April 18, 2013  By Jack Jodell.

It has been some time since I have added a post to this series, which has highlighted a wide array of people from a great many walks of life. Each has, through progressive ideals and actions, greatly contributed to the welfare of  our citizens and whose efforts have had a profoundly positive effect on the lives of every single American.

Today, I would like to place my spotlight squarely on perhaps the greatest progressive voice this country has ever known: that of the truly remarkable FRANCES PERKINS.  

Born Fannie Coralie Perkins to Frederick and Susan Bean Perkins of Boston in April of 1880, she legally changed her name to Frances 15 years later, upon joining the Episcopal Church.   She earned a B.A. in Chemistry and Physics from Mount Holyoke College, and a Masters in Political Science at Columbia University, and very early on became heavily influenced by the leading social and labor writers of her day, among them such famous muckrakers and reformers as Jacob Riis, Lincoln Steffens, Jane Addams, and Upton Sinclair. While in school, she took a course in history which featured field trips to nearby factories. There she saw firsthand the negative and injurious effects that long hours, low pay, and poor working conditions were having on working people. This experience led to her lifelong commitment toward the betterment of workers’ and poor people’s lives. She once remarked on her anti-poverty efforts by saying, “…foremost was the idea that poverty is preventable, that poverty is destructive, wasteful, and demoralizing, and poverty, in the midst of potential plenty is  morally unacceptable in a Christian and democratic society.” To achieve her goals, Perkins worked as a social worker after college in Worcester, MA, and briefly taught in Chicago. There she involved herself with the Hull House, a settlement house set up by Jane Addams. She later moved to Philadelphia for a time to work with immigrant girls, many of whom had been forced into prostitution by greedy landlords or exploitative employers. Perkins then moved to New York and  eventually became the executive secretary of the National Consumers League.  She lobbied vigorously for shorter hours and better working conditions for workers. The following year, she witnessed the horrible Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire of 1911, the worst industrial fire in New York City history, in which 146 women senselessly and needlessly perished because they were physically locked-in their sewing rooms and forbidden to leave while working. Perkins became active with the New York State Factory Commission, and worked tirelessly to promote job safety. She testified before the State Assembly and persuaded lawmakers to actually visit factories and workers’ homes to see up close the poor working and living conditions they faced.  In this capacity, she came into direct contact with leading progressive politicians of the day such as New York State Senator Robert F. Wagner and soon-to-be New York Governor Alfred Smith. Her efforts were successful, paving the way for important new legislation which provided strengthened worker safety measures, compensated workers for injuries they suffered while on the job, and established less working hours for women and children between 1011 and 1915. Frances Perkins’ social and political star was just beginning to rise…

In 1919, the newly-elected Democratic Governor Smith appointed Perkins to the state’s Industrial Board (which she became Chairperson of 5 years later). She managed to obtain a reduction in the working week for women to 54 hours while at that post. Prior to this, in 1913, she had married Paul Caldwell Wilson and successfully sued to keep her own original last name, as she was unwilling to sacrifice the influence it had already achieved in the social and political world. Her suit showed her to be a real pioneering trailblazer, as it was common for all wives in those days to adopt their husband’s last name. By 1929, newly-elected Democratic New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt called on her to become New York state’s Commissioner of Labor. Perkins proved herself to be quite politically adept, as she skillfully worked with numerous competing political factions to turn New York into a leading example of pragmatic progressive reform. During her time as Commissioner, she successfully implemented expanded factory investigations, instituted a 48 hour maximum work week for women, and worked hard to end child labor and provide for minimum wage and unemployment insurance laws for New York woekers. But the pinnacle of her success would come with the election of Roosevelt as President in 1932.

On March 4, 1033, FDR was inaugurated as President , and Frances Perkins was finally able to exert her social justice influence on the national stage. The country was at the lowest, seemingly most hopeless point of the Great Depression. Roosevelt nominated her to be his Secretary of Labor, and she became the very first woman member of a President’s Cabinet, a post she remained at during his entire time in office. Prior to agreeing to serve as Secretary of Labor, Perkins told the new President, “I don’t want to say yes to you unless you know what I’d like to do and are willing to have me go ahead and try.” She outlined her proposed agenda to FDR, and it was a bold one indeed: a federal minimum wage, specified maximum weekly work hours, unemployment benefits, a SOCIAL SECURITY system for the elderly, and UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE FOR ALL! Roosevelt agreed to support her plans, so she accepted his offer and soon set herself into a whirlwind of activity. 

