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The right-wing media and several Republicans are trumpeting the Ebola Hysteria meme.  According to them, we are all facing the imminent threat of being wiped off the face of the earth by the Ebola Virus.  We have seen the hysteria grow to such lengths that schools are either being shut down, or children from certain countries are being refused attendance.  Not because they have Ebola or any symptoms, but simply because they are from a West African country where Ebola has broken out.

Senator Rand Paul is calling for travel bans to West African nations.  He says that it is “only reasonable” that such travel bans be put into place.  On the other hand, his own father says that a call for travel ban is a politically motivated talking point.  Actually, Ron Paul, Rand’s father, says that we would be better off banning people with colds from flying because their colds could actually be the flu and more people will die from the flu than Ebola in the U.S.

The Republicans called on President Obama to appoint an “Ebola Czar” to oversee our response to the virus.  So, President Obama appointed an administrator to the position of “Ebola Czar” to oversee our response.  The Republicans went nuts over the appointment.  The first cry was that the new Czar wasn’t even a doctor!  Well, guess what, if you want someone to oversee our response and form coordination plans so varying organizations can better share information, you need an administrator not a doctor.

Then again, if the Republicans had confirmed President Obama’s Surgeon General cabinet post nominee, there would be a doctor in place right now.  But, since the Republicans don’t like his views on various topics, they refuse to even vote on his appointment or even hold hearings on it.  If we actually had a Surgeon General, maybe we wouldn’t need a Czar in the first place.

But all of this doesn’t matter to the Republicans and their wing-nut base.  When you have networks like Fox News stating clearly that the reason there is no travel ban to West Africa is because President Obama wants Ebola to kill off Americans, you get the idea that this has nothing to do with Republicans or conservatives caring about national health.  They are simply trying to use the Ebola Virus for political points.

If the Republicans had truly cared about the health of Americans, they would not have slashed the budgets for the CDC and NIH by billions of dollars over the last several years.  They would have recognized that something like this would eventually come up and that properly funding these agencies was the only way to prepare for a possible outbreak of any type of infectious disease.

Hell, they might have even been willing to let the ACA do its thing and let millions of uninsured Americans get insurance.  But, that couldn’t happen.  If people don’t have insurance, there is no way they can take preventative measures to protect themselves.  And the Republicans wouldn’t be able to use hysteria as a vote getting measure.

Another problem in all of this nonsense, is that the panic they are trying to stir up will hurt the economy.  There are already internet survivalist nuts telling people not to fly because you “might be sitting next to someone with Ebola.”  As a result, people are likely to stop traveling.  That means the travel industry will hurt economically, and your stocks may even go down.  Already airline stocks have taken a hit because of the fear of a travel ban.  If you own airline stocks, you have already seen a hit to your bank account.

We have gone through these hysteria events before.  I was in the Coast Guard when Haitians tried to enter the country in the 1980s.  That was one of the countries with the biggest outbreak of AIDS.  We had to intercept them, and take them to GITMO before any of them were allowed to enter the country.  Many were sent back to Haiti.  Funny, but Ronald Reagan, who was president at the time, didn’t call for a travel ban to Haiti!  Maybe it was because like Ebola, AIDS was only transmitted via body fluids and not breathing the air.

Throughout history mankind has faced outbreaks that threatened people’s lives.  The Plague, Polio and the Spanish Influenza are just a few that come to mind.  We don’t eliminate infectious diseases by starting hysteria and blaming “others”.  We end them by properly funding our agencies that look for cures.  In the meantime, we isolate those affected, and take proper steps to limit exposure to the rest of us.  That is the “only reasonable” way to fight infectious diseases.

I understand that Ebola is a very frightening disease.  But, as Ron Paul said, more people die from the flu each year than Ebola.  However, since the flu is not new, it appears less frightening than Ebola.  We understand the flu.  We do not understand Ebola.  Unscrupulous politicians know this and are willing to use Ebola to scare you to death.

