Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Phrase of the Day: A LONG TIME AGO IN A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY


I first came to the Star Wars universe in reverse order.  When the original film was released in 1977, for some reason I don't remember, my curiosity was not piqued enough to go see it.  I liked science fiction, and still do, so that was not the reason.  Even with all of the hype and hub-bub that surrounded it, and just how popular it was becoming, I do not recall why I wasn't moved (by the Force?) to see it.

Fast forward to 1980 and the release of The Empire Strikes Back, and my then-girlfriend at the time, who was a huge fan, asked me to go see it with her.  My first thought was that, since I had not seen the original, I might be a little lost; I went, anyway.  I liked it, but was not overwhelmed by it ... along the lines of not spectacular, not terrible.  It was the darkest of the original trilogy.

When the original Star Wars was re-released in theaters in 1981, now named Episode IV: A New Hope, I went to see it with her.  I loved it!  I was hooked.  After standing in l-o-n-g lines with hundreds of other fans, I saw the final installment of the original trilogy, Return of the Jedi, in 1983 -- anyone remember the original title was supposed to be Revenge of the Jedi? -- my journey in the world of Star Wars was complete.

Or so I thought.


It was revealed back during the original trilogy's release -- I forget during which film specifically -- that George Lucas had originally written a saga with nine episodes in it.  A tri-trilogy, if you will.  In the years following Jedi, Lucas said that he wished he could have done more in terms of visual effects than he did with the original trilogy.  Near the end of the twentieth century, that technology was available, and Lucas used it, including filming digitally, for the next trilogy. 

The Phantom Menace
opened in 1999 to much fanfare and a fandom eager for more.  Sadly, it would be the beginning of a downward spiral for the franchise, not to mention "special edition" releases of the original trilogy that included visual improvements that weren't really improvements.  Menace, along with its two follow-ups, Attack of the Clones in 2002 and Revenge of the Sith in 2005, were, on many levels, disappointments. 

First and foremost was Lucas' heavy-handed attention to show off how much visual effects had improved in the sixteen years since Return of the Jedi.  Many scenes were visually stunning, but their being given front-and-center status muddled the world of Star Wars fans had come to know and love.  To that extent, and leading into the trilogy's second fault, casting, was the inclusion of Jar Jar Binks, a Gungan from the planet of Naboo.  The character was all CGI (computer-generated imagery) and was nothing short of annoying.  Lucas supposedly based the Jar Jar on the Disney character Goofy -- foreshadowing, perhaps? -- and it was apparent that the character was to be the hook for a new generation of children, much like the Ewoks in Jedi were previously.  Although the Ewoks had a far more integral role in the saga than Jar Jar did.  In response to the backlash, the character was reduced to a much more secondary role in Attack of the Clones, eventually having just one line of dialogue in Revenge of the Sith.

Bye bye, Jar Jar!

The issue of casting was a huge problem with the second trilogy.  Some people had a problem with Samuel L. Jackson being cast as Mace Windu, a Jedi Master and member of the Republic's High Council.  Likely, in part, due to his playing such tough (and sometimes foul-mouthed) characters.  (He had, after all, done Pulp Fiction five years earlier.)  Some had a problem with his having a purple-colored lightsaber, which Jackson had asked for.  Whatever.  My problem was with the two lead characters Anakin Skywalker and Princess Amidala, played by Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman, respectively. 

Natalie Portman was only sixteen at the time of filming of The Phantom Menace, so her flatness in the role of Amidala could be chalked up to inexperience.  Her performances in The Professional when she was thirteen and in Beautiful Girls when she was around fifteen dispel that argument.  Even at those young ages, she could play characters with depth.  Many have argued that George Lucas' direction was responsible for her performance.  If so, maybe, only maybe, that same argument could be made about Hayden Christensen's performance, but I doubt it.  In my opinion, he was simply just not good at all.  Their "romance", which was a key role in the formation of Anakin becoming Darth Vader, was non-existent, and there was zero on-screen chemistry between Portman and Christensen.

By the time the final installment of the trilogy, Revenge of the Sith, which was my favorite of the second three, had arrived in 2005, the franchise had increased from three films to six films, but it left fans with a sour taste in their mouth.  Many who knew Lucas had written three trilogies wondered, perhaps half-heartedly at the time, if that final trilogy would get made ... or, after the Menace/Clones/Sith trilogy, if they really wanted it to get made.


Disney bought Lucasfilm, Ltd., for more than four billion dollars in the Fall of 2012.  Talk almost immediately began about bringing the final trilogy to the big screen.  Filming began in mid-2014, and just this past weekend, The Force Awakens, the saga's seventh installment was released to a fandom that was excited, but cautious.  Would director J.J. Abrams [(television): Felicity, Alias, Lost, Fringe; (films): Mission: Impossible films, Cloverfield, Star Trek reboot, Super 8) fall into the Lucas technological trap?  Would the film be "Disneyfied"?  Would it remain true to the world of Star Wars?

Having seen it, here are my answers: No, technology, while important to the film does not overshadow it.  No, it was not Disneyfied.  Okay, maybe the BB-8 droid could be evidence that it was, but the same could have been said about R2-D2, which originally had no Disney involvement; my answer remains no.  Yes, it most certainly did remain true to the world of Star Wars! 

Some have argued The Force Awakens is simply a rehashing of the original 1977 Star Wars film.  J.J. Abrams is known to be a huge fan of the Star Wars films and Lawrence Kasdan, who co-wrote The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, also co-wrote Awakens.  So, it is possible it could be seen as simply a rehashing.  My views is that it's part homage to the original trilogy, yes, but also a well-executed moving forward of the saga with characters from the past (i.e. Han, Leia, Luke, R2-D2, C-3PO) being simply part of the telling of the story, not inserted cameos for mere effect. 

I think the Disneyfying effect is in that, in addition to Episodes VIII and IX, there will be two Star Wars spin-off films.  Rogue One, set to be released next year, and a Han Solo-centric film.  Will they do well?  That remains to be seen.  Will it be oversaturation?  Possibly.  Time will tell.  (Disney will likely continue past Episode IX to make more spin-offs.)

I did not flat-out hate the second the second trilogy -- Revenge of the Sith was a vast improvement -- as much as I was really disappointed.  The awe and wonder that the original trilogy invoked in me was simply not there with the second trilogy.  I love special effects, but not that much.  The enjoyment of watching characters I truly cared about was absent in the second go-round.  I was cautiously optimistic about a new trilogy.

