What’s New? Just Another Mass Shooting

Friends and family members were gathered in the backyard to spend time together, share a meal, and watch a football game last night in a neighborhood in Fresno, California.  Today, four of those people are dead and at least six others in the hospital in critical condition.  Why?  How?

Guns.

Not much is known yet, but police surmise there were multiple suspects who sneaked into the backyard and opened fire.  Police are hoping to gain information from neighbor’s security cameras.  No victims’ names have been released as yet, and few details have been reported at this time.  Naturally, the usual and increasingly meaningless thoughts and prayers have been sent.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has expressed her outrage that gun legislation the House passed more than 260 days ago is being held up in the Senate …

“Enough is enough. The daily tragedy of gun violence continues to inflict terror and violence into communities across the country. Americans deserve real action to keep them safe, but Republicans continue to obstruct meaningful, bipartisan solutions to protect our children and communities. No one’s political survival is more important than the survival of our children.”

In my last post about a mass shooting, two short days ago, our friend Scottie provided the following information that I think is relevant here …

“The latest NBC News-Wall Street Journal survey finds that 89 percent of Americans favor expanded background checks for gun purchasers; 76 percent support “red flag” laws to identify dangerous persons and deny them guns, and 75 percent favor a voluntary buyback program in which the government would purchase firearms from current owners. Sixty-two percent of Americans favor a ban on the sale of semi-automatic weapons.”

89% … that figure includes a lot of gun owners.  Only 11% of the people in this country are against gun regulations.  It becomes obvious at this point that our elected representatives, particularly those of the republican party, do not represent the people of this country!!!  How the hell many more people have to die before these jackasses get voted out of office???

Guns.

Only in the United States of America are guns more sacred than human life.

Two Children Died — They Shouldn’t Have

Well, folks, there has been another school shooting.  This time, the shooter, Nathaniel Tennosuke Berhow, was a sixteen-year-old student at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California.  His mother dropped him off at school, he went into the school, pulled a gun from his backpack, fired all but one of the rounds in the gun, then turned it on himself and shot himself in the head.

Now, according to the New York Times, investigators are trying to understand why he took the gun out of his backpack and shot his fellow students.  I think the more basic question becomes, “Why did this sixteen-year-old boy have access to a gun to begin with?”  Police say there is no indication that his mother knew he had the gun in his backpack, but police also say they found six other guns, some not even registered, in his home.  It seems to me that the mother (his father is dead) should be under investigation for a) having what qualifies as an illegal arsenal in her home, b) leaving guns unsecured and able to be accessed by children, and c) child neglect/endangerment.

Of the five students he shot, two died from their wounds, three others are hospitalized.  The shooter did not immediately die but was rushed to the hospital where he died a day later, Friday afternoon.  The two students who were killed are Gracie Anne Muehlberger, a 15-year-old girl, and Dominic Blackwell, a 14-year-old boy.  One of the three injured students has been released from the hospital, the other two are expected to be released sometime this weekend.  All three are expected to survive … thankfully.

Police say they have no motive … the shooter did not leave behind any manifesto or letter, though it was obviously a planned attack.  The FBI are combing social media, looking for some clue as to what may have caused the boy to commit this horrendous crime.

Those are the facts, as they are known today.  The story made the news, but it seemingly paled in comparison to the impeachment news, Donald Trump’s hate-filled tweets, Roger Stone’s trial, and Rudy Giuliani’s stupidity.  Perhaps it was because this time, only 2 students died?  Perhaps the people in this nation are becoming inured to gun violence?  Perhaps there is a new feeling of hopelessness, in light of the fact that the National Rifle Association (NRA) appear to control enough of our legislators to keep any gun regulations from passing into law.

So, you are probably asking yourselves why I am even writing about this one, given that I have said it all before, time and time again, and that there is not much that can be added at this point.  Well, I’ve asked myself that, as well.  Why bother?  I’ve said it all before, I’m preaching to the choir because my readers are 99% in agreement with me on this, my words won’t reach the ears of those who need to hear them, and even if they did, they wouldn’t heed my words.

But, it seems to me that if we allow ourselves to fall into that trap, if we throw our hands up in the air and say, “Why bother?”, then we have lost the battle … the good guys will have given up and turned the nation, the lives of our children and grandchildren, over to the thugs.  At the very least … the very least … Gracie Anne Muehlberger and Dominic Blackwell deserve to be recognized, to be remembered, to be honoured.  But, I believe we owe them more than that.

