Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

Gloves Comin’ Off

[Ed. Note: this was originally posted on my Facebook page.]


I try not to get forcefully political on the ol’ FB machine. I tend more toward Star Wars references and band jokes.

But desperate times call for desperate measures. And, from here to November, I think I shall prepare to suffer whatever slings and arrows come my way. Fine. Political it shall be. S**t’s gettin’ real.

We talk about every single Presidential election as the most important election of our lifetimes. Bush vs. Kerry … Obama vs. McCain and the desperately unqualified Palin … Obama vs. Willard “47%” Romney … and the meme has threatened to become “boy who cried wolf” territory.

But … the next five months represent a stretch of time during which it will be required to convince as many people as possible that we stand at an absolutely pivotal moment in American history. Will it be oligarchy with a side order of authoritarian fascism? Or will it be an agonizingly slow but perceptible aircraft-carrier-speed turn back toward government representing the people and not the corporations?


With today’s Senate votes regarding gun legislation, let’s make sure that one thing is abundantly clear:

Permanently laid to rest is the idea that “both sides do it”. That “both sides are just as awful”. That “both sides are to blame”. Dead, buried, shovelfuls of dirt hitting its face, pax vobiscum.

From ThinkProgress.org: “On Monday, Republicans in the Senate proved, yet again, how strong the National Rifle Association’s grip is on the nation’s highest lawmaking body. Democrats’ efforts to pass legislation to prevent suspected terrorists from buying firearms and to expand background checks to all gun sales both failed in the Senate. Just 47 senators voted in favor of the first measure and 44 for the second.”

It may be over-the-top to write a headline like “Republicans Vote In Favor Of Continued Mayhem”. Or not, I don’t know. But at the very least, the headline should be “Republicans Vote To Keep The Gun Manufacturers Lobby From Primary-ing Their Backsides; ‘Follow the Money’ Meme Again Invoked”.

Meet the Press” and David Brooks and the whole DC pundit class won’t do it. Nor will they give up their farcical “both sides are equally bad” fetish, because the major mass-media news operations are overseen by their networks’ entertainment divisions now, which ought to tell you everything you need to know about modern journalism: it serves profit, not public service.


Howevah! … The Democratic senators’ filibuster last week accomplished this: it forced an actual vote on something — and the result of that vote is concrete proof toward which to point, as the general election approaches. If they play their cards right … AND IF WE VOTER TYPES GO AND VOTE IN NOVEMBER (that’s crucial) … and if the Short-Fingered Vulgarian continues his Presidential campaign all the way to Election Day and manages to drag down all the down-ticket candidates from the party of Lincoln … Democrats have a chance to take the Senate, close the gap in the House, take the White House, and ensure that the next Supreme Court nominee (or possibly the next two, with the rumored retirement plans of Clarence Thomas coming to light in the last day or so) be someone who might support the overturning of the Citizens United decision. Which would be merely a small beginning of an effort to get money (dark or otherwise) the hell out of politics; but it beats the alternative we’re living with right now.

Let’s not throw all the bastards out.

Just the right bastards.

Let’s make the pitched effort to identify, tag, and continually and repeatedly remind people of the identity of, every one of the bastards who value their political careers and the largesse that goes with them MORE than they value the lives of their constituents — be they LGBT, minority groups, or members of faith communities they can’t be bothered to understand.

Let’s be obnoxious in our desperate effort to keep reminding people who the honorable people are, and who the craven bastards are who love themselves and their money and their station in life far more than they love the health of their own nation.

So we know which ones deserve to be kicked out of DC for good.


Today’s roll calls represent opposition research — tailor-made and gift-wrapped for Democrats, and frankly any voter who can see past knee-jerk ideology and embrace the need to re-make our government into a group of people who want to take care of people instead of taking advantage of them.

I know. Mark Twain famously said, “I don’t belong to any organized political party. I am a Democrat.” As steep climbs go, this has potential to be very steep. We (yeah, I’m a registered Dem) are famous for screwing things up, usually thanks to apathy or really bad planning.

