You Have Got To Be Kidding!!!

Ever have one of those days where you start scanning the news and find yourself saying, multiple times, “You have got to be kidding me!”?  Have you noticed that they seem to come more often these days?  There is just so much utter … nutsiness, for lack of a better word … that I shake my head until marbles begin to rattle around in there.  Here are a couple of the latest ones …

Damn those subversive Girl Scouts, anyway …

I had never heard of Jane Chastain, but apparently she made history in 1974 when she became the first woman to call an NFL game.  Now, I might have found that exciting, might even admire her and give her a high five for breaking that glass ceiling, were it not for what she has done since.  Somewhere along the line, she lost her admirability, lost her good sense … lost her marbles it would seem.

Chastain writes a column for the right-wing media outlet, WorldNetDaily, commonly known as WND.  But her latest … well, you be the judge …

“It is no small coincidence that the Girl Scouts are out in force this month selling cookies on street corners, in front of grocery stores and other places of business. For many years, I would buy at least one box from every girl I met, even if I had a dozen or more boxes at home.

The Girl Scouts were an important part of my formative years, and I sold hundreds of boxes of these cookies myself, so I considered it payback, paying it forward so to speak. Not anymore.

In fact, the Girl Scouts are celebrating the victory won by their alums in the 2018 midterms on its website, beginning with their star, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, who attributes much of her success to what she learned as part of this organization.

Now Girl Scout alums make up 72 percent of female senators and 60 percent of the women in the 116th Congress. Although the website tries to strike a bipartisan tone, it is no accident that, among this year’s freshmen, Carol Miller is the only Republican, and she is much older, 68, than the rest. Her training in scouting was well before the feminist takeover that occurred in 1970.

So before you decide to embrace an International Women’s Day celebration or buy the cookies, ask yourself, ‘Will the country be better off with more representatives like the young socialist Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez?’”


Faces of Evil?

You’ve got to be kidding!  I’m not sure what offends her more … that the girl scouts are celebrating the election of one of their alumni, or that most of the members of Congress who are former girl scouts are democrats!  This woman has lost her marbles!

Get paid extra for carrying a gun?

You likely remember that after the tragic school shooting in Parkland Florida last year, Trump and the NRA bluntly suggested that the way to end school shootings was to arm teachers.  The rest of us held our heads, rolled our eyes, and groaned a deep, anguished “nooooooooooooo …”.  Well, it seems there are some who still think this is just a peachy idea.

teacher-with-gunThree North Carolina republican legislators filed a bill last Wednesday to give up to 3,000 teachers a 5% salary raise if they become teacher resource officers who receive specialized police training to carry firearms at work.  One of the three, North Carolina State Senator Jerry Tillman, says this bill, which is a copy of one that failed to pass last year, will succeed.

“This is an idea whose time has come. With the heightened awareness of the legislature, I believe this bill will see success. It’s a big deterrent to somebody going to shoot up a school. You need to stop them any way you can.”

You’ve got to be kidding!

Mark Jewell, President of the North Carolina Association of Educators, on the other hand, is not thrilled.

“It is a disaster waiting to happen. We continue to be opposed to arming our teachers with firearms. Arm us with the resources we need to teach our kids to be safe.”

I agree 110% with Mr. Jewell.  Want your kids to be safe in school?  Then vote for legislation that takes guns off the streets and out of the hands of people not qualified to use them.  Let us hope the North Carolina legislature has better sense than Mr. Tillman.

How she dresses means she is … what???

I would love to know how people with a law degree can be so utterly stupid?  Think about Kellyanne Conway and Ann Coulter … bimbos, they are, yet they hold law degrees.  Add to that list Jeanine Pirro, who not only holds a law degree, but is a former judge, prosecutor, and politician from New York.  Currently Pirro is host of Fox News Channel’s Justice with Judge Jeanine, where she spouts right-wing conspiracy theories and other lunacy.jeanine-pirroHer latest is a claim that Muslim women who wear a hijab are against the U.S. Constitution.  More specifically, freshman congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who wears a hijab, is against the Constitution.

“Omar wears a hijab, which, according to the Quran 33:59, tells women to cover so they won’t get molested. Is her adherence to this Islamic doctrine indicative of her adherence to Sharia law, which in itself is antithetical to the United States Constitution?”

You’ve got to be kidding!  This woman needs to go back to school and study the history of this nation, how religious freedom was one of the tenets of the founding of this country.  Interestingly, and surprisingly, Fox News apologized for Pirro’s abhorrent comments, saying …

“We strongly condemn Jeanine Pirro’s comments about Rep. Ilhan Omar. They do not reflect those of the network and we have addressed the matter with her directly.”

For once, Fox did the right thing and I applaud them for it.  But wait … along comes former Trump associate Sebastian Gorka …

“She’s absolutely right. The hijab is a requirement of the religion of Islam. It is part of Sharia law. Sharia law does not comport with the U.S. Constitution. Judge Jeanine, we have your back. Hold the line. You are speaking the truth.”

