Thursday, July 24, 2014

Not Their Strong Suit

We know where they're going with this. We've known for some time where they're going with this. We already know their final destination is Impeachapalooza.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Newport) can cry all he wants about his beloved law suit, but we all know what's actually hiding behind it. (Here's a hint for all who are still wondering what is: impeachment.) Oh, and speaking of that law suit against President Obama for daring to do his job, the House Judiciary Committee voted strictly along party lines (7-4) to authorize it.

So why do House Republicans want to impeach sue President Obama? Apparently, he issues executive orders every once in a while. And sometimes, he'll issue executive orders on major policies, such as the one barring federal contractors from discriminating against LGBTQ workers. Occasionally, he's even refused to defend certain statutes in court when he's considered them unconstitutional (such as DOMA, and the US Supreme Court ultimately agreed with him on that). Even though numerous other Presidents have issued executive orders and exercised broad discretion when enforcing statutes, House G-O-TEA "leaders" now express "OUTRAGE!!!" over this President and his executive actions.

Why might that be? Do they truly object to executive power? (If so, where were they when George W. Bush was President?) Or do they just object to what President Obama is doing with it?

If House Republican "leaders" so strongly object to the content of the President's executive actions, they can always correct this by actually allowing floor votes on permanent legislation. They can finally allow a floor vote on an all-inclusive ENDA. They can ensure transgender Americans have the same access to health care coverage as everyone else. And they can guarantee that married LGBTQ families receive equal treatment under the law.

However, they're not doing any of that. Instead, they whine about "teh gay cootiez" as they complain about President Obama still being President Obama. And they wonder why we simply can't take this farce of a law suit seriously?

Here's the Solution.

Yesterday, it offered its latest "solution" for "security". And yes, that "solution" involves more guns. The NRA wouldn't have it any other way, even if that means more guns in schools.

Yet while the NRA is busy "rebranding", gun safety advocates seem to be busy preparing to win some elections.

.@OFA_NV & @Everytown vol's calling 4 #YesOn594 #Gun... on Twitpic

.@OFA_NV phone bank 4 WA #YesOn594 #GunSense #BackgroundCheck... on Twitpic

Last night, we dropped by an OFA phone bank. And this wasn't just any phone bank. Southern Nevada volunteers were calling into Washington State for I-594.

Why? Initiative 594 (I-594) is the background checks initiative on this fall's ballot there. Just like Nevada, a handful of politicians in Olympia (Washington's State Capital) blocked a background checks bill that had strong public support. So after the bill died in the State Capitol, gun safety advocates gathered more than enough signatures to place I-594 on the 2014 general election ballot.

Last night, OFA volunteers in Henderson were calling voters in Washington State to explain I-594 and ask them to vote for this background checks initiative. The NRA & gun industry have been hoping that lower midterm turnout and snazzy "media strategy" would be enough to kill I-594. But last night, volunteers were calling voters the NRA wasn't counting on to vote. And they were sharing with these voters the message the NRA doesn't want them to hear.

.@OFA_NV standing w/ WA 4 #YesOn594 #GunSense #NotOneMore #gu... on Twitpic

.@OFA_NV @hendems vol's making calls 4 #YesOn594 #GunSen... on Twitpic

.@OFA_NV & @Everytown team made calls 4 #YesOn594 #GunSen... on Twitpic

While the NRA wants to continue debating the "philosophy" of "well regulated militia" and trying to redefine the English language, the rest of America wants an end to the bloody reign of #gunfail. The rest of America is looking to end the armed madness that senselessly threatens so many lives.

#GunSense will be on the ballot in Washington State this year... And may then be on the ballot in Nevada in 2016. And perhaps in more states, voters will finally have the opportunity to do what the NRA has forbidden so many politicians from even considering. Here may finally be the solution concerned citizens have been looking for.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Today's @NRA #FAIL

When will they ever learn? Here's one more to file in the "Totally Ironic Department": The NRA cares about safety! And even better, "NRA News" commentator Billy Johnson endorses socialism!

