To Remember: Hashtag WeRemember

Totalitarian Authoritarian:  charismatic leader who promotes an aura of being a bigger than man; a divine savior and thus is not recognized as a tyrannical power; obsessed ruler who impose their will through fear and loyalty by rewarding those that collaborate with them and diminishing, demeaning, discrediting, and eventually silencing the voices of those who oppose the message of the leader.  Uses political parties and mass organizations to make people believe and do whatever is necessary to reach a goal.  Emotionalism unchecked and always in need of an enemy which can be real, perceived, or created when necessary.

Native American Indians, Armenia, Holodomor, Dekulakization, The Holocaust, The “Killing Fields,” Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur…

Marches, Tears, Terrors, Purgings, Repressions, Crimes Against Humanity, Classicide, Democide, Genocide, Politicide…

Blind, Deaf, Ignorance, Naivety, Willing, Unaware…

Lest We Forget……


Whenever, Wherever, However…

By Any Definition, Classification, Descriptor, Name…

We Need to Care.  We Need to Think.  We Need to be Aware.

Lest We Forget…



Meryl Streep: The Horror

Let me say that I do not watch award shows.  When a “famous” individual puts forth an opinion outside of their areas of knowledge or “expertise” I honestly don’t give that opinion credibility just because the person stating is well-known.

I just don’t understand the uproar about Meryl Streep.  She did not discuss political parties, policies, and did not call President Elect Trump by name although there were no doubts to whom she referred.  Before addressing the Trump incident she stated:

“An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like.”

Following a sentence about powerful acting performances, she continued:

“There was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good. There was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it. I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life.

And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.

This brings me to the press. We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call them on the carpet for every outrage. That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in our constitution. So I only ask the famously well-heeled Hollywood Foreign Press and all of us in our community to join me in supporting the committee to protect journalists. Because we’re going to need them going forward. And they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.

One more thing. Once when I was standing around on the set one day whining about something, we were going to work through supper, or the long hours or whatever, Tommy Lee Jones said to me, isn’t it such a privilege, Meryl, just to be an actor. Yeah, it is. And we have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy. We should all be very proud of the work Hollywood honors here tonight.

As my friend, the dear departed Princess Leia, said to me once, take your broken heart, make it into art. Thank you.”

What I read is that acting is different from being in real life.

Agree or disagree with Donald Trump, he says some things that people would be offended by if stated directly to them or perceived to be about them.  When those same things are said about another, then the feelings often change.  I’m not suggesting anyone here is a hypocrite, but I’m contending that to some degree we are all like a line from Hoosiers.  To paraphrase, there are 2 kinds of crazy:  1) a feller rips off his clothes and runs out in the street barking at the moon and 2) a feller does the same thing in my house.  The first doesn’t really matter, but the second….

Hopefully everyone agrees that people want and attempt to emulate others, especially those who are popular, have power, or who we want to be regardless of whether that feeling is realistic or wise.  My personal opinion is that we all have responsibilities and to whom much is given much is expected so the more popular, powerful, or better you are at anything means that you have more responsibility.  I may be taking out of context, but Charles Barkley was correct in that athletes should not be role models even though he was mistaken in that by being an athlete he had the responsibility to try and set examples.  It’s the same as me telling my child to do what I say, not what I do.

I read from Meryl Streep’s transcript that if someone powerful tries to bully then it gives others justification to do the same.  “Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence.”

I agree that we need a principled press, and I’ll add a free press.  Even before the US existed, we had the legal precedent on this soil that truth is a defense.

As far as her putting down on the non-elites, those who pay to watch her perform her job, I can see that interpretation if one stops reading after the 2nd paragraph.  Near the conclusion, however, this stands out more to me:

“Once when I was standing around on the set one day whining about something, we were going to work through supper, or the long hours or whatever, Tommy Lee Jones said to me, isn’t it such a privilege, Meryl, just to be an actor. Yeah, it is. And we have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy.”

Didn’t she just say that it’s a privilege to just be an actor and those who have privilege sometimes need reminders that they have the responsibility of being empathetic to those without the privileges?  Now some may not believe that empathy is a responsibility, but I think it’s necessary to appreciate any blessings you have been given or have earned.

Personally I don’t any sticks or stones thrown by Meryl Streep from her soapbox, and if those words bruise or pierce the skin I think the person may have health issues.  Most Hollywood elites won’t know working class people, but the same is true for most politicians.  It’s the same with many in upper management or in upper administration in academia.  Even for those who worked their way up through the ranks, it’s too easy to forget where you started.  Often where you ultimately end can be decided from where you start.  We tend to forget that, and that is what should be outrageous to all.

Transcript taken from:

The Louisiana Flood: Press, Politics, and People

Shock, stress, despair, disbelief, fatigue, exhaustion, more stress, perseverance, work at home, work at a neighbor’s, work at family member’s, work at a friend’s, work at a colleague’s, work at a stranger’s, disbelief again, more fatigue, exhaustion taking roots, and knowing that you will repeat this seemingly perpetual cycle.  That’s present-day life in Livingston Parish, Louisiana, for my family, lifelong friends, people who taught me, those who encouraged me, those I’ve battled, those who drive me up a wall, those for whom I would take a bullet, those I’ve yet to meet, and those who I may never meet.

Sheriff Jason Ard yesterday gave a preliminary estimate of 75 percent of the homes in the Parish impacted with between 2 and 8 feet of water, and with rivers in the southern portion yet to crest the numbers will likely increase.

Approximations are that between 15 and 20 thousand rescues took place although that number is surely higher considering the efforts of citizens using their own boats to bring people to dry ground.

With waters receding in areas, the number of shelters for the displaced dropped from 8,500 to 1,244.

According to the Twitter feed of Dr. Mathew Sitkowski of the Weather Channel, the total rainfall from 12 to 14 August over southern Louisiana was the equivalent to more than 4 trillion gallons of water, enough to easily fill 6 million Olympic size swimming pools.  In Watson which is located in the northeastern section of Livingston Parish and home to the Live Oak Eagles who back in school days was one of our district rivals, 31.39 inches of rain fell during this span of time.  Even more rain followed.

Where, What, How, and Why

The Parish is a bit larger than 700 square miles in area with a population of approximately 138,000 residents.  I describe the location as being at the top of the foot, near the ankle, of the boot shaped state.  The population has tripled since I was a kid running barefoot through the fields and doubled since I graduated from the public school system.

Yep the area has changed, and I’m not talking about an additional weight of what?

(1 US Gallon weighs approximately 8.344 pounds – the history prof asked the physics prof)

– a trillion has 12 zeroes following the 1 so the water weight would be approximately the result of this equation:

  • 4,000,000,000,000 X 8.344  =  33,376,000,000,000,000 pounds  (maybe)

– the physics prof has left, so she can’t grade my head figures, but correct or not that’s a heck of a lot of water.

Returning to my comfort zone and professional history hat,

I recall stories as a child and later conducting formal oral history interviews with folks talking about how much changed when portions of Interstate 12 opened in 1967, ten years after its initial planning.  By 1976, the approximately 86-mile span was completed.  I wonder how many interstate overpasses had cattle guards just before entrances, and those cattle guards stayed well into in adulthood.   It’s only in the past 10 or so years that large gas stations and convenience stores with chain restaurants inside appeared off the Albany/Springfield Exit 32.  In many ways that exit seems more like the Walker exit of old, but today Walker is like Denham Springs and getting off on Range at Denham is just like exits in Baton Rouge.  Did I say the area has changed?