I believe we owe Gracie Anne and Dominic and the other 842[1] children under age 18 killed by guns so far in 2019, and the other 2,447 children injured by guns thus far this year, to make our voices heard, to keep on shouting loud and clear, to work to bring about an end to the corruption of our politicians and the NRA.  WE OWE IT TO THE CHILDREN!!!

Only in the United States is there free and unfettered access to guns by every man, woman and child, bar almost none.  Only in the United States do we send our children to school, never knowing whether they will return at the end of the day.  The people who could stop the madness, won’t.  Their children haven’t been affected … yet.

Please, friends, vote out the bastards in Congress who take donations from the NRA.  Let’s start using some good sense.  Find out who in your state is taking NRA money [2] and get them out!  Surely the lives of our children matter more than our right to own a killing machine?

[1] Gun Violence Archive 2019

[2] Open Secrets database … searchable by state, party, election cycle, amount

Note to readers:  Saturday Surprise is on hiatus for this week … I felt this was more important.  Apologies, and Saturday Surprise will, hopefully, return next week.

Filosofa Rants …

Tonight I am on a rant.  I do know that what Trump actually does is more important than what he says, but … sometimes the two go hand-in-hand.  Now that a formal impeachment inquiry has been started, we fully expect him to go off the rails for the duration, and I’ve said before that he is even more dangerous when he feels threatened or cornered, as he surely must feel now.


Round and round it goes, where it stops no one knows

Ever since the news of the whistleblower was first hinted at, life for those of us who care about such things, has been rather like being in a high-speed blender … far too many goings-on to keep up with, far too many jaw-dropping moments.  And it just keeps getting crazier and crazier … I well remember the Watergate era, the resignation of President Richard Nixon … yes, I was a political nerd even then … I remember what would become known as the “Saturday Night Massacre”.  I remember the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the aftermath.  And through it all, I do not remember the level of chaos, of utter contempt for the rule of law, as we are seeing today.  And this is only the beginning!

The latest is that apparently Trump is trading a promise to the National Rifle Association (NRA) that he will not support any additional gun legislation in exchange for monetary assistance with his legal fees during the impeachment process and next year’s election.  Put that in your pipe and smoke it for a minute.

On Friday, Trump hosted Chief Executive of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, at the White House for a meeting.  The information was provided to the New York Times by two people who attended the meeting, but later an NRA spokesperson denied that there was an offer of support in exchange for Trump’s opposition to gun laws.  Sorry, but given the history of both Trump and LaPierre … I have no trouble whatsoever believing that they agreed to such a deal.  And what the heck else would they have talked about … the price of coffee beans?

The NRA, in case you’ve forgotten, provided some $30 million toward Trump’s election campaign in 2016 … if you wondered why he falls in line whenever the NRA calls and asks “How high?” when Wayne LaPierre tells him to “JUMP!”, wonder no more.

So, to summarize that … the lives of the people in this nation are as nothing to Trump, and he is willing to trade away our lives in exchange for financial help from the most dishonest group in the U.S.  Got that, folks?


In other Trumpian-news …

Donald Trump is about to face impeachment charges, in all likelihood.  He tried to blackmail the president of the Ukraine to rig next year’s election.  He has obstructed justice.  He is holding kids in cages at the southern border, despite an order by a federal judge to reunite those children with their parents.  He has diverted funds that were budgeted to help with recovery efforts for Puerto Rico still suffering from the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017, in order to build a wall that nobody wants and that will serve no purpose other than to feed Trump’s ego.  But … what was the breaking news yesterday afternoon?

State Dept. intensifies email probe of Hillary Clinton’s former aides

That’s right, folks.  The United States Department of State is more worried about Hillary Clinton’s emails from several years ago … emails that were already investigated and it was determined that there was no crime, no breach of national security … than they are worried about the person in the Oval Office who is committing a crime-a-day, it would seem!  And on our tax dollars, folks … our hard-earned money is paying for the State Department to waste their time investigating a non-issue, while the most corrupt individual in this nation is playing footsies with the Russians and the Saudis, rigging next year’s election, and doing his best to shred the U.S. Constitution.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch … Ivanka Trump did not preserve all of her official emails as required by federal law, and her husband, Jared Kushner, used a messaging application to conduct U.S. business outside government channels, according to Elijah Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.  Is there some double-standard in play here?

Oh … and in case you didn’t hear a couple of weeks ago, Trump is urging the House Judiciary Committee to launch an investigation into President Obama!

