It would be an understatement to say that this past year has been controversial on the political scene. Three major stories dominated the news from my perspective. Obviously at the top of the list was the continuing saga of Donald Trump. Then there was the Alabama Senate race that became the nation’s number one soap opera. And we learned that the government spends millions of dollars running down rumors of UFOs.
And here’s the kicker. 2018 is potentially shaping up to be the most tumultuous political year in our lifetime. The control of congress, more unpredictable antics from our President, the possible reckless actions from that crazy guy in North Korea, America’s deteriorating role of leadership on the world stage, gridlock in Washington and in legislatures across the nation: Hey, what more could a political junkie ask for?
So far, President Trump has not followed in the paths of Reagan, Roosevelt and Kennedy in being forceful leaders who reached out to build working coalitions. Great leaders, in order to govern effectively, extended their tribal base by appealing to people’s hopes rather than their fears. There is a long history of presidents using their office as a bully pulpit to rally support. But do we now have a bully in the pulpit?
Whether you are a Trump supporter or not, he is viewed across the board as an aggressive, abusive, no holds barred president. In the years to come, historians will look back to see if the presidency has changed Donald Trump, or if Donald Trump has changed the presidency.
The president is making a major effort to restructure the federal judiciary and has forwarded some three dozen nominations to the U.S. Senate for confirmation. Only six have been confirmed so far, and for good reason. In a number of cases, Trump has selected grey mice. That’s the name given by court watchers to nominees who lack the scholarship, the temperament, and the learning to be federal judges.
We witnessed first hand several nominees who were over their heads and obviously unqualified for the federal bench in Senate judiciary committee confirmation hearings just a few weeks ago. Louisiana Senator John Kennedy has commendably hammered away at several nominees as to their knowledge of basic judicial terminology. Concepts any candidate for a judgeship should know.
As the Baton Rouge advocate reported: “The questions highlighted (nominee) Matthew Peterson’s lack of courtroom experience. Pressed by Sen. Kennedy, Peterson acknowledged having never made arguments in a courtroom nor having tried a case– and then struggled to define a series of legal terms, several of which legal expert described as fairly basic.” As Kennedy appropriately observed: “Just because you’ve seen ‘My cousin Vinny’ doesn’t qualify you to be a federal judge.”
So to help out future nominees, I’m offering a few questions and answers that should be memorized before appearing at a Senate confirmation hearing. Any future nominee should give me a call because, hey I’m a lawyer, and I’m admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. So with the aid of Professor Garrett Epps at Baltimore University, I offer these suggested responses.
A Lawsuit: That’s what you wear in court.
Recusal: When the judge takes a brief judicial nap.
Sidebar: That’s of course the liquor kept near the courtroom.
Erie doctrine: The rule that testimony by ghosts is inadmissible.
Bench trial: Shopping for a new chair for the judge.
Judicial review: The number of “likes” on the judge’s twitter feed.
Res judicata: The judges once a year have a race around the courthouse.
Marbury v. Madison: The first matchup for the NCAA national football championship.
For all you judicial wannabes, gray mice or otherwise, I hope this helps in your quest to ascend to the federal bench. For all the rest of us, get ready for a knock down-drag out 2018. Happy New Year!
Peace and Justice
“Regardless of what branch of government, office or party affiliation, the law applies to each and every one of us!”
Last week, I wrote that there must be consequences when it comes to false accusers, and this week I want to show you that there must be consequences when it comes to those who are guilty.
We all must keep in scope that the purpose of government is to “restrain men from sin” (breaking the law), enforce God’s standard of “right and wrong” and to “maintain order.” Knowing this, how does one accept what is happening in American Government in the present?
Recently, Al Franken (D-MN) simply chose to resign after being accused of inappropriately touching multiple women before and after he was a senator and photos are easily accessible. An Ethics Committee investigation was already underway.
Facing multiple allegations of sexual harassment, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) simply chose to resign as Congresses longest-serving member Tuesday, becoming the first lawmaker to step down as Capitol Hill grapples with allegations of inappropriate behavior by lawmakers.
Conyers, who represented the Detroit area for 52 years, yielded to mounting pressure from representatives to step aside as a growing number of female former aides accused him of unwanted advances and mistreatment. He has denied wrongdoing.
Arizona Republican Rep. Trent Franks announced in a statement Thursday night that he will simply resign from Congress at the end of January, after the House Ethics Committee said it would investigate allegations against him of sexual harassment.
Wow, they are uncovered (Luke 12:2) for their offences toward our laws and when found out, they simply choose to resign without fear of the consequences (Proverbs 29:15).
A mere slap on the hand is a signal of encouragement to the next violator of law in line to do the same in their criminal endeavors (Luke 22:48).
The last to resign amid a scandal was Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), in 2011, who quit during an investigation by the Ethics Committee into his affair with a former campaign staffer who was married to a Senate staffer.
Before that, Sen. Robert Packwood (R-OR) resigned after being recommended for expulsion amid accusations of sexual abuse in 1995.
Going even further back, Sen. Harrison Williams D-NJ) resigned in 1982 after being recommended for expulsion after a bribery conviction. This list of criminals is only the tip of the iceberg.
Where have the American people accepted the notion that public servants, who have been placed into public trust and have transgressed American laws, must simply resign after their criminal violations rather than face justice as to the laws they broke, as if to suggest that this will somehow appease the crime? It only encourages more crime.
There is a higher trust placed in the individual that serves “We the People.”
Therefore, if they violate that trust by breaking the law, then there is a higher consequence that they must pay for their transgressions.
The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. – Article 2, Section 4 US Constitution
Asking them to resign is like hiring a banker that turns out to be a bank robber, and then after their crimes are discovered, you ask the bank robber to simply return the money and go find another job. He will merely go to another bank and then repeat the crime all over again.
You do not ask for a resignation. You fire him and call the police and have them prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for the crimes committed. We should be deterring the crime, not encouraging it (Proverbs 16:6).
Americans need to understand that where justice is left off, it will create repeat offenders and so it has and will continue to do so unless the remedy is applied (Isaiah 26:9).
If this is not done, it will destroy this country, regardless of wh0 the guilty party is, for Justice guards American liberties (Isaiah 51:4).
As a long time Star Wars lover I honestly believe there are only two terrible Star Wars films. The first: The Star Wars Christmas Special, which remains the holocaust of television. It’s technically not part of canon but it’s so bad I have to mention it.
I’m ignoring the Ewok films because they are not canon. Besides, I've only seen them once and I was a kid so I remember nothing about them.
