“Why?” is the wrong question. 1

To go a bit deeper into one aspect of the responses to the Connecticut mass murder yesterday: When something like this happens, the very first thing most people ask is usually “Why?” – and that’s the wrong question.

Why is irrelevant. It’s only useful in retrospect. There’s a different “why” for each one of these grotesque incidents, and there’s no way we can ever hope to anticipate every last one of them.

What we can do, the one thing that can make a real difference, is to change the easy access to the another aspect of such things, the how.

There are simply too damn many guns out there, and too many people who think that it’s the single most important part of life. Or they come up with some weak-sauce rationalization of defending themselves, or their property.

Unless you hunt to provide food, or you’re in law enforcement or the military, you have very little reason to own a firearm. If you feel you need to defend yourself badly enough to have to carry one on you regularly, maybe it’s time to ask yourself what you’re doing in such situations that often. Or look even deeper into yourself and see where so much fear is coming from.

If that guy’s mother had not LEGALLY purchased the three weapons he used, she and 20+ other people would be alive today. How safe does she feel right now?

Oh, that’s right. She can’t feel anything. She’s dead, killed with one of the guns she brought home.

Your first challenge, America, is to stop making it so easy for the deranged, and for the common criminal lowlife, to take the lives of others.

Everyone calls out for President Obama to call for more control measures. That’s fine, let’s see them get through Congress and pass a Supreme Court test when that bench has a “bend-over” majority for such right wing shibboleths as “Castle doctrines” and “Stand Your Ground” laws.

Was Trayvon Martin not also standing his ground when George Zimmerman murdered him? What’s the differential there?

Your second, harder challenge is to stop feeling that guns are the solution. If that’s your real worldview you have a problem.

That problem is fear.

Your fear of others. Your fear that you can’t quite cope with life without the ability to take someone else’s at a moment’s notice.

Grow up, America. It’s long past time.

 

Edited to add: I don’t owe you anything, least of all tolerating obnoxious commenters.  Get inflammatory and you’ll get gone.

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Anderson Cooper’s disclosure is not news – and that’s a positive! 2

CNN’s Anderson Cooper recently disclosed, to Andrew Sullivan, that he is in fact gay.

While this surprised few people, it also passed close to unremarked.

This is a good turn of events.  We’re seeing something that is a personal matter being treated as such, and not as headline-generating shock value.

People are who they are.  That has never changed, and it never will.  That such a disclosure doesn’t matter nearly as much as it would have even two or three years ago shows that while we still have some distance left ahead of us, we’re growing up as a society.

That’s it for now – all the news that, thankfully, isn’t, really.

Thank you, Mr. President. 2

President Obama took a giant step forward for Americans of every description when he affirmed his support for marriage equality.

As someone with gay family members, I definitely appreciate that.  They’re now equal in his eyes, though sadly, not yet in the eyes of the law.

That will change.

Yes, our system sometimes moves too slowly.  Now is one of those times, though moving it is, and in the right direction.

I’m not worried, as some say they are, about a possible political cost.  Anyone who won’t vote for President Obama because of this would in all probability not have voted for him anyway.

I am worried about the few on the left who are commenting that it wasn’t an assertive enough affirmation.

Really?

That’s like getting something you’ve always wanted and complaining about the choice of wrapping paper.  Bad form doesn’t even come close to describing it.

Undoing DOMA is still working its way through the courts, and once it does, along with the overturning of California’s Prop 8, the dam will burst.  Equal protection – the proper grounds on which to attack these discriminatory laws and state amendments – will win out.

It’s the right thing to do.  And it will be done.

Breitbart Blogging Troll Attacks Emerald City Comicon Guest Wil Wheaton 10

What is it with those bloggers at BigJournalismLies? Do they never ever leave their politics at home and have some damn fun? The answer to that question people, is they never fucking do not ever.  Let’s take the example of Adam Baldwin, the actor from Firefly and Chuck etc, he came to Emerald City ComiCon this past weekend. Well guess what he also writes for BigLies. I was going to go over and chat with him and tell him how much we loved Chuck and his character, but then some stuff went down and he tried to turn ComiCon into Breitbart world.

So here we were at ComiCon, talking about the Trek series, BSG, Firefly, etc and so on. No one talks about anything other than that, one discussion I was in while we were waiting to meet George Takei was; who is less trust worthy Romulans or Vulcans? Obviously the answer is Romulans, but that was an actual point of discussion. LOL’s!!!

