Category Archives: fear mongering

Have You Talked with Your Kids About Pledging Allegiance?

The original Pledge salute was eerily similar to the Nazi salute, so it was changed to hand-over-heart.

Are you a bad American if you refuse to recite the Pledge of Allegiance? Are you a bad parent if you encourage your child to opt out of the Pledge in school?

Not at all. In fact, sitting out the Pledge of Allegiance, and encouraging your children to do so as well, can be seen as an affirmation of certain important values that are sadly lacking in modern America. One could even argue that sitting out the Pledge is itself a noble act of patriotism – or, at least, that those who opt out are by no means any less patriotic than those who participate. (Note: the right to refuse participation in the Pledge has been guaranteed by the United States Supreme Court(link is external).)

It would be a mistake to assume that the Pledge of Allegiance is an exercise that somehow unites all good citizens. Most Americans – liberal, moderate, or conservative – are decent and loyal citizens who appreciate at some level the nation’s core values: freedom, equal rights, democracy, and the fundamental principles embedded in the Constitution. They may often disagree about how to define and apply those values, but that’s simply the nature of a pluralistic, open society. With such a diverse population and a wide range of viewpoints, it shouldn’t be surprising that many see little value in a pledge exercise.

At a minimum, parents should talk with their kids about the Pledge – about what it means, what it doesn’t mean, and even its history. For starters, kids should understand that the exercise is voluntary, because many schools don’t inform them of this. And whether individual children decide to participate or not, all kids should understand that nonparticipation is not unpatriotic or disrespectful in any way. The reverse side of the same coin would point out that participation doesn’t make one a patriot.

In fact, serious participation in the exercise might require a child to make affirmations that run contrary to a child’s core personal beliefs or matters of conscience – and this of course could be unhealthy and problematic. Some families may not believe that the nation is “under God,” for example, whereas others may not feel that we truly provide “liberty and justice for all.” Others may simply have objections to pledging to anything. Families grappling with such issues are part of the fabric of the nation, and they should be appreciated and supported, not criticized.

For any humanist family, and for many others as well, there are numerous issues relating to the Pledge that are worth discussing. A few of them would include:

The Loyalty Oath Problem. No matter how much you love your country, you could question the wisdom of any recitation that essentially amounts to a loyalty oath. To be good citizens, must we visibly and publicly pledge our allegiance? And must even childrendo so – on a daily basis? It’s interesting that the Founding Fathers never felt it desirable to promote such loyalty recitations from citizens. (In fact, the Pledge wasn’t even written until 1892(link is external), a full century after the founding era.) The framers, as men of reason with Enlightenment values, most likely would have been aghast at the idea of citizens being expected to regularly recite a loyalty pledge.

Promoting Nationalism. We can love our country while still being skeptical of nationalism. We can agree that America is a marvelous place, from sea to shining sea, and that the principles upon which it was founded are worthy of exaltation – but that doesn’t mean we should constantly encourage widespread feelings of nationalism. History shows that national pride (in America and elsewhere) can be overdone, that it can lead to militarism and a diminished appreciation of outsiders. Nationalism can be seen as a manifestation of the human tendency toward tribalism, and such “we-are-so-great” thinking is hardly an impulse that should be encouraged. Beyond our borders are fellow human beings whose worth and dignity should not be disregarded. As such, maybe we shouldn’t instill our children with a daily dose of national superiority.

Racist and sexist roots. Liberty and justice are fine values, but they are hardly a comprehensive statement of important American values. When Francis Bellamy, a socialist, originally wrote the Pledge in 1892, he considered including the values of equality and fraternity in the recitation, but he was discouraged from doing so. It seems that too many Americans – particularly those in leadership positions – were opposed to equality for women and African Americans, so inclusion of those values would have been too controversial. Thus, by excluding those values, the Pledge as it appears today reflects not-so-subtle invidious attitudes of racism and sexism – reason enough to pass on participating in it.

The ‘Under God’ Problem. Many Americans don’t even know that the “under God” wording was added to the Pledge in 1954, during the McCarthy era. Interestingly, in asurvey released this week(link is external) by the American Humanist Association, when Americans are informed about this history over one-third support removal of the words and a return to “one nation, individible.” Obviously, a statement that the nation is “under God” is contrary to the sincerely held beliefs of atheists, humanists, and other religious skeptics. That didn’t bother the Knights of Columbus(link is external) and other religious groups that lobbied for inclusion of the phrase, but it obviously bothers many nonbelievers The survey showed over 90 percent of atheists oppose the affirmation, as do more than one in five believers. As the Pledge currently reads, it defines patriotism by drawing a circle that excludes millions of atheists and humanists who of course are perfectly good citizens. That alone is reason for many to opt out.