An unprecedented level of federal activism soon prevailed. Aided by huge new progressive Democratic Party majorities in Congress, dozens of new government departments and agencies were created and sprang into action. Perkins worked hard to create programs like the Emergency Relief Administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps (which employed two of my very grateful uncles), and the Public Works Administration (which employed yet another relative of mine, along with millions of others). Soon, previously unemployed persons were building new schools, parks, roads, dams, and office buildings all across the country. Labor unions were finally legalized, which meant that workers now had the legal right to band together and collectively bargain for a fairer wage and better working conditions. In 1935, Congress gave Perkins her greatest victory by passing the Social Security Act. It was a revolutionary action which provided a guaranteed government-paid supplementary pension to sick and elderly retirees and lifted millions of them out of poverty. Conservative Republicans of the day screamed out in horror that the country couldn’t afford such a program. Consequently, they have been trying to get rid of Social Security ever since, but have justifiably failed in every attempt. They were wrong about that vitally important social safety net program back then, just as they are dead wrong in their attempts to privatize it today.

Frances Perkins had accomplished a great deal in a short period of only 3 years: millions of people had been given meaningful jobs; the sick, unemployed, and elderly had received vital relief; but she wasn’t done yet.

Roosevelt was deservedly re-elected by a huge landslide in 1936, and, in 1938, Perkins achieved another great goal with the passage by Congress of the Fair Labor Standards Act. This immediately raised wages and shortened work hours in most industries, and eradicated the use of child labor in many. In a short 5 year span, Perkins could point to a number of solid successes her government-led intervention in the economy had achieved. All of her initial agenda had been adopted except for universal health care, and the country was showing slow by steady signs of recovery. Unemployment had dropped steadily each tear since 1933, and there were undeniable signs of progress everywhere. But within a short time after his second inauguration, FDR made a big error. It enabled his conservative Republican opposition to gain ground with their preposterous lie that his and Perkins’ ambitious New Deal programs had been a mistake and must therefore be rolled back.

Roosevelt had listened to his more conservative advisors’ warnings that all his new social spending would cause tremendous inflation. Thus, he drastically cut back on his New Deal programs in 1937, and, within a few months, the effects of this disastrous advice became clear: unemployment once again began to steeply increase. These conservatives had actually caused a recession to occur within the Great Depression! This recession continued into early 1939, when increased government deficit spending for arms purchases to aid allied countries in the early years of World War II, and our eventual involvement in that war, spiked a massive increase in employment which finally lifted us completely out of the Great Depression. Of course, modern government-hating reactionaries (who mistakenly refer to themselves as “conservatives”, such as John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz, as well as most of the Tea-Party contingent) disagree with this correct accounting  of actual history, and ludicrously parrot the far-right lie that “government never created a single job.” We progressives, as well as my uncles and relatives who actually worked those New Deal jobs, all know the real truth. We know that it was massive government deficit spending which not only created millions of new jobs, but also lifted us out of the horrible depression which had been caused by the very same flawed, free-market economic theories that modern Tea-Party infested reactionary Republicans are once again spouting.

All Americans today owe a supreme  debt of gratitude to Frances Perkins! The HUGE benefits her agenda accomplished for all of us helped usher in an unprecedented four decades of upward mobility and tremendous, unequalled prosperity. Her outstanding efforts yielded us our broad middle class, SOCIAL SECURITY, the 40 hour work week, overtime pay, collective bargaining rights, higher wages, a social safety net for the poor and elderly, disability payments, and unemployment benefits. Though she died in 1965, the magnificence she brought to our economy still endures, nearly 80 years later!

We must preserve her great legacy by firmly standing to oppose any and all modern Republican attempts to dismantle or destroy her wonderful achievements!    


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April 14, 2013  By Jack Jodell.

