Ideology…

Ideology 4
On the nightly news, yet another school shooting, another gang shootout in the streets of Chicago, and another giant yawn by mainstream America.  It seems the only folks to suffer are the victims and their friends and family.  How is it that we have grown to accept the status quo?  To accept the disturbingly trite and vastly ignorant “guns don’t shoot people, people do is absurd.”  No other industrialized country has anywhere near so much gun violence.  Yet every country severely limits or bans ownership of guns; they all have approximately the same incidence of mental illness; kids in all developed nations are exposed to the same violent videos; poor parents are ubiquitous in all nations.  The only feature that differentiates us from the other countries is the overwhelming availability of guns.

Yet, the tired arguments still exist:

1. “If innocent people disarm, only the criminals will have guns.” – Really?  The implication is that most gun violence is committed by criminals on innocents.  Not the case at all.  Home invasion and “stick ups” typically result without a shot being fired.  Gang shootings involve criminals vs. criminals, and most frequently drug related ‘turf battles.’  Domestic shooting (usually husband shooting wife) are committed by (previously) non criminals.  Mass murderers are typically quiet, unassuming, neighborly and expert at concealing their underlying mental illness.

2. “Better background checks will prevent guns from roaming into the wrong hands.” – This doesn’t even deserve acknowledgement as a rational argument.

3. “It is our constitutional right to bear arms.” – It has been about 250 years since these famous words were stroked on parchment.  Since that time, trains, cars, planes, personal computers, telephones and cell phones have all been invented and changed our society in hugely dramatic ways.  The right to bear arms by private citizens is arcane and totally out of context.

4. “We need to protect ourselves from our government.” – Listen, if our society were ever in a position to be worried about our government turning against its innocent citizenry, we would have far more to worry about than having a couple of assault rifles in the house.

5. “If not guns, criminals will use other weapons.” – Yep, knives or machetes perhaps?  One could certainly mow down a school room with those arms.

No matter how you analyze the issues, it all boils down to three main reasons why guns remain a part of our lives:Ideology 8

1. Gutless politicians, bought off by the NRA

2. Gutless politicians afraid of not being reelected

3. Americans’ love affair with guns (is it insecurity, naivete, fear?)

I have changed my stance on the issue of guns.  I have had enough of all of them.  Ban them all for private citizens, hand guns/rifles/assault weapons – put gun man
ufacturers out of business if that is the requirement.  And for God’s sake let’s decriminalize drug use, and eliminate the largest incentive to procure anillegalweapon in the U.S. today.

 

The real story…

Jill 4It remains unclear exactly why Jill Abramson was dismissed recently as executive editor of the NY Times.  Despite being a publicly traded entity, it needn’t disclose the specific reasons.  Speculation abounds however that she was miffed at being paid less for her job description than a male in the same role.  I am not surprised by this rhetoric, even though it is patently untrue.  I expected those who promote “equal pay for equal work” to trip over themselves coming to her defense.  Defense of what is the question.

Other speculation revolves around her inability to lead by example, yet remain a reliable people pleaser, always a tough line to walk.

Ms Abramson has a long and impressive resume.  This we can all agree on.  What is not implied or codified by her career record is that she is an excellent manager of people.  To the contrary, there have been times when she has reportedly appeared to be the opposite, or has been accused of suJill 2ch.

Regardless, as she clearly noted during a recent commencement address, she is resilient, she will survive her firing, and from the humorous, self deprecating tone of her speech, it appears she bears no ill will toward her previous employer (no plans to remove the tattoo of the NYT logo either).  For this alone she should be commended, in this incredibly litigious society we live in.

 

Gun control…

gun control 3On the nightly news, yet another school shooting, another gang shootout in the streets of Chicago, and another giant yawn by mainstream America.  It seems the only folks to suffer are the victims and their friends and family.  How is it that we have grown to accept the status quo?  To accept the disturbingly trite and vastly ignorant “guns don’t shoot people, people do” is absurd.  No other industrialized country has anywhere near so much gun violence.  Yet every country severely limits or bans ownership of guns; they all have approximately the same incidence of mental illness; kids in all developed nations are exposed to the same violent videos; poor parents are ubiquitous in all nations.  The only feature that differentiates us from the other countries is the overwhelming availability of guns.

Yet, the tired arguments still exist:

1. “If innocent people disarm, only the criminals will have guns.” – Really?  The implication is that most gun violence is committed by criminals on innocents.  Not the case at all.  Home invasion and “stick ups” typically result without a shot being fired.  Gang shootings involve criminals vs. criminals, and most frequently drug related ‘turf battles.’  Domestic shooting (usually husband shooting wife) are committed by (previously) non criminals.  Mass murderers are typically quiet, unassuming, neighborly and expert at concealing their underlying mental illness.

2. “Better background checks will prevent guns from roaming into the wrong hands.” – This doesn’t even deserve acknowledgement as a rational argument.

3. “It is our constitutional right to bear arms.” – It has been about 250 years since these famous words were stroked on parchment.  Since that time, trains, cars, planes, personal computers, telephones and cell phones have all been invented and changed our society in hugely dramatic ways.  The right to bear arms by private citizens is arcane and totally out of context.

4. “We need to protect ourselves from our government.” – Listen, if our society were ever in a position to be worried about our government turning against its innocent citizenry, we would have far more to worry about than having a couple of assault rifles in the house.

5. “If not guns, criminals will use other weapons.” – Yep, knives or machetes perhaps?  One could certainly mow down a school room with those arms.

No matter how you analyze the issues, it all boils down to three main reasons why guns remain a part of our lives:

1. Gutless politicians, bought off by the NRA

2. Gutless politicians afraid of not being reelected

3. Americans’ love affair with guns (is it insecurity, naivete, fear?)

I have changed my stance on the issue of guns.  I have had enough of all of them.  Ban them all for private citizens, hand guns/rifles/assault weapons – put gun manufacturers out of business if that is the requirement.  And for God’s sake let’s decriminalize drug use, and eliminate the largest incentive to procure anillegalweapon in the U.S. today.

 

Race sensitivity…

Race sensitivity
Dr. Michael J. O’Connell, PainCare, New Hampshire recently queried, “Is it my imagination or are blacks more sensitive than ever to race, race language (i.e. racist), racial equality, equal pay for equal race, etc.?”

Am I wrong to suggest that blacks compared to just ten or twenty years ago are better educated, have more “high level” jobs, dominate all major sports, nearly dominate the entertainment industry and news outlets?  Yet we hear more from (usually self appointed) black spokesmen that their race is disadvantaged.  Clearly blacks have a ways to go (there needs to be more black NBA owners for example), but would one not think that if progress is made at a faster pace than ever before, that the ‘spokesmen’ would tone down the rhetoriRace sensitivity 4

And where does white man’s guilt and struggle for ‘atonement’ end, and responsibility of the black man for the black man begin?  With a disproportionate number of blacks taking advantage of affirmative action and Welfare, why are blacks not getting the “leg up” they apparently want?  Does the answer always have to lay in the hands of White America, in Congress for more laws, in the treasuries for more handouts?

 

Fate of China…

China 4Dr. Michael J. O’Connell commented that many articles are being written on the fate of China with its huge and growing pollution problem.  During many days in China’s largest cities, one cannot see buildings across the street.  Workers wear face masks for respiratory protection.  Beijing ‘outlawed’ pollution generation for the weeks before hosting the Olympics a decade ago, so attendees could see this amazing city, actually see it without the choking fog of pollution.  The day following, the factories all began spewing once again.

What Americans do not understand is that China was us, about thirty years ago.  Through economic/capital forces (the now infamous “flight of jobs overseas””), most all of our highly polluting industries were transferred to Southeast Asia, many to China.  Now our old problem is theirs.  Our air is cleaner than since 1950; our rivers support fish that haven’t existed since before I was born; toxic waste dumps are disappearing here, developing everywhere over there.  Remember Wal-Mart when Sam Walton was the oChina 2wner and he claimed honestly that his products were all made in the USA?  Now all they sell is what’s made overseas with rare exception.  The great bulk of products are made in China.  Check th
e labels on shirts, shoes, underwear, hardware, etc.

