Saturday, May 25, 2013

It's Official: Government Investing In Green Energy Works

Or, when was the last time someone on Wall Street borrowed money, and paid it back nine years early?

It's Official: The Bush Tax Cuts Were A Failure

And here's a Republican to tell you why.

Apparently, They CAN Build 'Em Like They Used To

As a preservationist who has seen many old buildings saved and restored with the aid of modern resources, I have often wondered why their isn't more new construction that embraces the stylistic virtues of earlier ages.

Well, apparently, I'm not alone.  In fact, two people are actually doing something about it.  I applaud them for doing so, and I hope and pray they are joined by many more.

A Marxian Reaffirmation From A Bangladesh Tragedy

This story, even stemming as it does from the horror of the recent factory tragedy in Bangladesh, offers the freshest hope that I have had in a long time for the progress of worker's rights.

It's been fairly obvious for some time now that the shipping of American jobs overseas gave the companies doing the shipping enormous leverage over the lives of American workers.  Take these diminished salaries and benefits (or, no benefits at all, for that matter), or your jobs will be exported before you know it.  And, so long as other countries raced to the bottom in cheapening labor, they could go on saying this and living up to their words.

But now, perhaps, not anymore.  Perhaps Bangladesh will be the place where worker's rights rise from the bottom, and start to create a world-wide level playing field.  Will you feel the cost at the cash register?  Perhaps.  But that will be offset by the difference in your paycheck.  All of the recent political nonsense about austerity has led many people to forget a simple economic point, one preached over and over again by Paul Krugman:  your spending is someone else's income, and their spending is your income as well.

So, as Karl Marx once urged, workers of the world should unite.  They have nothing to lose but their chains, and a world to win.  And they can win it by remembering that all of us are workers and consumers--and, in both ways, we need to support each other.

In Baltimore, The Inmates Truly ARE Running The Asylum

I take a lot of pride in living in Maryland, a state in which blue politics are not only practiced, but practiced successfully.  An expanding social welfare state with a balanced budget, a growing economy, a thriving cultural and educational sphere--above all, political leaders who respond to, and make decisions based on facts, not fantasies.

Which is what makes a story like this so hard to take.

It's bad enough when prisoners find ways to pursue a criminal life even when behind bars.  But there is absolutely no excuse for corrections officials to enable the prisoners.  They're being paid to punish and/or rehabilitate those in their charge, not to become business (or worse, sexual) partners with them.  Do they have no idea how or why they got their jobs?  Did someone forget to tell them that they're accountable to the citizens of Maryland, their ultimate employers?

Even worse is the suggestion that somehow, the problem could be solved with more education.  I'm sorry, but it doesn't take higher education to understand that, if you're hired to guard prisoners, your duties don't include having sex with them.  And, if you can't protect yourself from the prisoners, why should anyone expect you to protect the public from them?

Martin O'Malley, Maryland's governor, clearly has not paid enough attention to the management of corrections facilities in his state.  That has to change, from top to bottom, and right now.  And not merely because of his presidential ambitions.

No state can be considered blue if it is neither safe nor civilized.  And, if a state has prisons being run by the prisoners, it calls into question whether it can ever be either truly safe or civilized.

Oklahoma And The Political Whirlwind

In Moore, Oklahoma, a natural disaster has once again illuminated the unnatural disaster of our current politics.

A tornado devastated a small town in Middle America, a town that had been previously hit by a twister.  Lives were lost.  Millions of dollars of property was destroyed.  And how did we respond?

There was a time in our national life when, in a crisis of this nature, the American people would have mobilized every resource at its disposal.  Volunteers.  Medical providers. Non-profits collecting donations and funneling aid.  And, of course, the federal government would have marshalled its own resources, and coordinated the efforts of others.  No questions asked.  Not an inch of hesitation, of debate, of doubt.

In short, we would have worked together.  Us. Working.  Together.

But, in 21st-century America, a nation that seems to be slowly fading in imperial twilight, we think it's enough to say a prayer.  Let God do all the work and, by all means, let's get back to the trivial pursuit of our trivialized lives.

Don't believe me?  You don't have to.  Take a look at Facebook, our electronic town hall.  Any number of posts, "liked" by any number of people, to pray for the victims.  Little, if anything, that would suggest heeding the words of John Kennedy, to make God's work truly our own.

