Our Mom

In many ways, my Mom was our tent pole. She was tough; she was brash; she was loud, she could embarrass; she was fiercely loyal to and defensive of those she loved; she was so real; she was so warm. She not only held us up; she held us.

 

My mom
Matt Cole

This was written in 2007 and read at my mom’s funeral. It comes from my heart and brings tears to my eyes 6 years later.

Friday was a difficult day for this family. My sister Abbey, whom, my wife Marilee and I thank so much for shouldering much of Mom’s care these last these hard years and I lost our only mom. My brother-in-law Max and Marilee lost their second mom, Uncle Marty his only sister, Alisa, Helaine, Hope, Barrie, Wendy and Dara lost their last grandma, and 14 children lost a special, special great-grandma.

Only in this crazy family could three sisters and a brother name their first born the same name, Rozy. To differentiate them, they were called Big Rozy, Little Rozy, Moe’s Rozy, and just plain Rozy. Ours was just plain Rozy, but there was nothing plain about her. To my knowledge, she only earned two prizes in her lifetime: one, a beauty contest when she was a little girl and the other bronzed booties for warming our hearts and feet when she was 90. But she was a world-class mommy, grandma, and great-grandma

My friend John Ungashick related to me that when George Washington died, The Federalist Party said it had lost its tent pole. He held up his political party, the Federalists. Indeed, a few years after his death, the Federalists disappeared. Our family won’t disappear without our Rozy, but it won’t be the same.

In many ways, my Mom was our tent pole. She was tough; she was brash; she was loud, she could embarrass; she was fiercely loyal to and defensive of those she loved; she was so real; she was so warm. She not only held us up; she held us.

I can still remember at about the age of seven while waiting in line to see the Christmas Show at the Radio City Music Hall being squished between her warm body and her Persian lamb’s wool coat as only she could squish. No one could warm you like my mom. I touched her after she died and that warmth was still there. It seemed that even death could not take it away

Mom was lucky… she lived a long life; she got to see 13 great grandchildren in person, and she saw Xena’s picture which I showed to her just hours before she died. I know she saw it. I know it made her happy. I watched her open her eyes and felt her squeeze my hand as each of my daughters said goodbye to her. Between her pained breathing she mumbled something each time. It was so hard to understand, but one time I could make it out, and it was “I love you.” That’s what mom was so good at — loving you.

Remembering our mother
Mom beauty contest winner

 For her great grandchildren: I give you a little history lesson

When she at your age Xena, the Titanic was being built

When she was as old as you Sita and August, WWI started

When she was as old as you Harry and Ruben, the 1916 Model T Ford was first produced for $250

Sophie, the Russian Revolution broke out when she was your age.

Orlando, when she as a old as you she survived the 1918 Spanish Flu Epidemic

Jack, when she was ten, women first got the right to vote

Amy at your age in 1927, Charles Lindberg was the first to fly solo the Atlantic

 

Remembering mothers.
Our mom

Casey and Brooke, she was 18 when 1929 Great Depression occurred

Robert, at 21 she voted for her first President, FDR

David, 22 it was a good year. Prohibition came to an end

At Jeff’s age, things became terrible for this world as Hitler invaded Poland and World War II began.

Grandma survived WWII, the death of Kennedy, the landing on the moon, 911 and almost made to the end of “Bush-that bastard’s” (her term) term of office. 

She was with us a long time, but not long enough. I always say at occasions like this “There are so few people who love you. It is such a loss to lose one.” This is one helluva loss.

Mom, you knew how to love. Oh how we will we all miss those hugs. Mommy, I love you so much.

PS 134’s Protector Speaks

Let’s teach our children that so much danger exists that their sweet kindergarten teacher must be packing a 9 mm while passing out the cookies and milk.

Fifty-eight years ago I proudly pinned upon my scrawny chest an AAA Safety Patrol Lieutenant’s badge.  P.S. 134’s students were mine to protect.  No running in the halls, no going up the “down” staircase, no pushing and no shoving.  Cross 18th Avenue only when Officer Potts tells you to.  Report kids to the principal for smuggling in gum.  After all, the school’s floors and desks needed protection, too.  It was my job, my duty. I would do it well.

