Saturday, December 29, 2012

FISA: Anyone mind Government can STILL spy & arrest you?


When Clint Eastwood stood on stage at the Republican National Convention
and spoke to "the chair" about a Vision for America...I didn't know the chair
had about as many Constitutional Rights as we do.

In the name of 9/11, if we are suspected of being a potential threat to this country
we can both be spied on without a warrant - held indefinitely without being charged
- tortured through a variety of "enhanced interrogation techniques" - and not
be subject to a trial by our peers.

After Clint's speech the "chair's" rights were further violated when it was returned
to Governor Christie. Being under him for the next 3 hours is certainly the definition
of "cruel and unusual punishment."

While the chair has the weight of the world as it's problem. "Our "Rights" are being
stepped on by the other 300 lb gorilla...the United States Government!

This week the Senate has refused to pass an amended FISA bill that restores our Constitutional
Protections and Privacy Rights if the government cannot show any cause or justification
for wanting to violate them in the first place.

No more checks and balances. No more asking a judge for approval and no longer holding
the government to any form of accountability...simply suspect - spy - and arrest!

This process has less protection than John Boehner's tan on a hot sunny day!

Where are my right wing action heroes when I need them...Clint Eastwood, Chuck Norris,
Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger...you get more riled up at a Planet Hollywood opening,
than watching your Constitution become a side order on the back of the menu.

Fear maybe an excuse at times for our irrational and ardent defense of the 2nd amendment
...but we cannot allow that very same fear to be used to suspend all of our other inalienable
rights.

We can overcome the J. Edgar Hoovers, the Japanese Interment Camps, McCarthyism, The
Black Lists, The Watergates and Iran Contra...but we cannot overcome the legalization of these
violations - the institutionalization of a government run by fear - the acceptance of a culture
that will take away our freedoms...from ourselves!

In our free society, transparancy needs to be our 4th branch of government...and I bet I could
get any court in the land to...sign off on that!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

If We Can't Ban Crazy People, Let's Ban Guns on Demand


The NYT quotes Everett Wilkinson a Marine Corps veteran who owns several
AR-15 style guns as saying "the issue we have is not banning weapons, it's
crazy people."

And since I don't know Mr. Wilkinson, or whether he has ever suffered from
PTSD and knows where I live - I will not tell him I disagree with him!

But we probably both can agree that legally deciding who is "crazy" in our Country
is about as definitive as "Call Me Maybe."...otherwise how would Glenn Beck still
have a career?

So if we can't ban crazy people...can we at least ask each other to love and protect our 2nd graders with the same passion and commitment that Wayne LaPierre protects ...the 2nd Amendment.

I don't expect to rally to the cause, the "Armageddon Weekend Warriors" -  who
won't even read this because there is no internet access in their survival shelter,
- don't know that the Alamo is now a rental car company, not the last cry for freedom
 - and that Spam is maps spelled backwards when you hold it up to a mirror.

But I do expect the Weekend Hunters, the Gun Show Collectors, and the Sportsmen to
make it harder on themselves to get a gun...in order to make it more difficult for a
"crazy person" to get a gun!...or be willing to only see some guns in a Museum instead
of being used in a crime in their local community.

They can no longer act like a Silencer on a Beretta...when they know their voice can be
the most powerful weapon on this issue of all.

This time they can support a Gun Law that is not written by the NRA as it was in 1994,
that was so weak that 40% of all guns purchased would not be subject to a background
check.

This time not allow 1.5 million semi-automatic rifles to still be on the streets and millions
more allowed to be sold with slight and technical modifications to existing models.

This time they can support a ban on magazines that hold 30-50-100 bullets at a clip and
not allow them still to be imported from overseas after the ban goes into effect.

This time they can address the elephant in the room...which, sorry they are not allowed
to shoot..whether or not our easy access and "gun on demand" mentality contributed to
this tragedy, or if we had been more vigilant, could we have minimized this horrific incident
and those that preceded it.

Ironically, on December 14th, the very same day that a "crazy" person went on
a rampage and opened fire in Newton, Connecticut and killed 20 small children,
there was another "crazy" person that brutally attacked 23 children at another
elementary school.