Barack Obama signed a book deal in 2017, just as other former presidents have, and a production deal with Netflix a year later.  All on the up-and-up.  But Trump, under the gun himself, has to deflect … to anybody he can think of …

“We want to find out what happened with the last Democrat president. Let’s look into Obama, the way they’ve looked at me … They could look into the book deal that President Obama made. Look at the Obama Book Deal, or the ridiculous Netflix deal.”

Ridiculous?  Smoke and mirrors?  Sure, but … folks, this isn’t just some kid throwing a temper tantrum … it’s the person who was elected to lead a nation of some 330 million people, and this is what we get for our money?  I don’t know about you folks, but I feel cheated … terribly cheated.  We deserve better … much better.dump-trump

You May Have Missed This One …

Did you all know there was another mass shooting in the U.S. on Saturday morning?  It happened in Lancaster, South Carolina at a sports bar – 2 people were killed, and 8 others injured.  There was no “breaking news” update on my phone, I saw nothing in the usual places about it, and even once I saw brief mention of it on the Associated Press (AP) website and went in search of further information, I found the story only in the back pages of the New York Times and Time magazine.  Nowhere else.  Why?

Is it because only two people were killed?  Because it took place in a bar?  Because it was South Carolina?  Or because we are becoming so inured to the news of mass shootings that this wasn’t really considered by the editors to be ‘big news’?  Or … more ominous still, was it suppressed intentionally?  I don’t know the answer, and I’m not trying to put forth some conspiracy theory, but folks … 10 people were shot!  Why was this not ‘breaking news’???

A clue to why this wasn’t national news may lie with the statement by Lancaster Country Sheriff Barry Faile …

“This was a violent incident of huge magnitude that was witnessed by lots of people.  We don’t think this was a situation where a random person armed himself and went into a randomly selected location and shot a bunch of unknown people.”

Apparently, the sheriff believes that the shooting was the result of a local conflict.  While he declined to discuss the nature of the dispute, he said that one of those killed had been involved in the conflict, which had been going on for a couple of months.  He also said that neither the victim involved in the dispute nor the person officials were seeking as the gunman were legally allowed to have guns, both having been previously convicted on firearms charges.

So, because it was rather a Hatfield vs McCoys situation in the rural south, it’s not newsworthy?  It’s still a mass shooting with people dead and injured because … because … well, guns. I guess that since it wasn’t widely reported, the NRA and our elected lawmakers didn’t feel they needed to bother to even send their ‘thoughts and prayers’ … it’s the weekend, after all … they obviously have more important things to do, like playing golf or watching sports on television than to be bothered that people are losing their lives.

This summer, we heard about El Paso, Dayton, and Odessa … they were big news, for a few days anyway.  But did you realize that between Memorial Day in May, and Labour Day in September, there were 26 mass shootings in 18 states, leaving 126 people dead?  More than half of the mass killing suspects this summer had a family or romantic tie to at least one victim. Among them: A teenager in Alabama accused of killing five relatives, a father in Iowa who killed his wife and two school-aged sons, a man in Oklahoma charged with killing his wife and stepchildren.

A variety of scenarios and motives.  The common denominator?  A gun.  Time and time and time again we hear the tired old NRA motto that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”.  True, but people use guns to kill people.  Sure, people also use knives and fists to kill people, but a gun does it so much quicker and more efficiently.  You stand a good chance of outrunning or outmaneuvering a man with a knife, but you cannot outrun a gun.  Make no mistake … contrary to what those gun lovers will tell you, a gun has one purpose and only one purpose:  to kill.

While several of the summer’s 26 mass shootings dominated national headlines, others — like a triple homicide in rural Pennsylvania — received little attention beyond where they happened.  WHY???  Is this nation becoming so numb to the daily toll of gun violence that it is no longer considered newsworthy unless it happens in the public eye? Or is it possible that the ‘free press’ is not as free as we believe?

With each mass shooting that did receive national media attention, the public outcry grew louder and louder.  When Ohio’s governor spoke at a vigil in August, Dayton residents drowned him out with shouts of “Do something!”  Imagine if every mass shooting had been headline news … how loud might the public be screaming for gun laws today?  Instead, most are swept under the carpet …

Think about it.

Only in America

It’s September, and you know what that means!  Shorter days, cooler temperatures, the leaves on the trees starting to turn from green to vibrant gold, purple and red.  Pumpkins and apples, the smell of woodsmoke in the air, and … oh yes, those big yellow buses once again rumbling down the street – back to school! school-bus.pngYou won’t see a back-to-school ad like this in France, Germany, or the UK.  You won’t even see an ad like this in Syria or Afghanistan.  Only in America would you would ever see an advertisement like this one.

