax. Yet there’s little public hostility to these taxes, and the programs they fund remain enormously popular.

But the trust-fund strategy has an Achilles’ heel: funds can run out of money. Projections show that, owing to an aging population and rising health-care costs, the Medicare Trust Fund will become insolvent in 2024 and Social Security in 2033. The image of empty coffers is a powerful one: half of all Americans aged between eighteen and twenty-nine don’t think that Social Security will exist when they retire. That’s a bizarre thing to believe about an important government program. No one ever says, “I don’t think the U.S. Army will be there when I get old” or talks about the Defense Department “going broke.” We assume that there will always be a need for the military, and that we’ll end up paying the taxes that are necessary to fund it. But, because Social Security and Medicare have always been self-supporting, it’s easy to believe that they’ll just vanish if the trust funds dry up. This isn’t the case. Relatively minor tweaks to Social Security will allow it to keep paying full benefits for many decades. And, if we wanted, we could supplement funding for both programs with general government revenue. That’s what most European countries do, and, indeed, parts of Medicare are already paid for out of general revenue. The only way that Social Security and Medicare can go “bankrupt” is if we let them.

So why are politicians obsessed with the question of solvency? Because it makes cutting entitlements seem inevitable, rather than a political choice. After all, if you’re in favor of cutting entitlements, that means you’re in favor of spending less money taking care of old people. That’s a tenable position, but it’s politically dicey—particularly for Republicans, since the elderly are among their biggest supporters. It’s far more palatable to argue that we simply have to cut benefits, because otherwise the programs will go bankrupt. That’s why when, in 2011, Paul Ryan introduced a plan to effectively replace Medicare with a voucher system he said that he was doing so in order to preserve Medicare for future generations. Hand-wringing about Medicare and Social Security going bust allows Republicans, paradoxically, to portray themselves not as opponents of entitlement spending but, rather, as its saviors.

This isn’t just a rhetorical problem. It leads to terrible policy. You can see that in the current debate over the proposal to raise the age of Medicare eligibility from sixty-five to sixty-seven, a proposal that, some have suggested, President Obama may agree to as part of a fiscal-cliff deal. This is not a good idea: though it would save taxpayers close to six billion dollars a year, it would raise over-all health-care spending by more than eleven billion dollars a year, according to an estimate by the Kaiser Family Foundation. (That’s because Medicare is better at holding down costs than private insurance, and because the out-of-pocket costs for ineligible seniors would rise.) Sure, it would extend the life of Medicare, but that’s meaningless on its own: you could extend the life of Medicare indefinitely if you restricted it to people over eighty-five, but that doesn’t mean it’s smart to do so. Only an obsession with the trust fund makes kicking people off Medicare seem like a rational approach to our health-care problems.

There are legitimate reasons to be worried about entitlement spending. But the fundamental question is not how much longer the Social Security and Medicare trust funds are going to be solvent. The question is how much we’re willing to spend to insure that the elderly have affordable access to health care and some financial security. The political virtue of the trust-fund strategy has been to make it seem as if Social Security and Medicare run on autopilot. But it has also meant that we’ve never had an honest debate about the value, and the cost, of social insurance. That’s the argument that politicians should be having, instead of a disingenuous one about solvency. - James Surowiecki
 is an American journalist. He is a staff writer at The New Yorker, where he writes a regular column on business and finance called "The Financial Page". Wikipedia

It seems to me the Republicans are setting up Democrats by railing on and on about their wrong minded concept of "entitlements".  The GOP desperately wants to trap the Democrats into cutting these important safety net programs so they'll be able to point fingers and thereby stop looking like the "stupid party", a label many of them so rightly deserve.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has branded the Republican party as "stupid". He ways his GOP must stop being the "stupid party".

“It is no secret we had a number of Republicans damage our brand this year with offensive, bizarre comments -- enough of that,” Jindal told Politico.

Well, in my opinion, Democrats and President Barack Obama, are falling victims to the "stupid party" trap by including cuts to entitlements in the administration's budget, just because Republicans want them curtailed.

"Stupid is as stupid does", said the fictional character Forrest Gump.

If Democrats fall into this Republican trap and follow through with cuts to entitlements, they will have flipped the "stupid" label on themselves. Republicans will point fingers like bully children in a playground. "See, they did it, they did it". And, if this happens, Democrats will cry all the way home.

But, a smart party of Democrats will see this selfish Republican ploy for what it is - as a means of keeping taxes low for rich people, rather than as the way to protect our hard earned entitlements.

So, as the #stupid_sequester takes hold, let the "stupid party" of Republicans figure out how to dig themselves out of the deficit hole they created by raising revenues - through taxation.

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Amidst Grief - What Went Right in Boston: Post Marathon Blog Debriefing

We Got Him! But, now the debriefing begins - also known as "Monday Morning Quarterbacking".  

In the haste of some to create even more mayhem out of the incident are at least two Republican politicians (John McCain and Lindsey Graham), who should be focused on productive governing, but who are deflecting energy away from real questions raised by this tragedy, that turned into a multiple critical incident event.  Instead of debating what kind of legal trail the surviving terror suspect should receive, these politicians should be asking (a) How did two brilliant young immigrant men of Chechen origin become radicalized against America and (b) how did the two gain access to weapons and materials to make terrorist bombs? 

As a former Emergency Medical Services (EMS) administrator, an extension of my profession as a registered nurse, there's no doubt in my mind that post Boston bombing debriefings will be intense.  Everyone, virtually all who were involved, will be examining what went right and how to improve the public response to the April 15th horrific and evil Patriot's Day Marathon incident.  

