Monday morning you sure look fine (miscellaneous musings in early March)

With a nod to a lyric from a classic Fleetwood Mac song, allow me to throw down a few miscellaneous musings on March 7, 2022. I have been consumed by Ukraine’s courageous attempt to stave off the malevolent Russian force who is attacking for some made up reason, so many of my writings of late are around that topic.

The former Attorney General William Barr has noted several interesting things of late as he promotes his book on his time serving the former president. One that caught my eye this morning noted the former president does not care whether his fraudulent election claims are true, he just wants his fan base to believe such as his worst fear is being seen as “a loser.” Before Barr was fired, he noted in a group meeting to the former president that his election fraud claims were BS, which enflamed his mercurial boss. As the former president’s niece said, her uncle would burn it all down to avoid losing the election. That is why he will never concede.

Americans better be prepared to do their part in helping Ukraine as gas prices continue to rise. Putin is counting on us soft Americans to cave to enable his efforts to steal a country. What he did not count on is a former comedian being tough as nails telling him to go screw himself. President Zelenskyy is doing what a real leader should do. His opponent has misled his people, lied to his troops in harm’s way, arrested protestors, shut down internet access, and published disinformation as he always does. That is not leadership – that is autocracy.

I am long past tired of opinion hosts and politicians lying to us. Both sides stretch the truth, but I left the Republican party around 2008 as one reason is they had tendency to make things up. That was fourteen years ago and it has gotten worse. Sadly, people who support a person known for lying lie for him and rationalize his lies. It is embarrassing. To start with, do not believe anything that the former president or his TV sycophants say – the odds are well in your favor to be accurate. Do not believe anything the former president’s sycophants in Congress say – again the odds are well in your favor. We need a viable conservative party, but one that vilifies its truth tellers and promotes its liars is not one with a lot of veritas.

I know our friend Boris in the UK is a happy man with the news story of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, not the actual invasion. It has taken his woes off the front pages and allowed him to act more like what a Prime Minister should act like. The same may be true for the randy Prince Andy, excuse me “Andrew.” I know the Queen is likely very happy this Andrew thing is being put behind them. When your defense is to ignore the picture of him hugging an underage girl in a place owned by a convicted trafficker in girls (even though his only sentence was embarrassingly light), it does not make for strong argument.

Let me segue to another person known for his sexual misconduct, Harvey Weinstein. We have been watching a lot of old movies in the past several months. When I see Weinstein’s name as the film producer, my first thought is did he force himself on the lead actress? I was recalling the excellent work by Ronan Farrow on Weinstein and his enablers and one story sticks out. Actress Rosanna Arquette refused his advances and got on an elevator to leave the hotel where Weinstein planned his rendezvous. As she rode down the elevator, her thoughts drifted to “have I just ruined my career?” That is the power these sexual predators wield, whether it is due to money or royalty. And, the people that make me the most mad are the ones who cover everything up for their boss.

Wednesday wanderings and walkabouts

With the no specific topic in mind, let’s put on our hiking shoes on this cool fall day and wander outside. Our Australian friends have a more earnest term of “walkabout,” so let’s walkabout and ponder as we stroll through a forest or path hopefully with a friend, given the stories below. If your significant other cares to join you, even better. Holding hands is optional but recommended.

In no particular order, here are a few items to ponder.

One of the things I have discovered is politicians and their staff members really like it when you call them and thank them for positive or courageous actions. Representative Nancy Mace, a South Carolina Republican, is getting flak from a member of her tribe for calling said person out for bigoted and mean-spirited remarks toward another congressional representative. I called and complimented Mace on doing the right thing and her political courage. We need more of that in Congress and in her party and less of the mean-spirited name calling and bullying.

I read yesterday the North Carolina School of the Arts, a high school for talented young artists, has now increased the number of plaintiffs to 41 accusing the school of allowing sexual misconduct occur. This school has failed to learn the lesson that groups like the Catholic Church, Boy Scouts of America, Penn State University, Michigan State University, US Women’s Gymnastics, Ohio State University, the US Military, et al. have failed to learn. The victims, not the institutional brand, matter the most. And, by focusing on the victims and bringing the alleged predators to justice, the institutional brand will actually be helped not harmed. Doing the right thing matters.