Oh, yes. That's right. "Everyone gets a gun."

Billy Johnson thinks more guns and "proper gun education" can magically solve all our problems and make our world a safer place. What could possibly go wrong? Who could ever imagine...

Oh, wait. Did we just hear something from Sparks Middle School?

"More guns" in the hands of minors didn't save Michael Landsberry. Actually, the opposite occurred. And 2 other kids were badly injured last October. Oh yes, and the shooter skillfully demonstrated his "gun education" by committing suicide after killing Landsberry and wounding his 2 other victims.

Look, we get it. The NRA will do and/or say anything to sell more firearms and thereby boost its membership rolls. That doesn't mean the NRA is correct. After all, we've seen what happens when "heat packing" comes to school.

Perhaps instead of setting up the framework for the next Troutdale, Sparks, or Newtown, can't we consider taking action to prevent more of these horrific tragedies? Perhaps instead of creating an environment of even more fear and bloodshed, can't we ensure our schools actually provide a safe and welcoming environment where our kids can focus on learning?

Here's the Issue.

Perhaps since he hasn't been making headlines lately, he's trying this new stunt to garner more media attention. Earlier today, Attorney General candidate Adam Laxalt (R) tweeted this.

MT @AdamLaxalt: Today, I pledge to refuse any political gifts as #NVAG and I urge Ross Miller to do same. …/Good issue.

Yep, that was Jon Ralston saying it's a "good issue". And perhaps he's right. After all, outgoing Secretary of State and current Attorney General candidate Ross Miller (D) has already been working on the issue of campaign finance reform. What's Adam Laxalt's history on this issue?

Oh, and why is he now tweeting about this issue? Why does he now want to talk about "gifts"? Might it be due to his discomfort whenever folks in the media talk too much about his favorite "political issue"?

Come on, Adam! We know how strongly you feel about this "political issue". We know how strongly you feel about the great threat that gender neutral restrooms, marriage equality, children's movies, and out athletes pose to this great state & nation.

No matter how much they talk about "Republican rebranding", G-O-TEA politicians never seem to want to talk about their record on LGBTQ civil rights. They don't want to talk about how they compare marriage equality to graffiti. They don't want to talk about how they continue to disparage transgender people and mock our very existence. And of course, they don't want to talk about their continuing "militant" opposition to basic human rights.

Sure, we recognize that not all Republicans want to continue hiding in the Stone Age. State Senator Ben Kieckhefer (R-Reno) quite bravely stuck his neck out for marriage equality in Carson City last year, even as Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson (R-Henderson) decided to whip against it (after telling the media he'd support the marriage amendment). And just this week, US Rep. David Jolly (R-Florida) announced he changed his mind on marriage equality while top Florida Republicans continue to fight against it in court.

Notice that? They're still the exceptions rather than the rule. They're still the ones bucking "leadership" while "leaders" still fail to lead. They're still the ones with "issues" because they're sick and tired of ducking this issue that continues to cause pain in people's lives.

Here's the issue: Politicians like Adam Laxalt want to continue pretending that they're not the ones with "issues" even thought they're always the ones taking issue with the very notion of civil rights for LGBTQ people. So after they spit out more incendiary rhetoric and throw more "red meat" at their 21st Century Know Nothing base, they then turn around to blame the victim for forcing "political issues" on them. Clearly, they're still in denial. And clearly, they're the ones with all the wrong "issues" here.

Deja Vu, Bundy

And like this, he's back. After a string of embarrassing incidents, such as losing control of his own organization and watching one of his top lieutenants go on trial for murder, Jim Gilchrist wants a comeback.

And not only does he want a comeback, but he also wants thousands of "volunteers" to return to the US-Mexico Border with him. He's launching "Operation Normandy" with hopes of gathering at least 3,500 people to join him at the border. Oh yes, and he claims he wants everyone on good behavior.

Good luck with that. We haven't forgotten the "good behavior" of Shawna Forde and JT Ready. Has Gilchrist?