That was a Public Service Announcement by the Sandy Hook Promise, an anti-violence nonprofit founded by the parents of victims of the Sandy Hook shootings in 2012.  Raw, jaw-dropping, disturbing?  Yeah, it was meant to be.  Only in America.  What a claim to fame, eh?

This morning, I watched the neighborhood kids walking down the street, backpacks slung over their shoulders, heading to the corner to await the big yellow bus.  I was thinking, as I watched, that I hope they all make it home safe and sound today.  Only in America.

We do everything possible to make sure our kids are safe from the day they are born.  We spend hundreds of dollars on the best car seat to protect them in case of a crash. We spend even more on monitoring systems so that we can listen for the slightest aberration in their breathing while they sleep.  We sterilize their bottles and insist on only the purest ingredients in their food.  We buy them helmets and other safety equipment to protect them in the event of a fall from a bicycle or skateboard.  But the one thing the citizens of this nation refuse to do to protect their children is to demand Congress pass laws to limit guns in the hands of unqualified civilians.

I’ve often wondered, if Mitch McConnell’s grandchild were the victim of a school shooter, would he then be willing to talk about gun legislation?

Only in the U.S. will you find these …backpacksYep … kid-themed bullet-proof backpacks.  Wow, huh?  According to a CBS News report …

“Demand for bulletproof and bullet-resistant backpacks and related products are soaring this back-to-school season amid growing fear about mass shooters.”

Of course, they are only useful if the child is shot in the back and if he happens to be wearing his backpack at the time he is shot.  What next?  Full body armour and bullet-proof helmets?  Only in America.

Nearly a quarter of a million children have been affected by gun violence in their schools since Columbine in 1999.  Think about that one for a minute.  And we’re not talking about New York City, Houston, or Los Angeles, folks!  We’re talking about Newtown, Connecticut, population 27,560.  We’re talking about Parkland, Florida, population 32,202.  Columbine, Colorado, population 24,280.  The madness isn’t just in the cities … it has come right to a neighborhood near you.  Or, maybe it has come to your neighborhood.

school-shootingsThe NRA and our own lawmakers have suggested that arming teachers is the solution … more guns.  But we all know it isn’t.  Guns don’t belong in schools.  Period.  Not in the hands of teachers, and for damn sure not in the hands of students.  Only in America would such a ludicrous proposal even be considered.

The only answer is serious gun regulation.  You know it and I know it.  Our legislators know it, but their children are safe, they go to posh private schools with the latest technology to protect their children, and thus their interests lie in lining their pockets with donations from the gun industry.  What does it matter if a few of our children die?  Only in America.

Think of your children, your grandchildren, the kid down the street who brought you a handful of wilting wildflowers last week “just because”.  I think the video by Sandy Hook Promise should be required watching for every single lawmaker in this country.  Let them think how they would feel if that little girl in the bathroom at the end were their own child.  Only in America.

Snarky Snippets To End The Week …

I was plugging along, working on a post about the democrats and last night’s debate, when I came across a few snippets that … well, I just couldn’t resist another snarky snippets post!  The debate post will come later, hopefully tomorrow afternoon, but for today I was sidetracked … that seems to happen a lot!


She got WHAT from WHOM???

Trump’s kids are hot on the campaign trail, stumping for daddy.  Late last month, daughter Ivanka (you know, the useless one whose sole purpose in the administration seems to be to stand by daddy fluttering her lashes) attended a “retreat” (what the Sam Heck are they retreating from?) arranged by Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Jackson Hole in the Wyoming mountains. The sole purpose was to bilk money from the wealthy potential donors in attendance.IvankaIvanka was asked what personality traits she has inherited from her parents.  She said that her mother gave her an example of how to be a powerful, successful woman, and that … wait for it … her father had given her his “moral compass”! Hoo-boy!  If that one didn’t make you nearly fall out of your seat laughing, then nothing will!  Moral compass???  What moral compass???  Well, folks, you’ve got to feel sorry for the little Trumps, if nothing else.  Ivanka and Jared have three (this family really makes the case for forced sterilization):  Arabella Rose, Joseph Frederick, and Theodore James.  See, they cannot even give the poor kids simple names … well, at least their last name isn’t Trump, though I’m not sure ‘Kushner’ is any more respectable.


Skewed priorities

I’ve heard of ‘vaping’, but never cared enough to figure out exactly what it is. I knew only that it was a replacement for smoking.  But, in the past few weeks it has been in all the headlines, as apparently a few people … I believe it is six people, to be exact … had died as a result of vaping.  I still wasn’t all that interested, and I’ll tell you why.  I am a smoker.  I started smoking at age 13, some 55 years ago.  I smoke, on average, 3 packs a day.  That is my choice, and I’m well aware of the health risks involved, and I accept full responsibility for my actions and the results of those actions.  Period.  So, if people choose vaping instead of smoking tobacco, fine, but accept that the onus is on you, not society at large.