This school was in Henan Province, China and it didn't make the front page of the
NYT or the lead story in our National News!...because those children survived.

This "crazy person's" weapon of choice was not a gun but a meat cleaver. Days
following the horrific incident, their Nation watched a school video that captured
teachers fighting off the attacker with broomsticks, while our Country watched
tearful memorial services.

Same day - Same "crazy attack" - far different result!

Both Countries started immediate conversations on school safety, the mentally ill,
and gun control.

In China, they discussed how grateful they were that they didn't have our lax gun
control laws, while many here questioned ...the need for more guns to solve the problem!

Last year more American's died at the hands of a gun in our Country than who died
at 9/11 - and the entire decade long war's in Iraq and Afghanistan...combined!!!

Now, in China their crazy people don't have the same access to guns as our crazy people,
nor do they have the same access to our "Bill of Rights"...but shouldn't we both have the
same chance to hug our children tonight?

...And isn't that the most important "Right of All"!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Can I Return the Fiscal Cliff to Nordstroms?


The days following Christmas is like the day after getting a divorce
...one minute you're in a painful "Return Line" and the next minute
- against your better judgment - you are already out and about
excited to be shopping again!

This week Congress has to comeback to Washington because they
couldn't agree before Christmas on how much to return to us or how much to spend on us over the next 10 years.

If we put Nordstroms in charge of the Fiscal Cliff, their customer service would probably solve this faster than finding the right pair
of shoes for New Year's Eve!

In fact, this give'th and take'th away holiday approach on every issue is why Congress is always in eternal gridlock...because they can't figure out whether they want us to be in the "Return Line" or have us wait to "Pay Here".

On immigration - they argued whether or not we should return 11
million people while wanting them to get in line to pay for a green card.

On taxes - making the rich begin to pay their fare share, only as long as
they still receive enough tax breaks to offset it!

On Energy - one group is lining up to "frack" while the environmentalists
think they're smoking crack.

On Health Care - one hand of government is trying to give it life while
the other side is still trying to make it Dead on Arrival!

And On Guns - Americans are asking what we can prohibit while opponents
want more guns to be the main exhibit.

If this Congress was in charge of Christmas...I don't know if we could get
passed the Thanksgiving Day Parade...at least without agreeing to cut Hanukah
down to 4 days to trim the budget on presents!

So the good news is that since Congress hasn't really given you anything
this year except agreement's to disagree  - you only have to return the
extra red sweater from your Aunt... who never comes to visit anyway.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

I Just Friended the Pope for Christmas


Merry Christmas!

I just friended the Pope for Christmas and I am excited!
December has always been "the" month for Religion. Millions celebrating
the birth of Christ, the Jew's giving thanks for the faith that has endured
them and all kids becoming true believers in having ten days off from school!
But this December - even more so than in past years...Religion has taken the
Center Pulpit with the Mayan's prediction of the world coming to an end, the Egyptians voting for a Constitution based on Sharia Law and now...the Pope sending out messages on Twitter with all the enthusiasm of a 15 year old boy
playing air guitar.

Next we will find out he is hanging out at the Vatican Starbucks and cruising in
the Pope Mobile for midnight runs to "In and Out" Burger instead of going to
midnight mass.

Before the Pope gets to "high profile", he is asking for suggestions on the best way
to use his new public forum!

The first thing I told him was to be very careful when sending pictures...and no
re-tweeting confessions...no matter how informational he thinks they may be!
I told him I do like the idea of sermons being less than 140 characters, but don't
feel they are cheapened when Jay-Z or 50 cent starts using them as rap lyrics.
And he shouldn't worry whether his audience are creationists or atheists, he is
an "Iconic" figure and everyone will want him to be in their inner circle.

I also warned him to be prepared for the "off the Bible" - why this and why thats! -
why has nothing brought more people together than God...while it seems like nothing
has torn us more apart than Religion.

Why, when the "Crusades" ended with the Dark Ages"...does the "Light" still blind all
the people with hatred who kill in the name of the Lord.