This year was unbelievable because we were subjected to the long reach of Breitbart  world. Delivered by his angry band of blogging minions started an ideological battle  at Emerald City ComiCon.

But it started out great. I got to meet Edward James Olmos and that was amazing and cool as hell. I also got to meet and shake hands with George Takei! Oh man, yes that was so cool, and of course the man who shows up to every Emerald City Comicon Wil Wheaton. If you don’t know who Wil Wheaton is, you probably never watched NextGen, Stand By Me. We were excited to see Wil Wheaton again.

It all began with this little youtube promo.  Watch it and then continue reading.

That is funny, right?

Well guess who didn’t think it was funny.  Adam Baldwin took offense and made the claim to his twitter army that Wheaton and Lawson were mocking the bible. I don’t see it, but whatever. Insert Breitbart trained outrage machine here —–> It churns in perpetual motion like a twisted victim chip that never leaves its collective shoulder, picking fights and then blaming the victim of their ire.   I see what you’re doing Adam Baldwin.  Every aspect of our lives must come down to picking ideological fights, then brushing it off by saying all publicity is good publicity and then threatening a defamation lawsuit even though you started the fight. You learned so well from your former boss, may he Rest in Peace.

I’d already known Baldwin wrote for BigLies prior the event. I’d looked him up on twitter and that day he was having a twitter war with Podhoretz over his (Baldwin’s) opposition to vaccinations. I shut his page down immediately, thinking I just didn’t really want to ruin his acting for me. You know everyone has a right to their own beliefs etc and so on. I’ll forget about it and just remember that I love the movies and television shows he’s been in, he’s funny and he definitely has enormous talent.

The personal swipes at another ComiCon guest, seemingly came out of nowhere. But rest assured whenever some famous person tweets, be they a blogger, actor or a politician,  their followers often times jump in to either agree with the person they follow or to attack the target of the tweeters ire.  So what I imagine happened is, suddenly Wheaton began to get idiot right-wing threats. Sometimes extremist followers on twitter take things way too far.  All of this was really unnecessary, it was ComiCon, not a political fundraiser or a rally, it simply wasn’t about politics this weekend. At some point as a society we have to begin to condemn those who would rather keep us rigidly,  ideologically divided like George Bush demanded when he said; “You’re either with us or against us.” It will ruin our lives if we allow it.  At the very least leave your extremism and anger at home when you come to any of the Cons. We are not stupid and we aren’t pawns in your ongoing ideological battle to conquer the world.

CrossPosted @DAGblog

Justice for Treyvon and White Privilege 5

I have two sons, they are 25 and 21. They are not black. They are tall, 6’3 and 6’4, dirty blond hair, one has a crew cut, one’s hair a tiny bit longer, one with hazel eyes and one with sea green eyes.

Last year I arrived home from my yearly trip to Manila. I went alone in 2011 and spent time with my parents. I arrived home February 21, 2011. The next day I was beat, jet lag, everything that goes with the trip home. I asked my son, who was 20 at that time, if I gave him a list and some money would he do some shopping for me, I was much too tired to be driving to the store let alone trying to shop. As usual, as he is a sweet boy err ummm man he said, sure mom.

He brought home the 2 gallons of organic milk, jazz apples, veggies and salad. It was a small list, not much. He got home, and he I said thanks and he went back to the basement.

I’d gone out in the garage I still had a big freezer out there and just outside I saw a cop drive up and he seemed to be looking at my Tribeca. So I instinctively opened the garage door. He’d gotten out of his patrol car. He asked me if someone else had been driving the Tribeca and I said, yes my son, because I’d sent him to the grocery store, I told him my story about just getting back from the PI, etc. He had a strange look on his face, but he stayed outside on the porch. He asked if he could speak to my son. I was getting somewhat apprehensive but I said Okay. I called Max up. The guy asks Max why he ran out of the grocery store. As usual, he wasn’t dressed appropriately, to this day I bitch him out about this, but what can I do. And he’d run to the car with the groceries after paying. It was cold around 40. My son had a strange look on his face. I said to the officer, what is the problem officer? He said someone at the store had accused my son of stealing groceries. I said, umm excuse me, he brought my change home. He did not steal those groceries. The officer tried to isolate my son away from me, something I did not allow. I also invited the officer in and I told him to take a look, here are the groceries etc. The officer had a strange look on his face, I live very close to the Puget Sound, it is a very nice area, we’ve lived in this house for 19 years at the time. I showed the officer my groceries. But none-the-less he said he had to arrest my son. I just stared at him, and I said what for? He didn’t steal anything. I went into mom mode for sure. I said to him, what kid steals organic milk, apples, etc. Seriously. The officer then commented that our house was warm, I said of course it is, we pay our bills buddy. And he asked about our financial status, I showed him that I just arrived home from Manila, and I handed him my first class plane ticket stub. Suddenly the officer seemed to believe me and he called the store.
So, I said to the officer, okay, we will return to the store with you, I want to talk to those people and I want them to pull the video. I remained calm and friendly but firm, inside I was freaking out. Seriously.

