Oct 132015

On 02/10/2015, I did a piece called Under the Gun in which I didn't even scratch the surface of mass shootings, in the wake of the Umpqua Community College shooting.  I also looked at some of the reactions of Congress members. The reaction that resonated with me the most was the following noted in the Huffington Post :

Chris Murphy ✔@ChrisMurphyCT

This is on us. Silence from Congress has become quiet endorsement of those whose minds unhinge and veer toward mass violence.

12:49 PM – 1 Oct 2015

From Mother Jones

Without doubt, the gun rights lobby is a formidable force. It is backed by a truly grassroots network of committed and well-organized supporters who are willing to make calls to legislators and turn out in even low-turnout elections to back pro-gun candidates. This "intensity gap" bedevils gun control groups, which, however well some of their proposals poll, have trouble getting voters to agitate and to prioritize the gun issue the way gun rights defenders do.

Mr Obama recently said in response to the Umpqua tragedy that it is up to each individual to ensure their vote reflects their views on the seemingly continuous carnage of the deaths of innocent people, no matter the political stripe.

So what is the problem?  Are the tragedies of mass shootings too removed from reality for most . . . the 'I don't know anybody there' response?  Will it take many more deaths of innocent people including young children before the gun control groups muster their voices to "out yell" the NRA? Is paranoia rampant in American society?  Some respond that this is just how it is.  Its part of American culture.

On the same day as the Umpqua Community College shooting, there was another shooting in Inglis, Florida.  Four people were killed.  Read how townsfolk reacted . . . they went for their guns.

Alternet — It’s not hard to get your hands on illegal guns and rifles in America. It took me about two hours. I called a guy from the old neighborhood in LA, said something about a “piece”, and, hours later, I was staring at an AK-47 and an illegally modified AR-15, which were sitting on a kitchen table. Welcome to America.

Two hours later, two hours, the author is looking at assault rifles, military grade assault rifles.  Why are these weapons so easy to come by?  Why do some people feel the need for them?  In my mind, it is one thing to have a hand gun,quite another to have an assault rifle.

And the candidates for the Republican nomination for POTUS aren't shying away from the fray.

This report from Alternet shows Ben Carson's thoughts on the issue.

In the same interview, he suggested the president can just skip visiting the family members of the victims, because there’s always “the next one”.

He’s not wrong that it’s a regular event, but his wording certainly suggested that he doesn’t really think of it as a big deal. His next appearance on Fox, on Tuesday night, confirmed this impression. ““I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away,” …

I have not once heard any mention of taking away the right to own a gun, despite what Republicans and many of their fevered base proclaim.  What I have heard is talk from people who would like to see assault weapons and high capacity ammunition cartridges banned.  I have heard of having common sense gun control laws that protect the public and the gun enthusiast.  Read the rest of the article to see the comments from many of the other candidates. 

I think there should be gun control laws that provide for the following:

  • closing of the gun show loop hole;
  • rigorous background checks for all prospective purchasers;
  • mandatory training for all purchasers with some exemptions for military and police officers;
  • a license similar to a drivers' license which has a five year renewal clause; 
  • mandatory liability insurance much like car insurance; and
  • strict guidelines on storage of the gun so unauthorised people (children) cannot access them.

This won't solve the issue of gun deaths, but it would reduce them.





Oct 132015

Well today was turkey day!  I say "was" because I have already consumed a wonderfully moist turkey dinner with all the trimmings and a piece of pumpkin pie.  I am satiated!  I can still smell that turkey! So now to finish up with that smell firmly planted in my mind. 

Puzzle — Today’s took me 4:40 (average 5:51). To do it, click here. How did you do? For those that don't know, we always do the 48 piece classic.

Short Takes

Upworthy — Kids try to tell us things all the time that they don't know how to describe.

They don't have the words to say it. Or they're embarrassed, or terrified, like the child in this video. (And while the stat at the end of the video is specifically about India, I've included a look at other countries and here at home below.)

It pays to be very aware of what is going on with kids.  Listen to what theysay, and don't say.

Alternet — Why is Ryan likely to take the bait and become the next speaker? As he wrote in 2012, grousing about compromise after compromise that he had to vote for, “Taken together, these experiences taught me valuable lessons about how the House and Senate operate, and I came away with an even deeper appreciation for the role of congressional leadership. Who holds the top post really matters because the decisions they make at the outset determine the votes that ever member has to take and how much good we can achieve for the country and our fellow citizens.”