Why can't Arab and Jew's learn to play in the same sandbox...why are Irish Catholics
and English Protestants still trying to bomb each other in Northern Ireland and why do
Sunnis and Shias kill each other every month as if it were it own Religious ritual.
Most of all, I said Pope... don't feel pressure. Yes, People think you're in the "Why Business",
but you don't have to have all the answers, just give them new questions to ponder and a
perspective that is holy unique to you!

Maybe the Pope discovering Twitter will begin a new resurrection. Jesus, Mohammed and
Buddha all coming back on Twitter and having a following that has even a larger congregation
...than either Facebook or YouTube.

If you have any suggestions...please let me know and I will tweet it on to him...before he
starts focusing on Skype and Instagram!
Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

It's a Wonderful Life - by John Boehner

Clarence,

I do want to be Speaker of the House again...I do love the Republican Party. 
Please change it back! You were right...The Fiscal Cliff is no big deal!

Thank you for letting me see what life would have been like, if there had been no Republican Party! And no I have not been drinking - that is just a red "glow" on my cheeks from those Chestnuts roasting on the open fire!

And I am sorry that as an Angel you needed a green card before coming into the country, but ever since Roswell 51- we have been tough on the celestial border. Next time...come through Mexico!

You showed me a frightening world with Ronald Reagan still acting - Ralph Nader being President for 8 years and Tom Delay becoming the "Donald Trump" of Pesticides...because there was no "Donald Trump"...just little Donnie selling falafels on 6th avenue and 53rd street.

And because there was no "Donald Trump" there was no Celebrity Apprentice... but that is no reason not to return things to the way they were!

Clarence, you deserve your "Wings"...I want to hear those bells ring...I understand now that Fox News isn't real and that Santa Claus is not Rush Limbaugh no matter how much he threatens me about being naughty or nice!

I saw that with no Republican Party - there was no one to make the Democrats seem rational on Gun Control - Climate Change and Health Care...no one to argue against unemployment checks and social security benefits...How can you have a hero without a villain...a political Romeo without
a Paul Ryan!

But most of all Clarence...you made me see that a man will never be poor - if a man has friends! And who is a better friend to me than Eric Cantor...who set me up for that stupid Plan B vote when he knew we didn't have the votes!!!!

Please send me back Clarence...so you can get your "Wings" and I can make sure that Al Sharpton doesn't become Secretary of State and Bill Clinton doesn't become President of the NAACP.

Because at the end of the day - A day in the Life of being a Republican..."Is Still a Wonderful Life."

Pray It Forward - Fave It Forward


At the memorial service for 7 year old Audrey McDonald, there was a deafening moment of silence for this little "Amazing Grace" that filled our hearts with love - prayer and reflection.
For Grace it will mark the first night - of a forever of premature "Silent Nights" - and hopefully the last night of quiet, for the "Silent Majority" of Americans who have stood passively on the sidelines, when passionate reason and moral indignation were conspicuously absent from too many conversations.
In our Society  we have always been "Inspired to Hire" instead of "Motivated to Act" we outsource our responsibilities at every turn with the ease of a vote , choosing an accountant or allowing a KFC or McDonald's to be the new family dinner table.
A volunteer army fights our battles and a charitable tax donation replaces being part of a community. How can we become responsible to each other when we don't take responsibility for ourselves!
Wayne LaPierre, the CEO of the NRA proved amazingly, that he is still "blind and cannot see" as he spoke loudly and predictably of protecting our schools with a volunteer army of "George Zimmermans". Next, it will be shopping malls - churches and restaurants. Next, guns won't be enough but we will need to carry grenades and rocket launchers to have enough overwhelming force as a permanent deterrent!
He criticized creating a culture of violence with video games and play stations but never acknowledged the role that the NRA has played in developing a culture of violence that equates armed Militias with Paintball League Warriors!
But it is not what Mr. LaPierre says that is important...but what we don't say that matters. Our "Silence "gives him power. Today, in our 24 hour news cycles it is the loudest voices that get heard...not the will of the majority or the voice of reason.
Let Grace's voice be heard...let your voice rise above the noise...If you don't have a voice than use someone else's!
Start with "Praying it Forward" - so your thoughts inspire you and connect you to someone other than yourself...than choose a blog - choose an article - pick an issue that you have been "Silent" about - "Fav it Forward and simply say you think this is important...and ask them to do the same!
Than instead of needing the "George Zimmermans" who at first protect us and than turn against us...we can have an army of ideas that won't get lost in a world of slick marketing campaigns full of misdirection and false hope.
Pray it Forward - Fave it Forward ...and leave what needs to be... all behind us!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Is Common Sense a Concealed Weapon?