Suddenly the officer not only believed me, but began to advocate for my son over his communication device from my house. He said, I don’t think this guy stole anything and he asked them to view the video before we left. He received the call back and my son was cleared. I was relieved, but when I told my husband what happened on the phone he was outraged and angry as hell. After he got off work he went straight to Albertsons and complained, wait, he yelled at the manager of the store, we’ve been shopping there for 19 years. He asked the manager, how many times have you allowed your employees to make accusations about people without checking anything. They’d simply seen my son running to the car from the store and took our license plate down. My husband was livid. The manager at Albertsons, bought us dinner than night, they gave us a prime rib and french bread. They wanted to keep our business.  It doesn’t work this way for Americans who do not share my skin color. They don’t share one thing, whiteness, they get no privilege.

I am white, so that cop advocated for my son. He advocated for him. When does that happen for a black American? When? I have sons, they don’t look like Treyvon Martin, I am privileged.

Treyvon Martin didn’t’ get that, in fact for Treyvon’s father, he wasn’t allowed to claim his son’s body because he was tagged a John Doe. Even though the evidence shows through those police reports that they knew who Treyvon was. What? They were prevented from being with their son, a 17 year old boy. Which person in power stepped up for Treyvon that evening, certainly the cops who let Zimmerman go did not, hell they let the guy walk away with a loaded gun.

I am happy to see the outrage, but saddened that it took the murder of one more black teen to draw our attention to the injustice many of our citizens are subjected to because of the color of their skin.

Democrat Like Me 1

For years the idea haunted me, if a Republican became a Democrat in the deep North what adjustments would she have to make?

And that is how it began, that fateful day in 1984 was the day I decided to infiltrate the Democratic party and turn them all into Liberal Republicans! I knew I could do it if I could just find a way to fit in first, to blend in, so I went to the doctor’s office for some help.

“Hey Doc”, I said to him after he forced me on that scale again, why do they always want to know how much I weigh? “Hey T”, he replied, we were old friends since the heady days of Watergate. “Doc, I want to attempt to infiltrate the Democratic Party and turn them into a corporatist Republican lite party. I think I can do it, if I try very, very hard. How can I do this?”

He laughed and then smirked at me, he said, “Well first of all you need to quit shopping at Brooks Brothers, cause that totally doesn’t fit for a Democrat, I think you need to shop at vintage stores from now on, and find some bell bottom jeans with embroidery on them, preferably flowers and sunshine and stuff, it will make you seem whimsical and egalitarian.”

I was kind of happy that I had to shop for my newest endeavor, although I wasn’t totally into this Vintage Store BS but if I had to buy some crappy hippy clothes then I would, it is easier to punch them if you look like them.

So I thought I should find out about the party I was infiltrating so I decided I would study hard at the virtual knee of one James “Corporal Cueball” Carville. I saw him one night on CNN, and thought he would be the perfect teacher for me.   So I studied Carville, and knew I was about to become a superstar in the Democratic Party, superstardom leads to apparatchikdom too and that was my ultimate goal, become an apparatchik, it would make me feel like I had more control over all things Democratic and I could lead them myself to Republicanism, which ultimately was my goal, to make sure Democrats were just Republicans without the backbone.

