Want to Change the Gun Debate? Body Bags…

BodyBags

Once again, something that there is “no way to prevent” in a country that could prevent it in a heartbeat has been devastated by tragedy. Mass shootings have become almost commonplace nowadays in our existence, so much so that the recent mass shooting in Parkland, FL (a suburban community north of Miami) that killed 17 teenagers and teachers and injured a similar number has barely registered in our consciousness. Something else that hasn’t registered in our consciousness? That this is the 18th (EIGHTEENTH, for those of you potentially with vision problems) such attack at a school IN 2018 alone.

Now of course the usual diatribe has begun. The conservatives and guns-rights fanatics have rolled out their gems of “mental illness” or that “there’s no way to stop this” or the “what good would new laws do” argument. Liberals, on their side, have opened their discussion of what they believe to be rational gun controls and funding of mental health treatment, but they can’t seem to coalesce around whether they should just try to work on certain weapons or rewrite the Constitution and just how much money it would take to eradicate mental health issues. And once again, those old chestnuts of “thoughts and prayers” and “now’s not the time to talk about these things” (if not now, then when the fuck is the time to talk about it?) comes to the fore.

Myself? I’ve grown tired of the constant stream of “thoughts and prayers” and the hand wringing and the “what will we do” cries that go unanswered. When you get ready to do something about the issue, give me a call. Until then, let’s not pretend to give a fuck about the issue. We didn’t care when 26 6-year olds were gunned down, why the fuck would we care over 17 teenagers?

But I digress. There’s one thing that we can do that would have a tremendous effect on changing the gun debate in this country. Whether we have the balls to do it or not is another thing.

During the Vietnam War, those on the home front of the United States were brought daily reminders of what the casualties of war were. In grainy black and white on their televisions (or, for those families that had a bit more money, color TV), U. S. soldiers were seen getting blown to shit by Soviet-made munitions, their fellow soldiers carrying their body parts back to the corpsmen to try to save so that they could defend a small Asian country against the “expansion of communism.” Some of those men came back with their minds permanently separated from their bodies. Some came back with the body parts either reconnected or gone, but even further disturbed by the horrors of war. Some, alas, didn’t come back.

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These daily images had a monumental effect on the psyche of the country. Seeing hundreds of blood-soaked bodies cross their screens nightly – and, for some, potentially becoming that next body to be broadcast back to the U. S. – changed the viewpoint of the Vietnam War from one of patriotic resolve to that of an imperialistic invading force trying to force our way of life on another country. It begat the protests that started during the early 1960s, but it was one event that was seen on television that changed the course of the war.

In 1968, CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite went to the war-torn country following the Tet Offensive to give viewers his viewpoint on the course of the war. On February 27 of that year, Cronkite offered this opinion to the country:

To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion.”

This, along with the rest of his commentary and the non-stop images of war coming from the front night after night had a seismic effect on the Vietnam War. After it was aired, then-President Lyndon Johnson is reported to have said, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.” It would force Johnson not to run for President in 1968, although it would take another five years before the war would be ended.

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The views of those body bags – filled with the remains of once vibrant and alive men who were defending this great country – was immeasurable. This effect of seeing the ramifications of war has an impact on the people – why do you believe that, since Vietnam, there hasn’t been any scenes of U. S. troops in the midst of battle that haven’t been completely scrubbed by the U. S. government? Why do you think that there haven’t been the scenes of caskets or body bags with the remains of soldiers, Marines, sailors and others that have been killed as a part of the “war”?” Why hasn’t there been the “live from the front” reporting, unless it is someone embedded (AKA “cleared” by the government) with a platoon?

Control what the people see and you control the discussion. That is true in virtually every armed combat situation that the U. S. military has been in since Vietnam and it holds true in the case of these mass shootings.

The National Rifle Association and the Republican Party learned this fact a long time ago. After what was arguably Ground Zero for these mass shootings, the attack by two shooters on their high school in Columbine, CO, in 1999, many saw the images of the two shooters strolling the hallways and gunning down their fellow classmates. People saw, through news reports, the blood-soaked hallways where people tried to drag themselves to safety. They SAW what happened, they saw the bodies, they saw the after effects. (And here’s a bit of sadness for you…Wednesday’s shooting in Parkland knocked Columbine out of the Top Ten largest mass shootings in U. S. history.)

There was a great deal of outrage after that attack and the gun lobby and the politicos noticed. The NRA and the GOP were able to stanch a massive change to gun laws and they learned from the Vietnam War. Thus, in virtually every situation since Columbine, there has been no video or photographic evidence that has been made public.

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Sandy Hook…no. Las Vegas…none. And to this point, we’ve seen nothing of Parkland. It’s time we change that situation.

The only way to have an effect on the Ignorati in this country – those gun-totin’, knuckle-dragging Cro-Magnon fuckheads who spout, “You’ll get my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands” – is to either have someone that they love get mowed down by a hail of bullets from an semi-automatic weapon or, saving that, continually show the blood soaked hallways of the last shooting. Show the area where a group of people, cornered and unable to escape, were massacred by a gunman who made quick work with his assortment of weaponry. Bring the bodies out AND FILM THE GODDAMN THING. Broadcast the march of the dead and show people that yes, there were people who DIED in this attack (it would also shut the hell up these tinfoil hat fucks who scream “false flag operation” after every mass shooting).

The only thing that this country can understand is being beaten over the head with a sledgehammer. This country cannot change without seeing what the effects are of the actions they condone. Civil rights in this country didn’t move forward until blacks being treated like dog toys or being driven to the ground by a fire hose blast was seen by a massive number of people. The same applies to this situation – let’s start seeing the bloodied bodies being brought out of what was once considered a sanctuary – a school, a church, even a place of employment – and then there might be some honest discussion on the issue.

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Words Are Indicative of Actions…

You would have thought that we, those who have functioning brain cells that didn’t buy Orange Foolius’ con act, have gotten used to the utterly incompetent things that this dotard and his Confederacy of Dunces say and do. In the past year, there have been a myriad of things said, only to have sycophants like the utterly detestable Sarah Huckabee Sanders (who goes home at night and scrubs with steel wool to get the stench of her lies off) or the hollowed-out husk of Kellyanne Conway (the third step beyond Tomi Lahren and Ann Coulter on the meth addiction ladder) come out and attempt to translate his idiocy (and let’s not even get into Stephen Miller – you can tell the color of Orange Foolius’ asshole by looking at his tongue). But the last week has brought about statements from the Jackass in Chief that even they have trouble defending (not that they didn’t try).

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Congress currently has a plethora of things on its plate. Beyond trying to pass some sort of budget to ensure that the government still operates, they must consider trying to take care of the “Dreamers,” those people who were brought to the States of America by their parents illegally when they were but children, and immigration as a whole (and that damned wall that Orange Foolius insists on, even though it would be more intelligent to spend $25 BILLION on other infrastructure improvements). The problem is they are trying to bundle these things all into one package when the intelligent thing would be to handle them on an item-by-item basis.

But that is not the point…during the discussion of immigration by a “bipartisan” (there was one Democrat, Illinois’ Dick Durbin, and six Republicans) group, Orange Foolius uttered his latest racist screed as they explained their plan. “Why do we want all these people from ‘shithole countries’ coming here?” With one statement, the fuckhead who 60 million people thought was a “good idea” completely destroyed this country’s reputation around the world and demonstrated the racism that exists in his being. There’s a reason for this:  words are indicative of your actions.

It isn’t like there aren’t plenty of examples of Orange Foolius’ white supremacist rantings. It is alleged that he called an expert on hostage negotiations a “pretty Korean lady” and wondered why she wasn’t leading his delegation to negotiate with the Koreas (answer:  it wasn’t her goddamn area of expertise, you racist fuck). You can go back to 1973 and a settlement with the federal government for housing discrimination. You can look at his casino ownership, when he would have black employees removed from the floor. You can look at his statements regarding Muslims and the travel ban…on and on it goes, but this situation was different.

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Racism, and racist statements, are made all the time in this country unfortunately. The beliefs of people like Richard Spencer, the Neo-Nazi white supremacist, find their way into legitimate journalism because he “looks so nice.” Coulter’s verbal spewage hems right up to the side of donning a brown shirt alongside Spencer, but even she tows a certain line lest she be castigated as a racist (sorry, Blondie…if the hood fits…). Commentary from Fox News personnel such as former host Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Jesse Watters, who built an entire “report” around ridiculing residents of Chinatown, is the norm rather than the exception on that excuse for a network.

The problem becomes when you actually have some power at your disposal. Some might argue that the folks at Fox have that power, but they really are indicative of what “their viewers” think and what actions they take, as horrid and asinine as they are. They can only shape and reinforce the viewpoints of the Neanderthals they entertain nightly, keeping them ignorant and fearful of anything that isn’t white and Anglo-Saxon (and, some would say, male – female subjugation is a huge part of the Fox credo for women as you’re getting fondled under the table by someone who repulses you). No, these hot-air infused racists don’t have the power they think they do.

When you are the leader of the free world? That’s another story.

As any elected leader will tell you, your words are the commentary of what is in your soul. The things you utter are applicable to what actions you take as a politician because these are the core tenets that you believe in. Statements that elected officials make can and will be how the nation and the world will remember you and, when you are the President of the United States, it is the commentary that will be indicative of how your leadership will act and how it will be remembered.

It isn’t the fact that it was the person elected President cursed. Some of our greatest Presidents – Abraham Lincoln, Lyndon Johnson, Harry Truman and others – weren’t above cursing in the Oval Office. It is even believed that cursing is indicative of an intelligent mind. Researchers into linguistics have determined that swearing demonstrates better linguistic skills than average and, perhaps, even a higher intelligence.

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When the cursing is indicative of your mental beliefs or potential political actions, however, we enter a whole new realm. Considering that this is the same buffoon that said that Neo-Nazis were “good people,” that said that he hated “black guys” counting his money, and has demeaned his OWN DAUGHTER by calling her (and allowing her to be called) a “hot piece of ass” (this isn’t even going towards the Access Hollywood tape) and you get a general gist of his thoughts when it comes towards certain political beliefs and actions he might take. When you have the power, you CAN impose your will on the political realm and effect change that will set back relations (not only in this country but around the world) a couple of decades if not a half-century or more.

And what does the inability of anyone associated with Orange Foolius – fellow members of the GOP, conservatives, those that voted for this shitstain – to denounce such commentary. One member of the GOP in the “shithole” meeting, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, stated that he chided the Asshole in Chief “immediately” about the comments. But two other bootlickers, Georgia Senator David Perdue and Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, mumbled they “didn’t hear” him say those words. NOBODY in the GOP has come out VEHEMENTLY against these racist statements, other than to blithely state they were “inappropriate” (Speaker of the House Paul Ryan might as well have applied his lips directly to Orange Foolius’ ass in saying the statements were “unfortunate (and) unhelpful”).

And to the electorate? Those mind-numbed individuals who thought that this jackass was the right choice? To sit in silence – or even defend such spewage from this cretin – is to become complicit in the act. If you do not disavow this person – it’s OK, you can say, “Maybe we were wrong,” without the GOP Gestapo coming for you – then you are a part of the actions of this administration and, yes, it SERIOUSLY must be considered what is in your heart, especially if you allow the continued racial animosity from this person.

For some reason, I don’t think this is the end yet. The unfortunate fact is that there’s further levels of depravity that Herr Twitler, the Confederacy of Dunces and their die-hard followers can achieve. With hope, they won’t be getting this chance to destroy what is left of this country’s reputation. The Statue of Liberty bears a plaque from poet Ezra Lazarus which reads:

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

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Being a part of this great experiment means that you become American, not that you were white enough or had enough money or even were of the right religious idealism. It means you are a part of moving forward humanity’s greatest experiment. Perhaps it would behoove the Idiot in Charge to remind himself of this – and that he is a first-generation son of an “immigrant from a shithole country (his mother)” to call this country home.

It’s Tough to Give the GOP the Benefit of the Doubt

Here we are, six months from whence the primaries for the 2016 election of our next President will be taking place, and I’ve yet to find some candidate to get behind. In the past, that person was pretty much self-evident and I could step into the ballot box on Election Day with a clear conscience as to whom I was voting for. Recently, however, it has been a difficult road when it comes to picking that one candidate.

When it comes to the Democratic side of the equation, it looks more like the Republican side has looked like for most of my life. In the past, the GOP normally had a hierarchy that ran as such:  if you lost to a Republican who became president in the previous election, the next time the office was open without a Republican incumbent, it was your turn to take the nomination. This has happened in the Republican Party for virtually the last 50 years.

In 1968 it was Richard Nixon (defeated by Kennedy in 1960, won nomination in 1968); 1980 brought us Ronald Reagan (a half-hearted try in 1976 to topple incumbent Gerald Ford, who took over after Nixon resigned) and 1988 brought us George Bush (or Bush I, lost to Reagan in 1980). In 2000, George Bush (Bush II) was an outlier in that he didn’t show any interest in running in 1996, but John McCain (defeated by Bush II in 2000) and Mitt Romney (defeated by McCain in 2008) picked up where he left off.

On the other side of the aisle, the Democrats normally throw a donnybrook when it comes to choosing their own nominee for President of the United States. 1968 saw a reluctant Hubert Humphrey step up after the incumbent, Lyndon Johnson, decided not to run for a second term (by law, he technically could have; he served the remainder of John Kennedy’s term from 1960 and only was elected once himself in 1964) and another bright star from Camelot, Robert Kennedy, gunned down in Los Angeles just as it looked as if he were to win the nomination. 1972 saw six different candidates enter with George McGovern capturing the hearts of Democrats over Humphrey, George Wallace, Edmund Muskie, Henry Jackson and Shirley Chisholm. This occurrence of multiple choices – and viable ones, not half-assed efforts – has repeated itself pretty much every time over the Democratic Presidential nominations since…except for this one, where it seems the parties have flip-flopped.

There’s very little choice in 2016 if you examine the Democratic nominees. While everyone might grouse over Hillary Clinton and the Titanic-load of baggage she has, the other candidates lack the ability to forge a way past her as Barack Obama did in 2008 (there’s also the instance that this is the Democratic Party’s payback to Clinton for being a “good soldier” in losing to Obama in 2008, something as shown previously to be something the GOP did often). Even the person most likely to have some power to go against Clinton, incumbent Vice President Joe Biden, doesn’t seem to have the heart for a drawn out campaign battle (understandable after the death of his son). Anyone thinking that Clinton won’t be the nominee when the Democrats hit Philadelphia next summer would be considered out of their mind, even with the problems hovering over her.

The 2016 GOP field is the one that is reminiscent of the Democrats in the “come one, come all” approach they’ve used in throwing the door open and allowing anyone to come to the party. In total there are 17 candidates as of September 2015 and, in theory, there should be something there for anybody in the election even if the candidate themselves aren’t viable. The actions of the candidates since the campaigning has begun full bore this summer hasn’t exactly shown that “something for anyone” feel and makes it very difficult to give any member of the GOP the benefit of the doubt going forward, however.

Over the past week, there were a couple of instances where members of the Republican Party could have made great inroads into showing that they were someone who could lead all citizens of the U. S., not just those from one party or the other. First there was the shameful assassination of a police officer in Houston, TX that, instead of being a chance to not only unify people behind law enforcement but also a chance to have a moment of commiseration with their Democratic opponents, some members of the conservative movement chose to attack. These attacks were picked up on by some of the Presidential nominees who, in trying to make inroads into Donald Trump’s lead, came up just short of insinuating that the “Black Lives Matter” groups were the spearhead for the number of police shootings.

If you are going to piss off about 35% of the population (and their supporters), that seems to be the way to do it. Fox News talk show host Bill O’Reilly stated, “Every time there is a controversy about an officer shooting a black person, they’re out there stirring the pot.” Conservative radio “host” (I’ll be nice here) Rush Limbaugh has out-and-out called the “Black Lives Matter” organizations “hate groups.” Meanwhile, some on the GOP slate of candidates are following this lead with their rhetoric as a way to get back in the good graces of the Trump-mad acolytes. (And this doesn’t count Trump’s previous insulting of the Hispanic community, which he continues to do; count another 15-20% of the electorate out there the GOP can’t count.)

While there have been some tremendously stupid rallying cries heard during these “Black Lives Matter” rallies (anytime you advocate for the killing of a segment of society, your rally should be shut down), there has actually only been one proven and one possible case where a black person gunned down law enforcement individuals due to prior grievance against law enforcement’s treatment of blacks. In December 2014, two New York officers were executed in their squad car by a maniac who actually stated that was his goal (the proven case) and the Houston case mentioned previously, where Shannon Miles “allegedly” (I say that for legal reasons; when you have videotape, it’s tough to debate) executed Deputy Darren Goforth while he fueled his squad car (the possible case). That is two out of the 85 deaths of law enforcement officers in 2015, not exactly an indicator of rampant incitement of the masses against law enforcement.

Second, there was the controversy regarding Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refused to issue ANY marriage licenses due to her religious objections to same-sex marriage. If there was a point for the GOP to demonstrate that they weren’t beholden to religion or religious groups, the opportunity to point out that Davis was violating her duties and should be jailed or fined was the one to take. Instead, the GOP fumbled over itself trying to placate the Religious Right.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee was the worst, calling Davis’ jailing the “criminalization of Christianity” and the latest attack in the “War on Christianity,” insisting he will go to Kentucky next week to hold a rally/campaign stop at the jail where she is currently incarcerated. Senator Ted Cruz stated he stood with Davis “unequivocally.” There were some surprises such as former Senator Rick Santorum, who stopped short of criticizing Davis’ arrest but commended her stand on her “principles” and Scott Walker, who hemmed and hawed on both sides of the issue, as did Trump. No one on the GOP slate, however, held up following the U. S. Constitution, a familiar battle cry for the Republicans, instead kowtowing to the small religious wing of their party.

If they were to have shown some chutzpah, the GOP had a chance here to capture someone in the center, the “independents” that have to be captivated in order to win an election. If the GOP candidates had just stepped away from the religious question – as they are supposed to do with the separation of Church and State in the U. S. Constitution – they would have stated outright that Davis was violating the laws as they are on the book. They could have said, “Despite (my) personal feelings on the issue, the law of the land is the Constitution and, as such, she has to follow it.” How many did that? Exactly zero.

Instead of demonstrating that they are a party with 21st century ideas and people who can bring those ideas to the forefront, the candidates for President from the GOP instead fell back on mid-1900s (at the minimum) philosophy, when blacks “stayed in their place” and the addition of “In God We Trust” to our currency and the Pledge of Allegiance was allowed to fight off the “godless” Communists. Unless they can actually demonstrate that there are some original ideas left in the party, that there are those who can embrace the future and attack its problems with science, education and thought – and they have people who aren’t afraid to leave those that cling to the past with the intent on bringing it back – the GOP will not encourage me to pull the handle for them.