We doubt Cliven Bundy has. He rode to fame on the backs of the "Patriot Movement". And even after the cable "news" cameras and national newspaper reporters left Bunkerville, Cliven Bundy and his gang of "outlaw cowboys" have continued their "Range War" against the rule of law.

We can understand why G-O-TEA politicians want to forget the armed madness that the Bundy Gang wreaked upon the Virgin Valley earlier this year. It's embarrassing. It's revolting. And it certainly doesn't make for "good optics" during an election year.

However, it's not a good idea for us to forget. It's not a good idea for us to forget the great Bundy folly. It's not a good idea for us to forget Jerad & Amanda Miller. It's not a good idea for us to forget Brent Douglas Cole. It's not a good idea for us to forget Shawna Forde & JT Ready. And it's not a good idea for us to forget the dangerous ideology of hate that encourages all this dangerous, violent behavior.

Oh, and it would be nice if more of those "TEA" fueled media pundits who stoked the flames of #BundyRanch remember the folly of what they did a mere 3 months ago... Because they're doing it again.


Yesterday, we witnessed the tale of the conflicting appellate court rulings. While a 3 judge panel of the DC Circuit Federal Court of Appeals voted 2-1 to strike down Obamacare health insurance tax credits for working class families in 36 states, a 3 judge panel of the nearby Fourth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals voted unanimously to uphold the Obamacare/Affordable Care Act (ACA) tax credits. Of course, the usual G-O-TEA suspects cheered on the DC Circuit ruling. And of course, that means the usual G-O-TEA suspects want to raise taxes on the middle class & working poor.

Wait, what?! Oh, yes. That's right. 87% of Obamacare enrollees in the 36 states under the federal health insurance exchange would lose their tax credits if the plaintiffs succeed in Halbig v. Burwell. So essentially, they'd have to pay higher taxes. And health insurance premiums for all consumers in these 36 states would rise by an average of 76%. Oh, and some 6.5 million Americans would lose insurance coverage. So basically, G-O-TEA politicians are cheering on a health insurance "death spiral" that would result in higher taxes and less health care for many millions of Americans. (Just don't tell them they lost in King v. Burwell, and their chances of killing Obamacare in court don't look good going forward.)

Where's Grover Norquist? Where are the "TEA" fueled purists? We thought they were against raising taxes. And we thought they didn't want consumers hit with higher costs.

Perhaps they were too busy demanding the arrests (and firings) of working mothers? Debra Harrell was just fired by McDonald's after she was arrested for letting her daughter play in a park. No really, she was arrested for letting her 9 year old daughter play outside. And she was essentially arrested for being too poor to afford day care.

But wait, whatever happened to "LIBERTY!!!" Whatever happened to "FREEDOM!!!"? Whatever happened to "DON'T TREAD ON ME!!!"? Apparently for the usual G-O-TEA suspects, it's perfectly OK for "BIG GUV'MINT!!!" to arrest working parents for letting their kids play outside because they're too poor to afford summer camp.

Isn't it ironic? For all the G-O-TEA talk of "low taxes" and "limited government", they want the working poor to pay higher taxes and face police state style oversight simply because they work at or near minimum wage level pay? Why is this? Might it be due to their desire for "low taxes" and "limited government" only for those who can afford it?

Might we possibly be witnessing a tale of a party spouting an ideology rooted in paradox? Or do these "TEA" powered politicians just detest the middle class and working poor so much that they just don't care about their nonsensical "philosophy of governance"?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Border Games

Wait, wasn't this a catastrophe? Wasn't this an "INVASION!!!"? Wasn't this some "declaration of war"?

All of a sudden, it isn't any more. Actually, it never actually was in the first place. Remember, we've been talking about refugees, and mostly child refugees at that.

But now that G-O-TEA politicians have turned the Central American refugee crisis into a political football game, they're throwing any & all serious policy questions over the goal post and out the window. Send in the National Guard (who can't make arrests)! Attack that YMCA bus! And don't forget to deport those DREAMers!

