Maybe we need more Marsupials??

The Year 2015 has been a horrendous year for deaths due to gun violence and mass shootings. There have been one mass shooting every day in Yr-2015 and the statistics are saddening – 2015 Mass Shooting Deaths

We have been having this debate for a while now and the talking points for the gun ownership side is really getting stale. Same talking points same reactions but the number of Mass Shootings continues unabated.

After this most recent horrific shooting if we would like to revisit the gun control issue, the overwhelming answer from gun advocates is:
a) This is NOT the time to talk about gun control this is the time to grieve (as stated by Louisiana Governor Jindal when questioned after the Lafayette shooting)
b) We should not politicize the issue as it it is the time to mourn

So let’s unpack that:
– “When”? is it the right time to talk about gun control? At 372 shootings in YR-2015 is our  leadership saying that we literally don’t have any time to have a conversation since we are in “constant” grief and mourning mode? That is ridiculous beyond any realms of rationality.
– How come the horrific Bengazi killings CAN be politicized with not one, not two but NINE hearings and counting but we cannot have a meaningful conversation in the Congress about gun control?

President Obama in utter frustration actually called for the politicization of this issue. I guess this was his way of telling people that he cannot do it all alone, the public must exert their influence in the voting booth. (LINK)

I have covered the whole issue of how the NRA influences this issue Link to Blog Post . But the broader issue is how do we do what Australia and Great Britain have been able to do with sensible gun control (granted they did not have a “Second Amendment” to deal with). The statistic below is very sobering and should really put the gun debate in perspective:

 

NBC News summarized the data this way:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 153,144 people were killed by homicide in which firearms were used between 2001 and 2013, the last year that data are available (that number excludes deaths by “legal intervention”).
The Global Terrorism Database – which uses a criteria to determine terrorist attacks but also includes acts of violence that are more ambiguous in goal – estimates that 3,046 people in the U.S. died in terrorist or possible terrorist attacks between 2001 and 2014.
The top number doesn’t even include suicides and legal police killings (which boost the number to 394,912). Still, just counting homicides alone, 11,780 Americans were killed by guns a year on average, in that time period, while 219 on average were per year killed by terrorism – although of course the 9/11 attacks are the bulk of the deaths.

Obama in his address – ““We spend over a trillion dollars, and pass countless laws, and devote entire agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil, and rightfully so. And yet, we have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from even collecting data on how we could potentially reduce gun deaths.  How can that be?”

So why can’t we do what Australia did after the mass shooting in Tasmania. How was a conservative President in Australia able to mobilize a national cause and address this issue in one fell sweep?

We need a social movement on gun control. The second Amendment gives us the right to bear arms. But we also have the right to NOT bear arms.

In this article here the author references a colleague who states – This is not about the government saying you cannot own a handgun. This is about society saying you should not have a gun, especially in a home with children.”

Source:http://otherwords.org/automatic-congressional-allegiance/

The bottom line is we need to do something fast as trusting our elected officials to mobilize a solution has been a bleak proposition for quite sometime.

(bad pun intended) – we need a call to arms!

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Pope Music

The new Pope has been on a tear for the past two years. If ever the term “Hope and Change” can aptly be used, it would be for His Holiness. He is fundamentally transforming the Roman Catholic institution’ thinking (not doctrines but attitudes) with some of the most liberal and progressive views. Here are a sample of his recent stances on various issues:

a) Global Warming – Pope Francis has blamed human selfishness for global warming in his long-awaited encyclical calling for action on climate change (Reference – Link )

b) in July 2013,  “If a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge… it is not right to interfere spiritually in the life of a person.” (Reference – Link )

c) On Atheism – Pope Francis rocked some religious and atheist minds when he declared that everyone was redeemed through Jesus, including atheists (Reference – Link )

d) Abortion – Pope Francis opened a special, temporary, “mercy” window to make it easier for women who have abortions and confess to get back into the full good graces of the church (Reference – Link )

Don’t get me wrong he is NOT a liberal, and the softening of his positions on key issues opens up an opportunity for a conversation regarding change within an institution that has been long criticized as anachronistic. He still has to make significant changes in multiple areas such as improving the response to the pedophilia charges, contraception, female priests to name a few. As Jorge Ramos of Univision put it, ” He has delivered style but not substance (yet)”

That brings me to Free Market Capitalism. Here is a quote from Yr-2013:
[S]ome people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacra­lized workings of the prevailing economic system.”

Over the past two years, on numerous occasions the Pope has been very vocal of the “evils of capitalism” and the “Free Market” comparing “Unbridled Capitalism” as the “Dung of the Devil”

So what does all this mean to our stateside Conservatives. Clearly such positions are in conflict with our country’s conservative pro capital viewpoints. From a fiscal standpoint clearly his positions on Free Market makes our conservatives squirm, but his take on social and environmental issues really has them in an uproar.

As an outside observer of this there is a certain element of schadenfreude in watching this unravel. For years the conservatives felt they had the backing of the Church on key social issues (read – marriage, abortion, contraception etc.). Now here comes a Pope who is no longer interested in having the traditional conversations on social issues but rather would like to bring wealth inequality and climate change to the forefront of the conversation. In other words (quoting a particular right wing talk radio person) he is a “Marxist”.