But today’s votes ought to reverberate — ought to echo all the way to the election in November — in the form of a question that ought to be on the minds of voters everywhere (even in my intensely-blue Massachusetts):

Are you willing to let this go on any longer?

I’m not, damn it.

Because as has been demonstrated this week in Orlando … and this year in Flint … and three and a half years ago in Sandy Hook … and for the last (pick your time period — decade? Two decades? More?) in cities and towns all over these United States:

We’re talking about people’s lives here.


[Ed. Note: commenters will please note that this blog’s management has the sole right to approve comments for publication here. Which is to say, if you choose to violate standards of good taste or choose to try and pull an Internet-troll maneuver, the management cannot guarantee that you’ll be able to Scotch-tape clips of your work to your refrigerator. If you’re thinking of going that route, you may wish to save your valuable time and go elsewhere.]


June 21, 2016 Posted by | civil rights, current events, government, journalism, media, news, politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself

You’ve heard the news by now.

Another shooting. This time, in a church. This time, in Charleston, SC.

I will admit … I thought we’d “have that conversation” AND maybe even effect some common-sensical change, after Virginia Tech. Or after Tucson. Or after Aurora. Or after Sandy Hook. Dear heaven, particularly after Sandy Hook.

We haven’t.

The optimist in me is nonetheless starting to actively doubt that we’ll do any better following this, which will henceforth be referred to as “Charleston”. When the President talked about this crime, from the Rose Garden the other day, he looked as if he felt much less like the guy in the “HOPE” poster.

What this is, friends, is terrorism.

There are corners of the media world that don’t want to imagine that clean-cut young white men’s awful acts, no matter how awful, are terrorism. Terrorism is what scary brown people do. Not us.

But what else can you call this?


Every so often, I am reminded of what kind of brilliant friends I have. Articulate, thoughtful, smart, wise. I am honored to count them among my pack of Lifelongs.

A friend of my youth is now a professor of education at a major Eastern university. I’ve referred to his work before, which is usually in the service of the teaching profession he serves. And, in a real way, what he wrote this morning serves that profession, as well as the wider world that in various ways we’re trying to help achieve perfection.

Long road ahead.

His piece is what I was going to write … only much, much better.

It was posted on Facebook, and my friend’s circle of friends is at least somewhat different from mine, and the visibility of “shared” FB posts are sometimes limited by privacy settings. While we love privacy settings … in this case, Public is better.

And yes, I asked if I could re-post his work. (I’ll talk about intellectual property issues in a day or so.) He agreed. And away we go.


He wrote:

A white man who likes to pose with pictures of himself wearing symbols of apartheid era South Africa and colonial Rhodesia, walks into the oldest African American Church in the South and sits down with the weekly Bible study group. He then stands up, pulls out a gun, and slaughters 9 people, including the pastor who is also a South Carolina State Senator. Survivors report that the shooter says “You rape our women. You are taking over our country. You must be stopped.” The attack is clearly an act of racist terrorism as profound as the 1963 Alabama church bombing.

Fox news’ morning show opens its coverage with a running text that calls it “An Attack on Faith” and actually has Elizabeth Hasselback lamenting how “WE” aren’t safe in “OUR” churches. They deny that there is a clear racist component to the attack, and cover themselves by having a black pastor who calls for clergymen to arm themselves.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley issues a statement that “we will never know” what motivates someone to kill people in church – as if the terrorist who did this had not made his motivations abundantly clear. As if the surviving witnesses cannot be taken at their word.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a candidate for the Presidency, downplays the racial factor and talks about how people are out there looking for Christians to kill.

We can’t let them get away with this. The Black Church as an institution has always been a centerpiece of both black lives and the struggle for emancipation. It has been attacked decade after decade politically and violently. What happened in Charleston may be something we thought was left behind with America’s apartheid era, but we cannot allow these filthy apologists to get away with diminishing the vicious racism that is absolutely at the center of Dylann Roof’s monstrous act of terrorism. It is infuriating and obscene.

June 19, 2015 Posted by | current events, news | , , , , , , | Leave a comment