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Jack Rabbit

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Sacramento Valley, California
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 42,538

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The Cleveland Elementary School Shooting and the Persistance of Memory

I posted this on another thread about 11 pm last night, so I am re-posting it in the hopes more people will see it.

The Grover Cleveland School was new when I attended kindergarten there in 1956. My teacher as Miss Procter. The principal was Mr. Farrerra. I may be misspelling both of those names. I doubt either is with us any more. I had a friend named Ricky Winston. Even though he would be in his early sixties, I know he isn't with us any more, either. He died of a heart seizure when he was only 13. Children shouldn't die so young.

The following year I attended first grade at Cleveland, when my teacher was Mrs. Crawford, a plump, happy and gentle lady. About half way through the year, we moved to another neighborhood in Stockton. I then began attending the El Dorado School, but I'll leave that be today. I want to talk about my memories of Grover Cleveland.

I have a very vivid memory. I can remember having a strawberry cake on my birthday. I even remember being breast fed. I told my mother that once and she didn't believe. Then I told her that she fed me at the kitchen table. Well, that's where she usually fed me.

That kind of memory served me well in many ways. I could memorize whole lists. I could name the US presidents in order with the dates of their terms and the dates of their births and deaths when I was in second grade. That wasn't so hard in those days. I only had to go up to Eisenhower then. It was a cool way to fascinate my friends.

That kind of memory can also be a curse. There are things I remember that I would like to forget. I remember the kid across the street throwing a rock me and hitting a bull's eye, cutting my upper lip. I needed stitches. His name was Kevin Kelly. I can still see him throwing that rock. I can still see Dr. Winnick giving me stitches and how much it hurt and how terrified I was. Kevin Kelly isn't with us any more. He was killed in an auto accident when he was 21. I found out about that when the lady who lived next door to us in Stockton came to visit my parents one day when I was there. I was over thirty, so the news about Kevin was already about ten years old. The lady's name was Gertie. I only have good memories of Gertie and her husband, Freddy. They were always very nice to me.

I didn't like school. I can remember my first day of kindergarten at Grover Cleveland. I learned some new words that day: shrimp, midget, small fry and runt. They were directed at me, the smallest kid in the class. I can still see those kids calling me those names. They didn't mean it in a nice way. I never thought of myself as small until then. After that, it became the single trait that most identified me, and I didn't like it one bit.

I was fascinated with the tile on the floor at Grover Cleveland. It was a kind of marble design, with black and green and yellow playing with each other the way cigarette smoke floated in the air. I remember the playground, and the orchard that was on the other side of a chain link fence. On the east side of the playground was the cafeteria. At least I think it was east. I didn't learn to orient my sense of direction until I was older.

Years later, I was working as a computer programmer in San Francisco. I was 37 when I was walking to the bus stop down town one afternoon after work. I had graduated from San Francisco State University, sat out the recession I graduated into by joining the Army and got married to a young lady I met in Korea. We had two beautiful sons of mixed white and Asian ancestry. I caught the newspaper headline about some maniac shooting up an elementary school and killing a number of children. To my horror I saw that it took place in Stockton, the town were I was born. The school that was the scene of the tragedy was Cleveland Elementary. It took me about a minute to realize that was Grover Cleveland -- this was the first time I heard it called "Cleveland Elementary" -- the school I attended for about a year and a half.

The afternoon wore on and more details came to light. Apparently the gunman was in the orchard behind the school, shooting at children in the playground. I could see it. I wasn't there that day, but could see it. There was no film on television news taken at the school, but I could see it. I knew where everything was and needed to look at no pictures to see it. I could see children walking, or running in a panic on the floor with the black, green and yellow tile. I could see children running from the jungle gym and the monkey bars, which were less than ten feet from the chain link fence that separated the playground from the orchard.

For me, it added a dimension of horror that such a thing happened on ground with which I was familiar.

Days later, more information came to light. The gunman was a racist who was upset with Asian immigrants and thought he'd take it out on their children. When I attended Grover Cleveland, the only Asian Americans in the school were the children of the businessman who owned the Chinese gift shop on Pacific Avenue next door to my dad's photography studio. Now the school was predominately Asian.

That, too, brought a personal element to the story. Would this gunman had shot my sons, who were six and nine when this happened, if he had the opportunity?

In the years between growing up and that day, I had argued with many friends and acquaintances about gun rights and the right of everyone to be safe on the streets. To remember somebody I knew in the army who said that the right bear arms was important enough that such incidents were a price we pay for our freedom. At least I knew that man well enough to know that he would not be so crass as to make that argument to the grieving parents of dead schoolchildren.