The Rote Recitation Problem. In an age where critical thinking is hardly a widespread phenomenon, it’s hard to see how the act of reciting any pledge in unison with a large group does much good. Even if the Pledge of Allegiance were a perfect statement of national values – which it is not – it certainly isn’t a reflection of independent thinking. Group activities can indeed sometimes have value in an educational environment (reciting the alphabet, for example, or singing songs). But they are usually done for a short time – a few days, or perhaps a few weeks – until the lesson or the song is fully learned and appreciated, and then the class moves on to something else. However, a daily recitation of a pledge of national loyalty, for 13 years, is an indoctrination, not an education.

A Declaration of Independence. Just as participation in the Pledge exercise discourages independent thinking, nonparticipation is an act of independence. The nonparticipating student is making a statement of sorts – not a statement of disloyalty, but a statement that tells others that he/she will not be herded and given words to recite. The intelligent, independent thinker knows what her values are – and certainly does not need a dailygovernment-sponsored exercise to define them or instill them.

These are some of the reasons that good, decent Americans are sitting out the Pledge of Allegiance. Critics of nonparticipation might object, and they might even accuse nonparticipants of disloyalty. The late Sen. Joseph McCarthy, famous for witch hunts that, not coincidentally, were occurring as the Knights of Columbus was lobbying for insering “under God” into the Pledge in the early 1950s, would have called such nonparticipants disloyal and subversive. This, however, would prove my point. If those claiming to be the “real” patriots can accuse nonparticipants of disloyalty merely for opting out of a recitation, we have forgotten the meaning of patriotism. If anything, such accusations should encourage even more critical thinkers to opt out.

Humanists know that recitation of words does not make a patriot, nor does waiving a flag or putting a yellow magnet on one’s car. If you want to be a good American, talk is cheap – but there’s nothing unpatriotic about critical thinking and personal independence.

Follow on Twitter: @ahadave(link is external)

David Niose’s new book is coming out this fall. Preorder Fighting Back the Right: Reclaiming America from the Attack on Reason

Elect Bernie Sanders in 2016

by Jerry Bierens

The pipeline from our public schools and more recently charter schools, (that are under no restrictions as to cirriculum and inspections) is nothing but the first step in the “dumbing down” process of our youth. The de-funding our public school system (to claim that it’s failing) is a big part of the GOP plan to “privatize” everything they can.

Next step in this process is through the racially biased judicial system and then directly to another government service that should never be privatized, private prisons.

I can’t believe that people are not aware and outraged at these three things. They obviously need reform.

In the case of the judicial, we need new more humanistic (without minimum mandatory sentencing) laws. No one should ever get 20 years or even a life sentence for a victimless crime like drug possession or sales.

Charter schools (for profit) and private prisons (for profit), and on through the (bad, racially tainted) court system are nearly an automatic pipeline to prison for many young people, and a majority of them are blacks and “other brown skinned” indivduals. It’s just plain wrong and you have the GOP to thank (blame) for it.

Charter schools AND private prisons are products of the “conservative” agenda, The result of not enough public input, done with backdoor sweetheart deals, to help wealthy friend(s) to profit from them. Never, never, should prisons or schools be a part of capitalism and done for profit. That’s why they (schools and prisons) have traditionally been PUBLIC services run with PUBLIC tax money. It’s what makes a social democratic society. It’s a fair system that served us well, until the oligarch(s) got their hooks into our government.

It’s all in the RWNJ plan to keep the sheep ignorant, and in line, which benefits the rich and their sponsors, in the legislatures, at the federal and state levels (look up A.L.E.C.)…. These bought and paid for politicians are supported with enormous donations so they can spread their lies and instill enough fear to stay in power so they can further the planned path to a fascist oligarchy…………

It’s past time to forget what the democrats and republicans used to be. Now it’s down to only one party if we are to save democracy and have a chance at an America that is fair to all it’s citizens, and not just the rich 1%.

And it sure isn’t the republicans!!!!

#FeeltheBern

Why America Needs Bernie Sanders

America needs to elect Bernie Sanders for president of the United States of America.

His consistency and steadfastness in his vision of what America needs has been and will remain as it has for over thirty years. He has never wavered from what that is and that is refreshing. He is just what this country needs in the White House.

But little can be done in a progressive way without a supporting congress to make it to happen, therefore, we must get the Democratic voters out in earnest to vote in 2016. Without a democratic congress to help, the possibility of addressing what is most needed in America cannot get done.

The thought of a republican in the White House with a supporting congress scares the hell out of me. Can you envision a fascist government with theocratic overtones?

My advise is this, the GOP clown car is overloaded with a lot of non-viable candidates right now, but by this time next year many of them will be gone, (perhaps even some in prison, where they belong) and the chaff that is left will, in my opinion, be Rand Paul, Scott Walker (his candidacy is the one that is most under the control of the Koch brothers and their billions, even though he also faces legal problems too) and dear old Jeb (the Nazi created dynasty) Bush.