But what did finally catch my attention was when it was announced that Trump is considering a ban on flavoured electronic cigarettes.  The reason?

“We can’t allow people to get sick. And we can’t have our youth be so affected.”

Oh … oh oh oh … the IRONY!!!  This, from the ‘man’ who has fought tooth and nail to repeal the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, and cause some 20 million people to lose their access to affordable health care!  This from the ‘man’ who refuses to even consider the most minimal of gun regulations, due to pressure from his buddies over at the NRA!

There is not even any evidence thus far that it was vaping that caused the six deaths.  Consider the most recent case, a 50-year-old man from Kansas who had a history of underlying health issues!  Not a child, not even a healthy adult!  Six cases … and he’s going to ban it!  Heck, last year in the U.S., five people died from eating lettuce contaminated with E. coli from contaminated water that was used to irrigate the crops.  Simply testing the water would have prevented it, but Trump & Co. even then refused to make testing of irrigation water mandatory.  And … Trump did not ban lettuce … I know this because I just bought some on Wednesday.

There have been 22 school shootings in the U.S. in 2019 thus far.  Six deaths possibly related to vaping, and he’ll ban e-cigarettes, but 22 school shootings don’t even warrant a consideration of enhanced gun safety laws???  This, folks, is a problem.  This is an upside-down setting of priorities. The only thing I can figure is that the vaping industry doesn’t have a strong enough lobby.


And, since nobody … not even me … does snarky better than the late-night hosts, let’s let Jimmy Kimmel start our weekend out with bunch of laughs!


Have a great weekend, my friends!

She Wants To Go ‘Behind Closed Doors’???

Joni-ErnstJoni Ernst is a U.S. Senator representing the state of Iowa.  Ordinarily, I would respect and admire this woman, for she served for 23 years in the U.S. military.  Ordinarily, given her military service, I would even be able to look past the fact that she is a republican.  But, when somebody starts trying to rob me and millions of other people, they lose my respect real fast.

Before I get into that, let’s take a look at Ms. Ernst and some of the things she stands either for or against:

  • Ernst referred to Obama as a dictator who should be “removed from office” or face “impeachment.” And yet … she wouldn’t support impeaching the most corrupt, autocratic president in history?

  • Ernst opposes the federal minimum wage and has said that states should have sole authority to set their own minimum wages, saying, “I think $7.25 is appropriate.” I wonder how she would like to try to live on $7.25 per hour, which is $15,080 per year?

  • Ernst has proposed eliminating the Internal Revenue Service as well as the Department of Education and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Seriously???

  • She has an ‘A’ rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA) … no wonder she has received $3.1 million from the NRA! Needless to say, she sends lots of ‘thoughts and prayers’ and opposes any and all gun legislation.

  • She endorses and supports U.S. Representative Steve King, the ultimate racist, who also happens to be from Iowa. That speaks for itself.

  • Like most republicans, she opposes same-sex marriage and abortion.

All of the above is enough to make her unsuitable to be in the U.S. Senate, but the latest takes the prize.  A week ago, during the congressional recess, Ms. Ernst held a town hall meeting with constituents in Estherville, Iowa.  During the course of that meeting, she said that members of Congress should negotiate changes to Social Security “behind closed doors” in order to dodge scrutiny from the media and advocacy groups.

“The minute you say we need to address Social Security, the media is hammering you, the opposing party is hammering you—there goes granny over a cliff.”

Say WHAT???

Please, Ms. Ernst, allow me to explain a couple of things to you.  First, every single thing you do in your job, every single word you utter, should be recorded and reported by the media.  Why?  Because you work for us, not the other way around.  We have a right, nay … we have a need … to know everything that any member of our federal government does.  Today, with the most corrupt and ignorant president in the history of the nation in office, that need is even more imperative, for you and others of your ilk have proven time and time again that you do not have the best interests of this nation and its people at heart.

Second, perhaps you don’t understand about Social Security, but WE fund it, just as we fund your salary.  Yes, WE!  Out of every paycheck we earn throughout our entire life, 7.65% is withheld … 6.2% of that is to fund our government-managed retirement account, and the other 1.45% is to fund Medicare.  Our employers match our contributions, dollar for dollar.  Neither Social Security nor Medicare are “entitlements” that the government giveth and thus can taketh away!  I see that you have a Master of Public Administration degree from Columbus State University, so how do you not understand such a simple concept???