Where are all these fools coming from?  Would somebody please shut the damn gate?

Until next time, dear friends …

The Supreme Court Has Lost Its Way …

The Supreme Court, the branch of the federal government that is supposed to be most independent, that is intended to hold the executive and legislative branches accountable, has made two major decisions today that indicate they have fallen and landed squarely in the camp of Donald Trump.  I am beyond disappointed … I am incensed, and I see our rights as citizens of this plutocracy going down the drain. supreme court justices

Supreme Court revives Trump’s transgender military ban

The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the Trump administration to go ahead with its plan to restrict military service by transgender people while court challenges continue.  The court split 5-4 in allowing the plan to take effect, with the court’s five conservatives greenlighting it and its four liberal members saying they would not have.

Until a few years ago service members could be discharged from the military for being transgender. That changed under President Barack Obama. The military announced in 2016 that transgender individuals already serving in the military would be allowed to serve openly. And the military set July 1, 2017 as the date when transgender individuals would be allowed to enlist.

Trump, of course, had to undo that, for two reasons:  a) it was a decision made during the Obama administration, and Trump has a goal to undo every single thing Obama did, and b) because Donald Trump and his supporters are homophobic bigots.  There is no viable reason to ban transgender people from the military, and this decision does not reflect the feelings of the majority in this nation!

Supreme Court returns to gun rights for 1st time in 9 years

The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will take up its first gun rights case in nine years, a challenge to New York City’s prohibition on carrying a licensed, locked and unloaded handgun outside the city limits.  The court’s decision to hear the appeal filed by three New York residents and New York’s National Rifle Association affiliate could signal a revived interest in gun rights by a more conservative court. The case won’t be argued until October.

New York’s ordinance allows people licensed to have handguns to carry them outside the home to gun ranges in the city. The guns must be locked and unloaded.  The city residents who filed suit want to practice shooting at target ranges outside the city or take their guns to second homes elsewhere in New York state.  The city’s top lawyer, Zachary Carter, urged the court to reject the case, arguing that the restrictions allowed New York police to reduce the number of guns carried in public.

Just about the last … the very last … thing we need in this country is an expansion of 2nd Amendment ‘rights’!  The NRA has already nearly ensured that gun deaths in the U.S. will continue to be the highest per capita on the globe.  What do we want … are we shooting for some sort of record here … “let’s see if we can top last year’s gun deaths”?

Both of these issues are beyond merely concerning on their own merit, but the even greater concern is the trend that is appearing.  It is a trend we all feared when first, Neil Gorsuch, then Brett Kavanaugh were seated on the Supreme Court.  It is deeply disturbing that the Supreme Court appears to be making decisions strictly along partisan lines rather than considering issues on Constitutional merit.  The real concern, however, lies on the path ahead.  There are two prior Supreme Court rulings that ultra-conservative republicans, evangelicals, Trump’s base, want to see overturned:  Roe v Wade, and Obergefell v Hodges.  The first guarantees a woman the right to make decisions about her own body, her own life.  The second guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry.  Both were long, hard-fought battles and are, in short, about human rights … civil rights.

In addition to those, it is highly likely that the Supreme Court will soon be asked to hear cases involving gerrymandering and voter disenfranchisement.  Our constitutional rights … all of them … may be in jeopardy if the Court cannot manage to overcome it’s partisanship.  After Kavanaugh’s contentious confirmation, Chief Justice John Roberts, in an effort to quell growing concerns of partisanship on the Court, made the following statement:

“… We do not sit on opposite sides of an aisle, we do not caucus in separate rooms, we do not serve one party or one interest. We serve one nation. And I want to assure all of you that we will continue to do that to the best of our abilities, whether times are calm or contentious.”

Prove that to us, please, Chief Justice.

Speaking of Sandra Parks …

Sandra ParksThe day might have come when I would have written about a young lady named Sandra Parks in one of my Wednesday ‘good people’ posts.  She was only 13-years-old, but she had already shown that her heart was good.  Two years ago, in sixth grade, young Sandra wrote an award-winning essay about gun violence and crime in her hometown of Milwaukee for the Martin Luther King, Jr. annual essay contest.  In her essay, she called for more empathy and less negativity, and emphasized the importance of getting an education to make the world a better place.

But I will not be able to see what Sandra might have done to help improve the world, and I will not be able to write about her efforts to help people, for Sandra was shot and killed on Monday as she sat in her bedroom watching television.Sandra Parks-houseThe bullet that hit Sandra in the chest was not meant for her … it was a stray bullet from gunfire on the street in front of her home.  Milwaukee Public Schools, in a statement mourning her loss, said Sandra is the 7th child attending a district school to die by homicide in 2018.  Let that one sink in for a minute … SEVEN children have died by homicide in less than eleven months in a single school district!