The National Rifle Association and the Gun Owners of America have once more flexed their political muscles, and their paranoid efforts have again worked against the safety, welfare, and best interests of the American people. They have successfully eliminated the restoration of Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Assault Weapons Ban and have managed to push the elimination of high volume magazine clips completely off of the legislative agenda. This is a giant and wholly unjustified slap in the face of the survivor families of the Sandy Hook massacre, as well as to the survivors and victims of the many other gun violence episodes we have unfortunately endured. To say that the NRA and GOA must be politically opposed is a gross understatement of fact. Instead, they must be politically annihilated, and in today’s post I will outline a few steps that voters must take to ensure that this happens. This will be neither a short nor an easy battle, for each is firmly entrenched on Washington. But it MUST be undertaken and won in order to protect our citizens from future massacres by deranged, paranoid individuals whom these groups are so badly trying to protect! Here are spme important steps I would recommend be taken:
1). JOIN THE NRA AND THE GOA.  You read me right, folks: “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” – and THEN beat them both badly from the inside by overthrowing their crazed leaderhip! Paranoid, bought-out crazies like Wayne LaPierre and H.L. (Bill) Richardson do NOT belong in influential, responsible high ranking leadership positions. The sooner we oust toadies like them, the better!
2). Do NOT vote for any more Tea Party-infested reactionary Republicans, or for any pro-gun, anti-people Democratic candidates at any level of government! The very moment an aspiring candidate says something about “second amendment rights”, scratch him or her off and work to defeat them. We all know there is no “far left conspiracy” to eradicate the public’s right to bear arms, or that electing anti-assault weapons candidates does NOT mean voting to create a network of disenfranchised political prisoners. So if you hear ANY candidate saying such insane things, make sure he or she is NOT ELECTED!
3). Write and/or call your existing representatives and Senators, at both the state and federal level, plus your own Governor, especially if any of them are pro-gun or anti-gun reform, and let them clearly know that you will work to defeat them in the next election if they fail to support bans on automatic weapons, bans on large volume magazine clips, or expanded background checks on gun applicants. Let them know further that you do NOT approve of NRA-sponsored attempts to weaken or prevent the adoption of such vital legislation! 
4). Write and/or call the offices of Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Eric Cantor, or ANY politician whom you believe has been responsible for opposing or stalling any and all gun-reform bills. Read them the riot act for their having obstructed and stalled important legislation in the past, and let them know you will NOT put up with their doing so in the future! Tell them to start actually EARNING their bloated congressional paychecks, and to stop grandstanding and playing politics while wasting millions of taxpayer dollars in the process!
5). FLOOD both the NRA’s and the Gun Owners of America’s corporate offices with both letters and phone calls DEMANDING that they both come to their senses and start supporting meaningful legislation banning assault weapons and high volume magazine clips. Let them know that you do not see legislation of this nature as threatening the private ownership of guns by responsible gun owners in the least, and that further efforts on their part to block gun safety laws will cause you to donate heavily to candidates strongly supporting gun control legislation! You can and SHOULD reach them by writing and/or calling these addresses:
Attn.: Mr. Wayne LaPierre
11250 Waples Mill Rd. Fairfax, VA 22030
NRA Member Programs  800-672-3888

Attn.: Mr. H.L. (Bill) Richardson
8001 Forbes Place, Suite 102
Springfield, VA 22151
701-321-8585 / FAX 701-321-8408

We have allowed these special interest lobbyists to dominate and blackmail our elected officials for far too long now. The only things we have seen coming from this domination have been the unneeded proliferation of handguns and automatic weapons, and a huge rise in senseless massacres and individual murders.

This is not sensible gun ownership by responsible gun owners. It is utter LUNACY which needs to be brought under control, and NOW! 

I strongly urge ALL of us to start taking positive action on this pressing problem of gun violence immediately, and these are several important ways to do just that! By acting now, you may very well be helping to save the life of your own child, family member, or acquaintance in the future. Thank you, readers!

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April 9, 2013  By Jack Jodell.

The United Kingdom’s former Conservative Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, passed away from a stroke on Monday. She was 87 and had been in declining health for many years.

Thatcher had been a very powerful and transformative Prime Minister, who, like her American counterpart Ronald Reagan, was successful in pushing her nation’s political agenda far to the right of where it had previously been, And just like Reagan, she was not bashful about using her country’s military, having engaged it in a brief but successful war against the weaker nation of Argentina in an effort to retain her Falkland Islands territory after Argentina had attacked and occupied it.  Also like Reagan, she was a fierce anti-communist and wielded her political might against the country’s labor unions. She became known as a cold-hearted reactionary hell-bent on crippling the labor movement there. She almost single-handedly pushed Britain’s once proud and decidedly leftist, pro-worker Labour Party into the much weaker, less effective, milquetoast bunch of sops it became under Tony Blair. In short, she made it abandon many of its pro-worker positions, scaled back the power of labor unions to strike, and also scaled back the influence the British government had over its people’s lives. In the process, she made the lives of the poor much more difficult. Perhaps that is why American reactionaries like John Boehner and Eric Cantor –  to name but two – were so quick to praise her after her passing: they revile poor and working class people and never had much time for them anyway. It undoubtedly won’t be long before they and others on the far-right like Paul Ryan will engage in an attempt to portray her as a noble and heroic figure, just as they did Reagan through ridiculously inaccurate revisionist history. In truth, Margaret Thatcher was a much more polarizing figure than Reagan ever was. Even today among UK residents, there is no middle ground regarding the mention of Thatcher’s name – she is either loved and praised, or hated and scorned, depending upon whom you may ask.

