Posted on Leave a comment

29 days in February! Let the mass unfollowings end.

2016 is a Leap Year meaning there are 29 days in February and mass unfollowing of friends occur as United States politics flood the social media networks.

As a reminder, citizenship is not passive. We have a civic duty to participate in politics to shape our nations. That includes voicing dissenting opinions among our peers. An informed citizenry can better shape its respective nation. When the citizenry, particularly the proletariat, can be convinced to not be bothered, corporations and politicians can more easily control the people.

If we decry political discussions on Facebook or other social media as a reason to block people or unfriend others, we are doing nothing less than putting our fingers in our ears and chanting nah nah nah nah nah.

We make progress by listening to ideas foreign to our own. A business meeting where everyone walks into a room and nods heads in agreement and pats each other on the back is a waste of meeting space and salaries. An echo chamber where everyone else says the same thing we already think does not further a cause. Both cases are nothing more than pep rallies and bandwagons.

A diverse population will never be in complete agreement. John Lydgate said, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” If the Left implemented all of their philosophies with blatant disregard for the Right, you would have a significant portion of the population displeased and vice versa. Politics is about finding a happy medium where the Right and the Left find a middle ground which somewhat pleases both extremes. Our politician’s job is to seek this middle ground!

An elected official is supposed to represent the people; not just the people who agree with that politician’s ideals. A Congressman is a professional and should be willing to approach a vote with a Yea to represent its constituents’ wishes even when that Congressman’s personal beliefs say Nay. Consider your representatives’ histories as you go into the voting booths.

Regarding the political arena and social media, I implore you to resist the urge to take a dislike to someone you follow or even go so far as to block or unfollow them over their political posts. Instead, engage them. I did not say “insult them” or “fight with them” or “troll them.” Engage them. Be inquisitive. Try to understand their position even if they are unwilling to give you the same courtesy. Let’s make politics civil again.

Posted on Leave a comment

And no one pulled their guns out

A common argument I hear for concealed carry is that the armed citizenry will step up until the police can arrive. Walmart sells guns. Walmart has a clientele who love their guns and probably carry one or more guns with or without a concealed carry permit. But when a man walked into a South Carolina Walmart and killed his wife, no one intervened. Police only caught him after he wrecked his truck during the get-a-way.

Holiday shoppers at a South Carolina Walmart watched in horror as a man stabbed his wife to death in the store during a heated argument, authorities said.

[Source, NY Daily News, Cops: Man stabs wife to death at bank in South Carolina Walmart]

So these arguments for guns, are they invalid? No one tried to help despite the armory in sporting goods. And what about the concealed carry people? Where were they? I contend it is an invalid argument and that civilians will not take action. In this case, the murderer walked out of the store unopposed.

Posted on Leave a comment

“Just one of those crazy accidents,” Mr White said.

No, it’s not just a crazy accident. No four/five year old should have a real gun!

A FIVE-year-old boy who was playing with a .22 caliber rifle he’d been given as a gift accidentally shot and killed his two-year-old sister in their Kentucky home

the children’s mother was cleaning the house at the time and had stepped outside onto the porch

The rifle had been given to the boy last year and was kept in the corner of a room. The parents didn’t realise a shell had been left in it.

[Source, Herald Sun, US boy, 5, accidentally shoots and kills sister, 2]

Again, I use this as an example of why schools should remain gun free zones. Mistakes will be made. Lives will be lost. And mark my words, no armed teacher, staff member, or janitor will stop an active shooter…it just doesn’t happen that way.

Posted on Leave a comment

Connecticut Voting on Marijuana Legalization Today

Since they are voting on legalization on 4/20 is the outcome of the vote a bit predetermined?

Update 4/26/2012: Yup, it passed.

The House of Representatives voted late Wednesday night to legalize marijuana for medical purposes for adults — despite a letter from the state’s top federal prosecutor saying that those growing marijuana would be violating federal law.

The vote was 96-51 in favor.

Patients would be required to receive a prescription from a physician to receive marijuana to relieve pain from illnesses such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV and multiple sclerosis. The bill would allow some producers to cultivate and grow the marijuana, and licensed pharmacists could provide the marijuana to patients. Patients would need to requalify every year in order to keep smoking medical marijuana.

[Source, Hartford Connecticut Courant, House Approves Legalization Of Medical Marijuana]

Posted on 1 Comment

Don’t ever be afraid to address your city council

Have you ever stood before your city council? Have you ever expressed your ire with a law? Voiced your discontent with a resolution?