Tell me again, Mr. NRA member, how more guns is making us safer?  Or, perhaps you would like to explain this concept to Sandra Parks’ mother, Bernice?  Or her sister, Tatiana?

Bernice Parks

Bernice Parks (mother)

Tatiana Parks

Tatiana Parks (sister)

I saw something in passing a few days ago that posed the question: “If, as the NRA claims, more guns make us safer, shouldn’t the U.S. be the safest nation in the world with the lowest incidence of crimes?”  But instead we have this …gun violenceAnd we have yet another dead child because an angry person fired a gun on the street in front of what should have been the safest place in the world for young Sandra Parks.  Who knows what wonderful things Sandra Parks might have done with her life … if only she had been allowed to live.  What a shame … what a damn shame!  Please take a moment to read Sandra’s award-winning essay …

Our Truth

Sandra Parks-awardSometimes, I sit back and I have to escape from what I see and hear every day.  I put my headphones on and let the music take me away. I move to the beat and try to think about life and what everything means. When I do, I come to the same conclusion. . . we are in a state of chaos. In the city in which I live, I hear and see examples of chaos almost every day.  Little children are victims of senseless gun violence. There is too much black on black crime.  As an African-American, that makes me feel depressed. Many people have lost faith in America and its ability to be a living example of Dr. King’s dream!

The truth is faith and hope in what people can do, has been lost in the poor choices we make. We shall overcome has been lost in the lie of who we have become! So now, the real truth is, we need to rewrite our story so that faith and hope for a better tomorrow, is not only within us, but we believe it and we put into actions.

Our first truth is that we must start caring about each other. We need to be empathetic and try to walk in each other’s shoes. We shall overcome when we begin to understand and accept each other. We shall overcome when we eliminate the negative and nasty comments people make about each other. We shall overcome, when we love ourselves and the people around us. Then, we become our brother’s keeper.

Our second truth is that we need to have purpose. We are the future generation, therefore we must have an education to make a positive difference in the world. We are the future leaders, but if we don’t have an education, we will accomplish nothing. We will overcome, when we use our education to make the world a better place. We will become the next President, law enforcement officers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, and law makers. We cannot continue to put the responsibility on other people. It is our responsibility as future leaders!

We must not allow the lies of violence, racism, and prejudice to be our truth. The truth begins with us. Instead of passing each other like ships in the night, we must fight until our truths stretch to the ends of the world.

Meanwhile, in the State of Washington …

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is not exactly known for having a great deal of intellect or common sense, so nothing that comes from them should surprise us.  However, I was a bit taken aback by their latest proposal … well, a proposal by at least one of their members … that the Eastern half of the State of Washington secede from the rest of the state.  Every time I think people cannot possibly get any more stupid, they stubbornly prove me wrong!Washington State mapHere’s what happened:

Early this year, Washington state introduced a package of gun control measures known as Initiative 1639, or I-1639 to be voted on at the 2018 mid-terms on November 6th.  The package is not earth-shattering, but it is a start and includes a ban on semi-automatic assault rifles for those under the age of 21, stricter background checks and a waiting period for those who do purchase them, and safe-storage requirements for all firearms.  Common sense measures and in my book it doesn’t go nearly far enough, but as I said, it’s a start.

Enter the NRA who in May filed suit against the State of Washington, claiming the initiative “seeks to further restrict the Second Amendment rights of Washington’s law-abiding citizens.”  Look again at what is included … banning assault weapon sales to those under 21 … seriously?  Is that what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they wrote the 2nd Amendment, hormonal teens running around with AR-15s?

The initiative would only be placed on the November 6th ballot if those supporting it could garner enough signatures … 259,622 to be exact.  They did get the required signatures and more … some 380,000, and in August, Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst of the Washington State Supreme Court rendered the decision that Initiative 1639 would, indeed, appear on November’s ballot and the NRA was left to cool its jets.  The NRA began an ad campaign, saying that I-1639, if passed, would “criminalize self-defense”.NRA poster.jpgOn November 6th, nearly 60 percent of the state’s voters rejected the gun group’s political arguments and voted in favour of common sense gun legislation.  Score one for common sense and thumbs up to 60% of the people in Washington state.

But, the NRA doesn’t know when to concede graciously.  Jim Lydigsen is the NRA’s official “Frontline Activist Leader” for the city of Selah, Washington.  After the election, he penned a letter to the editor of the Columbian, a Washington local newspaper, to demand secession for his part of the state.  Obviously, a knowledge of the U.S. Constitution is not a requirement for being an NRA official, nor is a modicum of intelligence.

Jim Lydigsen.jpg

NRA’s Jim Lydigsen

“Following passage of I-1639 it has become clear to me that now, more than before, Eastern Washington MUST separate from Western Washington. This means forming a new state ‘Liberty.’”