I wasn’t blogging at the time Ronald Reagan passed away. Had I been, I would have responded with much the same attitude as I now do for Margaret Thatcher: good riddance! In both of their cases, the harm they did to their respective country’s labor movements far outweighs the small amounts of good either may have done in other areas. For both chose privatization (which benefits and enriches the pitifully small few) over government programs (whose benefits can be shared by the many), and both chose to ally themselves with the wealthy, privileged, and powerful rather than with the poor, underprivileged, and weak.  It is interesting (revealing?) to note that both of these leaders suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease in their final years. Progressives will note that they both lost their minds years beforehand, however. Good riddance to them both! 

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April 1, 2013  By Jack Jodell.

The Lenten season, with its call for introspection, sacrifice, and charity for all, has now passed. It is replaced by the Easter season, a celebration of new life over death. In the Christian world, this marks the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who was crucified, died, and buried, only to rise triumphantly again, victorious over evil.  This is, then, a season of renewal and rebirth. Let us all resolve to make it a season of new understanding, cooperation, and acceptance.

It disturbs me greatly to hear progressives rebuke the Christian church (as many do) with scorn and hatred. Their ridicule and castigation of honest Christians is unfair and self-defeating. Why? Because true Christians share in the progressive goals of ending discrimination in both our society and economy. They were among the first to decry slavery, racial prejudice, and income inequality. They share the progressive belief that fellow human beings must be properly cared for rather than being exploited for material gain. They also believe that our individual lifetime goal must be the pursuit of justice rather than merely pursuing profit at any cost. They share the progressive belief that we are mere stewards of the earth rather than owners of it, and our duty must be to preserve and protect it, so that we may pass it on to future generations relatively unscathed. True Christians believe in peace rather than war. In all truthfulness, rather than being dismissed and rejected by some in the progressive community, true Christians should be welcomed as different brothers fighting for much the same cause!

We have heard a lot of talk over the past few decades from  the religious right, and it has proven to be very infuriating to progressives. This religious right believes in an angry, dictatorial, authoritarian god who will tolerate no deviance whatsoever from his plan. They unfortunately practice the politics of rejection and division. They believe that all religious and civil authority must not be questioned and must be obeyed no matter what. They further believe that it is their Christian duty to act as God’s personal policemen, judges, juries, wardens, and executioners. They tend to be uncompromising absolutists. This type of mentality led to the burning of so-called witches and heretics s at the stake. It was the type of ignorant mentality which made ancients believe that the sun and stars revolved around the earth, and which caused the brilliant scientist Galileo to be threatened with excommunication for having correctly believed otherwise. It has led to intolerance and repression, We members of the religious LEFT, however, see things quite differently. We believe, with good reason I might add, that the Judeo-Christian God is a loving, forgiving, and merciful God.  We see the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as proof positive of this. After all, Jesus preached repeatedly that the poor, sick, and downtrodden should be cared about and provided for, rather than being ignored, scorned, or exploited. He spent his adult life consorting with lowly fishermen, prostitutes, and other sinners and outcasts rather than with princes and kings or other members of the ruling class. He even angrily threw greedy, profiteering merchants out of the Temple. He also challenged the leaders of his day, incurring their wrath and desire for revenge in the process.  He sought justice and fairness, but received the death sentence for his quest. Yet, through His death and resurrection, the son of this supposed angry and unyielding God (as the religious right portrays Him) offered humankind the seeming paradox of the very gift of salvation! This proves to me, at least, that God is indeed a kind and merciful deity rather than a vengeful and angry one. He is to be loved and respected, not merely feared with blind, unquestioning faith.