Of these I think that Rand Paul has that best chance of getting the nomination for the GOP (Greedy Old Pricks) and his appeal to the younger voters I have been talking to, posesses a clear danger to our democracy.

These younger voters may be mesmerized by Paul’s stance on a few issues (I may even agree with him on some of them) that they are familiar with and these young people are (understandably) not as aware of the danger underneath, and that is that Paul sides too much with the general GOP agenda of NOT raising the minimum wage, NOT taking on the military industrial complex (is it ever), NOT securing universal healthcare for all, NOT improving our justice system so it is fairer for everyone, NOT getting rid of charter schools (that take public money for uncontrolled private schools), or private prisons (that are nothing more than modern day slavery), NOT canceling these so called religious freedom bills that are surfacing on an ongoing basis today, and possibly most importantly, NOT taking on the big oil companies and addressing the massive problem of climate change.

There will be a lot of things going on in the coming months but by late next summer the picture should be somewhat clearer. Until then, keep learning as much as you can about the policies of the candidates and what the whole picture of another GOP presidency would likely be.

In this writer’s humble opinion America’s democracy will not survive another republican in the White House and that is what scares me the most.

Republicans, Rights And Responsibilities

BY ON MAY 7, 2015    NEWS, POLITICS

Republicans need to take responsibility for the rights they hold dear as well as the rights they do not

Fringe groups of the Republican Party are quick to point out the rights afforded to them under the United States Constitution. Freedom of religion and the right to bear arms are two of their favorite topics. Anyone who dares to regulate either one is in for one hell of a fight. Yet the very same group is loath to admit that with any set of rights comes an equally important set of responsibilities.

Every American citizen is born with “rights’ under the Constitution. For example, we have a right to free speech. However, we also have a responsibility not to threaten people or to yell “Fire” in a crowded theater. When choosing to live in any society we are charged with certain expectations to help that society thrive. Yet it is the groups that yell the loudest about their “rights” that in turn are the most selfish about giving back to the country they claim to “love” so much. It is this denial of responsibility that is taking its toll on our country.

Taxes

No one enjoys paying taxes. However, American corporations and freedom loving Tea Party groups have taken this dislike to the extreme. Who can forget the several days standoff withCliven Bundy, the right-wing nut who refused to pay taxes for his grazing cattle for over twenty years and is estimated to owe the U.S. Taxpayers over $1 million dollars? Rather than pay the tax he issued a call to arms and gun nuts from across the country ran to his side in an effort to fight for his “freedom” to screw the government out of his fair share of taxes.

American corporations in turn are not much better than Bundy when it comes to freeloading. A corporation will go to great lengths to reduce its tax burden to the lowest percentage possible. Corporations such as Boeing and General Electric paid no income tax at all over a five year period. While the average citizen pays anywhere from 5-35% in taxes each year. Meanwhile we struggle with ways to pay for repairs to our crumbling infrastructure and provide decent public school education programs to our youth.

Health Care

When Obama introduced his signature healthcare plan nearly 47.3 million people lacked health insurance. Nearly 1 in 6 people were forced to declare bankruptcy due to mounting medical costs from a catastrophic illness that left them unable to work. Several years after the passage of “Obamacare” 9 out of 10 Americans now have some form of health insurance. The burden to hospital emergency rooms mandated to treat patients regardless of ability to pay has been greatly reduced.

Yet despite its success the Republican-controlled House has vote to repeal “Obamacare” 56 times to date. The reasons why they are so hell-bent on its repeal are many. Mostly it boils down to the simple formula that government-mandated healthcare amounts to taking from the rich to give to the poor. Even though every advanced country has some form of universal healthcare simply because it’s the right thing to do and it lessens the overall burden to society.

Voting

There are 206,072,000 people eligible to vote in America and of that number just 146,311,000 are registered to vote. In a presidential election year just 64% of registered voters turn out to vote. In primary elections the percentage of voters is drastically lower and estimated near 20% or lower. The result of low voter turnout has far reaching consequences for everyone.

Primary election voters decide who will run in general elections and when voter turnout is low special interest, fringe candidates often advance to run against the chosen candidate from the opposing party. In heavily controlled Republican districts, this radical candidate will win easily. It is how candidates like Senator Ted Cruz and Texas Governor Greg Abbott manage to win elections even though both have clearly broken with reality.

Abbott recently convinced himself that the Federal Government was set to take over Texas. He has mobilized the Texas National Guard to “fight” off an invasion meant to seize the guns of law abiding Texans. Abbott’s panic stems from routine exercises performed by military personnel over seven states. Abbott believes that this is a cover by Obama for an invasion staged from Walmarts in Texas that are closed for remodeling. Keep in mind, this is the governor…

Not to get lost in all the nuts, but the bottom line here is voting rights. If Republicans really cared about the people in this country and their so-called rights, you would think they’d be making it easier for people to exercise the most fundamental of rights, the right to vote. It is well understood that Republicans have been doing the opposite with voter ID laws, gerrymandering districts, etc.

