The price we pay for freedom

You know, people say stupid things. It happens frequently. Many folks on social media are ready to attack those who tweet, text or talk Second Amendment smack after a mass shooting, and so today’s coverage begins.

Late last year, Tennessee Representative Andy Ogles sent out a holiday card with his entire family holding guns. The caption read, “The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference — they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.” When asked about that photo in light of three kids and three adults being gunned down in a school in his city, he refused to apologize for his tasteless holiday P.R. Why? Perhaps he fears an expression of sorrow and grief would expose him to be less than the manly man he conjures for his brand and image.

Oh, Ogles did say he was, “devastated by the tragedy,” but like 99% of the Republicans in office, he will do absolutely nothing to protect the rights of “life, liberty and happiness” of the very people he represents, but he’s only one of many misguided guys who believe a gun is part of the “American dream.”

Tennessee Representative Andy Ogles

Another trope that rolls out of the mouths of the protectors of the amendment they like is a notion that mass shootings demonstrate that “freedom is not free,” and when people die at the hands of a lunatic it’s simply “the cost of freedom.” I find myself screaming that sounds exactly like a notorious domestic terrorist, Timothy McVie, who was put to death by the state.

On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVie planted a bomb at the Oklahoma City Federal Building and killed more than 168 people, including nineteen children. When asked about the kids lost in his retribution for the Waco siege two years before, McVie uttered the immortal line, “They were just collateral damage.” Now, we have far-right members of Congress blaming the Nashville shooting on transexual procedures and illicit drugs, ignoring the real problem. The alleged shooter was being treated for a mental disorder.

There was no law in Oklahoma that prevented anyone from buying enormous amounts of the fertilizer McVie needed for his bomb, and obviously there are no red flag laws in Tennessee that would have prevented the shooter from legally buying seven guns. Audrey Hale’s parents didn’t think she should own guns, but she was a 28-year-old adult who could own as many guns as she wanted.

Tim Burchett, another braindead Congressman from Tennessee, declared, “We’re not gonna fix school shootings.” He even went so far to say that he doesn’t think the government has a role to play in stopping mass shootings. This guy, along with Andy Ogles, should be thrown out of Congress. If they cannot even believe a solution is feasible then they are part of THE PROBLEM.

Intellectually, I don’t care if you own one or four hundred guns, but if the purpose of your weaponry is casting fear over the neighborhood, you are misguided. If your reason for ownership is sport and hunting, I must ask what happened to using a rifle to bring down a deer or bird? Why would you destroy the very meat that is the object of your quest? Most police departments don’t have the firepower of their local gun clubs but, when protecting blue lives, pro-gun fans never seem to remember that cops are often outgunned by those with the automatic weaponry that Democrats want to ban.

Maybe I am naïve about the protection aspect of having weapons in the home. I get that you want to protect your family, but protect them from what? If an average gun lunatic wanted to off your whole family, all they would need is a loaded AR-15 and you would be helpless with your little 9mm handgun. It’s just a teddy bear for a nervous person, bringing comfort but no real protection.

Another aspect of our ongoing struggle with the plague of lunatic shooters is this concept of congratulating the police on how fast they responded. That’s all well and good, but in the end it’s not the quick response to the 911 call but the lack of concern about mental health challenges, red flags laws and dismal gun ownership record keeping. We truly have no idea about who owns guns and how many. Maybe we just don’t care.

A workable system would be national gun registration and a database entry required for weapon merchants and accessible by law enforcement. We need to keep an eye on those who buy “too many” guns or “too much” ammunition and messages posted on social media presenting clues to a crazy person’s intent. Yell to the ACLU all you like, but the print clearly states, “a well-regulated militia.”

Let me get real here. When dishonest politicians, TV talking heads and far-right scum on the internet claim the ravaged, dead bodies of nine-year-old children is just “collateral damage” or the “price of freedom,” I want to screech, “If you cannot do something to protect our children and make America better then SHUT UP!

I don’t care if you are a Republican or Democrat, if you don’t do something about this crisis you will go to hell. According to Axios, “At least 57 people have died in 38 mass shootings in the US this month alone, with another 133 injured.” With seven hundred people taken from the earth each year by senseless mass shootings, we must address it. We first must admit it happened, then agree it’s a scourge and decide what we will do to prevent it. If not, we are not much more advanced than Neanderthals, who didn’t have guns.