Yet while these G-O-TEA politicians wax poetic about their "philosophy of principles for (what reform?)", kids are stuffed into kennels. No really, these children are being kept in chain link cages. And this is the America we want the world to see?

We can only wonder if this is what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) had in mind when he took to the Senate floor yesterday. While he spent some time debunking the "#SecureTheBorder" myths, he also addressed the real humanitarian crisis on our hands.

Yet instead of heeding this call to real action, the usual G-O-TEA suspects want to continue playing their Border Games. Even as they're being called out on their farce, they keep playing.

And to make this matter even worse, certain other politicians prefer to turn their backs to these refugees. "Children? What children?! Keep those dirty buggers away from my state!"

If only we had more leaders like Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (D) and Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley (D)...

And if only the above mentioned political "players" could stop playing Border Games with real people's lives.

Frivolous Law Suit

They couldn't stop it when it was originally in Congress. They couldn't gather enough votes to repeal it thereafter. They couldn't get it completely overturned in court. And they couldn't defeat the President who fought for the bill and signed it into law.

So now, they're doing whatever they can to undermine it. And if that means striking a painful blow to working families, so be it. If that means making health insurance unaffordable for 6.5 million Americans, so be it.

Earlier today, a 3 judge panel on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in Halbig v. Burwell. It just so happens that 2 of those judges are Republican appointees, and 1 in particular has been notorious for his ideological tirades from the bench. So of course, it was a 2-1 vote to essentially blow up Obamacare by removing health insurance tax credits from the 36 states on the federal health insurance exchange. (And now that Nevada's exchange is a state/federal partnership, we may be affected by this ruling.)

This ruling isn't the end of this story, far from it. The Obama Administration will request an en banc hearing of the full court. And since the full DC Circuit Court now has an 8-5 Democratic/Republican composition, there's more than a decent chance this 3 judge panel decision will be overturned by the full court.

And then, there's this. At the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, a 3 judge panel ruled in favor of the defendants in King v. Burwell. And that ruling was unanimous. Here's what Senior Judge Andre Davis wrote in the unanimous panel decision.

"I am pleased to join in full the majority’s holding that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act “permits” the Internal Revenue Service to decide whether premium tax credits should be available to consumers who purchase health insurance coverage on federally-run Exchanges. But I am also persuaded that, even if one takes the view that the Act is not ambiguous in the manner and for the reasons described, the necessary outcome of this case is precisely the same. That is, I would hold that Congress has mandated in the Act that the IRS provide tax credits to all consumers regardless of whether the Exchange on which they purchased their health insurance coverage is a creature of the state or the federal bureaucracy."

So now, we have 2 competing 3 judge panel decisions. And both look set to receive en banc reviews. And both may end up at the door of the US Supreme Court (where the majority already upheld the foundation of the Affordable Care Act in June 2012).

They couldn't stop it in 2010. They couldn't repeal it in 2011. They couldn't sue it to death or defeat the President who championed it in 2012. And they couldn't even shut down the government to defund it to death in 2013. So now, the usual G-O-TEA suspects are back in court in yet another last ditch effort to sue it to death today. They don't mind hurting millions of Americans just to score political points... And they still don't realize the futility of their frivolous law suits and careless obstruction.


Whatever happened to "fiscal responsibility"? Whatever happened to austerity? Whatever happened to "live within your means"? Oh, and whatever does Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Austerity) have to say about this?

Outgoing Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) has decided to pull another political stunt on the border. Fresh off his ammosexual orgy "heat packing display" with Sean Hannity, Rick Perry decided to send about 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to the US-Mexico Border. And he wants the federal government to pay for this political stunt National Guard deployment.

Remember that National Guard troops are not authorized to make arrests. And keep in mind that Congress can easily alleviate the situation in South Texas by approving the $3.7 billion emergency appropriations bill that President Obama has proposed. Oh, and the comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) legislation that Perry's fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill rejected would have added even more border security on top of the already aggressive border security regime that President Obama already has in place. (How does Rick Perry think all these #BorderChildren have been picked up by Border Patrol?)