It causes one to ponder how a nondescript area to outsiders stood through well-known forces of nature.  Before my time, Hurricanes Betsy and Camille left their marks but came and went.  For me personally, Hurricane Andrew is memorable because of the power outages for weeks and trees downed.  As I discovered recently up here in Maryland, operating a chainsaw and swinging an axe are really like riding a bicycle.  With Andrew I helped cut pathways through toppled trees on many a road for folks to be able to return to their homes.

There were other storms during my time in the Free State, but I wasn’t there when Hurricane Katrina ravaged the area.  I sat in my office in Georgia watching live feeds on the computer as students and other faculty saw me with that look of disbelief on my face.  Apart from my stress of not being able to contact family and friends for days and being unable to get to the state because of all the damage in surrounding states, my neck of Livingston Parish stood up well to Katrina’s fury.

Hurricane Rita hit the area a bit harder, Hurricane Isaac brought nearly 2 feet of rain as recorded in Hammond, Louisiana, about 8 miles to the east in Tangipahoa Parish, and Hurricane Gustav delivered the most damage to family and friends until…

Until rain.  No named storm, no high winds, no storm surges, not even a tropical system but just continuous pounding rain.

I know that many people think of Louisiana as flood prone.  It is in many areas, but that’s not the case in Livingston Parish.  Yes, the Parish has areas that flood even beyond the official flood zones.  Residents, however, know those areas.  They prepare, they sandbag, and most will evacuate with time to spare.

August 2016, however, was different.  It was historic.  It was unprecedented.  Rivers crested at more than double flood stage.

Areas that never had standing water saw not inches but feet.  My Dad’s house at the edge of my Grandpa’s old berry farm never saw any water from the little river running north and south about a mile to the east for at least 100 years.  This time, however, one could have floated a bateau over land cleared of pine 100 + years ago and farmed by generations.  Unlike the years before my birth, the property had the additional protection afforded by Hwy 43 running north and south at the eastern property line standing as a ley.  It’s really difficult to see photos of that land after this rain and flooding because the possibility never really crossed my mind.  I shudder to envision years past and the state of the property back then if the backflow flood waters did not have to breach about a 5 foot barrier as they did the other day.

Inside the town limits of Albany, the water reached levels that seemed improbable, no impossible, right up until it rose that high.  Homes and businesses that had never taken water inside the structure from every storm past, had floodwaters lapping over the peaks of their rooftops.  Prior to a few days ago, these businesses may have experienced inches of water standing in the parking lots.  Some even sandbagged “just in case” and for an additional barrier from the wake created by trucks on the highway.  With this “no name” storm, wake came from boats as one unfamiliar with the area might not realize that a road existed underneath the equivalent of being out on Lake Maurepas unless their prop struck the hood of a submerged 4-wheel drive truck.

Earlier I typed “little river” because we do call the Lil Natalbany a river even though the official classification would be as a stream.  A stream that is only navigable by boat a few miles downstream.  One can float a canoe or a pirogue under the Highway 190 bridge, but you would need to walk a bit before floating again near the Old Baton Rouge Highway bridge.  Launching something with a small outboard motor requires going further south to Springfield.  From there on the Natalbany one could eventually make their way into Lake Maurepas and then go to Lake Ponchartrain, Lake Borgne, and then into the Gulf of Mexico.  If I would ever want that adventure, I’d drive just a bit further toward Killian and start out on either the Blood or Tickfaw rivers and even then that would be quite a lengthy boat trip.

My point is that nobody is to blame for this natural disaster.

Nobody started a fire intentionally or allowed one to get out of control and spread.

The vast majority of people were neither negligent nor unprepared with their property.

People did not try to wait knowing that doing so would necessitate others risking their own lives to save the foolish or stubborn who failed to heed to evacuation orders or recommendations.

This devastation happened, and I don’t think any technology could have prevented it from happening.  Historically I know that one must twist, bend, and really break comparables to other areas or eras to make them seem applicable.

I think that Governor John Bel Edwards made the initial disaster declaration and the formal request for a federal declaration in a timely fashion.  I think that President Obama signed the authorization much faster than what has been the norm by both he and the living presidents.  I think that FEMA Director W. Craig Fugate has been responsive from the very beginning.

There is, however, little that the federal or state government can do in the early stages at least that are not better handled by local government.

I don’t recall ever meeting the current Parish President, Layton Ricks, but even though I haven’t seen him in years or spoken to him since becoming Sheriff I do know Jason Ard along with many of the elected officials in the local communities.  These individuals, their teams, and so, so, so, many volunteers worked to the point of exhaustion and then an additional 8 or so hours after exhaustion had set in before collapsing in worn out heaps before starting over again the second they caught their breath.  Nobody could have asked or expected more from these locals and the assistance they rendered to friends, neighbors, and strangers.  Volunteers coming from other areas did the same.

Nobody had time for photo-ops, and honestly using resources to provide for officials when so many were and are in need is a genuine waste in my opinion.  At the federal level it makes far more sense to have Director Fugate or Secretary Jeh Johnson of Homeland Security on the scene versus President Barack Obama or any President or Vice-President at this stage in the process.

I know that many people are creating political arguments by trying to compare reactions and press negativity between President George W. Bush after Hurricane Katrina and President Obama today.  I think both men were/are in that proverbial danged if they do and danged if they don’t as they’re caught between a rock and hard place and up “pit creek without a shaddle.” [I try to maintain a family friendly blog].

I’ll suggest another presidential comparison that makes more sense in a moment, but right now I think it’s fair to ask if a visit by President Obama would bring more press coverage to the natural disaster?  Perhaps, but the coverage would be focused more upon the President than the residents affected.

You see this disaster lacks the sensationalism because people acted like human beings with love and kindness to others instead of a selfish manner.

This disaster lacks the political opportunism to capitalize upon talking points.  That’s apparent when the major scandal is the President at Martha’s Vineyard instead of being in photos and distracting those with more pressing concerns than seeing the President or anyone for that matter who is not going to be doing a lot of physical labor.

This disaster as it is now will not sell ads.  The people affected directly are working ripping out floors, sheetrock, drywall, insulation, and shoring up frames and don’t have the time or desire to gussy up for TV or have their words taken out of context.  The entertainment and news limited to paragraph level attention spans can find people to criticize the President or anyone else without the inconvenience of seeing real people doing what they need to do.

In my opinion someone like Mike Huckabee with his Facebook post badmouthing the President is in direct contrast to what the people of Livingston Parish are doing which is pulling together.  As a historian, it’s sad to think that on and within this hodgepodge of disconnected islands surrounded by floodwaters the ideas expressed by Abraham Lincoln are being carried out while someone like Huckabee who stands under that GOP banner today relies upon blaming others.

I think the Advocate, the major daily in Baton Rouge, just printed the most ludicrous editorial in quite some time with “Our Views: Vacation or not, a hurting Louisiana needs you now, President Obama.”

Advocate editors, what can President Obama according to the Constitution of the United States of America do to assist the state any more than he has at this stage in the cleanup, rebuilding, and recovery process?

Do you really want him or anyone from outside to ruin all the work being done by the local officials and residents?

Do you want him to replace Director Fugate with Michael Brown so that there can be another FEMA cluster$#%^ like during Katrina?

If the Advocate wanted real assistance, why not use the power of the pen to encourage Congress to cut short their recess.