Unfortunately, I am aware of a couple of folks I know who have been victims of sexual assault. It makes you angry that this can happen. My advice to any person on a college campus or in a large organization, if you are sexually assaulted, do not go to the campus or security officials of the organization Call the police. You will be better served if you go to an entity that is not involved with the institution who will try to protects its brand first and foremost. As for college students, I would suggest young women not let anyone handle their drink, drink judicially and go to parties with a friend. Be in control of your destiny. When testosterone, alcohol and groups are mixed together, a woman’s best interest may not be top of mind.

Putting these stories together, I admire courageous and egalitarian leaders, especially women who exhibit these traits in the face of more adversity than a man faces. I also believe women must be extra vigilant in a world that continues to prey upon them. There are too many men like Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes et al out there who have used their positions of power to force themselves on women, whether it is a major retail store manager or a plant manager in a small town. These local managers who prey on women workers are far more prevalent as they control the hiring and scheduling.

It is hard, but it can be done. And, it may affect your income, which makes it harder. Women should not let any man or woman in power take advantage of them or others. I saw two stories this weekend on CBS Sunday Morning News that are telling. The actress Rita Moreno says she was raped by her agent when she was a teenager. Back in the early 1950s, she said she had no voice as a young Latina American and no one would do anything about it, so she did not even try. The other story is of the rock-n-roll singer Pat Benatar who said radio people in the early 1980s said if she slept with them her record would get played. She told them to go screw themselves.

We cannot expect all women to be as feisty as Pat Benatar and many still feel constrained like Rita Moreno did as a Latina American, but we men and women should be advocates for all women who are being pressured. And, we should applaud courage when we see it, whether it is political or personal courage.

A short post with long meaning

It should be noted the GOP House leadership wants to remove the thirteen Republicans from committee positions because they voted for the infrastructure bill that most Americans want and will benefit from. Plus, it was passed on a bipartisan basis in the Senate with nineteen Republican votes, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who called it a “godsend” for his state of Kentucky.

Yet, these same “leaders” have been silent on condemning the actions of one of their representatives, Paul Gosar of Arizona, who once again has embarrassed their party and defamed his position. He sent an anime with his avatar beheading the avatar of that of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. That is immoral in my view and certainly well beneath the dignity of the office. But, tell me what does it say the GOP House leadership values by comparing these two stories?

I was just noting to our blogging friend Joy that Democrat Speaker Tip O’Neill and Republican President Ronald Reagan often disagreed, but both loved their country. They also were good friends. At the end of the day, with a drink in hand, one would call the other to toast the end of another day. This excerpt is courtesy of the book “Tip and the Gipper, ” as Reagan played the “Gipper” in a movie.

Voting for something that you feel is right should not be hindered by tribal politics. And, we can all do a better job at civil discourse. Elected officials should lead the way on civil discourse, not be among our worst practitioners. Just because we disagree with someone does not mean we should take his or her head-off, terrible pun meant to show how dangerous Gosar’s actions are regardless of party.

As an independent, I disagree with some positions AOC has taken, but that is OK, as I agree with some as well. What I cannot tolerate is the malicious and untruthful of actions of representatives like Gosar. I cannot not even get around to looking at their positions, as their actions are so dishonorable We Americans deserve better than this. So, do the people of Arizona. Full stop.

Another story about a child finding a gun, shooting (and killing) others

In a never ending story, yet another child has shot someone after discovering a gun in the house. I had been pulling together another post, when the following news article caught my eye in yesterday’s newspaper, “4-year-old accidentally shot by juvenile with unsecured weapon in Charlotte, police say” by Jonathan Limehouse of The Charlotte Observer. The full story follows, but I did provide a link below.

“A 4-year-old is in the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries after being accidentally shot by another juvenile in a northwest Charlotte home Monday morning, police said.

Around 11:30 a.m., Charlotte-Mecklenburg police responded to an assault with a deadly weapon call in the 2100 block of Long Ridge Lane. Upon arrival, officers found the 4-year-old victim with a gunshot wound.

Based on initial evidence, police said another juvenile found an unsecured firearm inside the home and accidentally shot the victim.

Detectives are currently speaking with the adults who were inside the home at the time of the shooting, police said.

Police did not specify the relationship between the victim and the juvenile who fired the gun.

RECENT SHOOTINGS INVOLVING YOUTH, UNSECURED FIREARMS

▪ On Aug. 8, a 2-year-old boy in Gastonia shot and killed his father, Markovia LaShawn Durham, at his grandmother’s home.

