Orbiting Dicta

Monthly Archives: December 2012


The four Americans who expected a constructive, reasonable, and compassionate response to the Sandy Hook tragedy from the National Rifle Association (AKA the NRA), must have been cruelly disappointed.  I doubt that anyone else was much surprised by today’s official statement, although many may have been appalled at the sustained detachment from reality that it displayed for all the world to consider.  And much of  it did so, by the way, in dismay.

The only way to stop bad guys from using guns against the peaceful and vulnerable is not more guns, but fewer guns.  Keeping them out of the hands of bad guys is a good place to start.  Especially keeping high-capacity assault rifles out of the hands not only of the bad guys but also the mentally or emotionally unbalanced guys.  Or even sadly mistaken guys who misidentify their children as burglars.  Placing armed guards in kindergarten classrooms smacks of the bleakest of dystopian science-fiction scenarios.

It might be worth considering that not only are the good guys with guns called police officers, of whom there are already not nearly enough to patrol malls, post offices, factories, and mass transit stations and carriages, but these same good guys want to get guns off the street.  Listen to the police chiefs, NRA guys.  Listen to the medical professionals.  Listen to the mayors of our major cities.

At the end of this day especially, it is clearer than ever.  Once again, the NRA has shown itself to be in the running for Public Enemy Number One.

Republican Hypocrisy

The withdrawal of Susan Rice as the front runner for the position of Secretary of State in the face  of unrelenting criticism and opposition from Republican lawmakers cannot help but resurface memories of another cabinet official in a previous administration, also named Rice (later to be Secretary of State).  In that instance, National Security Advisor Rice, along with Colin Powell and other administration officials, deliberately lied to the American public and the world about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  The intelligence was, they later claimed, faulty.  But the lie consisted in the assertion that the US had certain knowledge of the presence of those WMDs.  But they didn’t.  They were not only wrong, but misleading to the tune of a trillion dollar war, over a hundred thousand lives lost, and on-going chaos in Iraq.

Susan Rice spoke on the basis of faulty information from security agencies.  But lie?  The evidence isn’t there, Sen. Graham and Sen. McCain.

Payback, or a smokescreen?  If so, that may not be necessary.  Republicans have notoriously poor memories. More than likely it is just another chapter in the saga of the relentless opposition of the Republican Party to whatever the Obama administration proposes, including the $60 billion emergency funds requested for the victims of Hurricane Sandy currently being held up in Congress by the Grand Old Party… of No.  And incapable of shame.


The election campaigns are over and the voting done.  We are back where we started, pretty much, about 6 billion dollars later.  Washington seems paralyzed by Party bickering.  At least the Israelis and Palestinians are not lobbing missiles at each other for the time being.  The long Black Friday and Cyber Monday (with antecedents and consequents) are pretty much behind us.  Most Americans have all but forgotten about Sandy and the worst storm damage since Hurricane Katrina and the worst ever to visit the east coast.  A strange quiet seems to have fallen over the earth (save for unrest in Egypt, Syria, and large parts of Africa).  Winter is slowly approaching and the beautiful season of Advent , once precious to Christians as a time of waiting and expectation, is half over. It now seems more like the last chance for the forces of capitalism and merchandising canniness to convince the general public to buy everything that can be shoved onto a store shelf or fill our daily email folders with promises of free shipping.

The pope has released his volume on the birth of Jesus.  CNN was all a-twitter last week.  It seems that His Holiness believes that the ox and the donkey are additions, and the date is wrong, and the angels didn’t sing anything, they just said the words, like a click tape for a rock star concert.  (But as my grandpa would say, “Vere you der, Charlie?”)  Still, it’s refreshing to note that the pope is up to about 1965 with his biblical research…

As I would tell my class, how would anyone know there weren’t an ox and an ass present?  It’s just as likely that they were.  They’re the kind of animals one would expect in a stable, especially that stable if one had read Isaiah 1:3.  I’m less confident about the collie dog that the shepherds brought along according to the plaster figure set I bought piece by humble piece over the years back in New Mexico when I was 10 (and 11 and 12).  But everybody knows that angels sing.  Especially in choirs.   (Actually, I’m surprised that the pope conceded that there were angels (in the sky?) at all: most savvy scholars think they are textual add-ons to drive the messianic point home.  Very imaginative, those old Jews.)

It may even snow….