Yes I know that the House calendar deems the month of August as “District Work Weeks” of 5 days each, but editors you do understand that additional funding beyond what is already allocated to FEMA and the SBA will require Congressional approval.  The US Senate calendar terms recesses as days not in session, but either Mr. Vitter or Mr. Cassidy could show up and take control of the chamber floor during one of the pro forma sessions which SCOTUS declared were in fact actual work sessions.

In 1965 following Hurricane Betsy, US Senator Russell Long did reach out to President Lyndon Johnson to visit and see the damage for himself.

Senator Long did not want LBJ’s “best people,” but the President himself.  In 1965, however, I believe that more people respected the position regardless of who occupied the Oval Office.  People may have disagreed, and I’m typing sarcastically here but there were no differences of opinion about foreign or domestic happenings during the Johnson administration.  Seriously I think some college students today in the survey level courses seem to think of Vietnam and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s like it was the Olympic games or disagreement about a traffic camera.

Unlike federal politics today, Russell Long had the ability to get things done in the Senate as did Allen Ellender.

Over in the House, the state had F. Edward Hebert, Hale Boggs, Ed Willis, Joe Waggoner, Otto Passman, Gillis Long, T. Ashton Thompson, and Jimmy Morrison of Hammond representing the 6th District.

Before someone tries the political party argument, keep in mind that this was in the age of the Solid South.  Although all members of the Democratic party, these men were part of the de facto two-party system in the state of Long and anti-Long Democrats.  Even mellowed by age, Jimmy Morrison remained a maverick between the factions.  This delegation had seniority.  This delegation played pivotal roles in most legislation going through Congress.  This delegation was visible in the small communities and responded to the poor farmer, shrimper, laborer, and the wealthy and powerful in the same fashion.  They represented their constituents, not special interests.

Today, I see very few members of Congress who command even an iota of the respect and influence of the any member of the Louisiana delegation during Hurricane Betsy.

Regardless, however, listening a recording of that conversation between Russell Long and Lyndon Johnson with Ed Willis listening in on the Long end, it’s about upcoming elections. Senator Long knew that he along with Senator Ellender and the Louisiana House delegation would secure financial assistance from Congress.  Today, I don’t think the Louisiana delegation can be confident of receiving additional assistance from their peers in other states.  In this case by not showing up, President Obama is keeping resources available for those in need and he has provided what is in his power as Commander in Chief as requested by the Governor.

You can listen and follow a transcript to the conversation between Senator Long and President Johnson at the link below:

I will note that Congressman Cedric Richmond penned at letter to Director Fugate and other members of the Louisiana delegation did sign a letter requesting expedited actions from the President.

Political posturing, we don’t need it.

The press, well I am grateful that we have a number of journalists in print and on television who do extraordinary jobs investigating, reporting, and informing the general public.

Their job is made harder by the public relations people and commentators who try to pass themselves off as journalists or are mistaken to be in that field by the general public.

Advocate why not publish a story like that of a lady who has celebrated her 90th birthday for the past 4 or 5 years?  She is sweet and generous as can be and has lived in the same home for 90 years.  In that house she reared I think 3 children, experienced the grief of discovering the body of her husband who passed away while plowing a field, loved many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren along with the children and grandchildren of others from her generation.  She can still bake bread, tend to her flowers, but at the moment doesn’t really understand why she cannot go back to her house.

As she responded to one of the great grandchildren:

Flood you say…sweetie that house hasn’t flooded in 90 years.  The river is way over yonder, and Pappy, that would be my Daddy’s Daddy so your really great and greater Pappy built up the banks years before I was born when he had to build a dam to conserve water. We took down that dam but that river isn’t going to stray anywhere.   This old house and land doesn’t flood, sweetie.

She’s right as always except that old house had about 6 feet of water inside, and when it requires a boat to get within sight of the house what can you say because she has confused the highway with the larger river about 5 miles away.  Honestly, from a photograph I mistook the highway for that river.  That’s how deep the flooding is.

Sorry editors at the Advocate, but your focus should be on the area and providing accurate reports to your readers and to the wire services.  This flooding is a disaster, and it really strikes home for me because that is my hometown.  Those are people that I know, love, and respect.

Even with the flooding back home in my neck of the woods, there is another disaster happening at the same time with those wildfires out in California.

I cannot guestimate the number of communities destroyed by tornadoes.

Not that far from where I live now, over in Ellicot City, MD, they experienced a dramatic flood that for all intents and purposes knocked out the entire downtown area.

It was a few weeks back and only now are business owners being allowed in to see what is left of their establishments.  In 5 days, the area will be closed for a month to repair the damaged infrastructure.  I’ve seen President Obama at some of these disaster areas but not all.  It’s no different with any other president.  The sad fact is that someone, somewhere is suffering at this very moment and at multiple locations quite a number of people are suffering at the same time.

The President is danged if he does and danged if he doesn’t and that will not change for whoever follows him into the Oval Office.  No man or no woman can be everyplace at once.

Editors at the Advocate, you will need to interview real people with real troubles and not pick soundbites from the President or anyone else.  Why not talk to some of the old reporters who used to work at the paper?  They were journalists and not media hogs focused solely upon profit.

So what are the people facing this adversity in Louisiana going to do?

They’re going to try their best, maintain their faith, and carry on.  They’ll be sad, hurt, angry, and frustrated.  They’ll unleash attacks upon others just as a means of coping.  They’ll also do what they can to assist others facing the same problems that they themselves face.

That’s not unique to my hometown, my Parish, or my birth state.  I’ve seen that everywhere that I have lived.  To me that’s the United States of America but to be more exact that’s human beings.

The people of my hometown, Parish, neighboring communities and parishes may be left with flooded homes, tons of building materials, possessions, and keepsakes destined for the trash, and if truly lucky a slab and perhaps part of a frame so that rebuilding does not have to start from scratch.  It’s not politics, partisanship, but it’s a sad fact of life.

All the result of some rain from a storm that never even warranted having a name.

Does anyone care?  Should anyone care? 

The people affected care, and We the People care but apparently that doesn’t sell advertising or provide enough for some in the media to know where to look, what to ask, and most importantly when to listen.

Where Do We Go From Here

These deaths, this disrespect for authority, this hatred are beyond my ability to comprehend in their entirety not to mention my ability to even try and explain.

Yes we do have underlying problems, and no I do not believe that there is a quick, one size fits all solution to this madness.

If you have not read my initial post that is linked here, please do.

Yes both you and I along with those people over yonder and those just around the bend can find a plethora of examples to “prove” our narrative is correct, and relegate anything to the contrary as a statistical outlier.  You know that event you cite is inconsequential, meaningless in this debate, because I’ve seen the evidence through my lens which is not the same as passing judgment like everyone who disagrees with the truth as I know it and can prove through these singular events.

Instead of making excuses, trying to justify, or affixing blame upon some disconnected individual or entity, I would like to see answers to what I would think and hope are obvious questions.

If these or any law enforcement officers perform their jobs with malicious intent do any of us want these individuals to remain in uniform?

People are citing all these stories about how to act properly if one is approached by law enforcement.  For me these stories make sense, but even all the “correct” actions by the civilian mean absolutely nothing if that officer is not following his or her “correct” procedures.

Do law enforcement officers have a reason or right to be suspicious and on edge when engaging with another?

My opinion is yes they do because the definition of their job puts them at risk.  Anyone can have a weapon, and today the popular narrative is that good guys need to carry guns for protection because law enforcement is too far away to be of any assistance.  Hence it becomes even more imperative for that officer to treat everyone as if they have a weapon and intend to inflict harm upon someone.

