Any Given Sunday?

13 Mar

https://i1.wp.com/umc-gbcs.org/content/articles/MentalHealth-HeadGraphic-250px.jpg

Here’s a sobering fact for the NRA and gun advocates everywhere.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health and the most recent government data available, 19% of all U.S. adults have suffered from a mental illness in the past year. In fact, Research on mental health and disease patterns shows that mental disorders are common throughout the United States, affecting tens of millions of people each year, and that, overall, only about half of those affected receive treatment.

So with some 300 million guns of various kind and caliber, distributed throughout the populace of a country with tens of millions of adults suffering from various kinds of mental illnesses…is this not a certain recipe for disaster? And is it any wonder why so many horrible tragedies involving guns, occur each and every year within our country’s borders?

So, is asking for a little more control, regulation and oversight over weapons that are designed to either kill humans, along with other weapons that are mostly only used in the killing of humans, really all that difficult to understand and grasp…especially when our laws all but guarantee the potential for tens of millions of deadly weapons to be in the hands of tens of millions of mentally ill adults on any given day?!

And how can it not be indicative of an illness, mental… to think otherwise?

Speak No Evil…Hear No Evil

9 Mar

Your grandchildren's East Coast of the United States
Here’s some discouraging news…according to the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, employees of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection claim they  were ordered to refrain from using the terms “climate change”, “global warming” or “sustainability” in official communications. Apparently the unwritten policy went into effect shortly after Gov. Rick Scott, a global warming skeptic, took office. The new Florida policy is similar to a 2012 law passed by lawmakers in North Carolina that prohibits the state from basing coastal policies on scientific predictions regarding sea level rise.

Scientists have warned that, like much of Florida’s coastline, North Carolina’s outer banks are at particular risk from climate change. But what do environmental scientists know? All they have is science and study and facts on their side while their political opponents have silence, sarcasm and like climate change denier Senator Inhofe, snowballs!

Unfortunately scientists aren’t in charge of our environment and Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection, while they are in charge of planning for how to try and combat what could be catastrophic sea level rise…just can’t talk about it, make reference to it or shhhhhhh…say its name.

But don’t despair! All we have to do is cut our worldwide carbon emissions by 85% so as to begin the process of reversing that unmentionable climate thing. However, since we appear do be doing exactly the opposite in our never ending frenzy to grow, grow, grow our fossil fuel production and use, better just not to buy any beach property. And tell your grandchildren to move inland or to higher ground because by the end of this century…or sooner… 80 out of 100 coastal cities in the world will be under water…
But that’s just scientists talking and they haven’t had much luck in convincing many of our political leaders that this is a serious global problem for humanity, the planet and…did I mention humanity? Probably because half of our political leaders are happy to approach the problem by covering their ears and pulling the blankets a little tighter around their ignorant and empty heads.

Home On the Range

6 Mar

danielle meitiv

Have you heard of Free Range parenting? And I’m talking about human parents, not chicken parents. Apparently everything old is new again because as I read this story I couldn’t help but thinking that this was a story about parenting in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s…you know, before the whirlybirds landed and took our old parents away and replaced them with the newer helicopter variety.

Anyway, In Maryland a couple who allowed their children to walk around their neighborhood unsupervised are now facing a child neglect ruling in their home county. Following a two-month investigation, Montgomery County Child Protective services found Danielle and Alexander Meitiv responsible for “unsubstantiated” child neglect… which means that their case will remain on file with the state for the next five years.

Authorities launched the investigation, after two police officers spotted the Meitiv children, a 10-year-old boy and his and 6-year-old sister, walking home from a park about a mile from where they live. The officers brought the children back to their house, where they confronted their father who was shocked to see his children being escorted home by 3 police officers…but he shouldn’t have been because this was his children’s second offense! A few months before, someone had phoned in an anonymous tip to Child Protective Services when they had observed the two youngsters playing alone at a different park a few blocks from their home.

This is why the Meitivs are known as “free range” parents (couldn’t we think of another name…please?) because they allow their children to “run off and play” as opposed to the so-called “helicopter parents,” who are known for hovering over every aspect of their child’s life (including play) in an effort to keep them safe.

Now in case you are wondering, an unsubstantiated neglect ruling typically comes when Child Protective Services gathers some evidence that suggests child neglect, but not enough information to support a more concrete conclusion. The Meitivs said they wouldn’t let their children walk around the neighborhood if they didn’t feel the children were capable of handling the responsibility. And they let their children regularly walk home from their bus stop, to the library, and to nearby parks, all of which are less than a mile from their home.

But in all fairness, they’re only the children’s parents…and do we really trust any parents these days…or any adults for that matter? Just a few months ago a 12 year old child was walking around a park in Cleveland, Ohio, pretending to shoot people with a toy gun. Remember that? And when the police found him they didn’t round him up and bring him back to his parents. They shot him! When I was a kid my friends and I would run around our neighborhood with toy guns all of the time, pretending we were our dads during WWII shooting Nazis… And no one went looking for us unless it was night time and we hadn’t returned to base all day. Boy, I guess were we lucky that nobody shot back at us with real guns or captured us and took us back to their leader.

So perhaps, as many of today’s parents might suggest, the Meitivs should consider themselves lucky that their children were returned to them safe and sound… but now what are “free range” parents to do?… on a range that is no longer as free as it once was, back in a day when the deer and the antelope played along with everyone else…and discouraging words or neighbors were seldom heard?

If they don’t comply and keep their children supervised at all times, the Meitiv’s worry that should their children roam free again…and be turned in again… they’ll all, parents and children, be in bigger trouble. Because now, not only is it unsafe for children to go out into the world unsupervised but also for the parents as well! Which I guess, sadly begs the even more important question:

What’s on TV?

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Deserve’s Got Nothin’ To Do With it?

4 Mar

They say that “you can’t make this stuff up”, but sadly no one should have to, because it wouldn’t be funny even then. And even sadder is the fact that “this stuff” should be more criminal than we make it out to be comical…

The Republican Congress now controls both the Senate and the House of Representatives and they have vowed to follow the people’s mandate and finally get some real business done around the Capital and give the American people what they want! Which is: The repeal of medical care for those Americans who once didn’t have it but have it now. The return of freedom to banks and money lenders to wreak havoc on the U.S. financial system as they once did way back in 2008. And the reduction of pension benefits for millions of Americans who are currently retired after having worked hard and faithfully for many years.

These are the things that you want and have been begging for ever since President Obama was mysteriously elected twice over the past 6 years. Isn’t that so America?

Well you are getting it all right. And the Republicans are happy to serve, for now they have come up with an even better way to scare the shit out of us all just to undo something that our president has done. The president has issued an executive order that would create a new program of deferrals for approximately 4 million undocumented parents of American citizens or legal permanent residents, who have been in the country for at least five years. Deferrals would include authorization to work and would be granted for three years at a time. It would also expand a program created by the administration in 2012 called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which allows young people who were brought into the country as children to apply for deportation deferrals and work permits.

That sounds terrible, doesn’t it? It seems to me more like a compassionate response to a problem that has been lingering for quite some time in our country but to which the Republicans (and you?) are opposed. The Republicans are mad because the president took “executive action” and circumvented the Republican Congress and their immigration plan. And their plan is? They don’t have a plan. Apparently because their corporate overloads haven’t given it to them yet… but, I digress…

So what have the Republicans chosen to do? They have decided that if President Obama’s executive orders are not undone then they will refuse to fund the Department of Homeland Security which as irony would have it, is the agency responsible for protecting our borders from…you guessed it…allowing aliens to cross our borders illegally. When asked if this Republican policy of possibly shutting down the DOHS could lead to making our nation less safe, the Speaker of the House, John Boehner replied, “if ifs and buts were candy and nuts every day would be Christmas.”

Do you find that in the least bit funny, America? How about if you were a member of a terrorist organization? You might find a statement like that quite encouraging. Perhaps even rush some of your most fanatical extremists to our borders…just in case “Christmas” comes early?  What do you think? Is this a “you can’t make this stuff up” kinda moment or more like a “Get your moronic orange head out of the tanning salon you idiot and do something constructive! Or your fired!” kinda moment?

But here we sit…a captive audience in our cartoon world. Our political system is so broken that one of the foremost leaders of the free world…third in line to the Presidency of the United States…can be faced with a problem of utmost importance to the citizens whom he serves, shamelessly do nothing and then arrogantly mock us not only in a most literal sense… but figuratively as well!

It has been said that in a democracy, people get the government they deserve…but I ask you: What did we ever do to deserve this?!

The Unbearable Lightness of Knowing

1 Mar

Isn’t it ironic that for the past two decades, the trend in local, state and federal education policies has been to require more and more standardized tests as a way to establish common benchmarks of achievement and to hold public schools accountable for their student’s progress, while at the same time our nation’s politicians have become more and more ill informed and moronic when it comes to matters of common sense and common knowledge?

All of this testing ad nauseam to try and create a more informed and well educated populace and yet we now have a veritable gaggle of political leaders and representatives…Congressmen and state officials… who quite literally don’t know their asses from their elbows.

In Idaho a lawmaker thinks that if a woman swallows a pill it might end up in her vagina!

In Nevada an Assemblywoman believes that cancer is a fungus that can be flushed away with salt water and baking soda and wants to change federal law so this procedure can finally be made available to Americans!

There was a former Congressman who believes in “legitimate rape” and a woman’s natural ability to stop pregnancy while being “legitimately raped”!

How about the US Representative from Illinois who said that reducing our nation’s carbon dioxide output would be a bad thing because it would take plant food from the air!

We have Governors and Senators who believe that vaccinations may not be such a good thing when it comes to the future of the public’s health and well being!

Or there was the Texas Representative who thinks that wind is God’s way of balancing heat and that wind farms would only serve to “use up” all of that wind and make the Earth hotter!

Or our current Speaker of the House, who said that carbon dioxide can’t be a bad thing because every time we exhale we make more, just like cows do!

Or a Vice Presidential candidate who came very close to being elected, who proudly asserted that she could see Russia from her house in Alaska!

Or the Senate committee member who wanted to know what all the fuss was about the polar ice cap melting, because when the ice in his glass of water melts it never overflows!

And no longer can basic scientific principles that were taught in the public schools when I was a youngster 50 years ago be taken for granted in today’s hallowed halls of government. They must now be open for debate with these morons mentioned above and other political mental midgets, as though their resurgent medieval beliefs that were once and for all, finally and forever discredited as superstitions, myths and old wives’ tales, are now possible legitimate alternatives to actual learning!

So why bother testing America’s public school students on everything when we don’t test America’s leaders on anything? The only qualifications for public office in this country are citizenship and age!

Idiocy, ignorance and inanity disqualify no one from holding public office! They won’t even get you removed from public office. Try threatening to shut down your place of business every few months while accomplishing absolutely nothing in between and see how long you stay employed…but in our government that is absolutely no problem.

Why study and pass tests in school when all you have to do after graduation is suck up to one of our corporate overlords, take their money and promise to do their bidding? You can be as foolish, inept and irresponsible as you please!

So children of America: stop studying and stop taking those ridiculous tests! Rather you should emulate your country’s esteemed leaders and take a bribe from whoever is offering one then go shoot hoops or cheer-lead…

for knowledge no longer seems to represent power in America…All knowledge seems to represent today is an alternative way of thinking.

If we are not going to hold our politicians and potential leaders up to higher standards, and if they also believe that as American leaders and role models they need not exude intelligence, nor radiate knowledge about that which they have been elected to oversee in front of an electorate, before whom they are constantly expected to speak, then why should they be allowed to demand higher standards of our children?

Gesundheit!

27 Feb

Have you ever noticed how almost every politician these days begins every speech with, ” This is the greatest country in the history of the world.” Or “I’m proud to be a citizen of the greatest country on Earth.” Or, This great country of ours has the finest citizens and the best system of government in the world.”