The Clone War animated series is technically canon Star Wars but it's five seasons long. Perhaps one day I will get around to watching them. Today is not that day.
So it really just comes down to the other Star Wars movie that I think is terrible. A film so awful I will go out on a limb and proclaim it to be one of the worst ever made, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
Aside from that one film, most Star Wars movies are -- well, mediocre. Which means I am splitting hairs deciding that one mediocre film is better than another. You know what, I’ll assign letter grades to help with the process. I mean, we all understand that a C + is better than a C, which is better than a C -, despite the fact they are all average. This also means that my opinion of them is so close that I could easily shuffle a lot of those C movies around, but for today, here's where they stand.
But how can I claim to love Star Wars and then say the majority of the movies are -- "Meh, they're okay." It all about the execution, man! So, the SW universe continues to enchants me. When they're good, they're great. When they're mediocre, they're still - set in the SW universe (and they probably feature light sabers!) =)
To be fair there is plenty to like and dislike in most Star Wars films. And while going to the movie theater can be an experience it's sometimes hard to separate that experience, from the movie itself. I mean, seeing Star Wars in the theater when you are five years old is AN EVENT. And from there it's hard to create an objective analysis of what works and / or does not work in the movie itself.
But I’ll try. Though, Luke is probably right -- “This will not work out that way you think.”
As a final note, I am fascinated with the Star Wars Ring Theory and, if it’s one hundred percent accurate, it means that the directing sophistication of all six of Lucas’s SW films are staggering to comprehend. If the Ring Theory is not one hundred percent accurate then, well -- George Lucas still remains an incredible producer and a very skilled director. Regardless, neither one of those things make Lucas a better writer. And that's always been the pratfall of the execution of Star Wars films. I honestly believe that George Lucas creates great stories. But when it comes to transforming his broad story into a day to day detail of what characters say and do -- well ...
Take Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope (which I will henceforth refer to as, “Star Wars”). A lot of George’s dialogue is clunky and hamfisted and it’s a testament to the skill of the actors that they pull it off with any sort of believability. Harrison Ford is famously known for making fun of George Lucas’ dialogue, he shared this story in a GQ interview while promoting The Force Awakens:
“George usually sits near a monitor, far removed, so I had to convey my impression…or my feelings…about the dialogue across a great space," the actor recalled. "So I did shout it. ‘George! You can type this shit, but you sure can't say it! Move your mouth when you're typing!’”
Later, Ford was asked if he thought he offended George by making fun of the dialogue and Harrison replied, "He sold the company for, you know, $4 billion. He doesn't give a shit what I think."
Maybe. But it is true that Star Wars has always had ham fisted dialogue. And when you cast well, your actors can absorb it and make it believable as Ford, Fisher, Liam Neeson, Peter Cushing, and Alec Guiness did. If you do not cast well and / or end up with child actors, like Jake Lloyd and CW-esq. over emoter Hayden Christensen -- then dialogue issues become exacerbated.
And that’s it. Dialogue. Acting. Adventure. Entertainment. Tone. That’s Star Wars for me. That's what I watch for - though, not necessarily in that order. And finally, if you’re going to make a SW film -- it better have a lightsaber in it. Just sayin.
My Star Wars Feature Film List Ranked Worst to First:
WORST: Episode 2: Attack of the Clones. Director: George Lucas. Writers: George Lucas & Jonathan Hales (w/ rumored uncredited script “doctoring” by Carrie Fisher and Tom Stoppard). It’s very easy to trash bad movies, but Episode 2 is so staggeringly bad it defies -- well -- it kind of defies words. Attack of the Clones is, frankly - completely incompetent. The poor actors in Clones are saddled with a specifically brutal level of hamfisted sentences and each and every one of those inglorious lines are mangled beyond acting comprehension by Hayden “fucking” Christensen. Natalie Portman suffers with the same dialogue that Christensen does, but she is clearly the more talented actor of the two and is at least tolerable to watch on screen. Christiansen is so bad in every scene I can’t actually blame the actor. It’s the director's exact responsibility to notice when an actor needs help finding acting choices that work. Lucas is clearly just couldn’t do it. Lucas uses the same two directing phrases over and over, “Say the lines faster (or slower)” and “Yes, but better next time.” If you’re Liam Neeson, you can work with that level of non-direction. Hayden Christensen is not Liam Neeson. Nothing about Clones works; from the ridiculous over the top droid factory scene, the soul crushing amount of actors trapped in CGI hell (as in, an actor “acting” to an empty green room which does nothing but create wooden performances) and / or Hayden Christensen just flat out ruining scene after scene with the mind numbing dialogue. Can you imagine all the other humiliated actors who read for teenage Anakin Skywalker and did not get the part? I wonder if each and every one of them saw Attack of the Clones and thought, “Wait, Lucasfilm casting department thought THIS GUY was better than me? I should probably go kill myself now!” I honestly believe if Attack of the Clones was not a Star Wars film it would be widely regarded as a Battlefield Earth-esq disaster of a movie. Sadly, the SW moniker creates too many apologists. Episode 2: Attack of the Clones: F
Epispode. 3: Revenge of the Sith. Writer / director: George Lucas. And here begins the run of mediocrity. There is not much to hate in Sith. Instead it's is more like a film of giant missed opportunities. Nothing in Episode 3 is as good as it should be, no moment as satisfying as it could be. Much like the action sequences in Clones, they are equally over produced. The drama plays exactly as you expect it to. Christiansen, a bit older, isn’t as awful as his blisteringly bad Ep. 2 performance. To be fair, Christiansen evilly hams it up to the degree Lucas probably directed him too. Ewan McGregor remains the minimal heart and soul of the film, in that - he’s fine. He’s no Luke Skywalker or Han Solo or Princess Leia but his Obi Wan is -- well, fine. He’s a little too bitchy and harsh in Ep. 2 and I never warmed up to him as a lead in Ep. 3 I think as written, Kenobi is flat and hollow and McGregor doesn’t do much to wake the character up. I certainly take issue with a few questionable script choices; the Darth Vader -- “Nooooooo!” probably could have been handled better. Or that fact that, once again, the Jedi totally forget they have powers that they have actively demonstrated to possess - over and over again. I’m specifically thinking of the opening space battle over Coruscant where Ani and Kenobi should both just use the bloody Force to knock the buzz droids off each other’s ships instead of the ridiculous and dangerous flight stunts they perform. It’s just one of those moments where “the screenplay says it happens this way” despite the fact it ignores all of the rules SW has created in the previous five films. Revenge of the Sith, much like Ep. 2 completely abandons the oft used “less is usually more” rule, Lucas directs scenes of lifeless, mediocre action & emotionless, predictable drama. Finally, I know this actor was in the previous two movies but Sam Jackson is totally miscast and should not be in the SW prequels. Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith: C -