What follows are six examples of the “good we can achieve” if Ryan becomes speaker.

Read the entire Alternet article to get a flavour of Ryan's “good we can achieve”.  I don't think that there will much of any good coming out Washington with a severely conservative Congress. November 2015 is the time to make some changes at the state and local levels.  2016 is the time to make big changes in the Congress for a more balanced Congress, a progressive Congress. 

Huffington Post — Iran's parliament passed a bill on Tuesday supporting a nuclear deal with world powers, signaling a victory for the government over conservative opponents of the agreement and clearing the way for it to be implemented.

Athena Image

Many lawmakers strongly opposed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that President Hassan Rouhani's government reached with world powers on July 14, and Tuesday's vote removes an obstacle to putting the agreement into practice.

The article goes on to state that if sanctions are not removed as per the agreement, Iran will resume its nuclear activities.  With saber rattling by Sunni Saudi Arabia towards Shite Iran and Russia, there is more chance of a bigger war in the Middle East.  All parties must stick to the deal.  Spend some time reading The Historic Deal that Will Prevent Iran from Acquiring a Nuclear Weapon .

My Universe — 


Oct 122015

If you forgot and tried to go to most banks today, you were quickly reminded it’s Columbus Day.  No doubt it brought back grade school memories of singing:


In fourteen hundred ninety-two,

Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

He had three ships and left from Spain.

He sailed through sunshine, wind and rain.

On those lyrics all Americans can agree.  After that, the story in song – and in deed – quickly diverges from facts to some pretty amazing myth.

Congress set aside the second Monday of October as a federal holiday honoring Columbus since 1934.  But Native Americans are slowly winning more recognition to transform it to Indigenous Peoples Day.

Back in 1990, South Dakota voted to rename Columbus Day to Native American Day.  And a number of cities, let by Berkeley, California since 1992, have succeeded in renaming it Indigenous Peoples Day.  That list now also includes Seattle, Minneapolis, Albuquerque, Lawrence KS, Portland OR, Olympia WA, St. Paul and a few others.



Clearly this is a controversial issue with those wanting to honor Columbus and those wanting to recognize the history of Native Americans having valid points.  I would hope that there’s enough Solomon-like wisdom among us that we can reach a fair compromise recognizing both cultures’ contributions.

So what are your thoughts?

This one has an even-handed look at the historical background of Columbus Day:


And for more background reading and resources used for this short post:


http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2015/10/12/3711539/indigenous-peoples-day/ [MAP GRAPHIC – for a larger view]




Oct 122015


In Canada, Thanksgiving dates back to 1578 and the exploration of the Northwest Passage by Martin Frobisher.  Canada was untouched by Columbus but many non Canadian people associate Thanksgiving with the US Columbus Day.  Rather our first contact with Europeans came in the 12th century with the arrival of the Norse explorer Leif Erikson of Iceland, and later Greenland.  From Wikipedia  Thanksgiving in Canada  

"Years later, French settlers, having crossed the ocean and arrived in Canada with explorer Samuel de Champlain, in 1604 onwards also held huge feasts of thanks. They even formed the Order of Good Cheer and gladly shared their food with their First Nations neighbours."

The Canadian Thanksgiving "… corresponds to the English and continental European Harvest festival, with churches decorated with cornucopias, pumpkins, corn, wheat sheaves, and other harvest bounty, … drawn from biblical stories relating to the Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot."

I know that my own church has large displays of harvest bounty. We support others with a "modern bounty" . . .  food donations that go to our local food bank.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Oct 122015

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here  in Canada.  I visited my mother and fed her a turkey dinner with all the trimmings today . . . although for her, it is all mashed as she can't chew well.  I usually sit between my mother and another resident alternating feeding.  It helps the staff to have another set of hands and eyes.  By the time I went home, I was exhausted.  So here I sit finishing the tail end of the Open Thread having just swallowed the last of my dinner.  I am thankful for many things but I am especially thankful for TC and everything that he has taught me; for the friendships of Nameless, JL and Joanne; and for all of you that keep me going.  Thank you.

Puzzle — Today’s took me 2:50 (average 4:23). To do it, click here. How did you do? For those that don't know, we always do the 48 piece classic.

Upworthy — In recent years, we're seeing more and more artists explore new mediums that reduce their environmental impact, like salt, ice, and even trash. It's leading to some incredible work.  

Joanna's medium of choice?  Fallen leaves.

