30 Million Pieces of Silver


If you didn’t immediately get the Judas reference in the title. Don’t come for me, read your bible. The National Rifle Association contributed over $54 million in 2016 to Republican candidates for the House, Senate, and Presidency. $30.3 million went to Donald Trump. After the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School shooting when seventeen students and staff members were killed on February 14, 2018. President Trump attended a “listening session” with teachers and students and made the following declaration.

“We’re going to be very strong on background checks. We’re going to be doing very strong background checks.”

A week later in front of a group of lawmakers… he told them…

“You’re scared of the NRA.”

In a televised meeting, he called for a “powerful” bill on background checks to address mental illness. Almost a year later to the day, just before the House of Representatives passed a bill requiring universal background checks, Trump said he would veto the bill should it reach his desk. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to bring the House bill to the Senate floor for a vote. Trump, the 30 million dollar man, and McConnell who wasn’t running in 2016 but as of 2017 had received lifetime NRA contributions of over $1.2 million, had gotten the message. Their bill had come due.

While it’s unclear how much influence Russian oligarchs and Saudi investors have on Trump’s decisions, we can track what $30 million got the NRA. No matter what his initial scattered thoughts on a gun-related issue might be. The NRA has been able to smack him and force him to toe their line, the same one adopted by the Republican Party. I would be remiss not to point out the Democrats that have bowed down to the NRA as well.

Mitch McConnell has disproven the theory that you can only serve one master. He has earned the names, “Moscow Mitch” for aiding and abetting Russia, has received millions from his wife’s Chinese family whose shipping enterprise she regulates as Secretary of Transportation, and who single-handedly has protected the NRA from enduring pesky votes on legislation which might hamper them. In recent days he’s been simultaneously trending as #MoscowMitch, #MassacreMitch, and now #MoscowMassacreMitch.

McConnell & Trump have made sure no progress can be made. Even though over 90% of Americans favor universal background checks. The two of them have made getting them passed into law, impossible. Unfortunately, they haven’t acted alone.

Members of Congress, state legislators, Governors, lobbyists, corporations that support the NRA and those that blindly follow their lead, and those who watch… saying and doing nothing. For those who do nothing because they don’t know what to do. There are opportunities but they require you to open your eyes, minds, and hearts. For those that are following your financial interests; a campaign contribution, maintaining an elected office, keeping customers while turning a blind eye to the cost in human lives. May you rot in hell!

At the time of this writing, thirty-one people are dead from the mass shootings in El Paso, TX, and Dayton, OH. Twenty-two of those killed by a white nationalist follower of Donald Trump. The New York Times just reported the Trump campaign spent millions on Facebook promoting a “Mexican invasion,” the same words used bu the shooter. Trump is planning a trip to El Paso. For the first time in modern history, when a President comes to a community in mourning, there will be protests.

Thirty-one people dead averages out to just under $1 million per person. The payment isn’t for the number killed. It’s for the work he’s about to do. He slipped and started talking about background checks between rounds of golf in the hours after the El Paso shooting. The NRA must have tugged his coattails before his televised speech as that language was removed.

#MassacreMitch is ignoring calls to recall the Senate from vacation to vote on the bipartisan bills he’s refused to bring to the floor for a vote. Part of his job as he sees it is to prevent his members from having to take tough votes that either the public or the NRA might hold against them. The one master he never served, was the people of the United States. They don’t line his coffers.

The NRA is in disarray, weaker than at any point in recent history. They’ve had an upheaval in leadership, membership is dropping, they sued their ad agency who then filed a counter-claim against the NRA for $50million. Their leaders have been accused of wasteful spending. Yet they will do what they always do; threaten their members to stand fast and block any legislation to require background checks, ban assault weapons, or save lives. There is little reason to suspect legislators will do the right thing this time, but there’s always hope.

We the people are not without recourse as the upcoming battle rages. Legislators will show us who they are and who they work for, and we should believe them. If they have sold out our children for $30 million or $3,000, the next step is to vote them out. That’s what representative government requires, making them serve us instead of corporate interests. Donald and Mitch are both up for re-election in 2020, I can’t think of a finer place to start.

The Mulford Act: When Ronald Reagan, Republicans, and Democrats Got Together To Take Black…

Photo: twitter.com

The NRA got a piece of this action too! All of them joined forces in California to repeal a law permitting the open carry of loaded firearms. The reason that Ronald Reagan was able to pass bipartisan legislation while Governor of California in 1967 was one of the most unifying concerns of white America. The fear of black men with guns.

