Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Young People With A Vote

We start out with a piece from our resident historian 
on the Second Amendment...

A Bit of History on the Second Amendment
by Coast Watcher

Yet again we see the sad spectacle of the NRA and its supporters trying to defend the indefensible. They claim their right to bear arms is more important than the life of a child. They claim this right includes ownership of military-grade weaponry such as the AR-15, a "civilian" derivative of the M-16 military issue assault rifle. As we all know, the AR-15 was the weapon used to gun down the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. It has also featured in many other school shootings.

The primary argument of those wanting gun control legislation is not against the principle of owning firearms such as handguns, hunting rifles, and sports shooting rifles. It’s against the prevalence of military-grade weaponry in civilian hands where it has no business to be.

We have to go back to the time when the Constitution was written, the late eighteenth century. At the time the Founding Fathers were working on the drafting of the document and the Amendments, the most powerful portable
military weapon was the 12-pounder cannon, similar to the one above. It required six horses and a crew of fifteen to move and serve the gun. Firing a 12 lb. roundshot or a canister full of musket balls, it would have had the same effect on a crowd as someone using an AR-15 – the so-called "civilian" version of the Stoner Arms M-16 used by the US and other military forces.

I'm pretty sure the Founding Fathers would have kept these cannon secure in an artillery park where it would have been used exclusively by the military, not civilians, especially if there was the prospect of some maniac using it against a school. I’m certain they would not have phrased the Second Amendment the way they did if they could have foreseen the future. Are those who cry that military weapons should be in civilian hands saying the Founding Fathers would have been okay with a person walking into a school and shooting dead dozens of kids? If so, they really are trying to defend the indefensible.

Those same ammosexuals also claim they need their guns to overthrow the government if needed. Okay, let’s run with that idea in a hypothetical scenario.

Let’s say that one day Bubba Sixpack and his buddies decide they want to overthrow the United States government. They load their guns and ammo aboard their pick-up trucks and head off down the interstate to Washington DC, country rock blasting from their stereos.

They won’t see or hear the drone orbiting on a racetrack pattern 40,000 feet overhead. They won’t see or hear the Hellfire anti-tank missiles leave the drone’s launch rails. They will see a bright flash and might hear the explosion as those missiles turn their trucks, guns, ammunition – and themselves – into so much junk.

Because governments have Armies. They have Navies. They have Air Forces. They have Marines. They have all the special forces that public funds can pay for. Bubba Sixpack and his treasonous buddies may think they can take on professional military personnel on a one-to-one basis, but they’d be wasting their time and their lives.

The Founding Fathers ordered the amendments the way they did for a reason. They held the right to freedom of speech – the First Amendment – to be paramount, superior to the Second Amendment right to bear arms. Only through public pressure, through marches, rallies and other peaceful protest as guaranteed by the First Amendment can something be done about the slaughter in our schools. 

Related article--AR-15: America's rifle or illegitimate killing machine?

Bio: Coast Watcher studies history and current politics. He eagerly points out the inconsistencies in the mainstream media narrative and the gun lobby's propaganda. Down with the military-industrial complex!
Young People with a Vote
Photos by Adrian Matthews
Words by C.A. Matthews
The Toledo March for Our Lives was a great success in spite of cool and windy conditions. Approximately two thousand rallied in Promenade Park.  The YWCA I-Rise coalition sponsored the event, but the students were the leaders.

Signs and chants demonstrated the crowd's frustrations with the growing epidemic of gun violence. "Books not bullets" declared signage carried by many educators, prompting the question of why politicians think spending money to arm teachers is a better use of taxpayers' dollars rather than giving teachers and their classrooms the educational resources they truly need.

The youth gave impassioned speeches on the topic of school safety and gun violence. Speakers didn't stop  at just mass shootings in American schools. The very real specter of being gunned down in the streets simply for being the wrong person (read: color) in the wrong place at the wrong time was mentioned, and Toledo is no exception. Eight Toledo youths lost their lives to gun violence in 2017. They provided rational arguments for commonsense gun laws that protect everyone from harm, including those who feel they must own a weapon. The idea of throwing more firearms into the conflagration that is  our modern society and expecting less deaths makes no sense.