A Star Wars Story: Rogue One. Director: Gareth Edwards. Writers: Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy. This film, I suspect, many of my SW loving friends and allies will put much higher on their list. Fair enough. I just don’t understand the love. Rogue One wants to be a war film first, a SW film second. You already lost my support. There are plenty of options for filmmakers to create dark and cynical movies with war themes that focus heavily on believable trauma and the horrific toll created by war. But SW has a well established tone and Rogue One wants it both ways. The film wants to be about war, and trauma, and sacrifice but it also wants dopey SW humor & push cuts which creates a massive tone clash. I mean, what’s next? A Superman film that turns Kal-el into a bitter, brooding, cynical jackass who murders people to solve his problems? Because no one would do that! (Suck it Man of Steel). I haven’t even mentioned the fact the Rogue One has like, thirty lead characters. Who are all these poorly drawn characters and why should I care about any of them? Well, I don’t. As a matter of fact most folks who love Rogue One can’t answer this basic question, “Name one of the characters in Rogue One?” I usually get sputtering, “Ummmm” response and of the one or two folk who can name the lead female protagonist, I have yet to meet someone who can name a second character from Rogue One. That is certainly suggestive of something. Even the drama of Rogue One is suspect - The protagonist party goes to a planet. The Empire, coincidentally, happens to be there. Huge fight -- this repeats for two hours. Not exactly the stuff of dramatic legend. For some reason Forest Whitaker and his bulbous mind reading alien have worthless cameos. Ben Mendelsohn who is so, so mesmerizing in Bloodline plays Adequate Evil Villain One and spends the entire movie desperately trying to suppress his southern drawl. Tarkin is CGI thrown in, because the producers want to show us what they can accomplish -- a five minute rewrite could (and should) have taken Tarken out of the film entirely. And Darth Vader should not be in the movie at all! I really like that the cast is super racially diverse but what a wasted opportunity to have thirty poorly realized lead diverse characters with -- um -- well, no chance of a sequel. Finally: no fucking light sabers! A Star Wars Story: Rogue One: C -
Episode 6: Return of the Jedi. Director: Richard Marquand. Writers: Lawrence Kasdan, George Lucas. I did love this movie as a kid because, well, what else did I have to compare it too? Return of the Jedi has not aged well and I lay blame on the shoulders of its strange choice of a director - Richard Marquand. He had mainly done TV until Jedi. Sadly, it shows. Action sequences are blocked awkwardly - as if Marquand didn’t understand a widescreen format. He does not have an eye for the camera and shoots scenes with seemingly very little concept of how dramatic motion moves forward. Marquand certainly has no idea what to do with puppets, framing each of them perfectly on for the camera, as one would do for TV, which just highlights their fakeness. Compare the cantina scene in Star Wars to Jabba’s palace in Jedi. Jedi has several years of additional technology but looks amateurish compared to the original cantina scene. Marquand is just the wrong guy to be directing. Plus - Ewoks. Okay, I get it. SW is a family friendly adventure movie and kids love Ewoks (despite the fact that Ewoks were totally going to burn Han and Luke alive and then probably eat them!). I was eleven when Jedi came out and therefor too old to like Ewoks but still a bit too young to hate them. At the time I remember thinking they were kind of cute. Later in life I was able to see the obvious primitive technology vs. advanced technology story trope and that Ewoks were clearly designed to sell toys. Jedi is the first SW movie that made story choice less important than marketing, a sad trend that continues through the prequels. Jedi is universally considered the weakest of the original trilogy for good reason but still there things to like, but mostly a lot to - “meh.” None of the character work plays out as well as it should. Ford hams it up too much. But the final Jedi duel between Luke, Vader, the Emperor is very emotionally satisfying and intercut with, probably the best of all the SW space battles but then cut back to - stupid Ewoks fighting on the moon of Endor. Return of the Jedi should have been much better than it was. And to prove there was a calculated, giant marketing strategy to sell Ewok toys to kids, think of this -- in Return of the Jedi, how many times is the word,“Ewok” used? You probably just guessed it -- not one single time! And every kid and their best friend knew what an Ewok was a month before the movie came out because of - stupid marketing. Episode 6: Return of the Jedi: C
Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. Writer / director: George Lucas. I know, I know. Midichlorians, trade agreements and something about space taxation, blockades and the fact that the drama plays out as a series of meetings (seriously, the Jedi have a meeting with one person, then the next, then the next, then the next…) and finally -- Jar Jar Binks. I hear you. I dislike large portions of Phantom Menace. I will offer only this in its defense -- Liam Neeson’s Qui-Gon Jinn. I posit that Neeson’s Qui-Gon single handedly picks up The Phantom Menace and carries the entire film on his acting genius shoulders. I am not suggesting Qui-Gon is Neeson’s greatest acting achievement. Neeson, much like actors from the previous trilogy, takes the gobbledygook SW dialogue and makes it believable. In fact, he makes it look easy. Neeson creates the only consistently great and likable character in the prequels. Qui-Gon is the Jedi we’ve always wanted to see in SW. He’s a great combination of Solo and Luke - honorable, wise, heroic and roguish. Qui-Gon breaks the rules when the rules aren’t just. He disobeys orders and, despite having an apprentice -- he’s a solo rogue. But he’s also a good guy. He’s pretty much everything we love in SW characters. Also, he’s played by Liam Neeson! If I haven’t convinced you that Qui-Gon is the best character in the prequels and arguably the best character in the SW film universe, then I haven’t. But The Phantom Menace is eminently watchable because of Qui-Gon. Not only that, but PM gives us the most physically imposing, unexpectedly charismatic and acrobatically dangerous SW villain in Darth Maul. Maul only gets a handful of lines but immediately after his introduction his presence is felt for the rest of the movie - just like all great villains. Yes, there is much to dislike in Phantom Menace, and as it was the first SW movie in almost two decades, it's an easy target and is far from being a perfect movie. Poor Jake Lloyd needed a lot of actorly help and Lucas was not able to deliver. Lloyd is universally hated in the role of young Anakin, his performance mocked as “Mannequin Skywalker.” Fair enough. He’s a kid actor. Most of them suck. Lawrence Kasdan tried to get Lucas to cast older in order to avoid just this problem. Lucas ignored Kasdan. The rest is history. Other things