I have a gun so I don’t NEED to vote…

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A great democracy does not make it harder to vote than to buy an assault weapon.
— Bill Clinton, August 28, 2013

Are there any words that can really rationalize this image? When I ask myself how do I show my priorities in my life? My priorities are shown by the ease, dedication and effort I direct toward those issues. If I want my house to be clean, I have to make an effort to do the work necessary to keep it clean and fresh. I throw out my trash regularly. I wash my dishes, after every meal. I sweep or vacuum on a regular schedule. I do a regularly schedule spring and fall clean. So when you come to my house, you recognize I place a value on cleanliness. There are no dishes in the sink, there is no trash stinking up the place, there is no trash sitting on my floor. Seems simple enough?

So by using this logic, it is safe to presume in most states of the nation, it is a higher priority to own a gun than it is to allow for voting. Voting, the right to have say in who runs for office in your nation. The people who will represent your needs to the government and decide how our mutually agreed upon taxes should be spent on things that benefit the nation and the people living within it.

A gun on the other hand seems to be a way of saying I don’t need to vote.

I have a gun.

I can, if I want to, fight against any government that I don’t like, don’t agree with and can along the way, shoot anyone who disagrees with my point of view and isn’t able to shoot me first.

I have a gun.

The gun violence in this nation doesn’t ever seem to go down, either. In the last month, there have been at least five accidental shootings by CHILDREN at other children. There was even an event where two children conspired to stab or shoot a fellow classmate who ANNOYED THEM. Let’s not forget the police shooting an innocent twelve year old who happened to be carrying a toy gun that looked too realistic to them, so their solution was to shoot him dead on the spot. No warning, no information exchanged, the boy’s life and his parents irrevocably changed because some officer decided:

I have a gun.

Is this what we have become? A nation of people whose first solution even at the delicate age of 12 or 13 is to simply assume killing the person who annoys them is AN APPROPRIATE RESPONSE. What happened to getting support from teachers?

No. I have a gun.

What happened to teaching children to negotiate?

No need. I have a gun.

What happened to learning skills that result in resolution and cooperation.

Forget that. I HAVE A GUN.

And I have the right to bear arms or arm bears, into my supermarket, into my Starbucks, into my bar, where other alcoholic gun-toting citizens might, after having a few too many, conceivably decide to shoot someone who disagrees with their perspective because, after all, none of us have ever seen an angry or ugly drunk with poor self-control or anger management issues have we? Nope. Not once.

Let’s not forget the increasing incidence of road rage where the solution to being cut off in traffic is to follow that driver to the supermarket, wait until he gets out of his car and shoot him. Or in a recent incident, the two drivers drew down on each other and summarily killed each other. An appropriate solution to the problem of both road rage, gun possession and inappropriate responses to poor driving etiquette.

But to those two men in that moment, they felt they were obligated to resolve their problem the only way they knew how, the way their concealed weapons permits said they had to.

They had a gun. Problem solved.

But while American Congressmen, in the pocket of the National Rifle Association, don’t seem able to pass any kind of gun legislation that would stop the mad proliferation of guns into a populace already rife with guns, currently it is estimated there are 300 million guns in the United States at any given moment. Yes, nearly one gun for every man, woman and child in this nation.

Is there a reason America has this many guns? Did China indicate they were coming for American farmland and would not be deterred by the world’s most expensive military force? Has the rest of the world had enough of American imperialist behaviors (also know as our foreign policy) and decided they were bringing the fight to our doorstep (might seem appropriate since no foreign force has fought on American soil since the war of 1812)? Are we expecting an alien invasion?

There does not appear to be any effort being made to stem the tide of firearm possession, no matter how many military bases, school yards, office buildings, streets, urban areas, city parks, or government officials get shot. We are a nation of fools assuming having a gun was the same thing as having a vote. Meanwhile corrupt corporations keep gun ownership an issue in the public sphere while they plunder your pensions, cut and privatize what were once government services, making them less effective and more expensive in the same breath.

