Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Conspiracy (that changed America)

Well, I know it has been a bit since I promised my newest story, but here it is, finally.  Feel free to comment.  Thanks for your continued interest.

The Conspiracy (that changed America)

As the news reports began to filter across the TV and radio waves, it became clear rather quickly that these were not isolated events.  Twenty-five shot in a supermarket in New Jersey, eighteen shot in a bowling alley in Ohio, thirteen shot while waiting in line at an ice cream stand in North Carolina, thirty-four shot at a community carnival in Wisconsin.  Within thirty minutes, word of shootings, one each in forty states, was penetrating every nook and cranny of the United States via TV crawls, cell phones and computers.  Each new revelation struck the American people like a body blow.  The final haymaker came when the fiftieth attack became public, this one involving eight people at a church in Mississippi; the country swayed and fell to its knees as one. 

Quickly, the word was on everyone’s lips.   And just as quickly, demands for justice, revenge, and answers filled the air waves.  Some news outlets attempted to secure and include solid facts in their reporting, but many rode the waves of fear and distrust that they had sown for the last dozen years and fed the flames of hatred with unsubstantiated rumor, bias and downright lies. 
In some cases, witnesses who saw machine gun waving Muslims were heard describing their experience through tears and anger.  In other cases, blacks with automatic weapons were detailed as the culprits.  There was even a report that one group of shooters was seen tossing pamphlets in the wake of their attack, pamphlets that one irate witness shook violently at the TV cameraman, pamphlets promoting gay marriage.

While most spiritual leaders called for calm and forgiveness, those with TV and radio shows proclaimed the attacks as God’s punishment, while requesting donations to combat the particular group of people that their God had determined to be evil and who therefore needed to be purged from America.
Within twenty-four hours, bipartisan proclamations were passed in congress condemning the attacks, and a new flag pin was worn to display support for the victims, support for the United States.  Spontaneous demonstrations sprung up throughout the country; anger mixed with tears and confusion.   Many of the victims, those with minor injuries were released and feted at some of these demonstrations but none spoke or gave interviews and everyone assumed it was too early for them to discuss the details.      

Within thirty-six hours it was determined that there were nine hundred and eleven victims of the shootings and a new wave of hatred-filled accusations was launched.  Like a cut across an old scar, old memories mixed with new fear seeped into every conversation at every water cooler and kitchen table, and on every political news show.
Within forty-eight hours, a dozen perpetrators had been identified via various on-site cameras and eye witness descriptions.  No identities were released but various news channels suddenly had unnamed sources revealing details of the men with “Muslim sounding names”.   Calls for retribution and political columns about the growing Muslim threat doubled in number and intensity.  Many more victims were released and America seemed grateful that so many had escaped serious injury. 

On the third day credible information was released indicating that another dozen shooters had been identified, and that like the first twelve all were white males.  This information was used by the far left to condemn the various right wing militia groups that existed throughout the country.  It was equally used by some extremely right wing organizations who called it a fabrication by a White House that hated America and white people.  Neutral news organizations noted that virtually all of the victims of the shootings had now been released from the various hospitals where they had been sent.
On the fourth day all fifty attackers were caught.  Well, not exactly caught, they all turned themselves in to local authorities at or around noon.  All were white, all but five were male.  All were American, born and bred.  All were unmarried.  All lived in the neighborhoods where the shootings occurred.  All brought their weapons as proof, as well as a copy of the plan that each was issued as part of the conspiracy.   

And each had the same name of the man who had created the plan, recruited the shooters and organized the attacks.  Amazingly, this information did not get leaked to any news agency, but every local, state and federal police officer in the home state of the alleged ring leader knew his name.  Unfortunately, more than a dozen innocent men were accused in print and on TV by those with a grudge or just blind with fear.
The following day the named man, following his own plan, surrendered without fanfare to the desk sergeant on duty at a police station he had carefully chosen about a year before.  Like those he had recruited and trained, he was single.  His features were non-descript.  He was 52 years old, college educated.  Those he worked with all expressed complete surprise with the revelation of his involvement.  While both his parents had passed, his two siblings were shocked.  By all accounts, he was an average American.   