The Republicans and their right-wing nuts are not interested in fighting infectious diseases.  They are only using the Ebola Virus as a means to put everyone at their mercy.  Lock down the borders.  Set up travel bans.  Make sure we keep all of those “others” out of the country.  I firmly believe that if Republicans had their way, not only would there be a travel ban, but a “papers” law would soon follow.

No, Ebola has become nothing more than political talking points for the Republicans.  That is all it can be.  They have no plan to talk about.  How very sad for all of us.

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The mid-terms are just a couple of weeks away.  There are some that predict that the Republicans will gain control of the Senate.  While others say it is still possible for the Democrats to keep it.  There are some conservatives that are almost giddy over the prospect of taking over the Senate.  Due to the gerrymandered districts, it is almost impossible for the Democrats to take over the House.

The real fact of the matter is that it really doesn’t matter if the Republicans take the Senate.  All it will mean is that the stagnation we have seen in Washington since Obama became President will get even worse.  All it will mean is that the Republicans will use their “hostage taking” practices even more than they have in the past.  That is not a good way to run a country.

We all know that the vast majority of the Republican agenda would not be signed by the current president.  Even if they take the Senate, the Republicans won’t have enough votes to over ride vetoes.  That means in general nothing will get done, except a lot more President Obama bashing.

There has been a lot of talk about the differences between the Republicans and Democrats during this cycle.  But, in my opinion, all of this talk has missed the point totally.  This isn’t about traditional Conservative vs. Progressive politics.  This is about whether or not we live in a country with equal rights and justice for everyone.  It is about whether or not we continue to be one of, if not the, true democracy in the world.  If the current batch Republicans were ever to win both houses of Congress and the White House, our democracy will take a drastic turn for the worst.

If you take a few minutes to look and listen to the current Republican Party, you will hear nothing but hate and discontent towards everyone who doesn’t agree with their backwards thinking.  If you believe income inequality is wrong, you are against Republican candidates.  If you believe that people should be allowed to marry whom they want, regardless of race, religion, or sex, you are against Republican candidates.  If you believe that women together with their families and doctors should be allowed to decide on whether or not to have an abortion, you are against Republican candidates.

Republicans have waged a war against women’s rights for decades.  They have fought against the right for workers to unionize for decades.  They have fought to force Conservative Christian Cult’s beliefs on the rest of society.  They are fear mongering idiots who believe that the only way to win an election is to take the right to vote away from different groups of people who just might vote Democratic.

The current batch of Republicans have formed an evil alliance between Conservative Christian Cult, Ultra-Conservative billionaires, Tea Party, and Racists.  Sorry, but that is the only way to describe this alliance.  Conservative Christian Cult members want to force their brand of Christianity on everyone else.  If you don’t follow their religious beliefs, you are considered a Christian in Name Only (CINO).  They say they are against the government meddling in your religious beliefs.  Yet they want a “Personhood” amendment that would totally ban abortions.  Even if your religious beliefs says it is okay.  They are against marriage equality.  They are even against the right of gays to live in peace.

The Tea Party is the ultra-conservative wing of the Republicans.  They will tell you that if you are not a Tea Party Member, you are a Republican in Name Only (RINO).  They just want to form a government that throws the poor under the bus.  You will hear all kinds of arguments against Welfare, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and Taxes.  But you won’t hear a word about the subsidies given to oil companies, utilities, farmers, etc.  These people also want government “out of our lives”.  Yet they are also against abortion and equal marriage rights.  It seems like every time a Tea Party candidate talks about liberty, they are demanding that about half of the country’s population not be allowed those same liberties.

The billionaire club led by the Koch Brothers simply want to form a dictatorship based on the philosophy that the country should return to the “good ole days” of the 19th century and the Robber Barons.  It is perfectly right for them to make millions of dollars every year, but the rest of us should have to work our asses off just to get by on $2 per hour.  It is the Tea Party and the Billionaires who want to eliminate the minimum wage and pass laws outlawing unions.

I don’t think we have to discuss much about the Racists.  You just need to look at the voter suppression laws that have been passed in several states to know their agenda.

