Children are a most precious gift. We, as a nation, have a moral imperative to protect and nurture our children, to educate them, and to ensure that they have a safe environment in which to grow. To this end, our states have enacted laws to protect our children from being raised in homes where parents are abusive, neglectful, or disabled.
Wait, disabled? Yes, 35 states and the District of Columbia have laws stating that the mere presence of a parent with disability is grounds for terminating parental rights and removing children from the home. Nine states and the District of Columbia list physical disability in particular as grounds for termination of parental rights, even without evidence of abuse or neglect. These states include Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, and South Carolina in addition to the nation’s capital. In every state, the presence of a disability can be arbitrarily used when determining the “best” interests of a child.
I find these laws abhorrent. A parent living with disability is still capable of loving children and providing for their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Additionally, my experience is that children raised in homes where disability exist are grounded, mature, and open-minded to those who may look or behave differently than societal “norms.” We need more children with these qualities.
I ask you to write you state's elected officials to repeal these laws. To find out more, go to http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/2016/new-parenting-disability-toolkit.
Today marks the 70th anniversary of the first atomic bomb detonated by one country on another in hostility. Little Boy was dropped by the B-29 Enola Gay over Hiroshima killing somewhere around 100,000 civilians and leaving a legacy of radiation that still kills today. Japan is not yet done counting its World War 2 casualties. I have no idea how much media attention or public conversation this anniversary will get, but we must remember.
I will not present any opinion regarding the necessity of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We have no way of knowing if other alternatives would have saved lives. But I will use this anniversary to decry the atrocity that is war. We in America are so fortunate that the vast majority have personally seen so little of war, but that fortune comes with a responsibility to learn the totality of its horror so that we do not tread lightly into it.
We are all rightly aware of the atrocity of the Holocaust, 6 million Jews killed for their religion and ethnicity. Most of us know of the 10-15 million Soviet civilians killed by Hitler’s army and we know about the 250,000 civilians killed by our atomic bombs.
What few of us learn, though, is the staggering loss of innocent life across the globe during WW IIF. More than 2 million in India. 1 million in French Indochina and 4 million in the East Indies. 5 million in Poland and 1 million in Romania. And then there is China. China lost at least 20 million innocents, and the real number may be 50 million. The Rape of Nanking is the only atrocity in China many of us have heard of.
The Axis powers were not alone in intentionally targeting civilian lives. Please do not misconstrue me, the United States was militarily and morally coerced into joining WW2. I don’t believe we had much choice in joining the war in either Asia or the Pacific. However, the propaganda at the time and the pervasive view we have of our history is that we didn’t target civilians. I will never forget my father’s words, choked out through tears as he viewed pictures of the devastation of Munich that included churches and hospitals, “They told us we avoided churches and civilians.” Unfortunately we, too, intentionally carpet- and fire-bombed scores of cities in Germany and Japan with the purpose of degrading morale. We even bombed dams to flood cities. The United States was on the right side of history, but the blood of innocent lives on our hands number in the several million, too.
Given this, I ask that we remember the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki this week not as triumphs of our technological and military might, but as reminders of the horrors of war, horrors in which we are complicit. Let us always remember that security does not equal peace and that seeking peace involves working to avoid war. And if we seek to be people blessed by God, let us remember Jesus’ words, “Blessed be the peacekeepers.”
Yet again this nation is mourning what most people are calling a tragedy. The hate murders in Charleston were not a tragedy, they were an inevitability, the inevitability of a culture of violence and a cult of gun ownership.
I was unable to complete this post before hearing of another fatal mass shooting. Another movie theater, this time in Louisiana, is witness to the high price of our infatuation with guns. And this time we have to listen to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal say “The best thing we can do for these families is pray for them.” I call B. S. The best thing we can do for these families is remove the ongoing threat to them and all Americans. Remove guns from the general population.
To be upfront, I am not a gun owner and never will be, even though some have labeled me a “target” for my position. That’s right, people have tried to scare me into gun ownership by telling me I am a target if unarmed. Not that I’ve never handled guns, I shot rifles and shotguns in Boy Scouts and earned a Marksman merit badge, but never hunted and did not grow up in a family where guns or hunting were traditions.