What began on the third Monday in April was concluded five days later, bringing the daunting terror to an end- but not the Monday morning quarterbacking (MMQ).  For example, was a lockdown security measure on the entire Boston community necessary?  What constitutes "terrorism", anyway?  Moreover, do terrorists have Miranda rights, especially if they're also American citizens?

During the 5 days of mayhem, four innocent people were killed, as well as the terror suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, the brother of the captured suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev,19, who was found hiding in a shrink wrapped boat in a Watertown, Mass. back yard.  

Innocent lives cut tragically short as a result of this terror included:
1.  Martin Richard, 8, of Dorchester MA who was at the Boston Marathon to cheer his father across the finish line.
Martin Richard 8 killed while watching his father cross the  Boston Marathon finish  line

2.  Krystle Campbell, 29, a Medford,Mass., native and Medford High School graduate living in Arlington, MA, was killed. In Medford, Mayor Michael McGlynn said he spoke with Campbell’s father, William, on Tuesday. "My daughter was a dream daughter. She was just what every father wanted,” McGlynn said.

3.  Lu Lingz, was a Chinese graduate student studying mathematics and statistics and scheduled to receive her graduate degree in 2015. Lu was at the finish line of the race with two friends.

4.  Sean Collier, 26, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) campus police, was fatally shot on Thursday while sitting in his police cruiser as events began to unfold that led to the death of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and the apprehension of his brother Dzhokhar, 19, after a massive manhunt.

These four innocent victims should have their pictures pasted on the walls of all debriefing sessions related to the Boston Marathon

Those who MMQ by suggesting the Boston security lockdown was an overreach should consider what it must have been like to witness body parts being blown around chaotic Boylston Street.  Politicians who waste time criticizing the legal proceedings for the living Tsarnaev suspect should, instead, consider how their failure to pass gun control might impact on the rights of other innocent people in the future, who will be caught in harms way, like officer Collier. No one should be given access to guns that put our public safety people at risk!  Second amendment rights created in the year 1789 were never written with the intention of bringing harm to innocent people!

Obviously, a great deal will be learned by the multiple post Boston debriefing sessions, at all levels.  Most important, this incident will be documented to prevent other critical and tragic incidents. Information will be used to prevent seditious groups from plotting their own misplaced outrage of unknown origin.

Meanwhile, in our national grief, the outcome of "Boston Strong" emerged as a victorious theme against all terrorism.  Let's hope the mantra is copyrighted by Boston and never replicated by any other location.  

MMQ must keep in mind how public safety comes before political grandstanding and should trump Second Amendment gun rights, allowing people to own weapons for the purpose of killing innocents.  

What went right in the aftermath of the Boston terror attack includes (a) there were no hostage taking incidents by the suspects because they were rapidly pursued before they could think up more carnage and (b) Americans have shown extraordinary support for the city where our nation's freedom began.

Now, we must move forward to prevent further evil from obstructing our hard earned freedoms.

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

United in Perpetual Mourning

Although Americans are startlingly divided along partisan political divides, we're increasingly united in grief. It seems we're united in compassion for victims of violence, while skirting around the circumstances that causes our perpetual state of national mourning, brought on by preventable incidents of death and destruction. 

Although terrorism, like what happened in Boston, is difficult to predict, the incident's subsequent events might have been  prevented if the perpetrators didn't have guns.

Our ability to be professional national mourners even makes headlines.  "The Hill" reports:  "Congressional Republicans this weekend took a break from their attacks on President Obama to mourn the casualties suffered in the Boston Marathon bombings and vow swift justice for those who would harm Americans." 

Socialists might ask how it is that many Americans are experts at grieving while entrenched in repressively divisive politics.
This is especially curious when united mourners are asked about how to prevent future grief causing incidents.  It seems simple to say "guns cause preventable death", but the rationale doesn't trump the perpetual mourning.  Grieving unites us while finding a resolution to gun violence causes division.

There's no question that Americans can prevent virtually all gun related deaths by eliminating the cause of these deaths. Nevertheless, Americans are completely polarized about how to prevent gun violence.  

When infections cause thousands of deaths, we demand a cure. Although we can't see infection causing bacteria and viruses, the guns that cause preventable deaths are visibly pandemic in our society.  It's like the Hans Christian Anderson cliche story about the parading delusional Emperor who wore no cloths. Many simply won't see guns as the cause of thousands of preventable American deaths a year.

This week's event in Boston Massachusetts fixated our national attention on the developments of a terrorist attack during a spirited 116 year old Patriot's Day traditional running marathon.  

It turned out, the Tsarnaev brothers, the suspected perpetrators of the heinous attack and murder of innocent people, had access to weapons they used to assassinate a 26 year old police officer.  Their access to weapons caused a week of preventable mayhem, because, the terrorism bombs notwithstanding, the perpetrators continued their carnage with guns.

Subsequent violence could have been averted:
"A massive police operation in Boston ended Friday night, April 19, with the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, suspected of the twin bombing Monday, April 15, at the Boston Marathon which left three dead and 180 injured and the death of a police officer in a shootout out at MIT during the day Friday. Described as armed and dangerous, he was finally hunted down hiding in a boat in a Watertown backyard and injured before he was captured."

"Many hundreds of town, state and federal officers, with helicopters, held Boston in a lockdown security measure for a day to scour the town door to door. Bostonians came out to cheer the police after hearing their mayor Tom Menino say: 'We got him!'  (Tsarnaev's) capture will enable the investigation to answer questions about the motives behind the acts of terror of which the two brothers of Chechen origin, Tzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan, 26, are suspected, and find out who else was involved. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police at Watertown earlier."