In this mid-term election, one party is screaming about liberty all the while they are passing laws that take liberty away from anyone who isn’t like them.  They are screaming about getting government out of our lives, all the while they are passing laws that put government in the lives of women.  They are preaching about the American dream all the while they are fighting laws like raising the minimum wage and the Paycheck Fairness Act.

They have been screaming about our “porous southern border” but say nothing about our porous northern border.  They claim that Ebola will wipe us off the face of the planet, yet they continue to cut funding for the CDC and NIH.  They wanted a “Czar” for the fight against Ebola, yet screamed when one was named.  Their hypocrisy has no limits.  They believe that if they continue to fear monger, we will fall for their demagoguery.

In the last several years The Republican Party has seen a renaissance.  Unfortunately, unlike the renaissance in the past, this isn’t one of enlightenment, it is a return to the Dark Ages where religion and the wealthy rule the country.  We have already seen places that prove the Republican Platform is destructive to liberties and opportunity.  Just look at Kansas and Wisconsin.  These were supposed to be Conservative Republican utopias.  Yet they have turned out to be anything but utopia for the common citizen of the state.

There is still time to fight back.  To use their own phrase, “it is time to take our country back.”  This time we need to take it back from this evil alliance and restore freedom and democracy to the greatest country in the world.  But, we can’t do that unless you go to the polls and vote this mid-term.  Let the Republican Party know that they cannot bullshit us anymore with their fear mongering and their lies.  We have grown past the 19th century and refuse to go back.

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If you really want to see the differences between Republican candidates and Democratic candidates in the mid-term elections, you really only need to look at two races.  One is the race for governor in Illinois.  Incumbent Governor Pat Quinn is one of if not the least incumbent Governor in Illinois history.  His approval rating was as low as 25% at one point.  The Republicans thought this was a prime target for them.  His opponent, Bruce Rauner was supposed to run away with the election.

As late as August, Rauner had a 13 point lead in the race.  That lead has evaporated to a point where recent polls show Quinn with a 4 point lead.  This evaporation isn’t because Quinn has suddenly become a popular governor.  It is because Illinois voters are learning just what type of “business man” Rauner really is, and it isn’t sitting well with them.

Rauner’s first goof up came when he announced his support for an effort to lower the state’s minimum wage a full dollar per hour.  That became such a bad choice for Rauner he has backed off of that support.  He also has an economics plan that really is weird, but typically Republican.  His plan calls for income tax cuts for the wealthiest people.  This in a state that is already facing budget problems.  Not to worry though, his plan to make up the money is to increase the state sales tax.

On Tuesday, it didn’t get any better for Rauner.  The Chicago Sun Times published a report about the “business divorce” between his investment firm and LeapSource a business outsourcing firm in Arizona in which Rauner’s company invested. Rauner recruited an accounting executive named Christine Kirk to run LeapSource, but the relationship soon went sour, and Rauner blamed Kirk for its failure.

Kirk filed suit against Rauner’s firm, alleging a hostile work environment and claiming that Rauner made threats against her – including a threat to “hurt you and your family” if Kirk took legal action against Rauner’s firm, GTCR.

“If you go legal on us, we’ll hurt you and your family,” Kirk claims Rauner told her in a February 2001 dispute.

Kirk also contended that Rauner made threats against her through Thomas Gilman, who, like Rauner, was a member of LeapSource’s board. Rauner allegedly told Gilman that he’d “bury” Kirk and make sure that “[s]he will never get another job anywhere, ever. I will bankrupt her with legal fees.”

The Rauner team have denied Kirk’s claim and pointed out that much of the lawsuit including the threats were tossed out.  Fair point.  But it may help focus the “hardball tactics” Rauner has used in his business dealings.  That is not something that generally gets votes.  Only time will tell if this newest story gains any traction for Quinn.

The other race is in Georgia where Republican David Perdue is running against Democrat Michelle Nunn for the Senate seat.  This was supposed to be an easy election for the Republicans.  Georgia is a heavily red state with strong conservative backing.  However, this race also has tightened beyond belief.  Purdue now leads Nunn by a mere two points in the most recent polling.