“He thought it was a toy,” the child’s grandmother told Observer news partner WBTV.

The .40-caliber Glock handgun “was not properly secured at the time,” the Gaston Gazette reported.

Durham, 29, was feeding his son when the incident happened, the grandmother told WBTV.

▪ On the morning of July 24, a 14-year-old accidentally shot his 12-year-old brother in west Charlotte.

The 12-year-old was seriously injured, police said.

The 14-year-old was charged with possession of a handgun, which he found walking to a store near his house, the boy’s mother told WSOC-TV.

Police ruled this shooting an accident.

▪ A mother of five was accidentally killed in Cornelius on Feb. 15 when her children found a gun in her purse, according to Cornelius police.

Police found Gabriel Alexis Henderson, 25, in a back bedroom of her apartment. Medic pronounced her dead on the scene.

Investigators determined that the only people in the home at the time of the shooting was Henderson and her five children. The oldest child was in the living room, while the other four were in the bedroom playing with a small semi automatic handgun they found in Henderson’s purse, police said.

The mother’s youngest child also was shot but suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

YOUTH, HANDGUN SHOOTING STATISTICS

An estimated 4.6 million American children live in homes with at least one gun that is loaded and unlocked, according to Everytown Research.

▪ There have been at least 239 unintentional shootings by children this year, resulting in 94 deaths and 157 injuries nationally.

▪ In North Carolina this year, there have been at least 12 unintentional shootings by children, resulting in seven deaths and six injuries.

▪ Last year, there were 15 unintentional shootings in the state, which resulted in six deaths and nine injuries.

▪ In 2019, there were at least seven unintentional shootings by children, resulting in just eight injuries in North Carolina.

▪ In 2018, there were at least eight unintentional shootings by children, resulting in two deaths and six injuries in North Carolina.”

I actually called the reporter and thanked him for his well-done article, including citing other recent shootings and child gun deaths over the last few years. To be brutally frank, this story could have been written at any time in any major city in America.

I blame cowardly politicians who are funded by the gun manufacturing industry who routinely tell us “now is the not the time” to address better gun governance. Well, right now, this is not about a mass shooting, although they are fairly routine in America. This is about what happens on a daily basis.

Guns need not be taken away, but we as a country need to have more accountability to owning a weapon designed to kill people. We govern driving a car better than we do owning a gun. It truly saddens me that someone dies at the hands of a child who stumbles onto a gun. It is especially painful when it is a child who is the victim. Plus the shooter has to live with the trauma of causing the death of another.

Responsible gun owners have stated publicly that they support better measures. Yet, the lobbyists from the gun industry keep stating the broken record of that is a “slippery slope.” Mr. Politician, I do not want to hear more platitudes of “thoughts and prayers” and I especially do not want to hear from gun industry sycophants giving me the party line of second amendment rights. Measures can be taken to make us safer and if won’t do it for adults, let’s at least do it for the children.

https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article253525709.html

Civil Rights Museum in Greensboro is a much needed lesson in our history

The following post was written about eight years ago, but seems even more relevant today as there are too many who do not want the bad part of our US history taught. This is not a new phenomenon, as a key part of our history is to mask these ugly truths. I am in my sixties, but I never read or heard about what happened in Tulsa, OK and Wilmington, NC until the the last few years. Names like Emmitt Till and Rosa Parks, must be remembered just like those of Martin Luther King and John Lewis.

Yesterday, I had some free time in the Greensboro, North Carolina area and decided to revisit the International Civil Rights Center and Museum. Why Greensboro? For those of you are old enough to remember or know your history, the museum incorporates and builds off the actual Woolworth’s lunch counter where four African-Americans started a movement of non-violent sit-ins. The story of this daily sit-in helped bring about change along with many other efforts. Our tour guide whose mother used to bring her to Woolworth’s to shop, said the operative word they had to overcome was “separatism.”

In an attempt to protect the whites from the significant misconceptions about African-American citizens, “separate, but equal” laws were passed to allow discrimination to continue under the guise of the law. These Jim Crow laws, as they were called, came about to show that society need not have to integrate to give rights to its African-American citizens. The ugly truth is separatism was not very equal and continued to put down and discriminate against African-Americans in perceived legal and moral ways. There were some whites who spoke out before the overt discrimination became more apparent, but we had far too many leaders in business, government and faith communities who perpetuated this maltreatment.