Without a doubt, the Boston terrorist tragedy was costly. Brilliant lives were lost and many millions of resources were spent in the coordinated dragnet response and conclusion.

Boston's tragedy is among a growing list of national mourning incidents.  We must learn to transpose our unifying grief to productive initiatives, that can prevent future preventable tragedies.  

Americans must continue to demand more regulations to curb gun violence and remove all the lawmakers in government who obstruct common sense resolution to a national pandemic.

We must be as united in ending gun violence as we are in mourning for the rapidly growing list of victims.

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Tsarnaev Brothers Had Access to Guns - Outgunned Their Pursuers

In a dramatic shootout caught on video tape, the Tsarnaev brothers, who are suspected terrorists in the killings at the April 15th Boston Marathon, appeared to have plenty of armament, including guns, to continue their heinous litany of carnage.

"A Boston Marathon bombing suspect was gunned down in a blazing firefight with cops while his armed and dangerous terrorist brother remained on the run early Friday, authorities said." Read more:

"Doctors labored to save him (Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26) without success, the hospital (Beth Isreal) said in a news briefing. He had multiple gunshot wounds and what appeared to be blast injuries, said Dr. Richard Wolfe, chief of emergency medicine." The second suspect in Monday's marathon bombings, which left three dead and more than 170 injured, remained at large.

During the mayhem described in non-stop news coverage on practically every media outlet, not one pundit I've listened to (and especially not on Fox media or from conservative radio) asked how two terrorist brothers gained access to guns?

"The intense manhunt for suspect Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, of Cambridge, followed a night of terror that left a college police officer slain and a transit cop seriously injured." Read more:

Somehow and somewhere, these brothers received access to guns.  In fact, they outgunned the law enforcement trying to intervene during Thursday's (April 18th) overnight carnage.

Murdered as a result of this killing spree are Sean Collier, 26, an MIT policeman, who is a victim  along with marathon dead, Lu Lingzi, 23, a Chinese student, Krystle Campbell, 29, of Medford MA and Martin Richard, 8, of Dorchester MA. Also killed in the Thursday night gunfight was one of the two terrorist suspects, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26.

Unfortunately, we don't have a clue about why the Tsarnaev brothers turned violent and murdered innocent people in their terrorism spree. Nevertheless, it's certain that Sean Collier, 26 and the police officers injured in the subsequent Thursday night attack, as well as Tsarnaev, wouldn't be dead if those brothers didn't have guns.

Shame on those 45 Senators who voted against expanded gun purchase background checks. Their support could prevent further copy-cat terrorists from getting access to weapons, if regulations were tightened.  Americans should demand that the 45 Senators reconsider their misplaced submission to NRA (National Rifle Association) control and vote, again, to call for background checks.

All preventable deaths by gun violence should hold the National Rifle Association complicit in these and all preventable deaths, including the killing of MIT police officer Sean Collier and, yes, terrorist Tamerla Tsarnaev.  

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Terrorism and the National Rifle Association

Even non-religious people believe in evil, especially when so many people are visibly the victims of  misfortune or suffering as a result. Evil can't be ignored, which is the point for the evildoers.  In fact, the evildoers would hardly commit dastardly deeds without the accompanying publicity they create. 

Therefore, we're all spectators at evil's theater.  Moreover, it seems like evil acts are exacerbated by modern methods of rapid communication.   

Unbelievably, some of our own American people are enabling evil.

An argument can be made that evil was enabled when 45 US Senators voted "no", in opposition to an amendment to expand background checks for people who purchase guns. These cowardly Senators stood with the un-elected National Rifle Association (NRA) and against the will of over 85 percent of Americans who support expanding background checks prior to gun purchases.  Background checks are enforced for professional licensing and before accepting some employment, but most gun sales go undetected. 

By misplacing their votes, the 45 "no vote" Senators enabled the  evil that accompanies the preventable deaths of people who could be saved if expanded gun safety screening were enforced. 

Even worse, these 45 Senators would not stand together after their incredulous vote to explain why they made the choice to put the NRA interest over public safety.

Let's meet the names of these 45 enabling Senators: (published in Mother Jones)

Democrats Who Voted Against the Proposal

  • Max Baucus (D-MT)    
  • Mark Begich (D-AK)    
  • Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)    
  • Mark Pryor (D-AR) 
  • Harry Reid (D-NV) (Voted "no" as a procedural move to preserve option to reintroduce the bill. 
Republicans Who Voted Against the Background Check Proposal:

LaMarre Alexander (R-TN)
Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)  - this is so disappointing shame on her!
John Barrasso (R-WY)
Roy Blunt (R-MO)
John Boozman (R-AR)
Richard Burr (R-NC)
Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
Dan Coats (R-IN)
Tom Coburn (R-OK)
Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Bob Corker (R-TN)
John Cornyn (R-TX)
Mike Crapo (R-ID)
Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Michael Enzi (R-WY)
Deb Fischer (R-NE)
Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Dean Heller (R-NV)
John Hoeven (R-ND)
Jim Inhofe (R-OK)
Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
Mike Johanns (R-NE)
Ron Johnson (R-WI)
Mike Lee (R-UT)
Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Jerry Moran (R-KS)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Rand Paul (R-KY)
Rob Portman (R-OH)
James Risch (R-ID)
Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Marco Rubio (R-FL)
Timothy Scott (R-SC)
Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
Richard Shelby (R-AL)
John Thune (R-SD)
David Vitter (R-LA)
Roger Wicker (R-MS)

Appreciation to all Senators who supported the proposal for expanded gun sales background checks, including our two Maine Senators, thank you: 
Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine)
Senator Angus King (I-Maine)

Entire families, communities and our nation are subjected to evil through the home grown terrorism enabled by access to guns. Americans have a second amendment right to own and bear arms but no constitutional right to health care! Our citizens have more access to guns than we do to health care.  