Congress maybe the only place that "common sense" is considered to be a
concealed weapon!...because we certainly couldn't see any of it on display
this past week!

First we have the Speaker of the House introduce a "Plan B"...no this was
not a last minute "Birth Control Bill"... but a staged political rescue mission
for his Republican colleagues in case he and President Obama could not come
to an agreement on the Fiscal Cliff! - and than after much fanfare, they don't
even have enough sense to vote on something that made no sense in the second
place.

That is like missing the rescue boat on Gilligan's Island because you have
"Gone Fishing"!

No wonder these guys never got "lucky" in High School...they can't take yes for an answer!

After last year's debt debacle that cost our Country it's AAA rating and that annoying
thing called...an "Election"...it appeared that both sides were coming to the table
with a clear understanding of the public sentiment - a commitment to show that our
government is not broken...and that Jefferson and Hamilton were not getting high
(it was legal then) when they thought that divided government was a good idea!

Everyone seemed to know that the Republicans would have to raise taxes on the wealthy
and the Democrats would have to cut spending on our core entitlement programs...which
they both have agreed in various forms to do!

Everyone that is, except the House Republicans, who apparently have been so busy cashing
in their stock dividends and capital gains before the end of the year to avoid a 5% proposed
tax increase...they got confused and thought this was a vote to nominate Mitt Romney once
again!

So before Scrooge wins out over Santa and becomes the symbol of this Holiday Season - I propose
a Plan C.

The Speaker will not stand in the way of a proposed Senate Bill on the Fiscal Cliff that is very similar
to the President's current position.

All the House Democrats will vote for it as well as 50 House Republicans to assure passage. All the
conservative House Republicans who are up for re-election in 2012 and are afraid of being "Tea
Partied"  out of office can vote against it and claim they put principle's first.

The Speaker will actually be called a Legitimate Leader and save his party from being as relevant as
a black and white TV before the next election!

Plan D - Move next door to Gerard Depardieu.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Fiscal Cliff -- Ditch or Myth?


When the President assumed office 4 years ago, he described the economy as having
been driven off the road and into a ditch. 4 years later we are out of the Ditch and on
the edge of a Cliff. But if you fall off the Cliff and the ground is only 2 feet below...
isn't that more like just tripping on the curb?
With 16 trillion dollars of debt and 70 trillion dollars of unfunded liabilities - fighting
over 1 trillion dollars in tax increases and spending cuts over the next "TEN years" is
like having front row seats at a midget wrestling contest...It's not about who wins
and loses...it's all about the show!!!

And only in Washington is what you call it...more important than what it is!
Call it a Million Man March - and it doesn't matter if it's closer to 2 Priests and a
Rabbi walking into a crowded bar!

Call it Memorial Day - and no one cares that we actually spend much more time making it National Barbeque Day!

If prominent economists such as former Secretary of the Treasury Robert Reich and
Nobel Prize winning Economist Paul Krugman are actually calling for more spending instead of austerity to grow the economy...are we in the ditch - perched on a cliff or in need of those guys on TV who can bust the Myths!

Richard Nixon was one of the first politicians to say that if you want to be a "Hero"... don't let a problem define you...you define the problem. Pick one that you can solve..call it a "crisis" and you will get all the credit for fixing it.

That is why we had a flurry of "Wars" on social problems and only "interventions in actual armed conflicts". We never declared war on North Korea or Vietnam but we have had - The War on Poverty - The War on Drugs - The War on Crime - The War on Terrorism - Wars you can win with a definition instead of with a gun or an obvious casualty.

According to a December 7th article in the NYT...When the Republicans finally relent and allow taxes to be raised on millionaires, the average family earning $300,000 a year will pay an additional $669.00 in taxes due to the complexity of our tax code.