Now, Lydigsen isn’t alone in calling for the secession of the eastern half of the state.  He is joined by a representative in the Washington state legislature, one Matt Shea.  Although Matt’s reasons go far beyond just I-1639, he supports secession based on his “biblical” beliefs.  In the week before the election, Shea published a manifesto titled “Biblical Basis for War” in which he calls for a ‘surrender to biblical obedience’ and an end to abortion and same-sex marriage.  His manifesto is basically a demand for war.

Matt Shea-1.jpg

Representative Matt Shea

Under a section listing “Rules of War,” it dictates that an offer of peace must be made before declaring war, but no negotiation or compromise is acceptable. Only a surrender “on terms of justice and righteousness” is acceptable, which includes stopping all abortions, no same-sex marriage, no idolatry or occultism, no communism, and an obedience to Biblical law. “If they do not yield — kill all males,” it states.  Feeling a bit of a chill?  This guy is a nutcase, but yet he sits in the Washington State legislature, making laws for the State of Washington and its people.   Here are his top ten reasons for calling for secession …Matt-Shea-reasons.jpgShea, by the way, has an A+ rating from the NRA … bet that surprises you, doesn’t it?

This whole thing is rather ridiculous, for nobody has the right to split up a state in this manner, and if either of these “gentlemen” had bothered to read the Constitution, they would realize that.  So, why am I wasting my time on this ridiculousness?  Because these are men with power … much more power than somebody with so few brain cells ought to have.  These men are dangerous and sadly are a product of our current environment.  Whether it is populism or Trumpism that has opened the door to such outlandish ideas is arguable and I don’t claim to have the answer.  What I do know, however, is three-fold:  a) we need even stricter gun control laws that those passed by Washington’s I-1639; b) the NRA has entirely too much power and too much control over our elected officials; c) people like Matt Shea, who attempt to inject their own religious views into our secular government and impose them on the rest of us, have absolutely no business being in government.  Period.  I rest my case.

No, Folks, This Is NOT Normal …

Yesterday morning we awoke to news of another mass shooting, this one at a bar in Thousand Oaks, California, that left 13 dead, including the gunman.  The first headline I saw claimed it was the “First mass shooting in the U.S. in over 10 days”, as if that were a statistic in which we ought to take pride.  First, a mass shooting every eleven days would be nothing to be proud of even if true, but the reality is that it was not the first, but rather the eleventh mass shooting since the shooting at L’Simcha (Tree of Life) synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on October 27th.  Eleventh.  Think about this one for a moment.  Did you realize there had been, on average, one mass shooting per day for the past ten?  Why did we not know?  How could we have missed it?mass shootings map-2According to statistics from the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 307 mass shootings in the 312 days of 2018.  It has become a common occurrence in our lives and we are, apparently, no longer shocked.  Five people shot, nobody died … oh well, just another day in paradise, eh?

The words of one parent whose son, Telemachus Orfanos, lost his life yesterday morning tell it all …

“I don’t want prayers.  I don’t want thoughts.  I want gun control.”

Telemachus had survived the Las Vegas massacre last year, only to lose his life in this one.

Gabrielle Giffords, the former Democratic congresswoman from Arizona who was shot in 2011, tweeted …

“307. There have been 307 mass shootings so far this year. Do we really want to raise our children in a country where mass shootings like Thousand Oaks are a weekly occurrence? A country where every single day in America, more than 90 people are killed with guns?  Classrooms. Places of worship. Newsrooms. Movie theaters. Restaurants. Yoga studios. Nightclubs. Playgrounds. No place in America feels safe anymore. No other high-income nation has this level of gun violence. I’m heartbroken, angry, and never going to accept this as normal.”

None of us should ever be willing to accept this as normal … it isn’t.  I’ve quoted statistics in past posts, so I won’t bore you with them again, except to say that every other nation in the industrialized world has stricter gun laws than the U.S., and not a single one has the number of gun deaths … not even close … that the U.S. sees every single year.  Every.  Single.  Year.

Tree of Life synagogue, Parkland, Las Vegas, Pulse nightclub, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook … how many more?  How many more people in this country have to die before somebody wakes up and says ENOUGH!!!  Small men who rely on guns to make them feel like big men need to find some other outlet for their anger!  We The People are tired of the killing.  The NRA owns most every republican in Congress, as well as the small man sitting in the Oval Office.

Please … don’t sit back and shrug this one off, don’t accept that gun violence in the United States has to be ‘the norm’.  It doesn’t have to be.  Write letters, make your voice heard, or one of these days it might be you who gets that call in the middle of the night.gun-pointing

Look The Other Way …

How, we ask ourselves, did a sexual predator with a volatile temper and no knowledge of how government works, become the president?  How is this possible in what was once among the freest nations on earth?  Quite simple … we all have preconceived notions of what we want, and if something stands in the way of achieving those goals, we simply … look the other way.

