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And now, a moment of silence for those lawmakers in thrall to the NRA

Posted: 04 Mar 2018 09:41 AM PST

Adding insult (contempt?) to injury, the Florida legislature not only rejected a bill to ban assault weapons, but immediately moved to the go to position for such lawmakers: a moment of silence for the victims of the Parkland shooting.

Because nothing says we care about a problem like offering up a moment of silence.

Indeed, GOP state senator Kelli Stargel offered up this bit of moral obscenity:

"Thoughts and prayers are really the only thing that's going to stop the evil from within the individual that is taking up their arms to do this type of massacre."

So maybe it's time for us all to hold a moment of silent prayer for those elected officials whose sense of responsibility doesn't extend to constituents who the victims of gun crime.

Along with rallies, how about massive pray-ins (to coin a phrase) for those who can only offer up cliches and moments of silence every time there is a shooting.

After all, if prayers are the recommended course of action on the part of lawmakers, then prayers asking that the cowering men and women in thrall to the gun industry will actually do their job might be a neat counter-solution to their self-serving silence.

Florida's Stargel also claimed that banning assault-type weapons would be a "slippery slope." Offhand, Senator Stargel, when faced with slippery slopes, well, that is when people have a right to expect you to put on your hob-nailed boots and tackle that slope.

Our thoughts and prayers go with you. Because really, if Heavenly intercession is the only way we can get you and your like-minded legislators to tackle this issue, well, I'm willing to give it a try.


Actually, I'm not sure even prayer would influence Congressman Steve Womack

Adding even more fuel to the suspicion that Arkansas Congressman Steve (The Scowling One) Womack doesn't actually consider humanity when he votes comes the news of his vote blocking a Democratic attempt to debate two gun-safety bills (HR3464/HR4240).

Like all so many law makers who offer up prayers and moments of silence, The Scowling One had nothing to say when before the vote.

Perhaps he is praying that not too many people are looking at his voting record.


Today's Soundtrack

Listening to Dan Fogelberg this morning, just to calm myself down.


Quote of the Day

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots. - Marcus Garvey


Vietnam. A protest threatened at UA-Little Rock. Why not?

Posted: 04 Mar 2018 07:15 AM PST

Stu Soffer, the bumptious White Hall Republican and state election commissioner, is gnawing a new bone, a March 29 event at UA-Little Rock to pay tribute to those who served in the military during the Vietnam war.

This is part of an ongoing national commemoration of the war in Vietnam, viewed (see FAQ) as covering a period between 1955 and 1975.

Soffer, a veteran, is among those objecting to a tribute to all veterans of the Vietnam era, rather than only those who served in the country during times of combat. Soffer himself passed through the country during that time, but not long enough to constitute in-country service. He doesn't think he's deserving of honor for that.

What better way to remember Vietnam than with some protests, which helped end our involvement in the quagmire?

Soffer has inquired of UA-Little Rock about a "peaceful" protest at the Jack Stephens center where the event is planned. He's been informed that UA-Little Rock has a free speech zone, some distance removed from the center. With proper advance notice, a group can receive permission to exercise free speech there in whatever legal fashion it may choose.

Soffer has distributed to media his response to UA-Little Rock's rules for campus demonstrations. It complains about distance from the event. He says:

We are entitled to professionally and peacefully exercise our First Amendment right and communicate with attendees our objections to the United State government decision to declare all who served as Vietnam Veterans regardless if they are or not.

We are trying to be both congenial and professional about accomplishing our goal. I don't believe UALR wants the specter of university police removing Vietnam combat veterans and retired service members and veterans in our over 70 age demographic wearing all sorts of medals for valor. All we ask for is to permit a limited number of participants to exercise their First Amendment right in front of the Jack Stephens Center for less than 30 minutes on March 29 from approximately 9:30 a.m. until 10:00 a.m.
I don't much like free speech zones either, a technique perfected in the George W. Bush era to keep protests out of sight. Colleges and others, more and more, are insisting on orderly 1st Amendment exercises. To echo the NRA on the 2nd: What part of "shall make no law .. or abridging" don't they understand when it comes to speech?

On the other hand, if UA-Little Rock gives special consideration to some elderly codgers who promise to behave, they might have constitutional problems in refusing similar treatment for others less lovable in the future.

In keeping with the context, I think Soffer SHOULD hike down to the Jack, perhaps with daisies to stick in barrels of campus security weapons, and offer himself up as a martyr to his cause. He told me he "cannot afford to get arrested." That's hardly in the spirit of the era.

As for his core complaint: I understand where Soffer and others are coming from, particularly given what we know about how some sons of privilege found ways to avoid service or action. The Montgomery Country Club was a long way from the bloody jungles of Vietnam.

Still, I don't recall World War I and World War II tributes being segregated into war zone and non-war-zone service, though many among those who weren't casualties certainly made greater sacrifices.

I think of my own family.

My maternal grandparents both enlisted in the Army in World War I. My grandfather was stricken with influenza. He was hospitalized at an Army camp in Louisiana and never shipped overseas. My grandmother was a nurse. She went to France and tended the front-line wounded. But my grandfather's lack of trench service wasn't for lack of trying. He was a first-generation American by the way.

My own parents both enlisted in the Army in World War II. Fate sent them both to India. My dad was in a radio unit. He worked with planes flying the hump. My mother was an Army hospital dietitian. She planned meals for the sick and wounded. They never saw combat. Still, they signed up to go who knew where.  They did chance to meet in Delhi, so I'm able to tell their story.

I have friends who  served tours in Vietnam. One, an Army paymaster, and another, a ground-based Navy enlisted man, say they mostly fought boredom.

I appreciate them all.  I also got no quarrel with Stu's protest. Right on, brother!

Donald Trump, president for life

Posted: 04 Mar 2018 06:18 AM PST

From CNN:

In the closed-door remarks, a recording of which was obtained by CNN, Trump also praised China's President Xi Jinping for recently consolidating power and extending his potential tenure, musing he wouldn't mind making such a maneuver himself.

"He's now president for life. President for life. No, he's great," Trump said. "And look, he was able to do that. I think it's great. Maybe we'll have to give that a shot some day."
Joking? You decide. Funny? No.

The marathon is underway

Posted: 04 Mar 2018 06:13 AM PST

The weather is cool, which is great for runners if no rain develops. In any case, the Little Rock Marathon is underway. Be wary if it passes through your neighborhood. Car traffic will be affected.

An open line, with a brief Florida miracle on AR-15s

Posted: 03 Mar 2018 03:07 PM PST

Here's your open line, with a piece of brief good news.

For 15 minutes today, the Florida Senate approved legislation to stop the sale of AR-15s for two years. That was on a voice vote. Then the vote was reversed on a roll call, but the count was relatively close 21-17 against.

This has to be viewed as at least a slight affront to Marion Hammer, the NRA lobbyist who pretty well runs the Florida legislature and, as a result, has made that state a proving ground for terrible guns laws, particularly the murderous stand your ground law.

Want to see how the NRA works? Read this profile on Hammer in The New Yorker. It isn't pretty. Moms. Demand Action!

After the brief piece of good news during Saturday's unusual session, the legislature reverted to form. Proposals defeated so far by the Republican- and NRA-dominated legislature:

* Allow family members to take out risk-protection orders, which prevent people who could harm themselves or others, from purchasing guns.

* Create a statewide gun registry to track gun ownership.

* Reverse a state law that bans local governments from enacting stricter gun control measures.

Last week, with students from the high school where the latest massacre occurred watching, the Florida House voted 71-36 against a ban on some semiautomatic wea[ons and large magazines. So the percentage vote in the Senate was progress of a sort.