Who doesn’t respect law enforcement officers (I mean the good and responsible officers)?

Sadly it’s not isolated to a singular race or group.  Postulate about the threat of tyranny and government and the right to bear arms to protect oneself and nation from such threats and thus you justify at best disrespecting a law enforcement officer who writes you a ticket, who directs you in a manner that you dislike, or who merely represents authority.

In March 1995, Wayne LaPierre of the NRA sent a fundraising letter to 3.5 million NRA members calling federal law enforcement agents “jack-booted government thugs” and arguing that “in Clinton’s administration, if you have a badge, you have the government’s go-ahead to harass, intimidate, even murder law-abiding citizens.” He later apologized and stated that he was referring specifically to specific actions by enforcement agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, but hadn’t damage already occurred?  President George H.W. Bush even resigned his lifetime membership because of the remarks.

How many times have we heard that the United States government is planning to confiscate private weapons or that We the People in the United States will have weapons taken by the United Nations?

Yes there is too much black-on-black crime.  There is too much crime in economically depressed areas.  There’s also crime and murder in rural America and white-on-white as well.  I’m not citing here, but I believe that I’m more likely to be murdered by a member of my family or by someone I know than I will be by a stranger.

Think about it, all of those armed individuals could not stop a single sniper who callously gunned down innocent people in Dallas and specifically targeted individuals who willingly took an oath to put their lives on the line every day.  He had more firepower.

The solution, however, is not to put more firepower into the population.  The solution, however, is not to confiscate all weapons in existence.  The solution, however, is not to target a single group or race.

We need to learn why certain groups are statistically more likely to become victims of violence.  We need to address mental health issues and how they can become a danger to both the sufferer and the population at large. We need to educate about the proper safe and responsible usage of firearms and any tools for that matter.

We cannot, however, because of things like the Dickey Amendment and the Tiahrt Riders. (Counter by the NRA-ILA to some aspect of Tiahrt here ).

Here’s something to think about that I find incredulous.  Ever since I got my first driver’s license I wore seat belts.  In fact, I really don’t recall a time in my childhood when my parents or whomever was driving did not remind me to buckle up.

Seatbelts, however, may date back to 1885 with the first patent for vehicular use, but it wasn’t until 1949 that Nash automobiles began offering factory installed lap belts as an option.   Ford started offering lap belts in 1955, and the first car to have the 3 point belts installed were Volvos back in 1959.  In 1968 the National Highway Safety Bureau, the prerunner to the NHTSA required lap belts in passenger cars.  In 1976 the NHTSA began tracking seat belt usage and observed that occupant usage of seat belts was 19 percent.  Individual states beginning with New York in 1984 began passing mandatory seat belt laws.  By 1994 the observed usage of seat belts by occupants reached 58 percent.  Last year, 2015, the observed seat belt usage climbed to 88.5 percent.

Think about all the little reminder slogans you have heard.

Why can’t we do the same to promote gun safety?

I know the legal reasons and how the Constitutional interpretation accepted from 1791 to 2008, 277 years, changed.  For the typical person like you and I, however, is it because we don’t care?  Is it because we do not recognize the links between disrespect of our government and President Obama being a part of the disrespect for law enforcement as they are symbols of authority?

It’s just too easy to scapegoat; to blame BLM today or Black Panthers of a few decades ago. We also have so-called sovereign citizens and militia groups consisting of many or even just one who feels that he or she is fighting a tyrannical government and has both legal and Divine right to do so.

One final question:

How to we combat the paranoia and those who spread it for either financial gain or to compensate for their own personal insecurities by bringing as many others as possible down to their level?

With thoughts and prayers for safety to all the men and women who willingly put their lives on the line for the safety of others, and thoughts and prayers to all who have suffered as a result of violence regardless of the individual or motive.

The Hypocrisy of Respect, Why and What Can We Do?

For a number of reasons, I have not had opportunities to be active on WordPress but I’m sitting at my desk this morning, and while I’m trying to think from an historical perspective I cannot shake the thoughts of the more recent.

First it goes without saying that the deaths in recent days are all tragedies.  For once I’ll refrain from my references to John Donne and citations of his words, but any untimely death brings not only grief for the surviving loved ones but questions.  I’m more familiar with Baton Rouge than Minnesota because I grew up maybe 45 minutes away (as the crow flies) from where Alton Sterling lost his life and know which media outlets will have reports from journalists versus sensationalists.

Regardless of what happened or what one thinks happened in either Baton Rouge with Alton Sterling or Philando Castile in Minnesota, neither justifies the events which took place in Dallas.  Family and loved ones of both Sterling and Castile have asserted the same in video interviews, mourn for the victims of that sniper in Dallas, and grieve for the surviving family and loved ones of those individuals.

I’ve written before that I believe that all professions have individuals who have no business being in that profession.  One of my graduate school mentors told me that in teaching you might find 10 percent who are excellent at what they do and 10 percent who are abysmal and perhaps total failures.  The remainder of college professors like me and you will be somewhere in the remaining 80 percent.  Personally I think that ole corn farmer was among the best of the best and many others more qualified and experienced than me will assert the same, but I think his generalization is more or less true and not limited to a single occupation, skill, career, talent, or any other category.

There are bad law enforcement officers,   and the individuals who want to see those officers gone the most are the law enforcement officers who try to do their jobs to the best of their ability.  The reason is simple.  The bad action by one impacts their ability to perform their duties in the expected manner.

None of us who are sincere about our respective duties want anyone who by their insincerity, lack of credentials, or utter incompetence to be the lens that others use to see you.  We certainly don’t want someone to view us as a criminal because another person in our field engaged in criminal acts.

That stated, my current thoughts are about “what is the freakin’ difference.” 

I read this from CNN, “Sarah Palin: Black Lives Matter is a ‘farce’.”  The piece concludes:

“So if we’re to take sides, I side with the Thin Blue Line. To side with our public servants trying to keep law and order amidst political agendas that clearly oppose that virtue is how the good guys win again,”.

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick gave this interview on FOX where he remarked:

“I grew up in a world, I’ve been around long enough, that we’ve always had bad people, we’ve always had dangerous people, but the general republic respected the police. Too many in the general public who aren’t criminals but have a big mouth are creating situations like we saw last night.”

That’s fine and dandy, but how exactly is what Palin and Patrick view as a disrespect of law enforcement any different from today’s 2nd Amendment interpretation from the past 8 years as opposed to the prior 277 years ?  

Thinking from the historical perspective, I recall a group of farmers living on the frontier of Western Pennsylvania during the administration of George Washington.  Those farmers felt that the federal government was abusing its authority by targeting a specific demographic and took action that they would not be subjected to such government tyranny.  President George Washington personally led a militia force of nearly 13,000 strong to demonstrate government authority>

Or how about Sarah Palin’s reaction to these remarks from President Barack Obama concerning gun violence?  Seriously, his words were shallow or offensive?

She even believes that Jesus Christ would fight for the Second Amendment.

Well some will try to clear my confused thoughts by saying that I’m conflating the 2nd Amendment with the murder of the officers in Dallas.

They have told me that it’s simply about a lack of respect for the police

It’s true that Texas has its open carry laws.

Honestly I don’t know how an officer or any person is able to determine who is a patriot exercising their rights from a low-life scum of the Earth murderer.

