Tuesday, October 13, 2015

It kind of all starts in Public Schools

"Why do I have to learn Algebra?!" And you have people like Michelle Rhee convincing us to destroy our schools.

"Why do I have to practice the clarinet?!" And you have people like Weeknd and Bieber at the top of the charts.

"Why do I have to go to PE?!" And you have people calling our first lady Moochelle as she tries to get us to eat a vegetable.

It kind of all starts in Public Schools. Don't let billionaires convince you that privatization, for profit charters, and vouchers are good.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Who will be our Walter Cronkite?

When I was a kid, I grew up with the Vietnam War on the news, TV, Radio and newspapers. It was real life horror, and soon millions were in the streets protesting against this war.

I'm starting to feel the same way with the incessant daily gun massacres.

As the war in Vietnam ground to a stalemate, CBS reporter Walter Cronkite, trusted by America in ways we couldn't believe today, made a statement:

Mr. CRONKITE: (Reading) Tonight, back in more familiar surroundings in New York, we'd like to sum up our findings in Vietnam, an analysis that must be speculative, personal, subjective. Who won and who lost in the great Tet Offensive against the cities? I'm not sure. The Vietcong did not win by a knockout but neither did we.
Then, with as much restraint as I could, I turned to our own leaders whose idea of negotiation seemed frozen in memories of General McArthur's encounter with the Japanese aboard the Battleship Missouri.
We've been too often disappointed by the optimism of the American leaders...
(Soundbite of TV program, "CBS Evening News")
(Reading) Both in Vietnam and Washington to have faith any longer in the silver linings they find in the darkest clouds. For it seems now more certain than ever, that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate. To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past.
To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, if unsatisfactory conclusion. On the off chance that military and political analysts are right, in the next few months we must test the enemy's intentions, in case this is indeed his last big gasp before negotiations.
But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.
This is Walter Cronkite. Good night.
Our civil war about firearms is not in a stalemate, it's getting worse daily, and we're losing tens of thousand a year to it. The vast majority of us do not want to live our lives terrorized by the thought that the person next to us, whether in schools, theaters, parks, churches, military bases, hair salons, offices, supermarkets, malls, factories, trains...is armed and ready to do us harm.

Contact your elected officials today. Your city council, Mayor, state legislative representatives, Governor, Senators, Congressional Representatives and President. Let them know that We the People are under Siege, and that they need to do something.

Every firearm owner needs a license, with certified training and testing, renewed regularly. Those with a history of violence, violent felonies, and mental illness related to violence will be denied. Liability insurance for each owner, multiplied by the number of weapons.

Every firearm needs a title and ID, so we can trace every firearm and bullet.

Limit the sale of military-style weapons to the military and law enforcement. Limit the amount of ammo to what is necessary for training and self-defense.

It's not too soon to talk - it's far far too late.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

National Firearm Regulation: Owning a Gun Comes With Great Responsibility

National Firearm Regulation:
  • Background Check - Felonies, Violent behavior related to mental health
  • Training - Safety and usage
  • Testing
  • Insurance - A Single-Payer indemnity pool
  • Weapon and Ammunition ID - track every gun and bullet
  • License
  • Assault Weapons - No sales other than to military and law enforcement
  • Ammunition: limit sales to a quantity sufficient for practice and personal defense
This service, since there is a firearm for every man, woman, and child in the U.S., would be paid from our Federal Taxes; administered by State agencies. Database would be secure but immediately accessible by law enforcement, courts with a warrant, etc. License would not be used for Voter ID, employment eligibility, credit worthiness, or in any discriminatory way.

We need to get our elected officials and legislators to help! We're under siege.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

This Life is a Riot

I lived through race riots in my home town of Michigan City, IN in the '60s. Brutal police actions led to unrest, which was fanned into flames by outside agitators, and the National Guard had to come in to cool things off for a few days.

I lived through race riots in my adopted city of Boston in the '70s. White people rioted, burned and looted so their schools wouldn't be integrated. It took the better part of a year for this to cool down and for the buses to roll as directed.

I lived through race riots here in Los Angeles in the '90s. Brutal police actions and a complicit judicial system led to almost immediate action, almost as if rioting, looting, and burning were planned.

None of this was warranted or necessary.

Race is almost impossible to talk about here in the U.S. We have such an awful history - genocide on native peoples, wholesale enslavement of people imported to work for the wealthy, Jim Crow laws making sure that a century later these people still didn't have the opportunity many of us had and took for granted. It seems like half of America wants to take us back to the status quo of 1950 or 1850, and we are a brutish and un-exceptional nation because of this.

Young people are very much less likely to care about anyone's race, but it's the old and wealthy that have the power and systematically deny Freedom and opportunity to those without wealth and power - non-whites, immigrants, those not of your religion, different sexual and gender orientation...

Even the brutality of the police - along with horrible Stand-Your-Ground murders, our obsession with firearms and our generation-long war on drugs which is becoming simply a pipeline from school to for-profit prisons - is just a symptom. Our economic divisions and imposition of belief over Human Rights is fundamentally the cause.

It would be naive to believe we can get either side to change overnight. Working to get rid of systematic policies like Stop and Frisk and Stand Your Ground would be a start. Ensuring free and appropriate public education and health care for all would be a great step. We can only do this if we choose, little by little, to put aside differences and embrace what Unites us.