So I have to ask you citizens, what kind of future are we looking for? Are we looking for one where a real vote in a real democracy has the potential to make the nation we live in a better place? Or are we simply preparing for the day when we decide government isn’t making the nation safer and rushing off to our secret food bunkers where we can proclaim loudly to anyone who dares to approach in the New World Order of anarchy and self determination…

I HAVE A GUN, AND THERE AREN’T ANY LAWS TO PREVENT ME FROM USING IT!

Heaven help us all.

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Freeing People Since the Revolutionary War

Freeing you for our benefit

Laugh. It’s okay. I’ll wait. I thought it was darkly funny too. Then I thought deeply about what it really meant. And this is what I came up with:

America’s Imperialist Policies: “Freeing” People Since the Revolutionary War

Or so they would have you believe. When I saw this graphic, I realized much of what has bothered me about the United States military is the very existence of that military and how it has been used since the forming of this nation. The military is the ultimate expression of “cognitive dissonance” and freedom.

  • How free are we if we spend more than the next 14 nations who are our allies to maintain our military superiority?
  • How free are we if we are free to starve in the streets, while millionaires look on at the starving masses from their helicopters?
  • How free are we when we look down at the chicken we just bought from the market and have to wonder: “Is it safe to eat?”
  • How free are we when our students leave school with more debt and less to show for it than any generation in 100 years.

To have a chance at a decent job, some of them will leave school with what we once spent on a house.

You remember those. Where people who live in tent cities across America used to live, in homes. Homes they have lost due to the collapsed financial market. A market where we have finally gotten around to slapping fines out but no executives of these banks who knew they were engaged in what should have been considered illegal activities have been sent to jail yet; if ever.

If you want to see a jail cell, then protest appears to be the way to go. Executives have to be caught eating a live human baby, on camera with at least 12 reliable witnesses and even then a good lawyer gets them “time served” and a napkin.

We say our military might is about maintaining our freedom. Freedom appears pretty expensive to me.

The need for the military and its purchases certainly appears to be more important than:

  • schools – we don’t seem to value education anymore; no money? No education. We don’t plan on you making any decisions anyway so who cares if you learn anything?
  • bridges – we haven’t had enough collapse to make anyone care, yet. With over 2,000 in a dangerous state of repair, its just a waitin’ game.
  • roads – we are turning them back to gravel. FDR would be so proud.
  • updating our electricity infrastructure – parts of the nation spend more time in the dark than the Amish
  • water – no one is mentioning this number one hard to come by resource, nationwide
  • waste management – take it to the landfill, no plan after that
  • research and development – we don’t do that here, anymore
  • manufacturing – precious little of this either
  • plumbing and city-wide sewer and sanitation for every major metropolis in the US.

Thank God [sarcasm] we are still privatizing prisons. American innovation at its finest. [/sarcasm] 

Did I miss anything important? Wait:

  • industrialized food production – or how to create foods that will eventually kill us
  • genetically modified foods – no useful or specific testing before human use
  • dying bee populations likely due to pesticide overuse
  • antibiotic resistant disease management – welcome back to the age of dying-from-a-scratch. Penicillin we hardly knew ye…
  • overpopulation – no need to stop now, we can break 10 billion by 2040.
  • climate change – yes, I know, its a myth, like Creation, right?
  • fracking and its poisoned waste water – we don’t need fresh water; fracking scientists assure me, flammable water IS still drinkable.
  • oil production, oil sand extraction – moonscape anyone?
  • lack of transition to non-oil based technologies – solar panels? We don’t need no stinking solar panels, or wind farms or biogas facilities. Peak oil is a myth too.

The US maintains over 600 military bases around the world. We have more fighters and bombers than we will ever use. We have cargo planes coming off the assembly line and being scrapped in the same year. We have so much military hardware, we are selling it to the police in our local communities.

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Just what we need, antipersonnel vehicles on Main Street.

The military is a jobs program with a $600 billion dollar price tag. Yes, I said it.

That is the American way. We starve our schools while our fighter bomber programs roam free across the countryside, ensuring powerful defense contractors continue to get their piece of our “ignorant nation” pie.

American Imperialism is dead, hear tell it. Now that there are almost no nations we can destabilize and then attack under the guise of “freedom.” We are being told that our president has no sense of foreign policy. In conservative speak: no sense of foreign policy means any policy which does not put boots on the ground and food in a defense contractors mouths.