We Proudly Protect
We Proudly Protect

Decades later I would find myself attending those mandatory teacher in-services at the beginning of each school year. Sitting in the school library, my fellow teachers and I would do our best to avoid nodding off as some overpaid pedagogical consultant drew Venn diagrams illustrating the latest educational technique enabling us to succeed with every student. Unequivocal research virtually guaranteed that test scores would rise, children would thrive and parents would laud us with praise. Of course, having heard this stuff before, we veteran teachers just feigned interest while surreptitiously setting up our grade books or jotting down bulletin board ideas.  Rarely did we learn anything new from these gurgling gurus. Most of us left with increased empathy for pupils compelled to sit at desks while being bombarded by tedium.

Blah, Blah Blah
Blah, Blah Blah

 Post Sandy Hook, every teacher I know yearns for a return to those waste-of-time in-services. The obsession for implementing educational magic bullets has been tragically replaced with a concern for real bullets. Now teachers plan for visitors packing guns rather than packing lunches. In 2013 it appears that the NRA and the ATF may have more impact in schools than the NEA and the AFT.  How I yearn to return to the day we worried about gum, not guns.

THEN

NOW
NOW

                                                                                                                                                                       

It is horrible that the naïve, innocent, secure world of the classroom has been turned into one of suspicion and fear.  In this old teacher’s bum eyes, that fear has resulted in overreaction coupled with well-intentioned dumb ideas.

Though incredibly tragic, school shootings are and will continue to be very rare events that predictably receive a tremendous amount of publicity. The slaughter of innocents causes deserved revulsion in all of us. Events incomprehensible, unpredictable, and possibly uncontrollable cause fear . . . excessive fear.

I know this is more an issue of the heart than the brain, but in order to evaluate risks, sometimes we have to utilize that less feeling part of our body.  In the last dozen years there have been slightly over 60 shootings in our nation’s 140,000 schools. Less than one school in 2,000 had a shooting in a 12-year span.  About 134 student and teachers have been slaughtered.  Three massacres alone accounted for 45 percent of those deaths. (Red Lake High School – 10, Virginia Tech – 33, Sandy Hook – 27). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_school_shootings_in_the_United_States

According to the U.S. Census there are over 77 million students enrolled in schools (preschool through college) in the U.S.  Doing the math, on average over the last dozen years about 11 students and teachers have been killed each year in their school. The odds of a student being slain in his or her place of learning during a school year are less than 1 in 7 million. Of course, no one rightly gives a damn about odds if someone you love is slaughtered, and all rightly-functioning people want the odds to be zero. However, emotion most often trumps math.  Math says that it is wacko to purchase lottery tickets, but many of us do, and we look forward to being gazillionaires. Gratefully, lottery emotion causes most of us little harm.

Fear Hurts
Fear Hurts

But school shooting emotion has led some of us to propose ridiculous and often dangerous ideas, schemes that will do little to protect our kids while exposing them to more danger while inculcating fear and distrust.  The most ridiculous and dangerous idea of all is to arm teachers and principals and the posting of armed guards to stop deeply disturbed,  heavily armed people bent on slaughter.

Note: Clearly, there is a need for police to be stationed at schools where there is a known risk of student-on-student violence. Many high schools already take that precaution. It goes without saying that protective actions must be immediately taken in response to known threats.

However, arming teachers or posting an armed security guard in every school is simply nuts. I can’t fathom why anyone would rationally consider these tactics. Ergo, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre is nuts!

ERGO
ERGO

But for Wayne and others who may think these are reasonable ideas, a few questions to ponder:

1. What are the odds that day after day when nothing is happening that your gun-toting sentry becomes unobservant and spends much of his/her day chatting with staff, or nibbling cookies in the teacher lounge?

2. What is the likelihood of a teacher getting into a tussle with a student only to have that gun turned on that teacher or innocents?  Hopefully, teachers aren’t going to shoot some kid who grabs them or is in a brawl with another kid. Consider the risk of an armed teacher intervening.

According to the FBI, “56 police officers were killed in the line of duty (in 2010). 38 were wearing body armor at the time of their deaths. Sixteen of the victim officers fired their own weapons, and seven officers attempted to use their own weapons. Seven victim officers had their weapons stolen; seven officers were killed with their own weapons.http://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/fbi-releases-preliminary-statistics-for-law-enforcement-officers-killed-in-2010

3. How likely is it that an inexperienced weapon holder will react quickly and properly when confronted by instant terror?  Last week, rightfully frightened police officers in Torrance, CA, injured two innocent people when they mistook two trucks for the vehicle of  Chris Dorner, the ex-cop who was on the hunt for police officers and their families.  Not only did these trained officers fire on innocents, riddling the vehicles with bullet holes, but their fire was incredibly ineffectual (thank goodness).