My first effort was to make them, the Democrats, think that I took my new party seriously, when really I was just a shill for my corporate, tribal overlords. This fact was discovered by the arch nemesis to all corporate shills like myself, one Glenn Greenwald. He is a superstar this Greenwald guy, he has absolutely no connection to corporate overlords. His CATO membership is just a ruse, and his white papers for them, just a job, but he isn’t affected at all by these things, as he isn’t a sell out in anyway shape or form, and he never ever lets the corporate will beat him down, he fights it all the time.  He has no professional connection to corporate overlords and he is merely out for America the Beautiful. Greenwald is awesome in his ability ferret out those of us who have sold out America to the highest bidder. Working with the Koch is like waving an American flag, working with the Democrats is like working for Satan.

So my plan has worked, the health care bill we have currently, was my plan from the beginning, to sell out America by forcing them to have access to health insurance.  It will evolve into nothing that can benefit anyone really. States will not take the matter into their own hands to search for the best answer for their citizens either.  Certainly places like Minnesota (status of the Act), California, ( LWV, support of California OneCare), Illinois, Pennsylvania, Montana, (more Montana analysis) Massachusetts and Vermont have not taken the new law and tried to make it beneficial for their own citizens. They have succumbed to the dead-end health reform, the one that only supports insurance companies and is terrible for the people!

My mission is complete and soon I am sure I will be promoted head apparatchik, instead of just being referred to as the Greatest Living Democrat.

Hey Democrats consider yourselves Pwned.

Crossposted at DAGblog

After a birthday party. 2

I attended a birthday party recently for a wonderful 6-year-old son of friends.  Lots of people, both family and friends, lots of merrymaking, seemingly endless amounts of both good food and conversation, and things went well into the night.

He’s a great kid – talented, imaginative, and fun.  Maybe sometimes I get him a bit overwound but his parents love to see him enjoying himself and no harm gets done.  He even brought me up short that day, when I told him I thought he was a cool little guy.  He looked at me, grinned, said “Cool big guy!” and laughed.  So did I, and I had to agree with him.  He’s 6, after all.  He gets to be a big guy now if he wants.

They’re wonderful people themselves, his parents.  Kind, generous, always determined to feed everyone within an inch of being unable to breathe and then send them home with leftovers, and that great, fun, lively 6-year-old is their unending joy.

He’s also a living, breathing gesture, no, a stand, a stand of defiance.  Something of them will outlive them, and go forward into a whole new world.

Why a stand of defiance, you might ask?

They’re Cambodian.  Both of them survived Pol Pot.

Dessert’s done.  Time for the spinach.

When people must bend in the service of an ideology, Pol Pot happens.  As do Pinochet, Stalin, Mao, bin Laden, the Crusades, Hitler, and more.

The particular ideology, in fact, doesn’t mean nearly as much as the belief that it must be implemented no matter the price.

No less a historical figure than Joshua bar-Joseph opined in his wisdom that “The law was made for man, not man for the law!” and that remains a universal truth ignored only at the cost of untold lives.  Sadly, many of his adherents – who cannot among themselves agree on a correct understanding of that wisdom, at the cost of many more lives – seek to implement various laws they believe man made for.  (See “Crusades, the” as mentioned above.)

It’s far more important to see that people’s needs are met than to be “pure” in any particular idealism.  And that requires understanding some things.

First, let’s look at the concept that we all do better when we all do better.  I would turn here to the late, wonderful Chicago Daily News/Sun-Times op-ed columnist, Sydney J. Harris, who opined in an essay that most people fail miserably when asked to define their own best interest, feeling that it was purely their immediate benefit, when in reality it was that which extended the farthest around them, because it did not set them apart, rather, it integrated them more thoroughly into the social fabric.

Societies benefits, as observers going back to de Tocqueville have noted, from the stabilizing influence of the middle class – those who have a stake in, and participate in, society and thus stand to benefit when those around them do well, and feel the adverse impact when they do not.

Self-interest is a noted shibboleth among the Libertarians.  It’s the very core of Ayn Rand’s (barely readable) “literature” and perhaps the most poorly understood notion among that cohort.  Their perception of self-interest extends only to themselves, or if they’re particularly – and uncharacteristically – generous, their families.  This ignores the very real damage done to society by resentments borne of inequities of opportunity, to say nothing of the potential wasted thereby.

More will follow in time.  I am not a rapid writer when it comes to such things.

The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be 2

Note: This is taken from TPM-aholics, where it originated.

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What do we want 2050 to look like?

We know a few things already.