So why is Rick Perry now doing this? Why is he ordering roughly 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to the US-Mexico Border? Why is he ordering troops who can't even make arrests and demanding the feds pay for them? Why won't he instead do something more productive?

Well, why did infamous G-O-TEA pot stirrer Laura Ingraham concoct a brand new anti-Obama conspiracy theory centered on the downed Malaysian Airlines plane in eastern Ukraine? Why did G-O-TEA Demon Queen professional flame thrower Ann Coulter attack a teenage girl? Why has G-O-TEA conspiracy king Glenn Beck been mercilessly attacked by his own party for suggesting refugee children be treated with compassion?

Whatever happened to policy consistency? Whatever happened to human decency? And whatever happened to good political sense?

Whatever G-O-TEA politicians are thinking... Wait, are they even thinking? Or are they just reacting out of pure stupidi-TEA? Whatever they're doing, it's already a strong contender for "Most Ridiculous Political Stunt of the Year".

Monday, July 21, 2014

Yep, They're Your Typical Republicans.

So we're seeing this again. Once more, we're hearing all about "Republican rebranding". And this time, it's once again coming from an all too familiar source.

Earlier this month, we (again) heard State Senator Michael Roberson (R-Henderson) boast about his aborted illegal mining tax scheme. And then, he topped that with his super secret plan to magically "increase education funding". And just how will he accomplish that? Perhaps he'll eventually get back to us (or maybe his favorite media pundit?) with the details?

In the mean time, Senator Roberson is focusing on more important things... Like glossy mailers proclaiming how he and his hand picked candidates are "not your typical Republican(s)".

And how's that? Didn't they... Oh, wait. All but one in each chamber virulently opposed marriage equality when the Legislature was in session last year. And all but a tiny handful voted against the state version of ENDA in 2011. (And for the record, Roberson voted against both.)

But come on, didn't they... Oh, wait. In 2011, State Senator Michael Roberson led fellow Republican legislators against increased education funding. He also fought against implementation of the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare that gave us Medicaid expansion. It was only last year when Senator Roberson suddenly turned around and proposed his destined-to-be-aborted illegal mining tax scheme. And he couldn't even unite his own Republican Caucus behind it. And when the going got tough, he turned back around to embrace the status quo.

Come on now, didn't they... Oh, wait. In a last ditch effort to stop the state background checks bill, Senator Michael Roberson proposed a competing "poison pill bill" during the very last week of the legislative session. Oh, yes. That's right. He & his G-O-TEA colleagues in Carson City resorted to the most underhanded of parliamentary tactics to kill even modest legislation aimed at curbing gun violence.

Now before anyone accuses us of being "blind partisans", let's get this out of the way. When Democratic leaders in Carson City tried to avoid reality, we called them out on it. We even called them out when a sex education bill died a very mysterious death. (And by the way, where was "Not Your Typical Republican" Michael Roberson when this happened?)

We just refuse to look the other way when certain politicians try to have it both ways. Say what you want about current Democratic leaders, but we've never seen them attempt this type of incredibly confusing and flagrantly misleading "rebranding". In this aspect, Michael Roberson and his hand-picked running mates sound a whole lot like your typical garden variety Republicans.

The Order

Last month, President Obama agreed to sign an executive order that has essentially been years in the making. He agreed to an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against LGBTQ workers. While it's not comprehensive, it is a step forward. And it can help fill the gap left by (the lower House of) Congress' failure to pass ENDA.

But in recent days, a new controversy has emerged. In the wake of the US Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling, several LGBTQ civil rights organizations pulled their support of the current version of ENDA due to its religious exemptions. They then urged the President not to include any religious exemptions in his planned executive order.

He listened to them. The executive order that President Obama signed earlier today has no religious exemptions beyond what then President George W. Bush ordered for "faith based initiatives". And keep in mind that those "faith based" grants are separate from the federal contracts covered by this new executive order.