When Terrified Shoot
When Terrified – Shoot

http://articles.latimes.com/2013/feb/09/local/la-me-torrance-shooting-20130210

4. Does anyone out there truly believe that a disturbed person intent on killing six-year-olds will be deterred by the idea that a teacher may be armed?

5. How do we protect kids during recess, at after-school activities and on the way to school?  Do we pick them up in armored personnel carriers and have guard towers in the schoolyard?

6.  Guns are not too useful unless they are at the ready. How does one keep a weapon at the ready while teaching class? Does one tote it in a holster around one’s waist, or keep it in a purse, or store it in the desk drawer cocked with bullet chambered?  “Johnny, would you mind getting my Glock? It’s in the top drawer.”

We have been busy terrifying our children for years; we put faces on milk cartons, instructed them in “stranger danger” awareness (of course, most kids are hurt and molested by non-strangers) and now the ultimate:  Let’s teach our children that so much danger exists that their sweet kindergarten teacher must be packing a 9 mm while passing out the cookies and milk.  Must we endanger and terrify our children to protect them from a virtually nonexistent threat?

 Oh, for the days of kids getting in trouble for going up the “down” staircase!

THEN
THEN
NOW
NOW

 

An Assault Weapon Owner’s Embarrassing Confession

So why the hell do I have this thing? Why the hell do thousands of people possess this type of weapon? And most of all, why are people raving and screaming that it is their constitutional and God-given right to keep weapons that by definition are designed to cause bodily injury to another?

Over two months have passed, and I have contributed zip, nada, zero to Democracyinactionblog.com. No raves, no rants, no rhetoric . . . simply nothing. Why? Political exhaustion took its toll.

Mae West famously stated, “Too much of a good thing is wonderful.”  Well, Mae, sometimes it ain’t so.  My love and my passion for politics were satiated. I OD’d on MSNBC, Nate Silver, and Move On.  My inbox overflows with unread emails from Barack Obama.  I have had enough, more than enough.

Then, on Dec. 14, 2012, in Newtown, CT, 20 little kids were slaughtered.  I couldn’t write a goddamn word.  What could I say?  Besides, everyone was talking, most with compassion and some with stupidity.  What could Matt add?

Hurts the Heart
Hurts the Heart

Not a day goes by that that indelible scene of little children holding each other’s hands being led out of their elementary school does not bubble to the surface of my mind, causing my heart to ache.  This may be pompous, but now I believe this old guy might be able to add a little personal insight into the unending gun-rights debate.   So, I will add my insignificant but heartfelt thoughts in two parts.   In a few days l, as a veteran teacher, will comment on the myriad of suggestions for school safety, but first I need to speak, ashamedly, as an assault weapon owner.

I am a dad and I am a grandpa who loves his grandchildren beyond description. A dear friend of mine along with his brother, nephew and three employees were shot to death in a workplace attack nine years ago.  As a deer hunter, I own three high-powered hunting rifles.  I possess a 12-gauge shotgun to dispatch insatiable squirrels intent on destroying our Wisconsin cabin.  I have several handguns which were purchased for protection when I needed to respond to alarms at my workplace late at night and when I truly feel threatened and 911 is not an option.  AND I OWN AN ASSAULT WEAPON.

Ashamedly Mine
Ashamedly Mine

Mine is a Soviet-designed, Chinese-made military weapon.  The SKS is the predecessor of the infamous AK47 assault rifle.  My SKS chambers the same ammunition as an AK47 and is likewise a semi-automatic, rapid-fire weapon.  It is quickly loaded and reloaded using stripper clips holding ten 7.62X39-mm cartridges, but it can easily be retrofitted with a high-capacity magazine.  This weapon is designed for assault.

Stripper Clip-  For Qucik and Easy Loading
Stripper Clip- For Quick
and Easy Loading

as·sault

n.1. A violent physical or verbal attack.

2. a. A military attack, such as one launched against a fortified area or place.

    b. The concluding stage of an attack in which close combat occurs with the enemy.

3. Law a. An unlawful threat or attempt to do bodily injury to another.

                b. The act or an instance of unlawfully threatening or attempting to injure another.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/assault

This is an attack weapon, not a hunting weapon, not a weapon for defense.  It is designed to attack.  It was purchased at the Lake County Gun Show 20 or so years ago.  Its price was 60 bucks.  I was asked no questions nor required to fill out any forms.  I do possess a Fire Arms Identification Card, but if I didn’t have one, I could have had a friend buy the gun.  It was an impulse buy, stupid and easy.