A nominee for Supreme Court justice refuses to answer questions, is caught lying during his confirmation hearings and then is accused of having sexually assaulted one or more girls during his early years.  The republicans have been ordered by Donald Trump to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, regardless.  What to do, what to do?  Look the other way.

The human race, as well as most other living creatures, is on a collision course with disaster unless we make some tough choices in the very near future.  Massive amounts of scientific research provide evidence that the burning of fossil fuels is contributing to making the planet Earth virtually unable to sustain life at some point in the future. But it’s inconvenient.  Coal miners might lose their jobs, people might have to make sacrifices such as driving cars less, turning the thermostat down in winter, staying home more.  What to do?  Look the other way.

The investigation into already-proven links between Trump, his family and his campaign workers to the Russians who interfered in the 2016 election that put Trump into office is in danger of being shackled or terminated by the very subject of the investigation, Donald Trump.  Trump is panicked and threatening to fire people who will likely provide the information that will ultimately see him impeached.  What should we do?  Look the other way.

You see signs that your neighbor is beating his wife, but you’ve been friends with the couple for years, your children play together, and it would be so inconvenient to confront him, or to contact law enforcement.  What to do?  Look the other way.

The man who is tasked with defending the Constitution, frequently challenges the freedom of the press by referring to them as the “enemy of the people”.  What to do?  Defend our press, or … Look the other way.

More than 500 immigrant children remain separated from their parents because of a heinous policy of Trump’s administration earlier this year. These children are treated as criminals, housed in detention centers that are kept out of the public view.  Children!  What to do?  Look the other way.

There are signs that the president of the nation is becoming more and more authoritarian, taking power that he was never intended to have, threatening and bullying members of Congress, leaders of the Justice Department and others who are tasked with the job of protecting and defending the Constitution.  Protest is time-consuming and risky.  What to do?  Look the other way.

People are dying because they cannot afford adequate healthcare, as the president signs executive orders and bullies Congress to undercut the protections under ACA.  What to do?  Look the other way.  People have lost their homes because the president revoked a policy that would have reduced the cost of mortgages for millions of home buyers.  That’s tough, but it doesn’t affect you, so just … Look the other way.

Trump reversed a rule that would ban gun sales to those deemed “mentally defective” by the government.  The NRA is dictating policy through ‘donations’ to congressional campaigns, and by direct intervention in some states’ gun laws.  The U.S. has the highest incidence of gun-related deaths in the world.  What to do?  Look the other way.

And the list goes on … and on …

Yes, folks, by all means look the other way and assume that “it will all work out in the long run, for it always has”.  Look the other way and believe that somebody else will step in and do something.  Look how well that worked for the Germans and the Italians in the 1930s. Nothing to see here, folks, just move along with your lives.  Go coach that soccer game, socialize with your friends, post pictures of your most recent meal on Facebook, take a vacation, post your selfies on Twitter, and don’t let any of this disturb your sleep at night … just go enjoy the heck out of your lives.  Never for a single minute think that you or I might be complicit in the undoing of the nation. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow …

Meet Marion Hammer …

Marion HammerHer name is Marion Hammer.  She is 79 years of age. In 1995 she became the first female president in the 125-year history of her organization.  In 1993 she was awarded with the Outstanding Community Service Award from the National Safety Council, and in 2005 she was inducted into the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame.  Impressed?  Don’t be.

Marion Hammer’s is the face of evil. Marion Hammer’s organization is the National Rifle Association (NRA), and in this writer’s opinion she is more worthy of the Women’s Hall of Infamy award. Hammer has helped see some of the most dangerous gun laws pass through the Florida legislature, including the infamous Stand Your Ground law that allowed George Zimmerman to get off scot-free after murdering a 17-year-old unarmed African-American youth in 2012.  She was also instrumental in passing a 2011 statute that makes it illegal for local elected officials to enact their own gun control laws, lest they face a $5,000 penalty and possible removal from office.  How, you ask, does one woman who holds no position in government have such power?Hammer-2.jpgThe answer is first off that the NRA has power well beyond what should be allowed by a single-industry lobbyist group.  The second part of the answer is that in Florida, certain parts of gun laws are enforced by the Department of Agriculture rather than law enforcement agencies.  And the third part of the answer is that Ms. Hammer is an unapologetic bully.hammer-toonRecently, the Tampa Bay Times acquired and published all 298 emails between Hammer and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services from 2014 through early 2018.  The documents show that essentially, Ms. Hammer and thus the NRA are the de facto leaders of the Florida Department of Agriculture, at least as regards gun regulations.  For example …

“Who on earth was arrogant and antigun enough to authorize this?” she asks in one email.