Because, golly, that would mean really spending time and effort and (heaven forbid) money to solve the problem.  And we just don't do that anymore in America, where selfishness is a virtue.  (Ayn Rand, our new Profit--pun intended--said so.)

I'm not against prayer.  But I take the Bible seriously when is says that faith without works is dead.  The answer to the cries for help from Moore is not the application of another religious bumper-sticker to the back of your SUV.  Oklahomans expect more.  Even if the media aren't paying attention to their expectations.

On the other hand, why should I be surprised by bumper-sticker religion when our politics descended to that level decades ago?  The Moore crisis illuminates that, too.  Even Oklahoma's senators aren't running to the rescue of their home state.  They're much too compromised by their own budget-cutting hypocrisy to do so.  Even so, one of them, Tom Coburn, sees this as the perfect opportunity to practice divide-and-conquer politics.  How Barack Obama can be friends with a professional opportunist like Coburn is beyond me.

Sadly, the tornado tragedy does not end at the town borders of Moore.  It reaches into the very soul of our country, and leads us to wonder whether it still has one.

You want to please God?  Good.  Get off your knees and open your eyes.  Donate.  Give blood.  And call your Congressperson and demand that our government and our tax dollars be use to take care of people in need--without prejudicing the needs of others.

We've prayed enough, already.  If we have faith, let's show it through our works, and work together not only to heal the town of Moore, but America as well.

UPDATE, 5/25/13:  Maybe there's some room for hope after all.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

On The Other Hand, With Republicans Like These ...

... maybe I won't need to encourage party-switching.  Thank you, Governor Haslam, for rejecting the "ag gag" rule, and for promoting open government in the process.

Good, They're Finally Waking Up (Part 4)

May many more Republicans follow the example of Pablo Pantoja, and reject intolerance by switching parties.  And I'm not just advocating switching to the Democratic party, either.  Go Green, if you want to; the Democrats could use some competition on the left.

And Perhaps We Wouldn't Need To Worry About Fracking ...

... if all of us followed the examples of millennials and drove less.

My only concern about the contents of this article:  the lack of driver's licenses among these commuters.  Please, people, get them, even if it's JUST TO REGISTER TO VOTE!

Will Ripping Apart The Earth Bring Us Together?

Apparently, the potential for that exists with fracking.  Take a look.

Today's Electric Car Q & A

Question:  When is green technology not a failure?

Answer:  When conservative businessmen attempt to legislate it out of business.

Sorry, guys.  The Tesla, and the revolution it represents, is here to stay.

Is It Enought To Just "Cut" Carbon Dioxide?

Sadly, no, as this article points out.  The good news, however, is that we can not only extract it from the air, but reuse it to make fuel, as it later goes on to point out.

This simply reinforces the need to transition from a consumption-based economy to a recycling-based economy, one that conserves resources and maintains our lifestyle at the same time that it generates jobs.  Every day we fail to start making that transition is an opportunity deferred--and perhaps, at some point, destroyed.

Conservative "Research," Or The Art Of Attaching Footnotes To Fear

This Slate article about Jason Richwine is particularly relevant now, because of its connection to the current national debate over comprehensive immigration reform.  But, in another sense, it would be relevant at any time in the past 35 to 40 years, as so-called conservative "think tanks" have come to dominate the national political debate over almost everything.

Organizations like the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute and the rest of their ilk exist not to conduct independent research, without concern about its outcome.  They exist to attach the form of such research to the pre-conceived biases of their well-heeled funders.  It is a foregone conclusion that any studies they have conducted producing anything that even looks like it might be a "liberal" result has never, and will never, see the light of day.

The problem, of course, is that reality isn't relentlessly conservative, any more than it is relentlessly liberal.  And, in the case of the point that Richwine was trying to make--and, believe me, he was trying very, very hard to make it--no amount of empirical study can produce a result to justify a "fact" that is merely the manifestation of a feeling.  In this case--indeed, with modern conservatives, in almost all cases--that feeling is, purely and simply, hate.

Why do organizations like Heritage get funded in the first place, in that case?  For reasons that reflect both the modest extent to which intellectualism has triumphed in our culture, and the extent to which intellectualism has its primary weakness.  Richard Hofstadter was correct in documented the extent to which anti-intellectualism in American life, but that hasn't stopped our society from becoming more educated and, in the process, more willing to rely on empirical data.  At the same time, intellectuals pride themselves on the open-mindedness to anything that appears to be supported by such data, and conservatives know it.  So they go out of their way to create "research" that appears to be statistically rigorous solely for the purpose of turning it into a political club--one with which they can beat up liberals while they shout "Why aren't you open-minded enough to accept our research?"