Perdue also apparently has put his foot in his mouth so bad that even conservatives must be wondering about their candidate.  Seems a few years back, David Perdue went on record describing his work.  In response to a direct question asking him, “Can you describe your experience with outsourcing?”, he described how he spent most of his life “outsourcing.”  When the proverbial shit hit the fan, everyone wondered how Perdue would back out of it.  He didn’t.  He doubled down on it and said “Defend it?  I’m proud of it.”

Perdue even went on to describe how the media and literature have misrepresented the whole process of outsourcing.

“This is a part of American business, part of any business. Outsourcing is the procurement of products and services to help your business run. People do that all day.”

Perdue then attempted to draw a distinction between the federal government’s policies and his own decisions as head of the company.

“I think the issue that people get confused about is the loss of jobs,” he said. “This is because of bad government policies: tax policy, regulation, even compliance requirements. It puts us at a competitive disadvantage with the rest of the world. Even today, right now this administration has policies going on that are decimating industries today.”

I want to get this straight.  According to Perdue, outsourcing is “part of American business” and “people do that all day.”  Well if that is true, what’s the big deal right?  Oh, maybe it is the millions of people that Perdue and his fellow outsourcers are proud of having put out of work.  The southern region once had a huge factory base making furniture and carpets, among other things.  These industries are to the point of not existing anymore.

Perdue says that is all the fault of the government.  If the government would just stop taxing companies, stop regulating safety in the workplace, and let employers pay less than minimum wage, everything would be just fine.  Maybe he has a point.  Look how well the people in Malaysia and Vietnam are living the high life on their low wages.

These two people are not alone in their views either.  The Republican party is full of plutocrats just like Rauner and Perdue.  Hell, even Wisconsin Governor Walker just announced that $7.25 per hour is a livable wage.  That is what we will get if we give the Republicans gain control of the Senate in November.

Of course, even the conservative media is ignoring these two as much as they can.  They are focusing on the more serious threat of ISIS and Ebola.  According to Fox News, we are on the verge of being wiped out by one or both of these menaces.  As I wrote before, don’t be fooled by outside influences.  Vote your pocketbook.  In the last 55 months, we have experienced private sector job growth.  All of the doom and gloom predicted by the Republicans over the ACA and the end of the Bush Tax cuts for the wealthy have proven to be fairy tales.

If we continue to vote in people like Rauner and Perdue, we won’t have an economy left.  Reagan’s supply side economics is a bust.  You cannot grow an economy by outsourcing jobs and selling cheap products if no one has any money to purchase them!  But, Republicans know that if you ruin the economy, you can remove job safety bills, corporate taxes, and eliminate minimum wage.  That is how you create a Plutocrat Paradise!

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On August 15, 2014 a Texas Grand Jury indicted Governor Rick Perry on two felony counts.  These charges have nothing to do with bribery, as the Governor said he thought while speaking in New Hampshire.  They are basically an abuse of power charge against the Governor.  It happened something like this.

Rosemary Lehmberg the Travis County District Attorney with the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office was arrested and convicted with DWI.  This outraged the Governor so bad, he publicly threatened to veto the funding for the Public Integrity Unit unless Lehmberg resigned her post.  When Lehmberg refused to resign, he did veto the funding for her unit.

Lehmberg is a Democrat who was elected by the Travis County electorate.  Coincidently, the Public Integrity Unit was investigating some of Perry’s cronies at the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas at the time he sought to force her out, and replace her with his own appointee.

Let us be clear.  Texas is a Red State.  Travis County on the other hand is a Blue and progressive County.  So, the national media immediately painted this as “sour grapes” and declared the indictment as frivolous.  But there are some things that have not been clearly reported by the national press.

Even though Travis County is a Democratic county, there were no Democrats involved in the case.  The Grand Jury was called by McCrum, a respected conservative former federal prosecutor.  Republican U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison once recommended McCrum for the job of U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas. McCrum could have dismissed the complaint. Instead, he took it to a grand jury.