I recognize that the Christian Church has made many mistakes over the years. It waged war for profit during the Crusades and persecuted and killed many Arabs and Jews in horrible, bloody pogroms. Most recently, Protestant televangelists preached a message of racist hatred against Muslims. and derided gays unmercifully. It also used its various denominations to fraudulently acquire vast sums of great personal wealth. Catholic priests abused their role as authority figures by forcing innocent youngsters to engage in sex acts with them, and many Catholic bishops protected these priests by hushing the matter up and simply moving the guilty priests to a different location. These actions are reprehensible and the guilty parties should receive great punishment. They were not mere victimless crimes but instead did great damage to millions of innocent, trusting people. The Catholics have also taken relatively unpopular stands on birth control and abortion, and have strongly opposed same sex marriage. They have been criticized for sitting on estimated billions of dollars of art treasures in Vatican City when the sale of these could greatly aid the international campaign to end starvation in the very poor countries of the third world. All of these criticisms are legitimate, and each simply illustrates my point that the Christian Church has made many mistakes in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

We demand perfection from our institutions, even though all are composed of fallible human beings and none will ever actually achieve perfection. We rant and rave about costly mistakes our government has made, yet nobody I know of is seriously advocating walking away from it altogether. The same cannot be said of our churches. In the case of them, many progressives simply refuse to cut them any slack at all. I find this to be a real tragedy. Clearly, they have erred nu trying to protect pedophile priests or by selling religion for profit. But I would like to remind everyone that for one thing, churches are literal hospitals for sinners, not gleaming showcases for saints. This should never absolve them of their offenses, but it does explain their occasional wayward behavior. For another, many churches (the Catholic and Lutheran ones in particular) do a fabulous job in feeding the hungry and caring for the sick. Perhaps they could do far more, but what they currently accomplish is noteworthy. Many of their workers freely volunteer their time and services out of genuinely felt unselfish Christian love. These efforts must therefore mot be trivialized or besmirched. Rather, they should and must be encouraged.

My Easter season wish for the world is that it will stop using war and violence as means to an end. That the insane paranoia and gun-craziness so prevalent in America will disappear or become greatly reduced. That peoples all across the globe will make a dedicated effort to cut back on selfishness and greed. That everyone will make a concerted effort to become more tolerant and understanding of the wants and needs of others. If we, each in our own individual way, will dedicate ourselves to these aims, we will see a profoundly good change come about in this world. We can realize the great goals espoused by the late great Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that are also espoused today by more current true Christian, progressive leaders like Jim Wallis, the social activist who founded the progressive Christian magazine, Sojourners. Above all else, let us not ignore or diminish in any way the very positive effect the Christian Left exerts upon this planet!   

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March 24, 2013  By Jack Jodell.

The pre-Christmas senseless murders of defenseless 6 and 7 year olds by automatic weapons at Sandy Hook Elementary School atill weighs heavily on my mind. So, too, does the infuriatingly slow and pitifully weak response by Congress (especially its Republican members) to effectively deal with this ever-rising gun violence in the United States. As I began my research for this post, I was shocked and outraged at how severe this problem has become. I share some of these FACTS on domestic gun violence below. They should help convince all doubters that we are indeed a very sick, excessively violent society badly in need of gun control. The website provides this astounding information, and part was also obtained  from an article which appeared in The Atlantic:


Some Indicative Data:

Gun Ownership

  • The US has an estimated 283 million guns in civilian hands
  • Each year about 4.5 million firearms, including approximately 2 million handguns, are sold in the United States
  • An estimated 2 million second hand firearms are sold each year
  • The percentage of American households with a gun has been steadily declining (high of 54% in 1977 to 33% in 2009)
  • The average number of guns per owner has increased from 4.1 in 1994 to 6.9 in 2004.

Sources: Injury Prevention (2007); ATF (2000); National Opinion Research Center (2008); Pew Research Center (2009)

Gun Deaths:

More than 30,000 people are killed by firearms each year in this country!

More than 30 people are shot and murdered each day!

1/2  of them are between the ages of 18 and 35

1/3 of them are under the age of 20

Homicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-24 year-olds

And the primary cause of death among African Americans of that age group

Gun Homicides (average annually):

Less than 50: Japan

Less than 150:  Germany, Italy, France, etc.

Less than 200:  Canada


Source: IANSA (International Action Network on Small Arms of the United Nations)

Injuries and Deaths from Guns

Each time a gun injures or kills in self-defense, one is used:

  • 11 times for a completed or attempted suicide
  • 7 times in a criminal assault or homicide
  • 4 times in an unintentional shooting death or injury

Source: Journal of Trauma, injury, Infection and Critical Care (1998)

Per Capita Annual Gun Death Rate (per 100,000 population):

Highest:  Louisiana (19.04, 45.6% households contain guns)

#25:  Pennsylvania (10.90)

Lowest: CT, NY, New Jersey (4.99), RI, MA, Hawaii (2.20)

National: (10.32)

Source: Centers for Disease Control

Costs of Gun Violence

  • Gun violence impacts society in many ways: medical costs, costs of the criminal justice system, security precautions such as metal detectors, and reductions in the quality of life because of fear of gun violence.
  • U.S. lifetime medical costs for gunshot injuries total an estimated $2.3 billion
  • U.S. taxpayers pay for almost half ($1.1 billion or 49%) of lifetime medical costs for gunshot injuries!

