"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

They know not what they do

Barrett Rainey
Second Thoughts

Within a span of just 14 hours, we’ve been exposed to two terrible examples of belligerence, selfishness, ignorance and behavior dangerous to who we are as a nation. One was a handful of carelessly elected zealots – hellbent on fiscal destruction of our economy. The other, a tone-deaf, arrogant, in-your-face example of the dangers the existing National Rifle Association presents to the civility of our culture.

For the record, what John Boehner tried to ramrod through the U.S. House was lousy legislation – ill-conceived legislation – bad for middle class Americans legislation. It deserved a procedural death. But not the way it happened. Or for the reasons it happened.

Boehner’s “Plan B” was DOA in the Senate and stood to get a stake in the heart at the White House if it accidentally got that far. It was proposed simply as a GOP “show horse.” Toss tax issues to the Democrats and make them fall on their swords. But it blew up in Boehner’s face. The faulty legislative grenade was triggered by about three dozen members – loosely called “tea partiers.” Small “T” and small “P.”

Make no mistake. These are not “Tea Party” people in the original meaning of that title which was believed a clever nomenclature for some disgruntled Americans wanting to make a political statement to the country a few years back. These people are vastly ignorant about the affairs and conduct of the government they espouse so much hate for. They know nothing of how it’s structured – how it works – or what’s expected from people who currently hold the elected offices they do. Single-issue zealots to the core, they routinely subvert their own “causes” by stepping on their own feet.

What they’ve done is treasonous. They’ve cut the throat of an entire political party. Giving Boehner absolute benefit of any doubt, his was the only voice of the entire Republican Party in that body that could’ve negotiated solutions to our terrible financial perils. If he and the rest of our national elected voices were to find common cause to deal with the thorny issues, his voice had to be supported. Sadly, it was not. And is not.

What the ignorant have done is cut the ground out from under him. In the process they’ve created something they profess to hate: a unilateral voice of one to create an agenda – or solution – as that voice sees fit. I don’t like government-of-one. We need the best of each of the two parties we send to conduct our national affairs. The tension of two knowledgeable, reasoned, intelligent sets of hands is needed on the rope to keep us from being pulled too far in any one direction.

GOP Rep. Steve La Tourette spoke for a lot of us at the moment of failure. “It’s unbelievable, this is horrible. I’m angry, sad for my friend the Speaker and I’m sorry for the country. We deserve better.”

Hear hear.

What the GOP miscreants have done is effectively cripple the two-party system. Boehner will never have a chance to undo what they’ve done from this day forward. He will never again be regarded as the leader of all things Republican in the House. Through no special fault of his own, he’ll never be trusted to speak with an effective, unified political voice.

As for the NRA, the only response that comes to mind is – again – the word “treason” – the betrayal of one’s country. And of one’s countrymen.
I live in an area of Oregon where LaPierre’s obscene response to the killing of 27 people in Connecticut by semi-automatic weaponry will be looked upon by far too many as “the right response. ” I thank God our little place in the trees is often more an aberration than the national reality.

There are roughly 98,000 public schools in our nation. Rather than joining any reasoned search for solutions to mass murder – an end to mass murder – the NRA is simply proposing we place – and pay for – an armed police officer in every public school building. After a week to think – to plan – to propose a responsible course of action on behalf of gun owner members in the wake of the mass murder of 20 six and seven-year-olds and their teachers, LaPierre and the cretins around him have offered a plan that is simply mind-boggling. Hire more guns.

More than 30 years ago, I belonged to the NRA. I tore up the card and cut off the decals when association responses – even then – deviated from what I felt was the path of what responsible gun ownership interests were about. Never regretted the decision.

LaPierre’s outrageous statement has – in my mind – put the organization in direct opposition to our national values. The words “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” come to mind because his chosen response seems to be a threat to all those. Unless, of course, you’re carrying an assault rifle.

I’ve no idea how many legitimate, responsible gun owner organizations exist in this country. Probably dozens. It is my fervent hope – it will become my nightly prayer – that their ranks double and triple and quadruple with former members of the NRA. Former members who’ve had a belly full of the intransigence, ignorance and arrogantly anti-social stance of the NRA and the new low it has reached in civic responsibility.
The NRA long ago lost any appearance of representing legitimate interests of the millions of its members. It’s become an organization of arrogance – of self-interest – a wielder of political power antithetical to good citizenship. It delights in destroying political careers of those who dare to cast their votes on behalf of constituents instead of the NRA. It has wrongfully used power to pervert national interest. Treason.

The subversion of a functioning two-party system in Congress by those ignorant of their responsibilities in elective office – the abdication of a national association’s corporate responsibility and necessary participation in trying to end our nightmare of senseless killing and mass murder by the NRA – these two events seem cause for our concern as a country.

And I am.

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