Even before McCrum was appointed, the case went before two Republican judges who could have dismissed the case before it even started.  Neither of these judges saw fit to dismiss the case, and the second judge was the one who appointed McCrum as Special Prosecutor.

Another issue in this case is that Perry remained silent when two different Republican district attorneys were previously convicted of DWI.  One hit another vehicle and it was his second offense.  But, Perry didn’t see any need for them to step down from office.  So, why all of the outrage in this case?

Some, even on the left, are saying the indictment is an attack on the Governor’s right to veto.  That is not the true anymore than if the Governor vetoed a bill in receipt of a bribe.  As it was said, you may have the right to vote, but you don’t have the right to “sell” your vote.  Using a veto threat in order to force a public official to resign is just as egregious.

It is fascinating to see the national media kind of blow off this indictment as political games, while the two biggest papers in Texas are taking the charges very seriously.   Jeff Cohen, of the Houston Chronicle, and Keven Ann Willey, of the Dallas Morning News, the state’s two largest dailies, both of which have editorialized in support of seeing the investigation proceed:

The Chronicle wrote that the indictments “suggest that the longest-serving governor in Texas history has grown too accustomed to getting his way when it comes to making sure that virtually every key position in state government is occupied by a Perry loyalist.” The Morning News editorial board stated: “It’s in every Texan’s best interests for the charges against Perry, whatever your view of them, to traverse the entire judicial system as impartially as possible.”

Investigative journalism is supposed to be the keystone of the media.  Unfortunately, the national media doesn’t seem to be very interested in that process anymore.  Investigative journalism costs money and is expensive to produce.  The national media seems more interested in sound bites that are less expensive to produce, but still bring in ratings and money.

If it wasn’t for investigative journalism, we may have never gotten to the bottom of Watergate.  I am not comparing this to Watergate, but the lack of investigative journalism by national media is puzzling at best.  Before any judgement of this case is made by media and/or pundits, we must let the case run its course.  It may turn out that Perry will win the case and be cleared of any wrongdoing.  On the other hand, a Grand Jury in his own state determined there was enough evidence to proceed with a trial.

I guess if we really want to know the exact nature of the case we will have to depend on local Texas reports and not the national media.

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So, the first week of the NFL is getting ready to kick off.  It seems that the whole country is ready for some football.  Unfortunately, there are shadows looming over the NFL this year.  And, it appears these shadows are getting worse each year.  The number of suspensions are extremely high, and nothing seems to be getting done about changing the culture of the NFL.

The San Francisco 49s has probably the most suspensions of any team in the league.  I believe they have 3 or 4 players facing suspensions.  And, then today, it was announced that Wes Welker, of the Denver Broncos, is being suspended for four games for violating the drug policy.  Of course, Welker maintains his innocence and claims that the drug testing procedures in the NFL are flawed.

In Dallas a player who was convicted of vehicular manslaughter has applied for reinstatement.  The league has said that he can return, but he must first face a 10 game suspension.  Naturally, he is going to appeal this suspension.  The star running back for the Baltimore Ravens was handed a two game suspension for domestic violence.  This week the league announced new rules for domestic violence saying they would hand out a six game suspension for a first time offender and a lifetime ban for a second offense.  Of course, the lifetime ban can be appealed after one year.

Just four days later, another player was arrested for domestic violence.  He has said “the truth will come out”.  I don’t know about you, but whenever I hear someone in his position say “the truth will come out”, I keep thinking that the victim will ultimately be blamed for his behavior.

The owner of the Indianapolis Colts has been suspended 6 games and fined $500,000 for his conviction of driving under the influence.  The conviction was a plea bargain and is considered a misdemeanor in Indiana.

Michael Sam was cut by the Rams over the weekend.  Some argue that he was simply playing the wrong position on a team that is full of defensive ends.  Others claim that he was cut because he is openly gay.  I don’t know the real reason for his being cut.  I would hope that it was football related.  But when you consider that every player who was even close to his numbers in pre-season is still with their team, it does make one wonder the real reason for his being cut.  The Dallas Cowboys apparently want him for their practice squad, so we will see what happens from here.