Guns Recovered from Crime

  • Only 1% of gun dealers account for almost 60% of crime guns recovered by police and later traced
  • In one year, at least 30,000 guns were “lost” out of gun dealers inventories!
  • Guns with a short “time to crime” are disproportionately represented among crime guns.  Guns manufactured and sold 3 years or less, prior to recovery by police in crime make up 34 % of recovered and traced crime guns, but only 14% of the US gun stock.
  • Guns sold as part of a multiple sale at a gun dealer were up to 64% more likely to be used in a crime than guns not part of such sales.
  • “No background check” sales account for an estimated 40% of gun sales in the U.S.!

Sources: ATF (2000); Brady Center; National Institute of Justice (1993, 2007); Police Foundation (1997)

Distance From Legal Point of Purchase to Crime Recovery:

  Within 10 miles More than 100 miles
Philadelphia 61.2% 18.1%
Pittsburgh 62.9% 12.6%
Newark 9.1% 81.5%
New York City 4.4% 83%

Source:  Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)

Percent of Recovered Crime Guns First Legally Purchased In-State:

Pennsylvania:  78%

New Jersey:  27%  (18% from PA)

New York:  28%

Source:  Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)

Some Interesting Poll Data

77% of NRA members favor a waiting period for purchase of a handgun

82% of American support limiting the sales of military-style assault weapons

94% of police chiefs favor requiring a background check for all handgun sales.

Support for background checks on private gun sales, including gun shows:

  • 87% of Americans overall
  • 83% of gun owners
  • 69% of NRA gun-owners

Support for limiting handgun sales to one per person per month:

  • 65% of Americans
  • 59% of gun owners

Support for registration of handguns

  • 79% of Americans
  • 69% of police chiefs
  • 61% of gun owners
  • 59% of NRA members

Sources: CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll (2008); Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research (2008); Mayors Against Illegal Guns (2009); National Opinion research Center (2003); American Journal of Preventative Medicine (2006); Violence & Victims(1993)

Copyright © 2010 Heeding God’s Call • 267-519-5302 •

There are only two major federal laws that regulate firearm ownership and sales. The National Firearms Act of 1934 restricts civilians from owning automatic weapons, short-barreled shotguns, hand grenades, and other powerful arms. The Gun Control Act of 1968 focuses on commerce. It prohibits mail-order sales of weapons, and requires anyone in the business of selling guns to be federally licensed and keep permanent sales records. It also prohibits knowingly selling a gun to those with prior criminal records, minors, individuals with mental health problems, and a few other categories of people.

The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 requires licensed gun dealers to perform background checks. Background checks are not required for private gun sales (though, as mentioned above, it’s still a crime to knowingly sell a gun to someone with a criminal record). To ensure privacy, Section 103(i) of the Act prevents the Federal government from keeping the names submitted for background checks, or using this information to create any sort of registry of gun owners.

From 1994 to 2004, the Federal Assault Weapons Ban prohibited the sale and manufacture of semi-automatic weapons (in which each pull of the trigger fires one shot) with various military features such as large-capacity magazines and pistol grips. It was still legal to keep previously owned weapons. The law expired in 2004 due to a built-in “sunset” clause.

These federal laws do set minimum basic standards, and many states have also passed various types of gun laws. These laws decide which weapons are legal to own, and also set standards on sales, background checks, storage, open and concealed carrying permits, and sentencing of gun-related crimes.
Fanatical and paranoid far-right extremists like the National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre tell us that the only protection against gun violence is more guns, suggesting that universal gun ownership is the only real protection one has against being fatally shot. Normal people who are in their right minds know full well how preposterous his suggestion is. Agauge of how wsildly off-base LaPierre is can be seen pn the far lower rates of gun deaths which occur in states which have very strict gun control measure, as well as the much lower rate of gun deaths which occur in foreign countries.  There, of course, RATIONAL, LEVEL-HEADED people who aren’t deathly afraid that their government will swoop down on them,  take their guns, and then imprison them don’t dominate their government the way paranoid crazies do here!