The short, simple and direct answer should always be, "Because it isn't real research."  However, explaining why is not a bumper-sticker process that can easily be conducted in a sixty-second culture.  And that's the only reason these so-called "think tanks" appear to win any of their arguments with their counterparts on the left.  It does not matter that their science is shoddy because, as long as they continue to master the art of attaching footnotes to hate, they can triumph in a what-happened-lately culture that, by definition, exults form over substance.

I pray that this pseudo-research does not get it the way of comprehensive immigration reform.  And I also pray for the day (soon) when it completely loses its foothold in our nation's political debate.

"The Scandals Are Falling Apart"

So says Ezra Klein.  Ah, but who predicted it before he did?  That's right!  You're welcome.

Ordinarily, I would not have been willing to go out on a limb, knowing that damaging information has a tendency to dribble out one leak at a time.  But, apart from the reasons detailed in Kline's piece, which is by far the best one I've read so far about the so-called "scandal trifecta" (OK, I'm the one who "so-called" it, but it's Preakness weekend here in Maryland, so forgive me), I had other reasons (to mix metaphors) to think that this particular media souffle would fall quickly.

First of these is the one quality of Republicbullies that always shines through everything else:  their rank and unapologetic hypocrisy.  They have no business complaining about politically-motivated conduct, especially the investigative kind:  they invented the art form, in the name of protecting the Republic.  History is filled with examples going back to Nixon and earlier, but be assured:  it didn't stop with Watergate.  There are examples here, here and here.  The latter is especially instructive: it shows that this trend went right through the Bush Administration, and that, to the extent that it existed in the Obama Administration at all, it involved liberal and conservative groups. 

Of course, the GOP never objects to liberal groups being targeted because, to them, freedom is the "freedom" to be a conservative, and nothing else.  But that doesn't even stopping them from calling out Eric Holder for conducting an investigation they authorized him to conduct!  And, in the process, they may have set back their own war on terror.

Second, to the extent that any of this is truly a scandal, the scandal is fully on them, for going beyond the manipulation of evidence to the manufacturing of it.  Want evidence of that?  Take a look.  For that matter, take another one.  As Rachel Maddow has pointed out, this is as much a press scandal as anything else, and the press should treat it that way.

But the real scandal?  Oh, you'll never here about that one from the Republicbullies.  It's the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision that generated the explosion in so-called "social welfare" tax-exempt entities that are the worst kind of political fronts.  It's bad enough that some mainstream media criticism of it is starting to emerge.  Here are some examples from U.S. News & World Report and the Los Angeles Times, making the same case that liberal blogs are making.  This sort of criticism from their corporate flacks has already gotten the Republicbullies worried; they're speaking out in favor of their political tax shelters.  This is reason enough to worry that bullying might work once again, and intimidate the IRS from doing its job.

And that's precisely what will happen, as long as everyone follows the corporate media sideshow and fails to get involved, learn the facts, and fight like hell not just for truth, but for freedom itself.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The "Failure" Of Obama's Green Agenda

Failure?  Remember how Tesla, the electric car company, was supposed to symbolize the "failure" of both the stimulus and green investment?

Guess again.

What Democrats Can Learn From Elliott County, Kentucky

After reading this, I'm convinced that all Democrats operating at the national level should spend at least a week in Elliott County--not only to reconnect with their basic values, but also to learn, once again how to articulate them to a larger audience.

We live in an age in which the other side has moved from conservatism to crypto-fascism.  We can't afford to lose a single vote anywhere.

How Much More Evidence Do You Need?

Climate change is NOT a hoax.  It is real, and it may already be too late.

And the desperation in the arguments from the other side is getting worse. That should tell you what the real hoax is.

Next Time You Hear Someone Say Obama's Bankrupting The Economy ...

... do yourself and them a favor and show them this.

And then remind them of how much bigger it would be if their party could put the good of the country ahead of their lust for power.

The Real Reason To Worry About "Big Government"

I tend to doubt it, but I hope that this will make it clear that the right-wing obsession with Benghazi is all about the 2016 presidential election.  The White House appears to be Hillary's to lose, and the GOP knows it doesn't have a prayer--except, possibly, that they can turn Benghazi into a partisan club.