It has been the American way for so long to deliver freedom from the barrel of a gun or the bomber bay of attack aircraft if your country needed “freedom”. Freedom meant we bombed you into freedom and then you spent twenty five years “recovering” and not being an economic threat to our hegemony.

Clever plan, eh?

I would say our experimentation with a Democratic Republic has had a rocky road and almost no one who has tried to embrace our freedom, particularly after we send them a dose of HE has been successful in its implementation.

Could it be our brand of freedom comes at too high a price?

A friend of mine had this to say about the secrets a government must keep to maintain its control:

by H Wolfgang Porter

The thing that a staggering amount of people in the US cannot comprehend is how the government works on a multi-level, multi-tiered, multifaceted framework nationally and internationally simultaneously. Few people ever get to see the ‘whole picture’ and even fewer can comprehend it when they do!

Most folks see one small aspect of what the country does and support or flip out over it based upon the limited info they get from news sources (often singular.) What the government does is crazy deep. When you get things going at such ‘depths’, there’s a lot of ‘dark’ activities going on. Rarely are those activities stuff you’d want to shine a light on.

What’s jacked though is the people of the US benefit quite a bit from those things ‘done in the dark’. For everything perceived as ‘good and above board’, an unknown (probably for the best) amount of shadowy events went down to push that ‘light event’ into being.

No one in this country wants to acknowledge or admit that the US is an Empire. You don’t get to be an empire or ‘superpower’ in the world without a lot of people getting covered in blood and dirt. It’s jacked up because we want the country to present the best face and intentions possible at all times. But, in the real world it doesn’t work that way.

At best, ‘We the People’ should be working towards keeping our government ‘honest as possible’. It will never be 100% above board because other nations aren’t playing by those rules. Plus, we’ll always have people in power who have their own agenda and those folks with the money and influence to push them along. We counteract those factors by being well informed as possible and do our individual best to not look at everything through ‘tribal filters’.

There is No Future – A cheery film talking about why we need to start changing how we do things around here. Or else.

Is this a bad time to mention we still have 20,000 nuclear weapons rusting away quietly all across this nation, ready to keep us free (or begin to quietly fail) and be unable to launch with hunks of active plutonium waiting at the maybe secure launch facility.

Nothing to worry about. What’s the worst that can happen? An explosion of Freedom…

xVmSKy0

© Thaddeus Howze 2013, All Rights Reserved

© H. Wolfgang Porter 2013, All Rights Reserved

The Hostages are Safe! (for six months…)

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144 House Republicans Voted to Destroy the American Economy. 

The Threat of the Default is Over!

Free the hostages! The Americans are free! The government will be operational again. There won’t be a default. The crisis is over, right?

Don’t hold your breath. We will see more BS grandstanding like this while Barack Obama is the President of the United States. They will make this debt debate go away for three to six months and then we are right back here again, screwing with the full credit solvency of the US and terrifying (or is that terrorizing) foreign nations that are dependent on the strength and liquidity of the American Dollar. Bridges? I doubt seriously if this Congress will even pass a single transportation support or jobs bill the entire time President Obama is in office. They haven’t yet.

I suspect this is only a respite while they figure out their next plan to avoid doing anything to help the President. The Speaker of the House, John Boehner, led the radical Tea Party campaign, along with the likes of Ted Cruz and Michelle Bachmann. Their goal was to tarnish President Obama reputation as a leader. This was ultimately to discourage people for voting for the Democratic party and especially to make the idea of another Black president the most unpalatable idea, ever. They will be able to look back and say, how he divided the government, prevented any acts of bi-partisanship, made the country a place that is less safe, more dependent on government, and increased poverty everywhere (even though it was most of their lack of leadership which actually caused most of these things).

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Season’s Greetings (Think that’s Ramadan, ain’t that the Muslim Christmas?) from the Tea Party.

The truth matters less than the result of what they have done. People have short memories and won’t remember the Tea Party almost causing them to lose their homes, be three weeks without pay, the hardship on the families of the government’s workers or on the military, or on people dependent on the EPA, FDA, USDA, or any other NECESSARY government regulatory agencies (which the Tea Party would abolish, if they could).