It has to be more difficult when that officer cannot even question an individual until that individual does something that might appear to be in violation of the law.

How much respect did this individual demonstrate to law enforcement?  This example is not an isolated one, but people who condemned the actions by the officers here are defending the actions by those officers in Baton Rouge and that officer in Minnesota.  How does that make sense?

Despite what some want to argue, there is a difference between how races view law enforcement.

I’m not arguing here if that perception is justified or actually happens.  I’m asserting that we are different and view things from different perspectives.

Folks it just isn’t as simple as respect, and that respect cannot have a double standard attached.

It’s not about so-called “soft targets” because these officers were armed.

I’m only assuming but there must have been a lot of “good guys” with guns in the crowd.  I have no way of knowing if he is a good guy or not, but the police department tweeted a photo of a person of interest who openly carried a long rifle.

Many, if not all officers, wore protective vests, but the rounds from the rifle still penetrated with killing force.  The sniper had more firepower than the officers along with the higher position and the element of surprise.

It’s not my intent here, but we need to have real conversations about a plethora of topics because we’ve already had enough tragedy and untimely loss of innocent life. 

We have to realize that the loved ones of that police officer and the loved ones of that person with black, brown, and yes depending upon area a white person leaving home for their day at work or school are thinking that today could be the last time I see my loved one alive.

That’s something We the People should not accept, and We is made up of every race, gender, preference, and creed.

We have to talk with one another and work together and not be hypocrites.

Sandy Hook Ruling Uproar

So many people I know are upset about a ruling handed down yesterday by Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis concerning the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings back in 2012.

“Lawyers for Remington Arms sought to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the federal law shields gun manufacturers from most lawsuits over criminal use of their products. They said Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act after determining such lawsuits were an abuse of the legal system.

Judge Bellis ruled Thursday that argument would be best made in a motion later in the process and is not grounds to dismiss the lawsuit.”

The ruling by Judge Bellis only allows for the plaintiffs to begin a “discovery” process which means that they can request company documents and subpoena company officials for testimony.  Remington can still have the case dismissed if plaintiffs have not shown cause exists with these preliminary documents.

I have no opinion, due to lack of information, as to whether or not this lawsuit should go to trial.  My opinion is that I believe allowing discovery is in the best interests of the common working individual.

Whether you agree or disagree with my opinion, the background which I’ll provide about my opinion may even save someone’s life if they happen to own one of the defective Remington rifles.

I know some will stop reading and dismiss the rest.  Even those who know me might stop and say this boy has lost his mind up in DC.  I do have an agenda.  It is to illustrate how media and pundits slant for their audiences and for dollars by spinning or over simplifying.  I just prefer some context and to look at what the actual costs, precedent, or documentation is from primary sources.

Now I understand the arguments of not fair, cost, and cans of worms with the ruling, but look at the recent history of Remington.  In 2014 Remington agreed to replace the trigger on approximately 7.5 million guns.  Among those were the Model 700 bolt-action rifle, the Seven, Sportsman 78, 673, 710, 715, 770, 600, 660, XP-100, 721, 722, and 725 rifles.

I suggest you use your own search engines and preferred sources of information to learn about why Remington made this decision.  No matter your preferred source, I encourage everyone to view the 10 or so minute clip from CNBC linked below concerning their investigation.

There seems little discrepancy in these facts regardless of source consulted.

Debris could get inside the “trigger connector” and cause other parts of the trigger to become misaligned, rendering the gun unsafe.  According to documents obtained through discovery, Remington had been aware since at least 1971 that the Walker Fire Control System can cause the weapons to fire without a trigger pull. Per the claims, the Model 700 can fire upon release of the safety, when the main bolt is moved, or when the gun is jarred or bumped.  The same potential problem existed with the X-Mark Pro triggers.

In 1989 Remington engineers and lawyers met to discuss the problem, but they did not make any design changes out of fear that doing so would be an admission of guilt in various lawsuits filed in the 1970s and 80s.

It was a sad truth that a Remington with a defective Walker Fire Control System just lying on table could unintentionally fire a round.  Even so in the year 2010 Remington issued an official statement that these triggers were free from defects even after their own internal testing duplicated the unintentional firings that had been alleged.

It was not until 11 April 2014 that Remington issued a recall of rifles with X-Mark Pro triggers manufactured between 2006 and 2014.  That happened following the investigation by CNBC.

Now some will argue that this past history has nothing to do with the present case referenced in the FOX article many of my friends are sharing.  Perhaps it doesn’t but I still think that the plaintiffs should be allowed discovery before a dismissal.

We all know that frivolous lawsuits are much too common, and hopefully y’all are different but I can only name 1 attorney who I truly respect as both a person and professional.  Still I think all manufacturers regardless of product should be treated more or less equally.

They were until 2005 when Congress passed PLCAA or what became 15 U.S. Code § 7901 which protects firearms dealers and manufacturers in ways that no other manufacturer or dealer is protected.

Consider that if automobile manufacturers had the same protections afforded to gun manufacturers then devices such as airbags, crumple zones, and other passive or active safety options such as traction control would not exist today in all likelihood.  That’s speculation, but the NRA and gun lobby attack which devalued Smith and Wesson and almost ruined the company in 2000 is proof that a single company cannot take on the power lobbies.

Some I know argue that it is unfair because the manufacturer will waste money in court.  I’ve seen figures which range significantly, so I’m hesitant to guestimate the monetary costs passed along to consumers when certain companies are covered by Confidential Discovery Protective Orders.

If you’ve read this far, are wondering, or have never read anything else I have written about firearms, I think most gun fears are unreasonable on both extremes.  A gun is just a tool.  Used correctly it is good, but when used carelessly or for a wrongful purpose the consequences can be devastating.  Too much gun is just as dangerous as too little gun, and it takes different skillsets to handle different guns.  It’s a similar difference from driving a little car, a truck pulling a trailer, and an 18 wheeler.

Still nobody is confiscating personal weapons.  Statistically it is impossible and if you doubt me, consider how long it would take to hand deliver a $1 bill to 500 households.  How much longer would it take you to collect a $1 bill from those 500 households?  Now imagine that the dollar is hidden, or the people there do not want to give up that dollar.

In terms of protection from our government, the fact is that if our government truly wanted your weapons or my weapons, we do not have enough firepower combined to stop them.  Our military could turn us into dust or vapor within seconds.

When one listens to the arguments about guns, it sounds like we have a paranoia issue of Twilight Zone proportions.  Does anyone really believe that no private usage and ownership of personal firearms existed prior to the year 2008?  That’s what Wayne LaPierre, Chris Cox, and the gun lobby claims.

The NRA-ILA has lobbied Congress and successfully banned more types of guns than the Obama White House via Executive Orders, Actions, or Memoranda.  Seriously, you cannot buy a .22 Armatix, and Good Lord protect you if you even think of trying to carry that gun in stock as a gun dealer just down the road from me in Rockville, MD, discovered.  You cannot manufacture firearms using new technology or newly developed materials.  3D technology and printing works and is advancing, but it is not in the financial interest of the gun lobby for consumers to have alternatives.

Things are so ridiculous today that if someone as a parent confiscates a rifle or shotgun from their 16-year-old child because that child was doing something unsafe, the parent may be prosecuted and most certainly labeled as anti Bill of Rights.  To me that’s just as ridiculous as arguing that the same 16 year old is not capable of handling a rifle, shotgun, hacksaw, or even a basic chainsaw safely and responsibly.