Ready For Massacre
Ready For Massacre

So why the hell do I have this thing? Why the hell do thousands of people possess this type of weapon? And most of all, why are people raving and screaming that it is their constitutional and God-given right to keep weapons that by definition are designed to cause bodily injury to another?

My answer is: Blame Ralphie. If you don’t recall, Ralphie was the little kid who, even though it might shoot his eye out, yearned for a Red Ryder BB rifle in Christmas Story.  Ralphie needed a BB rifle no more than I needed an SKS.  Virtually no civilian needs an assault weapon.  An SKS may be more deadly, but like Ralphie’s BB rifle, it is a toy, an empowering, addictive toy.  Like alcohol or cocaine, weaponry provides the possessor with real or imagined power.  To pull the trigger on a high-powered weapon, and have it launch a metal-jacketed projectile hundreds of yards away where it tears objects to shreds, is for many otherwise normal men and sometimes women magical and almost mystical.  Having a 9mm Glock handgun under one’s coat is intoxicating.  Its purpose: more likely to puff up than protect.  It’s gotta be fun to imagine yourself a potential super-hero. It’s a trip. A trip you don’t want to cancel.

It'll Shoot Your Eye Out
It’ll Shoot Your Eye Out

I have had dozens of visitors to my farm shoot that SKS–professional people, liberal people, non-violent people–and the vast majority of them smile and can’t wait to reload.  It’s literally a blast.  We all laugh at the command, “Let’s go blow some shit up.”

A neighbor once came over and brought with him a single-shot, 50-cal sniper rifle. This thing is about five feet long and fires a bullet 1/2 inch in diameter. Its almost 6-inch-long cartridges cost about 10 bucks apiece.  The rifle itself costs in excess of $2,500. It can kill a man over a mile away, and unless one is in a war, it has no sensible use whatsoever.  Yet my unwarlike buddies and I yearned for the chance to put on the ear-protectors and fire this thing at a concrete wall 400 yards away.  Crazy, ridiculous, nuts and euphoric.  (This is embarrassing.)

Only 2500 and It'll Get em at 2000 yds
Only 2500 and It’ll Get em at 2000 yds

People simply don’t want to give up stuff that makes them feel good.   Those of you who have dieted, quit smoking or left a casino because you were out of chips know that feeling.  Most people stop using drugs or abusing alcohol neither from preaching nor from prohibitive laws, but rather when their lives or the lives of others fall apart.

Lives fell apart in Newtown.

For me, the slaughter of 20 little children by a madman has forever taken any possible joy out of firing that SKS of mine.  I will be turning it over to the Wilmette police this week.

Some toys are just not worth the cost. I can only hope that others feel the same way.

I’ll Show You Mine if You Show Me Yours

They may watch Fox, or MSNBC, but seldom both. They listen to either Rush Limbaugh or Ed Schultz, and confirm what they “learned” over a beer at the local bar, the church potluck, or while playing bridge. We read what we want to read, see what we want to see, and listen to what we want to hear. Is this dilemma insolvable? Pompously, I propose a solution.

 

The election is over.  Obama won; Romney was shellacked.   The New York Times’ Nate Silver has been showered with accolades and declared adept. Fox News’ Dick Morris was pummeled with ridicule and labeled inept.  The majority of my family members, self-proclaimed liberals, are both elated and relieved.  My conservative friends and family are surprised, deflated and scared.

Who’s Dick Morris?
Yes, It’s President Romney

The electoral vote has been tallied; Obama: 332, Romney: 206.  But we all know it’s not over.  This is a deeply divided country.  Where do we go from here?  It is readily apparent that many Americans are living in alternate and incompatible universes.

In 2012, eighty-four percent of our states voted just as they voted in 2008.  The talking-heads blamed Romney’s defeat and credited Obama’s victory on: rural vs. urban, old vs. young, single women vs. marrieds, takers vs. makers, black vs. white vs. brown, the top one percent vs. food stamp recipients.