This may not be my idea of heroism but it will be a symbolic victory for the "War on Stupidity".
This war will be defined as the rich were injured and generously sacrificial... the Fiscal Cliff will be avoided...but the real class warfare against education - social security, Medicare and the middle class will be lost again.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The 2nd Amendment - God - Gays and Guns


Karl Rove hasn't been this happy since the 2000 Presidential Republican
Primary, when South Carolina robo-calls were telling voters that John McCain
had fathered a black baby.

He also may not have been able to predict Ohio this year, but he can foresee
with glee, that when Senator Feinstein introduces a ban on assault rifles,
Guns (assault ban)- Gays (same sex marriage) - and God (Defense of Marriage Act)
will officially be back on the ballot for the 2014 mid-term elections.

He knows those 3-G's will do more to excite the Republican Electorate
than a story on the G-Spot ever did for an issue of Cosmopolitan
Magazine.

Karl always understood two things - Lower Taxes gets the Secular vote and
being the Party of God get's the Religious vote - and an attack on the 2nd
Amendment or the Constitution gets them both!

Social Conservatives stayed quiet and stayed home this election because they
were told "its the economy stupid"! So they voted for Mitt Romney with all the
enthusiasm of a liberal being asked to go duck hunting with Dick Cheney!

Even though this Country started out under the premise of a separation of
Church and State, the Constitution was written as a secular version of the
Bible...so attack the Constitution... and you attack "My God".

One has the Ten Commandments while the other has the Bill of Rights.
Constitutional Purists like to argue about original intent while religious
fundamentalists argue the literal interpretation of the Good Book.

One has 9 Supreme Court Justices guarding the gates of justice while the
other has 12 Apostles waiting at the Pearly Gates!

One may send you to "Hell" if you don't follow along...while the other can
send you to jail if you don't go along!

Neither one had very much faith in it's people. The Constitution calling for
Electoral and Representative government - while one's Faith in God gets
interpreted and disseminated by countless Religious Leaders.

This fight over the 2nd Amendment won't be the first or the last time that
the Bible and the Constitution will cross paths and ignite a national conversation
of who we are and how we shall choose to live.

70 years ago Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan went to battle
over Darwinism vs. Creationism and the winner was the American people
who got to hear the debate!

This year...let's not take two steps forward by winning an election and one
step backwards because we won't fight for the issues!

Gun Control - Immigration - Living equally under the eyes of the law - HealthCare
and Climate change can only be the President's agenda if you make it your agenda
...It may not be clearly defined in the Bible or the Constitution...but those are
issues that will clearly define our nation!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Is Sandy Hook today's 9/11?

My child didn't die at Sandy Hook Elementary School, but some of his childlike
innocence passed away when I had to explain to him why some children wouldn't be going
back to school the next day...or the day after that.

But unlike the parents of 9/11, I couldn't  tell my child not to worry, because of
how successful we will be in preventing another school, another child, another tragedy
from ever happening like this again.

He wouldn't understand but I do...that there will be no overreaction to what happened at
that school. There have been eloquent and powerful speeches and many a tear shed,
but there will be no equivalent reaction to 9/11. There will be no Patriot Act - no Enhanced
Interrogation Techniques authorized - no Guantanamo and no unauthorized spying on Americans
without court approval.

There will be no giant pendulum swing against the rights and principles in our Constitution
that would have the ACLU and every Progressive ironically fighting against, because crazy
mentally unstable mass murder's have one thing that terrorists and foreign invaders don't
have...the NRA.

The NRA has convinced the majority of Americans that any Gun Control is the equivalent of
Gun Prohibition and that reasonable laws are the gateway to unreasonable people wanting to
stop everyone from Hunters - Gun Collectors and law abiding citizens from their right to own
a gun for pleasure or protection.

Maybe one more gun law would not have stopped this shooting from happening but if one more
law might have made a difference...don't we owe to that next child...that next school, the next
set of parents... to let them know we tried.