Two days later he was dead.  Shot and killed by an ex-Marine who used his military connections to gain access to him during a transfer from one federal facility to another. 
His death was greeted with celebration.  Citizen led parties featuring his effigy burned, stomped upon, ripped apart and destroyed in all manners and with as much anger as possible were featured on TV and the internet.  There was even a contest sponsored by a well-known celebrity to “kill” the man in the most unique and gruesome way. 

It had been one week since the shootings, and in that week America had experienced incredible sorrow, then shock, then elation.   One week of the most intense emotions as could be remembered in United States history.  One week that most Americans thought might never be matched in terms of the roller coaster of emotions that this man had created.
A day after his death, it was revealed that each shooter had another piece of the puzzle, non-sensible to each shooter, but when combined they revealed the thinking of the man, the reason for his actions.  Information was also released which indicated that each of the fifty shooters had a police record including at least one felony charge.   Those news outlets that had so vigorously been condemning Muslims and their religion shifted their fervor, now targeting the non-religious, the forces that had removed religion from America, those they said denied the Christianity of our founders and of the nation.   

On the tenth day after the shootings, the combined text of the man who had coordinated the worst domestic terrorist attack in United States history was printed in almost every newspaper in America.  It read as follows:
If my plan was successful, it is likely that these words will be made public, and the citizens of America will be seeking an explanation for my actions.  First, I send my deepest condolences to those who were hurt in any of the shootings.  My instructions were very explicit as to the location and number of those to be injured, and if they were followed precisely there will have been no fatalities, no loss of limb, sight or sense,  and all the victims will have been released from the hospital by now.  Of course, I know that their mental anguish may take time to heal and for that hurt I take full responsibility and accept the judgment of my country and my God.

Of course, you want to know, why?
For the last five years, there has been a concerted effort by various forces in this country to scare the citizenry into believing that their freedoms were at risk, and that only through the ownership of a gun could freedom be safeguarded.  While I acknowledge that some of those responsible were acting from a sense of patriotism, truly believing that our founders penned the second amendment to provide everyday citizens with the right to arm themselves against tyranny, foreign or domestic, it is all too clear to me that much of this effort is either politically or racially motivated, or worse, being spurred by an obscene grasp for profit.  It is no coincidence that gun and ammunition sales have skyrocketed since the election of our first African American President.  

As a result, any rational, sensible attempt to ban those guns which have only one purpose, to kill as many people as possible, have been met with millions of dollars of donations from the coffers of those benefitting from the pretense that our rights were at stake.  Using cute slogans, sound bites, and distorted facts, this group has managed to paint those favoring gun control as anti-Constitution, bribed and threatened our elected officials to vote their way, and helped make short work of even the most basic of regulations despite the desires of the American people and in face of the multiple deaths in places like Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut.  So, taking my cue from the old adage, fight fire with fire I devised a plan which I hoped would show the folly of more and more guns, the gaping holes in our current system for background checks, and the ease in which weapons of mass killing can be purchased in America.
First, I recruited fifty individuals who were unmarried, perhaps even without siblings or much of a family, and who were willing to sacrifice their freedom for a bigger purpose.  Each had to be born in America, with no ties to any radical "ism" or foreign government.  And each had to be a convicted felon.  Then, after studying both the federal and state laws governing each of the 50 states, I worked with each of them to purchase an assault weapon, in their own name.  No third party purchases, no fake ID’s.  Many used gun shows where ID was required but not researched.  Some did so via the mail within the borders of that particular state.  And many purchased their weapon at a gun retailer, but in each case, they found a willing supplier for their weapon with very few questions asked.