So while the shift of jobs overseas has been brutally difficult for many Americans, particularly those without particular skills, the shift has a silver lining, removing the clouds of toxic pollution from our skies.

 

The Birgdahl release…

Birgdahl 16 Dr. Michael J. O’Connell, PainCare, New Hampshire, commented that the recent Birgdahl release in exchange for the release of five ‘detainees’ from the Guantanomo facility has caused an uproar not only among Republicans (of course), but also a surprising number of Democrats, many of whom are quite influential such as Diane Fienstein voiced dissatisfaction.  Even Hilary Clinton’s pseudosupport of the exchange was and continues to be progressively more wobbly, as the questions circling Birgdahls unauthorized departure from his post seems deserving of military investigation and likely court marshal.  Regardless of Birgdahl’s motives, an important question is what will be the effect of negotiating with the Taliban, something we have avoided doing with the enemy for the entire Mideast conflict?  Will such action spur more captures of our troops and holding them in exchange for still more dangerous releases from Guantanomo?  Time will tell.

As much as the Liberal press reviles JSOC and the CIA, covert operations should be expanded in my opinion, not eliminated.  There is no good reason why Birgdahl and others could not have been located and freed by special ops, without the necessity of what appears to be a disastrous exchange, or at least an exchange with potentially disastrous consequences.  A recent documentary, “Dirty Wars,” by Jeremy Scahill about JSOC should be viewed by everyone who is interested in how ‘reporting’ can distort the truth by simply presBirgdahl 12enting only one perspective.

I would like to see realism reinjected into our various conflicts.  Few Americans want war.  But past history suggests that war is a part of our world and very much in the future as well. Do we really want to wean off covert activities in exchange for soldiers lost on the battlefield?  Do we want to see more ill advised exchange deals?

Why I love NPR and FOX…

NPR & FOX I thoroughly enjoy listening/watching these networks even though I am considered by my incredulous friends a diehard centrist.  My politics is weighted toward fiscal conservatism and social liberalism.  As I have gotten older, this personal dichotomy has only become more entrenched.  Not to mean my views on either side of the ‘great divide’ are extreme or do not change, I am actually quite malleable.  That’s the essence of my entertainment with the aforementioned networks.  I can almost always depend on the both of them to be highly polarized and seldom if ever malleable.  This tendency is powerfully disguised, so part of the fun is to recognize it – usually not difficult.

Let’s be honest, centrism is not part of NPR or Fox parlance.  So when I flip on the stations, I expect, and get, purist ideology.  I know both networks go out of their way to pretend to be free of bias, prejudice and full ofbalance….just the news without the gratuitous pandering fluff.  It’s laughable of course to a centrist, but quite instructive, as to how unnecessarily extreme, idiotic extremists think.  Both networks go through the charade of having presented both sides of an issue, inviting guest speakers who appear (and probably are) entirely convinced of their opposing hard lines.

Unfortunately for the balanced networks, the “moderators” orchestrate the “balanced” discussions in such a way that the pr
esenter they agree with is, or should be, totally apparent to even a casual listener.  The one they disagree with is made sport of, if not castigated and demonized.  He or she is given more limited speaking time, and interrupted and challenged more often (It’s all great fun for me.  I feel like Queen Elizabeth 1, high atop her bluff witnessing the
demolition of the Spanish Armada).  And in the end summary, the “moderator” has the true ‘last word,’ and it’s heavily cast in favor of…their favored guest, naturally, the one with the favored ideology.

But anyway, vaguely wishing it were otherwise does not make this entertaining nonsense go away, so I make the very best of it.  Trying to understand a gun proponent’s position that assault weapons are part of ‘sport’ and their use should be protected, is just as ridiculous as the rabid proponent of a woman’s right to choose, at any time of gestation, but who skillfully avoids the uncomfortable concept of supporting late trimester abortions – a messy affair indeed.NPR & FOX3

Rather than be disgusted or frustrated with these extreme views of NPR and Fox, I derive pleasure.  How? Pleasure that I am a thinking and feeling listener who disagrees as much with the philosophy being advanced, as with the method of advancement.  Again, it’s all great fun.

~ Dr. Michael J. O’Connell, PainCare, New Hampshire