Saturday, December 22, 2012

Thoughts on Mayan Apocalypse, Guns, and the Fiscal Cliff

So my partner Jerry and I woke up yesterday morning in our Upstate NY house glad that the world hadn't come to an end. The Mayan calendar had predicted either human civilization would cease or there would be a major change starting at 6:11 AM on Dec. 21, 2012. We were laying in bed at about 9 AM and thinking, "I guess those Mayans were wrong" when suddenly the power went out. It was as if those Mayans or God or someone was saying, "Don't be so sure!" So we had to spend the next 24 hours in darkness, warming the house with a fire in the fireplace, and going out to eat since the stove is electric. We went to sleep in a cold, totally dark house with the only illumination provided by the light of my Kindle as I read about the relationship between President James Madison and his slave-valet Paul Jennings.

Power was restored this morning and we are back to normal. But maybe the Mayans were right in a way. Perhaps there is a major change in our world. We seemed to be moving towards more reasonable gun laws. The New York Post, usually a bastion of right-wing ideology, labelled Wayne LaPierre, the VP of the NRA, a "gun nut." While the NY Daily News called him "the Craziest Man on Earth." LaPierre gave a press conference yesterday in response to the horrendous mass murders in Newtown, CT. The NRA exec called for an armed police officer in every school in the country and blamed the killings on a culture of violence proliferated by video games and movies. Hello, isn't his organization contributing to that culture by glorifying guns--even military-style assault weapons--and lobbying to make sure everybody has one.

Some states are even passing laws to require all teachers, administrators, and yes even janitors to be fully armed in schools. That's a step further than LaPierre's position and I believe would definitely lead to more violence, accidents, and deaths. If every faculty member was packing heat, kids would find a way to get a hold of those weapons and somebody will get hurt.

In the Newtown case, it's impossible to tell what might have happened if we had strong gun control laws, or if there were at least one armed guard at the school, or if the violent video games the shooter played were not available. His mother bought the guns and I suppose she went through a background check. But if she hadn't been able to buy the assault weapon, would her son have killed as many people? You can drive yourself crazy with such guessing games. But banning assault weapons for civilian purchases isn't going to hurt anybody, except the gunmakers.

Another world changing development happened yesterday--Speaker John Boehner was not able to get enough votes for his futile Plan B budget to make it to the floor of the House. The bill was a symbolic one anyway since Harry Reid vowed it would not pass the Senate and Obama said he would veto it. I believe Boehner wanted to put it to a vote so he could say to the Tea-Party nutbags, "See I tried to compromise, I tried to get something done, but the Democrats stopped me." Now he can't even say that because the radicals in his party refuse to raise taxes on anyone, even if it's just those that earn $1million and over. I just don't get it. If we are in such a bad way financially and the tea-partiers want to fix it as much as they say, shouldn't the sacrifice be shared among those who depend on Social Security and Medicare and those who are rich (and yes, one million a year is rich!)

The change is the Republican party is split and the two pieces are falling apart. This latest fiasco demonstrates their failure to come to grips with reality. They lost the last election and are now desperately clinging to power by refusing to compromise with the President on the budget. BTW, the President has moved to their side more than halfway and the Repubs STILL won't move an inch.

Are we in a new world? Will assault weapons be banned? Will the GOP split and created two weaker halves? We can only hope.

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