Archive for December, 2012

“I Just Want Christmas.”

December 15, 2012

“Does anyone know where the love of God go when the words turn the minutes to hours?” – Gordon Lightfoot.

They say it only lasted 15 minutes.  One teacher scurried her class into the bathroom and waited for nearly an hour before emerging and only after demanding to see the police’s badges they slid under the door.

One of the children was crying, “I just want Christmas.”  Another little boy gathered his friends and led them out the back window.  Some were crying and screaming, but he got them to safety.  In the aftermath, he was called a hero.  Eight years old.

This shouldn’t of happened.  At all.  Plain and simple.  But it did.  In Newtown, Connecticut.  Not Detroit, South Central or Cabrini-Green.  In a quiet town about 45 minutes from Hartford.  In Connecticut, “America’s suburb.” Home of ESPN.  Where Gordie Howe ended his career.  Jesus H. Murphy, when does it stop?

Twenty children.  Could have been yours, mine or someone we know.  Could have been my niece’s children, or my nephew’s step-son. Or my youngest niece, who’s 13.  These Children will never grow up, have families of their own, jobs, become famous or not, play football or baseball, take ballet or become an actor or actress.  Why?  Who knows.

People are shocked, truly shocked by this.  But surprised?  Not me, because it happens far too often in America.  And it’s the failure of the almost non-existent mental health system in this country that’s been gutted over the past 30 years or so. 

People will scream about the Second Amendment, but does that provision mean someone has the “right” to walk into a school, theater or mall and start killing people with automatic weapons?  I don’t think Madison or the Founders would think so.  I don’t think most Americans would think so.  What happened yesterday is incomprehensible to rational beings, but sometimes people aren’t rational. 

Connecticut.  A nice little state.  I have been there more times than I can remember and I’m sure I’ve been through Newtown.  One of my teammates is from Connecticut and another one worked there. I feel bad for them. 

Maybe now, people will stand up to those who say “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”  Yes, with guns.  As a friend of mine pointed out yesterday, we don’t live in a cartoon.  We live in a world where everyone is mortal, even five-year-old children. 

I come from a family of gun owners.  My Maternal grandfather, Ralph Franks, was a founding member of the Detroit Sportsman’s Congress.  My step-father collects, refurbishes and sells guns.  My brother and nephew were both in the Marines.  My brother-in-law is an avid sportsman who hunts and owns guns. I’m not anti-gun.  I’m just not thrilled with the fact that you can walk into a hardware store and buy ammunition and then go to Wal-Mart and buy a Walther PPK and think you’re James Bond or Dirty Harry or John McClane. “Yipeekeiayee Motherfucker!!!”

After Columbine, they said it was too soon to talk about gun control. After Gabby Giffords, after every mass shooting that’s occurred in this country, the choir sings, “It’s too soon.”  Well, when is it, if not now.  

And Wayne LaPierre, the head of the NRA, is saying that President Obama’s going to take away our guns.  Bullshit.  But it is time for someone in DC to stand up and say enough.  And state’s need to restore mental health funding.  Private outsourcing isn’t working.  Too many are just lost in a society that doesn’t want them, discards them and throws them scraps.  Back in 1975, when “Taxi Driver” was released, Travis Bickle was an anomaly, a loner.  38 years later, there are many more. Adam Lanza was a bright but troubled young man from what we have found out so far.  It doesn’t matter anymore.  The answers to the questions only he could of given aren’t ever going to be heard.  Nor are those twenty children, who “just wanted Christmas.”

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Welcome to Michi-Okla-issippi

December 14, 2012

Up and until about 10 days ago, I thought I lived in a fairly reasonable State.  Now, “reasonable” meaning that Governor Rick Snyder hadn’t pushed anything like what was done in Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio and several other states where Republicans had won big in 2010, thanks to the Tea Party and an indifferent Democratic Party at the time.  Snyder told the legislature he wanted to stick to Michigan and getting the state back on it’s feet, not dealing with Union busting, women’s rights and religious questions.

Granted, he did a 180 on many issues that he campaigned on, like education and the film incentives.  And he gave his buddies a tax cut while putting a tax on senior’s pensions and cutting services for the poor and disabled.  But he stood up to the ministrations of bloated billionaire Matty Mouron and secured funding for a new bridge to be built between Detroit and Windsor.  He even said he didn’t want any divisive legislation on his desk.  Unlike Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Rick Scott in Florida, he knew his support was a broad base of Republicans, Independents and Democrats.

I didn’t vote for him.  Nor did I vote for his Democratic opponent.  I did, however, warn people about him.  Said he wasn’t the bipartisan guy in the vein of Miliken or Romney.  True enough, he enacted an “Emergency Manager” law designed to be used only in cases of civil unrest or natural disaster and stripped cities like Benton Harbor, Ecorse and Flint of their duly elected officials and replaced them with a “one-person dictator,” as someone  called them, to bulldoze the cities at their discretion.

