Iowa Town Says No to Koch Brothers Influence on Local Elections (November 4, 2013)

Koch Brothers

If 2013’s utterly wacky political developments have taught us anything, it’s that lasting democratic change is not going to trickle from the top down. The corruption of money-infused election and issues campaigns that never rest, the partisan gridlock that seems hopelessly entrenched in the House as a result of gerrymandering and the growing mistrust on the part of the American public (more than justified) is enough to engender forlorn feelings at the national level.

To offer an analogy, I find myself repeatedly returning to the behavior of the job market since the 2008 inception of the Great Recession. The simultaneous collapse of the stock and housing markets led to decreased consumer demand, which resulted in mass layoffs. An increase in the number of unemployed Americans further reduced spending capital, thus more layoffs. Though the stimulus package passed early in the President’s first term staunched a lot of the bleeding, we have yet to recover from those enormous job losses and if Republican policy continues to have sway (or the G.O.P continues to plant its collective feet and refuse to budge to help the country), we may still be years away from returning to pre-recession employment numbers.

And this pattern relates similarly to our country’s broken political discourse. The increasingly unproductive, shrill nature of the nation’s legislative branch is yielding a collective estrangement between elected “leaders” and the constituents they are purported to serve. The cynically-minded among us (count me a member of this group) might argue that populist disengagement is one of the explicit goals of some of the more nefarious lobbying groups, who may find it easier to sneak democratically harmful legislation through the back door when no one is looking.

Though it can certainly be argued that the movement toward complete inertia and recklessness at the Federal level has been decades in the making, the situation certainly escalated with the ascension of the Tea Party and its moneyed financial backers. And it’s very possible that no duo has prompted the Tea Party faction to wreak its irresponsible government havoc more than the Koch brothers. The brothers Koch have shielded their patently unpatriotic activities behind the ironically named group, Americans for Prosperity. It has been clear for sometime now that the “prosperity” this concerned body favors begins and ends with corporations, and the top one percent of the nation’s wealth holders.

But while Team Koch has a virtual stranglehold on Washington Republicans, Americans for Prosperity is finding it a bit harder to ram its agenda down the throats of voters at the local level – folks who have suffered in real time at the hands of a low tax, low personal freedom (for minorities, women and the gay community), low job creation agenda.

Monday morning’s edition of The New York Times carried a feature story entitled, Koch Group Has Ambitions in Small Races. At first glance this is a rather dispiriting headline. But a closer read carries a beacon of hope for those wondering when the predatory siblings might get their comeuppance. Writer John Eligon takes a look at the coming local elections in Coralville, Iowa, where voters are preparing to select their next Mayor and City Council members.

It seems Americans for Prosperity has been everywhere. Eligon writes that the group’s local chapter, “has jumped into the race…with an aggressive campaign, mailing fliers, advertising in newspapers, calling voters and knocking on their doors. Its latest leaflet hit mailboxes last week, denouncing the town’s growing debt and comparing it to the financial woes of Detroit.”

Marvelously, it seems Iowans have been largely unmoved by these efforts, to such a degree that they are turning from candidates who appear affiliated with the propaganda. Eligon continues, “Chris Turner, a first-time candidate for the City Council who has spoken out against the debt, said that although he disagreed with Americans for Prosperity on most issues, he could not seem to catch a break because his campaign platform aligns with the organization.

‘Every time I go to a debate or anything, I’ve tried talking about the budget, and then they just go, ‘Koch brothers, Koch brothers, Koch brothers,’ he said of his critics, adding that he wished Americans for Prosperity ‘would just go away.’”

While many more such repudiations of the Kochs’ expensive, undermining tactics will be needed before we can classify the local revolt as a full-fledged movement, this is highly encouraging. The thing about trends is that they can always be reversed. If Americans for Prosperity continues to repulse savvy municipal voters who know they are being had, that we can’t cut our way back to a thriving middle class, candidates will stop accepting Koch money and support. And then just maybe Chris Turner will get his wish and Americans for Prosperity will go away, taking their benefactors with them.

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In Run-up to 2016, Chris Christie Finds Himself Alone in the Center Right (October 22, 2013)

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In evaluating Chris Christie’s leadership record as the Republican Governor of New Jersey, there are plenty of reasons for the moderate or liberal voter to be concerned. Christie took the oath of office on January 19, 2010 and initially offered a rather tired retread of the same G.O.P policies that have been called into question for decades: an across the board 10 percent state income tax cut, opposition to same sex marriage and the defeat of the Hudson River Tunnel Project.  The infrastructure initiative would have doubled the rail capacity for Jersey commuters traveling to New York City, and Christie killed the project according to NJ.com “even as Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was urging him from behind the scenes not to pull the plug before the two had a chance to discuss the matter, according to officials in the office of U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).”

All that said, there is good cause to believe that Christie feels no need to submit to the “true conservative” litmus tests which pandering former moderates such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell routinely and disingenuously undergo. By the “white, straight male is right” standards of his party mates, Christie’s appointments of the openly gay Bruce Harris, and several Asian Americans, to the New Jersey Supreme Court were a breath of fresh, modern air.

On January 2 of this year, Christie openly and savagely criticized Congress’s postponement of a Hurricane Sandy disaster relief bill as “selfishness and duplicity” that was “disgusting to watch.” Most pointedly and grievously in terms of his party standing, the Governor claimed there was “only one group to blame, the Republican Party and Speaker Boehner.” Insult to injury as far as the G.O.P. was concerned after this photo of “The Hug,” a rare moment of emotional bipartisanship between a Republican leader and President Obama.

Two months ago, Christie signed a bill outlawing gay conversion therapy in children, making New Jersey the second state to implement such a law. While this may sound like average, tolerant and compassionate good sense, bear in mind that the party lags far behind the American people when it comes to the recognition of equality for all. Consider the loathsome “pray away the gay” clinics once operated by Marcus Bachmann, husband of Tea Party standard bearer, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.

Christie is far from perfect. His temper is legendary, and in 1996, the Governor switched from a pro-choice to a pro-life viewpoint, a move widely seen as base pandering rather than authentic change of heart. However, Christie is not the first politician from either party to adapt his platform to his public (see Obama’s often frustrating “evolution” on LGBT equality questions). By and large, the burly boss appears real and unscripted in an age of kowtowing and carefully scripted sound bites.

Early into the week, Christie once again finds himself on the wrong side of Republican party doctrine. The New York Timespublished a story on Monday by writer Marc Santora with the title, Christie Withdraws Appeal of Same-Sex Marriage Ruling in New Jersey. Although the Governor’s team was clear that the withdrawal should not be taken as support of the state’s Supreme Court ruling that hurdles to equality must be immediately and finitely removed, Christie breeches again with the right wing by embracing common sense. He will not continue to waste time and taxpayer money on a battle he can’t win. “‘Although the governor strongly disagrees with the court substituting its judgment for the constitutional process of the elected branches or a vote of the people, the court has now spoken clearly as to their view of the New Jersey Constitution and, therefore, same-sex marriage is the law,’ Mr. Christie’s administration said in a statement. ‘The governor will do his constitutional duty and ensure his administration enforces the law as dictated by the New Jersey Supreme Court.’”

At the risk of giving the Governor too much credit for simply refusing to take up residence in despotic Fantasyland, I find myself relishing a good 2016 Presidential contest in the event that Christie is able to overcome his party’s primary season extremism. One can always hope that conservative voters will come to see the merits of nominating someone who might actually, you know, win a general election. I’m unlikely to cast a ballot for Christie myself, especially if Hillary Clinton makes a formal decision to run, but it would be awfully nice to be able to summon some respect for the opposition. It’s been too long.

Republicans To Big Business: Guess What? We Don’t Care What You Want (October 14, 2013)

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I don’t often say this in print so my detractors should enjoy the novelty. I was wrong. Granted, I have been in error at several intervals when I believed that Tea Party Republicans, no matter how fervent and misguided their messages, were ultimately Americans first. There’s no way they’d take us close to the brink during the 2011 debt ceiling crisis, causing our nation’s credit rating to be downgraded for the  first time since those stats were recorded, right?

Once Obama roundly won re-election in November 2012 and after Obamacare became the law of the land, they’d come to accept this as reality and move onto another target? Anyone? Anyone?

But most assuredly I had been led to believe that no matter what intransigent, batty opposition this faction of the G.O.P. had to all things POTUS supported, there was still one group’s authority that brooked no opposition. I speak of course of Big Business, that bastion of free market, deregulated “freedom” that these Tea Party patriots seem to value above all things, starting with the fabric of the social safety net.

It isn’t very often that the views and interests of compassionate liberals and sterile, bottom-line driven business leaders intertwine, but these my friends, are unusual times. Thus we encounter headlines such as Business Groups See Loss of Sway Over House G.O.P. in last week’s New York Times. The piece, from writers Eric Lipton, Nicholas Confessore and Nelson D. Schwartz, opens with the following:

“As the government shutdown grinds toward a potential debt default, some of the country’s most influential business executives have come to a conclusion all but unthinkable a few years ago: Their voices are carrying little weight with the House majority that their millions of dollars in campaign contributions helped build and sustain.”

Realizing that they are part and parcel of the tools used to build the 21st Century edition of Frankenstein’s Monster, the story goes on to observe:

“Their frustration has grown so intense in recent days that several trade association officials warned in interviews on Wednesday that they were considering helping wage primary campaigns against Republican lawmakers who had worked to engineer the political standoff in Washington. ”

Well that is certainly a seismic shift in attitude toward the years of dollar-funneling in support of political campaigns, representing the most conservative “lawmakers.” But I suppose even entities with interests that run counter to the health of the American worker see this indefensible legislative squatting for what it really is: a threat to the collective livelihood of everyone. How democratic.

The Times piece, however, was written a week ago. Since then Republican leaders have flirted with the possibility of a reasonable, balanced solution to the government shutdown/debt ceiling standoff. At the moment when a weekend compromise finally seemed possible, they then pulled the football away, Lucy-style, just as a tentative Democratic caucus (definitely the Charlie Brown of this analogy) was ready to kick it.  What was the result?

Writers Annie Lowrey and Nathaniel Popper write a fresh Timespiece, World Leaders Press the U.S. on Fiscal Crisis that widens the net of recorded business community frustration. It represents an area no smaller than, you know, the entire planet.  The article begins:

“Leaders at World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings on Sunday pleaded, warned and cajoled: the United States must raise its debt ceiling and reopen its government or risk ‘massive disruption the world over,’ as Christine Lagarde, the fund’s managing director, put it.”

Let it never be said that the IMF, former superfans of austerity, are in the pocket of liberal, Keynesian economists like Paul Krugman.

But here’s my favorite section of the Lowrey and Popper piece:

“Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, painted a bleak picture of the days ahead if there is no resolution. ‘As you get closer to it, the panic will set in and something will happen,’ Mr. Dimon said …’I don’t personally know when that problem starts.’ He added that JPMorgan had been ‘spending huge amounts of time and money and effort to be prepared.’”

People, when the pleas of the vaunted Jamie Dimon, Wall Street kingpin and “London Whale” trading loss shepherd, go unheeded, we have entered a new era.

An era when a small minority of terrorists (I care not that Democratic leaders have tried to soften their language. It’s getting them nowhere.) stand for nothing, care for no one, above and beyond getting their own way. I’m not sure people on the right know what that even means anymore. Is there anyone left who can articulate and defend the maneuvers of these crackpots?

The business community has finally gotten hip: you were pawns. Pawns with a lot of money. The Tea Party intends to bring you down along with the rest of us. Smoke ’em if you got ’em.

Are Moderate Republicans Ready to Revolt Against G.O.P. Leadership? (October 8, 2013)

Peter King

Despite a strong aversion to anyone who brands themselves a conservative in 2013, I am really starting to like New York House Republican Peter King (not to be confused with “cantaloupe calf” idiot Steve King). King apparently has no qualms at all about refuting the claims of his party’s leadership in the interest of common sense. Despite endless G.O.P attempts to brand the current government shutdown as a development of Democratic choice, King will have none of it.

See King go toe to toe with Fox News host Chris Wallace this weekend, reminding the disingenuous network that Republicans “are the ones who shut down the government.” Listen to him blame treasonous Senator Ted Cruz for foisting a “strategy doomed to failure” on House lemmings. My enthusiasm is tempered of course by the fact that King has yet to agree to join Democrats in bringing up a clean continuing resolution for a House floor vote, but I wonder how long he can hold out. New York State is definitely not Tea Party territory, and for every safe and cozy gerrymandered Representative, there is a swing state House member that has to worry about his or her position in 2014.

There are other signs that the once quiet Republican moderate voice is converting to a dull roar. One of the lead stories featured in the New York Times this week, A G.O.P. Moderate in the Middle … of a Jam, evaluates the plight of Representative Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania. Dent, who occupies the seat once held by unyielding conservative Senator Patrick J. Toomey, has demonstrated real leadership throughout this crisis. Last week he did the Tea Party unthinkable. Partnering with Democratic Representative Ron Kind of Wisconsin, Dent rolled out a bill that would reopen the government with six months of spending. The proposal included a repeal of the ACA medical device tax but stopped far, far short of demanding the defund or repeal of the Obamacare horse that has already left the barn.