From their perspective, they have utilized the 24 hour news cycles desperation to fill their hours with conjecture, improperly vetted news, opinions and misinformation about the Affordable Care Act, the Debt Ceiling, the damage potential of a prospective Economic Default on both our economy and the worldwide financial state. This has made the United States appear dysfunctional, poorly governed and able to be controlled by a minority of the Congress. Our foreign allies are saddened by this lack of leadership and horrified that the US can be so easily terrorized (there goes that word again) by a radical minority.

I am not a liberal despite what you may think of reading this. I am simply not a fan of a screw job when I see one. The worst part of this event is that NOTHING will be done with these economic terrorists who saw fit to take the nation hostage, punishing the poorest and least able among us by taking away their food, resources, and work under the guise of keeping them from having any kind of affordable health care. Does anyone have a word for what this might appear to be? Funny, there is one.

Sedition.

But alas, no one is going to request it be used. Reasons include: Too much bad press; not how we do business; it is the President’s fault for not giving in to the Conservative demand to get rid of his signature legislation that everyone but the rich and powerful who stand to gain from the constantly growing economic divide, seem to want.

it would seem, not only is failure the outcome of this grandstanding by the GOP, but that no matter how it turns out, their goal has been accomplished. Make the president look weak and ineffectual (mostly through the use of rhetoric and sprinklings of the madness of people like Ted Cruz and Michelle Bachmann).

Brought to you by

Hey poor Americans, need food stamps? Don’t vote these people back in office. They sold you out to AGROBUSINESS!

Yes, Virginia there is an Apocalypse.

One brought to us by the Koch Brothers and other multi-billionaires who believe government’s real job is to subsidize their wealth (by paying their workers so little, the government is forced to pay out food stamps and welfare so they can have enough to eat) and undermine the effectiveness of government until those super-rich folk can buy the Commons right from under us and then they can divide it up and give us what they want us to have, for a price we, of course, cannot afford.

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This chart says, McDonald’s gets to pocket/steal/purloin $1.2 Billion dollars a year and we, the American Taxpayers get to pick up the tab assisting their poorly paid employees.

But its a good thing those billionaires own banks too, they can always lend it to us on credit…like they do right now.

Debt is as good as cash, or as a form of economic enslavement. Ask any college student, they know first hand.

No Time for Celebration

The Senate voted 81 to 18 Wednesday night on a bill to reopen the federal government and raise the nation’s borrowing limit, and the House followed suit, voting 285-144. President Barack Obama signed the legislation early Thursday.

Elizabeth Warren agrees with me regarding this chicanery and had this to say about the economic shutdown:

I’m glad that the government shutdown has ended, and I’m relieved that we didn’t default on our debt.

But I want to be clear: I am NOT celebrating tonight.

Yes, we prevented an economic catastrophe that would have put a huge hole in our fragile economic recovery. But the reason we were in this mess in the first place is that a reckless faction in Congress took the government and the economy hostage for no good purpose and to no productive end.

According to the S&P index, the government shutdown had delivered a powerful blow to the U.S. economy. By their estimates, $24 billion has been flushed down the drain for a completely unnecessary political stunt.

$24 billion dollars. How many children could have been back in Head Start classes? How many seniors could have had a hot lunch through Meals on Wheels? How many scientists could have gotten their research funded? How many bridges could have been repaired and trains upgraded?

The Republicans keep saying, “Leave the sequester in place and cut all those budgets.” They keep trying to cut funding for the things that would help us build a future. But they are ready to flush away $24 billion on a political stunt.

So I’m relieved, but I’m also pretty angry.

We have serious problems that need to be fixed, and we have hard choices to make about taxes and spending. I hope we never see our country flush money away like this again. Not ever.

It’s time for the hostage taking to end. It’s time for every one of us to say, “No more.”

 

Here go some other names you might want to keep an eye on.

$24 billion dollars lost by the people who claimed they wanted to balance the budget. I am naming names.

