Young. Gifted. Black. Gone.

Hadiya Pendleton performed for the president’s inauguration. A week later she was dead.

Hadiya Pendleton, 15, was an honor student who according to her father hated and avoided violence.

But violence is relentless in how it methodically seeks out and destroys even those who want no part of it.

A 15-year-old girl who performed at President Obama’s inauguration last week was shot dead Tuesday while hanging out with friends after school in bullet-scarred Chicago.

Hadiya Pendleton — described by family as a “walking angel” — was standing under a canopy in Vivian Gordon Harsh Park when a gunman ran down an alley, opened fire and fled in a white car, police said.

Pendleton was shot in the back but managed to run about a block before she collapsed, officer Laura Kubiak said. She died at the hospital.

 A 16-year-old boy was wounded in the 2:20 p.m. incident. Police said Pendleton, who had no criminal record, was probably not the intended target.

 “Never in a million years did I think I would get a call that my own baby had been gunned down,” Pendleton’s mother, Cleo Cowley, said through tears from her Chicago home.

“As usual, the bad guy aims, but he never hits the other bad guy . . . He hits the one that hurts the most to lose,” the victim’s godfather, Damon Stewart, 36, who is a police officer, told the Chicago Sun-Times.

“I changed her diapers, I played with her growing up. My heart is broken.”

A sophomore at selective King College Prep High School, Pendleton had traveled to Washington to perform with the band at inaugural events.

“It was the highlight of her young 15-year-old life,” Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said Wednesday at a Senate hearing on gun violence.

“Just a matter of days after the happiest day of her life, she’s gone.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney called the shooting a “terrible tragedy” and said the Obamas were praying for Pendleton’s family.

Cousin Shatira Wilks said the inauguration trip was the talk of a family gathering around New Year’s, but the young majorette was even more excited about something else: plans to travel to Europe this spring with the band.

“She was an honor student all her life,” Wilks said. “Honestly, she was a walking angel. She never once gave her mom any problems ever.”

Young. Gifted. Black. Gone.

Young. Gifted. Black. Gone.

The day after Hadiya died, another gun victim, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords went before a Senate committee to ask Congress to actually make a tough call instead of talking a problem to death.

“Speaking is difficult,” Giffords said slowly and haltingly, “But I need to say something important. Violence is a problem. Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something.”

Also speaking was NRA Executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre running his usual rap about how more laws and background checks won’t stop criminals and only impede the rights of law-abiding citizens. It’s subject to debate whether LaPierre was there to testify or check on how the NRA’s money is being spent. Eight of the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have received campaign contributions from the NRA including all eight Republicans and Democratic chairman Patrick Leahy.

There is no reason to believe “something” will be done by anyone on Capitol Hill.  Stand up to the gun lobby?  Question the priorities of the NRA?  Not from a  Congress populated by dopes like Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) who doesn’t believe the proliferation of guns is any sort of big deal.

“I’m going to wait and see on all of these bills,” Alexander said. “I think video games is a bigger problem than guns, because video games affect people. But the First Amendment limits what we can do about video games, and the Second Amendment to the Constitution limits what we can do about guns.”  Alexander, who is up for reelection in 2014 owns a 92 percent lifetime rating from the NRA.

Politicians that aren’t moved to action by White children killed in an elementary school,  aren’t about to do anything for Black children killed on the streets of Chicago.

The day Hadiya died she was one of three to be gunned down in broad daylight in the Windy City.

In 2012, while crime fell in most major cities, over 500 people were murdered in Chicago.

Thus far in 2013, over 42 people have been killed, the most violent January since 2002. Seven people were slain on one bloody Saturday.   Chicago is so segregated if you avoid the battle zones and stay in the nice neighborhoods and the tourist areas, you probably wouldn’t even notice they’re pulling bodies off the pavement two or three at a time.   If this isn’t war in the streets, it sure is claiming a body count like one.

It’s one thing to live in a war zone in Syria or Afghanistan. It’s another to live and die in a war zone in a major American city.   “This guy, whoever he was, the gunman…you took the life of my life, Nathaniel Pendleton said of his daughter, ” Just look at yourself and just know that you took a bright person, an innocent person, a non-violent person.”

As young Black people are murdered by other young Black people, I wonder if there might be more of an outpouring of outrage if there were thousands of racist Klansmen behind the mass spilling of blood across the  streets of America.