It has become clear over the years that the Republican Party isn’t really quick to defend their rights so much as they are quick to defend their own interests. That’s why they are always willing to defend your right to own a gun and preach the gospel, but could care less about your right to an abortion or get married to a member of the same sex.

It is equally clear that the Republican Party has little desire to be responible. Their misguided beliefs in favoring war, the wealthy and trickle down economics has led to enormous deficits, massive income inequality, crumbling infrastructure, and the American corporate oligarchy.

So, when a Republican gets in you face about their rights, be sure to ask them about their responsibilities. I wonder how many will tell you it isn’t their problem. For Republicans and Libertarians, it’s always someone else’s responsibility.

Religion Causes Hate

 When I saw this picture on a post online, I saw red and a lot of anger at religious delusion and hate that it promotes.  

And people look at me like I’M the crazy one when I say that I’m an atheist.22109_686827548105850_3688404719116650903_n

 Religious delusion has never been a good thing, EVER, but in this day and age to have a planet that, by the best estimates has a population of (www.worldometers.info/world-population) about 7 billion+, and to have a large percentage of them suffering what can only be called a mental illness (religion), and the fact that any kind of mass awakening happening anytime soon is just a fantasy of mine, well you start to see the picture.

This kind of ancient thinking (which is promoted in all religious texts) might be on the rise among the deluded ones, that must number in the billions now (www.atheistempire.com).

Not a good thing for world peace.

 Worldwide acceptance that there is no “God” may be the only answer to human survival and true peace on earth.

 These delusional people all have that fucked up (arrogant) attitude that their “Sky God” is the only “RIGHT ONE”, and have proven time and time again that they’re more than willing to go to war over that, and well, I don’t see a happy ending to this.

   Without a majority of mankind losing their religious delusions and working as one race, the human race, for the good of all, with greed, hate and bigotry all put in their proper place, which is the garbage, I don’t see a happy ending here as long as religion is in the way. Think about8c2b7a69c301a100bb11c12464ab21a7 it.

How Republican Strategies Beat Democrats

Posted by on Thursday, March 19, 2015

Democrats can be their own worst enemies, and Republicans count on that.

Democrats need to face the fact that Republicans do a much better job of mobilizing their base, thereby influencing American politics, even if they don’t actually represent the majority of the Electorate. The GOP has the Tea Party, the NRA, the Religious Right, and the 1% all pulling for them.

It’s easy for Republicans to maintain control over these groups. All they need do is invoke gay marriage and the Religious Right is in an uproar. Mention abortion to keep them frothing at the mouth then sprinkle in a picture of two gay men adopting a baby, and the Bible Belt will follow you to the Gates of Hell. For examples see Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee.

As scare tactics have such a proven track record, Republicans engage in them heavily. That’s why they’ve been screaming to the heavens about Iran trying to kill us all for most of this writer’s lifetime. Rhetoric about a third world country coming to take America’s freedom keeps the military industrial complex on board as well as spreading fear, so that’s a nice double-whammy. For examples, see Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and Tom Cotton.

Both of these groups merge seamlessly with each other. Poor conservatives are united by their fear of The Other, whether they define that as an immigrant, an LGBT American, or a specific ethnic group, especially Latinos and African-Americans. Bible thumpers and gun nuts are one and the same most times anyway, so playing to their fear and ignorance is a winning strategy.

Now factor in gerrymandering, voter suppression, voter purges, voter ID laws, more voter suppression, non-popular vote wins, unlimited dark money campaign contributions, a little more voter suppression, the elimination of same-day voter registration, shortening the period of time people can vote in, and purchase voting machines on top of everything else.

Here you have the One Percent’s contributions to Republican strategies. They are the ones who built that platform, after all. For examples, see the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, and Mitt Romney.

As for legislation, Republicans do not negotiate. They simply demand what they want repeatedly and use the bully pulpit to relentlessly batter everyone until they get their way. They do not make flowery sales pitches, they employ hellfire and brimstone. They do not change topics or accept lesser legislation.

Republicans obstruct, filibuster, threaten, and go over the heads of whomever they have to, whether that be Congress, the President, the United Nations, it doesn’t matter who, to appeal directly to a rabid conservative base. For examples see George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Who are the Democrats? Liberals. Science enthusiasts. The working class and union members. Advocates for equal and/or fair pay. Health care activists. Ethnic minorities and immigrants. Feminists. Atheists, agnostics, and those who reject religious fundamentalism. The Occupy Wall Street movement and anti-corporatists. Academics. Anti-war advocates and lovers of peace. LGBT Americans.