” … put this at the top of the priority list and do it right away,” she orders in another.Hammer-3

After the department of agriculture denied someone’s renewal for a concealed weapons license, Hammer sent an email demanding to know what happened. “Guys, this is your first test from me since Ken moved to his new position,” Hammer wrote, referring to an agency official. “Do him proud and find out what the heck is going on.” Almost immediately, Paul Pagano, the assistant director in the department’s licensing division, replied, “Ms. Hammer, I’ll research it first thing in the morning and provide answers.” Even though the application wasn’t notarized correctly, Pagano went ahead and approved it anyway, because … Hammer had asked him to.

Any changes in the department’s concealed weapons program are sent to Hammer “for your consideration” or “for your review” before even the legislature can look at them. On the off-chance any new proposals or changes don’t go by Hammer first, she makes sure she gets her hands on them.

“I understand some of your people are walking around some new language dealing with [concealed weapons] licensing and Tax Collectors fees,” Hammer wrote an agency official. “Care to share it with me?”

But Hammer’s influence over the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services isn’t limited to gun regulation … she has stepped into other areas now, too.  From the Tampa Bay Times, 22 September 2018:

On the Fourth of July 2016, National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer fired off an email to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

“This crap needs to stop,” begins Hammer in the first of seven emails she would exchange with the department over the next 48 hours. “You need to figure out how to stop business email spamming.”

Those who work in the Florida agency that oversees gun permits never know when Hammer will command their attention — or what about. Nights, weekends and even holidays, she sends messages to senior department officials with complaints and demands. They often respond within minutes.

Using an email address, Hammer’s emails touch on topics such as spam email, South Korean dogs and a personal problem with a pest control company.

Brusque and demanding, the messages suggest Hammer is rarely told “no.”

In a 2013 whistleblower lawsuit, an employee alleged that the director of Putnam’s licensing division, Grea Bevis, told her she “worked for the NRA” when she tried to draw attention to problems with the gun licensing program. The department denied the accusation, but settled with the employee for $30,000.

It is a playbook that gun-rights advocates have repeated to much success: First Florida, then the country.

gunshine state-2.jpgSomehow, the State of Florida has turned over their state to one of the most despicable organizations in the nation, and in particular to one of their most obnoxious lobbyists, Marion Hammer.  How did this happen, folks?  It is time this nation and its people stand up to the NRA.  They are no longer just a lobbyist group, but they are a very serious threat to the well-being of the people of this nation.

NRA Takes On … Thomas & Friends???

A few days ago, several readers made the comment that the world has gone mad, and I agreed with them.  Today, I am more convinced than ever that there is something toxic in the atmosphere that is turning people into raving lunatics.  The headline in the New York Times reads …

N.R.A. Show Puts Thomas the Tank Engine in K.K.K. Hood to Criticize Diversity Move

The story begins last Friday, when the kids’ show Thomas and Friends announced that it was adding new characters in partnership with the United Nations, as part of an effort to introduce its preschool audience to new cultures and issues.  The new characters are mostly female and international characters, including Nia, a train from Kenya.



The character Thomas the Tank Engine was invented more than 70 years ago by the Rev. W. Awdry, as a story for his son. Mr. Awdry turned the story into the first of many books in 1945, and in 1984, Thomas became the star of a new British animated show that was narrated by Ringo Starr. The show made its American debut in 1989 on PBS.

Apparently, NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch has a problem with Nia … or is her problem with diversity … or is her problem with non-whites?  Loesch hosts a program titled Relentless on NRA-TV (yes, for those who didn’t know, the NRA has its very own television network).  On her program last Friday she questioned the ‘need’ for diversity on Thomas’ show …

Dana Loesch“How do you bring ethnic diversity? I mean they had to paint, what I guess they thought was some sort of African pattern on the side of Nia’s engine? How do you bring ethnic diversity to a show that literally has no ethnicities because they’re trains? They don’t even have skin pigmentation. Was there some concern that the show had racist undertones?”

Obviously, Ms. Loesch has no understanding of ethnic diversity, the intolerance that exists in this nation today, or the need to teach children to value those of different cultures & ethnicities.  And so, Ms. Loesch, along with producers at NRA-TV, came up with this …thomas-tank-kkk

I don’t know about you, but when I first saw this image, I was speechless. This is a new low even for the NRA that, as we all know, has no values and cares not a whit about humans … only about money. But to target a very popular kids’ show??? Can anybody say “social conscience”?

What does Loesch’s grotesque distortion of a children’s cartoon have to do with gun rights? Nothing, according to the laws of common sense.  But of late, the NRA has taken its culture war cues from Trump and its segments are anti-Black Lives Matter, pro-cop, anti-media and pro-Trump.  It is no longer just guns the NRA is defending, but its way of life, its identity.  And apparently a children’s television program that promotes peace, understanding and love of others is offensive to Ms. Loesch and the NRA.