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Your First Contract…

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Letterhead from THE UNIVERSE

Life Form #126GV29APZ23
Planet Earth
Sol System
Milky Way Galaxy
Virgo Supercluster
Dear Life Form,

You have been selected for the role of EXISTENCE. We are proud to offer this highly coveted position and applaud you on overcoming the immense odds to be with us. You are about to enter a highly competitive work environment filled with natural wonders, millions of diverse species, astronomical treasures and personal tragedies and triumphs.

Your position will begin starting AT BIRTH and will last until DEATH. You have been given the following tools in your starter kit:

– Large, highly developed brain
– Opposable Thumbs
– Bipedalism
– Complex Social Networks.

Now that you’re ready to begin, we suggest you make the most of your time. You may want to start by cultivating social relationships and improving conditions for other newcomers.

If you have questions, please consult your assigned advisor, SCIENCE. We wish you the best of luck during your time with us and look forward to seeing you in another form once your contract has expired.

Sincerely,

The Universe.

Shutdown: The View from Five Feet

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Author: Gabriel Russell

Perspective.

Got stuck in the lone checkout line at Safeway behind a woman buying groceries with her EBT card (food stamps). She had her teenaged son with her and a huge stack of coupons. I’ve been having a frustrating week. I was wearing coat and tie and probably had a grumpy look on my face when I arrived. The woman working the register kept looking at me apologetically as time went on and the line grew.

The shopper had a coupon for almost every item. She went through that stack of coupons four times slowly because she was missing one. I think she had coupons for apples, soup, pasta, rice, beans, and bread. She was missing a 60 cent coupon for her two cartons of almond milk. She had a list and had calculated to the penny what she could buy, had $70 on her EBT card and $20 or so on a check she had written but she was $1.20 short to finalize the purchase.I was tempted to pass the woman two bucks but she was already starting to radiate with awkward embarrassment. Her son stood behind her and stared at the floor. Finally the shopper asked the register worker if there was any way she could look through the weekly flier and find the coupon she needed and the worker started paging through it for her.

My irritation dissipated the longer I stood there. Its been a long time since I agonized over $1.20 for food. I’ve never had to do it with a crowd behind me. I could see the time and care she had put into her shopping trip, calculating the cost, clipping coupons, buying cheap healthy food.

I relaxed. I smiled. The coupon was finally found and the sale made. The register worker kept thanking me for my patience. I suppose these days most folks expect a certain amount of eye-rolling and grimacing when a customer is inconvenienced for a few minutes. We’re very busy people.

By Monday the shutdown will have cost me enough from a plane ticket change fee and a lost weekend of National Guard wages that it will sting. But I won’t miss a meal, or even skimp. I won’t miss a mortgage payment. I won’t fear for my phone or electricity being shut off. I have friends that may. I’m grateful for all that America has given me. I’m glad my wife has a good-paying job.

Not everyone is so lucky. We have young National Guard soldiers here in Washington State that rely on their drill pay for food and lodging and on military tuition assistance to pay for college. They won’t be getting either due to the shutdown. Each of them volunteered to serve in their nation’s military during time of war, uncertain of the cost.

This will likely, hopefully, be resolved before my young soldiers or friends in federal service even have time to apply for food stamps or unemployment. But not, perhaps, before a few missed payments, missed meals, and sleepless nights. It bothers me to see them treated this way.

The Legislative Branch of our government has its work cut out for it. I’d like to see them take up that task with the same zeal, teamwork and selfless sense of service to nation and community I see in the young soldiers and law enforcement officers that work for me. I’d like that a great deal.

All I did. The best I did today, was to stand patiently in line behind someone less fortunate than myself and not act like a complete ass. The woman at the register seemed appreciative. Almost like she expected me to be annoyed. Is this what we’ve come to? Is this what people expect?

Patience. Compassion. Persistence. Teamwork. I expect these attributes of my most junior employees. I expect them of myself. I expect them of my government.


If you have a story of the Shutdown and how it has affected your perspective, or your life in general, please share it in the comments or if it’s longer, send it to me at ebonstorm(at)gmail.com and we can share it together.

America shouldn’t be just for big businesses, its stories should be for and about everyone.

Thank you, Gabriel Russell for sharing your story.