Security at every door, metal detectors, teachers with guns, students with guns, more resource officers, more weapons, more religious resistance to a Second Amendment update will only kill more. We are at the tipping point and maybe it’s too late. It’s certainly too late for the 57 people who were taken from us this month by firepower, but it’s not too late to take back some guns, limit who can own them and convince America that inaction by those in power is careless, reckless and intentional disregard. In a court of law that’s called “negligence.”


Tattoo Detective: Our Last Hope for the Future

Imagine being able to time travel into the unknown. TATTOO DETECTIVE: Our Last Hope for the Future is a science fiction novel examining the world after all the guardrails of normal society have been dissolved.

The story follows two American tattoo detectives who are sent on a mission that changes them and their world. This dystopic look at the United States and the flaw in humankind is not a Pollyanna prognostication, it’s fundamentally close to our current reality and could be predictive of where we are headed. The opening chapter says it best, “…we could have done something, but we fell madly in love with technology, weapons and wealth.”  For purchase or dowload, go here. Check out our author page on Amazon.


The death of diversity and equality

George Orwell finished authoring his classic novel 1984 in the year 1948. Orwell was a British writer who composed lucid prose with a tinge of social criticism, professing strong opposition to totalitarianism while supporting democratic socialism. In the grand scheme of things, he was the man with a bright lantern showing us the future. In his book Animal Farm, Orwell pointed out, “The animals conspire to take control of their farm from humans, establishing ‘Animalist’ commandments to prevent the reproduction of the oppressive behavior of humans.”

There you have a not-so-subtle slash at the dictators, demigods and douche bags with narcissistic personality disorders. They desire to control those they believe are “less superior,” viewing them as sinners, seditionists and suckers. If you just believe what they believe and give them the power to manipulate things their way, life will be much better… for them.

Florida is the frontline of the culture wars because there are no checks and balances on the power of one man, the governor. This will surely spread, and there are those who will conspire to take control of their farms, their schools and their cultures and create a great crevasse between those who agree and those who pray to the god of critical thinking and logic.

I had the pleasure of watching the Netflix movie The Wonder, a story about a small village in Ireland that bought into the myth of a young girl being the vehicle of a higher power because she didn’t have to eat. The city leaders, doctors and priests thought this was good for their community and could put the small town on the map. A nurse visiting from London observed the girl to determine the truth. With all the town folk captivated by the illusion, the nurse broke the news to the men who ran the small town that their little angel was only human and must eat to stay alive. The metaphor from this movie is clear; men, religion, power and misguided beliefs of the parents were more important than facts and safety. In this case, a young girl’s life was at stake.

I was struck by one person’s statement in the Florida school board wars, “The schoolboard doesn’t own the kids, the parents do.” Oh really, mothers and fathers “own” their kids? Well, morally, ethically and legally, parents don’t own their kids. Caretakers have a responsibility to keep those kids safe, I get that, but their power stops at the first step of the Constitution.

In the 1969 landmark case, Tinker v. Des Moines, on students’ rights to free speech in public schools, the Supreme Court ruled (7 to 2) that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” So, the idea that a schoolboard can stop any student from expressing themselves goes against the ruling and spirit of free speech. As a student I should be able to declare my personal gender, discuss matters of diversity and equality and doubt whatever so-called “fact” is thrown in their face regardless of whether I am gay, straight, or trans. It’s called education, not indoctrination.

When the far-right claims being around someone different from themselves will somehow force them to adopt that different person’s personal persuasion, they demonstrate a lack of understanding of the power of the human mind. People do only what they want, and even if they are told what they are doing may harm themselves or others, they often continue. Think about all the public service announcements stressing how smoking increases the chance for cancer, yet people keep smoking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30.8 million Americans still smoke cigarettes while 480,000 folks die each year from ailments and diseases caused by cigarettes and smoking. Some of these smokers scream at school board meetings about how the teachers are grooming their kids, while their children are ingesting second hand smoke every day at home. Even worse, some kids will be inspired to adopt their parent’s harmful addiction.