So here is how a typical conversation goes:
– “Climate change is a fact” there is a broad consensus amongst almost all scientific institutions around the world
– ” How can u say that? there was a scientist in the UK who was “fudging” his research and it has been proven to be a hoax
– “Yes! that was one person and he was discredited BUT there still remains the fact that there is broad consensus”.
– I don’t believe it for the following reasons – a)climate has changed before so this is cyclical; b) it has actually been colder in the past few years; c) increasing CO2 has no effect; d)they said we will pass point of no return but we didn’t”..and so on
– “OK but let me reiterate – consensus is broad; proof is real and even the Pope has called it out as one of the most important issues of our time”
– (quoting Santorum)” “The pope ought to stay with his job, and we’ll stay with ours,”

Rick Santorum, a devout Catholic and a once long-shot contender for the Republican nomination, told a Philadelphia radio station: “The church has gotten it wrong a few times on science, and I think we probably are better off leaving science to the scientists and focusing on what we’re good at, which is theology and morality.”

So riddle me this:
– We cannot take direction from the Pope on matters related to science since that should be left to the scientist.
– We cannot take direction from the Pope on matters of wealth and free markets since that should be left to the Economists
– But we should take direction from the Pope on contraception related matters since that cannot be left to the doctors or health care specialists?

The answer cannot be cause it is in the good book?….cause the good book is very specific about charity; greed and wealth. So then where does this hypocrisy originate from?

The answer – it is the “Conservative Bubble”. The beauty of this bubble is it is impenetrable to logic, reason and rational thought. The bubble is fed by a steady diet of talking points from the right wing radio and television outlets. While the so called pundits are getting rich pandering the same weak talking points, the folks who listen to them are struggling to enter or stay in the middle class.

Actual Example (s)

– One of the conservative talk show hosts allege that Boehner’s resignation was timed to coincide with the Pope’s arrival so he can spend the last month of his term executing Obama’s remaining Marxist agenda. All this because Boehner was instrumental in bringing the Pope stateside.

– Sarah Palin trying her best to equate her son’s domestic abuse to Obama’s policies (Link to Story). You just cannot argue with this kind of lunacy.

Maybe the Pope’s visit to the US was a positive harbinger of change to conservative attitudes. Or maybe I should look out the window and see if pigs are flying.

Eysis, Spieses a Davises

The 2015 Davis phenomena has given us a lot to think about. On the one hand we have Huckabee who implored to put himself  in jail instead of Davis and on the other hand we have the right wing cavalcade making statements that “God’s Law supersedes the Supreme Court Laws” (Mike Huckabee Article )

Now let’s ponder on that point for a moment – “God’s law supersedes the Supreme Court Laws”. I wonder….wonder if this parallels another group in the middle east that is currently on the quest to create a Caliphate. So how is this different from the implementation of Sharia Law? (realize I am being a bit flippant with the generalization)

Ah! but I am sure I will get the “sanctity of marriage” argument. Am sure her three ex husbands agree with her on the sanctity of marriage. For Pete’s sake we let Michael Jackson get married (not to speak ill of the dead)
I love the internet meme on Kim Davis – Sorry we can’t give our marriage licenses, I used them all on myself!

But I come to a broader point..religious persecution. Christians constitute the majority of this country’s population and yet if you listen to Fox News or the right wing apparently catholisim is under attack. Further more Christmas is under attack! Marriage values are under attack! being able to practice religion is under attack!
My question is where? For a majority group why do they always feel the victim?

In a recent Real Time with Bill Maher episode Salman Rushdie nailed this as follows:

” It is the classic trope of the religious bigot.While they are denying people their rights they claim that their rights are being denied. While they are persecuting people they claim that they are being persecuted. While behaving colossally offensive they believe that they are being offended”

Rushdie continues, “But everybody does this. In India right now, which has a 85% Hindu majority, leaders are always saying Hinduism is being threatened. In the Islamic world, the paranoia is routine; ‘The world is anti-Muslim.’ and so this is a trope that they are stealing from other bigots”.

For me Rushdie summed up a feeling that I have had for years. Back to the original point how can anyone even state that God’s Law rules over Supreme Court law? The egregiousness of this argument is mind boggling.(Louie Gohmert weighs in).  One wonders if these people really believe this or is this grandstanding to pander to the base that can get them the vote.

Interestingly when the Pope weighs in on Gay Marriage; Atheism and Climate Change …that is NOT God’s Law. So at best what we have here is God’s (Selective) Law that goes something like this:

– Marriage has to be between a man and a woman (or many men and many women OR as the Bible stated one man and many women). But just not between man and man or woman and woman.
– There is no choice and abortion under any circumstance is evil
– This is a Christian Nation built on Christian values

It is very difficult to debate this. Specifically if you consider the last point. While no one can argue against the impact of Christianity in the formation and development of this country, the founding fathers went to great length to separate church from state for the very same reason.
(A great article breaking down the details of our founding documents can be found here – LINK )

Oh well…… as long as the “trope” continues to be perpetuated, the likes of Davis will have a fan club.