However, this may not be the end of it. Now that Hobby Lobby is on the books, it may inspire legal challenges to this executive order. While a full judicial overturn of the executive order seems unlikely now, LGBTQ civil rights advocates aren't taking anything for granted just yet.

And then, there's that other prickly issue, the issue that forced President Obama to sign this executive order in the first place. There's still no national ENDA in place. And now, the usual G-O-TEA suspects on Capitol Hill are blocking any legislative fixes to the statute the Supreme Court majority cited in Hobby Lobby.

As we've discussed here before, wrongful discrimination is still very much a reality for many people throughout the nation today. It can happen to food pantry workers. It can happen to police chiefs. It can happen to sport shop workers. And it can happen to college students.

Perhaps it won't happen at companies that happen to accept federal contracts any more... But when will the day arrive when all workers can live free of the fear that it might happen to them?

Home on Derange

This should be considered common sense. This should be a "no-brainer". Yet for some reason, we keep revisiting this.

On Friday, Rep. Steven Horsford (D-North Las Vegas) penned an op-ed for The Washington Post explaining exactly why it wasn't a good idea for the G-O-TEA echo chamber to celebrate Cliven Bundy's illegal "Range War". And yesterday, the Las Vegas Sun published an editorial on the issue. Basically, both detailed what we've been keeping track of since April. Need we go over that history again?

Perhaps we should revisit current events. Remember Murrieta? Remember Oracle? It's happening again.

Ironically, they're complaining about the lack of "enforcing the law". Yet when confronted with current anti-trafficking law, they scream in horror.

But then again, they didn't seem to care about the law when Cliven Bundy broke it. Rather, "TEA" flavored politicians and pundits celebrated the culture of lawlessness at #BundyRanch with reckless abandon. They only began to abandon the Bundy Gang when they became politically inconvenient.

However, they haven't actually abandoned the dangerous "Patriot Movement" behind #BundyRanch. Instead, they've moved over to its current cause celebre. Now, they're waging a war against refugee children.

On Saturday, a group of anti-immigrant protesters assembled just above the 215 Freeway in Henderson. Some were carrying signs relaying (misleading) messages that could have easily come directly from John Tanton himself, while a couple were wearing Oath Keepers paraphernalia. And this event was part of a "national day of action" organized by ALIPAC, the anti-immigrant political outfit run by notorious xenophobe William Gheen.

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

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(Photos courtesy of a long time reader)

Cliven Bundy's "Range War" is rooted in the same extreme anti-government ideology as the latest anti-immigrant campaign. And both have reached out to anti-government militia groups to further the "war". Yet both have attracted an alarming amount of support among supposedly "mainstream" G-O-TEA politicians and media personalities.

This should be considered common sense. This should be a "no-brainer". Yet for some reason, we're back on the range (war). And once again, we're having to remind some irresponsible political "players" that they're playing with ("sovereign citizen" fueled) fire.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

No Fun Here

It may be fun to stay at the YMCA, but it certainly isn't fun having to live one's childhood in total fear. Yesterday, we noted Arizona Congressional Candidate Adam Kwasman's (R) total failure to recognize the kids who were actually in that school bus yesterday. However, there's an even larger issue at hand here.

For far too long, too many politicians & pundits (particularly the "TEA" tinged ones) have been talking about the #BorderChildren as if they're all a bunch of hardened thugs out to rape, murder, and steal like there's no tomorrow. Oh, and they're also allegedly full of diseases. And according to them, the only solution to this problem is to deport them all ASAP.

As we've mentioned before, it's far easier for politicians to "discuss philosophy" and attack theoretical constructs than to deal with reality. These refugee children are escaping the epic violence and poverty that many of these very politicians helped create. And now that these children are here, ambitious G-O-TEA politicians want to further their political careers on the backs of these children by hurling all sorts of insults at them while threatening to return them to the very hell they escaped.

There's a reason why then President George W. Bush signed the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act on December 23, 2008. And there's a reason why this law passed Congress overwhelmingly in late 2008. This law is meant to ensure legal due process and proper aid for victims of human trafficking.