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March 21, 2013  By Jack Jodell.

We have received the devastating news from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that Senator Dianne Feinstein’s attempt to reinstitute a ban on private ownership of assault weapons with large magazine clips will not even be brought to the Senate floor. Worse yet, as of this writing, it appears that even the universal background check on sales of all guns from all sources may be doomed to failure as well. This is very sorry news for what is now becoming a very sorry country. Though an overwhelming majority of 92% of voters support these background checks and lesser majorities favor Sen. Feinstein’s bill, our cowardly, inept, and impotent Congress will simply not deliver what voters want and what this country sorely needs: gun control. It is no wonder that Congress has an abysmally low approval rating. Rather than delivering common sense legislation heavily favored by most, it has once again bowed to pressure from an extreme far right-wing minority (in this case, the executives of the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America).  It is appalling to think that Congress has knuckled under so easily to these extremists, especially since a majority of these groups’ members actually SUPPORT the protective measures in question! Clearly, deranged fanatics like the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre  and GOA’s H. L. (Bill) Richardson are dancing with glee over this latest development, and that spells bad news for more rational gun owners and non-gun owners everywhere! 

For paranoia reigns supreme at the top levels of those lobbying organizations. Both leaders and their boards see an imminent seizure of people’s guns by the federal government as a reality, which is patently insane and unrealistic! Both leaders view ANY attempt by the government to prevent ANYONE from owning his or her own gun of ANY kind, for ANY reason, as an infringement on the Second Amendment which they will not tolerate. So, they attempt to rally support for universal gun ownership by continually promoting anti-government fear campaigns, lying through their teeth all the way, by any means possible. That their beliefs have been opposed by nearly all police and mayors in the country, or that they have severely misinterpreted the Second Amendment, or that growing numbers of mass murders resulting in the unnecessary deaths of thousands of innocent people are occurring with increasing frequency doesn’t concern them in the least. They simply carry on with their relentless lie campaign as if they were actually telling the truth! And they threaten members of Congress with running well-funded primary opponents against them to ensure these Congresspersons’ loyalty on legislative matters. That is how they have successfully exerted a stranglehold over Washington for so many years, and it is totally deplorable.

I think with great sorrow, still, of the savage massacre of innocent children just before Christmas at Sandy Hook Elementary School last year, and I am saddened and greatly ashamed that their pointless deaths remain unavenged. I shudder with horror to think of what similar massacres will occur in the future, simply because our Congress failed to react appropriately to prevent them.


WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO ACHIEVE SENSIBLE GUN-CONTRL LEGISLATION? Will it take the violent death by gunfire of  Mr. LaPierre, Mr. Richardson, or innocent members of their families before they will finally see this matter correctly?

WHAT WILL IT TAKE, PEOPLE?                                

Posted in commentary, extremists, lobbyists, news, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


March 17, 2013  By Jack Jodell.

“The needs of the many far outweigh the wants of the few.”
- Star Trek’s Mr. Spock - 

Those words, so profound and eloquent even today, were first uttered by a fictional TV character on a popular series way back in the 1960s. I have always remembered and cherished them. They spoke and still speak volumes of truth.

We in the United States have always been taught – (brainwashed into believing?) – that our capitalist economic system is the fairest, most successful, most egalitarian, and most desirable system humankind has ever devised. Its spirit of liberty, competition, and unhindered personal incentive were the driving forces which would provide us all with great personal and material wealth, if only we would work hard enough, long enough, and were thrifty enough, to realize those aims. 

Events throughout the world over the past three decades have proven the fallacy of that supposition. Capitalists have embarked on policies of “free trade” and globalism, insisting that following them would be beneficial for everyone. Their definition of beneficial deserves close examination, for they have recklessly all but destroyed labor unions in the United States, and labor unions were the only effective means workers had to exert leverage in wage negotiations. Whereas important New Deal reforms not only leveled the economic playing field for more than 45 years and created the world’s strongest and most enviable middle class, today those gains by workers have largely disappeared. In their place has emerged a new super capitalism, where the greatest wealth disparity in the history of the country has come into effect. Among most workers, leisure time has become a f mere wistful memory, as continually rising prices and declining wages and benefits have made getting a second or even third job an absolute requirement. Outsourcing of good-paying American jobs to foreign slave-wage labor markets has had a disastrously crippling effect on once proud and strong American manufacturing. The huge drops in prices for consumer goods, and the creation of millions of  good-paying, new American jobs which “free trade” advocates assured us would be the end result of  globalization has simply not happened. Instead, millions of slave-wage jobs have been created in poorer countries while the overall American standard of living has actually dropped. The jobs created here were nearly all lower-paying jobs than those that were exported. Meanwhile, as worker productivity has risen dramatically and the cost of goods as well as the overall tax rate on the wealthy has dropped tremendously, the savings generated by these occurrences has been aggressively funneled upward, away from the poor, workers, and the middle class who comprise the MAJORITY 99%, and into the pockets of the filthy-richest 1%!