Furthermore, the National Rifle Association is complicit in the preventable deaths of people who are murdered by guns.  While the NRA controls the enabling "no vote" Senators, they're enabling violence they have the power to mitigate, by simply supporting common sense gun safety regulations. 

Our national obsession with guns is fueling terrorism in our streets, schools, neighborhoods and public events.  There aren't enough public safety  people to protect us against the expansion of evildoers who are intent on killing.  But, we have the power of the ballot box - the critical mass of voters who are justifiably outraged by the cowardly "no" votes of 45 Senators can throw all of them out of office as soon as possible.

America can't continue our perpetual state of mourning over preventable death, murders and domestic terrorism perpetrated by easy access to guns.  We're wasting our energy in litanies of memorial services. It's time we bravely stand along side the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre. It's time we join with former Congresswoman Gabriel Gifford, a victim of a 2011 Arizona shooting where her constituents were murdered while she was seriously injured. We must fight terrorism caused by guns and enabled by the National Rifle Association.

Americans must take our voting rights as seriously as the National Rifle Association enshrines our second amendment rights.  Let's vote out the 45 Senators who enable the NRA rather than protect the American people from preventable gun violence.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Cowards in United States Congress Kowtow to National Rifle Association and Won't Defend American Public Safety

A justifiably angry President Obama Scolded our Cowardly Congress today April 17th Calling Today a "Shameful Day" for the American people. 

President Barack Obama, former Congresswoman Gifford (center), a victim of gun violence and Neil Heslin, father of Newtown victim Jesse Lewis, parent of Sandy Hook Elementary victim are visibly sad following the Senate vote today in the White House Rose Garden President Obama is angry and shares his grief with victims of gun violence.
Shame on those Senators like the egotistical Senator Rand Paul, Republican from Kentucky, and others who wouldn't stand up and support the valiant effort to protect American people from gun violence. All the insensitive and arrogant Senators who wouldn't support this initiative are cowards and must be voted out of office!

I stand with President Obama, as well as the families who suffered the preventable deaths of innocent children in Newtown, CT at Sandy Hook Elementary School. 

Americans must oppose those cowards who let the National Rifle Association control their Senate votes today

President Barack Obama's push on gun control suffered a major blow Wednesday when the senate defeated a gun-buyer background check bill put together by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).

The amendment failed 54 to 46, falling short of the 60-vote threshold needed to break a filibuster of the measure.

Obama spoke on the failed measure Wednesday afternoon in the White House rose garden. He took to the podium after Mark Barden, the father of a Newtown victim. 

"(It's a)...pretty Shameful Day For Washington’: Obama Rips Senate Failure, Calls Out Gun Lobby For ‘Willful Lies"

"Our hearts are broken, our spirit is not," Barden said. 

Obama placed blame on the gun lobby during his remarks.

"The gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill," Obama said.

Thank you to the brave US Senators who stood against the National Rifle Association and for the safety of the American people. I'm especially grateful to Senator Susan Collins of Maine who refused to be intimidated by an ugly statewide negative television campaign and to Senator John McCain, who knows how to lead rather than kowtow. They both supported the amendment.

Likewise, thank you to Senator Angus King, who has a history of  bravely voting in support of public safety over special interests and, true to his values and public record, voted in support of the expanded background checks.  

Both Maine Senators voted to support the gun regulation amendment.  Among Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Mark Kirk of Illinois, John McCain of Arizona and Toomey sided with Democrats.  In fact, both of Maine’s U.S. senators – Collins and independent Angus King – voted in support of the failed amendment. Collins said earlier Wednesday that the compromise was “a reasonable, common-sense, thoughtful proposal.”"There are no coherent arguments for why we didn't do this," Obama said.

Obama's anger was apparent during his remarks, which were given as families of shooting victims and former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) -- a shooting survivor -- stood behind him.

"All in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington," Obama said.

Therefore, with all the weight of 90 percent of the American people who approve of expanded background checks for gun sales, it's high time to remove all who voted against this background check humane initiative out of office, regardless of what political party they represent.  

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston Marathon Tragedy - Uniting America Where We Began

Boston bombings suddenly puts terrorism back high on the national agenda.  

This horrific wake up call perpetrated in the city adjacent to where our Democracy began with the "shot heard around the world" (in Lexington and Concord), reminds us of who we are as a nation and how we are united.

Former Massachusetts (Boston area) Congressman Barney Frank said on CNN said, (...immense April 15th tragedy notwithstanding)..."Here we saw government...serve people very tax cut would have helped us to recover (from this)." 

In other words, Americans can't let divisive politics continue to rule our agenda, when there's simply too much to loose by feeding wasteful and polarizing politics.

Americans are united in demanding answers to the five "W's" of this evil attack - who did it? what motivated it? when were these devastating bombs planted at busy Copley Square, placed so as to create the most chaos, death and destruction, where was it planned? and why did it happen?

My sincere sympathy to those who were attacked in the senseless assault on innocent people who were appreciating a very long standing annual marathon tradition.  Particularly tragic is the loss of an innocent 8 year old Richard Martin  (this child's name was inversely reported and is correctly Martin Richard). He was at the event to watch his father race. Sadly, his mother and 6-year-old sister suffered serious injuries.  His mother underwent surgery for an injury to her brain and his sister lost a leg in the explosion. Incredibly tragic outcomes.....