I was not disappointed!  I really enjoyed this latest installment!  The writing was spot on!  The acting was spot on!  I really cared about the characters, both old and new!  The visual effects were stunning, but not overbearing!  John Williams' score was, as always, wonderful!  (It looks as though he'll be scoring all nine Star Wars films!)  Most importantly, it gave me the feeling I felt watching the original trilogy.  Director and producer J.J. Abrams and producers Kathleen Kennedy and Bryan Burk have done a wonderful job bringing back the world of Star Wars in such an amazing way!  Well done!  (Yes, I used a lot of exclamation points because I am thrilled.)

The Force has, indeed, awakened!


Terry

Friday, December 4, 2015

Term of the Day: PERPETUAL WAR

Just days ago, President Obama and The Pentagon announced more troops would be sent to Iraq and Syria to help battle ISIS (the "Islamic State").  It has been stated that it will be just to northern Syria, but it has also been reported that some troops will be going to Iraq as well.  It was said to be around fifty troops, and supposedly the initial number will be about two dozen.  White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that the troops will reserve the right to defend themselves if attacked -- I think that's a no-brainer -- but they will not be there to intentionally engage in combat actions.  Additionally, the troops will be made up mainly of advisers.  What if those advisers go into any areas that are "hot" (active fighting areas)?  Wouldn't defending themselves have to involve fighting?  (Another no-brainer.)  Well, where will these advisers go while there?

They will be Special Ops forces, which will include troops capable of engaging military forces on the ground.  Additional Special Ops forces will be available for backup.

American bombing of ISIS targets in Syria has been going on for over a year with no success in ending or containing ISIS ... which President Obama said they had done just prior to the terrorist attacks in Paris weeks ago.  The U.S. strategy regarding ISIS has failed.  Now, an increase in boots on the ground and, of course, combat is the "solution". 

How did the problem come about?

The following videos will supply you with the answers.  The first is from the web series Truth in Media, featuring Ben Swann reporting on the origin of ISIS.


The second video is the CNN special report Blindsided: How ISIS Shook the World, hosted by Fareed Zakaria.

If the video doesn't play, click here.

We have become quite adept at perpetual war, rather than bringing about real, lasting peace.  We have become not the peacekeepers of the world, but the warkeepers of this nation.  Perhaps it's no surprise to you, or perhaps it is, but there is money to be made in war, plenty of money.  We were warned about that happening.  Almost fifty-five years ago, just days before the swearing in of John F. Kennedy as his predecessor, outgoing President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave the following televised farewell address to the nation:


Sadly, we have not heeded that warning.  With U.S. military advisers in what was then French Indochina for more than a decade prior to Eisenhower's farewell address, U.S. military forces in the region tripled in 1961 and tripled again in 1962.  With the far-too-late revealed non-existent Gulf of Tonkin incident, and its resulting resolution, in 1964, which allowed the President to increase troops even further, our involvement in the Vietnam War began.

Our unnecessary involvement in Vietnam was a result of what is called mission creep, the increase of military presence on the way to military conflict, whether that conflict is a "skirmish" or an all-out war.  We continue to not heed that warning. 


While keeping his campaign promise to get troops out of Iraq, President Obama brought the last troops home about four years ago -- December 18, 2011.  Just two-and-a-half years later, June of last year, the President announced the sending of 300 military advisers back to Iraq, adding more troops ("advisers") every few months or so.  The number of troops in Iraq now stands at over 3,500. 

In addition, do not forget the following fact: The U.S. has spent billions of dollars in the "training" of troops in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan.  As noted in the first two videos, that money was not well-spent ... but it was spent, nonetheless!  Now, we are adding fifty or so new "advisers" to Syria (and perhaps Iraq as well).

This is mission creep, twenty-first century style.  Nothing more, nothing less.  As the past more-than-half-century has ticked by, Eisenhower's warning has been ignored by administration after administration, by one Congress after another.  When will this stop?  When our members of Congress ceases the arming of our supposed "enemies of our enemies" all over the world and forego profiting from conflict and death.


The sad state of this country is that the majority of its citizens want perpetual peace, while its leaders remain invested in perpetual war.

Terry

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Words of the Day: RHETORIC & REASON

Another mass shooting occurred here in the United States yesterday.  It took place at the Inland Regional Center, an agency that helps mentally challenged and special needs people, in San Bernardino, California, resulting in fourteen dead and seventeen injured.  Here's how one report on the BBC (British Broadcasting Company) covered the story:


Just another day in the United States of America.  How saddening, maddeningly, frustratingly true.

Mass shootings are not just becoming more prevalent; they are becoming routine.  When something terrible becomes routine, not only is the time to do something present, but the reason is present as well.  And yet, what we here in the U.S. get is rhetoric, not reason.  Today's cover of The New York Daily Post newspaper is a provocative one.

I would suspect that right-wingers and Christian fundamentalists find this as an attack on God/religion/faith, etc.  In fact, it is nothing of the kind.  The word "prayers" is highlighted in the boxes as a wake-up call, not an attack on God, or religion, or faith.  While politicians of their thoughts and prayers for the victims, they do nothing to be reasonable and change things for the better.  All the while, the number of victims of mass shootings continues to climb.  This year alone, just from January 1st to December 2nd, there have been 355 mass shootings in this country.  355!  More mass shootings than number of days in this year that have passed.  This shooting in San Bernardino, California, is the largest mass shootings since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting three years ago, which resulted in nearly thirty deaths.

As the Daily News' cover illuminates, prayers do not change laws and implement them; God does not change laws and implement them ... members of Congress do.  While it is reasonable, and well past time, to take action, what we get is rhetoric.  We get people screaming about their guns being taken away from them.  We get gun legislation, whenever it comes up, that repeatedly goes nowhere.  We gun certain bans left to expire.  Are all, or at least the vast majority, of Congress so heartless as to not care one bit about human life at all?  I doubt it, but I do, however, have a theory why, legislatively, things have been the way they are:

Too many politicians in bed with the National Rifle Association (NRA), taking contributions from it, and not wanting to bite a hand that feeds them.

The NRA has been beating the war drums of Watch out!  They're coming for your guns! for years.  The NRA's response to gun violence in this country has become to increase the number of guns in America.  When they contribute to politicians, politicians beat the same drums and call for the same increase in weaponry.  Why not?  They're not going to take the NRA's money and not do its bidding ... and the NRA will not give them any money if they refuse.


Please read the following:
-- A 2012 report from BusinessInsider.com that shows who gets the most money from the NRA, including a breakdown of contributions in general terms of overall members of Congress. 

-- A report from OpenSecrets.org that lists the biggest recipients of NRA dollars for last year's election cycle, including names of committees and individuals in Congress.


-- A report from NYDailyNews.com from October regarding contributions and election results, highlighting two examples of former Georgia Representative John Barrow and current West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin.  It also lists the NRA's annual contribution amounts from 1990-2014.

-- A 2013 article from Care2.com, a social networking site that promotes online petitions and taking social action, that shows the result of a study done by the British newspaper The Guardian about the percentage of U.S. Senators who stopped gun control legislation in Congress and were paid by the NRA.  The percentage may just astound you.

After being formed in the late nineteenth century, the NRA was involved in the passage of the National Firearms Act in 1934, the first piece of gun legislation in the United States.  In fact, during the congressional hearings reading the Act, then-NRA president Karl Frederick made the following statements during his testimony:
                     "I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons."

                                                         "I seldom carry one."
                          "I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns."

                        "I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses."

My, how times have changed!


All the way until the mid-1970's, the Association's focus was sportsmen.  It was at that time, the Association's legislative lobbying body, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) was formed, and was later instrumental in lobbying Congress to get the Firearm Owners Protection Act passed in 1986.  Its work continued in the area of reducing federal powers regarding firearms.  Famed actor Charlton Heston, who had, years earlier, supported gun legislation, served as NRA president from 1998-2003, bringing wider attention to the organization and its goals.

Wayne LaPierre has served as the NRA's Executive Vice-President since 1991, a capacity in which he continues to serve, and has been its most noted spokesperson in recent years.  He has functioned as a clarion bell for the latest NRA strategy: We need more and more and more guns!  In its nearly 145-year history, the NRA has gone from its initial purpose of  "[promoting and encouraging] rifle shooting on a scientific basis" to paying off members of Congress to do nothing to help to greatly reduce mass shootings.  We are left with rhetoric supporting the latter goal of the NRA.  Reason begs for something substantial to be done to counter it.


How times have changed, indeed.

Terry

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Word of the Day: MANHUNT (ACCOMPLICE)

Another individual has been identified in the attacks on Paris.  He is Mohamed Abrini, and he was an accomplice to the terrorists as a getaway driver.













































Terry

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Word of the Day: MANHUNT (UNIDENTIFIED)


A photo of a third suicide bomber, from the attack at the Stade de France has been released.





Sunday, November 15, 2015

Word of the Day: MANHUNT


In the wake of the Paris terror attacks, French authorities are searching for 26-year-old Salah Abdeslam and any of his accomplices.





Terry

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Phrase of the Day: EXECUTIONS HALTED

[I missed this story in the midst of a slew of other news items.]

I have been following the case of Richard Glossip, an inmate on Oklahoma's death row after being wrongfully prosecuted and given the death penalty, for about a month-and-a-half.  On September 30, Governor Mary Fallin granted a last-minute stay of execution..  That stay, after a previous one for just two weeks, was for thirty-seven days.

That stay is now currently indefinite, as are all executions in Oklahoma.  In my September 30 post, I referred to the stay as having a "strange reason" behind it, even with the statement from the Governor's office mentioning the center of the controversy, a drug called potassium acetate.  It turns out that potassium acetate was incorrectly sent to the prison by Oklahoma's supplier of drugs for Richard Glossip's execution.  Potassium chloride, not potassium acetate, is required by Oklahoma's lethal injection protocols.

As a result Governor Mary Fallin has halted all executions indefinitely until the state Attorney General finishes investigating and wrongdoing in relation to not following proper procedures. 

I invite you to read up on this situation with the following articles:

All Oklahoma Executions on Hold After 'Crazy' Drug Snafu

Delays as Death-Penalty States Scramble for Execution Drugs

Terry

 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Phrase of the Day: START A NEW ROUTINE

Last week, following the shooting on the campus of Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, President Obama made a statement regarding the shooting itself and guns in America in general.  In it, the President said:
        "...as I said just a few months ago, and I said a few months before that, and I
        said each time we see one of these mass shootings, our thoughts and prayers
        are not enough.  It’s not enough.  It does not capture the heartache and grief
        and anger that we should feel.  And it does nothing to prevent this carnage
        from being inflicted someplace else in America -- next week, or a couple of
        months from now."

He added:
        "But we are not the only country on Earth that has people with mental illnesses
        or want to do harm to other people.  We are the only advanced country on
        Earth that sees these kinds of mass shootings every few months."


The President addressed the current state in this country regarding these shootings and their aftermath:
        "Somehow this has become routine.  The reporting is routine.  My response
        here at this podium ends up being routine.  The conversation in the
        aftermath of it.  We've become numb to this.  We talked about this after
        Columbine and Blacksburg, after Tucson, after Newtown, after Aurora,
        after Charleston.  It cannot be this easy for somebody who wants to inflict
        harm on other people to get his or her hands on a gun."

He included Washington's response to these killings:
        "And what’s become routine, of course, is the response of those who oppose
        any kind of common-sense gun legislation.  Right now, I can imagine the press
        releases being cranked out:  We need more guns, they’ll argue.  Fewer gun
        safety laws.  

        "Does anybody really believe that?  There are scores of responsible gun
        owners in this country --they know that's not true.  We know because of the
        polling that says the majority of Americans understand we should be changing
        these laws -- including the majority of responsible, law-abiding gun owners.
        "We spend over a trillion dollars, and pass countless laws, and devote entire
        agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil, and rightfully so.  And yet,
        we have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from even collecting data on how
        we could potentially reduce gun deaths.  How can that be?"


Just yesterday, not one, but two on-campus shootings took place in America, hours apart -- one at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, and one at Texas Southern University in Houston.

Going back to President Obama's news conference last week, he issued the following challenge to news organizations:
        "I would ask news organizations -- because I won't put these facts forward --
        have news organizations tally up the number of Americans who’ve been
        killed through terrorist attacks over the last decade and the number of
        Americans who’ve been killed by gun violence, and post those side-by-side
        on your news reports.  This won't be information coming from me; it will be
        coming from you."


Now that is a great idea!
 
The line at the top represents gun deaths in the U.S.
The line at the bottom represents deaths from terror attacks in the U.S.

While terror attacks in the U.S. have decreased 72%, gun attacks have gone up 14%.  In 2004, there were almost 400 times as many gun deaths as there were terror-related deaths.  By 2013, that number shot up to over 1600 times as many.  That means that in ten years (2004-2013), the ratio between gun deaths and terror-related deaths has quadrupled.

It seems to me that where we spend our money, time, and resources needs to change.  Mental health is a huge part of this problem as is access to guns; it is not either/or.  It is not a case of responsible and mentally-stable people going around killing people.  Why responsible gun owners and organizations that claim to support responsible gun ownership refuse to get behind addressing both parts of the issue while clouding the issue by claiming the government is out to take away everyone's gun is beyond my comprehension.  (Okay, it's not really beyond my comprehension ... it's that very clouding of the issue that compounds and extends the problem.)

I do not often use memes to make a point, but I feel the one below is germane and succinct while saying so much:
Mental health care in the United States is, of course, a huge problem unto itself.  In light of these mass shootings, however, care and access are unequivocally intertwined.

I would suggest that President Obama got it right about his observation of the routine quality surrounding one shooting after another after another.  Language is a part of how we address issues.  One example is our government talking about preventing terror attacks on U.S. soil.  With that in mind, maybe the first step, as far as how we identify the problem, should be this:


Terry

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Phrase of the Day: STAY GRANTED

In a last-minute, and completely unexpected, move, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin gave Richard Glossip a stay of execution!

Even though her office argued in favor of the use of midazolam, the controversial lethal injection drug, in the case of Glossip v. Gross, she cited, of all things, its use in the lethal injection process.

Here is the statement from her office today:
        "Governor Mary Fallin has issued a 37 day stay of Richard Glossip’s
        execution to address legal questions raised today about Oklahoma’s
        execution protocols. The stay will give the Department of Corrections
        and its attorneys the opportunity to determine whether potassium
        acetate is compliant with the state’s court-approved execution
        procedures."
       "Last minute questions were raised today about Oklahoma’s execution
        protocol and the chemicals used for lethal injection," said Fallin. 
        "After consulting with the attorney general and the Department of
        Corrections, I have issued a 37-day stay of execution while the state
        addresses those questions and ensures it is complying fully with the
        protocols approved by federal courts."
        The new execution date will be Friday, November 6.
        "My sincerest sympathies go out to the Van Treese family, who has
        waited so long to see justice done,” Fallin said.


A strange reason, but a stay of execution is a stay of execution.  Hopefully, an innocent man will be let free.

If you haven't yet read my blog about this case, please click here.


Terry

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Film of the Day: THE ANATOMY OF A GREAT DECEPTION

Yesterday, here the United States, the nation marked the fourteenth anniversary of the attacks on 9/11.  Fourteen years later, it remains a divisive event.  There are those who are in sync with the official story and those who are not.  While I consider myself a healthy skeptic, I am in the latter of those two camps.  As the events on that terrible day unfolded, and in the weeks and months that followed, I, like so many others, was overcome with many emotions. As the years passed, many questions arose for me and I began to think about all that had happened much more deeply.

Today's film, director David Hooper's first, is The Anatomy of a Great Deception, which discusses his personal journey in researching the events of 9/11.  It is a thought-provoking project into the events of that terrible day that, for Hooper, began with "one simple, innocent question"..

Dismiss this as conspiracy ramblings if you will, but I sincerely invite you to give Mr. Hooper's film a watch.  You just might find it was worth it.



Terry

Monday, September 7, 2015

Phrase of the Day: RULE OF LAW

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you have likely heard of the case of Kim Davis.  Davis is a county clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky.  Beginning late last month, some same-sex couples came to the county clerk's office to obtain a marriage license.  (The U.S. Supreme Court declared same-sex marriages legal back in late June.)  Davis refused, citing "God's authority" as her reason why she refused.  In fact, it had reached the point very quickly where Davis was not issuing any marriage license to any couple, gay or straight, in order to avoid issuing licenses to same-sex couples.

Davis recently petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear her case; the Court turned her down.  In fact, Davis had been ordered by a judge about a month ago to issue marriage licenses.  For nearly a week, Davis went before a federal judge several times.  Each time, the judge told her that legally she could not refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  Davis remained defiant, and was held in contempt of court and put in jail last week.  In court, she told her clerks to not issues marriages licenses.  After being questioned by the judge, the judge told the clerks they had to issues marriages licenses to all couples under the law.  Five out of the six clerks agreed.  The one holdout was Davis' son, Nathan.

The following day, eight couples, six gay and two straight, obtained marriages licenses.  Some of the gay couples had tried to obtain a marriage license a couple of times; some had tried six times, day after day.  Many of them had entered into a class action lawsuit against Davis to be granted marriage licenses.  While a fine by itself would have also been appropriate for Davis' contempt charge, the judge felt that her legal defense fund, the Liberty Counsel, would be able to pay the fines for Davis with no problem while she continued to refuse to break the law.  In response to her being put in jail, the chairman of the Liberty Counsel, Mat Staver, has stated that Kim Davis has been treated like a criminal solely because she is being forced to go against her religious conscience.

In fact, Mr. Staver feels as though Kin Davis' is similar with what went on in Nazi Germany.
          "[W]hat happened in Nazi Germany, what happened there first, they
          removed the Jews from government public employment, then they
          stopped patronizing them in their private businesses, then they
          continued to stigmatize them, then they were the ‘problems,’ then they
          killed them.         
          "Back in the 1930s, it began with the Jews, where they were evicted
          from public employment, then boycotted in their private employment,
          then stigmatized and that led to the gas chambers.  This is the new
          persecution of Christians here in this country."


Mr.Staver, Kim Davis was jailed for breaking the law.  Period.

There are other county clerks refusing to issue marriage licenses, too, but I want to highlight a story out of Oregon.  Judge Vance D. Day, a circuit court judge in Marion County, Oregon, has recently refused to issue any marriage licenses in order to avoid issuing them for same-sex couples. He is under investigation for a series of ethics issues, one of them being his refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Even though in violation of the Supreme Court's ruling, Judge Day had immediately instructed his clerks to refer couples to other judges. 

While the situations of Kim Davis and Judge Day are similar, the approaches are vastly different. Judge Day immediately had other options to be presented.  Davis did not even want her clerks to issues marriage licenses, and maintains from jail that they still should not do so, even claiming the licenses are invalid.  Both are in the wrong in the sight of the law, but the judge at least gave options, where Davis wants to use her position to hold up the rights of others hostage.  She has even stated she would not resign from her position.  Judge Day is at least offering legal circumvention; Kim Davis is staunchly offering religious imposition.  Let me clarify, I do not feel Judge Day is correct, not at all, but at least he has currently suggested an alternate route.

Christian conservatives are condemning Davis' jailing as religious persecution.  That is their belief and they are entitled to that belief, but the contempt ruling is legal, not religious.  Let us look at the Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage.  In his majority decision paper, Judge Anthony Kennedy wrote that the plaintiffs were seeking "equal dignity in the eyes of the law" and that "[n]o longer may this liberty be denied".  Nowhere in the justices' decisions is it stated that they were ruling on religious beliefs and convictions, and nowhere do they state that everyone's religious beliefs must change.  Why?  Because the Supreme Court is not a religious body; it is a legal body, and thus has no jurisdiction over religious beliefs.

Mike Huckabee, a current Republican presidential candidate and Christian conservative, has stated that Kim Davis is facing what he calls "judicial tyranny" as a result of "overreach of the judiciary".  Once again, an intentional misinterpretation of the Supreme Court's legal ruling regarding equal rights as an anti-religious statement.  Kim Davis, and others who believe that way she does, can believe that way all they wish.  Legal issues and laws can coincide with religious beliefs, like murder, but those issues and laws still address legality alone and nothing more.

America is not a theocracy and was never intended by its founders to be one.  The separation of church and state is a tenet of that.  America is, and was always intended to be, a nation of laws. 

To be fair, Kim Davis has worked in the Rowan County clerk's office for roughly twenty-five years, and was elected as County Clerk on January 5 of this year.  So, after a quarter-century of working in the County Clerk's office, and roughly six months after her beginning as County Clerk, the Supreme Court hands down its ruling on same-sex marriage.  Clearly, the dynamics have changed; that cannot be denied. 

Still, if her private, individual religious beliefs are against same-sex marriage, but the position to which she was elected, which included an oath she took to uphold the Constitution, is a legal, government position, then the law must prevail.  The county clerk's office is not a religious institution.

How did Davis respond to this new dynamic?  With discrimination against same-sex couples by denying them their legal right to get married, citing God's authority and her religious beliefs as her justifications.  It is religious bigotry and entitlement, not religious freedom.

Does Kim Davis have a right to be County Clerk?  Of course, she does.  Still, to continue in that position, she has to issue marriage licenses to straight and same-sex couples because same-sex couples have the same right to get married as straight couples.  That is the nature of her non-religious position as County Clerk.

If Kim Davis is against same-sex marriage, then she should not marry a woman.  If Mike Huckabee, who is also a Baptist minister, does not want to perform a wedding for a same-sex couples, then he shouldn't.  (The Supreme Court ruling does not address individual religious beliefs or how churches and clergy have to perform their duties.) 

So, what's the problem?

For one, the misuse of the term "religious freedom".  The religious freedom granted by the Constitution is about the exercise one's religion and religion itself.  The "religious freedom" of which people like Kim Davis, Mike Huckabee, and others speak appears to be the freedom to rework and rewrite the fabric of this country.  Whenever those who wish to change the fabric of this country do not get their way, the automatic response is their religious freedom is being denied.

The other problem, which stems from the "religious freedom" arguments, is the rising tide of anti-secular law sentiment among many Christian conservatives.  It is a form of religious separatism.  It is not separation of church and state, but separation church from state ... or more along the lines of elevation of church over state. 

If Kim Davis was Muslim, Christian conservatives and, let's be honest, others would be against her, saying she should just do her job or step down.  And yet, if she was Muslim and refused to issue marriage licenses based on her religious beliefs, she would be doing nothing different that what is the case today.  (I would still say she was in the wrong and should issue marriage licenses.)  To say that there is a difference and Kim Davis, the Christian, is right is based in religious arrogance.

There are many countries that are theocracies.  Some of them are Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Iran.  It is curious to note than no Christian conservative has stated that those countries are great examples of government rule.  If so many of them want religion to rule this country -- Mike Huckabee, for one example, when he initially ran for President in 2008, said he wanted the Constitution to be rewritten to be more in line with the Bible -- why don't any of them tout those other countries as examples?  The answer is religious elitism.

The case of Kim Davis boils down to someone behaving in direct conflict with the oath she swore to uphold ... someone not doing her job to its fullest extent ... and using a cloak of "religious freedom" as defense.  Those who support her and, perhaps, want to see America become a theocracy need to understand that, as a nation of laws, the law must prevail.  Those who are against same-sex marriage, citing their religion, show themselves to be unjust, seeing gay persons as second-class citizens who do not deserve equal rights. 

They also represent Christianity as religious colonialism.

Terry

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Term of the Day: STAY OF EXECUTION (4TH UPDATE)








I urge you, dear readers, to read this and both get involved and spread this post around as much as you can.  A man's life hangs in the balance.

The death penalty has been a divisive subject for years.  Its roots could arguably be traced back ages when early homo sapiens walked the earth (i.e. threats, real or perceived, that were met with violence and death).  The use of crucifixion under the Roman Empire, the use of the electric chair and lethal injection, and even the murders of innocent people during the Salem witch trials are all various examples of the death penalty.  It has been deemed necessary when dealing with criminals whose crimes (also real or perceived) are so severe that only putting them to death is deemed as just punishment.

There have been examples when the death penalty has been commuted, and the discovery of DNA several years ago has, at times, be a key element in getting convictions of varying degrees overturned.  There are times when people have not only be incarcerated unjustly, but even put to death unnecessarily. 

Today, I will highlight one such case.  The case of Richard Glossip.

I will be providing links to relevant sites, but I wanted to provide a very brief overview.  A murder took place at the Best Budget Inn in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on Janaury 7, 1997.  The victim was Barry Van Treese, the owner of the Best Budget Inn.  The man convicted of the murder is Justin Sneed, who was in charge of maintenance at the inn.  The manager, Richard Glossip, was on duty and onsite at the time.  Sneed was arrested and charged with Van Treese's murder.  Sneed implicated Glossip, saying Glossip had paid him to kill Van Treese.

Justin Sneed is serving a life sentence.  Richard Glossip is on death row.

Key points in this case include:
  • Deal made by detectives with Sneed for implicating someone else
  • Videotape of Sneed's confession, including the offer made by detectives, was never shown to any jury.
  • Shoddy defense representation
  • Sneed changing his testimony repeatedly
  • No physical evidence to support Glossip's involvement

Richard Glossip is scheduled to be executed on September 16.  He has been on death row for seventeen years.

I first became aware of this case on a recent episode of the Dr. Phil television show.  I am not a regular viewer of his show, but I had seen commercials for the episode that featured actress Susan Sarandon.  Sarandon, played Sister Helen Prejean in the very powerful film Dead Man Walking.  Both Sarandon and Sister Helen appeared on the episode.  Below is that episode in its entirety.

Many of the points covered in the show are in the next link, but I would recommend you give it a read.  This is a link to Sister Mary Prejean's blog about Richard Glossip's case.  You will see links for signing a petition to Oklahoma's Governor Mary Fallin to give Glossip a stay of execution to allow all of the relevant evidence to come to light, to write to Governor Fallin directly, to write your local newspaper about this case, and more.  I would strongly encourage you to scroll down on the site and click on the DOWNLOAD THE TALKING POINTS link for an overview of this case before you continue.  Here's the link: Save Richard Glossip's life

There's even a website dedicated to Glossip himself, which includes information about his life and updates on his case.  Here's that link: Richard Glossip Is An Innocent Man

One wrongful death does not, and cannot, warrant or justify another wrongful death.  Please see everything presented here and get involved.  At the very least, I urge you to spread this post as much as you can on various social media.  The time is getting closer to September 16, Richard Glossip's scheduled execution date. 

An innocent man was killed on January 7, 1997.  Don't let another be killed on September 30, 2015.  Please help!

Terry

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Term of the Day: TRADE AGREEMENT

[A quick word of thanks to you, dear readers, for pushing this blog past the 6,000 views mark.  Thanks to all of you around the world!]
 
When is a trade agreement not really a trade agreement?
How can you tell if it is a good or a bad thing?

To the first question, a trade agreement is not really a trade agreement when it really deals with the benefit of corporations and the detriment of people and their governments, thus creating a form of global corporatocracy.  The answer to the second question is you can tell if it is good or bad when you are not told about it fully, as if something is being hidden because it will cause more harm than good.

In short, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), touted as a trade agreement, is no such thing .. and it is really, really bad.

If you were frustrated and/or confused about Obamacare when it was being voted on and then passed and implemented, that will seem like nothing more than a mere conundrum compared to the TPP.  It would be an agreement among a dozen countries, including Canada, Mexico, Australia, and Japan.

The TPP would affect personal Internet use, prescription drug costs, intellectual property rights, and much more.

A little further down into this bowl of unpalatable alphabet soup is needed to understand how close things are to going from bad to worse.  Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) could fundamentally change how future trade deals can proceed in the future.  It allows for the President to send the entire text of the bill to the Congress for an up or down, strictly yes or no vote, without allowing any amendments to be tacked onto it.  This is far different from the usual involvement by Congress in trade deals.  The TPA is also known as "fast track".

On June 18th, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the TPA by a vote of 218-210.  The U.S. Senate passed the bill by a vote of 60-38 just six days later.  Another bill, the TAA (Trade Adjustment Assurance), which is alleged to make the trade agreement more agreeable to unions, and which was originally bundled with the TPA, initially losing in the House, then passed the House by a vote of 286-138 on the same day the Senate passed the TPA.  (The Senate had originally voted in favor of the TPA/TAA bundle.)

The bill has gone to President Obama's desk and he has signed it.  His job now is to negotiate the terms of the agreement with other countries included in the agreement before sending the bill off to Congress for a final up or down vote.

The following videos will explain this far better.  The first is by economist, professor, and former Secretary of Labor under President Clinton, Robert Reich.  It explains briefly about the TPA and the TPP.  It was released before the votes in favor of fast track were taken, but Reich is clear about his stance on the matter.

The next video explains more about the TPP, including who has had a say about its development and just how far reaching its effects would be.  (The Philip Morris v. Uruguay case mentioned in the video has not yet been decided.)

And this video, looking at it from a Canadian perspective, shows that there is more to come, including talks coming up very soon.

Does this worry you?  It should.  It should worry you very much.

Now, a global corporatocracy cannot really be achieved, or at least not come to full fruition, in the Pacific Rim alone.  Never fear, the TTIP is here.

The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which would be between the United States and the European Union, has been in negotiations for about a year-and-a-half already.  It is still in negotiations ... and those negotiations remain behind closed doors.  It would be an attack on the EU's national health system through privatization, the relaxing of banking regulations, a lowering of food safety (including the use of GMO foods) and environmental regulations in the EU, and much more.  It, too, like the TPP, is being touted as a trade deal when it is nothing of the kind.

Shockingly, the EU Parliament voted just days ago in support of the TTIP!  This article from last Fall and this article from yesterday, both from England's The Independent, provide even more detail on what is at stake and the recent Parliamentary vote. 

The TPP must be stopped!  The only thing being traded in this incorrectly described trade deal is trading what protections are and should be in place for the stripping away or degradation of those protections ... trading what is best for citizens for what is best for corporations ... trading individual countries' sovereignty for a global corporatocracy.  This cannot happen!

Here in the United States, I urge you to contact your Senators and Representatives and tell them, in no uncertain terms, to vote NO when the TPP comes to Congress for an up or down vote.  Make the TPP DOA.  Here's how:


Click on the image below.  It will take you to the website Contacting the Congress, which lists contact info for all members of Congress, Senate and House.
http://www.contactingthecongress.org/

Anyone from any of the other countries listed in the posting should contact their elected officials, too.  Let your political representatives know in a loud, unified voice that the TPP must not be passed!

Terry

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Term of the Day: MARRIAGE EQUALITY


Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, ruled in a 5-4 decision that same-sex marriage is legal in all of America.  It was a decision that was a long time coming ... more than forty years coming.

The first Supreme Court case regarding same-sex marriage was brought in 1972.  Baker v. Nelson was brought by a same-sex couple who were denied a marriage license.  The case was dismissed in October of that year.

The following year, in both Maryland and Washington state, rulings against same sex-couples were handed down.  In 1975, a marriage license clerk in Boulder, Colorado, issued marriage licenses to six same-sex couples after finding nothing in state law to prevent her from doing so.  Both the Federal Court and Court of Appeals agree that the law applied only to heterosexual couples.  This was pretty much the norm in legal cases brought throughout the remainder of the twentieth century.

Fast forward to the twenty-first century, specifically 2003, when the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled, in the case of Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, that civil unions, for example, which were lesser forms of couples' unions, were insufficient to protect same-sex couples; only marriage could do that.

Just six months later, Massachusetts became the first state in the union to legalize same-sex marriage in 2003.


Setbacks would continue, but civil unions and domestic partnerships were put in place as a kind of balm meant to ease -- or, more correctly, appease -- same-sex couples.  It is important to note, however, that civil unions and domestic partnerships did not include all of the same rights of marriage.

In May of 2008, the California Supreme Court agreed with the plaintiffs -- the American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights -- that a state statute regarding marriage that excludes same-sex couples was unconstitutional.  Just six months later, the infamous Proposition 8, which denied same-sex couples the right to marry, was passed by the voters.  A challenge to Prop 8 was brought before the California Supreme Court ... the court upheld it.

During this time, the following states passed laws or statutes that legalized same-sex marriage: Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia ... all the way to the end of 2009.

In both the cases of Gill v. Office of Personnel Management and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. United States Department of Health and Human Services, a U.S. District Court ruled a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional in its restriction of marriage for only heterosexual couples.

Over a year after Prop 8 in California was upheld, the U.S. District Court of Northern California declares it unconstitutional.  (An appeal the following year would result in it remaining unconstitutional.)  In early 2011, President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder declare they will no longer pursue to legally defend DOMA, citing it is indefensible under the Constitution.

More states would pass the freedom to marry with other setbacks along the way.  In the general election ballot of 2012, four states -- Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington state -- had questions regarding the freedom to marry.  The freedom to marry won in all four states.

Over the next couple of years, more and more states pass laws in favor of, or strike down bans on, marriage equality.  One setback came in late 2014 when the 6th Circuit Appeals Court upheld marriage bans in four states: Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee.  A review by the U.S. Supreme Court, brought on by all four states, was immediately sought.  Obergefell v. Hodges, along with three other cases, were brought before the highest court in the land.  By the time these cases were decided on by the court, thirty-six states and the District of Columbia, nearly three-quarters of the union, had allowed same-sex marriage.

That brings us to yesterday.  What a day!







The spire atop One World Trade Center

The top of The Empire State Building

The White House

Niagara Falls

Personally, the whole issue about marriage equality was a no-brainer.   While some religious persons and institutions have a position against it, citing biblical definition, this issue was, and always has been, a civil rights issue.  Sure, if your religious beliefs are in contradiction to the concept of marriage equality, you will be against it.  When it is being litigated, however, it is now a legal question, not a religious one.  When the issue goes before district courts, state supreme courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court, it does not, must not, and cannot be about religion.  It is solely about the law.  Period.  What all of the multitude of cases that have been brought before jurists and states' citizens have continued to address is the legality of suppression and denial.

In short, it is the determination of the legality of separate and unequal.  (Sounds familiar.)

Those opposed to marriage equality will continue to fight this.  Remember the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and the 19th Amendment to the Constitution granting women the right to vote?  And what about that other huge Supreme Court decision back in 1973, Roe v. Wade?  All these have been, and some still are, being fought against.  Sorry, folks, "a more perfect union" is not achieved by separation, denial, and inequity. 

While rightfully ecstatic at yesterday's landmark decision, the gay community is also cognizant of the other injustices still in place against them.  In addition to the numerous challenges and blocking of marriage equality already occurring, there are currently twenty-nine states where firing someone for their being gay is legal.  Transgender individuals are not protected in thirty-two states.  In addition, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prohibit workplace discrimination against anyone based on sexual identity or gender self-identification, has been introduced in all but one of the past twenty-two Congresses!  (House Speaker John Boehner stalled it because he felt its passage would become "the basis for frivolous lawsuits".)

To those who say same-sex marriage undermines marriage, I ask, "How?"  Wanting equal rights and protections under the law in the context of marriage ruins marriage?  Really?  Again, these are persons who are misconstruing the difference between legality with religious beliefs. 

The fourteenth amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads, in part:
        No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or
        immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any
        person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to
        any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

No doubt, Justice Anthony Kennedy had that in mind in the final section of his majority opinion:
Stunning, simply stunning.

And now, marriage equality is the law of the land.  Under attack that it already is and will be, it is the law of the land.

Love wins.
Equality wins.
America wins.
Dignity wins.

Terry



Genul meu de artificii :)
Posted by DoZa De Haş on Sunday, December 28, 2014

Friday, June 19, 2015

Question of the Day: WHEN IS THIS CRAP GOING TO STOP?

Today marks this blog's third anniversary.  My gratitude to all of my readers who have kept this going and have kept coming back time and time again remains huge.  Thank you all so very much.

My intent was to wax nostalgic about the past three years.  However, something else has come up that needs to take the forefront. 

For my first and second anniversaries, I focused on the theme of time.  It appears that time will be part of my writing today, even though I had originally intended to go in a different direction.

I should also confess, dear readers, it will take all of my strength to refrain from the language I have been using privately regarding this matter.  This is that serious for me and I will use this forum to air what I feel.

The recent mass murder at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Charleston, South Carolina this past Wednesday is where my focus today begins.  I will not name the horrible individual who fired the weapon -- the name of that miscreant is splashed all over the media already -- but I will name the nine victims of the massacre:

The Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton (45, a pastor at Emanuel)
Depayne Middleton Doctor (49, a member of Emanuel's choir)
Cynthia Hurd (54, church member who also worked as a librarian for 31 years)
Susie Jackson (87, church member)
Ethel Lance (70, Jackson's cousin, church member and custodian)
The Rev. Clementa Pinckney (41, senior pastor and S.C. state senator)
Tywanza Sanders (26, church member and 2014 graduate of Allen University)
The Rev. Daniel Simmons (74, survived the shooting but died later)
Myra Thompson (59, wife of vicar of Holy Trinity Reformed Episcopal Church)

The intent of the massacre, according to this sorry excuse for a member of society, was to start a race war.  "[Y]ou've raped our women, and you are taking over the country.  I have to do what I have to do."  If you read that and agree, you are part of the problem.  If you read that and disagree, we are on the same side of this issue.

So ... no white person has ever raped a black person or taken over black people en masse?  I must have missed that history lesson.

When Barack Obama came into office in 2009, one of the things that was being touted as a result of his being elected President was that the country had overcome (or at least taken a huge step in moving beyond) racial tensions in the country.  An argument in moving forward could be made, whereas a cure or a solution for racial tension had no basis.

Over the past several years, we have seen many examples of racial tension as a lingering cancer on the soul of this country.  Emanuel AME Church has seen its share of the repercussions of these same tensions, including the organizing of a slave revolt by one of the church's founders, Denmark Vesey.  The plan for the revolt was discovered beforehand and the church was burned down. 

The short version (and very cleaned-up version) of my feelings is that all of this on-going tension is crap ... just pure, indefensible, undeniable crap.  Every single person who perpetuates this tension, and some of the mass media is included here, is full of crap.  It is such a waste of time, words cannot describe.  It is based in hatred, spewed by short-sighted, narrow-minded individuals and groups to other short-sighted, narrow-minded individuals and groups -- "If you say it often enough, people will believe it's true" -- with, as its seedlings, an antiquated mantra of "Equality is evil".  That same mantra, regardless of race being involved or not, has a history that goes back long before the formation of the United States.

So, life is sacred, but if that life is black (or any minority, for that matter), it is worth less or worthless.  The ignorance is staggering.

Racial tension is not confined to South Carolina, but since that is where the massacre took place, let us stay there for the moment.  The Confederate Flag flies atop the state's capital of Columbia.  Most times, the state flag and the U.S. flag are flown above a state's capital building.  It is commemorative of the state's own history and honoring that state's membership in the United States of America.  With the Confederate Flag flying atop the state's capital building, what is being honored?  With a nod to history, the answer would be the uplifting of slavery.  (That was, after all, the key issue underlying the American Civil War.)  In broader terms, the disgusting "Equality is evil" mantra would be the answer.  How does that encourage fairness and the valuation of all individuals worthy of fair treatment?  It doesn't.  How does that lend itself to a moving forward?  It doesn't.  How does that represent South Carolina's desire to learn from its past?  Same answer.

As a male and white -- arguably, the "best" combo for a person in this country -- what difference does this make to me?  What difference should it make to me?  Why not shut up, since I'm not the one who's getting shot, choked out, beat up, etc., and just enjoy my freedom?  Because that kind of freedom is hollow; that kind of freedom is worthless.  Then the question might be, "Well, freedom is freedom, isn't it?"  Well, no.  Freedom for an individual or a group of individuals is, indeed, freedom, but when that freedom is not shared equitably, it becomes selective freedom.  Freedom is supposed to be for all; selective freedom falls short ... far short.  In other words, my freedom serves me as an individual, but selective freedom does not serve me as a citizen of the Union. It is self-serving, not all-encompassing.

For those who might ask what the difference is, clearly, no answer will suffice.

Born in 1961, I was not old enough to observe the cultural sea change in its infancy that took place in this country in the 1960's as it happened.  As I have read and watched our history, and continue to read and watch events unfold in the decades since, the levels of disbelief and anger in me have been surpassed, although they are revisited at every moment of this shameful behavior, and replaced with pure disgust.  I am increasingly sick and tired at each disgusting expression of racial hatred.  The recurring question in my mind is ... When is this crap going to stop?!

For those who might argue that, hey, life is not fair, my concern is the necessity to willfully add to it.  I am not including having a bad day and you snap at someone, when you normally would not do so.  That can be included under the "life isn't fair" umbrella, but that is an example of unintentional actions.  The necessity to willfully make life inexcusably less fair for another individual used to just escape me for years.  I am at the point where that "necessity" is nonexistent.  It is a manufactured necessity, cloaked in a sheepskin of deception, and advertised as a panacea for the ills of society.  Ladies and gentlemen, let's go to the toteboard and check in on that "necessity"...
In the Past ... Bullshit
In the Present ... Bullshit
In the Future ... Bullshit

(So much for being reserved.)

Someone who was interviewed for a New York Times article was quoted as saying, "We’re not worth the air they don’t want us to breathe," and stated that his words described what he felt black people in Charleston feel on a daily basis.

What the hell is the justification for any group of persons to feel so shamefully inhumane toward another group of persons?!  What the hell is the justification for that other group of persons to sense that inhumanity and to be treated inhumanely and be expected to just deal with it?!  The answer to both is that neither is justifiable unless "liberty and justice for all" really means "liberty and justice for all white people".  I grew up believing, and still believe, that "all" means "all", not a specific "all".  It is obvious that the murderer at Emanuel AME Church could not disagree more.

Maybe the hate-bathed individual who killed those nine individuals needs to be angry at the white land and slave owners who brought such large numbers of black people to this country in the first place.  Along the lines of "How could they rape our women and take over our country if they were never brought here in such large numbers so quickly in the first place", the "logic" might go.  

It is far too lazy to say that, really, all tensions cannot be removed and it is an argument to just give up trying.  Of course, all tensions in the course of life cannot be removed, and not all huge tensions can be made small.  My personal opinion is that no society can exist without some sort of conflict -- certainly, the best novels can't -- but the kinds of tensions and how we handle them are far more important than pursuing an unattainable goal.  An individual or group mistreating another is a tension.  How they express that is part of the tension is just as much part of the tension as how it is addressed.  You kill a weed by killing the root, so addressing the reason for that mistreatment (the root of the problem) and changing it for the better is key. 

Whether you see this biblically or geographically, we create and define borders.  We have countries, states, towns.  We have social status and ethnicities.  We have maps and property surveys.  All the while, none of these, unless ascribed so, equate to divisions; they are just demarcations (i.e. family A is financially better/worse off than family B; when you leave this town, you enter that town).  In short, even without a physical wall, there are those of us who create and define what are really demarcations as walls, and those walls must never be broken down or jumped over. 

I have heard at this tragedy that it is so hard to believe that, in the year 2015, how these racial tensions can still exist and still run so deeply; I agree.  Often the phrase The time is now is used in the need for stopping this kind of senseless violence.  Well, yes, we are no longer in 1965, so what is going on?  However, now is not the time to end this downward spiral of society entropy, but it is a time for that.

The first two persons in the Bible, Adam and Eve, did not have to deal with racial tensions, but they had to do the right thing, and each generation afterward, the same.  The first animals of any species have to learn the right way and wrong way of doing things, all in the interest of their survival, as well as their offspring.  Even, on a smaller scale, domesticated animals have to learn what to "do what is right". 

I was just drawing a broader parallel for argument's sake, now back to humanity.  When someone says today, in the light of the Charleston massacre, that "Now is the time...", they are right.  Those who said the same thing fifty years ago were right.  The abolitionists who said basically the same thing were right. 

The time to do the right thing for and toward others HAS ALWAYS BEEN HERE!  From Adam and Eve, the time to do the right things has been here.  From the first Homo sapiens, the time has been here. From the first breaths of Aristotle, Jesus, Constantine, Maimonides, Sappho, Margaret Fuller, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Princess Diana, Abraham Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and others, to each of their last breaths, the time was here.  Every single day you and I are alive, it is time.  Time can only wasted if there is time available.  It has ALWAYS been available and we need to spend our time better.

Has enough of the population of this troubled republic decided that the time has passed?  Is the struggle something for just the history books?  Has that good fight already come and gone?  Is being a concerned citizen now limited to only feeling bad (in whatever form) about these events?  Has it firmly become "their problem"?

Personally, I have no investment in specifically who is killing/hurting/maiming/mistreating whom.  It is all wrong, but this racial tension garbage is a blight on this country that continues to this day.  It is an illness, but I would caution on using that too much in our public and private discourse about these events.  For example, if it was seen by society at large as purely an illness, then think of the increase in temporary insanity pleas in our courts.  I see it as an illness, akin to dementia.  Cancer patients learn they have cancer; migraines sufferers learn they get migraines; heart attack or stroke victims learn what happened to them, and so on.  This cannot be fully described as an illness because the "patient", as it were, usually does not learn about his/her illness.  The illness, as seen by others, is viewed as a healthy outlook on society by the "patient".

So, let me attempt to get this straight.  I am white, so I should hate black people.  What about lighter-skinned black people?  Should I hate them less, or is their simply having black DNA enough for me to hate them?  How about white people who have great tans?  Should I hate actor George Hamilton, known for being well-tanned?  How about "tan mom", Patricia Krentcil?  She was REALLY tan!  And what about racial co-opter Rachel Dolezal?  Should I have a problem with her because she's acting like them when she's really one of us?

The lack of logic and overabundance of hatred are enormous!  The size of the mountain of crap involved is equally so!

Racial hatred is taught.  Being in the third century of this country's existence, it is still being taught.  Can we stop it from being taught?  That is a tough one, but I think it will take time.  I, too, know not when, and I share in the frustration of that glorious time when it is not taught not having yet arrived.  I also don't have all the answers.  Oh, how I wish I did!

We might not be able to completely end racial hatred, but we should try.  Why?  Why not?  More, not less, of what happened Wednesday at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston is why.  Only misinformed, subversive, pro-divisiveness, anti-equality-for-all malcontents, like the shooter, want to continue on their path.

When is this crap going to stop?!

Terry