“Versus” was, and is the dominant theme of American politics.  Opposing beliefs are so strident that talk of secession abounds.  Incredibly this extreme action is being supported by seemingly credible politicians. http://paul.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2029:secession-are-we-free-to-go&catid=64:2012-texas-straight-talk&Itemid=69

The 2012 election did not take place in fifty states; it took place in just nine: Ohio, Florida, Iowa, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Virginia, Nevada, Colorado and Pennsylvania.  Less than 20 percent of our states were bombarded with ads and/or visits by the candidates.  Forty one states were simply taken for granted; they were simply ignored.   Illinois or Hawaii citizens rarely saw Presidential ads; Obama and Romney visited them not for the purpose of earning their votes, but rather to garner cash for  the purpose of  cajoling swayable voters in those nine anointed states.  Likewise, Mississippi and Alabama were ignored; their voting preferences were assumed.   Not surprisingly, they voted overwhelmingly Republican.  Why would they not?  They never heard from the Dems.

Since four out of five states in election after election are considered irrelevant, the citizens of these deeply blue or red states are self-educated; they are political home-schoolers.  They are introduced to and confronted with few new ideas.  Rarely are they challenged to question their belief system. Views are reinforced by neighbors who share their political preferences, religious beliefs and prejudices.  They may watch Fox, or MSNBC, but seldom both. They listen to either Rush Limbaugh or Ed Schultz, and confirm what they “learned” over a beer at the local bar, the church potluck, or while playing bridge.

The more Internet-savvy, younger Blues and Reds post tidbits from The Drudge Report or The Daily Kos.  They self-select, share, and agree.  The result: opinions harden, mistruths remain unchallenged, and our nation’s divide becomes less bridgeable.

We read what we want to read, see what we want to see, and listen to what we want to hear.  Is this dilemma insolvable?  Pompously, I propose a solution.  In the 1950’s there was a well-intentioned but now fingernail-scraping-on -blackboard uncomfortable program called, “Take a Negro to Lunch Day.”   As repulsive as this now sounds, its intention was well-meaning.  It was a crude attempt to facilitate communication between peoples of different life experiences for the purpose of bringing them together.  I suggest a similar program, but with the more acceptable name, the I’ll Show You Mine, If You Show Me Yours Program.  I outline the program’s steps below:

A.  Find a person you can tolerate on a personal level, but with whom you have diametrically opposing political beliefs. Simply put, you consider him or her a political moron but a nice person and he or she feels the same about you.

B.  Set aside one two hour session per week for four consecutive weeks when both parties can meet alternately in each other’s living room, den or home theatre.  Avoid conflicts with Monday Night Football, or Celebrity Apprentice.

I am unbiased

C.  At each session, the host will choose a politically charged show to view.  The conservative host might choose Sean Hannity,and the progressive’s choice could be Rachel Maddow. The host also gets to choose pork rinds or imported brie as a snack,

D. Watch the show together, unarmed, and in SILENCE.  Following the show, discuss what you have seen and heard.  Calmness and lack of violence would truly help.

I am fair and balanced

Perhaps just perhaps, somebody might learn something.

 

One last word:  It is my strongly held belief that truth rarely lies squarely in the center between the extremes… Rachel Maddow and Sean Hannity may both be dramatic and strident, but one of them is more often factually correct.   I leave that for you to decide when you and your friend agree to participate in I’ll Show You Mine if You Show Me Yours.

Where’s the Brie

“STUPID IS STUPID DOES?”

For me, these results are mindboggling. It is not staggering that “socialist” candidate Obama would be more concerned than Bain Capitalist Romney regarding health care, education, immigration and tree hugging. An economist rating him stronger on crime and defence is moderately surprising, but rating Obama preferable on the economy, is flat out astounding.

I am sitting in the waiting room of the Cook County Circuit Court.  I wait to see if my number is called. I may well spend the next few days determining if a podiatrist is culpable for the minor limp of a 78 year old Cicero resident or  perhaps deciding whether a construction company owes its sewer subcontractor for installing 72 extra manhole covers.  Oh, I hope not.  I want to go hunting in Wisconsin.

I would much prefer to be in my tree stand listening for the slightest sound indicating Bambi’s papa is about  to appear. We want venison brats. Yet, if my number is called, I will do my duty for the one branch of government designed to protect the little guy.

I start a blog entry;  I promised Nathan that I would.  Being in a court, I consider composing an article on the possible effect of November’s election on the Supreme Court.  Fortuitously,  as I am about to hit that first key, my equally bored neighbor returns a copy of  The Economist  to the magazine rack which Rahm Emanuel so thoughtfully provided for the distraction of  bored potential jurors.

The Gurus Speaketh

Wait a minute; screw the Supreme Court idea. James Carville brilliantly said in the 1992 Presidential campaign, “It’s the economy, stupid.”  And sitting before me is the October 6th-12th issue of a highly respected magazine devoted to economics, and within its covers are the results of  a poll in which  “hundreds of professional academic and business economists” were queried as to “who would do a better job” on ten issues of the upcoming campaign.