Then we have sometimes maverick Arizona Senator John McCain, who was ahead of the curve in March of this year when he labeled Cruz and fellow GOP obstructionist Rand Paul (among others) a crew of “wacko birds.”

Granted, these are just three voices and I join the chorus of many pundits at both ends of the political spectrum who assert that G.O.P. leadership owns much of the blame for this sorry state of affairs. By allowing themselves to be shoved so far to the right that the party is now hanging onto relevancy by the thinnest of threads, they exposed the entire country to the empowered bullying of extremists. But if there is any good to come from the shutdown and impending debt ceiling battle (and granted, it is precious little), I suspect that a coalition of humiliated Republican lawmakers are about to go all Farrah Fawcett from The Burning Bed on their cohorts.

Politico writer Manu Raju published a story last week about the party’s growing disenchantment, with Ted Cruz and his kamikaze tactics. “At a closed-door lunch meeting in the Senate’s Mansfield Room, Republican after Republican pressed Cruz to explain how he would propose to end the bitter budget impasse with Democrats, according to senators who attended the meeting. A defensive Cruz had no clear plan to force an end to the shutdown — or explain how he would defund Obamacare, as he has demanded all along, sources said.”

I know most of us are thinking, “Yeah, let me know when they start piling on Cruz in OPEN door meetings.” But as disapproval of Republican shutdown tactics surges to 70 percent and the stalemate continues with no end in sight, the dwindling caucus of sane G.O.P. leadership is bound to revolt. After all, 21stCentury politics is all about the election cycle and dominating the news of the day. And with millions of workers displaced by the shutdown across party lines, with government tasks piling upand with mounting evidence that red states are faring worst of all in the stalemate, it won’t be long before high profile Republicans decided they’d like to try to keep their jobs, even as party mates cost taxpayers theirs.

Democrats Have to Hang Tough for the Future of Government and Our Children (October 3, 2013)

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The three most important children in my life are my 13 and six year-old nieces, and a four year-old step-granddaughter. Since President Obama’s election to the nation’s highest office in November of 2008, I have given a lot of thought to how I might try to explain the rapid disintegration of the nation’s political discourse. A good portion of the gridlock is certainly old-fashioned ideological difference, but it has been clear for years that other forces are at play. As these girls I love are of mixed race heritage, and all growing up in ethnically diverse households, tolerance is fortunately, their experiential norm.

So trying to account for the rancorous, divisive dogmatism and xenophobia (let us never forget that the Tea Party Nation was a key influence on the Birther movement) that has presently brought the daily functions of government to a screeching halt is somewhat challenging. It is incredibly disheartening and frustrating on a personal level, but I grew up in an era (the 1980s) where my conservative, immigrant grandparents comfortably trafficked in ethnic stereotypes and epithets, even as my kid sister and I cringed in embarrassment.

The next generation of our family is rather blissfully unaware that it was once considered socially acceptable to draw attention to, and pass judgment upon “otherness.” There will always be unfortunate exceptions, but by and large, day-to-day interactions in their world are characterized by public courtesy, regardless of privately held beliefs. The common American has taken a great public leap forward in this respect.

So how to clarify the feral, mean-spirited and utterly defeatist Republican goal of rendering the POTUS a one-term President? Just two days after the 2010 midterm elections, NBC News characterized Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as offering “an aggressive assessment of the results, calling for votes to erode the reach of the health care law that was a signature of the Obama administration.”

The Birthers, Obamacare opponents and the Republican establishment which sought to unseat the President in 2012 with the boring, one percent loving candidacy of Mitt Romney, have all lost their causes. These issues have been dealt with at the ballot box, the Supreme Court and the court of public opinion, yet so great is the distaste for our African-American President with the Muslim name on the part of certain members of privileged white society, that here we are. The first large scale shutdown of government functionality since 1995. At that time the Republican-led House, under the stewardship of Speaker Newt Gingrich, paid dearly for its gamble in the 1996 elections, which saw Democrats pickup key seats.

There is little reason to expect a different long-term outcome this time, except several other variables stand to make the “temporary” pain of shutdown more keenly felt. Many families are still reeling from the Great Recession and its sustained impact on the job market. Government employment, devastated by cash strapped local budgets and the ill effects of 2013 sequestration “bargain,” already in record decline, is in full-on furlough mode. Hardworking families across the country have just lost their paychecks, however temporarily.