This loss of innocents has no rational's clearly an act of evil madness.

Our national response to this cowardly attack, regardless of who perpetrated it, is a statement of how we care about our national human condition.  Without regard for political of financial compensation, Boston's emergency and medical response was extraordinarily efficient.

Nevertheless, this shock to our sense of national security is more than a tragedy, it's a serious symbolic reminder that our world will never be completely safe from evil people who are relentlessly intent on killing innocent people.

Evil people eventually fail - they always fail, indeed, they've never succeeded.  Instead, these and all heinous acts, intended to create pandemic fear, only serve to unite good people against whatever obsessive cause the mindless demons are attacking.  

Unfortunately, the initial lack of information about who might be responsible for the evil Boston Marathon attack may signify a new normal for the operations  of gruesome people with destructive intentions.  Rather than boast, these evil doers may have a seditious strategy to keep silent.

It's a terrible terrorism incident, but the Boston Marathon Tragedy is another in a series of deadly reminders about our fleeting time on this beautiful earth. Moreover, it's a time for us to reflect on how important it is for us to support and care for each other.

Americans, and the world of good people are united against evil. We're likewise united in expressing grief for Boston, the Hub, and where our patriotic identity began, in Lexington and Concord.  

Like 1775, when the shot heard around the world served as a clarion call for national independence, the April 15th Boston bombing will have a uniting influence on America's agenda against terrorism, regardless of where its evil intentions are located.

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Spiritual Medal of Honor Ceremony: Army Chaplain Father Emil Kapaun Receives Postumous Medal of Honor and Might Be a Candidate for Cannonization

Although awarding a heroic veteran the nation's highest Medal of Honor is always a prestigious ceremony, the sensitivity with which President Obama presented the biography of the recipient, Father Kapaun, clearly demonstrated the respect he felt for the man he was recognizing. It was an unusually moving presentation.

President Barack Obama eloquently explained how the late Army Chaplain Father Emil Kapaun reminded him about the Kansas roots the Army chaplain shared with his own grandfather, who helped to raise him after his father left the family in Hawaii.  

Father Kapaun's inspirational acts of courage transcended the terror the chaplain must have experienced as he heroically stood up against aggression to defend American troops in a prisoner or war camp during the Korean War.

Father Emil Kapaun received his posthumous medal of honor for exhibiting extraordinary heroism during the time when he became a prisoner of war during the Korean Battle of Unson.

Emil Joseph Kapaun (April 20, 1916 – May 23, 1951) was a Roman Catholic priest and United States Army chaplain who died in theKorean War. The Roman Catholic Church has declared him a Servant of God and he is a candidate for sainthood. On April 11, 2013, President Barack Obama awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously to Captain Chaplain Kapaun. The medal was accepted by Kapaun’s nephew at a White House ceremony.

Transcript from President Obama:

"This year, we mark the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War -- a time when thousands of our prisoners of war finally came home after years of starvation and hardship and, in some cases, torture. And among the homecomings, one stood out."

"A group of our POWs emerged carrying a large wooden crucifix, nearly four feet tall. They had spent months on it, secretly collecting firewood, carving it -- the cross and the body -- using radio wire for a crown of thorns. It was a tribute to their friend, their chaplain, their fellow prisoner who had touched their souls and saved their lives -- Father Emil Kapaun."

"This is an amazing story. Father Kapaun has been called a shepherd in combat boots. His fellow soldiers who felt his grace and his mercy called him a saint, a blessing from God. Today, we bestow another title on him -- recipient of our nation’s highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor. After more than six decades of working to make this Medal a reality, I know one of Father Kapaun’s comrades spoke for a lot of folks here when he said, 'it’s about time'."

"Father, as they called him, was just 35 years old when he died in that hellish prison camp. His parents and his only sibling, his brother, are no longer with us. But we are extremely proud to welcome members of the Kapaun family -- his nephews, his niece, their children -- two of whom currently serve in this country's National Guard. And we are very proud of them."

....and President Obama went on to explain:

"Now, I obviously never met Father Kapaun. But I have a sense of the man he was, because in his story I see reflections of my own grandparents and their values, the people who helped to raise me. Emil and my grandfather were both born in Kansas about the same time, both were raised in small towns outside of Wichita. They were part of that Greatest Generation -- surviving the Depression, joining the Army, serving in World War II. And they embodied those heartland values of honesty and hard work, decency and humility -- quiet heroes determined to do their part."

"For Father Kapaun, this meant becoming an Army chaplain -- serving God and country. After the Communist invasion of South Korea, he was among the first American troops that hit the beaches and pushed their way north through hard mountains and bitter cold. In his understated Midwestern way, he wrote home, saying, “this outdoor life is quite the thing” -- (laughter) -- and 'I prefer to live in a house once in a while'.  But he had hope, saying, 'It looks like the war will end soon'.”

"That’s when Chinese forces entered the war with a massive surprise attack -- perhaps 20,000 soldiers pouring down on a few thousand Americans. In the chaos, dodging bullets and explosions, Father Kapaun raced between foxholes, out past the front lines and into no-man’s land -- dragging the wounded to safety."

"When his commanders ordered an evacuation, he chose to stay -- gathering the injured, tending to their wounds. When the enemy broke through and the combat was hand-to-hand, he carried on -- comforting the injured and the dying, offering some measure of peace as they left this Earth."