I do not live in Iowa, so I cannot vote this woman out of the Senate, however she IS up for re-election next year, so if any of my readers hail from Iowa, or if you know of anybody who lives in Iowa, please encourage them to vote this harridan out of office, and Steve King, too!

Joni-Ernst-Trump

Trump & Ernst — on the campaign trail

Joni Ernst is not alone in wishing to cut Social Security and Medicare.  In August, Senator John Barrasso, a republican from Wyoming told the New York Times that his party has discussed cutting Medicare and Social Security with Trump and said the president has expressed openness to the idea.  The Times also reported that Trump said it was “a second-term project”.  And republican Senator John Thune from South Dakota, reportedly said it is …

“Going to take presidential leadership to cut Social Security and Medicare, and it’s going to take courage by the Congress to make some hard votes. We can’t keep kicking the can down the road.”

What ‘can’???  You take our money for the 50 years or so that we are in the work force, you invest it and, assuming you invested it wisely, you get a return on that investment, and now you don’t wish to give it back?  It’s a paltry enough sum that we get back as it is!

Folks, I could list at least 100 good reasons that this nation cannot afford to re-elect Donald Trump in 2020.  This is just one, but an important one – a crucial one.

Sunday Afternoon … Humour???

It’s Sunday afternoon, a lazy sort of time when we all try not to think about getting back to the grind tomorrow.  Today is also National Grandparent’s Day, and my girls are taking me to the local ice cream stand this afternoon to celebrate! Sunday is typically a slow news day, for the subject of most news here in the U.S. is on the golf course cheating in order to turn those 25 strokes on a par 4 hole to 3, rather than sitting in the Oval Office tweeting ignorance and vitriol.  So, what better time than to see what the cartoonists have been up to in the past week, yes?


Naturally, the whole incident with Trump using a Sharpie pen to re-draw Hurricane Dorian’s projected path to include Alabama was the subject of much mirth and mockery …

sharpie-1sharpie-2sharpie-3sharpie-4sharpie-5sharpie-6sharpie-7

sharpie-8


There are still fools in this world, most of them in the United States, I do believe, who would deny that the effects of the industrial revolution and our current lifestyle have led to a phenomenon we now call ‘climate change’ and that we are within years of destroying our own atmosphere.  As if that weren’t bad enough, the Amazon rainforest that provides 20% of the earth’s oxygen is still burning and far too little is being done to put the fires out.  Sigh.

climateclimate-2climate-4

climate-5

So True!

Hurricane Dorianclimate-7


2019 has been the year for mass shootings in the U.S.  The NRA, though reportedly having its own troubles, is still adding to ours by insisting that more guns is a good thing and … well, what’s a few thousand lives, eh?  Trump, McConnell, and the rest of the republicans who are in the pockets of the gun manufacturers and lobbyists continue to make excuses for their inaction.  And meanwhile, the people of this nation continue to die at an exponentially higher rate than any other nation on earth.

guns-1guns-2guns-3guns-4guns-5guns-6


And finally, a few random ‘toons I stumbled across …

electionlibertyliberty-2terroristTrump-Boristrump-foxTrump-lies


Enjoy the rest of your Sunday afternoon, friends!

Still More … Sigh … Snarky Snippets

So many things were flying at my radar last night when I was trying to find my focus for this post that it must be time for another episode of … Snarky Snippets!


Mikey goes to Ireland …

Mike Pence, well-known for his anti-LGBT bigotry, traveled (at our expense) to Ireland this week, for some reason unbeknownst to those of us who paid his way.  Oh yeah … his wife accompanied him, also at our expense.  You ever been to Ireland?  No?  Me either … probably never will, for I can’t afford it after paying for Mikey and Karen to go.  Anyway … to the point …

This, from The Irish Times on Tuesday, September 3rdPence-gay-protest

“A “Disco outside the Dáil” organised in protest against the visit of US vice-president Mike Pence drew a crowd to Kildare Street this afternoon.

Protesters led by Amnesty International waved rainbow flags, wore Mike Pence masks and danced to music by YMCA and RuPaul, in a demonstration inspired by US LGBT activists.

Executive director of Amnesty International in Ireland Colm O Gorman told the jubilant crowds that “the best way for us to defeat hate is to be who we are, to be courageous and bold”.

During his visit, Mr Pence has spoken repeatedly of his Sligo-born grandfather, Richard Michael Cawley, and has previously said that he was inspired by the former soldier, who served with the Irish Defence Forces in the Civil War.