Finally, the Washington Football team is under fire for its nickname.  Many Native Americans are offended by the nickname that has only been used as a racial slur for a few hundred years now.  The owner of the team claims it is a respectful name and doesn’t understand why there is an outcry to have it changed.  Of course, pundits say it is merely politically correct “idiots” who find offense to the name.

So, the number one sport in America is getting ready to start the season.  Yet, there are a lot of questions hanging over the league and its culture.  This culture is nothing new either.  In the past, there have been players accused of murder.  Players were arrested for illegally carrying guns.  Players were suspended because they accidentally shot themselves carrying guns.

To put all of the blame on the NFL is unfair.  The blame goes well beyond the NFL.  It goes to the culture that America has in “entitling” athletes and allowing them to basically get away with it.  Remember a few years ago when some high school players were convicted of raping a classmate?  At least one of those players is back on the football team today.

A prominent football quarterback at a major university was accused of rape last year.  When everything was revealed, it was noted that the police didn’t want to press charges and thought the case shouldn’t have been brought.  They were even quoted as telling the victim that pressing charges would cause her more harm because of the football culture in the town and state.  The whole case was bungled, and the player did not have to answer to the charges.

Football is not alone in all of this either.  Other sports have either had similar problems, or are going through some of them right now too.  I remember when the NBA almost shut down.  I know a lot of people never believed that it would actually close, but the public relations between the NBA and its fans took a horrible hit.

As a matter of fact, back in the 70s, a lot of people considered the NBA nothing but street gangs in shorts.  Some are beginning to wonder if the NFL is nothing but a bunch of street gangs in pads.  That is really an unfair analysis.  Once again, the few who cheat or feel entitled to do whatever they want because they can play football is overshadowing the rest of the players in the league.  I must admit though, that it is those other players who are remaining mute to these scandals that help keep them going.

Baseball had a steroid problem.  Between steroids and human growth hormones, the game was being hijacked by the cheaters.  The only reason this has been at least reduced is because the non-cheaters in the league had enough.  They fought back against the cheaters and it was the players themselves that forced the drug testing and stricter suspensions we now see in baseball.  It wasn’t the congressional hearings that forced baseball’s hand, it was its own players.

When baseball decided to find out how prevalent performance enhancing drugs actually was in the sport, they decided to test all players during spring training.  If the total of “dirty” players was above a certain amount, I believe that it was 5%, mandatory drug testing would be put in place.  If a player refused to take the test, it would count as a positive.  The Chicago White Sox held a team meeting and every player on the team said they would refuse the test so they would ensure the results were above the limit and force mandatory testing.

I find it amazing that sports networks all have “discussions” about whether or not a suspension is appropriate or not.  ESPN is among the most famous for their discussions.  Yet, this is the very network that thought it was appropriate to discuss Michael Sam’s “showering” experiences while with the Rams.

We can argue that lifetime bans should be imposed for various crimes, especially domestic violence.  But, until the players themselves start a backlash that helped baseball, this problem is not going to go away anytime soon.  Until players see beyond their “entitlement” to play football, nothing will ever get fixed.  Until players actually state they will not play with a “dirty” or “repeat offender”, there is nothing that the league really can do.

Teamwork is crucial in football and other sports.  But, teamwork does not end at the sidelines of the playing field.  It should extend beyond the field and into everyday life as well.  Players need to police themselves.  They need to start taking responsibility for their profession and start eliminating those who taint the product.  The players need to stop enabling other players in their bad practices.

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It is time to ask a very simple question.  At what point or age should children be allowed to participate at shooting ranges?  This is not about whether or not people have the right to shoot guns at shooting ranges.  It is more about the safety of children at shooting ranges.  We have laws in this country that says when a person is allowed to vote, drive a vehicle, or drink alcohol.  Most states even have an age limit when a person can own a firearm.