about PM - Padme should have been a stronger character, Jar Jar is half awful - and I will only say he is half awful - because Jar Jar Binks is written to entertain children. And children LOVE Jar Jar Binks (adults -- not so much.) Another thing I dislike about Ep. 1 is that it’s the beginning of “Jedi forget they have Jedi powers” in order to create artificial drama. The main example -- at the beginning of PM the Jedi use the Force to run super fast to avoid battle droids. At the end of film when Qui-Gon is in danger, Obi Wan runs to the aid of his master and forgets to use his super fast Force running power -- because the screenplay didn’t want him to get there in time to save Jinn. Argh! That being said, of all the prequels, PM remains the only one that has exciting action sequences. The pod race is fantastic and has an exquisite sound design. The Duel of the Fates combat between Qui-Gon, Obi Wan and Darth Maul remains the most physically beautifully choreographed of all the SW lightsaber fights, though -- ultimately that final battle between the three doesn’t have much dramatic weight (but that’s another story). Which leads me to, what a shock -- the moment the prequel trilogy kills off its single great compelling character -- it’s all downhill from there. Episode 1: The Phantom Menace: C +
Episode 7: The Force Awakens. Director: JJ Abrams. Writers: Lawrence Kasdan, JJ Abrams, Michael Arndt. The Force Awakens feels like two separate movies. Movie one: the entertaining story of Rey and Finn. Movie two: all that poorly conceived Han Solo garbage. Now, before you say anything -- I adore the character of Han Solo but his return was a mixed bag for me. Who doesn't want to see Solo back to his old shenanigans? But most of the Solo portion of the film doesn’t feel quite right. Characters make choices because the screenplay demands them to make that exact choice in order for the story to continue. Nothing feels organic. The entire scene with Solo, Chewie, Rey and Finn encountering each other on the Falcon was undercut by the dopey gang that tries to kill them all. Then, someone thought it would a grand idea to thrown in silly, rolling tentacled aliens. Because -- funny. The reunion between Solo and Leia wasn’t given enough time to develop. In fact, the Force Awakens does a huge disservice to the character of Leia. Princess Leia, the woman who led the defense of Hoth, and oversaw the destruction of Death Star I, the women who, by herself, strangles Jabba the Hutt to death. In Force Awakens she’s nothing more than background fluff who, when she finds out Solo is killed -- runs to comfort Rey! Rey?!?!? A kid that Leia has known for like five minutes -- instead of going to comfort Chewbacca! (Abrams has gone on record to say this was a huge mistake on his part). And that’s the problem with Force Awakens. For each new scene involving the two young, very compelling characters of Finn and Rey we are subjected to really strange (stupid?) character choices by the old guns. I adore Rey and Finn and want to see more about them. Solo’s scenes deserve better than what FA offers. Leia is under utilized. And for a film about “the search for Skywalker” the characters don’t seem to make a lot of active choices to, you know -- look for Skywalker. And as for resident villains Snoke and Kylo Ren. Well, Snoke (a terrible name) has secrets to be revealed I’m sure, but as presented in Force Awakens he’s just an Emperor knock off. But Kylo Ren, well, I found him more compelling then I expected. A rich, white, privileged young man who has it all handed to him on a silver platter is then tempted with power and wants more and more and more. Seems legit (and kind of scary). Anyway. Of all the SW films this is the one I am most conflicted about. I adore and loathe portions of it in an equal 50/50 mix. Episode 7: The Force Awakens: C +
Episode 8. The Last Jedi. Writer / director: Rian Johnson. It’s certainly a far more complex movie than its predecessor, Force Awakens. Vast portions of Johnson’s SW deconstruction film are rich, beautiful and deeply satisfying - if not slightly heavy handed. Rian's use of color metaphor works well as he stages one grand action sequence (in the throne room) bathing it in front of blood red walls with the heroes fighting red armored warriors and a second decent sequence (the final fight) bathing it in red salt rock powder; mimicking extreme violence, loss of life and blood shed without resorting to showing a drop of gore. The heavy handed deconstruction continues with Skywalker’s off putting “get the fuck off my lawn” attitude. Rey and Ren come off the best as all their scenes are well written and play out far more sophisticated than the trailer suggests. Adam Driver is particularly good as Ren and the film wisely takes his helmet off as an actor's face is way more interesting than costuming or special effects. Carrie Fisher is, again, just like in Force Awakens, underused. And sadly, due to Fisher's untimely death she will continue to remain so in the trilogy end (which is too bad because there is a scene in the movie involving her that begs further exploration) Alas. Finally, all that being said, as much as there is to admire and as much as there is to love -- there are things that I can’t stand. I strongly rebelled against the shocking large amount of really, really awful, dopey “humor.” And I don’t mean, “Jar Jar Binks trying to make the kids laugh” humor. I mean the sheer unbelievable extended jokiness of characters in dramatic situations. The opening sequence with Poe facing off against the First Order is terrible. It is so bad it deserves to be in Ep. 2. As the first ten minutes of the movie played out I literally thought, “I am going to rage hate this entire movie.” I mention above that I can’t wait to see more about Rey and Finn. I will amend that. I can’t wait to see more about Rey. In Last Jedi we get multiple scenes of Finn bumbling around with his new partner Rose both continuously saved via coincidence in the film’s most grating story arc (designed to teach Finn his lesson - which is what this whole dam film is about - learn your lesson - you bloody child!). Yes, yes. We get it. But now I hope to see much less of Finn in the final film. And don't get me wrong - SW needs comedic relief. I mean, I thought the best part of Rogue One was the prickly comic relief droid. Maybe LJ just doesn’t have my kind of comic relief. I suppose Johnson’s writing / directing track record could have told me what I was going to like / dislike in LJ. His best film, Brick, is filled with fantastic characters and drips with beautiful noir drama. His worst film, The Brothers Bloom, desperately tries for chaotic, quirky charm and falls flat on its face more often than not. The Brothers Bloom reminds me a lot of the Finn sequences in Last Jedi. But, as for The Last Jedi - when it’s good, it’s really good - the throne sequence might be my favorite thing in all of SW. When it’s not so good … Finn is probably involved. Episode 8: The Last Jedi: B -