Response to Karl Rove's claim that Obama won by "denigrating" Romney's character



So, Rover, you claim that the Obama campaign is guilty of voter suppression because it questioned Romney's character and painted him as a vulture capitalist.

Rover, all the Obama people had to do to accomplish that was play back the video tape of Romney speaking on YouTube.

Mitt the Twit lied with the frequency of your former client, Bush the Frat Boy (who never made a factual statement that contained the word Iraq). While it is true that The Twit was recorded surreptitiously while saying it, no one from the Obama camp twisted his arm to make those remarks about nearly half the American people being lazy moochers who feel entitled to government handouts. That remark was made to an audience of billionaires who feel entitled to taxpayer bailouts. That's also pretty much the message in the post election analysis from your pals on Fox News. Bill O'Reilly even added a racist remark in his take and moaned how white males don't have the influence they used to have. Ah, those were the days, eh, Rover? when state and local governments imposed literacy tests to keep poor people from voting and the Ku Klux Klan lynched any poor blacks who thought out loud about voting. Now you've got crooked state legislators in debt to the bribes large campaign contributions from the Koch brothers to pass voter ID laws, crooked Secretaries of State in Ohio dreaming up creative ways to keep blacks and latinos from voting and crooked Governors in Florida to purge the voter rolls and cut early voting days. Your charge that the Democrats suppressed Republican votes is idiotic. Is irony so lost on you that you can say such a stupid thing over public airwaves and expect intelligent people to believe it?

You know what, Rover? I think Obama would have won a free and fair election by a wider margin than he won with the shit you and the Koch brothers and Jon Husted and Governor Slick Rott tried to pull off. You guys are nothing but a bunch of fascists who hate democracy and send brown shirts to polling places to intimidate voters who aren't white.

As for The Twit's business experience, it was a business that measured success by companies bankrupted and jobs lost rather than making any positive contribution to sustainable growth. I'm not saying that The Twit did anything illegal, just immoral and harmful to working Americans. Bain Capital is the kind of enterprise that no healthy economy can afford. It is the kind of enterprise that can be found praiseworthy only in the sophistry of Ayn Rand where robber barons like The Twit and Jaimie Dimon are Nietzshean ‹bermenschen who have an existential right to treat us peons like shit because they're just better than we are.

Let me give you and Mr. Ryan, whose intellectual growth was stunted when as a teenager he read Atlas Shrugged, the inconvenient truth that robber barons are not better than the peons who make them rich. They need us more than we need them, and nobody needs Bain Captial any more than anybody needed Enron.

The Twit didn't need anyone's help in appearing like a low character born in a high place with few positive achievements to point to in his past. He did that all by himself and you, Rover, have a real talent for finding such people.

Your time is over, Rover. Now go crawl under a stone and write a self-serving work of fiction that you will call your memoirs.

My case for Obama for those who are less than enthusiastic about him

I, too, have been disappointed with President Obama in many ways, but voting for him (or, if you please, against Romney) was not a difficult decision.

I'll take it this far: I do not believe America will survive a Mitt Romney presidency. That statement is not intended to be hyperbolic. The Republican plan is to "win" the election through voter suppression, cut taxes on the very wealthy and raise them on the very voters they suppressed. Taxation without representation is as much tyranny today when the Republicans do it as it was 240 years ago when King George did it. Private citizens will be expected to give up their rights and government benefits and get nothing in return. The income gap will widen, more middle class workers will slip into poverty and the Wall Street bankers will continue to fleece the public and party like eighteenth century French aristocrats. The deficit will go up and the only solution that will be considered is more austerity. The children of the lower classes, including what is left of the middle class, will be expected to fight and die in pointless and ultimately unwinnable resource wars waged for the benefit of robber barons. That state of affairs can only be maintained with a police state. The hope and dream that was America will be as dead as Thomas Jefferson.

Some may say that four more years of President Obama won't be any better, but on that I beg to differ. Perhaps the Wall Street bankers, like the Bush administration war criminals, will continue to go unpunished, but under Obama the social safety net has remained in tact and even expanded somewhat under that which reactionaries derided but is now more universally hailed as Obamacare. Women's rights have been protected under measures such as the Lilly Ledbetter Act. Abortion will remain safe and legal. No Democrat will ever vote to privatize Social Security or voucherize Medicare and few will even think out loud about a national right-to-work bill. When President Obama leaves office after the election of 2016, many problems will remain, especially if the House of Representatives remains under control of racists, misogynists and corporate fascists, but things will not collapse and might even be at least marginally better.

