Big Fat Liar

Well, ol’ Alex Jones, America’s #1 conspiracy theorist, finally had his day in Court and … it did not go well for Jones! I was going to write about it, but Clay Jones (no relation to Alex!) of Claytoonz has done it far better than I could have, and he even has a cartoon! Thanks, Clay — great job as always!

claytoonz

If you’re a gaslighting conspiracy theorist with a national platform spreading bullshit that defames, libels, and tears apart democracy, you better have good lawyers. Alex Jones, fortunately for the rest of us who hate lies, conspiracy theories, and bullshit, does not have good lawyers.

Alex Jones is a conspiracy theorist as it’s his business. He knows the bullshit he’s spreading is fake. Conspiracy theories are his business but lying is his nature. He’s also not intelligent enough to get away with it. Yesterday, Alex Jones was busted during cross-examination of not just being a liar, but of withholding evidence. And, the revelations came from his own legal team. Oopsies.

Jones (no relation to yours truly) is currently defending himself from defamation lawsuits brought by the families for lies he had spread about the 2012 school shooting. For years, he’s been telling lies that the shootings never happened. From his conspiracy…

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Wear Orange Day

I would almost certainly have forgotten about this very important day and this post I wrote last year commemorating the day had it not been for our friend Larry over at Just Drive, Will You who reminded me earlier this week with his own post (follow link above).  Today, I think this post, this National Day, is more relevant than ever, given the events of the past few weeks.


I typically make fun of all the ‘national days’ … I mean, there are some thoroughly ridiculous ones like National Lima Bean Respect Day, National Rat Catcher’s Day, and National Talk In An Elevator Day.  However, there are a few of the national days that are worthy of being honoured, and today is one such day:  National Gun Violence Awareness Day, also known as Wear Orange Day.  I’ve made no secret of the fact that I hate guns and would happily see every last one of them destroyed, so it should come as no surprise that I’m writing about this day.

Until a few days ago when a dear friend emailed me about this day, I was not even aware of it … which likely means that most people are unaware.  Raising awareness is the goal of this day, and I aim to do my part to help raise that awareness.

On January 21, 2013, Hadiya Pendleton, a high school student from the south side of Chicago, marched in President Obama’s second inaugural parade. One week later, Hadiya was shot and killed on a playground in Chicago. Soon after this tragedy, Hadiya’s childhood friends decided to commemorate her life by wearing orange, the color hunters wear in the woods to protect themselves and others.

Wear Orange originated on June 2, 2015—what would have been Hadiya’s 18th birthday. Now, it is observed nationally on the first Friday in June and the following weekend each year. In the years since, participation in Wear Orange has increased tenfold.

In 2020, #WearOrange trended nationally on Twitter with over 150,000 Americans taking part along with more than 300 corporate and nonprofit partners such as Viacom, Levi Strauss & Co., Postmates, Amalgamated Bank, the American Academy of Pediatrics, AFT, and HRC, and some of the most impactful thought and culture leaders in the country—including President Obama, President Biden, Vice President Harris, Julianne Moore, Laura Dern, Jason George, Pearl Jam, and 25 individual sports teams, including the Golden State Warriors, the Boston Bruins, and the Washington Mystics. More than 100 buildings and landmarks lit the skyline orange across 40 states + DC, including a record 11 stadiums and arenas, while grassroots volunteers hosted more than 270 virtual events in all 50 states plus DC.

According to the Everytown website:

“In 2021, the 7th National Gun Violence Awareness Day will fall on June 4, the first Friday of the month. That will kick off Wear Orange Weekend on June 5-6, which will feature virtual events across the nation.  From the south side of Chicago, to community organizers in Queens, to students around the country, we will come together to wear orange and demand a change.”

Miss Goose and I were talking and we thought that neither of us owned a piece of orange clothing, but then … I remembered that we both have Hallowe’en t-shirts that are orange with jack-o-lantern pattern on the front, so if you see someone wearing a Hallowe’en shirt this weekend, don’t be surprised!

In case you don’t think that guns are a serious problem in the U.S., here are a few facts to make you stop and think …

  • The U.S. gun suicide rate is 10 times higher than that of other high-income countries.
  • The US firearm homicide rate is 24.9 times higher than in other high-income countries.
  • The US firearm suicide rate was 9.8 times higher than in other high-income countries.
  • 7% of all firearm deaths occurred in the US.
  • 7% of women and 98.1% of all children killed by firearms were in the US.
  • Firearm homicide rates in low-gun states were 13.5 times higher than other countries.
  • On average, eight youth are killed by gun violence in the U.S. every day. Another 32 are shot and injured. Mass shootings are on the rise, averaging 11 each week in 2021.