I know that in the perfect NRA world...every teacher would had a gun that day so no child would
have been injured or died. Every passenger on a plane would have a gun and every girl behind
the cosmetic counter at Macy's would be selling a lipstick while hiding an AK -47 under the counter.

But we as a society made a choice to let the police carry the burden of protecting us...all I am suggesting is that if you choose to protect yourself and your family than we as a society have the "right" to ask you for a set of responsibilities that go along with that.

Maybe another gun that day would have protected one more child...but maybe more onerous background checks, more required training and more limitations on certain guns and armor might have done that as well.

This isn't about your gun control...but my child! I don't know if you can always follow your child around with a gun, but I do know that laws can work 24 hours a day. Let's not choose between them...let them both work for all of us.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Let's Bury the Arguments and Not Our Children

In Life- you can never change what happens but you can always try to
learn from it. But all too often, what gets in the way are a false set
of choices, a myopic view of an issue, and well guided intentions
hidden behind misguided fears.

After watching another "Field of Dreams" turned into another killing
field, I have heard some of the same rapid fire arguments being
shot across the bow from people who are quick to "Stand Their Ground"
even before the children from the latest tragedy have been laid to rest
there!

"Gun Control is only for law abiding citizens" - "Guns do not kill people only
deranged people do" - "Police can only be reactive and most tragedies are
over in seconds" - "Cars kill more people than guns, should we outlaw them?".
There are currently 77,000 laws on the books...would one more really have
made a difference?".

I always found it ironic that the man who invented dynamite also founded the
Nobel Prize for Peace because he felt he created a weapon that made a difference
he didn't want to make.

Or that Robert Oppenheimer the lead scientist who invented the Atomic Bomb
was fired from developing the Hydrogen Bomb because after seeing the results
of his work in Japan, he did not want to create another weapon that could be
such a difference maker.

More than 65 years later...it appears that society is still in a arms race. This time
to control access to the weapons because we learned we cannot control the country
or the person who may possess it.

If Iran and North Korea could only bring a gun to a nuclear fight...we wouldn't be facing
the possibility of war once again. Don't argue...that weapons of choice doesn't matter,
whether it be in the School Yard or the Mediterranean sea.

Cars do kill more people than guns -- but if everyone owned a Tank instead of a Toyota than
we probably would be arguing to outlaw them as well.  When a drunk driver kills someone in a car, we don't suspend him from drinking but we do take away his right to drive again...at preventing him from using it as a weapon of choice ever again.

It takes 6 months to get a drivers license - 6 minutes to get a gun and 20 years to kill
someone on death row...do you really want to argue there is no more we can do to
protect the rights of those that should have a weapon and protect the rest of us from those
that don't?

If laws were the be all and end all to control human behavior than the Ten Commandments
would certainly have been a lot more effective.  But laws do create a culture and more importantly a mechanism to guide the law abiding and slow down the insane whose only law they follow is the satanic voice they may hear in their head.

Laws and especially the violation of laws create a paper and electronic trail of 'Intelligence" that
does prevent crime before it happens...does allow the police to be pro-active instead of reactive
and puts undue burdens upon the criminals and yes sometimes at the expense of law abiding citizens.

One 9/11 made us evaluate that tradeoff to prevent another attack. How many more Sandy Hooks does
there have to be before we pass a law or toughen a process or institute a more stringent system that
will allow "intelligence" to protect us...when there is no policeman or metal detector that can. After World War II we tried the path of mutual destruction to prevent another nuclear event that
could destroy the world...we have been negotiating for a nuclear free world ever since.

We can negotiate an armed society based on a protective path of everyone having a George Zimmerman live on their block or we can try to add just  "one sensible law" that will free the world of one insane person who might be planning the next act of terror in our schools, shopping malls and neighborhoods.

And finally please don't ever make this into an argument of convenience in the name of the Constitution
because we may pass a law that makes it difficult for someone to buy a gun at a flea market or do so with the ease you buy your carton of milk.

We want "intelligent laws" so intelligence can do the job that so far we have been unable to do. Those children who died at Sandy Hook don't have anymore constitutional rights because we failed to
protect their inalienable right for the pursuit of happiness.

The only argument worth having now... is one that will make sure this never happens again!