Bridget Ziegler from TheDreamWindow.com

Governor Ron DeSantis appointed Brenda Ziegler as the Chairperson of the Sarasota School Board to rid that body of anyone who disagreed with his draconian laws, policies and prejudices. DeSantis is clearly homophobic, and the equally tainted chairperson was quoted as saying, “homosexuality is evil.” Now on the board, she claims “…there was a toxic culture within the School Board.” Ziegler underscored the unwillingness of some members to respect those with opposing views, but when the chairperson allows a speaker to harass the one member of the board who is openly gay, her lack of regulating hate speech in the chamber is allowing that “toxic culture” to grow. BRENDA ZIEGLER is the problem.

On March 15th of this year, I picked up my daily local paper and read the headline, “Bill prohibits diversity, equality and inclusion on campuses.” I wondered if the headline was an Onion comedy bit, asking myself, “Jeez, what country am I living in?” Shortly after that, one of the most liberal state funded universities fired all the people who worked in their diversity office. In the myopic view of Chief Justice Roberts, we don’t need a law to protect the voting rights of minorities and the disenfranchised, yet the white, mostly male rulers of the land have decided they will control a woman’s body and they will control the speech of students and teachers. Instead of promoting freedom they are prohibiting it.

Ron DeSantis is not the only problem in America. There are at least a dozen ideologs in state governors’ offices who are attempting to roll out restrictions for gays and trans people, while not so secretly censoring the rights of African Americans by banning books and thwarting discussions of slavery and the civil war. When they say they are protecting the feelings of the students, they are really saying, “we need to make sure white students are not burdened with the guilt that comes out of slavery.” REALLY?

This just in from the Washington Post, “Transgender Americans experience stigma and systemic inequality in many aspects of their lives, including education, work and health-care access, a wide-ranging Washington Post-KFF poll finds.” So, it’s only the “normal” kids who get rights. The animals on the farm want to dehumanize the herd.

Donald Trump may have given people the courage to be bigots and total assholes in public, but it’s time to stop the wannabes and dolts who think the Trump playbook is necessary for a more perfect union. They are wrong.

And now, the Governor and the cult in the Florida legislature want to make the “Don’t say Gay” law apply from kindergarten through senior year. If a teacher discusses gender or being gay with their students they can be criminally prosecuted. The fire has been started but the firemen and women are not answering the alarm bell. They are ignoring a danger which has a serious potential to melt our freedoms away. And I have to ask, “Why? Why? Why?”




Tattoo Detective: Our Last Hope for the Future

Imagine being able to time travel into the unknown. TATTOO DETECTIVE: Our Last Hope for the Future is a science fiction novel examining the world after all the guardrails of normal society have been dissolved.

The story follows two American tattoo detectives who are sent on a mission that changes them and their world. This dystopic look at the United States and the flaw in humankind is not a Pollyanna prognostication, it’s fundamentally close to our current reality and could be predictive of where we are headed. The opening chapter says it best, “…we could have done something, but we fell madly in love with technology, weapons and wealth.”  For purchase or dowload, go here. Check out our author page on Amazon.


Homophobia, Racism and Republicans

The battle lines have been drawn and it’s not a pretty sight. The war has begun and will be worsened by the upcoming 2024 election. Each candidate will be asked, and must be ready to say, where they stand on every issue.

A good starting point for today’s post will be the definition of a culture war. It’s a conflict between liberal and conservative groups with diverse cultural ideals, beliefs or philosophies. The personal principles of citizens have always been a profound aspect of American life, but we are now getting into trouble as politicians and “citizen zealots” try to control or manipulate what we feel.

For example, I am a Floridian and it’s possible that one or more of my convictions could be illegal where I live. REALLY! Unfortunately, our overzealous governor believes his moral core is the one all residents of the state should adopt, and Ron DeSantis will use his power, even if unconstitutional, to herd people into his dogma. He’s been arresting, firing and removing anyone who disagrees with him in the slightest, using the arcane stance that “you are either with me or against me.”

The battle cries of the Republican bottom feeders are focused on education, gender identification, freedom of speech, dissent, protest and political affiliations or philosophies. The added fuel is a disdain for the press and disregard of the First Amendment.