Episode 4: Star Wars (I still refuse to call it A New Hope). Writer / director: George Lucas. To be honest I go back and forth with my preference between Star Wars and Empire. But for now Star Wars is where it is. Also, I have been working on a very long piece about Marcia Lucas, one of the film’s main editors and how she, basically, saves Star Wars from being as dull as THX 1138 (but that’s a different story). Much has been written about this film, I won’t elaborate too much. Perfectly cast, well paced, well acted - well for the most part. Both Hamill and Fisher are very young and inexperienced. Fisher comes over better than Hamill but honestly, we can forgive one performance moment where a certain beloved character whines about power converters, right? Anyway, SW is revolutionary and mind blowing (for its time). Multiple Academy Award nominations. Multiple wins. Adored by hundreds of millions. The movie that introduces lightsabers to the world. The names! Oh the names - Millennium Falcon. Darth Vader. Han Solo. Chewbacca. Luke Skywalker. Princess Leia. Those are names! Hero names. Villain names! I can’t accurately describe to you what it was like being a five year old and being in a theater watching Star Wars for the first time. Perhaps modern day kids feel the same way being five and seeing Harry Potter. As for my five year old self, I remember the day. I sat in that theater and the opening music hit, the text crawls by and then a ship appears and it goes on and on and it keeps coming and coming and coming. You know what I’m talking about. And all I could think of was, “I’m in love.” Now and forever I am in love. Episode 4: Star Wars: A
FIRST: Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back. Director: Irvin Kershner. Writers: Leigh Bracket, Lawrence Kasdan, George Lucas. I know Empire is universally viewed as the best of all the Star Wars films and I can’t find a single reason to disagree. First off, listing Leigh Bracket as a writer isn’t entirely fair. She did turn in the first draft of the screenplay but Lucas universally hated everything about it. And then Miss Bracket died. So Lucas decided that, even though he and Kasdan rewrote the entire script, he would forever keep her name on the film. But who’s to say her influence doesn’t remain somewhere in Empire - I don’t know the exact answer to that. The addition of Kasdan as writer seems to, for the most part, clear up a lot of the clunky dialogue bits that plague Star Wars. Any minor quibble I might have is drowned out by the flood of greatness. The directing, the strong character work and the incredible action sequences all flow together. Hamill is a much better actor than he was in SW. Also, the character of Yoda was never better. I watched Empire many times as a kid but then went about fifteen years without seeing it. As an adult I watched it and was not prepared for how delightful those early Dagobah / Yoda scenes are. It made me a bit sad to know he turns into CGI boring old wise wizard Yoda (although Johnson’s LJ remembers what I am talking about). Yoda is a perfect character in Empire. Beyond Empire he becomes more of a storytelling device used mainly to dish out cryptic sounding wisdom. Empire has, arguably the two greatest action sequences in all of Star Wars canon - the Hoth invasion and the Cloud City lightsaber duel between Luke and Vader. The stakes are never higher than that Luke / Vader battle leading up to the great story reveal. And finally, Empire introduces the first non white character in the SW universe -- I love Lando! Plus, ugnaughts are way better than ewoks and Lobot is super cool. And, finally -- what a hell of a cliff hanger! Even the silly space asteroid monster that almost eats the Falcon doesn't dethrone the SW big boy on the block. The Empire Strikes Back remains the greatest of the SW films and one of, if not the best space opera movies in cinema history. Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back: A
After traveling from Boise, Idaho to Missoula, Montana to Orlando, Florida then onto Houston, Texas, we have tallied up about 150 ministry hours of driving over the last 6 weeks. With that, comes a toll on your physical body, and it caught up with one of my family members, at least for a minute. Let me explain.
Keep in mind, there is a balance between a natural/holistic remedy and western medicine. I have always been cautious when it comes to either side of the aisle. It seems that without fail, fear of not using either of their remedies is always what is pushed until you submit, and I for one will not go down that road.
During our final tour this last month, one of my family members had told me that her eyes were becoming blurry and that she could not see the road signs which were relatively close. Thinking that she only had to have her contacts replaced, she set up an appointment the following day when we would arrive at our next stop. Upon examination, the doctor stated that she had a drastic change in her visual tests. The doctor then said that the only time that she sees such a big change is when someone has diabetes, which we were not going to own. This family knows who the Healer is (Acts 10:38).
The doctor went and purchased a blood test, which revealed that her blood was up about 152 mg/dl higher than it should have been. After receiving her new contacts, the eye doctor then suggested going to the emergency room as soon as possible.
So, we set up an appointment the following Monday at the local clinic. Of course, by this time, I had plenty of time to ponder as to what was going on. Flags were already going up at every turn.
When we finally arrived for the scheduled appointment, the nurse wanted to take a blood test. The nurse took the first blood test and then suggested another, and we consented. After the blood tests were done, we were told that the blood needed to be sent to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, which was going to take at least a week for results to come back in.
Before we knew it, the nurse told us that she had good news for us.
She begins to tell us that she didn’t think that it was this or that, or even the other thing but that my family member has type one diabetes and that she will have to be on insulin for the rest of her life.
I asked, “What was good about that dim prognostication?”
Furthermore, I asked how she could have come up with a prognostication that she had type one or two diabetes and how it was that she could make that diagnosis without getting all the blood results?
At this point, we knew that she was taking directives from someone in that clinic. Sincere as she was, she was lost; she continuously stumbled over as to how she was making this unsubstantiated claim. She ended up seeing the point we were making with our questions.
A couple of minutes later, she comes in with a “deep concern” as to what might be happening with our family members pancreas and that she now needs to take a couple of pictures to see what may be blocking insulin from getting into her blood and wouldn’t you know it, out of nowhere comes in another nurse to start to “teach her how to use insulin twice a day for the rest of her life.”
At this point, I got on the phone with an EMT and a nurse that we trusted and told them what was going on. I discovered that though diabetes is not to be played with, we were dealing with a system that is not about healthcare, but rather looking to create productivity and to match and connect a diagnosis with insurance codes to tap into the money.
How many of these young, sincere nurses and doctors get out into their field only to find that they are being used to be salespeople for the pharmaceutical companies who make billions every year off the sicknesses that they simply misdiagnose and therefore, are guilty of creating?
At this point, I told this nurse, who by the way had no business bringing this grim diagnosis, what her suggestions were and that we were not going to do anything until we had more information.
Of course, more fear comes from this nurse as to the importance of getting hooked on their remedy because if not, our family member may become blind, and possibly may even die, which we were not buying.
