Monday, December 17, 2012


Claptrap, a useful word we rarely hear anymore, but a perfect description of much of what we are now hearing from Republicans, especially those on the religious right. The NRA itself has been remarkably silent and absent for the past three days but not so some of their obvious sympathizers. Perhaps the most outrageous claim came from Mike Huckabee, who seems to think that “leaving God out of our schools” is what caused the terrible tragedy at the Sandy Hook school. And of course there is the usual chorus from those who seem to believe that the answer to gun violence should be the addition of more guns. Louie “What’s his face,” a Representative from Texas, who is living proof that one can be elected to high office (at least in Texas) even though completely lacking a brain, expressed his great sorrow that the Principal who gave her life trying to stop the shooter did not have her own weapon so she could have “blown his head off” before he could carry out his massacre. Along those same lines, Governor Snyder in Michigan is prepared to sign a bill into law that would allow weapons to be carried into churches and elementary schools. There are many Republicans that subscribe to the completely illogical, even completely nonsensical  belief, that if people only had more guns this would solve the problem of gun violence. And there are still those who argue passionately that “guns don’t kill people, people do.” That is true, guns do not jump up and murder people on their own, but people who have easy access to millions of guns (9 guns for every 10 people in the U.S.) kill people far more easily than those who do not  have such easy access. It is unfortunately true, we are genuinely awash in an ocean of guns and violence. Even most “Savages” did better at social control than we do.
I am trying very hard to suppress my atheistic urge to comment on the recent ecumenical treatment of the tragedy at Sandy Hook. It seems that people of several different faiths agree (more or less) that “God the Father,” who looks after us and cares for us, has called his children “back to heaven” (or whatever), and is that same “Father,” supposedly both omnipresent and omnipotent, who just allowed the slaughter of 20 innocent children and 6 heroic adults. He/She/It is believed somehow to be a benevolent supernatural being worthy of our uncritical adoration. To me this is just another version of claptrap, but if it really does make people feel better about this cruel, unjust, inexplicable, horrible tragedy, that is fine. It doesn’t do that for me.
Our virtually useless “one story” media allows us to not even think about the tragedies that occur on a daily basis in Gaza, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere in the world. While we pretend we can afford to rule the entire world we cannot afford to hear about it as that is apparently too expensive (reporters have to be paid), so much for private enterprise. Of course there is the distinct possibility that those who control our news don’t want us to hear about it, or know about it, or think about it, or comment on it, or talk about it, or form opinions about it, and it would certainly not do were we to try to do anything about it. Such is life in the little bubble of six-packs, sports, TV garbage, do-nothing politics, and local tragedies (Lawrence O'Donnell is now interviewing two people who were Middle School students of the dead Principal 12 years ago!) we are allowed to experience, such is life in the “greatest country on earth” in the early years of the 21st century.

When I went to bed last night there was one inch of snow on the ground. This morning there was a good 14 inches, maybe slightly more. I have been snowbound all day, perhaps I will be again tomorrow. But not to worry, I have my cats to keep me warm, food and drink, and, mercifully, lots of books.

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