But I recall there is no law, no agency, no Constitutional right that can make someone respect human life. Self-hatred leads to self-destruction.   I could paper the walls of my house with all the editorials, essays and columns I’ve written about young people like Hadiya.   Apparently, I was writing those words for the wrong audience.

A petition has been created on the White House website requesting the president attend Hadiya’s funeral.   He really should.  She was there to commemorate his second term.    Obama should be there to commemorate her premature demise.   It’s not the most, but it’s certainly the least he can do.

I never knew you Hadiya, but I cried for you little sister.   I’m crying for you now.  Tears of pain.  Tears of anger.   Tears of bitterness.  Tears of rage.

“You know, it’s not the world that was my oppressor, because what the world does to you, if the world does it to you long enough and effectively enough, you begin to do to yourself.”

~ James Baldwin

Look familiar?  It should.

Look familiar? It should.

The Grinch That Killed Christmas

Merry Christmas, Sandy Hook.

Eventually we will forget you.  We will forget the horrific details.  We will forget your names.  We will forget how we felt.

We say we won’t forget.   We say this time it will be different.  We won’t let the politicians wriggle off the hook or the gun lobby to control the debate.  Not this time.    But  will we really do anything different this time than all the times before?   We promised all those victims all these times before we wouldn’t forget and we did and we wouldn’t let it happen again, yet it does.

What’s so different this time?

After all, you weren’t our kids.  Someone else will mourn you.  Someone else will walk past your empty bed.   Someone  we don’t know who live somewhere we’ve never been will mourn you.

We’re Americans.  We love our kids.  We love our guns too.  Don’t ask us to choose between the two because you might not like the answer you get.

Sandy Hook will be forgotten.  The media will move on to another tragedy in another place.  They know the next atrocity is always just around the corner.  This is America.  There is always another atrocity just around the corner.

I’m not a “ho-ho-ho” kind of guy when its a good December and this has not been a good December.   Adam Lanza is The Grinch That Killed Christmas.

The killer nobody saw coming.

It isn’t a Merry Christmas and the holidays aren’t all that happy.     Sandy Hook takes its place along Columbine, Red Lake , Virginia Tech among the bloodiest school shootings in our country’s bloody history.    Certain places  seem inconceivable to be targeted to become a slaughterhouse.   Churches and schools head the list, but as history has proved time and again.   Nowhere is off-limits.  Everyone is eligible to be a victim.

In the wake of Sandy Hook, Christmas doesn’t feel like Christmas.  It seems like  denial of reality.   Adam Lanza and the lurking monsters like  him are the Grinches That Killed Christmas.

As sure as the night follows day,  there will be those eager to speculate about what happened, why it happened and how it can be prevented.  Some of this contemplation will lead to constructive suggestions.   Most will be useless.  What’s left will be useless bullshit.    That’s when its time to tell the NRA to move over and make some room for media.   They have to take their share of the shame.

For the most part the press has done some very good writing and reporting on this tragedy.    It’s hard to balance the public’s right to know with the Newtown families need to grieve, but most of the media have conducted themselves in a responsible, respectable manner.   Which means there are those who have done some very bad writing on this tragedy.

Meghan McCardle wrote a long-ass piece for The Daily Beast where she pondered possible solutions and offered and one “you’re yanking me, right?” proposal.

I’d also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once. Would it work? Would people do it? I have no idea; all I can say is that both these things would be more effective than banning rifles with pistol grips.

Yes, that’s an excellent idea. Adam Lanza would have been foiled if only those cowardly six-and-seven year old children had overcome the natural urge to cower and run for cover and instead had rushed the gunman en masse.

Come on, kids! Dogpile on the shooter!

No way that wouldn’t end well. Perhaps Miss McCardle also believes the Japanese kamikazes were a brilliant military tactic too.

For even more simple-minded answers to complex questions, we mosey over to The National Review where Charlotte Allen observes:

There was not a single adult male on the school premises when the shooting occurred. In this school of 450 students, a sizeable number of whom were undoubtedly 11- and 12-year-old boys (it was a K–6 school), all the personnel — the teachers, the principal, the assistant principal, the school psychologist, the “reading specialist” — were female. There didn’t even seem to be a male janitor to heave his bucket at Adam Lanza’s knees. Women and small children are sitting ducks for mass-murderers. The principal, Dawn Hochsprung, seemed to have performed bravely. According to reports, she activated the school’s public-address system and also lunged at Lanza, before he shot her to death. Some of the teachers managed to save all or some of their charges by rushing them into closets or bathrooms. But in general, a feminized setting is a setting in which helpless passivity is the norm. Male aggression can be a good thing, as in protecting the weak — but it has been forced out of the culture of elementary schools and the education schools that train their personnel. Think of what Sandy Hook might have been like if a couple of male teachers who had played high-school football, or even some of the huskier 12-year-old boys, had converged on Lanza.