Having majored in fine arts in high school and been accepted to study fine arts at university, I feel I know a thing or two. Joanna's work is exceptional.  Read more at Upworthy.

Mother Jones — Perhaps realizing that Cruz does need to grab some early-state mojo, his campaign has decided to focus more on Iowa. Starting next week, Cruz will blast through the state with 20 campaign stops in seven days.

Is that enough? Robinson suggests that if Cruz wants his rivals to implode, he might have to start explicitly attacking candidates in his brackets, such as Carson, who has a strong presence in Iowa and major support among the evangelical voters whom Cruz needs. Instead, Cruz is acting like a front-runner, setting up a "firewall" and avoiding direct clashes with his primary rivals.

"What signs are there that these [other candidates] are just going to be a flash in the pan and Ted Cruz is going to pick up the crumbs?" asks Robinson. "I don't see any evidence of that."

So, how's it going for you, Cruz?  My prediction: Cruz won't last because his non plan is a bust.  Read more at Mother Jones.

Think Progress — USHCC President Javier Palomarez challenged the Ohio governor on the fact that women in his state working full time are getting paid roughly 78 percent of what men make — according to figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau. For Latina women across the U.S., the gap is even greater: just 54 percent of what men made in 2014.

Palomarez pointed out that Kasich has daughters of his own, and asked how he explains this disparity to them.

“Well, a lot of it is based on experience,” Kasich replied. “A lot of different factors go into it. It’s all tied up in skills. Do you not have the skills to be able to compete?”

Kasich really knows how to step in it . . . and right up to his neck!  This is the same Republican candidate vying for the nomination to run for POTUS. This is also the same man that on 09/10/2015 said to a New Hampshire audience member that he would "get over" cuts to Social Security payments as a result of his reform plan.  A most despicable little man. Read the rest at Think Progress.

My Universe — Mornings can be a bitch. Especially Mondays.

Oct 112015

Okay, so it’ll be a tad more than 2,000 words – I just renewed my “Poetic License”.

The graphics are from the weekend edition of a well-researched article in “The New York Times” titled “The Families Funding the 2016 Presidential Election”.

They are overwhelmingly white, rich, older and male, in a nation that is being remade by the young, by women, and by black and brown voters. Across a sprawling country, they reside in an archipelago of wealth….

Now they are deploying their vast wealth in the political arena, providing almost half of all the seed money raised to support Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. Just 158 families, along with companies they own or control, contributed $176 million in the first phase of the campaign….

But regardless of [the] industry, the families investing the most in presidential politics overwhelmingly lean right, contributing tens of millions of dollars to support Republican candidates who have pledged to pare regulations; cut taxes on income, capital gains and inheritances; and shrink entitlement programs.

The online article opens with a compelling, dramatic graphic that as you scroll down automatically zooms into the tippy top of the pile.  Not sure how they did it, because it’s not a GIF or flash, but I was immediately impressed!

And to enjoy the full impact, you really should view it online from the link above.  The entire article is well-worth the read, but here is their "Cliffs Notes" version as a 2,000 word essay.

Oh, and … Thanks, Citizens United!



Oct 112015

Yep, it's Saturday night and time for Right Wing Follies brought to you by the Republican Party of the US and their right wing associates. 

Guano Girl!  She's baaack!!

3. Climatologist and biblical scholar Michelle Bachmann has a theory about floods.

Where there is horrifically bad weather in America, there will always be some kook proclaiming it is God’s wrath for America’s sinful ways. Same sex marriage, blah blah, abortion, yah de yah de yah.

This week the storm in question was the flooding in South Carolina, and the kook in question was Michelle Bachmann. Turns out that the severe flooding in South Carolina and parts of North Carolina, yep, God’s wrath, people. What’s God pissed off about now? U.S. policy on Israel. “US turns back on Israel, disasters following,” Bachmann tweeted, employing some headscratching grammar. She helpfully included dramatic flood pictures from South Carolina, so her followers would know which biblical flood she was referring to.

How exactly the US is turning its back on Israel is not explained. Of course, this is not the first time Bachmann has pointed out that President Obama’s foreign policy is hastening the End Times. They are nigh, people! Time to take that crash course in arc building. 

I have a theory about a flood . . . specifically the flood of nonsense that eminates from Guano Girl!  It seems that if she is denied an audience for any length of time, she comes right off the rails! . . . even more than usual!

Read about the other four Right Wing Moments this Week in Alternet and don't forget the popcorn.