The list of examples in the museum of discrimination and the fight to alleviate it are significant in number and impact. It makes you feel ashamed, disillusioned and angry that our fellow citizens were treated this way. The bombings, the lynchings, and the beatings are well documented and illustrated. The separate, but very unequal, train station terminals where whites had bigger waiting rooms, restrooms and easements are eye-opening. The separate, but unequal restrooms in stores, where our guide said her mother would tell her to go at home before they went to the store, are indicative. Sitting in the back of the bus, yielding your seat to white person and even the leather straps for standers in the back of the bus versus cushioned straps in the front showed the lack of equality. The Coke machine with two sides, one for whites at 5 cents with the opposite side for African-Americans at 10 cents is separate and very unequal. The voter laws that made it so very difficult for an African-American to register and vote were definitely not equal. And, so on and so on.

Fifty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) pushed through the Civil Rights Act in the United States. The next year he followed up with the Voters Rights Act. These key pieces of legislation changed the long term and horrible course of inequality America was on. Forced busing to allow for fair and equal education was passed in 1970 sixteen years following the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. LBJ helped change the future in response to the efforts of many from Martin Luther King to John Lewis to Rosa Parks. It was critical that LBJ, a white southerner working with a coalition across political parties was able to shame leaders into doing something for America.

We are much further along than before, but our work is not done. We each need to be mindful of our biases and prejudices we have to various groups of people. We need to be active to voice our concerns over recent state actions by conservatively led states (ironically and sadly like the one in NC) to limit the voting rights of people who are primarily African-American, under the disguise of doing something against voter fraud. Rampant voter fraud has been proven not to exist, even as recently as last week with touted data in an attempt to show it does. Some of these laws have been ruled unconstitutional and others are being sued for such as of the time of this post. Make no mistake, these laws are designed to suppress voters who tend not to vote with the conservative side of the ledger. This is masked cheating, which is straight out of Jim Crow book.

What makes this further disturbing is our Supreme Court ruled that parts of the Voters Rights Act are no longer needed. This is one of several decisions made by this court which puzzle and frustrate me. What country do they live in? I see or hear examples of discrimination almost every day. It often is masked with code words or followed by words like “but, I am not a racist.” It would surprise these folks to learn most food stamp recipients are white. Even Congressman Paul Ryan parlayed that misconception in some of recent speeches and interviews. The bottom line is it should not matter, as poverty knows no color. I use this as an example of unstated racism in America. It is those people who are in need of aid, so it is OK to cut benefits.

There are Civil Rights museums in several cities. Please frequent them with your children and friends. If you’re near Greensboro, please stop by and tour this well crafted museum. I was pleased to see two bus loads of school children of all stripes leaving the museum when I arrived. This stuff really did happen and discrimination still exists today. Use these occasions as opportunities to discuss what is happening today with others. Per the play and movie “South Pacific” bigotry has to be carefully taught. The converse of this is also true. Let’s carefully teach that discrimination is not right.

Here is a link to the Greensboro Civil Rights Museum. http://sitinmovement.org/

Here is a link to information on the Greensboro sit-ins. Greensboro sit-ins – Wikipedia

May 35 and December 37 – two fictitious dates for real events

Friday in China was the anniversary of a horrible event when the Chinese government forcibly put down a protest in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Seeing a young man stare down a tank in the square is the most memorable occurrence. But, China has done its best to erase this event from their history arresting some protestors in Hong Kong two days ago who tried to honor the memory of those who died that day..

I have written before about May 35 which is a real reference to an imaginary date. Per the attached article in the New York Times, it is a reference to what happened in Tiananmen Square in China on June 4, 1989, which has been expunged from Chinese history, including internet search references to that date. So, to make sure the Chinese kids remember this protest which was brutally squashed by the Chinese army, historians established a May 35 web link.*

In America, the Republican Party is doing its best to erase further discussion of the insurrection incited by the former president on January 6. In their minds, we cannot have people thinking the former president’s lies about election fraud, his invitation of zealous members of his base to Washington, and his winding them up and pointing them at the Capitol building had any thing to do with people storming the Capitol.

So, to make sure we don’t forger this heinous day in our country, nor the former president’s role and continuing untruthfulness about election fraud, maybe we should start calling it December 37 like the enterprising Chinese people did to avoid the memory being erased.