The long of the short of it is that we got to an experienced and caring doctor who told us that this lady had no business giving any diagnosis, that insulin was not the answer, and it would be remedied after a little rest, a good diet and exercise.
So, before taking the doctor's word for any diagnosis that may come down the pipe (There is a reason that they call it “practice”) which pushes you to dependency on the medical and pharmaceutical industry, you may want to take a step back, read and listen carefully as to what the woman that pressed into Jesus knew from experience.
“And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched. And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me. And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately. And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.” (Luke 8:43-48)
The lists of fraud in the medical industry are astounding, to say the least. Below are some incredible links for you to review.
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A hue and cry is mounting around the country that voting machines used on Election Day are eminently hackable. Congress is investigating charges by the Office of Homeland Security that Russia attempted to hack into voting machines in 21 different states. So is the integrity of our election system being undermined? Are computer hackers able to change election results? What gives?
Obviously, there is something fishy going on. It’s not just the election system being hacked. New reports have told us that computer systems of major companies like Sony, Equifax and even the U.S. Office of Personnel Management have been broken into. So how can we be sure that your vote cast the polls on Election Day is secure?
There is a recent push by election reformers to go back to, can you believe, paper ballots. That’s right. Just like the first American elections back in the 1800s. There is a non-profit group called Verify Voting that is telling state officials: “We have a single technology at our disposal that is invulnerable to hacking: paper.” So will elections officials do an about face and reinstitute the paper ballot system?
When I was elected as Louisiana Secretary of State back in 1979, there were a number of election fraud allegations. I formed an Election Integrity Commission and appointed former Secretary of State Wade O. Martin to head up the effort to weed out voter fraud. Were election shenanigans going on in the Bayou State? I often quoted former governor Earl Long, who once said: “Oh Lord, when I die, let me be buried in Louisiana. So I can stay active in politics.” Of course there was voter fraud back then using paper ballots.
As one retired local sheriff told me, you could make the election results dance with paper ballots during absentee voting. Here’s how one could beat the system. During the two-week absentee voting period, the sheriff would have his deputies pick up agreeable voters and bring them to the courthouse to vote.
A piece of paper was cut as the same size as the official ballot. The first voter was given the fake ballot and instructed go into the Clerk of Court’s office where absentee voting was taking place. He was instructed to drop the fake ballot into the voting box, put the real ballot into his pocket, bring it back out to the sheriff, where he was paid five or ten dollars, whatever the going rate was to buy votes back then.
Once the first official ballot was in hand, the vote buyer would mark the ballot for whoever he was supporting, give it to the next voter, tell the voter to put the official ballot into the ballot box, return with an unmarked ballot, and he would be paid for his effort. This could go on all day for the two-week voting period with hundreds of illegal votes being cast.
This scheme was used, particularly in rural areas in the state, by numerous candidates who were trying to beat the system. So no system at the present time seems to be foolproof. But elections officials should move cautiously about throwing the current system to the wind and go back to paper ballots.
Louisiana presently has some 10,000 voting machines in 64 parishes. Current Secretary of State Tom Schedler is confident that the present election system works in Louisiana. He’s done a commendable job so far. But he has his work cut out in the future in putting in place cybersecurity that protects the integrity of the ballot, but still makes it easy for citizens to cast their vote.
Peace and Justice
The plot surrounding Russia’s effect on the 2016 Presidential election is thick as mud, and Donald Trump looks more guilty everyday. Michael Flynn allegedly intends to testify that then President-elect Trump ordered him to contact the Russians. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has been revealed as the transition-team official who ordered Flynn to contact Russian officials shortly after the election. Facebook has verified that ads purchased by fake accounts owned by Russians had an effect on the 2016 Presidential election.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for Republicans. In fact, getting rid of Trump sooner rather than later could save the jobs of many House and Senate Republicans. Here are five reasons why Republicans should want Trump impeached.
Trump’s record-low approval rating as President this far into his Presidency is falling to even more embarrassing depths, and that approval rating has a considerable effect on the results of the midterm elections. “Since 1934, the party of a newly elected president has suffered an average loss of 23 seats in the House in the following midterm,” according to Ballotpedia. But we’ve never had a President with an approval rating of 35 percent this early in his Presidency.
Democrats need to pick up 24 seats in the 2018 midterm elections for a majority in the House of Representatives. Ballotpedia classifies the reelection chances of 17 incumbent Republicans as battleground races and another 12 as “races to watch.” Just six incumbent Democrats are at risk of losing their seats, and another two are classified as races to watch. 270ToWin predicts 20 tossups in the House and doesn’t see the Democrats gaining a majority in 2018. But if the 2017 Virginia special elections are any indication, Republicans should be worried.
There are eight Republican Senators up for reelection in 2018, two of whom Ballotpedia predicts could lose their seats. The seat vacated by Jeff Flake in Arizona and Dean Heller’s seat in Nevada are two seats the Democrats need to swing the Senate majority in their favor. 270ToWin has 11 tossups predicted for the 2018 midterm elections, so there are plenty of seats to be had by Democrats, and that outcome becomes more and more likely as Trump’s approval rating falls.
Republicans would be better off with Mike Pence as their Presidential candidate. Right now, PredictIt shares of Trump losing the election are selling at 64 cents, so despite his shares of winning the 2020 Presidential election leading the pack at 37 cents, the market doesn’t have a lot of faith in him. Shares of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren winning the 2020 Presidential election are both trending up, as Trump’s shares go unchanged. Shares of Mike Pence winning are steady at seven cents.
Pence is ideal for Republicans because the Koch brothers prefer him. The possibility of a Pence Presidency would likely result in more spending by the Kochs on Republicans’ behalf, perhaps preserving Republicans’ Congressional majority.
Republicans would love to make abortion and gay marriage election issues again and forever, and President Pence would make ending both his campaign promises. Trump doesn’t seem to be as interested in social issues. What he doesn’t understand is that as long as Republicans are talking about why Planned Parenthood should be defunded for all the wrong reasons and abortion should be illegal for even victims of rape, they’re not defending their tax scam that turns churches into the next big, dark-money donors to Republican campaigns or defending their belief that climate change is a hoax and not man-made.
Republicans love talking about abortion and gay marriage because they don’t need evidence of any kind to defend their position. Thanks to The Bible, they’ll be correct in their minds -- not unlike the illogicality of jihadist suicide bombers.