DeSantis Harassing Kids at Presser

Ron DeSantis has made NO effort to engage, canvas or consult those citizens who do not completely agree with him. The man’s administration has total control and power over the state lawmakers, and his vindictiveness has pushed Democrats, most who deeply dislike Florida’s governor, further and further away.

This culture war in Florida is a test run for what DeSantis would probably do with the entire country if he ever becomes president. This should disturb anyone who cares about democracy and America’s role of being the “light on the hill” President Ronald Reagan referred to in his speeches.

We can break down the danger points in several key areas. First, homosexuality is a broad target with branch objectives against trans kids or those who may be suffering from gender dysphoria, which is a term describing the sense of unease caused by a mismatch between one’s biological sex and their gender identity. This dissatisfaction can be intense, leading to depression and anxiety with a harmful impact on daily life. It’s a medical condition, not a political affiliation.

The Florida bathroom controversies could have been solved by installing non-gender specific restrooms in public places, instead the state decided to magnify the problem. It didn’t take long before protective parents and religious evangelists protested by screaming, yelling and disrupting school board meetings. This led the state to take a firm stance against gay and trans kids. Florida claimed they were protecting the children, but they are clearly hurting a certain class of students by belittling them and putting them down. Their actions and laws are saying, “you are not equal.”

This gave the Governor a chance to enact what was loving referred to as the “Don’t say gay” law. DeSantis argued that the act doesn’t contain those words, but any kindergarten to fourth grade teacher can be fired, prosecuted and ruined if they even mention gender in the classroom. I guess a gay teacher will have to remove the classroom picture of his or her family because it doesn’t fit the law’s description of what is NORMAL.

Many well-trained journalists asked the governor to explain the law, but he used that opportunity to launch a concerted tirade against the press. One exchange with a CNN reporter exposed the governor as a bully and malcontent with no desire to set the record straight. He would rather brush off the press and move on. He’s the least cooperative and transparent governor I’ve ever seen.

Then we have those right-wing fanatics who continuously complain about cancel culture, a destructive campaign that hurts people. They use the First Amendment to claim their “side” is not being properly quoted but make no attempt to actually define their aims and attitudes. Their sharp, anti-media comments not only help cast themselves as martyrs but also lower the credibility of those who disagree with the demigod.

Ron DeSantis learned bullying and harassing from former president Donald Trump. The forty-fifth president used an old autocratic trope by referring to the press as “the enemy of the people” The constant berating of journalists is now a MAGA-Republican sport, played by weak and insecure rulers.


One of the most recent proposals in Florida is a law that would fine bloggers who refuse to disclose their sources of information or financial arrangements. This blatant desire to control and censor content creators is highly unamerican and unconstitutional. As a blogger, I would like to send this succinct response to our governor, “GO FUCK YOURSELF!”

From John Oliver, HBO, and CNN

Plain old racism was allowed to stew in our great melting pot before Critical Race Theory (CRT) became white America’s whipping boy at school boards across the South. Most conservative states have now outlawed the teaching of CRT, a cross-disciplinary examination of the way laws, political movements and media shape and are shaped by concepts of race and ethnicity. CRT is taught in some universities, but this curriculum has never been taught in American public schools. This imaginary boogeyman has been quite useful to Republican politicians who use Black history to frighten and manipulate parents. The most appalling aspect of the bans against CRT is promotion of the belief that we must protect the feelings of white students by ignoring the Civil War and history of slavery, in essence it’s a whitewashing of American history.

School curriculums should be based on facts and educational goals, not political authority. When recently appointed schoolboard members openly say that “homosexuality is evil” and express a desire to cleanse the world of people who don’t agree with them is proof that we are in deep trouble. As a writer, I am deeply saddened and angered by the banning and removing of books from public libraries. SHAME ON YOU!

In reality, Ron’s targeted swipes at freedom are directed to a small, vocal percentage of lunatics in the Republican party. His sinister goal is to occupy the White House and change America by throwing out the notion of all men being equal, the foundation of our democracy. If you support a system of government with one person having absolute power, then you are a traitor to American values. No one has come right out and said it, but when Ron DeSantis appoints and anoints those who want to eliminate diversity and equality studies, we are in real trouble. The man must be stopped.