And then they proceed to tell us everything that is wrong with the United States and how everything about it needs to be changed and how all of their opponents are NOT any of those finest citizens that they had mention the U.S. was full of. How can something so great require so much change?

Then of course every politician makes sure to end every speech with “God bless America!” I guess as though the greatest country and its people still need more blessings?

According to National Geographic, during the bubonic plague of AD 590,  Pope Gregory I ordered unceasing prayer for divine intercession including the immediate blessing of anyone who sneezed, since sneezing was often the first sign that someone was falling ill with the plague.” So saying the blessing, “God bless you”, became a common effort to try to halt the disease. But In some other cultures, sneezing is seen as a sign of good fortune or God’s beneficence and so they have alternative responses when someone sneezes.  For example, the German word Gesundheit, which simply means “health”.

So I propose that rather than finishing each speech with “God Bless America” as though we, the citizens of America listening to them are possibly diseased and need to get better, all politicians should end their speeches with the more simple “Gesundheit America”, as in, ” Now that I’m finished, You’re all blessed to be as healthy as you were before I started spouting all of this crap that I just made you listen to!”

Just another idea…

It’s Academic

25 Feb

In the history of the world there have been many great and prosperous civilizations and they have all failed. And usually at the time of the failing some few folks had all of the money and most other folks had none. They were either Kings or Queens or Popes or Emperors or Czars or Caesars or Pharaohs or whatever and they always invoked the divine right of the gods as the reason for concentrating all of that wealth in the hands of one man or one small circle of family and friends. Eventually the disenfranchised, poor populace grows disinterested and disaffected and the empire succumbs to a force of outsiders who invade and plunder. While the wealthy few run away or hide or are murdered or all 3! Then the new conquerors share in the plunder and even rejoice while sharing, and then the cycle begins anew as the new leaders emerge and invariably begin indulging in their own grandeur until…

Fortunately we no longer have empires such as those in the world today but we still have world leaders who rule with concentrated power and wealth. In the United States however, our president is not among the wealthiest men in the nation and we have no all powerful despot who rules with an iron hand under the divine rights of either religion or lineage but we still have concentrated wealth in the hands of a few and those few are now the business and corporate leaders of the world. Where we once had popes and kings we now have CEOs and corporations (The latter which ironically enough have recently been declared to be persons by our Supreme Court composed of actually real people!) and they have quite a large amount of wealth at their disposal which is growing while the wealth of the common population is shrinking. This is the historical recipe for national disaster. No matter how vast and distant the empire may reach, when the interior rots the empire always withers and dies.

Our public schools represent that interior. They are the nucleus which fuels the fire of freedom and free enterprise. We have built our greatness from the inside out and we look to replenish our strengths and our greatness through the rebirth and reaffirmation of our ideals in our children. In our best of times, We have spread our influence through the free trade and free movement of our citizens and by setting an example of economic wealth that can be earned and shared and experienced by all and not concentrated within a few.

Our public schools must be fortified and not abandoned. They must be embraced and enhanced and empowered in terms of anticipating and responding to technological, social, political, economic, and competitive change. Healthy cultures must always be willing to rethink their most basic assumptions about themselves in order to improve and grow and repair their societies and we must be willing to accept that what our schools need now more than ever is not a cut in spending but rather a renewed effort to spend more on the future and the future generations who will lead us.

Today’s students are willing to work hard but what makes us think that they are going to be willing to work hard for low wages that would suffice a life in China or India or some other-where where they don’t live? America’s corporate leaders and great men of wealth need to stop hoarding and start spreading the wealth. They can begin by first embracing the public schools of this country with largess and generosity and then by raising wages across the middle and poorer classes of society so that the term “working poor” is eradicated from our vocabulary.

Today’s students of the 21st century in America are beginning to notice that it is getting harder and harder to bring the American dream, a dream of studying hard then working hard, and then achieving affluence, into focus and for most of our poorest students that dream is nothing more than a taunting apparition of their hopelessness: a happy meal that they will never be able to afford

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