How are elementary & middle school aged children supposed to brief Border Patrol agents with evidence documenting their reasons for migrating here within 48 hours? Think about that. When abused children seek help, do we expect them to show up at the local police station with a complete dossier documenting their abusers' crimes? There's a reason why we have a legal system complete with courtrooms, judges, and legal counsel.

But wait, there's more. For many "TEA" flavored politicians, deporting at-risk refugee children isn't enough. They also (still) want to deport DREAMers.

Oh, yes. That's right. They went there... Again. And now, they're attacking Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) for calling out the idiocy of this latest G-O-TEA "immigration idea"... And for explaining the reality of life anywhere near the border.

In summary, Republican "leaders" in DC have been spending plenty of time attacking a law a Republican President signed into law in order to protect children in danger. And they're doing that on top of the usual attacks on DREAMers, President Obama, and the actually very secure border. And on top of all that, they want to play politics with even more children's lives. It may be fun for Republican "leaders" to play politics with this rather difficult and complicated issue, but everyone else would rather just work on real solutions.

Consider This

Another one? There was actually another one. Sadly, there was.

This time, it happened at Fashion Show Tuesday night. Oh, yes. That's right. There was another Las Vegas Strip shooting this week.

So far, the wounded victim has declined to speak to Metro Police about what occurred. After initial speculation about gang involvement, Metro Police now say this shooting was likely not gang motivated. They're still asking the public for help as they investigate.

Last year, we witnessed several Las Vegas Strip shootings. Earlier this year, we saw an alarming near miss at "Thunder Down Under". And now, there's this.

Oh, and there's this. In Stockton, California, 3 bank robbery suspects shot at police officers with AK-47 style assault weapons. A shootout then broke out with both sides trading fire. And ultimately, an innocent hostage and 2 of the suspects were shot dead. 2 more hostages were also shot, and they remain in critical condition.

Consider this: Where did these individuals (in Las Vegas and Stockton) obtain these firearms? And how did they do so? Could it be that they took advantage of the same loophole that Jerad Miller exploited to kick off his bloody "revolution"?

Now consider this: What stood in the way of even modest efforts to strengthen background checks to keep dangerous weapons out of the wrong hands? Who stood in the way? And why did they do do?

Perhaps it's finally time for us to rethink our haphazard approach to all this #gunfail?

Who Are You?

Who are you? No really, stop and think about that. And think about what makes you who you are.

Who are you? What defines you? How do you see yourself? And why?

Debi Jackson had to confront this when her daughter came out to her. She was 4 at the time, and she already knew she's a girl. Debi Jackson did a Google search, realized her daughter is indeed a transgender girl, and then moved quickly to provide her daughter with the love & support she needed.

If only more people had the insight and compassion of Debi Jackson. Students like Jayce Marcus, Domaine Javier, & Christian Minard now have to fight against discrimination at the very institutions of higher learning that are supposed to provide a safe & supportive environment for them. Trudy Kitzmiller & Kristen Skinner had to threaten legal action to just to obtain proper customer service at the West Virginia DMV. And Mia Henderson was found murdered in Baltimore yesterday.

And now, LGBTQ Americans must ponder a new threat to equality. Last month, the US Supreme Court issued a ruling in the Hobby Lobby case that caused epic confusion. And now that 5 Supreme Court Justices seem to believe that corporations have license to do a number of things under the guise of "religious freedom", several LGBTQ civil rights organizations have decided to back away from the current version of ENDA in Congress due to its religious exemptions. In addition, they're urging President Obama to refrain from including religious exemptions in his executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against LGBTQ workers.

Think about that. It's 2014. And still, millions of Americans must worry about things like whether they can live as "normal" families, whether they can hold a job, whether they can stay in school, and even whether they can manage to live another day.

Who are they? Who are these people? We are people. We are workers. We are students. We are veterans. We are DREAMers. We are parents. We are families. We are Americans, Americans with Constitutional rights.

Who are you? Are you a mere "political issue"? Or are you a real human being who deserves real respect?