And for what? Because the racist, classist, elitist guardians of white privilege can’t stand to “give in” and fund the government for six more weeks with a continuing budget resolution? NEWS FLASH: the issue of Obamacare has been settled several times over. It’s done. And despite the sustained campaign of fear and misinformation waged by the G.O.P against the American people, my fellow citizens will quickly wonder what all the fuss was about. Those who can obtain low-cost coverage from which they were excluded before because of financial or pre-existing health conditions, the many who begin to understand that they’ll no longer be one accident/illness away from insolvency, and the majority who respect the integrity of the democratic process will recoil from this disingenuous, destructive, arbitrary gamesmanship. Give it time.

But for now, I don’t know how to account for what’s happening to the very people whose future and health (mental as well as physical) I worry about most. What can I tell my girls about people willing to sacrifice the nation for the regressive, immature attitudes of the few? As awful as the situation is, I am grateful that President Obama and most of his fellow Democrats have taken a stand against blackmail. They must. Republicans have to lose this one, and badly, or what type of government paradigm are we bequeathing to our youngest?  Hatred and sour grapes resulting in scorched earth tactics cannot be tolerated a day longer. For better or worse, this is a defining moment in our nation’s history, when we decide what kind of country we want to be for the rest of the 21st Century and beyond. For the sake of our children, let this pain and shame result in a better, more constructive, more tolerant future.

Everybody Hates Ted: The Republican Party Has Turned on Cruz (September 26, 2013)

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Years ago, I adopted a personal paradigm that has yet to fail: if I’m injured in any way by an arrogant, self-serving narcissist (as though there were any other kind), I do not have to lift a finger by way of retaliation. Though I may have been inconvenienced, or worse, in the short term, in the long run, these folks have a way of undoing themselves. What’s that famous quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln? “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time….” Wise man.

Freshman Texas Senator Ted Cruz has never been able to fool all of the people. Quite the contrary. In just nine months of the job, the “legislator” (I use the term very loosely as pertains to the quarrelsome elected official) has done his best to become public enemy #1 of the liberal agenda. It’s important to keep in mind that the term “liberal agenda,” no longer has the same connotation of years past. Unfortunately in 2013, those deemed to be in possession of a liberal agenda need only exhibit a desire for functional government, without resorting to extortion to extract concessions from across the aisle. Compromise is for sissies.

When asked by Fox News host Chris Wallace in May of this year if he could “make it” in today’s Republican party, 1996 Presidential candidate, and nobody’s idea of a radical, Bob Dole  famously replied,  ”Reagan wouldn’t have made it. Certainly, Nixon couldn’t have made it, because he had ideas and we might have made it, but I doubt it.”

The lunatics have been running the asylum for awhile now as pertains to the G.O.P. and until very recently, it appeared that the troika of newly elected Senate “it” boys – Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz – could do no wrong as far as the party was concerned.

Before the last couple of weeks, the privately anti-Ted faction of the Republican Party had to keep quiet, steeping in progressively annoyed shame as the aggressive young Canadian seemed to locate unmitigated gall at every turn. Satisfaction came briefly and cheaply, as when Cruz presumed to lecture California’s Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein vis a vis the Constitution this past March. The senior lawmaker shot back, “I’m not a sixth grader…Senator, I’ve been on this Committee for 20 years…After 20 years, I’ve been up close and personal with the Constitution. I have great respect for it. … So I, you know, it’s fine you want to lecture me on the Constitution. I appreciate it. Just know I’ve been here for a long time.”

But my friends, after Cruz’s brazenly egocentric, disingenuous summertime “Defund Obamacare” campaign, punctuated by this week’s senseless and shameful non-filibuster on the Senate floor, longtime Tedemies have been treated to glorious new sounds. The jumping of the shark, the thud of the wall of protection that once surrounded Cruz, and kept more mainstream Republicans from daring to criticize the Tea Party Golden Boy. The following is a roundup of my favorite quotes in recent days from disgusted and newly empowered G.O.P. moderates:

New York Republican Congressman Peter King:  ”My sound bite is to say he’s a fraud…I start with that, and then I go on. It takes me two or three minutes to explain it.”

Arizona Senator, and failed 2008 Republican Presidential Candidate, John McCain: “I spoke to Senator Cruz about my dissatisfaction.” I’m going to go out a limb here and characterize the famously fiery McCain’s paraphrase as the understatement of the month. McCain once publicly described his fellow lawmaker as a “wacko bird.”