This was not an easy plan to execute.  Unfortunately, much of the difficulty came in locating the people willing to be the shooters.  There is one thing that I cannot argue with those who claim that America can be a violent place and that owning a gun can make one feel safer.  Those men and women who turn to crime and are arrested and incarcerated are condemned to a world of violence.  Finding fifty felons for this plan was simple, finding fifty felons who were willing to injure only was not so easy, but finding fifty felons willing to go back to jail once they were caught was borderline impossible, so strong was their fear of going back to that violent world.  Unfortunately, once I had my team in place, getting them weapons was the easy part of the plan.
I do not hate guns.  I realize that a gun is only as good or as bad as the person holding it.  I support any American citizen wishing to purchase a gun for self-defense, for hunting for food, for security in a neighborhood that is not safe.  But we have lost our perspective on the purpose of a gun, lost our ability to distinguish between a right to own a gun and a right to take a life, lost our humanity when we think killing another human being somehow preserves our freedoms.  Killing should be the last choice of conflict resolution yet through a misplaced devotion to bearing arms and the tendency for our culture to use violence to solve our problems we have convinced ourselves of the glorification of vigilantism, have accepted the ridiculous notion that we need more “good people” with guns, and have equated the right to protect ones material possessions with the right to maim and kill anyone trying to take them.

The sad truth is that I have become as guilty as those I condemn.  After the failure in the spring of 2013 by Congress to pass any meaningful gun control law, I gave up on the legal, more desired approach and meticulously planned the injury of over 900 fellow Americans as a way to demonstrate the folly of the belief that assault weapons and multiple clip magazines somehow make America safer, or preserve our freedoms. 
Below this text is a list of the Senators who voted last year against those bills to improve the background check process, to ban assault weapons, and to ban multiple clip magazines.  
Next to each name is a dollar figure, the amount of money donated to each of these elected officials by a gun lobby or gun manufacturer.  These numbers are not made-up and can be easily confirmed by accessing donation records and bank receipts.  Happily, not all of those voting against those gun control proposals received overly generous donations, but sadly most of them did.  The number at the bottom is the total donations, the amount of money it took for this particular piece of legislation to be defeated despite the overwhelming support of the American people.  It represents the most recent price paid to buy our democracy.

Below that is a list of all members of the House of Representatives.  Each name has two columns beside it, one which also shows recent monetary donations to their campaigns from the gun lobbies, and the second which lists the reps “Brady Campaign” Score.  For those of you unfamiliar, the Brady Campaign is an advocacy group that works to pass gun-control laws. The organization assigns lawmakers a “lifetime score” based on how they voted on gun-control measures.   A score of zero represents those voting against gun control legislation, up to a score of 100 which indicates a willingness to vote for more gun control measures.
I am fully aware that my name may become synonymous with treason, perhaps replacing the use of Benedict Arnold in our references.  It is also possible that my name will be used to advance future gun control laws, as there may be some who while decrying my methods, advance my cause.  My preference is to be forgotten.  But what I hope will not be forgotten are the names of those legislators who voted against the interests of America and for the profits of gun manufacturers, and that those men and women be removed from office in the upcoming mid-term elections. 

I will not insult you by asking for forgiveness.  I willingly sacrificed my life for my beliefs, just as my co-conspirators have sacrificed their freedom.  If you disagree with my perspective I accept your condemnation and hatred.  But if you agree with my end result, my Machiavellian plan, I urge you to wrest American democracy from control by the biggest wallet or the most outrageous misinformation network by wielding the most powerful weapon  you have, more powerful that the biggest gun or fastest firing weapon. 
Your precious right to vote.

Vote for those people who understand the dangers of more guns and rapid fire weapons, and the proliferation of those who believe in shoot first, ask questions later.     
Vote for those fellow citizens who respect the right to bear arms but respect more the right to a life without fear of being mowed down like so many targets at a shooting gallery. 

Vote for representatives who are not afraid to sacrifice their jobs by supporting gun control regulations that will put them on the various “hit” lists that those with the money and power use to intimidate those who disagree with their agenda.