In other words, a big hot mess. Democrats have to build platforms using dozens upon dozens of issues, and many are in conflict with each other. One easily sees this on social media. For the most part, Republican/Tea Party/Conservative Christian/Gun Nut Facebook groups and pages are united in their hatred of liberals. It’s the one thing they all agree on. Democratic groups are a lot more scattered.

It’s tough to get everyone on the same page in a progressive environment. While that speaks well of the prevalence of independent thinking and individualism of the Left, herding cats is not a method by which anything productive can get accomplished. At least not on a regular basis. This is the weakness that Republicans exploit time and time again.

Which brings us to Hillary Clinton. Hillary is going to be the number one focus of the Republicans going forward. They are going to continue to launch ceaseless attacks upon her, and the media is going to let them.

Look at how much focus was given to her non-scandal email story, while Republicans skirted the boundaries of treason and did massive damage to America’s ability to deal in international matters. The latter was clearly the bigger story, but the attention given to it paled in comparison to Clinton’s emails.

#47Traitors trended on twitter for days, but it’s faded away now. Tom Cotton has cemented his conservative superstar status, as was his plan all along, and the Republicans are already piling up outrage after outrage, each offense burying the last. They know the media and the American public will let them get away with it.

How are Democrats responding? They’re dithering over whether or not they should back Hillary. A great many of them are, anyway. And while Elizabeth Warren is a fine choice, there’s no way she will win the Presidency in 2016. She could land in the White House after Hillary’s terms, certainly, but she won’t get it beforehand.

Hillary Clinton is the best shot Democrats have of maintaining the Presidency. Period. Moaning and sulking about how she’s not the best progressive choice will only split the liberal vote, and the Republicans are waiting for exactly that opportunity.

And while Democrats squabble back and forth, the world is burning. Temperatures hit 90 in Los Angeles in mid-March. California only has a year of water left. Jim Inhofe throws a snowball in Congress in response.

America has just climbed back from the brink of a cataclysmic economic collapse that nearly dragged the whole planet down with it. Republicans, in response, have repealed the regulatory safeguards that were keeping the banks from sinking us all again.

An elite minority is merrily shoving us ever closer to the edge of that cliff, and should we go over it, we may not recover this time. Should the Republicans gain more power, we can expect economic collapse, environmental disasters, and, of course, war.

And Democrats pout because Hillary Clinton isn’t exactly what they want. It’s the same old cycle all over again, and we need to put a stop to it, and fast. We are on the clock, and time is getting far too short. Should the worst happen, we will only have ourselves to blame.

Chad R. MacDonald

Chad R. MacDonald has a degree in English literature from Cape Breton University and subsequently received a full scholarship to AMDA in New York City. He is a former security professional, veteran of the hospitality industry, and experienced in both the arts as well as administration. He has been writing all his life, likes baseball, hockey, literature, science, the arts, and marine photography. Chad lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son and their gigantic cat.

Weak Without Guns: Open Carry Texas

Carrying guns openly in public doesn’t help basic logic skills

It was just an ordinary day on twitter, when I suddenly noticed Open Carry Texas was acting all smug because Moms Demand Action for Gunsense in America wouldn’t meet with them. OCT has a long history of attempting to intimidate Moms Demand of course, and I decided maybe I should call them on that.

Open Carry Texas

Yes, their members have a history of murder. Here’s the link I tweeted to them. They tried to blow that off as a one-time thing, after trying to deny it first. Hey, no big deal one of their own suddenly snapped and killed her family, it was just the one time! They’d also prefer we ignore some of the criminal records their various followers possess.

Not to mention the intimidating way they introduced themselves to Moms Demand by displaying their guns to them while they met for lunch; using female mannequins to stand in for the Moms to be shot up; along with their constant swarming of Moms Demand members on twitter and Facebook, along with whomever else supports responsible firearms legislation, this writer included.

At this point, I informed them how often I get death threats from gun lobby supporters and suggested that might be contributing to their image problems. I showed them this screenshot as an example:

Open Carry Texas

I wasn’t expecting sympathy from Open Carry Texas on this, but I did want to illustrate why Moms Demand didn’t want to talk to them. Besides OCT’s constant smear campaigns against them, that is. It took them a day to answer, and their response was that both sides were equally complicit in death threats against children, a laughable premise, and tried to dismiss it entirely:

Open Carry Texas

My answer was to say that threatening the life of a child was unjustifiable. They simply insulted me in response, and said I was the one threatening them:

Open Carry Texas

Open Carry Texas

image

Open Carry Texas thinks they are the ones getting bullied. They were the ones crying “victim” in the first place, that’s what got me to engage them. Those mean Moms won’t talk to them! Why can’t anyone see that they’re nice, reasonable people!

Also, I was apparently the one threatening them, even though I’d done nothing of the sort. Unless pointing out their history and the flaws in their arguments were what Open Carry Texas considered “threats.” If so, this should bring up grave concerns as to what they see as a threat while they’re walking around with firearms.