"When enemy forces bore down, it seemed like the end -- that these wounded Americans, more than a dozen of them, would be gunned down. But Father Kapaun spotted a wounded Chinese officer. He pleaded with this Chinese officer and convinced him to call out to his fellow Chinese. The shooting stopped and they negotiated a safe surrender, saving those American lives."   

"Then, as Father Kapaun was being led away, he saw another American -- wounded, unable to walk, laying in a ditch, defenseless. An enemy soldier was standing over him, rifle aimed at his head, ready to shoot. And Father Kapaun marched over and pushed the enemy soldier aside. And then as the soldier watched, stunned, Father Kapaun carried that wounded American away."

"This is the valor we honor today -- an American soldier who didn’t fire a gun, but who wielded the mightiest weapon of all, a love for his brothers so pure that he was willing to die so that they might live. And yet, the incredible story of Father Kapaun does not end there."

(Kapaun)"... carried that injured American, for miles, as their captors forced them on a death march. When Father Kapaun grew tired, he’d help the wounded soldier hop on one leg. When other prisoners stumbled, he picked them up. When they wanted to quit -- knowing that stragglers would be shot -- he begged them to keep walking."

"In the camps that winter, deep in a valley, men could freeze to death in their sleep. Father Kapaun offered them his own clothes. They starved on tiny rations of millet and corn and birdseed. He somehow snuck past the guards, foraged in nearby fields, and returned with rice and potatoes. In desperation, some men hoarded food. He convinced them to share. Their bodies were ravaged by dysentery. He grabbed some rocks, pounded metal into pots and boiled clean water. They lived in filth. He washed their clothes and he cleansed their wounds."

(Describing a battle field scene reminiscent of Calvary....President Obama provided more information about Chaplain Kapaun's heroism...)

"The guards ridiculed his devotion to his Savior and the Almighty. They took his clothes and made him stand in the freezing cold for hours. Yet, he never lost his faith. If anything, it only grew stronger. At night, he slipped into huts to lead prisoners in prayer, saying the Rosary, administering the sacraments, offering three simple words: “God bless you.” One of them later said that with his very presence he could just for a moment turn a mud hut into a cathedral."

"That spring, he went further -- he held an Easter service. I just met with the Kapaun family. They showed me something extraordinary -- the actual stole, the purple vestment that Father Kapaun wore when he celebrated Mass inside that prison camp."

"As the sun rose that Easter Sunday, he put on that purple stole and led dozens of prisoners to the ruins of an old church in the camp. And he read from a prayer missal that they had kept hidden. He held up a small crucifix that he had made from sticks. And as the guards watched, Father Kapaun and all those prisoners -- men of different faith, perhaps some men of no faith -- sang the Lord’s Prayer and 'America the Beautiful'. They sang so loud that other prisoners across the camp not only heard them, they joined in, too -- filling that valley with song and with prayer."

"That faith -- that they might be delivered from evil, that they could make it home -- was perhaps the greatest gift to those men; that even amidst such hardship and despair, there could be hope; amid their misery in the temporal they could see those truths that are eternal; that even in such hell, there could be a touch of the divine. Looking back, one of them said that that is what 'kept a lot of us alive'.”

"Yet, for Father Kapaun, the horrific conditions took their toll. Thin, frail, he began to limp, with a blood clot in his leg. And then came dysentery, then pneumonia. That’s when the guards saw their chance to finally rid themselves of this priest and the hope he inspired. They came for him. And over the protests and tears of the men who loved him, the guards sent him to a death house -- a hellhole with no food or water -- to be left to die."

"And yet, even then, his faith held firm. 'I’m going to where I’ve always wanted to go', he told his brothers. 'And when I get up there, I’ll say a prayer for all of you'. And then, as was taken away, he did something remarkable -- he blessed the guards. 'Forgive them', he said, 'for they know not what they do'. Two days later, in that house of death, Father Kapaun breathed his last breath. His body was taken away, his grave unmarked, his remains unrecovered to this day."

"The war and the awful captivity would drag on for another two years, but these men held on -- steeled by the memory and moral example of the man they called Father. And on their first day of freedom, in his honor, they carried that beautiful wooden crucifix with them."

"Some of these men are here today -- including Herb Miller, the soldier that Father Kapaun saved in that ditch and then carried all those miles. Many are now in their 80s, but make no mistake, they are among the strongest men that America has ever produced. And I would ask all of our courageous POWs from the Korean War to stand if they're able and accept the gratitude of a grateful nation."

"I’m told that in their darkest hours in the camp in that valley, these men turned to a Psalm. As we prepare for the presentation of the Medal of Honor to Father Kapaun’s nephew, Ray, I want to leave you with the words of that Psalm, which sustained these men all those years ago."

Psalm 23:4 
Even though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely, your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Thank you President Barack Obama for the deep regard you demonstrated for Chaplain Father Emil Kapaun during the spiritually uplifting Medal of Honor Ceremony.  Your presentation touched those of us who watched your prayerful demeanor and your spiritual connection with this Korean War hero was absolutely evident.  


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Gun Control Obstructionist - Have Republicans Inherited a Genetic Thought Defect?

Huffington Post provides a summary of polling data about those who support and oppose gun control.  No surprise, the deadly issue is partisan. Polling doesn't, however, tell why people harbor partisan views about gun control. I'm wondering if the public divide is genetic or inherited - "my father believed in guns and (so) I do to" thinking, rather than based on facts.