Voter registration was offered during the rally. Attendees were encouraged to vote in the mid-term elections and vote out all under the control of the NRA. If young adults register to vote and turn out at the polls, their numbers will make a significant impact. Things will change.

A short parade through the windy downtown streets from Promenade Park to 1 Government Center garnered  honks and thumbs up from passersby. There was little evidence of opposing viewpoints. (One possibly dissenting person held a hastily scribbled sign equating the current opioid epidemic with infringement of the Second Amendment. It was unclear what connection the individual was trying to make.) A short presentation in the plaza in front of city hall ended the day.
March for Our Lives was a worldwide phenomenon with millions of participants. Millions of motivated activists working toward a safer, saner future for all.

Related articles on  Gun Control and the Marchers:

From Rep. Tulsi Gabbard:
The Gun Control Debate: What Debate?

How to Join the Movement to End Gun Violence this Weekend and Beyond:

Drain the NRA (Find out how much your elected representatives have taken from the gun lobby):

The School Shooting Generation Has Had Enough--How Parkland Teens Are Leading:

We are so incredibly grateful for you and the hundreds of thousands of people who came out out Saturday to raise their voices.

You showed up, but our fight isn’t over – action is still needed.

When it comes to ending gun violence, we have two extremely powerful mechanisms for change — our voice and our vote. You sent a commanding message to Congress, with the determination to get results. It starts with registering to vote – which only takes an average of two minutes or less to complete.

Don’t wait -- click here to get registered to vote.

This is the best chance we have to save lives. Thank you for being a part of this with us -- we couldn’t do it without you!
March For Our Lives Team


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Power to the people!

From Sen. Bernie Sanders:

Late last month, the Koch Brothers and their network committed to spend up to $400 million on the 2018 election as a thank you for the Republican Party's tax cuts for the rich, and "to change the trajectory of this country."

Given this news, I thought it was an appropriate time to ask the question that the media and most politicians won't ask: Who are the Koch brothers, what do they want and what are some actions we can take to stop them?

As you may know, the Koch brothers are the extreme right-wing "libertarian" family. They are the third wealthiest family in the country - worth some $120 billion. They also, unbelievably, have more political power than either the Republican Party or the Democratic Party. As this country slides into oligarchy and, as a result of Citizens United, we see one family not only making huge campaign contributions, but establishing think tanks, appointing university chairs and creating a number of organizations in almost every sphere of American political life. Their goal: make the very rich richer at the expense of everyone else.

Not only did they help pass the Republican tax bill - which will provide them with about a billion dollars a year in tax breaks - they are also working aggressively to move toward the privatization of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Social Security, Medicare and public education. In fact, they want to repeal virtually every piece of major legislation passed since the 1930s designed to protect the elderly, the children, the sick, the poor and the environment.

Now, it's hard for me to understand how you could have almost $100 billion and feel the desperate need to lower your taxes, or to take from those who are struggling, so you can have even more. I would think that with that much money you just might be able to get by. But given the news of their projected campaign spending, it doesn't appear that they are satisfied. Their greed demands more, more and more. They never stop.

What the Koch brothers and their friends want is to spread their unique vision of "freedom" in America. They want to dismember government so as to give Americans the "freedom" to live in poverty working for $3 or $4 an hour without health care, without child care, without a pension, without the ability to afford to send their kids to college and without any hope that their children will have a higher standard of living than they do.

They also want to end - not cut - but end, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. One of the Koch brothers even once ran for president on a platform of "the eventual repeal of all taxation."

Now, this isn't personal for me. I don't know the Koch brothers, but I do know this: the Koch brothers and billionaires like them have bought up the private sector and are now well on their way to buying up the government. And I can assure you, sisters and brothers, they aren't spending that money with the interests of working families, women and seniors in mind - they are doing it to elect candidates who will make the rich richer and everyone else poorer. 

Let's be clear: Money dominates everything that goes on in Congress. Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry, the coal and oil companies, agribusiness and the rest of corporate America spend billions every year not just on campaign contributions, but also on lobbying. That is why we have a government that represents the 1 percent, and ignores the needs of almost everyone else.