As an Obama supporter, it was with great trepidation that I perused the tabulations. We are constantly bombarded with the theorem that Romney has the edge when it comes to economic expertise.  Well folks, here are the results:

WHO WOULD DO BETTER?  (note: percentages do not add up to 100%; evidently lots of economists can’t make up their minds )

On the deficit – Romney (42-38)

On health care – Obama (47-36)

On education – Obama (46-30)

On immigration – Obama (44-35)

On the environment – Obama(46-25)

On foreign policy – Obama (45-35)

On defence (The Economist has British roots) – Obama (40-39)

On crime – Obama (34-30)

On abortion – Obama (48-32)

And finally (actually, they listed this category first, but I like suspense):

ON THE ECONOMY (Obama 43 -41)

For me, these results are mind-boggling.  It is not staggering that “socialist” candidate Obama would be more concerned than Bain Capitalist Romney regarding health care, education, immigration and tree hugging. An economist rating him stronger on crime and defense is moderately surprising, but rating Obama preferable on the economy, is flat out astounding.

To be fair, The Economist points out that a disproportionate number of academic economists are Democrats; this is less so among business economists.  When the pollsters separated out these two groups, the latter rated Romney slightly higher on handling the economy than Obama.  Why are academic economists more likely Democrats and business economists more apt to be Republicans? I leave that to another blog.

Whatever your political leanings, I think one can conclude that these respected professional economists are pretty mixed on who is more likely to repair and strengthen our country’s economy. So folks, when it comes to voting for either one of these men, and you make your choice based on one area…choosing the economy is simply STUPID.

Economies are incredibly complex.  Global events beyond any President’s control affect the economy.   Presidents are greatly impeded or aided by his or her Congress.  Economic strategies can and do change with the times. Simply put, Presidents get the credit and blame for results that they have limited control over. So friends, forget the economy…neither candidate is likely to have the panacea.

Thus, sitting in the waiting room of the Cook County Circuit Court, I conclude that the area of our government, and indirectly our lives most impacted by this consequential election will be another court, The Supreme Court.

THE SUPREMES

 

Some facts:

Justices are likely to serve more than a quarter century.

The average age of the present justice is a bit over 67.

Four of the nine justices are over the age of 74.

Four of the nine have surpassed the life expectancy at the year of their birth.

THE COMING SUPREME COURT

If Romney serves two terms, it is likely he would appoint a minimum of 4 justices.

If Obama is re-elected and Hillary follows,  they would likely appoint a minimum 6 justices.

The Supreme Court is the ultimate safeguard of our government. Its job: preventing a tyranny of the majority over the minority.

The Supreme Court is the ultimate safeguard of excess from the other two branches.

It protects and preserves the most basic tenets of our government.

Only one justice has been denied confirmation in modern times, and a mere twelve were blocked since our country’s founding.  Presidents get their candidates confirmed.

A sampling of policies and freedoms that are likely to be affected by future Supreme Court decisions:

Environmental Protection

Campaign Finance

Freedom of Choice

Affirmative Action

Capital Punishment

Gay Marriage and Gay Rights

Voter Suppression and Voter Protection

Labor Rights

Regulation of Financial Institutions

Vouchers for Religious Schools

Separation of Church and State

Rights of the Accused

Privacy Rights

Freedom of Speech

Possible expansion of the 2nd Amendment

Conclusion:  It’s the Supreme Court, Stupid.

Oops… They just called my number: “Panel 16 Dismissed”.  I’m going home; watch out Bambi’s pop.

THEORY OF STUPIDITY

Prozac…. I need Prozac

In the Twenty First century, style trumps substance, even if that substance is substantially subterfuge.

Usually I ask my readers to point out typos, punctuation and/or spelling errors.  However in this piece, please ignore any commas in the wrong place, and any “i’s” before “e’s” in the presence of “c’s”

I am not thinking clearly; I am terribly distressed.  I have recurring nightmares; I can’t stop perseverating.  I can’t watch Chris Matthews or Rachel Maddow.  I turn off NPR.  No, I didn’t put my hand in my power saw again.   I watched the debate.  My lord, I am suffering from PTDSD, post traumatic debate stress disorder.

Mitt? Mitt?