It started in Oakland when the Black Panther Party started engaging in what would come to be called, “Copwatching.” Armed Panther members, exercising their legal right to openly carry firearms, began observing the police while they carried out their duties, documenting misconduct and police brutality. One might reasonably ask, “Was there any evidence Oakland police was engaging in any activity worthy of being documented?” There are widely varying versions as to who was doing what during those years. What is not in dispute is that armed Black Panthers routinely followed patrol cars with both loaded weapons and the statute book governing police conduct. Passage of, The Mulford Act, did little to deescalate problems as after it became law, there were multiple shootouts between Oakland Police and Black Panther members leading to deaths on both sides. Each side claimed having been ambushed by the other.

The Mulford Act was authored by Don Mulford (R) from Oakland and cosponsored by Democrats John Knox from Richmond, Walter Karabian from Monterrey Park, Alan Sieroty from Los Angeles, and Republican William Ketchum from Bakersfield. It passed the Democrat-controlled Assembly and the split State Senate. During debate of the Bill, armed Black Panthers legally protested at the Capitol, perhaps guaranteeing the law’s passage. Reagan signed the bill saying, he saw “no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons” and that guns were a “ridiculous way to solve problems that have to be solved among people of good will.” Later he said, “the Mulford Act would work no hardship on the honest citizen.” Can you imagine any Republican saying that today? Among the law’s provisions was that an officer could make an arrest without a warrant if they had good reason to believe the person carrying the gun was violating the statute. In actual use, not only Black Panthers but black people carrying guns were targeted and the law was used in a highly selective manner to target blacks and minorities. This is the same city during the same time period where the Hell’s Angels were taking root and establishing a national presence.

By the 1980s when there was no black menace threatening them, Reagan, the NRA, and the Republican Party all switched their stance on gun control. They all became 2nd Amendment hard-liners, desiring for armed citizens to be a line of defense against a tyrannical government. Today armed militias have the full support of the NRA, many politicians, and Fox News. No need to wonder if they’d feel the same if those militias were black? We’ve already seen what happens then.

The Fox News Version Of The, “March For Our Lives”


“Well-intentioned but misguided”


“Who paid for all this.”


“We’ll see how long they can maintain their enthusiasm?”


“Gun control ideas sound good, but are deeply flawed and won’t save lives.”


“The ‘March for Our Lives’ taking place across the nation Saturday is backed by wealthy figures and is calling for things that are unconstitutional and irrational.”


“Isn’t that disgusting? I mean, we’re tuning in to high school assemblies, to get the aggregated wisdom of 18 year olds.”

An Open Letter To #NeverAgain. Make A Difference!


To the students, parents, administrators, and supporters of the #NeverAgain movement. I invite you to consider a few things as you decide how to move forward. The marches you’ve participated in, Listening Session with the President, protests at the Florida Capitol and the White House and the CNN Town Hall have all been very powerful. Yet already, people are looking to dictate to you your message, usurp it, or destroy the messengers to maintain the status quo. With that in mind, I offer a few suggestions that I hope will make your movement different than those who have come before you and quickly faded.