However, Mr O Gorman called out Mr Pence’s claims to Irish values, saying ‘he doesn’t get to accept Irish values if he’s not prepared to listen to what Ireland has to say to him right now’.”

And back on this side of the pond, deputy White House press secretary Judd Deere claimed that …

“For all of you who think our @VP is anti-gay, I point you to his and the @SecondLady’s schedule tomorrow where they will join Taoiseach @LeoVaradkar and his partner Dr. Matthew Barrett for lunch in Ireland”

Say WHAT???  So, because Pence is doing the job he was sent to Ireland to do, meeting with the Prime Minister of Ireland who happens to be gay, that makes him unbiased?  I think not.

Note:  I will have more on Pence’s visit in a later post.


San Francisco takes on the NRA …

I lived in California off and on during my childhood and youth, and more and more I wish I still lived there.  The state government has some sense, they put people first.  California has always had the highest emission standards in the nation, and these days they are thumbing their nose at Trump’s rollback of environmental regulations, sticking to their own high standards despite his attempts to hasten the destruction of our planet’s resources.  But this latest caused me to clap my hands!

This week, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution declaring the National Rifle Association (NRA) a domestic terrorist organization.

The resolution was introduced by Supervisor Catherine Stefani on July 30, two days after a shooting at a garlic festival in Gilroy, Calif., in which three people were killed and more than a dozen others injured.

Ms. Stefani said the N.R.A. conspires to limit gun violence research, restrict gun violence data sharing and block every piece of sensible gun violence prevention legislation proposed at local, state and federal levels.

“The N.R.A. exists to spread pro-gun propaganda and put weapons in the hands of those who would harm and terrorize us. Nobody has done more to fan the flames of gun violence than the N.R.A.”

Granted, the resolution has little or no practical value, but what it does do is send a message to the NRA and the gun nuts in this nation that California takes gun violence seriously, unlike states such as Texas who seem to believe that if one gun is bad, then more guns are better.  The NRA got the message and responded via … what else … Twitter:

“@NRA is the fabric of American society. We are teachers, doctors, cops, and everyone who fights for America’s freedoms. San Fran should be ashamed.”


Racism by any other name …

Mississippi has long been known for its racism … watch the movie, Mississippi Burning and you’ll see what I mean.  But, this is the 21st century and I have to admit this one stunned me.  Two people are planning a wedding.  The groom is African-American, the bride-to-be is Caucasian.  The groom’s sister, LaKambria Welch, was helping the couple make the arrangements, and as such she had been in touch with Boone’s Camp Event Hall in Booneville, Mississippi about having the wedding there.  All seemed to be going well, until suddenly the couple received a message saying that they could not hold their wedding at Boone’s Camp due to “the owner’s personal beliefs”.

Ms. Welch and her mother went to Boone’s Camp to try to find out what had happened.  They were told …

“We don’t do gay weddings or mixed race, because of our Christian race, I mean our Christian belief. I don’t want to argue my faith, we just don’t participate.”

Christian race???  WTF???

Boone’s Camp Event Hall said in a statement on Tuesday that the owners had previously been taught to believe that “interracial marriage was against the teachings of the Bible.”  They followed the statement with a milquetoast apology.  There is much I could say about this, but I’ve said it all a million times before, so I will leave you to pick your jaws up from the floor now, as I do the same.


Oops!

And just a bit of humour to end this post.  I had saved the link to an article in The Washington Post that I was using as a source for one of the above stories last night, and when I tried to pull it back up today, I got an error message … I had never seen this one before, but it definitely gave me a smile!oops.png

On Guns … The Right Thing To Do

Two days ago, Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon sent a letter to their employees part of which reads …

Doug-McMillonDear Associates,

We’ve … been listening to a lot of people inside and outside our company as we think about the role we can play in helping to make the country safer. It’s clear to us that the status quo is unacceptable.

We’ve been giving a lot of thought to our sale of firearms and ammunition. We’ve previously made decisions to stop selling handguns or military-style rifles such as the AR-15, to raise the age limit to purchase a firearm or ammunition to 21, to require a “green light” on a background check while federal law only requires the absence of a “red light,” to videotape the point of sale for firearms and to only allow certain trained associates to sell firearms.