Neither does public polling about gun control evaluate how many partisans, who oppose common sense regulations, consider themselves to be "pro life".   It seems like common sense to protect life in the wound from abortion as well as people walking the earth from death by gun violence. Not so.  People who are "pro life" about abortion typically believe in the death penalty and unmitigated second amendment rights to own arsenals of deadly weapons, regardless of how many people are killed by gun violence.  

I am glad to see the US Catholic bishops say gun regulation is a pro life issue.

There's no disputing the data about guns and death. Every gun related death has a cause and effect. Those who oppose controlling gun sales and regulations to limit ammunition clips must realize how their opposition flies in the face of pro life thinking. Nevertheless, gun control remains partisan. Facts and logical thinking don't seem to matter much.

Democrats, however, were significantly more likely than Republicans -- 77 percent versus 29 percent -- to support tighter controls.

Supporters of American second amendment rights take an uncompromising concrete view of the privilege to bear arms. This right was provided to American citizens by signers of the US Constitution, at a time when people defended themselves with muskets rather than assault weapons. Moreover, second amendment proponents project the cause of gun violence deaths to people rather than guns. They completely ignore the absolute fact that zero gun related deaths would occur if people with murderous intentions had no access to weapons.

Unfortunately, Americans remain politically divided over gun control, but (somewhat fortunately) they broadly favor a slate of proposals including background checks for gun sales, according to a
poll released Tuesday by The Washington Post and ABC News. Also, the public is split evenly about whether President Barack Obama or congressional Republicans are more trustworthy in handling gun control, with Democrats and Republicans lining up behind their leaders in Washington.  Yet, a recent HuffPost/YouGov poll found that politicians on either side of the aisle could benefit by coming out in favor of background checks.
Overall, gun control advocates out number their opponents. Fifty-two percent of Americans supported stricter gun laws, and 45 percent opposed them, roughly unchanged from a Washington Post/ABC poll taken in the immediate aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., shooting. Underlying the polarization was far more consensus on some individual gun measures. An overwhelming 90 percent of registered voters in the Post/ABC poll favored a proposal requiring background checks at gun shows,
confirming the results of several past surveys.

Although I'm obviously not a statistician, I'm willing to risk  the following assumption about Americans who continue to oppose any gun regulations - these zealots seem to be genetically wired to block common sense arguments that could change their opinion.  More troubling, those who obstruct gun controls are able to influence others who might be open to changing their minds.  They typically slam the door on discussion or debate on the issue.

Although support for universal background checks prior to purchasing guns is slowly gaining some support in the Congress, I'm wondering if people who oppose it should take a competency test to evaluate their ability to think coherently.  They could be asked a series of "yes" and "no" concrete questions like "do guns kill people?" (yes or no). This kind of simple screening could, at least, provide some correlation data about the thought processes of people who oppose regulating guns to save lives from preventable gun violence. 

There's certainly something logically wrong with the thinking process of people who simply won't equate gun violence with guns.  If this is a genetic defect or the result of inherited thinking from one generation to another, then it's time we vote out the defective thinkers and replace them with people who can evaluate the outcomes of obvious cause and effect. 

Politicians who obstruct gun control legislation should be voted out of office as being unfit to serve the well being of our nation. 


Monday, April 08, 2013

On Election Day Americans Are All Equal - (Or, at Least....we should be)

No One in America Should Have to Wait 7 Hours to Vote!

In "Atlantic" magazine, author Andrew Cohen wrote last November that what happened in Florida's 2012 voting was "simply unacceptable". According to a local election official interviewed by CBS News' Phil Hirschkorn, the last "early voter" in line for Saturday's truncated early voting in Palm Beach County finally got to cast a ballot at 2:30 a.m Sunday morning, which means that voter waited in line for more than seven hours. In Miami, another traditional Democratic stronghold, the wait was nearly as long. On Sunday, voters all over the state were begging judges and county officials for more time to vote.

This happened, not because of a natural disaster or breakdown in machinery. It happened by partisan design - Republicans don't want heavily Democratic minority voters to vote. 

Alarmed by the strong Democratic turnout in early voting in 2008, Republican lawmakers, including Florida's Governor Rick Scott, reduced the number of early voting days from 14 to eight.  Governor Scott probably believed the long voting lines would deter minority voters from exercising their rights as Americans.  

Thankfully, it didn't work.

Of course, if Florida's election officials, and its Republican lawmakers, and its state and federal judges, all were required to stand in line for seven hours to vote, those long lines would go away, forever. You know it, I know it, and so do the elected officials, writes Cohen.

Unfortunately, rather than fix the long lines and daunting voting regulations that make no sense, Republicans in "red states" want to protect their status quo by supporting obstacles targeted to deter minority voters.  Republicans use the ruse of "voter fraud" to demand proof of citizenship documentation prior to voting. Yet, these deterrence tactics are absent any documentation whereby fraud has ever occurred. 

Americans are proud to say how we live in a Democracy.  Surely, that privilege means we are all equal on election day. Every person's vote counts, one vote for every citizen who takes this responsibility seriously.

It should be illegal for elected officials to gerrymander our elections with ruse tactics and other tricks so they can use our Democracy to create their own partisan government.  

Americans should vote, just like all the other countries in the world.  We should be able to show up to a voting station, have our name checked off from a roster and be allowed to vote without standing in line for seven hours.  Otherwise, if these embarrassing voting glitches deliberately continue to sway election outcomes, then, we're just pretending to be a Democracy.  

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Sunday, April 07, 2013

Americans should listen to the brave Sandy Hook families who lost innocent children and loved family members- Scott Pelley Discusses Common Sense Gun Control Legislation

Although it was certainly a difficult 60-Minute segment to watch, (we can hold the Sandy Hook families in our prayers) just imagine how much courage it took for them to speak to Scott Pelley on 60 Minutes.