Do you want to know why we pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, and why there are no regulations preventing the drug companies from selling their products for any price they want? It might have something to do with the fact that the pharmaceutical industry is one of the most politically powerful industries in the country and spends endless amounts of money on lobbying and campaign contributions.

In Washington, you get what you pay for, and the result is that the desires of the rich and powerful are well-attended to. The pain of working families is ignored.

This is the rigged economy held in place by a corrupt system of campaign finance that we talked about on our campaign. And it is just as important to take it on today as it was in 2015 and 2016. 

If we are serious about creating jobs, gun safety, about climate change and the needs of our children and the elderly, we must be deadly serious about campaign finance reform. And Congress must know you are committed to this fight:

The Koch brothers understand the importance of politics. Meanwhile, people who work for low wages, have no health insurance and live in inadequate housing don't see a connection between the reality of their lives and what government does or does not do.

Showing people that connection is a very big part of what a true progressive movement has to do, because it is impossible to bring about real social change in this country if people are not involved in the political process.

Our vision for American democracy should be a nation in which all people, regardless of their income, can participate in the political process, can run for office without begging for contributions from the wealthy and the powerful.

Our job is not to think small in this pivotal moment in American history.

We must pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. We need legislation that requires wealthy individuals and corporations who make large campaign contributions to disclose where their money is going. And more importantly, we need to move towards the public funding of elections.

The need for real campaign finance reform is not a progressive issue. It is not a conservative issue. It is an American issue. It is an issue that should concern all Americans - regardless of their political point of view - who wish to preserve the essence of the longest-standing democracy in the world, a government that is supposed to represent all of the people and not just a handful of powerful special interests.

And that starts with overturning the disastrous Citizens United decision:


What we showed in our presidential campaign - in a way that can change politics in America forever - is that you can run a competitive national grassroots campaign without begging millionaires and billionaires for campaign contributions. 

That is what we must demand of our elected leaders: a complete rejection of their influence on campaigns. And that starts with making your voice heard.

In solidarity,

Bernie Sanders


The Delaware River Basin provides clean drinking water for millions of people in Philadelphia, New York, New Jersey and Delaware. 

But this water source, like countless others across the country, is at risk.
Submit your public comment before the deadline: we need a complete ban on fracking in the Delaware River Basin!

Last December the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) put forth new rules for a half-measure fracking ban that leaves the door open for fracking waste to enter the watershed, and allows drilling companies to take water for their own uses.

But we’re fighting for a REAL ban on fracking in the Basin — one that includes fracking AND fracking-related activities — and we need you to weigh in before the public comment deadline Friday.
With your support, Food & Water Watch fought alongside local activists and allies to pass a moratorium on fracking in the Delaware River Basin in 2011 — a pivotal moment in the movement against fracking. Our goal is to ensure the Basin continues to provide clean, frack-free water now and for the years to come by opposing efforts that allow oil and gas companies to drill and frack in the watershed. But we can only get there with your help.

Tell the DRBC: we want a FULL ban on all fracking-related activities.

The DRBC's draft fracking ban regulations are unacceptable, and definitely not up to our standards for a fracking ban. So earlier this year when the DRBC held a series of public hearings, we held rallies calling on the four governors in the Basin states (Cuomo, Carney, Wolf and Murphy) to support the strongest possible ban on fracking — and not settle for anything less! 

Those rallies were attended by hundreds of people — all showing up to demand better protection for this invaluable water resource. 

Now, we need to keep this momentum going and make it known to Governors Cuomo, Carney, Wolf and Murphy that we will fight until the end to protect our most precious water sources, and we need them to do the same.
Send your comment
A full fracking ban in the Delaware watershed helps us build the movement to ban fracking everywhere. You can help move our world toward a future with 100% renewable energy, and you can take action to protect drinking water for millions.

It all starts by standing together and sending a clear message to the four governors in the Basin: Cuomo, Carney, Wolf and Murphy. Protect the people in the Basin states — defend a drinking water source for millions!

Onward to a frack-free future,​

Emily Wurth
Organizing Co-Director
Food & Water Watch 

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