Like many people in the US, and around the world, I have been deeply affected by the mass killing of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14th. When President Obama made his statement Friday afternoon I thought this has to be the single hardest thing he has had to do as President – be the POTUS while feeling like a father.

More than other acts of terrorism and public violence we have experienced in the last 11 years, this seemed personal. I found myself unable to concentrate once the story started to break, and spent the remainder of the day intermittently crying. As a parent, the idea that I could outlive my child is an abomination, and the idea that I might bury my child because of violence, a horror. That’s where everyones mind was on Friday.

Within hours the rage was unleashed, the natural companion to the compassion and sorrow. Rage against “gun nuts”, the 2nd amendment and the NRA lobbying dollars.  Rage against liberals who don’t understand the formula more guns = less violence (Rep. Gohmert, on Fox News wanted the Sandy Hook principal to be armed armed so she could have taken “his head off before he can kill those precious kids.”) Rage against the godless, gay agenda that causes such things to happen (Huckabee & Westboro Baptist). The usual.

As I have said on this blog before, I am a supporter of the 2nd amendment, and all the other amendments to the constitution for that matter, so I can’t get behind the folks who are saying things like “strike down the 2nd amendment”,  and “ban all guns”, because there are perfectly legitimate reasons for owning a gun…on a farm. Or for seasonal hunting. Or even for sport. Its tough to swallow, but there is a legitimate and compelling argument for maintaining and protecting the 2nd amendment.

I think instead we should reclaim the 2nd amendment for the people. Turn it back to the intent of the framers – common defense against a tyrannical government – rather than the modern interpretation of keep and bear arms to defend yourself. I would love to see semi-automatic handguns (used in Sandy Hook, Columbine, Chardon etc.) banned altogether.  Let the conceal & carry crowd have revolvers, “six-shooters”, 38-special – guns that no one has ever felt compelled to turn sideways when they shoot it in a movie. Can’t that be enough? Six bullets? To “defend your castle” and “stand your ground”?

There will be a great deal of opposition to any proposed changes in gun laws, the manufacture and sale of guns, or the regulation of gun owners because not only is the nonprofit, “grassroots NRA” funded by the likes of the Koch Brothers, but the firearm industry has  $11 billion in sales in 2012. So far. That’s a lot of skin in the game. The NRA spokespeople (some of whom are politicians) will try to deflect attention by advocating for increased mental health interventions rather than gun regulations. We need both so I hope they are successful. The Koch Bros. could redirect their lobbying dollars and make up children’s mental health services cuts in the 2013 Federal Health & Human Services budget. That would be a mitzvah.

The question that continues to worry me, is how long do we have for Congress to “take meaningful action” in regulating firearms before Sandy Hook fades to “another school shooting”. People were already irritated that the President’s speech on Sunday interrupted their football game and it was only 48-hours after it happened.

Given that many in our society follow football more closely than politics, is there “societal will” for gun control? Will this massacre of children, because they were so young, be enough to sustain US citizens through the intricacies and compromises of gun control legislation? Will the occasional reminder that someone else’s child will never grow old be enough to re-fuel the moral outrage that’s burning so brightly today?

Thinking about never seeing your child grow old should be the mental cliff we all stand on until meaningful gun regulations are passed.

I am a sucker for a telephone survey.

I know its because I spent my high school years doing telephone market research from 4 – 9 four nights a week. Some nights I could have cried for not being able to make my quota. I worked on a nationwide Burger King v. McDonald’s survey and another about soda pop in the early 80’s. My mother (who got me the job) did mall focus groups on the original SNL cast. It was the kind of lousy job that convinces you to go to college so you can be anything other than a tele-marketer.

So I answer survey calls out of both pity and gratitude that I don’t do this for a living.

The only surveys I ever lie on are the political ones. Years ago I started telling robo-polls that I was an African American. Sometimes I say I am a republican. This was really useful as it allowed me in 2008 to hear the call telling my that my voting place had changed (it had not) and recently that the ACLU is trying to take God out of my state motto (they are not). I do enjoy knowing what what tactics are being used.

Recently I told a robo-poll that we were an upper-middle class Jewish family that attends temple weekly and votes democrat. There is a contentious race here between a Jewish republican and a pinko, union card waving, liberal democrat so the identity politics are hitting pretty hard along with the name-calling and 100% false accusations.

The democrat, for whatever flaws he has, looks out for the working class (hence the pinko label) and fights to keep jobs in our state (the union card bit). He strikes me as a genuine “public servant” do-gooder based on his record + his wonky, rather than sound bite, speeches. I am firmly to the left of center so maybe I am pre-disposed.

I really don’t like the republican guy, and no that doesn’t mean I hate Israel. This is one small example of how his reasoning is playing in his political ads. He is pure ambition and started running this race the minute he got his current political position. Which means he is currently failing to do the job he was elected to do, while trying to get another job. If your employer found out you were doing that, wouldn’t they fire you on the spot?

Anyway. To add insult to injury, not only is he running on his religion and military service, but he is also a Koch-baby.

And that’s why I lie to pollsters. How else do you know what you don’t know?

Stimulating the economy is the only possible silver lining for the level of political spending that is going on right now, in July, of an election year.

When the Koch Bros. will be spending as much this year as McCain did in his whole campaign we have passed ludicrous and are now sitting somewhere south of crazy-town. (In case you need a refresher on the dangers of Koch, in its purest, uncooked form, this New Yorker profile from two years ago will fix you right up.) Maybe they will bankrupt themselves trying to buy the election in an effort to maximize profits. One can only hope.

This is not a rant about Citizens United. I don’t like the Citizens United ruling, but I think it will ultimately create a David v. Goliath situation and force citizen journalism, citizen action and citizen involvement in politics which are “good things”. And for you literal folks out there you will not find David v. Goliath on the SCOTUS blog.

The way that savvy activists and the Outraged Everyman are using social media is beginning to pay off. It may not be as dramatic as revolution in Egypt or Libya, but a sleepy US population seems to be waking up because of the outrageousness of super-pacs. I know the super-pacs have all the money, and by all the money I mean ALL the money, but they can’t control the twitter feeds & fb posts. If they could figure out how, they would of course, and when they do it will be too late because there will be a new something or other. There is hope yet for civil society and democracy.

Small-time warfare:
Take a bite out of the Koch wallet by buying Seventh Generation or Green Forest paper products. Stop buying Brawny towels, Angel Soft or Quilted Northern tissue, Dixie brand paper plates etc., Mardi Gras napkins. The Koch brothers own and make a lot of other stuff too, but paper products are easy to remember. Make your voice heard two dollars and eighty-nine cents at a time.

Apropos of social power – I was reading an article about social media and blog traffic and discovered that to be really relevant I would need to post pictures of my cat or my cooking. So.

Here is my cat. He is not named anything political like Mao, Stalin or Nixon or even ironic like Fido. His name is Nic.

Here is a cake I once baked. It is a Margarita Cake with Tequila Lime Glaze. It was good.

There. I have officially joined the legions in the “Age of Participation”.