Anonymous GOP Aide: “Some people came here to govern and make things better for their constituents. Ted Cruz came here to throw bombs and fundraise off of attacks on fellow Republicans. He’s a joke, plain and simple.”

It’s been a regular schadenfreude feast for Cruz’s enemies, and the fact that he brought this reversal of fortune upon himself only makes the meal more delicious. Just how huge is the sudden shift of public opinion within the party? The Atlantic ran a piece this week that observed, “Watching the pushback against Senator Ted Cruz right now is like watching a group of kids who have been in thrall to a bully suddenly wake up to who he is and start working to cut him down to size. Republican members of Congress who were once his allies have begun to turn on a man who has become an outsize figure in their party since winning office less than one year ago.”

It’s all just marvelous and it couldn’t have happened to a better guy.  Unfortunately for the long-suffering citizen, Cruz has over five years left of his term, but if I can pay just one compliment to Tea Party zealots, they have a long memory. Couple that with the certainty that Cruz is not done sticking his foot in it, and for the first time, well ever, I look forward to seeing someone get “primaried.”

Another Week, Another Public Massacre, Another Missed Opportunity to Ban Assault Weapons (September 16, 2013)

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“So, why did Congress decide to let that assault weapons ban expire?

Well, it was 2004. Democrats had lost control of the House, so they were starting to feel shy about pushing for the assault.”

–          Business Insider report, December 16,2012

I am going to take a break from the usual, and usually just, weekly partisanship in which I engage on this site to write about a problem that all of us own, and all of us need to fix. Now. It is the proliferation of assault weapons that are making the workplace, public spaces and even grade schools threatening venues for regular folks just trying to make it through the day.

In December of last year, NRA Executive Vice-President Wayne LaPierre famously said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” LaPierre recorded this bit of wisdom for posterity as an argument in favor of posting armed guards in schools across the country. The implicit subtext was that those against weapons stockpiles in the classroom are simply not in favor of protecting our children.

At the time of LaPierre’s outrageous utterance, I feared it wouldn’t be long before a case would present itself that would blow all sorts of holes in the trigger happy lobbyist’s theory. And sadly, this morning, the country turned on their television sets, car stereos and booted up their computers to learn of another instance of horrific violence brought about by the country’s absurdly lax gun policies.

The New York Times is reporting that “A gunman was dead and the police were looking for two other potential gunmen after a shooting Monday morning that left multiple people dead and injured at a naval office building not far from Capitol Hill and the White House, according to law enforcement officials.”

Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured, deceased and their families during this terrible time and collectively, I am certain that a wish for the quick apprehension of the masterminds crosses party lines. But here’s where the problem lies for me, as pertains to the NRA’s consistently rehashed argument that more guns are the answer to preventing tragedies such as this. According to reporting from Michael D. Shear, Emmarie Huetteman and Abby Goodnough, “The Navy Yard is a secure military facility, with guards posted at gates and a large wall surrounding the buildings.”

So it would seem in this instance that a number of “good guys” with guns, inside a facility that likely had emergency protocols and procedures in place and well-rehearsed, were not sufficient to undermine the will of a few crazies armed to the teeth. Janis Orlowski, the chief medical officer at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, where a number of victims are receiving treatment, was characterized by journalists as being of the opinion that “the gun used in the attack was most likely a semiautomatic rifle.”

As I stated at the opening of this piece, we all own this issue. Democratic political cowardice under the Bush II administration is partially responsible for the serious public safety crisis we have today. This rising, terrifying threat has been compounded by the successful and dirty lobbying on behalf of gun manufacturers with which the NRA engages at local, state and national levels.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the Declaration of Independence was written before the Constitution and no one’s right to bear arms trumps my right to life. Though I never wish to own or fire a weapon myself, I don’t begrudge anyone’s desire to maintain a small stockpile for hunting and security purposes.

But I can’t be convinced that an AR-15, which can fire up to 700 rounds per minute, is anything more advanced than a human killing machine, or that the forefathers could have envisioned such a tool when they enshrined that “right to bear arms.”

It’s time for all of us, across party lines to stand together and tell our local representatives, our Governors, the U.S. Congress and the President, “enough.” Enough of the mass public executions and the labeling of citizens who want common sense gun reform to reduce the incidence of these atrocities as “un-American.” What is unpatriotic is continuing to condone the death of innocent civilians because our elected officials are scared of disappointing the NRA.