Hubristically I declared in my last Democracyinactionblog.com  article that debates rarely matter and likened them to over- hyped professional wrestling matches.   Who would have thunk that when confronted with a well-prepared, truth- be-damned Romney, the President would perform like an overtired, wedding-anniversary-celebrant debilitated by altitude sickness?  It happened, and I am devastated.  “Mitt” –  can you imagine a President Mitt?

 

Okay,  Obama lost a debate, life should go on.  After all, I have a great wife, good kids and perfect grandkids. Yet truth be told, I am incapacitated by fear.  I am overwhelmed by the horrifying thought that post-debate Obama will lose; Romney will win, and our government will be in the control of deranged paranoid nincompoops.

Wait, “deranged paranoid”!  My god, I am a deranged paranoid, and so are many of Romney’s base.  But we are deranged paranoid polar opposites.

Control Yourself

They are afraid of change; change they cannot control. They are afraid of living in a country inhabited by people of different skin tones.  They distrust the unfamiliar.  They fear gay couples being their neighbors.   They are afraid America won’t be the mightiest military nation in the world.  They are panic-stricken when science informs us that our planet is in distress; that we had better change our ways and curb our appetites.  They are terrified that their little daughters will reject abstinence in favor of those pills and rubber thingees.  They are deeply afraid of a modern world where science trumps religion, and solutions are complicated.  They yearn to go back to a world that no longer exists and perhaps never existed.  They seem to yearn for a return to the Ozzie and Harriet world of the 1950’s. But perhaps, they would most prefer to wake up in 1773 and witness the real Boston tea party.

Perfect Romney Look-a-Like Family Portrait

 

It appears to this writer that the only hope for human survival, let alone prosperity, is to be creative, to be scientific, to value new thoughts and solutions, and to expand opportunity.  But for my opposite deranged paranoids on the right side of the aisle, the solution is to retract, to annul and to repress.  The framers of our constitution were the brightest of their time.  They were original thinkers and scientists; they composed a ground -breaking instrument that was both radical and malleable for the future.  Here comes that PTDSD again…. Mitt, not Mitt!

Obama, by all accounts failed on style during his debacle debate.   Pundits say his “substance” was passable, but Romney excelled on style.  In the Twenty First century, style trumps substance, even if that substance is substantially subterfuge. .(Note: PTDSD often causes excessive alliteration)  Terrifyingly , Obama seemingly failed to take modernity into account, and thus Romney’s floundering campaign morphed into a  viable one.  Will my country be viable with a lie-able President Romney?

I’m Style … He’s Substance

The nightmare:  If Mitt is elected, the odds are that he will get to appoint one to three Supreme Court justices.   If that occurs, I would suggest that we formally rename our highest judicial body The Supremely Conservative Court.  I fear this court’s mission would likely be to annul, repeal and repress decisions that have provided opportunity to so many, and allowed this country to become a nation of modernity.   It is only by the will and dint of our courts that minorities and women have gained a voice, that dissenting views could be heard, that science is not silenced by superstition, that the worker and the accused are protected, and the power of the wealthiest people and institutions are held in check.

For those of you who have any doubt.  I give you Justice Scalia’s words uttered a few days ago,

God Bless the 18th Century

“The death penalty? Give me a break. It’s easy. Abortion? Absolutely easy. Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion. Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state,” Scalia said at the American Enterprise Institute. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/05/antonin-scalia-abortion-gay-rights_n_1942068.html

Imagine a court with six Scalia-like justices; now you know what PDTSD feels like.   Prozac, anyone?

Last word…. Please, please Joe give em’ hell; I   need a break.

Wednesday Nite Fights

The upcoming contest is in many ways like a WWE wrestling event: well planned, great build up, unlimited expectations, great announcing, faux anger, a little humor, coupled with much show and bluster

Wednesday, October 3, 2012  is the BIG night, the face off, the supreme contest, the ultimate battle, the main event.

Oct 3 2012

At 9:00 pm,  Eastern Standard Time drums will roll; trumpets will trumpet as PBS  CSPAN, ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, CNN, MSNBC and, for all I know, Animal Planet and Nickelodeon  broadcast the first 2012 Presidential Debate from the University of Denver .  Fifty million Americans will be holding their collective breaths as Mitt and Barack will go at it mano a mano after months of sparing, preparation and coaching.  Oh, the thrill of it all!  Oh, the anticipation.