Gun ownership has become a cult. They have an ideology with unrestricted gun ownership as its creed, and the cult’s faithful taunt, bully and bribe (sorry, lobby) any who might question the ideology. The cult’s leadership will not brook any dissent, even from its own members who believe in mandatory background checks. But the nation does have a right and a responsibility to engage in conversation over where gun rights end, so I choose to speak knowing I will get all kinds of verbal abuse.
Guns kill. This is heresy to the cult, but it is truth. 70% of all homicides are caused by gunfire. Guns carry a lethality to a violent incident unmatched by any other personal weapon. Guns confer a sense of power that lead people into violence and the threat of a gun raises the probability of violence in any confrontation. Guns make killing easier, less personal, and cleaner for the perpetrator. Guns are responsible for turning the angry into murderers
Without a gun, George Zimmerman doesn’t have the balls to get out of his car and accost Trayvon Martin. Without the threat of guns Michael Brown and 12-year-old Tarir Rice aren’t killed by police officers. Without the threat of guns, Levar Jones doesn’t get shot for reaching for his driver’s license as he was instructed to do and law enforcement officers wouldn’t have to fear every traffic stop.
After every horrific, inevitable, mass shooting, after every horrific, inevitable, gang murder, the nation cries “Something has to be done”, but nothing is done outside of another rush to buy more guns. The nation has a right and a responsibility to engage in conversation over where gun rights end, but the cult will not allow it.
I don’t understand how the 2nd amendment came to include gun ownership rights outside of a “well-regulated militia “. That amendment was written when the young Republic was under constant threat of war from European powers and disenfranchised Native American nations, and we have plenty of well-regulated militias in which to serve our country and own a gun - the armed services, Reserves, and National Guard. Private militias that are unregulated have to go. Some of these have purchased surplus armored personnel carriers and mounted 50 caliber semiautomatic rifles in the back of the their pickup truck. The right to bear arms should not extend to the right to have arms bear us.
My opinion is that private gun ownership should be outlawed beyond members of the police and Homeland Security forces. I know this will never happen in my lifetime, so I will compromise. As I see it, legitimate reasons for gun ownership are hunting and marksmanship sports. Neither of these require semi-automatic weapons of any kind, handguns, high-capacity magazines, hollow point or armor-piercing bullets. If you are a hunter, buy your hunting rifle and leave it locked up at a hunt club. If you want to target shoot, leave the guns in a locker at the range.
I could compromise further and allow guns in homes if every gun has a biometric safety and ammunition costs a minimum of $25 a round. We can prevent laptop theft and misuse with fingerprint verification, there is no valid reason guns can’t have fingerprint safeties set at time of purchase. Such a system would reduce illegal gun sales and transfers and it would eliminate accidental shootings by children. Expensive ammunition reduces our risk of mass shootings at the hands of those disaffected and at the fringe of society.
The cult responds, “But shooting these high performance arms is fun.” Sorry, but lots of things people find fun are illegal. After living in Germany, I love driving at speeds well into triple digits. I can’t do that in the USA without the risk of severe penalties.
The cult responds, “But I have to defend my home.” If you are a responsible gun owner, the cult’s training stresses you firearm should be unloaded and in a locked safe. You’re better off calling 911 and barricading yourself in a locked room than making noise getting your gun out of the safe and loading it in a stressful situation.
The cult cries “But if guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns.” Cute, but not real-world. Experience in Great Britain and Australia shows that outlawing guns makes their price on the black market skyrocket. Outlaws in those countries face prices for Glock 9mm semiautomatics in the $30,000 range.
The cult genuflects and rages “Private gun ownership is the bulwark of liberty against a tyrannical government.” This one’s my favorite. It is usually spouted by people who say they are patriots who love and believe in America, but apparently don’t trust democracy and representative government. Beyond this contorted logic is political reality. A tyrannical government cannot, and has not ever in all of history, gained power without military backing. If people think they can fight M1A1 tanks, Blackhawk and Apache gunships, Tomahawk cruise missiles and Predator drones with their AR-15s are deluded.
And delusions are a psychiatric disorder that precludes gun ownership.
Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, a landmark in civil rights legislation. Less than a generation ago people living with physical, emotional, or cognitive disabilities were largely shut out of employment opportunities, shut out of community life, and shut in their homes. We were invisible and deemed insignificant.
I benefit every day from the ADA. I was employed for 7 years after my diagnosis of ALS, worked long after my hands were paralyzed and in a wheelchair, even after my voice was affected. I can go to the symphony, movies, theatre, grocery store, church, and virtually anywhere else I want. I can write a blog and participate in civic life. I can even sail. My life is full, productive, and enjoyable.
We have come so very far in the past 25 years, but there is still work to do. My employment and participation is due in part to the resources I and my community invested in my well-being; my opportunities are not the same in the whole population. Mental health and cognitive disabilities are still stigmatized. Unemployment among the disabled is still more than double the general population, due to underemployment of disabled veterans and workplace technology outpacing technology availability and affordability. We struggle with insurance systems caught in a pre-ADA mentality, covering items necessary to be safe at home but denying coverage to help us be employed, productive citizens.
There are 55 million people living with disabilities in the United States, making us the largest protected minority population. The Americans with Disabilities Act is a real success story of government intervention, but it still has limitations. Let’s celebrate our successes today, but work in cooperation with businesses, governments and nonprofit agencies to keep forward progress going.
Flying the Confederate battle flag is not only racist, it's seditious. The Confederacy was a movement that broke away from the union, set up it's own government, created their own currency, and fought to overthrow the legitimate, elected, government of the United States. All so that states could have the heinous "right" to allow white people own black slaves they considered to be subhuman.
To those who think the flag honors their forefathers, we don’t honor traitors. To those who think the flag symbolizes states’ rights, we don’t honor state-sponsored racism.
It is time we ban this symbolic threat to the Union. Take down every public display of this shameful symbol, ban its sale, and relegate it to museums.
To review, on April 15 I posted how Dan Price, owner of the firm, chose to cut his $1 million salary to 70k and made 70k the minimum salary for all employees. He wants employees to be happy and to be able to focus more on work and less on how to pay their bills. In other words, Mr. Price is doing justice for his workers.q
But Rush can’t let Mr. Price run his private business the way he wants or according to his own values. He claims that employees earning such an exorbitant salary will deter productivity. He said “Happiness equals comfort. "Seventy grand, well, I can stop working hard," is what it means.” So, Rush, if 70 large makes one too comfortable to work hard, what does that say about your $80 million a year? Apparently comfortable enough to move to Palm Beach to avoid paying state income tax and make a lazy living reading headlines and spouting insults.
I’m particularly perturbed by Mr. Limbaugh’s naked hypocrisy. The Grand Seer of liberty and free markets can’t stomach the idea that a person he calls “Liberal” understands that relatively high pay and engendering loyalty helps attract and retain high quality talent in the FREE LABOR MARKET. In fact he calls such naked private, entrepreneurial, job-creating, independent decision-making “socialism.” He also hopes (like he did with President Obama) that Gravity Payments fails, that 120 people lose their jobs, just so he can be right.
Mr. Limbaugh gives no credit to Gravity Payments employees who might just have earned their way by helping a start-up to profitability. He belittles their happiness at having a little more economic freedom. He excoriates a CEO for uplifting the people helping him earn a living. All this from a man whose main experience in uplifting someone’s economic condition lies in marrying, then divorcing, a radio station sales secretary, a stadium usherette and an aerobics instructor. Perhaps his excuse for his failed marriages is that they got a little money and became unproductive.
My son’s Wheaton Terrier is a great candidate for one of those viral videos with pets chasing a dot of light from a laser pointer. It’s hilarious watching her futile chase to catch the red dot, or, for that matter, any reflected light on the ceiling or walls. While I don’t know what’s going through her mind, I know how she feels.
There is an insidious movement afoot across the country. A movement to entitle people to receive benefits they did nothing to earn, benefits paid by the rest of us. We are creating a class of freeloaders when there are jobs out there to be had. What’s more, our elected representatives are not only perpetuating this affront to liberty, they are expanding it.
“America’s Mayor” Rudy Giuliani went on another anti-Obama rant last week at a non-campaign campaign event for Wisconsin Governor and possible 2016 presidential candidate Scott Walker. Giuliani accused President Obama of, among other things, not loving America and being anti-colonialist. Although that’s not Obama’s fault, according to Rudy. He just grew up with the the wrong people.
Well, Rudy, here’s a pop quiz for you. Who is history’s worst mass murderer? Pol Pot of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge is small potatoes at 2,000,000. Hitler’s Holocaust claimed 6 million lives to make this podium of infamy while Stalin comes in at second place with 7 million dead in the wake of his subjugation of the USSR.
But none of these compare with the ignominious answer to our quiz, King Leopold II of Belgium, who oversaw the murder of some 10-15 million Africans. After convincing Parliment of his intentions to give Christianity to the natives while taking riches back to enhance the stature of little Belgium he was granted a parcel of land in central Africa. Leopold became the largest private landowner in the world, being deeded over 900,000 square miles. That's an area the size of California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Oregon put together. Rubber plantations sprang up everywhere, villagers that refused this forced labor were massacred and their homes burned to the ground. Those who didn’t make quotas were killed, those who didn’t kill had their hands amputated. Leopold became the richest man in the world by supplying rubber to burgeoning industries across Europe and America. Such is the way of colonialism.
These tactics of terror should sound familiar. Fighters in civil wars throughout central Africa and terrorist organizations like Boko Haram have used them to great effect. They use these tactics because the First World taught them.
Our schools don’t teach our children about the atrocities of Leopold or how colonial powers in Africa left the continent uneducated, unprepared for self-government, and without vital infrastructure. We also don’t teach them about our often violent land grabs to resettle freed slaves and other black people into what is now Liberia.
Colonialism didn’t end in the 20th century, either. We certainly don’t teach them about the corporate colonialism that continues to this day. For instance, Firestone has owned a 200 square mile rubber plantation in Liberia for 90 years. In that time, Firestone has only recently begun putting electricity in the 1-room shacks they have as workers’ housing. Clean water is also a recent development but there is still no sewer system and the adjacent river is polluted from plant runoff. The standard of living is no different for Firestone workers than the average Liberian, one of the world’s poorest countries. Firestone have made no attempt to manufacture any value-added product in Liberia that would improve their workers’ standard of living and improve the country’s economy. We’re still raping the continent for its raw materials.
Another company was started in the last decade next to the Firestone plantation to produce biomass chips (charcoal) from non-producing rubber trees. Private and US government investment money launched the venture, which also was to build an electric plant fueled by the biomass chips. The plant was never built and the chips were exported to Europe. Excess wood was “sold” to local women in a systematic, daily procedure in exchange for sex. The resulting scandal caused private investors to pull out and the company went bankrupt. The American management got paid while the Liberian workers are still owed back pay.
Rudy, all black lives matter. Our neglect in raising our children with an understanding of the evils of 1st world domination and economic subjugation contribute to our continuing apathy towards events in sub-Saharan Africa. That apathy cost 800,000 Rwandan lives in a”tribal” dispute between Hutus and Tutsis, tribal distinctions that were arbitrarily fabricated by colonial masters to create ruling and subjugated classes. That apathy let Boko Haram get a 3-week head start in hiding or selling over 280 schoolgirls before we paid attention. That apathy leads to continuing human rights abuses perpetrated by “peacekeepers” and NGOs.
So, Rudy, I hope to God that President Obama is anti-colonial and I am deeply disappointed that you apparently are not. Colonialism is an oppressive, dehumanizing system that devalues human life in exchange for wealth. I am a middle-aged white male who has taught my children to be anti-colonial. Go ahead and call me anti-American if you want. If that means my children weren’t raised the way you were the world is better for it.
Being unemployably disabled gives Steve time to ponder the world. With 25 years of business consulting experience and a Masters of International Business, some of these ponderings are credible.
Current events, crushed.
It's a deep, dark abyss in this mind. The pressures at these depths compress normal thought into rock candy for the grotesque creatures I call Ideas.
Thoughtful commenters welcome; all others go away and buy a thought you can take out in public.