Hopes for the New Year

January 4, 2013

Hope and faith are emotions that constantly straddle a thin line between the rational and the irrational. I hope for some things that are likely to happen based on the past, and sometimes I hope for things that have no basis in evidence in the past or present. I hope for some things that I can somewhat reasonably expect can happen and sometimes for things that are nearly impossible.

For example, at the end of every trial I hope that I have done enough to persuade a jury in favor of my clients. It is a reasonable hope, because far more often than not the verdict has been in their favor and I always try to do my best. There have been times over the years where hope for a verdict turned out to be terribly unfounded – there was no chance of winning over some juror(s) no matter what the evidence was or how I presented it. Still, it is a hope for an outcome that I can control to some extent, and rooted in the larger hope for a just society.

Politics is an arena where I (we) have little control and dwindling hope. When I consider the current politics in Washington, I have to confess that my hopes are much less rational. I know historically, our Nation has survived more challenging times. In the words of Winston Churchill “The Americans always do the right thing… after everything else fails.” Yet I have this persistent feeling that we lack the leadership we need to weather this economic and cultural storm. Sure the system itself has been so perverted with money that it has become a rare instance when the welfare of Americans in need are considered, but what is to prevent President Obama from exercising leadership? He could present a budget that would correct the problem with entitlements, even if it were to adopt Simpson-Bowles. I think most Americans would accept sacrifice if we knew it was a shared sacrifice. I hope that he will become the leader he needs to be.

On the other hand, I am grateful that the GOP lacks any leadership at the moment, and hopeful that this will continue. The Republicans are battling a malignancy that could very well kill it (i.e. the Tea Party). They are rooted in the irrational (they are anti-science for a reason) and driven by the illogical. The problem is that as they dither and wither, so does our economy because they cannot act for the good of the Country. If they use the debt ceiling as a hostage tool again, we may be suffering a great deal more until the next Congressional elections – when the GOP will experience its electoral death knell – I hope. 

Idiocracy of the Right Wing

January 3, 2013

The Right Wing has weighed in on the mass murder at Newtown, and if nothing else, it illustrates the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of American Conservatives. Consider the analysis and proposals of the Right.

Some on the Right have identified the “feminization” of the American education system, meaning that schools are filled with women and children and vulnerable. Never mind that it was a man in the school who did the killing, and men as a rule who commit these atrocities, their solution is to put manly men in schools.

Others on the Right have concluded that this happened in a school because we have taken “God” out of schools. Maybe God has changed, but I always understood that God is everywhere. Would children praying in the classroom have saved their lives while some lunatic was shooting them? Maybe this was “God’s” judgment on that school for the country allowing gay marriages (as suggested by some Evangelicals).

The brilliant minds at the NRA weighed in with a proposal to have elementary schools turned into armed camps. This is a strategy of reaction, but apparently the murder of 1 or 2 children before the assailant is shot is an acceptable price for them to pay for being able to own an assault weapon. That’s a moral solution fit for Fox News viewers. Why stop there? If the idea is that only armed guards can save children, why not station armed guards at every playground, at every day care center and escort every child walking to and from school? No doubt the NRA would support that idea too, since it would involve purchasing even more weapons.

If we had an armed guard at every school it would cost approximately $80 to $100 billion dollars (calculating $80,000/year for a guard, training and equipment). I wonder what the NRA would say to this counter-proposal: since gun owners are the source of the problem with gun shootings, the guards should be funded by a tax on every weapon and bullet. A 150% tax on every bullet and weapon purchased an owned each year should do it.

More men in schools, hiring God to roam the halls and more guns in schools: that’s their best thinking. And the irony is that Conservatives can’t understand how immoral and sub-cortical they have become since the days of William F. Buckley. 


January 2, 2013

What if… the mass murder in New Town, CN had been an attack by a Muslim? What if the killer had been a terrorist sent to kill from a foreign country? We would be activating the National Guard to protect the Country and mobilizing the military to invade another country and kick some ass. We would authorize billions of dollars to support the elimination of every potential terrorist, intent on doing the same thing. No effort or expense would be spared.

If the slaughter of children in New Town had been committed by a foreign terrorist instead of a mentally ill kid armed to the teeth with assault weapons, we would move Heaven and Earth to make sure it doesn’t happen again. However, thanks to the terrorists at the NRA and their sympathizers in Congress, we will do absolutely nothing. If we flooded our streets and schools with law enforcement personnel… invested millions in mental health services to identify and intervene on sick, violent people… assured that all gun purchases were legally vetted then we could slow down the slaughter of innocents in this Country.

Too bad we can’t call in drone strikes on NRA leadership like we do foreign terrorists…