This is hardly broad-based economic progress – it is instead total economic regression! Even worse, this is NOT how capitalism is supposed to work!

In the idealized form of capitalism (something we do NOT see fully today), people can buy shares of stock in companies and receive dividend payments whenever the companies show a net profit. Buying stock gives these shareholders a say, at least theoretically, in the way the company is run and who its controlling officers will be. Periodic elections are held, and a set number of votes per share owned are awarded. The problem with this is that there are a great many small investors and only a few large investors. This guarantees dominance by the wealthiest stockholders who collectively own the greatest number of shares. The small investor has relatively insignificant power over the affairs of the company, and those who own no shares of its stock have no input whatsoever, even if the company is located in the same community and its business practices endanger the health and well-being of that community. Also, given today’s relatively higher prices and lowered wages, the majority of workers cannot afford to invest much income in stocks. This ensures that the will of the wealthy will always be met, many times at the expense of the small investor, and that small investors will never be given a fair shake.

In a great many other ways, the capitalist system is rigged to benefit the wealthiest members of society. The rich and their wealthy corporations have pooled their resources to hire powerful lobbying firms to represent their interests before the government. They have effectively bribed their way into near total control of all branches of government. They effectively own the Republican Party lock, stock, and barrel, and have steadily whittled down the once powerful and pro-labor Democratic Party into a meekly obedient, impotent non-entity. They have managed to shift the tax burden away from themselves and have placed it squarely on the shoulders of workers and all but the very poorest. Many have gamed the system to where many are able to escape paying any taxes at all, and have instead reaped huge financial rewards through the adoption of large subsidies given them by government! They have managed to infiltrate even the Supreme Court with their pro-corporate agenda. NONE of this has proven beneficial to the mass public in the least; only the wealthy, their corporations, and their government toadies have been beneficiaries of this nonsense.

It wasn’t always this way. Before Ronald Reagan brainwashed the country into believing that nearly all government regulation was evil and that government itself was a problem and not the friend and protector of the people back in the 1980s, things were far, FAR better for the overwhelming majority of the country and more egalitarian, too. Most of the wealthy were happy with their lot in life and accepted paying a higher tax rate on their income as a necessary duty and civic responsibility. They accepted the necessity of allowing lower-paid workers a voice in their economic affairs through allowing their labor unions to collectively bargain for better wages and working conditions for them. They never much cared for unions, but at least their recognized their right to exist. All of that changed with the conservative mudslide which hit Washington and ushered in Reagan. He almost single-handedly converted what had once been the WE generation into a much more selfish, greedy, and short-sighted ME generation. Reagan’s appeal to the country’s baser, more self-centered instincts has proven to be an absolute disaster for all but the very rich and powerful. It has shifted our entire political spectrum, both parties included, far to the right of where they had once been. It indirectly led to the Great Recession of 2008 and the emergence of the reactionary, hatred and crackpot-driven Tea Party as dominant infesters of the once great liberal party of Abraham Lincoln. It has led to renewed calls for the complete dismantling of the great social programs of the New Deal and the Great Society, and to effectively roll the country back socially and economically to where it had been in the 1890s.

This, my fellow citizens, is what unbridled capitalism has done to our country. It has corrupted our government and has created wholly unnecessary stress for all but a very small few of the economic elites who actually control it. It is not of, for, and by the people – only SOME of the people; a very tiny few. It has grown from a driving, incentive-producing force into a conquering, evil malignancy which threatens to destroy our way of life. It claims to espouse freedom, but in reality is anti-democratic and all-devouring in nature.

Capitalism now creates misery instead of wealth!                                                                  

Posted in "free market" economics, capitalism, commentary, conservative Republicans, corporate greed, Democratic Party, economics, Politics, reactionary Republicans, regulation, Tea Party, Tea Party-infested reactionary Republicans, the 1%, THE MAJORITY 99%, wealth disparity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments