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Kill the death penalty. Now.

by Paul 23. January 2014 05:08

You probably know about the Oklahoma prisoner who was recently tortured to death, legally, by a lethal cocktail of drugs that didn't work as advertised. You can say - and I'm sure many will - that he deserved it.

Perhaps so, but that's not the point. He did horrible things; that's what made him a criminal. When our federal, state, and local governments allow horrible things to be done in our name, yours and mine, that makes criminals of all of us, and makes our society a criminal organization.

Some people may raise the "eye for eye, tooth for a tooth" objection. Not so amazingly, many criminals use that same scripture to justify their own actions. Many theologians have asserted that this dictate was never meant to be taken literally, and even if it were, it's a strain of logic to claim that this barbarism has any place in a modern, civilized society. Continue...

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Crime and punishment | Life in America | Morality Defined

You have your guns. So where's my "well-regulated militia"?

by Paul 11. December 2013 11:55

Few texts have been so misquoted, misused, and abused, as the second amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Why is a “well regulated militia” necessary to the security of a free state (i.e., the United States as a whole, or any of its component states)? We have armed forces to repel foreign invaders. So what’s with a militia?

Simple: To protect us from internal threats. Wildcat rebellions by deadbeats who didn’t want to pay the alcohol tax. Or mobs from one state who wanted to annex part of another state. Covens of psychopaths who claimed that God wanted them to marry off as harem wives daughters who were too young to cook their own breakfast. Gangs of rowdies beyond the control of local police forces.

Sure, in all these cases and hundreds more, federal troops have been called to assert control. But the well-regulated militia (read “National Guard”) has been the first line of defense.

This isn’t conjecture on my part. Continue...

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Government Action and Inaction | Life in America | Morality Defined | The real dangers to freedom

George Zimmerman who?

by Paul 24. July 2013 01:20

George Zimmerman the mouse who wanted to be a lion. The blubbery, out-of-shape would-be superhero who might have found self-respect in a therapist's office, if our sick society hadn't offered him a quicker fix in the form of a gun.

He has to live with himself, trying to convince himself that those scratches on the back of his head were life threatening, that there was more than his dignity at risk when a 17-year-old kid busted his schnozz. (Just as an aside, I've had my own nose broken several times, but never felt compelled to kill anyone over it.)

To be sure he'll have his admirers. Other people who trust a gun over common sense. People who call themselves great Americans, but don't trust our system of government. Ready to form themselves into a mob of army ants, Continue...

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Crime and punishment | Life in America | Morality Defined | Position statements | The real dangers to freedom

America needs tough love

by Paul 18. May 2013 08:08

Today too many pundits and loudmouths define patriotism as the willingness to proclaim that "America is the greatest nation on earth" and to take a pugilistic attitude toward anyone who shows a glimmer of doubt about it. But let's think about that.

You're not a loving parent if you ignore the fact that your child is hooked on drugs and failing at school. You're not a loving son or daughter for sending holiday cards to your parents but not caring that they can't afford decent food and shelter.

Sure, I love America. Loving America means caring about America. Noticing when it's hurting. By "hurting" I don't mean that someone I don't like got elected. Those things happen in free nations. I mean going backward. Showing signs that should worry all of us. Right, left, and center.

Everyone seems to agree that we are the most powerful nation on earth. True, if you mean that we could blow the world into smaller pieces than any other nation. I won't argue with that. We could also obliterate just about any other nation on earth pretty quickly, I guess. Understandable, since more than 41% of all the money spent on killing systems in the world comes from us.

That does give us a certain amount of influence. Not necessarily respect, but influence. Influence that we have to be ready to back up with even more money, and American blood. Continue...

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Government Action and Inaction | Life in America | The real dangers to freedom

The firearms dilemma in one simple cartoon:

by Paul 29. January 2013 12:53

The assault weapon that terrifies Republicans

Mostly Republicans, but too many Democrats also.

What's my slogan here? Tear down the walls, there's still time for America. So now you may think I'm slamming Republicans and some cowardly Democrats; building walls, not bridges.

I don't see it that way. What I'd like to do here, if I could, is knock down a little bit of the wall that the current incarnation of the Republican party has built to defend the carnage mongers against the will of the American people. The wall they've built between themselves and the traditional spirit of the Republican party.

There was a time when I admired the NRA, when I was a boy with BB gun, when I was the envy of the family for my marksmanship with my big brother's .22 rifle. Continue...

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Do we really love our guns that much?

by Paul 16. December 2012 07:41

Isanity. And I use the word advisedly. Pretending that easy access to firearms in America has nothing to do with our shamefully high murder rate makes no sense. Stripping the Second Amendment of any context or historical perspective, then using it as a sacred cloak for the carnage in our streets - and schools, and theaters, and shopping malls, and what next? - is the stuff of psychosis.

Which is more important, the right to bear arms, or the right to life? Who would tell the bereaved parents in Connecticut that the loss of their precious children is just the price we have to pay for our AK-47s and 40-round magazines? With its usual hubris the NRA will point out that "guns don't kill, people kill," and that authorities should do a better job of enforcing existing gun laws.

Two obvious problems to anyone who wants to think honestly about it. Number one, some people kill in some circumstances, and guns make it too damned easy. Number two, existing gun laws are far too loose, and the NRA does its best to make even those unenforceable.

It's not "the world we live in today." There have always been, and will always be, deranged individuals, people who act violently in a moment of anger, people who do not value or respect human life, people who get angry and fight. Tragedies like the slaughter in Newtown don't happen because we "took God out of the schools," as Mike Huckabee opined on Fox News. (Note that the violent crime rate is higher than average in the so-called Bible Belt.) The BIG problem is the flood of highly effective and readily available killing tools.

To put this in context, we have to leave the ongoing tragedy that moved our president to tears. We'll get back to it.

Continue...

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Government Action and Inaction | Morality Defined | The Condition of the World | The real dangers to freedom

Hey Moslem world: Take a lesson from Libya!

by Paul 24. September 2012 02:55

Islam used to be one of the world's great religions, and was respected as such. Now the very thought of Islam conjures images of some kind of hybrid between a satanic cult and a cutthroat street gang.

It's not just non-Muslim bigotry that makes the religion of Mohammed so unpopular. Moslems have a serious public relations problem.

Most of us non-Muslim types are not so thick headed as to believe that all Moslems are homicidal maniacs, relishing the thought of killing a busload of Israeli kids, so gynophobic they'd rather kill a woman than see her naked, so incensed at the freedom and power America represents that they'd rather destroy the world than accept the simple reality that they're not going to change us. Most of us realize that the homicidal maniacs, or holy war fanatics, or whatever you want to call them, are a minority. We know that the vast majority of Moslems, well, how do I say this? The vast majority of them do nothing. Continue...

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Morality Defined | Religion and Life | The Condition of the World

Guns for felons only?

by Paul 1. August 2012 09:23

Craziest idea you ever heard, right? After all, every time someone honors that timeworn American tradition called Mass Murder With Firearms, a few brave souls raise their voices to say that we have too many (expletives deleted) guns, and some dead-pan politicians will protest that instead we should work harder to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

They will immediately be joined by members of a certain bizarre but powerful organization, who will add that no new gun laws should be enacted until we enforce the gun laws that are already on the books. They never mention their own efforts to make it as difficult as possible to enforce ANY gun laws.

One can pick apart all of those pro-gun slogans, like "guns don't kill, people kill." The one I'd especially like to address here is "When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns."

Gun rights advocates and gun control advocates agree on very little. The exception is the principle that criminals and mentally unstable people should not have firearms. As a society, we're (unfortunately, I believe) willing to define "criminal" as meaning anyone who has ever been convicted of any felony. As to mentally unstable, well, I dare to think of myself as a pretty good psychologist, and I can't define that term to my own satisfaction.

So let's stick to the problem with heavily armed criminals, OK? Let's assume that the holy Second Amendment really means that anyone who can walk and talk has the right to as much firepower as the entire Continental Army, Continue...

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Crime and punishment | Life in America | Position statements

Who's responsible for Chicago cops' crimes against humanity? Among others, I am.

by Paul 11. April 2012 06:04

Chicago's a big city, but as police states go, it's small. Doesn't cover as much ground as Cuba, or Guatamala, or Saudi Arabia, or other places where those who are paid to protect the people are instead allowed to commit unspeakable crimes against them, all in the name of law and order. Like Mississippi and Alabama of past years.

Yep, I know there are some damned good Chicago cops, but even some of the good ones are too damned quiet about the atrocities of the bad ones.

My usual  complaint about this topic is that when a bad cop occasionally (and much too rarely) gets nailed, the usual punishment is not a well deserved prison sentence, but a monetary award for the victim taken out of the taxpayers' pockets. Continue...

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Crime and punishment | Government Action and Inaction | Life in America | Morality Defined | The real dangers to freedom | What's a good politician

Will the GOP destroy conservatism in America?

by Paul 25. February 2012 03:13

 

As the Republican party swings further to the right, there's a risk that it will ultimately push America to the extreme left. That's not as impossible as it sounds. Please think this through with me.

Those who speak loudest for the Republican party now demonize anything and everything that suggests liberalism.

They do it believably, with such evangelical zeal that many grassroots Republicans enunciate the word "liberal" as though it were a synonym for traitor. Continue...

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Government Action and Inaction | Life in America | What's a good politician

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