I do not support denying discovery before any complaint is made.  FOX News has discredited itself once more with such shoddy appealing to the lowest common denominator reporting.

I just fail to understand the arguments to treat gun manufacturers and dealers less stringently than others.

If you watched that short clip, what did little Gus Barber, his Dad, or his Mom do wrong?  In that case give me any reason not to blame the gun manufacturer, Remington, for continuing to sell a firearm when their own tests confirmed earlier allegations of a dangerous design.

Correct nothing can restore that lost life, but shouldn’t we want to limit the possibility of other lives being lost?

Are we that blasted callous?

I admit that I think you’re right if your argument is that Sandy Hook happened because some sick, deranged, SOB, wanted to murder a bunch of innocent people and most likely had nothing at all to do with Remington.  Many other weapons would have resulted in the same tragic outcome.

Even without Remington’s background in terms of safety, I think the survivors of the victims should have the right to see communications within the company about the incident.

Why, because if a drunken idiot drove a car into a group of people killing several, we have the right to review safety records of that car.   That drunken idiot is to blame, but we may discover that some alteration or safety device in the vehicle may be able to at minimum limit the amount of people killed in another situation.  That’s why many people my age never learned to “pump the brakes” on the first new cars or trucks we bought because everything had anti-lock brakes by that time.

Why are gun manufacturers and dealers alone placed upon this protective little pedestal?  I don’t know but sadly I think that many I know are grateful that gun manufacturers and dealers have more protections than say they themselves do selling a strawberry at the farmers’ market, doing some plumbing or electrical work in a home, or building a piece of furniture.

Why?  I really haven’t a clue, but I reckon the Good Lord knows that none of us survived past the year 2005 when this protection went into force.  Good Lord knows that none of us could own or carry a firearm before the year 2008.

Folks, it is the year 2016, and if you’re reading this or currently speaking with me then you or in some cases because of your age then your Mom and Dad survived after 2005 and 2008 just like me.

Police Officer escorted from GA college classroom: Hogwash and Soap Aftermath

Another example of molehills into mountains, danged if you do and danged if you don’t, sensationalized “media,” clickbait, and as I might say “impatience will find one wallowing in hogwash or being pelted by nutria nuts.”

FOX News Headline:  “Cop in uniform tossed from college classroom by ‘uncomfortable’ teacher”

The Blaze Headline:  “Care to Guess Why a Cop Who’s Also a College Student Was Escorted From Class? (Hint: He Was in Full Uniform)”

Breitbart Headline:  “Uniformed Officer ‘Escorted’ From Classroom: Teacher ‘Uncomfortable’ With Gun”

IJReview Headline:  “College Student Gets Kicked Out of Class After Professor Sees His Gun. There’s Just One Problem…”

Freedom Daily Conservative News Headline:  “Georgia: Leftist Teacher tosses Police officer out of his college classroom — for being in full uniform”

It’s obvious that these “media” outlets relied upon the information supplied by local news affiliate WALB TV.

WALB TV Headline:  “Police officer escorted out of Darton College classroom”

NOTE:  I once worked at this institution.

As for the local TV news I appeared on WALB dozens of times either being interviewed or providing comments about various stories or events.  It’s both the ABC and NBC television affiliate for the area.  The dual affiliation from my limited knowledge seems common in smaller markets.  They operate with limited resources.  For example while being interviewed in my office for the news telecast, the reporter often operated the camera instead of having a separate camera person.  The other major affiliate, WFXL, for the area had similar procedures.

Obviously the WALB or WFXL coverage and reporting in my personal opinion is not at the level of say a WBRZ or WAFB in BR, WWL or WDSU in NOLA, and especially WRC, WUSA, or WJLA here in the DC region, but it is comparable to similar small markets.  Many reporters are just starting out in the profession and like all careers some improve and advance while others leave for other professions.  Some of your more experienced reporters and anchors have ties to the area and have chosen to remain for that reason.  It’s not because they lack in quality.

Back to this “fully armed officer and liberal professor” WALB updated their original story:

The local newspaper, the Albany Herald, reported this update:

Please consider:

Now if you are an employee, patron, or merely a passerby and see something suspicious are you trained to or encouraged to ignore it?

At one of the GOP debates, the issue of people failing to report activity because they feared our supposed “PC” environment became a topic of discussion.

On the other side of the aisle individuals calling 911 to report seeing people walking with long guns became the targets of harassment and threats by open carry proponents in Texas.

How can you distinguish between a “good guy with a gun” and a “bad guy with a gun?”  Does the same formula apply to a “woman with a gun?”

Here it appears that the student in question was not dressed in the “typical” police uniform.  I have no personal experience, but I would think that one could purchase a “typical” police uniform for legal activities such as a Halloween costume so even the uniform isn’t always a 100 percent identifier.

As for polo shirts, I’ve never been in law enforcement but at various times in my life I have owned shirts given to me for belonging to local sheriff’s organizations which had insignia.  Honestly I have no idea if the insignia differed from those same shirts given to members who were actual law enforcement personnel from the insignia on the shirts given to civilian supporters such as me.  I can only say that I never pretended nor was I ever mistaken for being a law enforcement officer when someone happened to see me wearing the shirt or ball cap.

My point is that we are all sliding in the direction of believing what we want to believe and discrediting challenges.  Regardless of what we might think, an echo chamber rests at our fingertips thanks to technology.  We also have an industry profiting from emotions, gullibility, and in some cases the lack of time to ask for or to demand proof.

Will any of the national or partisan media outlets who ran with the story have updated headlines with updates about how the story is less exciting?

If by some chance akin to those of winning Powerball they do will those who caste quick conclusive judgements care?

We still do not know if the student presented campus security, which by the way did not exist when I worked for the institution as city and county law enforcement served in that capacity, with identification proving that he or she was a law enforcement officer.

If anyone misinterpreted existing law in any manner, in this specific situation that failure did not cause anyone harm.  If anything the additional minutes spent reviewing the events will reinforce the applicable laws.

Yes I expect to hear the “what if,” “this is a start,” and all these other dire predictions of both present and future.  My response is that when common sense and rudimentary precautions are deemed “evil,” “oppressive,” or “politically motivated” then we are less of a society.

If you really think about it, it doesn’t matter how fancy, how nice the cover, how pretty it’s packaged because BS is still BS, hogwash, pig puddles, cow cookies, nutria nuts, and so on are still the same.  We can wallow in it; we can choose to take the high road over the top or path around.  We can find some soap to help clear away any muck.  The choice is ours.

Why Does the NRA want to Hurt Honest Gun Dealers?

Yes I have heard about all the attempts to confiscate and to ban all firearms. I know that criminals do not follow laws so laws only affect those who are already law abiding.  I also know that the law abiding can make mistakes.  Sometimes negligence is the catalyst; sometimes ignorance; at other times the potential benefit seemed to be greater than the risk.  Every action or inaction has potential rewards and consequences.

Can we agree, however, that some laws are necessary?  Does it make sense to get rid of every stop sign?  Do we even want to imagine what things would be like if no building codes or standards for bridges existed?  What if there were no legal statutes regarding assault, robbery, burglary, rape, murder?

Sure some stop signs are unnecessary.  Some of the codes are outdated and others are just nitpicky and have no bearing at all upon quality and safety.  Hopefully most believe that those who commit crimes like those I listed should face legal repercussions.