The revolving door that has been the Trump Administration would finally stop revolving after Republicans kick Trump’s appointments through it. Republicans would love to get back to an administration that does as little as possible as quietly as possible, but replacing Trump officials would give Republicans an opportunity to draw the eyes of the media and public away from things like their support of a alleged pedophile from Alabama for the United States Senate. If there’s something Republicans have learned from the Trump Administration, it’s that constantly moving parts allows for mass misdirection of the media and public.
It only took a Tweet for Trump to wear out his welcome in Great Britain, a country whose recent nationalist and immigration-stifling interests he wants to copy. Kim Jong-un has never been more willing or more prepared to start nuclear war. Virtually every nation disagrees with Trump’s position on climate change, but that’s not going to change with Trump impeached. Pence’s personality would likely repair relationships with Great Britain and Jong-un, though, to the extent the latter exists.
So there are five reason why Republicans should want Trump impeached. The first -- the 2018 midterm elections -- should be enough to convince at least a few Republicans to vote for impeachment.
If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: The Costa Report, Drop Your Energy Bill, Free Talk Live, Flow of Wisdom, America’s First News, America Tonight, Bill Martinez Live, Korelin Economics Report, The KrisAnne Hall Show, Radio Night Live, The Real Side, World Crisis Radio, Know Your Rights
"Since 1995, more than $15 million in taxpayer dollars has been paid out to settle claims, including sexual harassment claims, on behalf of members of Congress and congressional staff. While the amount of money paid is public, everything else is secret. The public doesn’t know which members have been involved in taxpayer-financed settlements for alleged misconduct."
Those are the words of Florida Republican Representative Rob DeSantis, who is a cosponsor of a bill that would stop Congress’ secret, taxpayer-funded harassment settlements. While anyone else would be required to spend their personal funds to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit, politicians have been using tax dollars to do so for decades. Now that male politicians have been revealed as the pigs they are, now more than ever it’s important American taxpayers are refunded for bailing out the pigs.
While the bipartisan bill would require lawmakers who used the secret Treasury Department fund reimburse the government, with interest, that’s not enough. American taxpayers deserve to be reimbursed -- not the government. That’s our money -- not the government’s, and when our money is used to bail out politicians who are already rich, our money needs to be returned.
Since the Republican tax bill will force poor and middle class Americans to pay more in taxes to fund a massive tax cut for corporations and the rich (and raise the deficit to boot), the least Republicans could do is toss the average American a refund for settling sexual harassment suits. It might only result in a 13-cent refund for each American taxpayer ($15 million divided by 122 million taxpayers), that’s still more than most Americans are getting with the current legislation.
Contact your Senators and Representatives and demand any taxes used to bail out politicians accused of harassment, sexual or otherwise, be returned to you and every American taxpayer immediately. This should be something upon which both Democrats and Republicans can agree -- taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be used or collected to bail out political pigs.
If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: The Costa Report, Drop Your Energy Bill, Free Talk Live, Flow of Wisdom, America’s First News, America Tonight, Bill Martinez Live, Korelin Economics Report, The KrisAnne Hall Show, Radio Night Live, The Real Side, World Crisis Radio, Know Your Rights
It’s getting close to redistricting time for legislators, both in Louisiana and throughout the country. By federal law, all election districts must be reapportioned every 10 years to reflect the latest census figures. But should legislators, who have a vested interest in how the redistricting lines are drawn, actually be the ones to do the drawing, anyway?
The problem is one of gerrymandering, where district lines are not drawn to reflect geographical or political balance, but to favor the incumbent or some other partisan choice. When legislators do the redistricting, the norm seems to be that the state ends up with meandering footprints meticulously designed, it would seem, to ensure that no incumbent will face serious opposition, regardless of how the political winds are blowing. As one local political observer said, “Think about it this way. In elections, people choose their legislators. In reapportionment, legislators choose their people.”
Gerrymandering, by the way, means to manipulate the electoral boundaries for political gain so as to give undue influence to an incumbent or other favored candidate. The name comes from Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry, who in 1812 created winding districts that looked like salamanders to favor incumbents. Thus the convoluted word – “gerrymandering.”
What most voters want to avoid is the self-dealing by legislators where voting districts slash across communities of interest and geography. A blatant example of winding, disjointed gerrymandering is the Louisiana third congressional district. It winds from the Mississippi border south of New Orleans though the southern part of Jefferson Parish and all the way through south Louisiana up to Lafayette, some 300 miles in length.
So the question for Louisiana voters is this: Are they that concerned that the legislature is, for all practical purposes, creating their own voters? Is this healthy in the Bayou State — or in any other state? Many think it’s not.
So what are the alternatives? What are other progressive states doing to transfer the power of redistricting to a system less driven by self-interest? Fourteen states have assigned the task to officials or panels outside the state legislature. And independent redistricting wears the cloak of good-government reform, as long as a consensus can be built on just who will serve on such panels. How do you pick the members? How can such a system be put in place that assures voters the final result will be fair, non-partisan, and keep local interests balanced?
Louisiana has a number of bright people with solid business and educational backgrounds that are capable of taking on this controversial task. There are several respected demographers in the Bayou state, and a number of well-qualified professors at Louisiana universities. Retired judges fit the category as well as representatives of some of the state’s good government groups.
When I was first elected to the Louisiana legislature back in 1971, legislative redistricting had taken place just months before. But the reapportionment plan did not pass federal court muster and was thrown out just weeks before the primary election date. Ed Steimel was head of the Public Affairs Research Council at the time and was appointed by federal judge Frank Polozola to serve as a “special master” to redraw the district lines. Based on Steimel’s rework, the old plan was thrown out and the new court-ordered plan was put in place. There was general agreement that the Steimel Plan was fair and kept the district more cohesive and less spread out. (It must have been good as I won my senate seat easily in the first primary.)
One idea would be to create a Louisiana Fair Reapportionment Practices Commission. Let nominations for serving on the Commission come from the legislature, the Supreme Court, the good government groups like PAR and CABL, the various college boards, and perhaps a key business group or two. Then put all the submissions in a hat and draw out eleven names to serve as members to begin their work right after the new census data is made available.
The goal for such a commission is simple – put the important issue of redistricting into the hands of those with non-partisan interests, instead of those who in the past have been allowed to define the terms of their own cartel. Simply put, it’s just wrong for legislators to draw these districts and then run in them. There needs to be a better way.
Peace and Justice
With a majority-Republican Federal Communications Commission led by Republican Ajit Pai on the verge of reversing net neutrality rules put in place by President Barack Obama in 2015, people won’t even be able to guide their own education anymore, and they won’t even know they aren’t in control. All of this despite more than a million public comments submitted to the FCC opposing net neutrality probably being fake.