There is something ugly about all of this.  There is something vitriolic, toxic in Ms. Loesch and others such as Alex Jones, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter who bring the message of hate and bigotry, even to small children.  I have been engaged in a back-and-forth discussion for the past week or so with a reader concerning whether there ought to be limits to free speech. This abomination by Ms. Loesch and the NRA further cements my viewpoint that when a person or organization fails to accept the responsibility that accompanies the right to free speech, it is further proof that there need to be some limits, some constraints.  Try explaining the above picture to your 4-year-old:

“Well, you see honey, there are some people who don’t like people who don’t look like they do, and so they put white sheets on their heads and go around setting fires on people’s property and killing people.”

Doesn’t make sense even to me, and I’m not 4-years-old!

Where do we draw a line, folks?  Surely even supporters of the 1st and 2nd amendments must be incensed by this?  Surely nobody can defend Ms. Loesch’ attack on diversity?  Or … can they?  Have we gone too far?  For me, the answer is ‘yes’.  What about you?Pooh-sad

A Dose of Saturday Snarky Snippets

Saturday afternoon … and all the news is about Paul Manafort’s plea bargain and Hurricane Florence.  While these are both very important stories, I cannot add much to what is already being said, so, I went in search of a few snippets beyond today’s headlines.

The last laugh …

nike-toonWhen Nike announced that their new ad campaign for the 30th anniversary of its “Just Do It” motto would feature Colin Kaepernick, the man who took a knee to take a stand against racial injustice, some portion of the nation went a bit berserk.  There were reports of people burning their Nike clothing & shoes, cutting holes in their socks, and all manners of rather stupid (considering they paid for those clothes & shoes) protests.  Boycotts were called for, and Donald Trump, of course had to get in on the act saying, “I don’t like what Nike did. I don’t think it’s appropriate what they did.”  Rather tame for him, come to think of it.

The rumour mill, aka ‘social media’, fed by people who have entirely too much time on their hands to think up stupid things to do, went wild.  Within days of the announcement, for example, it was reported that Nike scotched the deal after Kaepernick launched into an “anti-white rant” in public (false), that Nike lost an $80 million U.S. government contract because of the deal (false), and that former NBA star Michael Jordan had resigned from Nike’s board of directors in protest of the Kaepernick deal (also false).  Then on September 9th, it was reported by a junk website that Kaepernick was arrested for trespassing after running onto the field during the national anthem “as a publicity stunt” at an NFL game in San Francisco.  Also blatantly false.  Trump talks a lot about libel laws when somebody reports something unfavourable yet true about him … these stories about Kaepernick are what libel actually looks like.

And of course, the predictions by some were that Nike would be on the verge of bankruptcy within a year. Thus, it is with great joy that I report that on Thursday, Nike stock reached an all-time high, closing at $83.47, and gained yet another two-cents yesterday, closing at $83.49!  Additionally, Nike’s online revenue increased by 31% in the days after the announcement. Go Nike!

nike swoosh-2

NRA oopsie … 

In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law prohibiting corporations and unions from making expenditures in connection with federal elections.  Known as Citizens United, this case opened the door for massive amounts of money to be spent by big businesses and lobbyists such as the National Rifle Association (NRA) on advertising for individual candidates who they believe will, in return, vote in their favour once in office.  There are, however, some rules & limitations.

One such rule is that while such groups can raise and spend virtually unlimited amounts on an election, they must do so independently of the candidate. In other words there cannot be an agreement between, say, the NRA and a specific candidate.  And so, when the following conversation between republican senate candidate Matt Rosendale of Montana and an unidentified person took place in a bar one July night, it was in violation of the Federal Election Commission (FEC rules).

“I fully expect the NRA is going to come in… in August sometime. The Supreme Court confirmations are big. That’s what sent the NRA over the line. Because in ’12, with [Republican Senate nominee Denny Rehberg] they stayed out, they stayed out of Montana. But Chris Cox told me, he’s like, ‘We’re going to be in this race.’”

matt rosendaleChris Cox is the head of the NRA lobbying efforts, and sure enough, earlier this month, the NRA spent more than $400,000 on ads hitting Rosendale’s democratic opponent, incumbent Jon Tester over the precise issue that Rosendale mentioned—the senator’s votes on Supreme Court nominations.  Dirty pool?  You betcha.  Is anything likely to come of it?  It is extremely doubtful, for there is no evidence in the audio recording that Rosendale consented or encouraged the contribution. Just one more of the many tricks the GOP and NRA have up their sleeves.

‘Fear’-less library …

fear-libraryThe town of Berkeley Springs is located in Morgan County, West Virginia.  West Virginia voted 75% for Donald Trump in 2016, which says something about the state.  Nonetheless, there is a library in Berkeley.  The Director of the Morgan County Public Library is one Donna Crocker.  On Tuesday, when Bob Woodward’s book, Fear:  Trump in the White House, was released, Berkeley Springs resident Rob Campbell generously attempted to donate a copy of the book to the library but was turned down flat.  Crocker declined his offer, saying that they “… wouldn’t be putting books like that on the shelves anymore.”  Books like that???  Like what?  What year is this, again?