People died at these events. We owe it to them to remember who caused them. We cannot do anything about China’s delete key, but we can remind folks here that January 6 would not have happened if the former president did not have such a fragile ego and could not accept the fact he lost the election. Or, as his niece said in November, her Uncle cannot handle failure, so he will burn it all down to avoid losing the election.

May 35 and December 37. Bad days in China and the US People in leadership need to be held accountable. Especially when they play an active role in causing these bad days.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/24/opinion/global/24iht-june24-ihtmag-hua-28.html?_r=0eal

Tiananmen Square incident | Summary, Details, & Facts | Britannica

Note on essential commission on January 6 insurrection

I posted the following on several Republican Senator websites, as well as that of my GOP Congressman. Please feel free to use and adapt.

As a former Republican and now independent voter, the fall of my former party is concerning as well as embarrassing. To long tout being a party of law and order and now support a lawless insurrection that not only threatened you and your staff’s lives, but ended up killing five people and contributing to the deaths of two more, is beyond me.

We have a former president who continues to be untruthful about wide-spread election fraud, a stance he planned several months before the election and was highly predictable. What I did not anticipate is how much support he has received from his sycophants who won’t tell him the truth. I also did not anticipate how miserably his legal attempts would fail, going down as one of the worst investments of money winning only one small court case, while losing well over 60.

But, what bothers me even more is the former president set the stage with his lies for the insurrection, invited the more zealous members of his base to DC and then pointed them at the Capitol building. If they had found the white haired Vice President, he may have been another victim, as this former president painted a target on his back.

To be frank, this former president must be held accountable regardless of his party. We cannot have a coup attempt on one branch by another. Full stop. Please support the investigation into this atrocious event in our country’s history. We owe it to those who died, plus we citizens who crave good governance.

Welcome to America, I hope you are packing heat – a reprise of a still relevant post

The following post was written almost eight years ago, but as you read it, the events seem to come right out of today’s headlines. This is one topic I am truly tired of writing about, as lobbyists have hobbled the ability for legislators to act like parents and spouses and do something. Americans have said in surveys they want, yet nothing gets done. It reveals who butters the bread for these politicians. At this moment, one more shooting has occurred in Virginia. After Colorado. After Atlanta….

I have written several posts about our excessive gun violence in America. We lead the world by far in gun deaths and children gun deaths. Yet, we continue to do nothing about it. We have a parade of children led shootings at schools the past few weeks, yet we continue to do nothing about it. Pick up any US newspaper anywhere in the country and count the number of gun death or violence stories. I wrote a post about Googling a “six-year-old kills four-year-old” and counting the number of stories that pop up. Yet, we still do nothing about it. We have mass shootings, which are horrific tragedies, but dwarfed by the daily killings of kids, yet we still do nothing about it. And, Americans by virtue of reputable surveys, clearly want better background checks and more elongated waiting periods, yet we still do nothing about it.

Here are a few links to these previous posts.

I am thinking of the person who finally asked Senator Joe McCarthy during his communist witch hunt trials, “Senator, have you no shame?” That was actually the beginning of the end for McCarthy. I fully recognize the complexity of what is causing gun deaths, but the NRA and strident gun amassers would like you to believe that guns have little to do with gun deaths. Responsible gun owners know this not to be the case, which is why they take great pains to teach their use and put them away for safekeeping. So, using the McCarthy line above, “NRA, have you no shame?”

We are well past the time to act on these issues. It is a poverty issue, it is mental health issue, it is a lack of civil discourse issue, it is a violence in entertainment issue, but make no mistake about it, it is an access to guns issue. Without access to a weapon, the child does not kill his sibling or cousin. Without access to a weapon, the depressed teenager, college student or adult does not act on an impulse and end a life. Without access to a weapon a drunken patron at a bar or ball game does not go to his car and come back guns a blazing because they were offended.

NRA, have you no shame? You could have acted responsibly like the majority of gun owners, yet you decided to fan the flames of a fervent crowd and crow about Second Amendment rights, which I still have not seen anyone threaten. You have also usurped the leadership of the GOP and taken them down a darker path along with some other fervent misconceptions. As a result, we cannot have the long overdue civil, appropriate debate about this topic looking at all issues, including what Americans, even Republicans want by far – better background checks and elongated waiting periods. We should do more than that, but those two issues are no brainers and largely popular.