  1. Define yourselves: The media on all sides will attempt to define you for their own purposes and it’s important that you don’t become their labels. The sooner you can define yourselves in writing, stating your goals and establishing a structure. You will be better able to keep the focus on what you truly want to accomplish rather than having to pay attention to all the distractions caused by people saying who you are. The first claims that many of you were “actors” or “paid sympathizers” were laughable and immediately brushed away. Your detractors will be back and keep attempting to define you as something they can dismiss. Define yourselves and stay on message. A million-people speaking with a million voices is just noise. A million-people speaking with one voice is the beginning of a movement to be reckoned with.
  2. Learn your issues: The legislators and the gun lobby have been debating gun issues for years and have well-honed answers to the questions they are accustomed to being asked. They depend on you not recognizing when they change the subject when they deflect and fail to provide a straight answer. One of the questions to the NRA Spokesperson at the Town Hall related to the ability of an 18-year-old to possess an AR-15 or any type of assault weapon. The answer provided had to do with the right of someone old enough to vote or go to war to own a rifle. The need for an 18-year-old or anyone to own an assault rifle was never responded to. You must take control of the conversation and stay on point but you have to know all the issues to do so. What is unique about your movement is that politicians and industry groups find it hard to look you in the eye and explain why their profits are more important than your lives.
  3. Register voters: The only thing most of the politicians will respond to is whether or not you impact their ability to stay in office. They know the NRA can withhold funding or back another candidate and, in many cases, ensure their defeat. Until you possess that same type of power, you are not a threat, merely a nuisance. Start registering voters right now. Make it your first priority as some among you are already eligible to vote for the first time and others become eligible daily. Look at the restrictions in your state making it harder not only for minorities to vote but students and youth as well. The larger voting bloc you represent, the more power you’ll wield and the more you’ll be able to accomplish.
  4. Smiling faces: Everyone that reaches out their hand will not be your friend. Some will want to control you, some weaken you, others destroy you. You will be offered support, money, and advice. While you may well need all of the above, what will be the cost? Pick your friends wisely, they are there for a reason, possibly a mutually advantageously one, but a reason all the same.
  5. Keep your eye on the prize: Once you’ve defined your goals, never forget what they are. There will be opportunities to get caught up in organizational and power struggles, the lure of new goals, and the pull in different directions. Remember your goals and the reasons you chose them. Stay true to your mission and continually remind your members of what that message is.
  6. Plan for the next time: While #NeverAgain is a wonderful goal, until laws and behavior change, there will be an again, and again, and again. It will not mean you have failed, but that your job is not yet done. Be prepared to assist new communities. Show them how you made it through and how they can too. Point out the laws that need changing. Make yourselves heard. Require politicians to face you in public settings, and continue to register new voters, ultimately voting out those who choose to support the NRA and their own needs over the lives of youth.


You will constantly be offered “thoughts and prayers,” which have never proved enough in the past and mean nothing now. Demand action, register voters, then take action. Until #NeverAgain is more than just a hashtag but a reality.

An Open Letter To The #NeverAgain Movement. Make A Difference!

To the students, parents, administrators, and supporters of the #NeverAgain movement. I invite you to consider a few things as you decide how to move forward. The marches you’ve participated in, Listening Session with the President, protests at the Florida Capitol and the White House and the CNN Town Hall have all been very powerful. Yet already, people are looking to dictate to you your message, usurp it, or destroy the messengers to maintain the status quo. With that in mind, I offer a few suggestions that I hope will make your movement different than those who have come before you and quickly faded.

a a a a a a a a #neverd

  1. Define yourselves: The media on all sides will attempt to define you for their own purposes and it’s important that you don’t become their labels. The sooner you can define yourselves in writing, stating your goals and establishing a structure. You will be better able to keep the focus on what you truly want to accomplish rather than having to pay attention to all the distractions caused by people saying who you are. The first claims that many of you were “actors” or “paid sympathizers” were laughable and immediately brushed away. Your detractors will be back and keep attempting to define you as something they can dismiss. Define yourselves and stay on message. A million-people speaking with a million voices is just noise. A million-people speaking with one voice is the beginning of a movement to be reckoned with.
  2. Learn your issues: The legislators and the gun lobby have been debating gun issues for years and have well-honed answers to the questions they are accustomed to being asked. They depend on you not recognizing when they change the subject when they deflect and fail to provide a straight answer. One of the questions to the NRA Spokesperson at the Town Hall related to the ability of an 18-year-old to possess an AR-15 or any type of assault weapon. The answer provided had to do with the right of someone old enough to vote or go to war to own a rifle. The need for an 18-year-old or anyone to own an assault rifle was never responded to. You must take control of the conversation and stay on point but you have to know all the issues to do so. What is unique about your movement is that politicians and industry groups find it hard to look you in the eye and explain why their profits are more important than your lives.
  3. Register voters: The only thing most of the politicians will respond to is whether or not you impact their ability to stay in office. They know the NRA can withhold funding or back another candidate and, in many cases, ensure their defeat. Until you possess that same type of power, you are not a threat, merely a nuisance. Start registering voters right now. Make it your first priority as some among you are already eligible to vote for the first time and others become eligible daily. Look at the restrictions in your state making it harder not only for minorities to vote but students and youth as well. The larger voting bloc you represent, the more power you’ll wield and the more you’ll be able to accomplish.
  4. Smiling faces: Everyone that reaches out their hand will not be your friend. Some will want to control you, some weaken you, others destroy you. You will be offered support, money, and advice. While you may well need all of the above, what will be the cost? Pick your friends wisely, they are there for a reason, possibly a mutually advantageously one, but a reason all the same.
  5. Keep your eye on the prize: Once you’ve defined your goals, never forget what they are. There will be opportunities to get caught up in organizational and power struggles, the lure of new goals, and the pull in different directions. Remember your goals and the reasons you chose them. Stay true to your mission and continually remind your members of what that message is.
  6. Plan for the next time: While #NeverAgain is a wonderful goal, until laws and behavior change, there will be an again, and again, and again. It will not mean you have failed, but that your job is not yet done. Be prepared to assist new communities. Show them how you made it through and how they can too. Point out the laws that need changing. Make yourselves heard. Require politicians to face you in public settings, and continue to register new voters, ultimately voting out those who choose to support the NRA and their own needs over the lives of youth.