But all that mis-direction was just a ploy to see what was behind door number three, Monty.  After the voters rejected the EM law and the Union Rights proposal, Snyder got all self-righteous and petty and decided he was forced into signing this Right-to-Work legislation.

Now, if this sounds a bit childish to you, well, yes, it is.  And someone in Lansing admitted it.  From yesterday’s Brian Dickerson column in the Detroit Free Press:

“But there was a moment during Tuesday’s floor debate when state Rep. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, the majority floor leader, appeared to concede that right-to-work’s warp-speed transit to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk had been something less than a model of civil deliberation.

Responding to Democrats, who blistered his party for substituting sweeping right-to-work language in a less controversial bill that had already won preliminary approval, Stamas argued that the GOP’s parliamentary sleight-of-hand was simply payback for similarly underhanded tactics Democrats had employed when they controlled the House from 2007 to 2009.

“As I sat for two years in the minority,” Stamas said, “hundreds of bills were discharged” in similar fashion by former Democratic Speaker Andy Dillon. “And I ask my colleagues on the other side of the aisle,” he added, “where were you then?””

What Stamas fails to mention is the Michigan Senate was Republican and led by obstructionist extraordinaire Mike Bishop, of whom former Governor Jennifer Graholm wrote, “wore his obstructionism on his sleeve.”  A man so hell-bent on stopping anything Graholm wanted that he held up the 2009 stimulus until the state was left with no choice but to cut Medicaid and Medicare to balance the budget.

Now, Michigan has been a mess for quite some time.  Over the last 30 years, four Governors have come and none seemed to get the state anywhere.  Blanchard, Engler, Granholm, all had problems dealing with the state’s political, social and economic problems.  The state’s population has shrunk by nearly three million since 1970 and in the 2010 census, Michigan was the only state to lose population, in total.

Two years ago, backed by the Tea Party, the Republicans won every major office and took control of the state House as well as the Senate.  Snyder, who had run as “One Tough Nerd,” (although much more shrewd than that) ran a disingenuous campaign promising to stop the partisan fighting and get things done.

Well, he got things done.  He cut education, making it more expensive for students to attend college.  He cut the film incentives, which now are a distant memory.  He cut benefits to the disabled, elderly and the poor, including food stamps, medicare, medicaid and the heating credit.  He even taxed seniors’ pension benefits.  And of course, he gave his rich buddies a tax break.

But 37 days after the election, the state is back to where it was two years ago.  And Snyder has shown his true colors.  Bipartisanship is gone.  The good will of much of the state, gone or mostly diminished by his backhanded slap across the face.

Former Governor Engler was on the Tee Vee earlier this week trying to explain why now, when the voters rejected cementing bargaining rights into the state constitution? Well, he said “because Indiana did it.”

Yes, Indiana did it.  Big deal.  Indiana also has a completely different economy and workforce than Michigan.  So after that miserable excuse, Snyder went on the air and called it “pro-worker”, not “Anti-Union.”

Bullshit.  Double bullshit on a stick.  Snyder has now suck down to the level of the cross-eyed boy blunder in Wisconsin, the cue-ball, no brains in Florida and the Wicked Witch of the Southwest. He drank the Koch Brothers Kool-Aid and the legislation is crafted right from ALEC, the right-wing lobbying group which did the same in Wisconsin.  “Pro-worker,” my ass.  This gives employees the “option” to join a union or to become part of a union shop and not pay dues.  And it gives businesses the right to fire anyone without cause, at any time.  And this is the 21st Century?  Or the 19th?

Forget about the 20th Century.  That’s when the Flint Sit Down strike happened, forcing General Motors to recognize the UAW.  Or Henry Ford and his Union-busting, which eventually failed.  Or that Governor George Romney fought for collective bargaining in the 1960’s.  And William Milliken was the most progressive Governor this state ever had.  It has only been since 1980 (that magic year again) that Republicans have been systematically tearing apart this state and country with more and more outrageous acts of pure sedition and taking away more and more freedoms and rights.

It started with Reagan and Roger Smith and continues on today.  Walker, Daniels, Kasich, they all took the lead on this.  Where it ends, who knows.  But Snyder just eviscerated not only the Unions in the state, but the state itself.  Instead of being the grown up in the room, he was the bully.

The will of the people be dammed, I’m going to do what I want.  And really, why not?  He’s gotten away with it for two years almost.  Instead of being “One Tough Nerd,” he’s Doug Neidermeyer.  He has allowed a sadistic legislature hellbent on keeping GOP control by enacting overreaching and dangerous laws in a lame-duck session with little to no recourse at the moment.

This is the politics of revenge.  Plain and simple.  The right-to-work law will not benefit anyone. The new Emergency Manager law won’t help distressed cities or school districts, the new gun laws will just make it easier to walk into a school like in Connecticut and kill anyone without any thought.  The new law against Sharia law won’t stop anyone from practicing their religion.  The anti-foreign language law won’t help anyone.  Except those who want to keep things the way they were back in the 50’s.  The 1850’s.