This is your First Amendment right demonstrated. Watch. Cringe. And follow James Inman‘s example.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

[Source, Wikipedia, United States Bill of Rights]

Posted on Leave a comment

Minister and family on mission to keep violent video games from youth

On October 20, 2007 a tragedy occurred. A 16 year old had been home bound with a staph infection. During his time from school, he secretly purchased Halo 3 and played up to 18 hours a day. Discovered by his parents, the game was confiscated. He then shot them. The mother died; the father survived. Now the pastor and his family crusade against violent video games.

The family is now on a collective mission to keep violent video games from the hands of America’s youth.

"I’m gonna fight them," says Petric of the video game producers. "They put weapons in the hands of our children that teaches them murder, and that killing is okay." (emphasis added)

[Source, True Crime Report, Daniel Petric Assassinates Mom, Shoots Pastor Dad in Head Over Video Games]

This is a horrific crime. I’m making no excuse for any party and, although studies have shown no link between violent video games and real life violence, I am not defending the games either. I take issue with the statement that " put weapons in the hands of our children" because, in this case, the weapon clearly came from the father.

Daniel, who had raided his father’s lockbox, raised his 9 mm handgun — loaded with hollow point rounds…

[Source, True Crime Report, Daniel Petric Assassinates Mom, Shoots Pastor Dad in Head Over Video Games]

Daniel used his father’s key to unlock the lockbox and take back his game. Daniel also took his father’s 9 mm handgun along with the game.

[Source, Wikipedia, Daniel Petric Shooting]

I am not suggesting that we take away people’s guns. This is not an attack upon the second amendment. I am suggesting that this crime would have possibly been prevented with an appropriate gun safe, gun locks, or not having a weapon in the house at all. Please lock up your guns in a way your children cannot access them. Please teach your children gun safety.

It’s not the game. It’s not the gun. It’s not the parents. It’s the person holding the gun.

Posted on Leave a comment

Stop Outsourcing at Knox County Schools

A friend from Jobs with Justice of East Tennessee asked that I help spread their word:

Jobs with Justice of East Tennessee is petitioning to save the jobs of 275 or more custodial workers as Superintendent Dr. McIntyre has proposed an outsourcing plan as part of the 2011-2012 school budget which would:

  • lay off 275 workers across the county
  • reduce custodial wages by $2-$5 per hour
  • decrease quality of work (as shown by the last outsourcing attempt)

Please sign our online petition urging the school board to avoid outsourcing in our schools!

Jobs with Justice of East Tennessee is having a lunch for custodians and other school employees and community members this Saturday.

Custodians and other school employees and community members have been circulating petitions and talking to the Board of Education about the proposal to contract out custodial services. This is a very bad idea – bad for employees, students, and the whole community. There are a couple of School Board meetings coming up soon, so this might be a good time for folks to get together and talk about what we need to do next.

Let’s meet for lunch Saturday, April 30, 12 noon to 2 pm at the UNITE Building, 1124 N. Broadway (less than a mile north of Central).

Since custodians work different shifts, Saturday seems like the best chance to get together. We’d like the other folks who have been working on this to attend as well.

Lunch & Child Care are provided.

Family members are welcome at this gathering. Everyone is important. We’ll talk about what we’ve accomplished so far, and how we might move forward to save jobs and the quality of our schools. We can do this!

If you have questions before Saturday, call Jobs with Justice volunteers Karly Safar, 615/519-0157 or Brad Rayson, 865/385-4421.

Posted on 6 Comments

Think Before You Kill Julian Assange

Many people are in a uproar over the Wikileaks release of 251,287 United States embassy cables "the largest set of confidential documents ever to be released into the public domain." Reaction has included suggestions of naming Wikileaks as a terrorist organization. Some people have called for the execution of Julian Assange as a traitor. Proceed with caution! I’d like to take a moment to point out that history is repeating itself. Recall the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War. This exact situation was tried in 1971 in New York Times Co. v. United States with the outcome being the release of the documents is protected by the First Amendment.

Though inconvenient for officials, the revelation of information contained in any of the WikiLeaks files, much like the Pentagon Papers amid the Vietnam war, is protected by the First Amendment — a point made by the US Supreme Court in New York Times Co. v. United States in 1971.

[Source, The Raw Story, GOP Rep. asks Clinton to declare WikiLeaks a ‘foreign terrorist organization’]

In all that I have read, and in all the news commentary I have watched on television and online, nothing has been as notable and as important as the next three paragraphs of The Raw Story’s article.

"In seeking injunctions against these newspapers and in its presentation to the Court, the Executive Branch seems to have forgotten the essential purpose and history of the First Amendment," Justices Hugo Black and William Douglas wrote, taking the side of the Times, which had recently published what was then considered the largest cache of secret military information in US history.

[Source, The Raw Story, GOP Rep. asks Clinton to declare WikiLeaks a ‘foreign terrorist organization’ emphasis added]

Read this next paragraph twice. This paragraph notes where main stream media is failing in its job in the name of page views, popularity and ad sales rather than serving the governed. Wikileaks has stepped up to do the job that our press corp has quit.