a a a a a a a a #neverr

You will constantly be offered “thoughts and prayers,” which have never proved enough in the past and mean nothing now. Demand action, register voters, then take action. Until #NeverAgain is more than just a hashtag but a reality.

What a Piece of Work is Man

What a Piece of Work is Man

 

What a piece of work is man
How noble in reason
How infinite in faculties
In form and moving
How express and admirable

I first heard these words, not from the soliloquy from Hamlet, but from the song from the musical “Hair”. My high school choir sang it and I can still remember my tenor part. I thought the song to be one stressing positivity. Extolling human virtues, intelligence, and excellence. I later learned that these words were an inquiry to Hamlet as to why he was depressed? In spite of all man’s potential, and all that has been realized. Today, in arguably the greatest country in the world in many respects. There is great reason to be depressed.

Please bear with me because I will get to something positive but not just yet. I was asked by a friend, a poet, a writer, to respond so something that expressed her feelings. She wanted to understand? And I was no help.

I don’t know what allows a man to kill another man (or woman), seemingly just because they can. I don’t know how our politicians can refuse to enact background checks for all gun purchases in spite of the fact that over 90% of the public wants it. I don’t know how the answer after every mass shooting is to ultimately do nothing. I don’t know how we don’t offer health care to the remaining percentage without it. I don’t know how we refuse to address immigration in a humane manner. I don’t know how we spend our resources mandating morality and sexuality and what bathroom one can enter. I don’t know how we have a system that allows gerrymandering and voter suppression and the equivalent of poll taxes. I’m not saying I don’t know why; I just don’t know how.

And now we have two more dead black men, killed by police. Posing no threat to the officers. Dead just the same. The Governor of Minnesota said what we all know, “Would this have happened if the driver and the passengers had been white? I don’t think so.”

I used to be able to say their names. I used to know the circumstances of their deaths. I used to know the specifics. Now, the number is so many, my memory is insufficient to keep track. I remember the outcomes for the officers. Not charged, not charged, not charged, not charged, not charged, not guilty, not charged. Then a case in South Carolina that was so egregious when a lawman shot an unarmed black man in the back; he was thrown under the bus as if that represented justice for all the rest. Not charged, not charged, not charged, not guilty, not guilty.

My friend said, “I have tried, as long as I know, to understand the mind of God.” Presumably in an attempt to understand God’s will in these situations. For the first time, I knew what I could say. I referred to a sermon I heard many years ago in Jacksonville, FL titled, “Mysterium Tremendum”, Latin for tremendous mystery. The sermon went on to say that God is to man, as man is to the ant. That He is so far beyond our ken, that we cannot comprehend His ways, much like the ant knows not our ways. If we can accept that we will not achieve understanding and instead rely on faith, we may not have satisfaction. But we may have peace.

I am not suggesting at all a passive acceptance of the wrongs in our society. Especially when many of the wrongs target those who have less, to preserve the status and privilege of those who have more. I believe it is also God’s will for us to resist, to challenge, to protest and to vote. Use your strength whatever it is to make positive change happen. If you are not a leader, be a follower, adding strength in numbers but follow wisely.

My peace comes not from man but from God. My strengths as well. To my friend, I suggest she channel her feelings into action. Using her gift of words to shine a light on the issues she chooses. She has motivational power, she can affect change, she can be a beacon in the darkness.

While this was directed to one, I submit that it takes many to affect change. It takes a collective power, focused on the changes that need to be made. Select your causes, bring your passion, make things better. It’s certainly justifiable to be angry, but anger alone accomplishes nothing. This is a time for action.