So, we need to question at what age we should allow children to attend and participate in the firing of guns.  In the last few weeks, we have had a couple of incidents of children either being injured at shooting ranges or killing an instructor.  It is common sense to be asking when children have the capability to fire a gun safely.

In the first incident, a 9-year-old child accidentally killed a shooting instructor in Arizona.  The child was firing an Uzi.  That is right, a 9-year-old child was actually firing an Uzi.  The gun’s kickback was too severe for the child to handle and the gun moved up and outward and she shot and killed the instructor.

In the second incident, a family had put together their own shooting range in California.  The whole family was present.  a 7-year-old and his father were each shooting single shot .22 caliber rifles.  Suddenly, the boy grabbed his chest and complained about pain.  When the father checked his son, he discovered that he had been hit in the chest.

Turns out that the boy was hit by a piece of a bullet that ricocheted off of something on the range and struck the boy in the chest.  Fortunately, it is reported that the boy will survive his wounds.  From all accounts the father and the boy were exercising caution during the shooting.  Their guns were pointed down range at all times.  This was a tragic accident.

But, it does bring us back to the original question.  When is it appropriate to have children at and participating at shooting ranges?  I guess the second question would be what “codes” are required for shooting ranges?  The second incident took place at a homemade shooting range.  I am not suggesting that the parents did anything wrong, but if you need a permit and pass inspections to add an addition to your home, shouldn’t there be stringent rules about homemade shooting ranges?

In my opinion these two cases exemplify the problem with our obsession with guns.  In the first, a little girl was allowed to handle and shoot an Uzi, which is an automatic weapon.  The result was the death of an instructor and the traumatization of a little girl.  In the second case, a well-meaning parent appeared to use proper safety practices while teaching his son to shoot, yet the result was an accident that was fortunate not to be tragic.

I think that everyone already knows what the argument against age limits on shooting firearms are.  I also believe we can guess about the argument of “anti-government regulations” should permits and inspections be required for homemade shooting ranges.  But despite the howling from the gun advocates, I believe these are topics that need to be addressed.

Safety laws are things that are required in our everyday lives.  Hell, if you want to go on a roller coaster ride, you have to be a certain height.  If you play Pop Warner football and are over a certain weight, you are restricted to what positions you can play.  There are restrictions on everything we do to help keep us safe.  Why aren’t there such safety regulations when it comes to shooting guns?

Or, if we can be subjected to having a permit and inspection if we want to add a deck to the house, shouldn’t there be permits and inspections required before allowing someone to use a homemade shooting range?  Shouldn’t we also use zoning laws to restrict where shooting ranges can be built?  Sorry, but putting an old stump out in the back 40 isn’t necessarily an ideal shooting area.  I live in a rural area and I hear guns being shot all of the time.  And, there are shooting accidents all of the time too.

These simple two incidents prove that guns do kill people.  More importantly, guns in the hands of children are even more dangerous because a child may not be able to control the gun safely.  If we have to start the conversation about guns somewhere, maybe we should start with when is it okay for a child to shoot a gun and what kind of gun they shoot.  And, where and how homemade shooting ranges are allowed.

Most people I know who own guns are reasonable people.  Even they will tell you that there should be restrictions on children handling and shooting guns.  They will even have no argument about codifying shooting ranges, even homemade ones.  Yes, these are only two examples.  But, how many more go unreported?

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I think it is fair to say that all too often, justice is not blind.  At least it isn’t blind in terms of race, sexual orientation, or other factors.  Too often, the color of the people involved in an incident helps determine who is guilty and who is not.  There are exceptions of course, but I think that race plays a big role in determining who is to be arrested and who is not.  Who is allowed to “fear for his life” and who is not.

Wednesday, Matt Zoller Seitz shared a story to illustrate how white privilege kept him from getting arrested or otherwise harmed by the police after he started a fight on the street.  The piece is worth reading.  But, it is really interesting the conversation he had with the police when they arrived.  Matt Seitz admits in his story that he instigated the fight with an Hispanic man outside a deli.