It will be more crowded.  Estimates put us somewhere north of 9 billion people worldwide.  Maybe 14 billion by the end of the century.  I might make it to see the 9 billion, unappealing as that sounds.  The 14 billion, well, I’m glad I’ll be long gone for that.

Some nations will be much older, others will be younger.

It will be warmer.  Whether temperature increases stay steady, accelerate, or slow, they will continue for the foreseeable future.  As will weather instability, as we have seen in the last few months.

It might well be drier, and that’s not a good thing, as water is the one thing we absolutely, positively cannot live without.

Let’s leave the global aside for a moment and look at the national – and maybe even closer.

There are two main possible directions for the future.  One is to continue along the increasing corporatization of America, until we begin to resemble something akin to an electronicized feudal state, where ownership of most of the economy is concentrated in the hands of a very few, with the great numbers of people having almost no say or stake in anything.  This is the Libertarians’ ideal, of course, though many of their adherents are foolish enough to believe that they’ll somehow be on the ownership side of the fence.

They won’t.

They’re cannon fodder to the people really pulling the strings.  And they’ll resist that truth to the last breath.

Or we can set about reclaiming the concept of a public good, redefining ourselves in terms of a society rather than simply an economy, and relegating all religious discussion to its rightful place in the private sphere.

Something to work for, don’t you think?

What if that goal was even such a simple notion as that there is no good reason for anyone to have to go to bed hungry, or to not have a bed to go hungry to, or even a roof overhead?  That there is no good reason for a child to grow to adulthood unschooled?  That everyone having basic health care is a huge social positive in many more ways than there are room to list here?

We live in a society.  An economy is just a component of that society, and those who confuse the two shortchange not only this society, they also shortchange themselves.

It would appear that the choice is fairly clear – stark, even.  On the one hand, we can live in Rand Paul’s dreamland, an electronicized Somalia, with no functioning government to speak of and a tiny, cosseted elite exploiting everyone else for fun (more on this in the future) and profit, or we can change direction and realize that we will indeed do better if we all do better.

So, what do you want 2050 to look like?

Travels with the I-Pad — Port Gamble Trails 1

I like to take the IPad preloaded with trail maps to go hiking, that way, you probably can’t get lost. Well I probably could get lost, but the I-Pad is truly and awesome thing, So I had this map loaded onto my IPad before I left home. Port Gamble Trail Map.

It was so incredible today. It was windy and not too warm 63 degrees, and cloudy of course. It’s been this way all year-long so far, cloudy and cool. I understand we have not warmed to even to 80 degrees! I don’t have much to complain about, it never gets to hot to ride or to hike or to be outside.

The walk to the trail head. Port Gamble is quite a little town of historic buildings. We do the Tour d’ Kitsap almost every year and we do ride through Port Gamble every year. This was the first time going to Port Gamble to hike.

This is a church right in the town and the entire town is made of historic buildings.  The town was originally constructed in 1853. The entire town is a national historic site. Port Gamble was the longest continuously operating mill town in North America.  Pope Resources restored and operated the town until 1995 when as the only remaining company owned mill town in Puget Sound, it was closed down.  Port Gamble is now a tourist attraction drawing people from all over. There are unique shops and markets and hiking trails. The turn of the century buildings are pretty cool, they even bookstore than rents out bicycles to explore the many trails around Port Gamble. It’s pretty cool it’s called The Dauntless Bookstore.

We covered 11 miles in the park, there are lots of trails and ground to cover, we didn’t do all of it that is for sure and we did it all on foot, not on bicycles or horseback.

Salmonberries.. yummy. Their space is often overtaken by blackberries. Salmonberries are obviously lighter in color and very sweet, it is a native plant of the Pacific Northwest.

They can be as dark as the meat from a copper river salmon. Quite beautiful and the bears love them.

The remnants of old growth cedar trees.

A Doug Fir Root Wad.

Root wads are pretty incredible, and useful in salmonid restoration programs. There were several marked streams in the area.

Bear den.

There has been a juvenile Black bear loose in a one of the surrounding areas. I guess they need a place to crash. But this is actually an example of a bear den and not an active bear den, because this is an interpretive forest area, which is used to teach people about the environment of the Pacific Northwest. I know at times a local tree expert will take people on tours through the forest. I missed that day, but when they have one again, I think I will join them.

Oh and I did not once get lost, I had the IPad with me.

Crossposted at DAGblog