To her credit, at another point in her essay Allen observes, “This is stupid advice.”

Allen is absolutely right. Her advice is stupid.    A male janitor doesn’t mean  he’s a male action figure.   Had there been one big, strong man working a Sandy Hook that would have meant…nothing.   At his bullshit fest of a press conference,  the NRA’s  Wayne LaPierre said, “The only way—the only way—to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is to have a good guy with a gun.”

There was an armed guard at Columbine.   He couldn’t stop Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold from doing what bad guys do.   There was a campus police force at Virginia Tech and what good did that do?

None of this helps prevent the next Sandy Hook.   And it’s coming.  We all know it is.

If you were looking for a Christmas Eve message of joy and glad tidings you will be disappointed.    The joy is not there.  The tidings are grim, not glad.   Lives have been lost .  Hope has been crushed.

There’s not a lot to be merry about.

The NRA Loves Their Guns. They Hate Your Kids

I am a reasonable man and if you don’t believe me I will shoot you in the face.”

For shock and awe, you don’t need to go far beyond the Twilight Zone weirdness of National Rifle Association chief flunky Wayne LaPierre‘s press conference to present their profoundly stupid suggestions on how to respond to the slaughter at Sandy Hook elementary school.  Among their suggestions were to put armed guards in every school, establish a national database of the mentally ill and criticizing Natural Born Killers, a 20-year old movie and violent videogames for putting bad thoughts in the kiddies.

A national database of the mentally ill?  Sure thing.  No way that could encroach on their Constitutional rights.   Anybody wonder how many NRA members would show up on such a database?

As far as violent video games goes, let’s apply the NRA logic to it.  Violent video games don’t kill.  Gamers do.

As far as Wayne LaPierre’s suggestion to put an armed guard in every school it would cost over $5 billion to implement his crazy plan.  I was under the impression this country is broke and can’t afford that kind of new spending.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics there are 98,817 K-12 schools in the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says cops make $55,000 a year. So we could put $5.4 billion as the low level estimate of the cost. Cops obviously have health care benefits and pension and disability benefits for police offers tend to be fairly costly so the real price would be higher than that.

To sum up Wayne LaPierre’s press conference, his remarks prove what most of us already knew.

  • Whomever wrote LaPierre’s remarks should be fired. He came off like a yammering drunk falling off his bar stool.
  • It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.
  • Wayne LaPierre is a fool.  And a stupid asshole too.

Even as  LaPierre was running off at the mouth exposing how much of a fool he truly is, at the same time there was another shooting spree in Pennsylvania that left four people dead including one woman in a church.  Would LaPierre put armed security guards in the pews too?

It was nauseating to see this enabler of killers and greedy gun manufacturers crying his big crocodile tears of insincerity about the children of Sandy Hook.  The lying sack of shit couldn’t even bother to get the number right of how many kids died!   LaPierre is human garbage.

I have no time to waste or energy to expend arguing with close-minded, mouth-breathers who love the touch of cold, hard steel designed only to kill to the sounds of happy children living, laughing, loving.

Those who “think” like LaPierre don’t give two farts in a windstorm about the dead and wounded in a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school classroom. To care about this and to want to do what is necessary to stop it from occurring again is dismissed as “understandable emotionally.” Which couldn’t miss the point any wider if he tried. The point is simple: Children are dying. We would prefer this to STOP.

There IS no middle ground with dead enders who quote numbers they pulled out of the air or out of some orifice and declare proudly, loudly and stupidly, “THERE IS NO PROBLEM. DO NOTHING. DEAD KIDS ARE THE COLLATERAL DAMAGE OF A GUN CULTURE!”

People who think like that have nothing of worth to contribute to the solutions to prevent further Sandy Hook slaughters and prefer the confident smugness of maintaining an absurd absolute position where nothing can be discussed, never mind debated or negotiated.

There is no end in sight to the American death dance with guns.  There is no dealing with a reactionary turd like Wayne LaPierre.

Entering into discussion with people who think like LaPierre makes about as much sense as entering into discussion with a pig in a mud hole.  You get dirty and the pig enjoys wallowing in the muck

“I poop for the NRA.”