"In the First Amendment the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy," they continued. "The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government."

[Source, The Raw Story, GOP Rep. asks Clinton to declare WikiLeaks a ‘foreign terrorist organization’ emphasis added]

In conclusion, before passing negative judgment against Julian Assange and Wikileaks, read the words of Justices Black and Douglas in regard to the Pentagon Papers.

After the release of the Pentagon Papers, Justices Black and Douglas opined that "newspapers nobly did precisely that which the Founders hoped and trusted they would do."

[Source, The Raw Story, GOP Rep. asks Clinton to declare WikiLeaks a ‘foreign terrorist organization’ emphasis added]

Please go to The Raw Story and read the entire article titled GOP Rep. asks Clinton to declare WikiLeaks a ‘foreign terrorist organization’. Take note that the people wanting to declare Wikileaks a terrorist organization and suppress information keeping you, the citizenry, in the dark are the exact same people embarrassed, or in a position of having their careers ended, by the release of these documents, like Hillary Clinton.

To close, one more quote from The Raw Story. Justice Potter Stewart’s comment.

Justice Potter Stewart added: "In the absence of the governmental checks and balances present in other areas of our national life, the only effective restraint upon executive policy and power in the areas of national defense and international affairs may lie in an enlightened citizenry – in an informed and critical public opinion which alone can here protect the values of democratic government. For this reason, it is perhaps here that a press that is alert, aware, and free most vitally serves the basic purpose of the First Amendment. For without an informed and free press there cannot be an enlightened people."

[Source, The Raw Story, GOP Rep. asks Clinton to declare WikiLeaks a ‘foreign terrorist organization’ emphasis added]

Posted on 27 Comments

Let’s Talk Tea

I was going to sit this one out but there has been so much misinformation on the Tea Parties that I feel compelled to make some commentary. Let’s discuss these things:

  1. I love protests even if I disagree with you
  2. Do you really know what the hell teabagging is?
  3. Bob Krumm is wrong.
  4. The Boston Tea Party was not about eliminating or reducing taxes.

I love protests!

First off, I love a good fight. I love a good cause. And I’ll step up for my beliefs. I am an activist and happy to live in America where I have that right. I respect your right to fight for your beliefs even when I disagree with you and if I choose to protest your protest I am not saying you don’t have the right to express your views, I am just offering an opposing view (which also happens to be a freedom of speech).

Do you remember all the protests under George W Bush? Probably not because when they happened, the protesters were cordoned off away from the main activity and the press was limited in their ability to report.

Free speech zones were used in Boston at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. The free speech zones organized by the authorities in Boston were boxed in by concrete walls, invisible to the Fleet Center where the convention was held and criticized harshly as a “protest pen” … Reporters are often barred by local officials from displaying these protesters on camera or speaking to them within the zone.[Source, Wikipedia, Free speech zone]

Granted, free speech zones are not a new development. They have existed since the 1960s but were most heavily used by George W Bush’s administration.

For the record, I will not be participating in today’s Tea Parties nor will I be counter protesting. Quite frankly, I find it rather amusing that so many people are eagerly running around declaring they’ll be participating in a mass orgy of strangers plopping their nuts on each other’s faces. And that brings me to my next question.

Do you really know the definition of teabagging?

Last week I beat around the bush about the meaning of teabagging. I am betting that many of the protesters have missed the double entrendé. I think it is time to be direct.

Teabagging is a slang term for the act of a man placing his scrotum in the mouth or on or around the face (including the top of the head) of another person, often in a repeated in-and-out motion as in irrumatio. The practice vaguely resembles dipping a tea bag into a cup of tea. [Source, Wikipedia, Teabagging]

This is a vile, demeaning image and not a term that should be thrown around in mixed company and splattered all over the news in such a way that children are compelled to learn and teach their peers its meaning.

I was very vocal about my disagreement with George W Bush and my belief that his administration was causing long term damage to this country. My words and thoughts are immortalized in this online publishing. Although I was harsh on GW, I do not think I did anything to disparage the office of the presidency. And I will strike that out the moment someone reminds me with a link to something I wrote. We are a democracy and even though our favorite candidate does not always get into office, that person IS still the president of our country and deserves certain respects. I do not think it speaks highly of someone to say you want to put your balls on the face of the president. I do not think that speaks highly of your country!

Bob Krumm is wrong.

Bob Krumm wrote "There is no high-profile Farrakhan-type organizer or a well-funded Brady Campaign organization behind today’s protests" but Lee Fang has documented that corporate lobbyists are the driving force behind the Tea Parties as a Anti-Obama mechanism specifically Freedom Works (the GOP version of MoveOn) and Americans for Prosperity.