The above is not intended to begin an apples and oranges style of comparisons or to confuse from the original question in the title.  It’s to consider the truth that some requirements go too far and others do not go far enough.  The key in my opinion is developing and implementing that balance which protects the law abiding, discourages those from disregarding the laws, and punishes those who break those laws.

Here in the US there were approximately 54,026 federally licensed firearms dealers operating out of gun stores in the year 2014.  In addition to these dealers approximately 7,810 pawnbrokers in 2014 had a Federal Firearms License to buy and sell firearms.  While I could not find a recent figure, the DOJ estimated in 2007 that the number of gun shows in the United States ranges between 2,000 and 5,200 per year.  They cited no definitive source, but the numbers in my opinion are more or less reasonable especially when counting smaller local exhibitions.

The process in which to receive a Federal Firearms license is multifaceted.  If you’re interested in the steps involved, you can begin reading at the following link.

To purchase from an FFL dealer or broker, the buyer must complete ATF Form 4473 and be cleared by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.  Both the form and a portal for NICS information are linked below.

Will any of the above required of holders of an FFL stop 100 percent of would be criminals from purchasing a firearm from that dealer or broker?  Of course it would not.  Even if consistency existed amongst the states as to how and what information is submitted to the system, it would not be flawless.

Even if a flawless system could be constructed, it’s true that someone could obtain a weapon illegally.  The gun lobby and “conservative” media mocked President Obama for this statement even though they use the same rhetorical argument for why laws cannot stop criminals.   “As long as you can go in some neighborhoods and it is easier for you to buy a firearm than it is for you to buy a book, there are neighborhoods where it is easier for you to buy a handgun and clips than it is for you to buy a fresh vegetable, as long as that’s the case, we’re going to continue to see unnecessary violence.”

My question is not about whether NICS or other requirements of FFL holders are sufficient, good, or bad.  My question is why do the NRA, gun lobby, and Congress continue to make an expensive and targeted effort to allow unlicensed sellers to take business from the law abiding businesses?

Per 18 U.S. Code § 921

Firearms dealers engaged in the business definition:

[A] person who devotes time, attention, and labor to dealing in firearms as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the repetitive purchase and resale of firearms, but such term shall not include a person who makes occasional sales, exchanges, or purchases of firearms for the enhancement of a personal collection or for a hobby, or who sells all or part of his personal collection of firearms.

By contrast, a so-called “private seller” (one who is not “engaged in the business”) is exempt from federal licensing requirements.

The so-called “gun show loophole” does exist, because private sellers can and do conduct transactions at many gun shows.  Yes, an FFL holder still has the same requirements whether at a gun show or in a place of business, but these private sellers who at times advertise their merchandise do not.

Whether or not “gun show loophole” is an appropriate term, the difference for private sellers exists so why not hold them to the same standards?

It won’t save lives you say?

Perhaps not from a mass shooter; perhaps not from a criminal; but the few minutes completing that paperwork just may help someone realize the potential power of a firearm. Some words about safe storage could be exchanged nonchalantly which may prevent an accident from negligence.  It may stop that person who should not buy a firearm from an immediate purchase.

Even if one is callous enough to believe that it doesn’t matter or believes that my wishful thinking is not related to this “loophole,” treating private sellers the same only helps those dealers who went through the time and effort to obtain and FFL.

Because they followed the law and have additional overhead why should we encourage them to be undersold by “private” sellers?  If buyer and seller are from the same state, a “private collector” has few restrictions as a seller.

That’s a fact even though many argue otherwise.  Some, however, do argue the more reasonable and factual worry that if we held private sellers to the same standards of FFL holders, it would prevent someone from gifting their son or daughter or selling to a neighbor or friend.

The Manchin-Toomey Amendment proposal of 2013, however, took those worries into account and discussions regarding such took place on the Floor of the Senate.

The basic truth is that expanding the background checks only brings equal treatment to FFL holders and those who sell legally without obtaining a license.

Personally, I would like a clear definition whether it’s number, gross receipts, or if things such as focused advertising are involved to differentiate between a business and a private seller.

I think showing respect to the responsible business owners benefits all.  Expansion does that and honestly does not prevent anyone who is currently able to purchase a firearm legally from making that purchase.

Of course it won’t prevent criminals from getting guns or murders from taking place, but cite any regulation that is 100 percent effective?  Cite any safety precaution that is 100 percent effective?

If expansion saves only a single life; the life of a toddler perhaps because Joe the collector who is a good guy simply saw the cash on the table and unbeknown to Joe because he did not have to conduct that little NICS check, his buyer had a previous conviction for trying to eliminate his or her child.  Are those few minutes you or I lost so terrible?

If you think so or your retort is that they don’t need a gun to kill their child, I really feel sorry for you.  One because of the selfish attitude and second because of the hypocrisy.  If you do not understand, realize that you are using the logic that if one doesn’t need a gun to kill then one doesn’t need a gun to keep from being killed.

That’s the simplistic double talk being delivered by the NRA and gun lobby making such a big deal that an expansion of checks is infringing upon rights.

Paris should not be a Pawn for American Politics

Once again a tragedy wrought by human beings has been brandished unto others. The names of the innocent in Paris may differ from those victims of terrorist attacks earlier this calendar year, but the carnage remains.  Locations as distinct as those in the northern villages of Nigeria like Kukawa, Mamasapano, Philippines, Shia mosques in Pakistan, churches and mosques in Cameroon, locations in Yemen, Garissa, Kenya, Kobani, Syria, Leego, Somalia, Ankara, Turkey, and the sad list continues since butchery knows no boundaries.

While it brings terror to the individuals involved but is not classified as terrorism, here in the United States we average approximately 44 murders per day. With that ‘horrorism’ we have also experienced terrorism on our soil where mass numbers of innocent lives succumbed to the evil planned abroad and carried out on 11 September 2001 or the homegrown variety with the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. The numbers of those murdered may have been less, but acts of terrorism carried out at the Boston Marathon, Charleston, and Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta in 1995 and others do not pale in terms of loss. Any such act is horrific among any of person of honor, of feeling.

While modern technology allows for seemingly instantaneous coverage of such horrendous acts today, historically such barbarism is not a new phenomenon.

The reasons for such carnage cannot be justified in my opinion. One may try to cite religion, ethnicity, nationalism, et al, but none apply because any validation is nothing else but an excuse for the sick, deranged, depraved, evil, barbaric animals who try to pass themselves as being human beings.

We try to understand, but at times as rational creatures we cannot comprehend this sadistic irrational behavior.

Yet are we truly rational people because isn’t it irrational to condemn those fleeing from this barbarism?

That’s akin to the logic that one can shoot fish in a barrel. You might do it. I reckon it’s easy, but who in the heck does it.  I’ve heard the expression, but I’ve never witnessed the act.

To me it’s the same illogical pattern to hear so many in our political spectrum condemn our leaders and champion France today when only a dozen years earlier those in the same political spectrum vilified France for opposing US military actions in the Middle East by contending that such actions on our part would inevitably lead to the instability today and result in repercussions. The ‘freedom fries’ and ‘freedom toast’ measures that the GOP pushed expressed the negative sentiment toward France by those in the US who supported our increased military involvement in the Middle East.

France as a nation has been a victim.  Let’s refrain from using victims as pawns to sacrifice for our own good.  If we view others as inanimate objects are we any different from the terrorists with our desire?

It’s unfortunate that bad or evil people are not marked to differentiate them from the good. It’s frustrating and frightening that a single target demolished will not stop the threat.

