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The first law of handgun safety is that the gun is always loaded. Always. Following that law prevents shooting someone else or yourself by accident.

The second law of handgun safety is you should never point the gun at anything you don’t intend to destroy. Never. Handguns are weapons. Loaded handguns are loaded weapons.

The third law of handgun safety is to never hand a loaded gun to anyone.  Always remove the clip and/or the bullets before placing the gun down on a level surface with the business end of the weapon pointing away from anyone else.

These are three laws you do not want to forget. Here’s why: When fired, handguns destroy some or all of whatever they are pointed at.  You may point the business end of the gun at nothing more threatening than a paper target or a tin can, but make no mistake: the gun doesn’t know a paper target or a tin can from a human heart.

There are reasons why gun enthusiasts call the above three statements about gun safety “laws.” But even if you have never fired a weapon or if you are an expert, you already get my point:  Guns are serious business.

Which is to say, also, that a handgun – or any gun - should never be given to anyone who is not fully trained in gun safety.

Our economy is not a handgun but it is serious business. Very serious. When it is being wielded as a weapon of mass destruction – as has been the case with this Congress – I have to ask why we don’t require members of legislative bodies to pass a test of economic safety before handing it over to them?

Instead, we watch economically incompetent Tea Party asshats and Republican thugs propose to destroy social programs that promote and protect the public good.  Signature American programs such as social security and Medicare, as well as the budgets of federal regulatory agencies (such as the FAA and FDA) that serve the best health and welfare interests of all Americans, are threatened by those who would trade in “the public good” for continued inequitable tax advantages for the rich and maintaining corporate tax loopholes so their donors can easily pass through them.

This is not fair and it is not right.

Essentially, political extremists armed with dangerous ideas tethered to a failed economic model have been handed a loaded economic handgun without the requisite economic safety training. They say they have taken aim at lowering the national debt but they fully intend to do so by dismantling social programs and creating collateral damage to anything that supports “the public good” while they do it.

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The laws of handgun safety are not based on empty theories but instead on cold, hard, empirical facts. The opposite is true for Republican economics: it’s all empty theory and the facts don’t support it. The false “trickle down” voodoo that lowered tax rates for the wealthy to unprecedented (and unsustainable) levels have failed to produce the promised economic boom and have failed to create jobs.

Yet the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, persists in repeating the same old lame “job creator” rhetoric as if it were gospel truth. So does Michelle Bachmann and the boys on the presidential campaign bus.  So do the talking heads over at Fox. So too do Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Anne Coulter, and others of their ilk. Here’s the only reasonable take-away from their alignment: The coordination of a political message accompanied by media saturation is an effective propaganda technique, but it is not leadership. And it won’t solve our economic problems.

I remember when Boehner assumed his present position and he talked at length about his working class roots, his long struggle to attain success, and his belief that he was living “the American Dream.”  I worried in a blog at that time that his “rugged individualism” storyline lacked a sufficient appreciation for the public contributions to his success and that his tenure as Speaker of the House would likely be one not dedicated to helping others, but instead to towing the conservative/ Tea Party line.  That is to say that he would be leading a right wing Republican chorus dedicated to preserving the privilege and tax status of the rich while doing the de-regulation bidding of large corporations.

If you read his proposed legislation and listen to his interviews and speeches, I think you’ll agree I have been proven right.  

But it’s not about me being right.  George Lakoff and Glenn Smith, writing in The Huffington Post, sum it this way:

[T]here is no such thing as a "self-made" man or woman or business. No one makes it on their own. No matter how much wealth you amass, you depend on all the things the public has provided -- roads, water, law enforcement, fire and disease protection, food safety, government research, and all the rest. The only question is whether you have paid your fair share for we all have given you.

We are now faced with a nontraditional, radical view of "democracy" coming from the Republican party. It says that "democracy" means that nobody should care about anybody else, that "democracy" means only personal responsibility, not responsibility for anyone else, and it means no trust. If America accepts this radical view of "democracy," then all that we have given each other in the past under traditional democracy will be lost: all that we have called public. Public roads and bridges: gone. Public schools: gone. Publicly funded police and firemen: gone. Safe food, air, and water: gone. Public health: gone. Everything that made America America, the crucial things that you and your family and your friends have taken for granted: gone.

The democracy of care, shared responsibility, and trust is the democracy of the American Dream. The "democracy" of no care, no shared responsibility, and no trust has produced the American Nightmare that so many of our citizens are living through.

This systematic dismantling of “the public good” and a corresponding voodoo economic model is all the Republicans have to offer us in this time of impending economic crisis. It is as if they have been handed a loaded handgun without training and a large paper target has been placed on the backs of most Americans.  

It is a paper target.  But just as a bullet doesn’t know the difference between a paper target and a human heart, neither do these Republican members of Congress.

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