At the Newtown CT town hall, Pelley met seven families from a group called Sandy Hook Promise, which works for change and remembrance.

I wonder how many of our nation's legislators watched this segment.  

Shame on legislators who may have deliberately avoided hearing what the Sandy Hook parents said to Pelley. Lawmakers who are asked to give an "up or down" vote on proposed national gun regulation must take responsibility for hearing what the victims of a mass murder have to say about this public policy.
Families of Newtown Connecticut, site of the Sandy Hook Elementary, want the tragic memory of 12/14 - the date of the Connecticut massacre -- to spur new gun control legislation in the U.S. They expressed support for universal background checks and limiting the size of large, human killing, ammunition clips, during the April 7, Pelley interview.

Nearly four months later, just last week, Connecticut passed a gun control law that expands background checks and limits ammunition magazines to 10 rounds. Tomorrow, these families will push for the same in Washington. They believe that their only chance is to keep the resonance of that date ringing. Something else we noticed about "12/14," add them together, and you get 26, the number of lives lost at Sandy Hook.

Here are the parents in their own words:

Jimmy Greene said: Our daughter, Ana was six years old. And in those six years, can look back and say it was an honor to know her. She taught me about how to love, how to give. She was beautiful and every day I cry. 
Francine Wheeler said: This is (a picture of) Benjamin Andrew Wheeler. Ben was six years old. He has a brother named Nate. And Nate was hiding when he heard Ben and his classmates and educators get shot. 

Mark Barden said: And we lost our sweet little Daniel Barden. He was known as the kid that would talk to somebody sitting alone. He was genuinely an old soul.

Nicole Hockley said: This is (a picture of) Dylan. I think the picture kind of sums him up perfectly. He was always smiling and always laughing. And he was very pure. Possibly because of his age. He was six. And possibly because he was autistic.
Neil Heslin said: I'm Neil Heslin, Jesse Lewis's dad. Jesse was six years old. He was my best friend and my buddy. He'd introduce himself as Jesse and Daddy. He was my whole life. 
Bill Sherlach said: Mary was the school psychologist at Sandy Hook Elementary School for 18 years and truly believed that that was the place that she was meant to be, doing what she could call "God's work." 

Terri Rousseau said: Lauren grew up with this idea that she wanted to be a teacher and work with other children. She had a sort of innocence about her, a kind of denial of all the ugly things in the world. We had no idea that some ugly thing would come and take her from us.
Those are memories Terri Rousseau, Mark and Jackie Barden, Nicole Hockley and others wanted state legislators to remember in Hartford, Connecticut. 
Mark Barden said: The lawmakers are going into their caucuses to discuss the legislation at hand. And the rope is there, I think, just to separate the various lobbyists who want to approach them as they go in there, as a last ditch effort to appeal to their cause. That's where we were. 
Mark Barden said: And we (gave them) a letter that we wanted them to read. And we had pictures of our children to give them a personal connection to why we're asking them to go in there and legislate. 

Scott Pelley asked: Why the photographs?
Nicole Hockley responded: They need to not just look us in the eyes, but look our children and the lost ones and see those faces, see what's gone and remember this isn't just about political parties. This isn't just about careers. This is about people. And this is about making change to save people. And it's important to remember the people you are doing this for. 

Mark Barden said: The universal background check is very important. And to that point, I think (the Connecticut legislation) has done a wonderful job. They've worked very hard and they have passed almost everything that we were hoping they would. And they have done it in a bipartisan way, which I think is a great message to send out to the other states and to the federal government as they begin this process.

Scott Pelley asked: Mark singles out the universal background check. Does anyone else find another part of the law important?
Bill Sherlach said: I think the idea of limiting the size of the magazines is critical.

(Bill Sherlach's wife, Mary, tried to stop the gunman.)
Bill Sherlach said: You can have a million bullets, but if you have to put them in one at a time, the ability to do any kind of real damage is significantly reduced. 
Scott Pelley said: The legislature has decided to limit the size of magazines in Connecticut to 10 rounds. The gunman at Sandy Hook was using 30-round magazines. I've heard the argument made, "You can change these magazine clips in these rifles in a matter of two seconds. So what difference does it make?" 
Bill Sherlach: Well, I mean, there was one instance where it wasn't two seconds. And it allowed 11 kids to get out of the classroom. 
Bill Sherlach: It's simple arithmetic. If you have to change magazines 15 times instead of five times, you have three times as many incidents as where something could jam. Something could be bobbled. You just increase the time for intervention. You increase the time where kids can get out. And there's 11 kids out there today that are still running around on the playground pretty much now at lunchtime. 

David Wheeler said: The more bullets you can get out the end of that gun in the least amount time, that is the single area that I believe affects lethality. And the size of the magazine placed in that weapon is a direct contributor to that--a direct contributor to that factor. There is a place for 30-round magazines, in the military, on the battlefield, at a range. If they stay at the range, they stay at the range.

(Wheeler's statement above is the issue that zealots with  the National Rifle Association won't accept. They continue to spread the mythical venom of "people kill people", rather than guns. For for some bizarre reason, these obsessed NRA supporters leap to the conclusion that owning assault weapons will protect them from other evil intended people. They won't accept the fact that it only takes one bullet to kill a person. Firing hundreds of bullets can only mean a killer is intending to commit mass murder.)

In my opinion, if those brave families who suffered such terrible loss can stand up to prevent further mass murders by supporting gun control, then we have a responsibility to listen to what they are saying.

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