The reality is that at times an easy answer does not exist.  Sometimes the threats are embedded in multiple levels and destroying one level merely allows for the rise of one that is a stronger threat as it is no longer contained by what has been eliminated.

It does not help to relinquish power or to provide justification to those persons intent upon bringing misery to the innocent. Like, dislike, love, hate, but the President of the United States is regarded as the leader of our country. Like, dislike, love, hate, the Pope is regarded as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church on Earth. Yes these are human beings, but they are the established figureheads for any who regard themselves within the assemblages of American or Catholic.  You may not support the figurehead, but those on the outside still identify you with the group.

It was less than a century and a score ago that many here in the United States considered a possibly fake transmission of foreign officials that President William McKinley was weak as a rightful call to war against the detractors of the President and disrespect of the American people. While that did not lead directly to war it fanned jingoistic flames which would.

Today, however, the vilification is not from abroad but from within and the openness of that fact lessens us as a people. What’s scary is not the political division, but that the rationality for that separatism is embedded in these pseudo wraps of patriotism and Christianity. Pseudo because the spirit of neither is truly embraced.  While the arguments are potentially crisp over time they have evolved to being soggy and stale.  It will always be accurate that things are not perfect.  Things could be better.  It might happen.  Yet the United States is still here and no rhetoric can form are problems today into what previous generations faced and overcame.  If these windmills presented as giants were in fact the giants once defeated, voices of opposition, of dissension would not be tolerated.  If such oppression and suppression by the government existed, would even an irrational mind think to reap financial profit by fostering antagonism?

We can make this about politics or we can make this about real people. I guess one thing that really bothers me is that everyone I know can be placed into one of these evil categories because you all share at least some trait with others who have been labeled whether historic, contemporary, and for most both. We all share the footprints left by others, and all can be tread upon by another, disintegrate with the wind, or be washed away by a flood or merely a trickle of water.

Do We Hear the Tears in Oregon?

Once again mothers’ tears fall to the ground; fathers feel an unreal pressure behind their eyeballs; family and friends weep and mourn as the blood of a loved one now stains the earth where they once lived. Screams, bellows, and bawls resonate through the air but the reverberation somehow fades to scarcely a whisper as they enter our vicinity.  The bells of sorrow weaken with each toll.

Do we even hear the grief-stricken wails or the ominous tones?

When the blood and tears are not direct to our own, do we even ask for whom anymore?

Tragedy becomes defined as an opportunity to promote an agenda.  Talking points intended to hurt us.  We call such remarks opportunism, liberalism, extremism.  What sadness to wrap such wickedness in a veil of patriotism, a cloak of God-given rights, an acceptable sacrifice as long as we are untouched.

It has become routine.  As Barack Obama remarked, “This is a political choice that we make, to allow this to happen every few months in America.”

We have more than one mass shooting a day in the United States of America.

Yes the rate of homicides using firearms has been on the decline, but one must also accept that the rate of suicides using firearms has increased. For nearly every statistic, a counter exists. Differences of opinion and even a cherry picking of statistics are actually acceptable in the abstract arguments, but what is not acceptable is that the numbers, graphs, and charts are not merely anecdotal but human beings who once lived.

Our own fixations upon rights or the myriad of problems attributing to these tragedies should not dismiss that one aspect. We are human beings capable of doing better.

Some people for whatever reason seem determined to bring misery to others, to perpetuate an evil that hopefully most cannot comprehend. Some people have mental illnesses which prohibit rational thought and as a result can be dangers to themselves and to others. Some people will suffer accidents that even with the benefit of hindsight, we would be challenged to prevent. Others are sadly victims of circumstances, and we have yet to either discover or implement solutions.

Too many think they know “how” and “what,” but few are willing to test their “information.”  There are laws on the books which go unenforced, but in some cases another law prevents enforcement.  One example is Tiahrt.  These amendments became attached to appropriations bills back in 2003.

The “good guy or girl” with a gun presents a compelling story, but the unintentional death story does not provide a counterbalance.

It’s one thing on paper, on television, in some video game, or within one’s own mind, but reality does not follow the same script. Law enforcement is an occupation to which I have no firsthand experience, but I believe that no responsible officer relishes the thought of needing to use their service weapons. Military is in itself another setting with its own distinct plots and climaxes when it comes to the usage of weapons.

A while back on social media, a friend of an old buddy took exception to the contention that “Stand Your Ground” laws as written go against the fundamental rules of self-defense. How idealistic to argue that one should do everything possible to avoid the confrontation and if unavoidable to then try to escape the confrontation instead of standing my ground?  He would do this and that and that while those who questioned stand your ground would undoubtedly be a ‘victim.’

In part he was correct because being a ‘victim’ has happened twice. Once during an early morning stop to get gas and run inside to the restroom and another at what had been a pleasant social outing before someone not welcomed appeared and exhibited his steroid induced rage.

The convenience store resulted in disarming one perp and then making a decision to use that handgun against the second perp. The actual time could be measured in seconds. Upon reflection it seems like hours. At the time, it was played like a streamed video with a less than stellar connection as everything jumped from frame to frame instead of progressing in a linear fashion.  The one event that fast forwarded was another patron who entered during those seconds. A “good” guy with a gun to save the day, but fortunately dropped his gun after nearly shooting one of the other “good” guys without a gun. The outing, hidden within the deep recesses of the brain hopefully to never see the light of memory, but the single common thread was the aftermath of feeling sick, vomiting, and the subsequent nightmares. Sadly, been there, did this, did that, know what it’s like, and appreciate that any actions in the future are an unknown as nothing is the same so no clue as to how or what would happen if in another situation.

We cannot solve all problems.  Nothing will prevent every murder or every accident.  By comparison with other states, nobody has, but others are apparently doing some things better.  Again, however, the statistical battle might wrongfully commence.

Oh I know that many will claim that the tragedy earlier today is a result of President Obama. He’s taken every gun or wants to take every gun. It’s because people like me don’t understand the 2nd Amendment although even without a knowledge of the history of the United States, I would still recognize that the NRA still has their abbreviated version of the 2nd Amendment up in their lobby. People like me wonder that if I were to accept these modern versions of US History then why and the heck do the 2nd Amendment supporters always want to cite Heller as a major SCOTUS decision?

Now I’ll agree that we could use some religion back in our society. It can be the following of what would Jesus do or the variations and applications of the Golden Rule found in other faiths. We could use some empathy. We need some basic respect and freakin’ common courtesy.

Can we have that if everybody blames the President and has no respect for the man, office, or our history?  Whether you voted for him or not, he is the elected President.

We cannot call this opportunism.  We cannot bury yet another tragedy.  We cannot fail to ask for whom the bell tolls.

“Neither can we call this a begging of misery, or a borrowing of misery, as though we were not miserable enough of ourselves, but must fetch in more from the next house, in taking upon us the misery of our neighbours. Truly it were an excusable covetousness if we did, for affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it. No man hath affliction enough that is not matured and ripened by and made fit for God by that affliction. If a man carry treasure in bullion, or in a wedge of gold, and have none coined into current money, his treasure will not defray him as he travels. Tribulation is treasure in the nature of it, but it is not current money in the use of it, except we get nearer and nearer our home, heaven, by it. Another man may be sick too, and sick to death, and this affliction may lie in his bowels, as gold in a mine, and be of no use to him; but this bell, that tells me of his affliction, digs out and applies that gold to me: if by this consideration of another’s danger I take mine own into contemplation, and so secure myself, by making my recourse to my God, who is our only security.”