Jim Lehrer will do his best to keep the combatants on target and the action going.  Hannity,  Matthews,  Maddow,  Blitzer, Cooper, plus a phalanx of  commentators, and seemingly anyone with coiffed hair who has mouthed the word “Republican” or “Democrat” will  be at the ready  to  interpret, analyze and unequivocally declare the winner the millisecond the spent debaters break from their obligatory, phony, final handshake.

Networks will electronically monitor focus groups composed of “undecided” voters.  Their reactions to each thrust and parry will be compiled and analyzed.  It does, however, appear outrageous to me that the opinions of this cohort, arguably the most uninformed, timid, and indecisive group of our citizenry, have great predictive validity and should be of interest to anyone with a functioning brain.

In the days following the big debate the American public will be relentlessly bombarded with video snippets of bruising punches, painful jabs, inglorious misses, below-the-belt hits and maybe, just maybe, a KNOCKOUT blow.

Presidential debates have little impact
And the President Is

Truth be told, most research indicates that Presidential debates have little or no impact on actual voting.  (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/29/obama-romney-debates_n_1925690.html )  Most voters at this late stage in the game  have their minds made up,  and they ain’t likely to change.

We the people have seen Obama react to real crises and deal with countless reporters’ questions and challenges.  Romney has been running for the public office for years,  and for the Presidency since 2008.  Aware citizens know how these men react; they have seen their skills lauded and their gaffs ridiculed.  The most likely effect of a candidate’s performance, and I mean performance, is to not change but rather to reinforce opinions already held.

Few past debates have affected outcomes of elections. Perhaps the two most famous of these were the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon debate and the 1980 Reagan-Carter match-off.  The 1960 debate was pivotal neither because of words spoken nor opinions stated, but rather because of sweat and 5 o’clock shadow.  Nixon was incredibly non-telegenic and Kennedy glimmered like a cool and collected young rock star.    In 1980 when Carter and Reagan were running neck and neck, Reagan used his honed thespian skills to undo the plain-talking peanut-farmer candidate.

Performance in debates has little impact on election results
Who does your hair?

Decades later it seems likely that make-up artists, media savvy personnel,  and script preparation greatly lower the likelihood of an impactful debate.  Thus despite all the hoopla, October 3 will likely make for a pretty uneventful evening and have little effect on November 6th.

Why expect otherwise?   Each candidate has his must-include-lines memorized; lines which will be utilized as answers, even if they do not fit the question asked.  Mitt and Barack both have clever gotcha’s and zingers, and given the slightest opportunity to get a laugh, generate some audience applause,  or embarrass  the foe; they will be launched.

The upcoming contest is in many ways like a WWE wrestling event: well planned, great build up, unlimited expectations, great announcing, faux anger, a little humor, coupled with much show and bluster.  However, occasionally, something goes wrong; reality breaks out, blood is drawn and wrestling history made.

That history will be made next Wednesday – doubtful.  Fifty million viewers including me sitting on the edge of their seats watching and waiting for that unlikely history-making knockout  –  non-debatable.  Let’s get the popcorn ready.

My Grandpa Harry
Bare-Knuckled Debater

My Friend George Dunn, Citizen

The ability to modify and change ones view of the world is uniquely human. George was an honest man, a decent American, a citizen. For George, it was simple and obvious: citizens don’t attempt to buy elections; citizens don’t exploit the ignorance, the fears, and the prejudices of others. Citizens don’t deny the people’s lawful right to vote. Citizens are not driven by greed and avarice; they are driven by a sense of what is good; what is fair; and what is compassionate.

“We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.

As citizens, we understand that America is not about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us, together, through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government.” President Obama, Democratic National Convention, Sept. 6, 2012.

Forty four years ago I met George Dunn. I lost my dear George just a few days before President Obama delivered his acceptance speech uttering those elegant words in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Though George had stage four lung cancer, we were both certain that we would be sitting together watching the election returns in November.  It won’t happen.  I am sad.

Lt. George W. Dunn Jr.

The tall, good- looking, bright, young man from America’s heartland whom I met in the fall of 1968 was the iconic American. He was certainly not anything like me, a 5’9″, 140 pound Jewish kid raised in a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn. George was a big man, a handsome man, well over six feet and 200 pounds, with a deep radio announcer voice.  Born and raised in Bloomington, Indiana, he successfully battled polio as a child; his dad owned the local Dr. Pepper bottling plant.  His mother was a “Seward” a pioneer Bloomington family.  George graduated from Indiana University where he played center on the football team, was a “Young Republican “, read Ayn Rand, and was a member of ROTC.  Continue reading “My Friend George Dunn, Citizen”