Pai’s proposal to destroy the freedom of the Internet would allow Internet service providers to influence the “answers” users receive when surfing the web. ISPs would be allowed to guide users to information on websites they own or of which they approve, providing a guided tour of information acceptable to them instead of allowing the user to investigate all information available.
The information superhighway would be exactly that -- if said highway’s path was dictated by those providing the concrete and materials and not the people who pay the taxes to build it. A highway with infinite exits would gave way to a highway of limited exits, determined by the biggest companies providing services along the highway. If your business is too small, it doesn’t get an exit on the information superhighway. People will have to pay extra to find you.
The proposal would also allow ISPs to break up their information offerings and charge separately for them. Say, for instance, Verizon provides your mobile data. Well, under the new rules, which are expected to be adopted on Dec. 14, Verizon could charge more for audio and video content than it does for access to written web content. They could even charge more for specific shows that don’t represent Verizon particularly well. So shows that actually inform could be off limits to those who can’t afford to pay the ISP’s fee.
Controlling the access to information is one of the oldest tricks in the business class’s textbook. Ignorance is key to controlling people. Slave owners didn’t want slaves reading and writing for a reason. Now that the business class realizes it can dictate behavior through media and advertising and has made public education bad enough and post-secondary education expensive enough to keep the majority of Americans ignorant of its agenda, controlling the Internet is the last logical step in obtaining complete control of the populace and establishing a Fascist state.
The Kochs’ investment in Meredith Corp’s purchase of Time, Inc. (consisting of some of the most-read magazines like Time and Sports Illustrated) is indicative of the value in controlling information. While the Kochs won’t have a seat on Meredith Corp’s board nor the power to dictate editorial decisions, they will have the inside track to nearly a third of the magazines’ pages through advertising.
The Kochs are investing in Time and Sports Illustrated’s dedicated audiences, consisting of people the Kochs don’t likely reach with their current advertising campaigns. This will give them the opportunity to influence people without them knowing and, perhaps, “turn” them to the Kochs’ side. The strategy is not unlike that of Sinclair Broadcast Group, which is the largest owner of local news broadcasts in mid-markets and dictates editorial content that makes people needlessly fear terrorist attacks and is designed to make its viewers into Conservative Nationalists.
Sinclair and the Kochs are in the business of molding Republicans so they can pass legislation that’s friendly to their fat pocketbooks. And now they have the FCC on their side, working to make ignoramuses of us all. Don’t let them. Pay the $30 or so per year for a virtual private network to hide your IP address when you surf the web. Investigate your internet service and mobile data providers thoroughly. Read your contract before committing to any ISP or mobile data provider, and never commit to either for more than one year.
Contracts with ISPs and mobile data providers are likely to change dramatically in 2018, so be on the lookout for an email in your inbox with “Changes to our terms” or something like it in the subject. Read it. Don’t just delete it, because you could be agreeing to charges that will surprise you when you receive your bill. And if it gets to the point the reversal of net neutrality rules gets so bad many Americans don’t have reasonably-priced access to an Internet experience free from corporate influence, we all need to give up our Internet and mobile data, because a boycott is the only way to bring down an unregulated corporation operating as a monopoly.
If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: The Tech Night Owl, Free Talk Live, The Dr. Katherine Albrecht Show, Erskine Overnight, Home Talk, The Josh Tolley Show, The Tom Chenault Show, The Costa Report, Flow of Wisdom, America’s First News, America Tonight, Bill Martinez Live, Korelin Economics Report, The KrisAnne Hall Show, Radio Night Live, The Real Side, World Crisis Radio, Know Your Rights
Mass shootings continue across the nation where no part of the country is from a “wild west” mentality. The recent loss of life has been staggering. Those slaughtered range from one-year old kids to 77-year-old adults.
A country music festival in Las Vegas was the scene of 58 people killed. In the small town of Sutherland Springs, Texas, 26 people were murdered in the middle of a Sunday church service. A deranged gunman in northern California killed five people just last week. And those of us living in Louisiana can look back on a series of mass killings including those executed at a Lafayette movie theatre and officers shot down on a Baton Rouge highway.
Gun rights supporters say we should arm more people, and gun control advocates call for more restrictions on gun ownership. I remember reading a book back in the 70s called “Bible in Pocket, Gun in Hand: The Story of Frontier Religion.” The problem today is that the entire country is now the frontier, and there is no place that is a safety zone.
So where does responsible action begin? How about this refreshing idea? Let’s start by enforcing the present laws on the books. No new radical initiatives for the time being. The judicial system, on both the federal and state levels, has the tools to get many potential mass killers off the streets. But a number of laws are not being enforced.
Take killer Devin Kelley, the mass murderer at the small church in Texas. While in the Air Force, he talked openly about killing his superiors, illegally snuck a gun on his military base, was charged with assault and escaping from a psychiatric hospital, attacked his wife with a gun, hitting and choking her, fractured the skull of his baby stepson, and became a convicted felon. Kelley had no business owning a gun, yet the Air Force ignored the law and failed to enter his name in the federal database that would have prevented him from buying more guns.
Here in the Bayou State, a killer named John Houser had traveled to Louisiana from the small Georgia town of LaGrange. He had a long history of violence and mental illness. He had been ordered to a psychiatric hospital by a Georgia judge in 2008, which should have prevented him from even buying a gun. But then he went to an Alabama pawnshop and bought a 40-caliber, semiautomatic handgun. Georgia and Alabama are both saying the other state should have done more to stop Houser from purchasing the gun considering his checkered mental condition.
And if you think this is bad, how about the fact that over 48,000 convicted felons and fugitives lied about their backgrounds, a federal offense, so as to pass the background checks and purchase guns illegally. How many of these 48,000 were prosecuted for making false statements? A total of 44. The Justice Department’s response was that it was “prioritizing prosecutions to focus on more serious crimes.” So killers like Devin Kelley and John Houser have free reign to gather as many weapons as the want.
If there are no specific requirements that mentally deranged individuals like Houser are reported by every state to a national database, then we can look for more mass shootings. It’s way too easy for a potential killer to obtain a gun in one state, and then travel across the country to pick and choose his victims. Congress should make reporting mandatory with penalties for those states that fail to do so. And Congress should investigate why the Justice Department lets these same killers continue to ignore the law and continue to kill.
Simply put, start by enforcing current law before clouding this issue with new restrictions. It would seem to be common sense.
Peace and Justice