Not a chance, folks.  Benghazi only proves how tough it can be to protect Americans in the Middle East, especially when the outraged are the ones who (a) cut funding for embassy security and (b) ignored the 60 similar deaths on their watch in the Bush years.

And the currently building kerfuffle over IRS agents flagging Tea Party tax files?  Probably a snafu by career bureaucrats--a number of whom got their jobs in the Bush years, and have an incentive to embarrass their current boss.  Isn't going to go anywhere, either.

But there is a reason to worry about big government taking over our lives.  It's the party that spends most of the time warning us about "big government," getting some people to look one way while they destroy the country from another direction.  And they're prepared to do it in the most personal ways possible, by sterilizing women who have had abortions.

They're not even hiding how bad they are anymore.  If that doesn't make you worry about what is now clearly the greater threat to your personal freedom, you will be responsible for the death of America.  Stop watching the mainstream media sideshow, and start paying attention to what is happening anywhere and everywhere that Republicbullies are in charge.

Right now.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

What The Third World Can Teach Us About Economics

I saw this article the other day in The New York Times, and wanted to weep both with sadness and joy.  Sadness, because of the health risks people in the Third World are willing to undertake simply to extract tiny amounts of value out of our discarded gadgets.  And joy because, perhaps unintentionally, these same people are teaching us about the path the 21st-century economy should take, as well as reminding us what real entrepreneurism is.

The 20th century was the age of "disposable" products.  I put "disposable" in quotes because, in point of fact, nothing is truly disposable.  We simply take raw materials, transform them into products and then, ultimately, transform them into "waste," which doesn't always mean that they are destroyed.  They're just occupying space in a dump somewhere.  Out of sight and, sadly, out of mind.  But not out of our ecology and, therefore, not outside of our health.

We desperately need to evolve from a consumption based economy to a recycle economy.  That doesn't mean compromising our lifestyle; it means finding sane ways in which to save it by understanding that, not only are resources finite, but transforming and disposing of them has dangers as well, both obvious and hidden.  If desperate people in pour countries can retrieve precious metals through the most primitive of means, imagine how much more we could retrieve and reuse if private industry, supported by public policy, was geared toward recycling of goods to the maximum possible extent.  Then those resources could be retrieved efficiently and safely, and continue to enrich our lives over and over again.

One side effect of this:  as the supply of resources was being maintained through this process, the costs of both producing and purchasing the goods would stay under control.  And any number of new jobs would be created by the need to recycle, offsetting the loss of jobs as old sources of raw materials diminish.

Which brings me to my second point.  To be an entrepreneur in the truest sense is to be a risk-taker.  The Third World gatherers of precious metals are literally putting their lives on the line simply to support themselves.  Where is that kind of initiative to be found in the United States?  Measured by that standard, we do not have entrepreneurs; we have state capitalists.   We have, for example, banks whose reserves are swollen not only by money they refuse to lend, but by payments from the Federal government--payments that, if cut, would pay for the end of the so-called sequester.  To a child in Head Start, whose life is not much better than his or her Third World counterparts, this would (sorry, Shakespeare) be the kindest cut of all.

We think we have so little to learn, both from other countries and the poor.  Nothing could be further from the truth:  they have everything to teach us.  And, if we learn it, we might save ourselves.  From ourselves.

The Mark Of A REAL Man

What makes a real man?  Is it who he sleeps with?  Or is it the way he conducts his life outside of the bedroom as well?

Those who hunger for the good old days when "men were men," and practiced "old-school values," might be a little surprised to learn something about the ultimate gridiron embodiment of those values:  Vincent Lombardi.  The man who said "Winning isn't everything.  It is the only thing."  The man who coached in a hard-nosed, never-give-an-inch style, always demanding more of his players when they had already done their best.  The man who believed in the concept of being a role model, on and off the field.

To my utter surprise, it turned out that one of Lombardi's old school values was tolerance.  Not just toward different races and religions, but also for the love that dare not (until more recently) speak its name.  Don't believe me?  I don't blame you.  Nevertheless, it's true.

Lombardi understood, as fewer and fewer people do nowadays, that real American exceptionalism consists not of depending on one type of person, but on everyone.  Not on depending on "stars," but on the entire team.  And not on ostracizing those who are different, but on finding a place where they can fit in.

We seem to have forgotten about that type of exceptionalism.  Maybe learning more about Lombardi can help us to recall it, and promote it.  That is, if we really care about "old-school values."

