Post 254: One year after Newtown…December 14, 2013

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.

Twenty-seven words. The same number as the number of innocent people who died in Newtown, Connecticut, one year ago today. Twenty children. Six school staff who tried to protect those children. The mother of a mentally unstable gunman.  Twenty-seven lives snuffed out in a shooting spree.

The gunman whose 2nd Amendment rights and weak gun control laws and enforcement, society’s poor handling of people in need of psychiatric help allowed him to become the agent of murder and mayhem, then took his own life.  Arguably, the world is better off for his suicide death, a 28th death by the same hand, that awful day. But we’ll never learn why he did what he did.

The nation was in shock, and the President took steps to establish a bi-partisan committee to develop a legislative response, the start of a solution to these all-too-common mass murders. Congress failed to pass the recommended changes. The families affected by the murder of their first graders were visibly stunned, saddened, appalled, amazed at the irresponsibility of Congress. Something needed to be done. Anything!

How many children need die before the nation’s legislators take effective, serious action? It’s a question that remains unanswered.

As awful as Newtown was and is, children continued to die in America in between Newtown and now, if not in multiple shootings in a few incidents: Does one child dead from gunshot stand as a “better” situation than 20 at once? Ask the mother of the one dead child. The father. The siblings. The grandparents. The neighbors. America, people! Ask America! How many children, people have to die before the gun culture and Congress recognize every death is a loss in incalculable possibilities, is unnecessary, has nothing to do with a “well-regulated militia” or a “secure free state”?

Want to see the results of nothing? “Mother Jones” makes it easy for you by bringing these photos and stories together in one article. View the photos and read the stories of 192 children 12 and under who died by gunshot (murder, accidental) in the year since Newtown, and ask yourself, again: How many children need die before the nation’s legislators take effective, serious action?:

December 15, 1791: In a bitter irony, tomorrow is the 222nd anniversary of the Bill of Rights. Of those 10 rights codified, the 2nd Amendment rights continue to be problematic in ways the people who wrote those murderous words couldn’t possibly have imagined. Of course, back then “well-regulated militias” of one didn’t go on murder sprees and kill 20 first graders, six school administrators, and their own mother.

recycle day

I’m in a foul mood today, so I’m recycling something I posted on Facebook yesterday:

I have no shame: I recycled this image I earlier characterized as a "FAIL"....

I have no shame: I recycled this image I earlier characterized as a “FAIL”….

Andy’s “mood” in the photo has everything to do with a camera flashing in his kitty face.

Mine is related to the jokers in Washington. As William Gibbs McAdoo, Secretary of the Treasury under Woodrow Wilson, said, “It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument.” You may think I’m ignorant; I may think you are. It’s too late to talk about it.

History can settle which parties are responsible. When Congress flushes the toilet by their irresponsible handling of this manufactured crisis, the country goes down the drain. That’s what matters. No one wins: Small gains, major consequences, a Pyrrhic victory.

That’s why I’m in a foul mood today.

nyah! nyah!

Day Three: America continues to be held hostage by evil forces. Depending on your point of view, they are on the right or the left, below.

OK. Get it out of your system!

OK. Get it out of your system!

Nyah! Nyah!

The level of discourse matches the maturity of these defaced photos. (Oh! I missed half of them! Perhaps you want to complete the job!)

The level of discourse matches the maturity of these defaced photos. (Oh! I missed half of them! Perhaps you want to complete the job!)

“You started it”

“No, you started it!”

“No, you started it!”

“No, you started it!”

“Twice everything you say! Nyah! Nyah!”

“NO FAIR! I’m going to pull a Constitutional yellow card on you!”

“Times two! Hee! Hee!”


It’d be kind of funny if so many people’s lives weren’t diminished, imperiled, and put on hold by these people posturing in Washington.

Did your Congressman chose this flag as the one referred to in the Pledge of Allegiance?  [yesterday's loyalty test...]

Did your Congressman chose this flag as the one referred to in the Pledge of Allegiance? [yesterday’s loyalty test…]

Pray for both sides to work again for the people of the United States of America, not a party line. Pray for a quick resolution. But, more to the point, we each need to pay closer attention to what we vote into office.

The photos are the official US Government photos of these individuals. The improvements are mine.