After a hue and cry on Facebook by residents who are apparently eager to read the book, Ms. Crocker’s decision was overridden by Connie Perry, the president of the trustees of the Morgan County Public Library.  Ms. Perry attempted to pass the incident off as just a ‘misunderstanding’, saying “It was an employee who . . . wasn’t aware of what she should have done.”  And yet … Crocker is the Director, not just any employee.  I strongly suspect Ms. Crocker made the decision based on her own political preferences, for when asked in a phone interview about her decision, she said “I don’t want to get in the middle of that. We have other Trump books.”book banning

And thus concludes yet another episode of Snarky Snippets. Have a great rest-of-the-weekend!

Newsworthy …

The news of the day is predominantly predictions and warnings about Hurricane Florence, expected to hit the Carolinas tomorrow.  Our friend Keith is in Charlotte, North Carolina, so I’ll be thinking of him and hoping he and his family are safe.  And, Trump is running his mouth & thumbs again, falsely claiming what a “great job” he did in the aftermath of last year’s Hurricane Maria that devastated Puerto Rico, and slamming San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz.  I will have more to say about that tomorrow. But a couple of other things crossed my path this morning …

And we thought the NRA was bad? 

In yesterday’s New Hampshire republican primary, a man named Eddie Edwards won over Andy Sanborn by just over 3,000 votes, or 6.8%.  Eddie, endorsed by Rudy Giuliani, is a big Trump fan …

“The president’s doing one hell of a job in Washington. It’s about time we had a president who understood the values of our country and stood up for our country.”

eddie edwardsThat in itself is enough to make one want to head for the nearest bathroom, but that is far from the worst of it.  Edwards is a supporter of the 2nd Amendment, the likes of which we have never seen, not even in the most ardent gun supporters such as the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre.  Hold on to your hats for this one, folks.  Eddie fully supports a total repeal of the background check system.  A TOTAL repeal … no background checks … ever … for anyone.  But wait … there’s even more.

He says he would vote to shrink or eliminate the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms (ATF). He would oppose any legislative or regulatory prohibition on “bump stocks.” He also vows to repeal the 1996 federal law that prohibits bringing guns within 1000 feet of schools, to end limits on gun imports that are not for “sporting purposes,” and to even repeal the 1996 Lautenberg amendment that prevents people convicted of domestic violence from owning guns. In other words, not only would he eliminate the background checks, but would also arm more domestic abusers.  Listen to Eddie …

A 2013 poll by Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that even in pro-gun New Hampshire, 89 percent of likely voters supported universal mandatory background checks for gun purchases.  Now, aside from the fact that I don’t foresee Congress, even if Mr. Eddie Edwards were to attain a seat in the House, passing laws to make any of Eddie’s dreams come true, I find it extremely disturbing that a man with these ideas could make it as far as he has in politics.  At least 21,767 people  in new Hampshire support this insanity.

Free speech runs amok … again

It’s called the Institute for Historical Review (IHR).  Sounds innocuous enough, yes?  But no.  It is an anti-Semitic hate group whose main ‘claim to fame’ is in denying that the Holocaust happened, even claiming that the Anne Frank’s diary was a hoax and the gas chambers never existed.  This month, IHR has been allowed to place advertisements on San Francisco’s mass transit system, BART (Bay Area Regional Transit). BARTWhy?  Why would BART allow a blatantly, unapologetic anti-Semitic organization to advertise on its trains?  Because …

“You have to look at it for exactly what words are used and what images are used … There is plenty of case law and court rulings that show if you deny the ad, you can be taken to court, and you’ll lose, and that’s obviously costly.”

Anti-Semitism is on the rise … hate crimes and discrimination against Jews rose by 57% in the U.S. in 2017.  To be fair, anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe also, but at least there, they have laws that curtail such abomination as hate groups advertising in public venues.  But here … anything goes under the guise of free speech.  This is not free speech … this robs people of their right to peace of mind!

In 2015, a judge ruled that New York’s MTA (Mass Transit Authority) could not stop an ad from being run that read “Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah.” The ad was created by a pro-Israel organization whose president, Pamela Geller, is a well-known Islamophobe.  And just last August, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) took the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to court for refusing a number of ads, including one by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while know that I am a staunch supporter of free speech, for I believe that it is the only thing keeping this nation free from a dictatorship.  Even when I don’t particularly like or agree with what is said, I support the person’s right to say it.  However, in my mind there is a line, and advertising anti-Semitism or any other form of hate on public transit crosses that line.  The divisiveness in this country today, and Donald Trump’s support of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other hate groups has contributed to this madness.  What’s more, I see no end in sight, but predict an escalation to these types of hate speech.

It is quite possible to support freedom of speech without supporting speech that denigrates others and invites violence.  Think about  it.