I would be more encouraged if the President ditches his Wall Street friendly economics team and replaces it with people like Robert Reich and Paul Krugman and replaces the feckless Eric Holder with an Attorney General who will prosecute war criminals, robber barons and industrial polluters. However, to paraphrase an unrepentant war criminal, we vote for the candidates we have, not the ones we wish we had.

The Republicans have not won a free and fair presidential election since 1988

They're not going to win one this year.

The following actions will invalidate any Romney "victory":
  • Voter ID laws aimed at suppressing the votes of minorities and students.
  • Election day "poll watching" by "citizen journalists" intending to intimidate voters.
  • The endless attempts by Ohio's crooked SOS to throw roadblocks up in front of voters, the mysterious "computer glitch" that dropped a number of newly registered voters from the rolls and the "experimental software" he ordered put in voting machines.
  • The purge of the voter rolls initiated by Florida's crooked governor.
  • Use of unaccountable voting machines manufactured by a company owned by candidate Romney's son.
  • Use of voter registration firms which either registered only Republican voters or actually destroyed the registration forms of Democrats.
  • Attempts by employers to intimidate employees into voting for Governor Romney, at the Governor's urging.
  • Huge spending by right wing billionaires taking advantage of the Citizens United decision, which has been used to buy advertising that contains false information such as the "Jeep is moving to China" spots.

The United States is a democracy, not a mere republic. Democracy has always been a part of American culture. It is what Tocqueville observed and that to which Walt Whitman wrote praises in robust free verse. To organize attempts to suppress voting in manners like those described above is blatantly anti-American.

We will know the election has been stolen as soon as the networks declare Romney the winner. The moment that happens, we should reach for our pitchforks and light our torches. We allowed a stolen election in 2000 and the nation suffered for eight years under yoke of tyrants who botched the effort to capture Osama bin Laden in order to fight a completely unjustified war against Iraq and opened the treasury to corporate cronies. We cannot allow this to stand again.

The Last Word: Mitt Romney vs. Mormonism



I am not a Mormon. I just poured a cup of coffee, something I won't part with for a shot at paradise. Nevertheless, I have friends who are Mormons and they are mostly good, honest people. There aren't very many Mormons to whom I'd have trouble lending $20 until next payday. I have seen sentiments on these pages to the effect that some DU members would never vote for a Mormon, a sentiment I find narrow minded and not in the progressive spirit.

Like any other religion or ideology, Mormonism is not monolithic. Put a dozen Mormons in the same room together and they will express a dozen different views of the world, even a dozen different ideas of what it is to be a Mormon. That is something to keep in mind when presented with a candidate for public office who is a Mormon.

I am not voting for Mitt Romney. He thinks corporations are people, people who receive government assistance are hopeless moochers and ran a business whose business it was to run other businesses into the ground and outsource their manufacturing to cheaper labor markets. There are many other reasons I'm voting for President Obama and not Mr. Romney. Not among the reasons that I am not voting for Mr. Romney is that he is a Mormon. I wouldn't vote for him if he were a Presbyterian, a Roman Catholic or a Parsee. What church he attends and his relationship to it is neither here nor there.

Romney and the right of free speech

Since when does free speech mean that we have to give the one freely speaking a free pass? Mr. Romney certainly wouldn't give the press agent at the Cairo embassy a free pass for his or her remarks.

Yes, I support the right of Rev. Terry Jones and the mysterious Sam Bacile the right to say what they please. I can also exercise my free speech to call Rev. Jones and Mr. Bacile a couple of irresponsible sectarian bigots and right wing morons. I'm not going to suggest that either of them should be locked up in a dungeon or strung up on a lamp post over it, or even participate in demonstrations in front of Mr. Bacile's house. There are idiots and villains in this world worthy or more attention.

Among the idiots or villains more worthy of time is Mr. Romney. For from condemning him from merely exercising his right of free speech, I would encourage him to exercise it more. He can start by freely telling us how he proposes to balance the budget and exactly which deductions he plans to eliminate. Perhaps we will discover that his expertise in government finance is better than his expertise in foreign policy. But I doubt it.

I'm good with Mr. Romney's defense of free speech. I'm not so good with his implication that Rev. Jones and Mr. Bacile should get a free pass expressing hatred of somebody else's religion, or to the billion people or so to adhere to that particular faith. While free speech is an American value, Mr. Romney could have taken the opportunity to remind everybody that sectarian bigotry is not. The omission of such a remark may have all but ended his chances of being president at home and made him an ugly American elsewhere.

All I am doing to show my displeasure with Mr. Romney's remarks yesterday is to urge those considering voting for this irresponsible idiot to please reconsider.

What if the November election is stolen under Citizens United?