Are New Franchises Really A "Gamble"?

I saw this recently in Variety, and it gave me hope.  Alas, it proved to be false hope.

I interpreted the headline to mean that Hollywood was giving up its addiction to the tried and true, sliced thinly and sauced with special effects, and then spread out over several "episodes.  Then I read the article, and was reminded that nothing changes in Hollywood.  You know what they're "gambling" on?  New franchises.  And, in the case of "The Lone Ranger," it's not so new:  a Western classic with Johnny Depp as a Pirates-of-the-Caribbean-style Tonto.

Only in Hollywood could something so old be passed off as "new."  What would really be new would be fresh stories, stand-alone films and a steady supply of new talent (as opposed to over-priced has-beens).  In other words, Hollywood from the 1930s to the early 1970s.  A time, I might point out, in which our politics as well as our culture was ready to embrace things that were new and challenging.  A time when much of what is now worshiped as "iconic" was actually being created.

America doesn't seem to function that way anymore.  The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave is now The Land of the Retread and the Home of the Shopworn.  If it is true that we are a conservative nation, we are conservative in the very worst sense:  too tired and timid to embrace something that hasn't already been hugged to death.

Look, I'll admit:  I just saw "Iron Man 3" tonight.  I grew up on Marvel Comics, and am thrilled that movies are now being made from them.  But I don't want to live in a culture where all movies are comic-book movies any more than I want to see one kind of building, wear one kind of clothes or eat one kind of food.  I have always trusted a culture in which anything is possible and everything has a chance.  A culture that doesn't just stand on one leg and pray that the leg doesn't break.  A culture that is supported and energized by everyone, because everyone has a place in it.

Conservatives are right about one thing:  culture is reflected in politics.  But that's no compliment to conservatism.  Our stale culture is reflected in our stalemated politics and, as of right now, both are dying.

My advice?  Support local artists, including filmmakers.  Get involved in the arts yourself.  Patronize the distribution of independent films and other content outside of "show business."  Do whatever you have to do to rebel locally, and pray that what you do will spread globally.

Then, maybe, just maybe, we'll see some "gambles" that are worth taking.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Blind Condemning The Blind

Exploitation is exploitation, whether it's of a sexual or economic nature.  So I can't help but note the {ahem} irony in the head of the world's largest organization of child abusers condemning the Bangladesh factory disaster and the exploitation that it represents.

But, maybe, all of us are blind.  Slave labor is the high cost of low prices and convenience.  So, to paraphrase Arthur Miller, those workers were all our sons, and daughters.

I Love the National Internet Sales Tax Plan!

And you should, too.  Here's why.  It will actually help make taxes across the country simpler and fairer, while raising revenue it the process.  Conservatives and liberals should both love it.

The Internet has grown in less than 20 years from a novelty to the primary purveyor of goods, services and ideas.  It no longer needs a free ride, and we can't afford any longer to give it one.  It's time for the Web to start following some basic economic rules:  pay for what you get, and get paid for what you provide.  And that should work for government, too; the Internet wouldn't exist without it.

Good, They're Finally Waking Up (Part 3)

When even a Republican from Sarah Palin territory can acknowledge both the reality of climate change, and the need to address it, it's time to rejoice and worry:  the former, because perhaps something can now be done, and the latter, because the need has never been greater.

One More 9/11 Observation

If this is true, and I believe it is, than it shows not only the resilience of Americans, but also the end of terror as a partisan issue.  It should never have been one in the first place.

As I've said before, even when the attacks took place, you don't measure recover from a tragedy of this magnitude in weeks or months, but years and even decades.  In the second decade since then, we've shown that, knocking on wood, we're going to be just fine.

He Does A Lot More Than Look Like Him, David

It's always nice to find a conservative columnist who can police his side's bad apples, as appears to be the case with David Brooks and Ted Cruz.

But he does a lot more than look like Joe McCarthy; he sounds and thinks like him as well.  If the rumors are true that his own caucus members hate him, I'd sleep a lot better at night.

A Tragedy Becomes A Civics Lesson

This story, inspiring as it is (no pun intended), made me reflect on the road we've taken in the eleven and a half years since that searing, sad-beyond-words day in a September from a different world.

In the months and even years following the recovery of the fallen and the clearing of the World Trade Center site, there were intense, and even angry, debates about how--and what--to rebuild.

There were those who felt strongly, and understandably, that nothing should rise there, that the site would always be essentially a cemetery and should never have any commercial activity on it at all, that it should reflect the emptiness all of us feel because of those we lost.  There were also those (myself among them) who felt that a significant, appropriate memorial should include, if not a rebuild of the Twin Towers, at least one tall building so that we could remember not only how people died, but also how they lived.

The debate was public, extremely long, frequently acrimonious and, far too many times, counterproductive.  And in the end, we got to the right result.  Two sunken waterfall fountains, marking the footprints of the towers.  And at least one amazing new tower, overlooking the entire site and all of Lower Manhattan.

Remembrance, and renewal.  Emptiness, and progress.

If nothing else, all of this proves that democracy really works.  We should try it more often.

The Fall of the Austerian Empire

Ah, austerity.  That magically simple formula that was going to take us back to morning in America.  Comforting the comfortable, and afflicting the afflicted.  It's always popular in this country, because we're a nation of riverboat gamblers, ready to take any amount of pain in return for the one-in-a-million chance of having it all.  And, above all, it always works.

Um, except when it doesn't.  Which is, um, always.

Which is probably why the current round of austerity was based on a great big fat whopping lie, ardently defended by some of those wonderful folks who brought you weapons of mass destruction.  (You know, the ones we didn't find;-).)

But some of its ardent defenders are no longer defending it.  And it's not exact setting the world on fire, either, unless by that you mean it's burning it down.  Take a look at Spain, or Latvia, for example.

Don't count on it going away, however.  Not anytime soon.  Austerity, and its offspring, the sequester, is really here not to lift all boats, but only to lift 1% of them.  The sequester, after all, is not only designed to cut spending, but revenues as well, by way of supporting tax cheats.  And, faced with a chance to hold the Republicans' feet to the fire, Senate Democrats opt for the easy way out, thereby cementing the sequester in place.  For now.

The fall of the austerian empire will not be complete, however, as long as income inequality is still as firmly entrenched as it is.  As long as those on top have enough money to buy the system, they will keep on spending money to keep on buying it.

Progressive taxation is the welfare reform the rich and the rest of us need.  Think about it.  And then do something about it.

Why Gun Control Is Not A Lost Cause, And Why It Shouldn't Be

Well, the traditional first 100 days of a new presidential term have gone by, and President Obama is being blamed by everyone (even Maureen Dowd) for not being able to change the direction in which the sun sets.

Or, in more practical political terms, not being able to change the way in which a dysfunctional Congress dysfunctions.

Frankly, the dysfunctional nature of Congress is primarily due to gerrymandering (in the case of the House) and filibuster abuse (in the case of the Senate), both of which are beyond Obama's powers to control or change.  But most of the new questioning of the President's "relevancy" comes from miscalculations on his part regarding two issues:  sequestration, and gun control.  Both miscalculations, in turn, come from the central mistake made by Obama in his presidency:  that, by opening his proposals up for input from the other side, the other side will in turn be so charmed by his magnanimity that they will be eager to buy into what he's proposing.

This assumption on Obama's part, which he has made again and again, has no basis in reality.  And that should never have been more apparent that when Pat Toomey, the Republican Senator from Pennsylvania who co-sponsored a truly bipartisan gun control bill, admitted that his party's opposition to that bill was entirely about preventing anything that might help the President.

Not about helping the nation.  Not about defending the Constitution.  Not even, for that matter, about defending conservatism or the Republican Party.  Just about frustrating the black man they never wanted to see in the White House.

Make no mistake.  The loyal opposition is no longer loyal.  It's already resolving to use violence to get what it wants, and coming up with dangerous new ways to foment it simply by the push of a button. It's already proved it can and will use children as targets, or as weapons.  Day by day, it's getting harder and harder to distinguish the difference between the American right and the Muslims they are so eager to label as "enemy combatants."

And make no mistake about this as well:  they are NOT the majority of Americans.  When it comes to the Senate defeat of the Manchin-Toomey bill, the opposition is losing the battle of public opinion, and the proponents are winning it.  Take a look here, here, here and here.  Which goes a long way toward explaining why even this Senate may be in the process of reversing itself.  But even that may not help, if the House blocks it.

The fault here lies not within the stars, or the White House, but within ourselves for allowing racism to fester below the surface of our politics long enough and hotly enough that the government of, by and for the people may be ready to perish from the Earth.

Get involved now, or arm yourselves later (and not much later).  The choice is yours.