Vote for the men and woman who actually live by the teachings of Jesus who was big on forgiveness and mercy and love and not an advocate of revenge and murder and violence.
And if those elected officials do the bidding of those who profit from the deaths of American citizens, vote for someone else the next time.   

Ten days later, a group of victims of the shootings created an organization advocating the election defeat of those identified as pro-gun.  A smaller group of victims attended NRA rallies as proof that more guns were needed in America. 
On the forty-fifth day after the shootings, a little over a month after the conspiracy and its creator were revealed by the printing of the text above, the mid-term elections of 2014 were held. 
Of the 46 Senators who voted against the amendment to merely expand background checks, who also voted against the amendment banning high capacity magazines and the amendment banning assault weapons, 28 were up for re-election.  Thirteen lost.
Of the 435 House of Representatives, those with monetary donations in the top half of the group, mostly Republican, lost 5 times as often as those in the lower half.
Similarly, those with Brady scores above 50 were almost universally re-elected while 43 representatives with Brady scores below 50 lost their re-election bid.

On the forty-sixth day after the shootings, NRA President James Porter resigned his post.





















Monday, July 15, 2013

Justice Roberts' Courts' Decisions

Very little time to write lately.  Sorry.  I can't say I am uninterested in writing, but I also can't say I am excited either.  While there is certainly a plethora of topics to discuss, I guess I am too absorbed in my life to spend the time to sit and blog.  The conspiratorial side of me would say that that is how the powers of be want it for the average working class family.  Keep them too busy to reflect, too busy to opine, too busy to research the topics of the day, to delve into the details of the sound bites that our politicians are so fond of using. 

One topic I do want to touch on is the various decisions by the Roberts' Court.  Before doing so, I would like to pass along the link for the Supreme Court.  It details the actual writings, both for and against, for all the recent decisions, not just condensed versions and/or opinions of the decisions as you are more likely to hear and read about.  It is not easy reading, but it is important to peruse what was actually said, before relying on the opinion of any political pundit who most likely has a biased point of view.


First, I was very disturbed by the prospect of the Roberts Court undoing the social progress made by earlier courts, as well as presenting opinions that laid the groundwork for future problems.  But, in the almost eight years since being appointed Chief Justice, his court's decisions have angered me less and delighted me more than I expected. 

From allowing the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act to the recent tepid decision which declared The Defense of Marriage Act to be inconsistent with the existing understanding that the question of marriage is a states right question, my faith in the logic and reasoning ability of our Supreme Court Justices, and their respect for the Constitution even when that respect seemed to conflict with the party ideology of the appointing president, was rewarded. 

And, despite my horror at the ruling a few years ago which equated freedom of speech with the right to spend money, and the even more puzzling allowance that a corporation might have similar rights as a person, along with the confusing ruling last month that seemed to indicate that the restrictions imposed on the various states by the Voting Rights Act were no longer necessary because they worked, it is clear that I will never experience a time when all Supreme Court rulings are to my liking.  But I accept that as the reality of the range of opinion and perspective that exist in America.

After all, I may not always be correct. 

Sadly, not enough of us remember this simple axiom.  We all accept that no one is perfect, yet we seem to cling ever so tightly to our various beliefs as if they are perfectly correct.

We see this obsession from both sides of the gun control issue, both sides of the abortion issue, both sides of the gay marriage issue, both sides of almost every issue that can be used to energize one half of the electorate.  All or nothing seems to rule the day.

So, again, take some time to access the actual rulings before you repeat the opinions of someone you heard on the radio or saw on TV.  And, if you have the time, read the dissenting opinion from the Supreme Court Justices who did not agree with the majority vote, especially when that dissent disagrees with your perspective. 

Listening to, or reading another opinion might seem a waste of time for those who will not waver, but understanding the logic and reasoning which produced an opinion by a person with an advanced education and practical experiences in applying the laws of our land, might present an angle of the issue that you did not consider.  Then, if you still disagree, at least you understand the best of the opposite argument as opposed to merely saying those that believe unlike yourself hate America as seems to be the state of debate on most of our airwaves today.