It was during this exchange a fellow by the name of Gavan Boucher challenged OCT over how they must feel weak without their guns. Open Carry Texas didn’t seem to grasp his point, and went ahead and confirmed it:

Open Carry Texas

Whether it was because they realized they’d argued themselves into a corner; felt outnumbered by three dudes on the Internet; or because (more likely) they’d just given up; OCT didn’t try again until the next day. Which was curious, because they just picked right back up with the insults, even though it had gotten them nowhere:Open Carry Texas

So, as they were sticking with the whole “death threats against your kid don’t mean shit because people threaten us sometimes” angle, I stayed on them with how that’s not ethically sound. I pointed out how they could barely handle pushback against their own arguments, so probably shouldn’t try to justify death threats. The next day, Open Carry Texas made another attempt to do just that:

Open Carry Texas

Open Carry Texas had taken three days to issue these responses. Perhaps the organizational account was being handled by several people who weren’t bothering to check how the conversation had gone previously, and decided to just miss the points previously made and insult me as their predecessors had done. Perhaps it was just one person, with no idea how to present or defend an argument.

But it was clear that OCT wasn’t very good at debating. They’d been run in a circle, had utterly failed to prove they weren’t comprised of dangerous people, and certainly weren’t very pleasant to deal with. They couldn’t even condemn death threats against a child, instead trying to justify them with “Well we get threats sometimes too!”  Yet they claimed it was Moms Demand who were bullying OCT?

image

Then OCT tried to “Rand Paul” their tweets, saying they didn’t say what they’d just said. I simply sat back and let them continue destroying their own arguments. Like what happened next, when they disavowed Kory Watkins, after I reminded them of his recent antics:

Open Carry Texas

Mmm. Open Carry Texas had nothing to do with how Kory Watkins got so big. Even though his picture is present on the OCT website several times and he used their platform to raise himself to greater prominence, they can’t be held responsible.

Oh really, Open Carry Texas? If you can’t take even partial responsibility for Kory Watkins implying lawmakers who oppose Open Carry’s goals deserve death; Hell, if you can’t even take responsibility for your own words, then how can you be trusted to take responsibility for a firearm?

This isn’t blaming guns, as Open Carry Texas likes to say, it’s blaming people. One simple twitter conversation easily exposed OCT’s inability to hold together a solid argument or even admit to their own words on screenshot. They are unable to condemn those who threaten the life of a child. They admitted they feel weak without guns. All they had to offer was hatefulness and insults. And they can’t even be honest about it.

Open Carry Texas

And that was pretty much it. They blocked me after that, just like John Lott did when he couldn’t out-debate me, and the blatantly racist NRA Cheerleader “Raging” Rob Kinnison did as well.

The surprising thing about the conversation was how little interference I got from OCT’s followers. No doubt they were trying to pile on, but I’d been speaking out against gun lobbies for a year now, and the worst and most awful of the gun troll accounts were previously blocked. Accounts, it needs to be said, with a history of threatening and insulting those who don’t go along with their Molon Labe viewpoints. Accounts repeatedly retweeted by… Drum Roll… Open Carry Texas!

The takeaway here is that the most vocal pro-gun people count on insults and intimidation to get their way. I’ve proven this before, here and here. They are certain to continue along these lines. For proof, just look to the comments underneath pieces like these. They are invariably jammed with gun lobby supporters trying to virtually shout me down.

Many of the commenters, it needs to be said, have had to be blocked from my personal profiles for vile attacks on my family as well as myself. That’s just how they roll. But there aren’t as many of them as they’d like you to believe. And most of them are in Texas.

Stand up to Open Carry Texas, and all those like them. Don’t let them have their way. OCT are not good guys, but bullies. They are dishonest about their motivations. They can’t even defend their own arguments. And if all they have are threats and insults, then just block them. The rest won’t be able to handle you, and they will block you.

But where you block them for threats and scorn, they will block you for the truth. You can’t get a clearer distinction of right and wrong than that.

“Knowing what’s right doesn’t mean much unless you do what’s right.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

Guns and Civilized Society

Guns and Civilized Society

Try as we might, the United States will never be a civilized society with so many gun deaths

Guns and Civilized SocietyLast week was another banner week for gun deaths in the United States. Did you notice how the news of a shooting inMissouri that left nine dead went virtually unnoticed? Just another shooting. Nine dead, including the shooter.

But alas, what is one more mass killing in the only civilized country where these types of incidents are routine? Our country has become desensitized to the murder of its citizens, as is clear from how many people end up dead from interactions with police. Guns have taken the place of discourse in settling issues by the simple reason, the simple fact, that guns are omnipresent in this allegedly civilized society.

The feeling I get as each and every day goes by with either a mass shooting, a deadly police encounter, another child shooting themselves or someone else because of easy access to a weapon is that American society is heading in the wrong direction.