VA Clinic

I’m taking a veteran down to Scottsbluff to the Veterans Administration Clinic Wednesday morning. I do this occasionally, as you who read my blog regularly know, a part of my volunteer work through RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program). It is an easy thing for me to do. It is something I can do. It is something I want to do!

The trip is a short one. We’ll leave a bit before 7:00 AM, and most likely be back home before 10 AM. My cats needn’t worry about supper!

This particular volunteer activity is one I feel the Veterans Administration, the US Government have a moral obligation to do but don’t, all in the name of saving money. More about that later.

There used to be a clinic in town. There is a bus to take people to the VA hospitals and clinics that serve this part of Nebraska but they are dependent of having a driver or a full day to devote to the activity. I am a time saver for the people I drive to appointments. When you get to a certain age, time’s at a premium. Let’s be blunt about it. Between riding and waiting to get in for an appointment, lots of time’s consumed in a way that saves the US Government (you and me, the taxpayers) money. Paul Ryan must be proud.

On the other hand, the people I take to these appointments served in war zones, gave up their youth being shot at, sometimes were wounded if not emotionally scarred. What the hell is a little money to you, me, and the money scrimpers in Congress when we’re talking about people like that? I guarantee your Congressman gets better treatment than that. So does your Senator. Yet very few of them ever served in the military, let alone stood in the firing line in a war zone, have to deal with a prosthesis, go to bed and not sleep because they can’t forget the terrors their country had no problem tossing them into.

I think it is a disgrace. Let me restate that:


Oh yeah, Congress. I spend my own money driving these people. If I can’t convince them not to give me money, I donate that money in their name to the Sallows Military Museum. Not because I’m rich. Not because I’m wonderful. But because we owe our veterans more than you are willing to pay. Let me spend my retirement money to do the morally right thing. You haven’t the integrity to appropriate adequate taxpayer money to do the same on a national scale.

Ugh! Try to make sense of it!

chart that stole christmas copy

I tried to figure out how I could afford insurance and have enough money for food, clothes, rent, and other expenses in 2010, my worst year and the year I created this chart. I wanted to help those used to something from me (even a card) on Christmas to understand my finances were in crisis, thanks to health insurance that nearly cost half my income per month, and that that’s why Christmas was thin that year! This chart made it clear, instantly, that I couldn’t afford healthcare in the United States of America.


The median US household income took a nose dive after the recession. I filled a spot below that median income as a retiree. Way below! That year, 2010, I didn’t observe Christmas; I didn’t feel like it, I couldn’t afford it at any rate. I was not unique in the United States of America.

The US Congress during this time – what’s the technical term?? – “f’ed” America with their political agenda to make sure Barack Obama would be a one term president. You know how that turned out. Congress, however, still acts like it didn’t get the news about the election of 2012. I call that denial the “Rove Effect”.

There is an inscription, you know, carved in stone, above the Nebraska State Capitol main entrance:

"The Salvation of the State is Watchfulness in the Citizen" ~ Hey, it's carved in stone!

“The Salvation of the State is Watchfulness in the Citizen” ~ Hey, it’s carved in stone!

As a person impacted heavily by the jokers in Washington, I take those words seriously. I write those people representing me in Congress. I support candidates with votes and what small sum of money I can afford. I keep up with the news. Yet I don’t feel anything makes a difference when I see the circus in Washington sees obstructionism as their legacy, damn meals for seniors and children, damn affordable healthcare for all Americans, damn investment in education and infrastructure (i.e. the future!), damn blue state Hurricane Sandy victims while holding out a hand for the Federal funds when your red state suffers a calamity, damn everyone but themselves apparently. They stick to their guns, too, but that’s another rant.

I say “apparently” because they have automatic pay increases unless they vote against it. That way they can “honestly” tell you and me, “I didn’t vote for a pay increase”! No wonder I feel cynical about government in this country, though I hold out in favor of it on the chance time will end the horror of a Congress run amok.

While millions of Americans suffer along, guess who’s seen a nice increase in their salaries? The President? No, the President’s salary in 2002 was $400,000, and it still is $400,000.

Oh! Oh! Nice chunk of cash for doing damn little good...

Oh! Oh! Nice chunk of cash for doing damn little good…

I haven’t even touched this topic. Even the broadest of looks at it doesn’t make much sense. Looking at it too closely probably would just make me sick. Ugh! Try to make sense of it!