Today, we’re sharing the decisions we’ve made that go further:

After selling through our current inventory commitments, we will discontinue sales of short-barrel rifle ammunition such as the .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber that, while commonly used in some hunting rifles, can also be used in large capacity clips on military-style weapons;

We will sell through and discontinue handgun ammunition; and

We will discontinue handgun sales in Alaska, marking our complete exit from handguns. [emphasis added]

Finally, we encourage our nation’s leaders to move forward and strengthen background checks and to remove weapons from those who have been determined to pose an imminent danger. We do not sell military-style rifles, and we believe the reauthorization of the Assault Weapons ban should be debated to determine its effectiveness. We must also do more, as a country, to understand the root causes that lead to this type of violent behavior. Today, I’m sending letters to the White House and the Congressional leadership that call for action on these common sense measures.

As you all know, I am no fan of Wal-Mart, but I applaud this measure with both hands.  It is too little, and too late coming, but at least the CEO of this company has, finally, shown some common sense and more concern for the people of this nation than most of our elected officials.

Within minutes after Wal-Mart making this announcement publicly, the NRA flew into a rage! NRA-tweet

Well, if you think the NRA represents the ‘voice of the people’, if you think that most people in this nation are against any form of gun legislation, as the NRA would have you believe … explain this:

“Shares of the retailer rose more than 1% to a record high on Wednesday. The gains game after Walmart announced Tuesday that it would change its policies around gun-sales in response to two deadly shootings that killed 24 people at Walmart stores in El Paso, Texas and Southaven, Mississippi.” – Business Insider, 04 September 2019

Walmart-stock-graph

Similarly, after Dick’s Sporting Goods announced in February 2017, in response to the devastating Parkland school shooting, that it was raising the age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21, and would no longer sell assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and bump stocks in any of its 730 U.S. stores, their profits increased by 3.2%.

As a result of Wal-Mart’s announcement, some gun nuts took to Twitter, calling for a boycott of Wal-Mart, but you know what, folks?  In a May Quinnipiac poll, 61% overall said they are in favour of stricter gun regulations.  The breakdown here is interesting:  91% of democrats, 59% of independents, and only 32% of republicans.  What a shocker, eh? Quinnipiac-poll

Note that women are more in favour of gun regulation than men (again, no surprise there), and blacks are overwhelmingly more in favour than whites … could be because they are most often on the receiving end of a bullet.  Apparently 5% of the people polled didn’t much care one way or another.  Sigh.

Wal-Mart, with its 1.5 million employees nationwide, is the single largest retailer in the nation.  They may, in a very practical sense, have even more clout than the NRA when they choose to use it.  But, it isn’t enough.  The shooter who killed at least 7 and injured 20+ more in Odessa Texas last Saturday had failed a background check to buy a gun … twice.  Yet, he had an AR-15 assault weapon in his car when police tried to stop him in a traffic stop.  How?  He bought it in a private sale … in Texas, private gun sales do not require a background check.

And, in spite of two mass shootings in Texas last month, the state legislature expanded gun rights … nay, I cannot even call it “rights”, for these rights infringe on others’ rights … by passing the following:

  • Senate Bill 535: allows Texans to carry guns in churches, synagogues and other places of worship, unless otherwise banned by those places with proper signage.
  • Senate Bill 741: prohibits property owners’ associations from banning storage of guns on rental properties.
  • House Bill 121: provides a legal defense for licensed handgun owners who unknowingly enter an establishment that bans firearms as long as they leave when asked.
  • House Bill 302: prohibits landlords from banning renters and their guests from carrying firearms in lease agreements.
  • House Bill 1387: loosens restrictions on the number of school marshals who can carry guns at public and private schools in Texas.
  • House Bill 1177: allows Texans to carry handguns without a license during a state of disaster.
  • House Bill 1143: prohibits school districts from banning licensed gun owners from storing guns and ammunition in their vehicles in parking lots.
  • House Bill 2363: allows certain foster homes to store guns and ammunition in a locked location.

Take a close look at these!  They prohibit a landlord from banning guns in his/her rental property!  How utterly stupid!  They loosen gun laws in schools, churches, foster homes.  What could possibly go wrong, eh?  Governor Abbott signed all these bills into law in May & June, and they went into effect the day after the Odessa shooting. Irony?

C’mon people!!!  Let’s get serious and make it damn clear once more that people’s lives, that our safety, the safety of our children, mean more than anybody’s so-called “right” to own and carry a gun.  Get the damn guns out of the hands of civilians!  At the very least, insist on background checks for every single gun sale, and ban the damn assault rifles once and for all!

Note that in his letter to his employees and his public announcement, Doug McMillon encouraged the nation’s lawmakers to act.  I second that motion … time to get back into phone-calling and letter-writing mode, my friends.  This madness cannot continue!