It is past time. NRA, have you no shame? NRA, stand down. We need to have a better conversation without your involvement, as you violated the trust of Americans and responsible gun owners, whom you no longer represent.

How do you know who the good guys are? (a repeat post)

This is a repeat post from over eight years ago. With yet one more mass shooting in the United States, on top of the usual gun deaths that happen every day reported in any newspaper, this message sadly must be sounded again. We cannot solve a problem, if we don’t admit we have one.

There have been many excellent posts on the need to lessen gun deaths in the United States. I have been thoroughly impressed by many blogging friends, in particular Amaya at www.thebrabblerabble.wordpress.com who in the face of well-armed relatives will not back down on the need for smarter gun control. Yet, the purpose of this post is to address a series of questions I have, one in particular, in response to the infamous comment by Wayne LaPierre of the NRA.

“The only solution to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

My simple question is how do you know who the good guy with a gun is as opposed the bad guy? The answer to this question is not that simple, as we are all varying shades of gray. There are very few, if any, all good or all bad, people. Even Mother Teresa confided in her journal how tempted she was and how hard she prayed to do the right thing each day. You would be hard pressed to find a better person than Mother Teresa. Yet, since we are not all Mother Teresa’s, let me quote Kevin Horrigan of the St. Louis Dispatch who said this week about athletes who lie and cheat – Social scientists who have studied the issue generally agree that 10% of people are honest all the time, 5% will lie and cheat any time it’s in their interest and 85% of people are basically honest, but depending on the circumstances, will cut a few corners or shave the truth from time to time.

Using the above as a proxy, we could say that 85% of people are in the category of the varying shades of gray. We are human and not bad people, but we will err, sin and use bad judgment. So, let’s place a gun in the hands of the 85% and see what happens on a daily basis. As I noted in earlier blogs, as tragic as Newtown is, the greater tragedy occurs every day. A 16-year-old kills a 13-year-old for showing him disrespect. A distraught son gets mad at his mom and kills his three siblings and parents. A person gets mad at a pizza parlor, goes to his car and comes back to kill the person who slighted him. A mother shoots her son over an American Idol argument. A football player shoots his girlfriend in front of his mother as he is mad at her for staying out late. A man goes home to get his gun after being confronted about his dangerous driving in a parking lot, then returns and shoots two people. A man takes a gun to sell at a weapons show and it discharges and hurts someone.

A gun in the hands of a perceived good person does not make things safer for many reasons. Our society has become less civil to each other, so arguments become more hostile than they need to be. Without a gun, you may have seen a fist fight or someone leaving the scene. With access to a gun, the good guy will be more prone to use it to preserve his honor. So, acting impulsively, a death occurs and he is charged with a crime and will go to jail.

Acting on impulse gets worse when you mix guns, alcohol and testosterone. Good men when tipsy or drunk will throw good judgment out the window. If a gun is handy and offense is taken, whether intended or not, someone will get shot. “Oh, but he was such a good man,” his neighbors would say. When I hear about people who want to take a concealed weapon into a bar, I truly think that is the most asinine action one could do. And, if you don’t believe me, please ask your wife, mother or sister about what good can possibly come from mixing guns, alcohol and testosterone.

But, let’s set that aside and talk to Mr. LaPierre’s thesis in a mass shooting situation, since that is the only crisis he wants to address. Let’s say we arm the 10% who are honest as the day is long. Police officers and soldiers will tell you, no matter how much training you have, it is a totally different ball game when you are shooting at someone who is shooting at you. Would a teacher better serve her students to get them out of harm’s way as practiced or attempt to be Dirty Harry? Once he or she is shot, the children have no prayer. And, to further embellish this point, there was someone armed in the Aurora theatre. He said it was so dark and smoky, he did not know who to shoot. This is someone who knew what they were doing and chose not to fire.

I am delighted the President asked his Vice President to discuss openly with lawmakers what to do about our nation leading the civilized world by far in gun deaths. With 80% of the gun deaths out of the top 23 nations combined, we hold an infamous distinction. I detest that this has become a wedge issue, but one side has to disagree with the other side because the other side said it. So, the recommendations made by the President based on the VP led committee are meritorious. They should be considered each and every one. I for one am against assault weapons in the hands of civilians. I think any civilian that has an assault weapon has the potential to do great harm given the above.