Despite these attempts to make the "movement" appear organic, the principle organizers of the local events are actually the lobbyist-run think tanks Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Works. The two groups are heavily staffed and well funded, and are providing all the logistical and public relations work necessary for planning coast-to-coast protests. [Source, Think Progress, Spontaneous Uprising? Corporate Lobbyists Helping To Orchestrate Radical Anti-Obama Tea Party Protests]

Jane Hamsher at The Huffington Post has more explanation and commentary about the lobbyists. Momocrats has this video (note the testicular image behind the reporter) which flat out says "Not a spontaneous uprising. The people who came up with it are a familiar circle of Republicans including Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey."

They oppose Mr. Obama’s tax rates which will be lower for most of them and they oppose Mr. Obama’s tax increases for the rich whose taxes will skyrocket to about 10% less than it was under Reagan. [Source, Youtube, David Shuster GOP Going Nuts For Teabagging, But They Need A Dick Armey]

The Boston Tea Party was not about eliminating or reducing taxes.

I’m hearing people, even relatives, spout of various reasons for the Tea Parties. No one seems to be on the same base. Momocrats is also trying to figure it out. Mostly I have heard people say they do not want their taxes increased and have tried to draw a parallel to The Boston Tea Party. As the video above pointed out, The Boston Tea Party was about representation and rights.

The protest movement that culminated with the Boston Tea Party was not a dispute about high taxes. The price of legally imported tea was actually reduced by the Tea Act of 1773. Protestors were instead concerned with a variety of other issues. The familiar "no taxation without representation" argument, along with the question of the extent of Parliament’s authority in the colonies, remained prominent. Some regarded the purpose of the tax program—to make leading officials independent of colonial influence—as a dangerous infringement of colonial rights. This was especially true in Massachusetts, the only colony where the Townshend program had been fully implemented. [Source, Wikipedia, Boston Tea Party]

I also hear mutterings about Obama in his short time in office being responsible for today’s tax rates. As the video points out, this just isn’t the case.

The taxation rates that they will all be protesting are the George W Bush Republican taxation rates. [Source, Youtube, David Shuster GOP Going Nuts For Teabagging, But They Need A Dick Armey]

I think it is important to remember that TARP was a 2008 program that "allows the United States Department of the Treasury to purchase or insure up to $700 billion of "troubled" assets." That’s the mortgage bailout. The economic situation the United States faces did not start on January 20, 2009.

As you talk about the successes of your Tea Parties, please be aware that the goal of the Tea Parties is not to reduce or change taxes but to try to find a chink in the Obama armor as a means of getting the GOP back into control of the presidency in 2012.

Update: See also: Interesting discussion at Reddit- Where were the anti-tax tea parties when George Bush was wasting Billions in Iraq, on the Prescription Drug Bill, and providing handouts to Oil Companies? and Don’t Drink the Tea; Taxes Benefit Everyone.

Posted on Leave a comment

Knoxify’s Friday Five

Knoxify is an excellent example of hyperlocal group blogging. The site has a beautiful design with a pleasant balance of photos and words with easy navigation to relevant information. The topic matter is Knoxville, TN and the articles always well written. To make Knoxify even better, they’ve introduced First Friday Five to feature the wonderful non-profits in Knoxville and encourage the Knoxify readers to donate $5 to the organization.

For their first First Friday Five, Knoxify choose one of my favorite non-profits, FISH Hospitality Pantries. FISH provides food and basic staples to any person or family in Knoxville who needs it with no questions asked. People of all economic backgrounds can find themselves in tight economic positions and FISH exists to make sure that no one goes hungry. Well chosen Knoxify!

Chattanooga also has First Friday Five.

Posted on 2 Comments

I don’t understand tea bagging.

Apparently on April 15 from 3pm-6pm, Republicans and Conservatives alike (perhaps Democrats and other parties) will be meeting at the World’s Fair Park for some tea bagging. As much as I enjoy a good protest, this just doesn’t sound like my kind of thing:

Teabagging is … an erotic activity used within the context of BDSM and male dominance, with a dominant man teabagging his submissive partner, either a woman or a man, as one variation of facesitting and/or as a means of inflicting erotic humiliation. [Source, Wikipedia, Teabagging]

Just sounds like someone’s going to get themselves arrested.

See also: Teabagging Congress.

Update 12April2009: Seen on The Huffington Post- “Tea Bagging” Rallies Ruthlessly Mocked On Maddow Show

Update: From Paul Krugman:

the G.O.P. looked as crazy 10 or 15 years ago as it does now. That didn’t stop Republicans from taking control of both Congress and the White House. [Source, The New York Times, Tea Parties Forever ]