The Citizens United decision is among the most egregious ever to come down from the Supreme Court. It raises the specter that the future of America will be dominated by elected officials who are dependent on campaign financing from a few wealthy donors seeking to purchase favors and votes. Some these donors may even by driven by ideologies that are hostile to democracy or the very concept of society, such as the doctrines of Ayn Rand or the conspiracy theories of the John Birch Society, whose founder declared that President Eisenhower was a "conscious, dedicated agent of the Communist Conspiracy."

Moreover, many legislatures dominated by such purchased politicians as a result of the election of 2010 have sought to entrench their power by passing laws making it difficult for some citizens to cast a legal vote. We haven't even started to talk about the possibilities of mischief made with unaccountable voting machines.

Democracy cannot be for sale to the highest bidder and still be democracy. The amount of money going into this election will make the results suspect, to say the least, especially if the Republicans "win." Even the Democrats who survive the mine field of corporate cash and voter suppression might be suspected of being bought. In any case, it is unlikely that very many honest populists will emerge victorious in November in this kind of election environment. No contest held in this kind of environment can be regarded as a free and fair election.

The only thing being done to stop this nightmare is the Department of Justice writing a strongly worded letter to Florida Governor Rick Scott concerning his efforts to purge voters from the rolls. Although the targets of this purge are clearly Latino voters other than Cubans, Governor Scott's first response is to flip the bird at the Obama Administration. Governor Scott obviously thinks he can rig the election in Florida and get away with it.

A victory by Republicans, reactionaries and corporate fascists in November will have the following consequences:
  • More voter suppression laws aimed at poor voters.
  • Elimination of taxes on the rich and increased taxes on the poor (do these first two bullets sound like taxation without representation?)
  • Further deregulation of Wall Street, making it easier for too-big-to-fail banks to steal our money, for which we actually worked.
  • Cruel austerity measures shredding the social safety net.
  • Virtural outlawing of labor unions.
  • Greater corporate censorship of news (goodbye, Current TV), including a corporate monopoly of internet content (goodbye, DU; so long, Kos).
  • More imperialist wars aimed at opening markets to corporate crime syndicates like J. P. MorganChase, GoldmanSachs, Bank of America, ExxonMobil, British Petroleum, etc.
  • A total disregard for anthropogenic climate change ("it's a hoax") and downplaying of the effects of environmental pollution ("just wear hats with broader brims and more sunscreen").
  • Environmental polluters relieved of any and all responsibility for environmental disasters like Prince William Sound and the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Further erosion of civil liberties, increased surveillance and suppression of free speech and the right of assembly; this kind of inequality cannot exist outside of a police state.

We need to prepare for the worst case, starting now. We cannot wait until after the election to see how bad things are going to get before beginning countermeasures to circumvent a kleptocratic, corporate controlled police state.

Among the ideas I would toss out for general consumption are:
  • A clear manifesto stating the following:
    • Human society, while it cramps the style of an individual, is still a phenomenon that grows out of human nature; we would have become extinct long ago were it not for our ability to form associations with our fellow species members for protection and increased productivity.
    • As governments are instituted among men to secure certain unalienable rights, so are economic institutions instituted among men to organize the production and distribution of wealth extracted from the earth and services of value performed by another human for the benefit of another.
      • That, just as any government may be altered or abolished should it become destructive to securing unalienable human rights, so may an economic association.
      • Society, acting through government, has as much right to disband a predatory financial institution, an insurance company whose profits are predicated on denying coverage to its clients or a environmental polluter as it has to disband a narcotics cartel.
  • A resolution that any government whose officers are purchased by campaign financing or elected under rules excluding eligible voters is illegitimate. Any law passed by a legislative body and enforced by executives purchased by campaign financing and elected under rules excluding any citizen from casting a legal vote are to be disregarded.
    • A device, similar to a blue box used to to circumvent the control of long distance calling by the phone company, that can be used to circumvent corporate control of the internet, should be invented, mass produced and distributed to all who desire one.
    • Refusal to turn in to authorities any one accused of robbing a predatory financial institution; if needed, an underground judicial system may be instituted to determine whether the robbery merits punishment.
    • Reserving the option to strike for higher wages or better working conditions or to stage a general strike to protest unjust economic conditions.
    • Refuse to pay taxes to governments whose officers are purchased by campaign financing or authorized by legislative bodies purchased by campaign financing or elected under rules excluding some eligible voters.
    • Refuse military service to fight wars that are of benefit only to major profit centers and with nothing to do with actual national security.
  • The following must be made clear: Austerity measures will be resisted.


These are desperate measures, but the future of America may be desperate times. It will not be the shining beacon on a hill, but a pit envisioned by Dante or Milton.
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