Yet, if we set that aside, as it gets included in the eternally mentioned and misunderstood Second Amendment rights basket, let’s focus on a couple of things that should be as close to no brainers as possible.

 All guns purchased need to have a waiting period and background check, period. There is no reason not to require this. There should be no gun show loophole as to have one defeats the purpose. This is not a fishing license, it is for a weapon that is designed to kill. You can wait 30 days for it James Bond.

– All weapons and bullets need to be traceable. The police have long advocated for this. If you have an unlicensed weapon or bullets, you should lose your weapon, be fined or go to jail if you continue to be non-compliant. If you have no malintent, then you should not be threatened by this requirement. That car you say that also kills people has a VIN number and the driver has a license. And, the driver could not drive it until he or she showed evidence of insurance.

– Guns should not be around alcohol. We must address civil disagreement as a society, but when judgment is impaired due to alcohol, people die when guns are around. Again stating loudly, mixing guns, alcohol and testosterone is assinine.

– I am for armed guards in school. To have at least the illusion of better security to dissuade mass shooters, we need security guards who know what they are doing. But, I do know many public schools cut back on teachers, counselors and security guards due to budget reasons. I have witnessed on many occasions, people cry out to cut back big government and then when positions are reduced, the same folks cry foul when something bad happens. This is important, so let’s fund it and more teachers with it.

– We must make mental health services more accessible and get over the stigma. One in five people will have some issue with mental health in their lifetime. One in 10 people in a company’s medical plan will be taking drugs for a mental health issue. In today’s world, we can live normal lives with mental health issues. Yet, with that said, when people do get depressed, the availability of a weapon increases the likelihood of suicide. This is why having guns on college campuses is a horrible idea – college kids have a higher degree of depression than general society and these kids will act impulsively. And, once acted out, it is over. There is no do over.

–  Finally, we must take responsibility for our actions. If we own a gun, we need to be like the many responsible gun owners who are rebelling against the NRA. We must also teach civil disagreement approaches in school. There are some forward thinking programs that are doing this, but it should be a routine part of the schooling and preached routinely by teachers and reinforced by parents, mentors, etc.

I guess if there is an appropriate prayer to the God of your own understanding, it is something like the following – Lord, please help me do the right thing, even when I am tempted to do otherwise. Please help me use good judgment and be accountable and responsible for my actions. And, help me treat others like I want to be treated. But, since I cannot always do the above, using the famous words of President Ronald Reagan, “trust but verify.” Make sure that if I own a gun, it is registered along with its bullets and I had to go through a thorough background check to get it. Therefore, I will make damn sure I am using it to a good purpose.

Only women bleed – an unlikely source for powerful words

Whether his name rings a bell for a younger generation, there is an old rocker named Alice Cooper, who beneath his “Kiss” like make-up, sang some great rock-n-roll songs. But, he co-wrote and recorded one of the most powerful ballads, with domestic violence and maltreatment of women as a back drop. The song was aptly entitled “Only women bleed.”

Here is sample of the lyrics from the middle of the song.

“Man makes your hair gray
He’s your life’s mistake
All you’re really lookin’ fors an even break
He lies right at you
You know you hate this game
Slaps you once in a while
And you live and love in pain

She cries alone at night too often
He smokes and drinks and don’t come home at al
l

Only women bleed”

Domestic violence remains a hidden trauma for women. I use the word “hidden” as many victims try to hide their pain and bruises. They have been told it is their fault by their abusers. They are shamed as well as beaten. And, the abusers are quite adroit at masking their violent and controlling tendencies from their co-workers, friend and relatives.

In an agency to help working homeless families that I volunteered with, about 1/3 of the families in need were domestic violence survivors. In addition to losing their home, the spouse and family had to also experience the trauma of domestic violence. PTSD in these families had two causes.

If you are in a domestic violence situation or know someone who is, here are two loudspeaker bulletins.

  • He will not change. Full stop.
  • Find a way to get out before it is too late.

Let me close with the painful story of a man who started a local group called “Men for Change.” His sister hid from him and her other siblings that her husband was beating her. She would avoid family gatherings when bruises were apparent. She also hid the fact her husband was beating her two boys, on occasion ramming their heads into the ceiling.

She hid this from her siblings until they found out. How did they? He killed their sister Only women bleed. The abusers will not change. Get out.