On the same day that we heard of this shooting in Missouri, we learned of Leonard Nimoy’s passing. It is painfully obvious that Gene Roddenberry’s vision in Star Trek of a future where the people of Earth are finally at peace is never going to happen (although I remain hopeful.) We here in the United States so easily display to both advanced and developing countries that we cannot even manage to resolve the most basic issues. Guns, racism, political inaction, a financial disconnect between the one percent and the rest of us so great that it boggles the mind… all of the above and more from the country that many think is leading the way.

With our inability to address guns, it is probably time to step aside and allow some other country to take the lead on being any kind of an example to the world.  Exceptional? The U.S. certainly was at some point, but that time is long gone. We’ll never get to that amazing place that Roddenberry envisioned if we continue to do nothing to enhancecivilization and are only able to offer the worst vision of ourselves.

Have any of you heard tales from the Old West? I will tell you it was not a good time in our history, despite any romanticized idea that it was. It was a time when people truly did settle their differences with their guns, when men were “called out” by other men, ending with at least one of them dead. The Lincoln County War here in New Mexico was proof of how bad things could get.

There is a passage from the TV series “The Magnificent Seven” that is so apropos to what is going on in this country today. A young Chinese man whose father and uncle were both murdered wants to learn to shoot from notorious gunslinger turned lawman Chris Larabee in order to take revenge.

“I want to learn to shoot, like you,” the young man says.

“Why?”

“So I can be an American.”

“Learning to shoot don’t make you an American,” Larabee tells him, “but it could make you a killer.”

The young Chinese man pleads his case, but Larabee became a “notorious gunslinger” for a reason.

“I know about hate, killin’ a man because of it. And it don’t take that hate away, just makes you feel dead inside. Guns and hate, it’s a bad mix.”

How are we in the year 2015 not able to see those words for the simple truths they are. More guns brings more lawlessness. Fewer guns brings you far closer to domestictranquility that America’s founders wrote so eloquently about. The very hard work of removing guns as an option in any dispute needs to happen.

It requires strength, bravery and fortitude from our elected officials, but that means that we, the citizens of this country, need to make it clear at the ballot box that the future of our country is important, that we think it important enough to safeguard our citizens from killing due to hate or happenstance. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time is a terrible statement of where we stand on guns today in this country.

That children can get hold of a gun and shoot their cousin, sister, mother or themselves, and these events are deemed “accidents”, shouts to the rest of the world that we do not value human life the way we say we do. Talk is cheap. We need action, and we need it now.

Government and Apathy

by Jerry Bierens, March 7, 2015

While signing some petitions on www.MoveOn.org just a few minutes ago I found something I find curious. The discrepancies in the way people qualify what’s important to them. I think I see why we have such apathy in America when it comes to voting and government things in general.

While the numbers that follow are somewhat dependent on when the petition was started (I didn’t have that info) but by the wide difference in the numbers, I think you can see what I mean.

Of the five petitions I signed the total number of others that have signed each too are as follows:

To Boycott Monsanto- 23,926
To support diplomacy w/Iran- 2287
To ban bee killing pesticides- 10,594
To make BP pay for oil spills- 19,235
And to save Zeus (a pit bull dog) and others like him from being collected and disposed of- 355,975

Are you seeing what I see here? That we are more interested in saving dog(s) and less concerned about the critically important things that affect our everyday lives. Pure apathy. It’s killing our democracy.

That’s my observation. It should make us all check our priorities. I’m NOT in favor of banning a certain type of dog no more than I would be to not favor of any of the subjects of the petitions I signed.

I know we can do better. Our very lives may depend on it.

http://front.moveon.org/

Scare America Stupid: Republican Fear Mongering

The GOP wants you terrified, because you’ll be easier to manipulate

republican fear mongeringRepublicans are trying to scare you. ISIS/ISIL is coming to get you! Obamacare is going to set up Death Panels! Ebola! Immigrants! The Gays! God hates Democrats! The GOP hasn’t cranked the fear machine up this high since the days of Joe McCarthy and the “Red Scare.”

But this is a just a political tactic. Remember how the Ebola hysteria went away the next day after the mid-terms? It was probably just a co-incidence.

No, Republicans are just trying to scare Americans into thinking that the nation is safer when they’re in charge. And that’s bullshit. Sorry, that’s the nicest word for it.

“Satan is attacking the great institutions of America, using those great vices of pride, vanity, and sensuality as the root to attack all of the strong plants that has so deeply rooted in the American tradition.” ~ Rick Santorum (R-Pa), 2008

New York during the President Clinton years wasn’t a scary place. Even after the first attack on the WTC, nobody was frightened all the time. Concerned sometimes, yes, but nobody was carrying on like Lindsey Graham or Bill O’Reilly does these days. New Yorkers don’t scare easy regardless.

We were on top of things, people were well informed, and the media wasn’t nearly as fragmented as it is now. Fox News was but a gleam in Rupert Murdoch’s eye. Yes, newspapers leaned right and left, and always will, but cable news networks weren’t as blatantly partisan as they are now.

All New Yorkers knew who Osama Bin Laden was for years. He was in the papers all the time, and there were stories on him on the news shows. Everybody knew he was dangerous, and we also knew the government was trying to get him. Most Americans did.

Ignore right wingers who would forward that whole “Clinton didn’t do anything about Osama” theory. It’s bullshit. There is no nicer word for it.

When W. rose up, things started to fall apart quickly. Do you remember the turmoil the entire country was in during his inauguration? Bush couldn’t even get out of his car for all the protesters.

When 9/11 happened, all New Yorker’s worth their salt immediately knew it was Bin Laden. They’d been waiting for something like this. There was no way Bush wasn’t informed about OBL, he just didn’t do enough about it. Insert conspiracy theory here as to why, but most believe W simply didn’t think anything would come of it.

Enter the post 9/11 era, the country becomes more deeply divided, and cops and soldiers with sub-machine guns are hanging out everywhere in NYC. Guess what? Seeing soldiers and SWAT teams everywhere absolutely does NOT make you feel safe. Quite the opposite.

And that’s how things were for a long time. The Bush years were nothing but that administration trying to scare everyone into not noticing what a monumental mess they were making of the world. Period.

republican fear mongering“I can’t help but believe, just based on the way we’ve got all these nebulous excuses why not to have a travel ban, this president, I guarantee you, we’re going to find out, he has cut a deal with African leaders. They’re going to bring people in.” ~ Louie Gohmert (R-Tx), theorizing President Obama is going to import Ebola

Any of that scream-y scary propaganda that’s still around is continuing be forwarded by right wingers. They haven’t changed their tune at all, because that’s what they think works for them. It’s why they desperately tried to turn Benghazi into something that it wasn’t.

I have no idea why those on the right-wing that would help terrorists spread fear and division throughout this country for nearly two years were not strung up by their balls. Americans should be raking them over the coals for that bullshit. There’s no nicer word for it.

Instead, Fox News pundits like Bill O’Reilly are given a free pass to carry merrily along their fear mongering deceitful path. And Republicans are more than happy to follow that lead.

“Our strategy will fail yet again. This president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed back here at home.” ~ Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)

As I write this, I’m sitting here in Brooklyn, where they busted a potential terror plot in my neighborhood before it happened. They got it. They were all over it. I never saw any of that under Bush, it was just that administration ringing the alarm whenever they wanted to remind us why we shouldn’t question them. Say what you will about Obama, but he isn’t predisposed to cowardly histrionics like Graham or John McCain.

ISIL is trying to get the USA over there to fight them. That’s what they’re all about. And Bill O’Reilly and the rest of the Christian zealots are screaming “Holy War and yeah,that’s scary. And reports were just released saying there’s an equal to greater chance of right-winger domestic terrorism than an ISIL attack, and that’s scary.

And isn’t it funny how when the DHS identifies right-wing terrorism as a legitimate threat, Republicans almost don’t fund the DHS? It’s probably just a co-incidence.

What isn’t scary is now America at least seems to have a President that isn’t prone to pounding a religious tome as the reason to invade the wrong country to create ISIL in the first place. And as long as ISIL is begging us to come fight them, it means they don’t have a realistic chance of coming to get us. Not to do the kind of damage that would induce the pants-shitting cowardice we’re seeing from the Republicans anyway. And the grown up in charge of the nation seems to realize that.

1425224081_dakota-johnson-snl-isis_1ISIL should be treated as a punch line. You have a greater chance of getting hit by lightning than getting beheaded by ISIS terrorists. Those of us looking to counteract the message of hate, terror, and fear should follow Saturday Night Live’s lead. Don’t cower from ISIS. Mock them!

So, yeah, we’re a lot safer now from terrorist attacks than we were under Republicans. Yeah, it’s relative, but if you really think America’s going to be invaded by legions of bloodthirsty terrorists, you’re a cowardly and spoiled whiny brat.

The biggest thing we have to worry about in the USA are crazy white men with guns, whether or not they’re cops. Isn’t it funny how Republicans don’t want to talk about that? It’s probably just a co-incidence.

America is supposed to be a world leader, and leaders don’t repeat mistakes, especially when they get countless people killed. It is poor military strategy to allow an enemy to goad you into a battle on a field of their choosing. If people are trying to scare or shame you into a fight, they do not have your best interests at heart.

Fear can be a tool used to control the stupid and the weak-minded. Americans should be smart enough and courageous enough to see past and dismiss such immature playground tactics. If we can’t, then we don’t truly live in the Home of the Brave.

“There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.” ~ President George W. Bus