After telling the two white officers that he had confronted the guy and punched him in the face after the stranger jabbed him in the chest with his fingers, the cops asked Zoller Seitz if he wanted to press charges for assault:

“I don’t think he actually meant to touch me, though,” I said, while a voice deep inside me said, Stupid white boy, he’s making it plain and you’re not getting it.

“It doesn’t matter if he meant to touch you, he hit you first,” he said. He was talking to me warmly and patiently, as you might explain things to a child. Wisdom was being imparted.

“You were in fear of your life,” he added.

By now the adrenaline fog seemed to be lifting. I was seeing things in a more clinical way. The violence I had inflicted on this man was disproportionate to the “assault,” and the tone of this exchange with the cop felt conspiratorial.

And then it dawned on me, Mr. Slow-on-the-Uptake, what was really happening: this officer was helping me Get My Story Straight.

Understanding, at long last.

Zoller Seitz even admitted that when the police arrived, he had the stranger on the ground in a chokehold.  Which most reasonable people might conclude that he was the attacker.  But, while Zoller Seitz was speaking with the police, the stranger was being held face down on the sidewalk and handcuffed.  In the end, Zoller Seitz was allowed to go home.  He does not know what happened to the stranger he admittedly attacked.

This is important to remember.  There is a grand jury being seated in the Ferguson shooting of Michael Brown by Officer Wilson.  If this case does go to trial, it would be apparent that at some point the notion that Wilson could have reasonably feared for his life during his confrontation with Brown.  Witnesses at the scene have said that Brown had his hands in their air to surrender.  Others, mostly other police officers, hint that Brown charged Wilson so the resulting shooting was a result of physical confrontation.

I wrote in an earlier piece this year that the called “stand your ground” laws would cause more trouble than they were worth.  Remember the case of George Zimmerman, who is white and Latino, after he killed Trayvon Martin?  His lawyers got him off by using the “afraid for his life” argument.  In the case of Theodore Warfare, the jury came back with a different result.  In that case, Renisha McBride, who had arrived on his porch seeking help after a car accident was shot and killed through a locked screen door.  The defense in that case claimed that the loud knocking so alarmed their client that he felt he had no other choice but to shoot her.  Fortunately, this jury didn’t buy the “afraid for his life” argument.

Then there is the case of Marissa Alexander, a black mother in Florida.  A man with a documented history of physical violence, a man who told Alexander that he was going to kill her, did not present a credible threat. Alexander’s husband, Rico Gray, broke down the door of the bathroom where she was hiding during a domestic violence incident. He grabbed her by the throat, and choked her as he held her against the floor. Alexander then tried to escape through the garage, but found herself trapped when the door wouldn’t open. She returned to the house having retrieved her handgun from her car and fired at a wall near where Gray stood. No one was harmed. But when Alexander tried to invoke Florida’s “stand your ground” law in her defense, she was denied. Twice. According to State Attorney Angela Corey, Alexander was “not in fear” but “angry” when she fired the warning shot. She now faces up to 60 years in prison.

It isn’t just color that defines who is allowed the “fear for his life” argument.  Luke O’Donovan, a white queer activist in Georgia, was last week sentenced to two years in prison and eight years of probation after he used his pocket knife to stab five men who had confronted him in an alleged anti-LGTBQ hate crime in 2012. Donovan was stabbed three times.  Apparently if you are gay in Georgia, being stabbed three times is not a sufficient “fear for his life” argument.

These are just a few examples of how our justice system is not as blind as people would have us believe.  Color, sexual orientation, race, even religious beliefs are all factors in determining who is being blamed and who gets off.  Zoller Seitz’s story is very telling.  Especially when compared to these other incidents.  The straight white guy got a break.  The others did not.  It makes us wonder just how the case in Ferguson will turn out.  But, one thing is for certain.  As long as white privilege is a reality, more Fergusons will happen.

Until we, as a society, come to terms with this phenomenon nothing will change.  If we do come to terms with it, then maybe we will have a society where justice was truly blind!

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