Oh yeah, my friends, this country has a serious gun problem.  Some who love their killing toys have misinterpreted what the Founding Fathers intended when they wrote the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution … NEVER did they intend for people to own weapons not even heard of back in their day that can kill hundreds of people within a minute or two.  NEVER did they intend for every person to carry a gun everywhere they go, even to the grocery store or to church.  And NEVER did the Founders intend us to use those weapons to simply randomly kill people because we did not like the colour of their skin, what they wear on their head, where they came from, or because we were having a bad day.

The United States is literally the laughingstock of the world for our gun policies, or should I say lack of gun policies.  No, wearing an orange shirt today will not change that, but it is one step in raising awareness that guns in America are one of the biggest problems we have, one of the biggest hurdles to our safety, our lives.

To the gun nuts, I say this:  NO, the Constitution does NOT give you the right to own an AR-15 or AK-47, it does NOT give you the right to own an arsenal, and it does NOT give you the right to intimidate innocent people by carrying your gun into schools, restaurants, bars, grocery stores, etc.  You do NOT have a right to leave that gun unsecured where your child may get it and cause heartbreak.  You do NOT have a right to be in my presence with that damn blasted piece of machinery.  Period.  My right to safety and life in this case supersedes your right to have that gun attached at the hip.

No one is immune to gun violence, as proven by the tragic shooting at Robb Elementary School last month that claimed the lives of 19 children and two teachers.   So far this year 18,228 people have lost their lives to guns, and last year a total of 45,012 people were killed by guns in the U.S.  So far, I have yet to hear of that “good guy with a gun” that the National Rifle Association claim exists, but every single day I hear of a lot of bad guys with guns … people who should never have been allowed to own a gun.

So, if you own an orange shirt, wear it this weekend to show your support for human life, to demand change in gun laws, to demand action.

Wear Orange Day

I typically make fun of all the ‘national days’ … I mean, there are some thoroughly ridiculous ones like National Lima Bean Respect Day, National Rat Catcher’s Day, and National Talk In An Elevator Day.  However, there are a few of the national days that are worthy of being honoured, and today is one such day:  National Gun Violence Awareness Day, also known as Wear Orange Day.  I’ve made no secret of the fact that I hate guns and would happily see every last one of them destroyed, so it should come as no surprise that I’m writing about this day.

Until a few days ago when a dear friend emailed me about this day, I was not even aware of it … which likely means that most people are unaware.  Raising awareness is the goal of this day, and I aim to do my part to help raise that awareness.

On January 21, 2013, Hadiya Pendleton, a high school student from the south side of Chicago, marched in President Obama’s second inaugural parade. One week later, Hadiya was shot and killed on a playground in Chicago. Soon after this tragedy, Hadiya’s childhood friends decided to commemorate her life by wearing orange, the color hunters wear in the woods to protect themselves and others.

Wear Orange originated on June 2, 2015—what would have been Hadiya’s 18th birthday. Now, it is observed nationally on the first Friday in June and the following weekend each year. In the years since, participation in Wear Orange has increased tenfold.

In 2020, #WearOrange trended nationally on Twitter with over 150,000 Americans taking part along with more than 300 corporate and nonprofit partners such as Viacom, Levi Strauss & Co., Postmates, Amalgamated Bank, the American Academy of Pediatrics, AFT, and HRC, and some of the most impactful thought and culture leaders in the country—including President Obama, President Biden, Vice President Harris, Julianne Moore, Laura Dern, Jason George, Pearl Jam, and 25 individual sports teams, including the Golden State Warriors, the Boston Bruins, and the Washington Mystics. More than 100 buildings and landmarks lit the skyline orange across 40 states + DC, including a record 11 stadiums and arenas, while grassroots volunteers hosted more than 270 virtual events in all 50 states plus DC.

According to the Everytown website:

“In 2021, the 7th National Gun Violence Awareness Day will fall on June 4, the first Friday of the month. That will kick off Wear Orange Weekend on June 5-6, which will feature virtual events across the nation.  From the south side of Chicago, to community organizers in Queens, to students around the country, we will come together to wear orange and demand a change.”

Miss Goose and I were talking and we thought that neither of us owned a piece of orange clothing, but then … I remembered that we both have Hallowe’en t-shirts that are orange with jack-o-lantern pattern on the front, so if you see someone wearing a Hallowe’en shirt this weekend, don’t be surprised!

In case you don’t think that guns are a serious problem in the U.S., here are a few facts to make you stop and think …

  • The U.S. gun suicide rate is 10 times higher than that of other high-income countries.
  • The US firearm homicide rate is 24.9 times higher than in other high-income countries.
  • The US firearm suicide rate was 9.8 times higher than in other high-income countries.
  • 7% of all firearm deaths occurred in the US.
  • 7% of women and 98.1% of all children killed by firearms were in the US.
  • Firearm homicide rates in low-gun states were 13.5 times higher than other countries.
  • On average, eight youth are killed by gun violence in the U.S. every day. Another 32 are shot and injured. Mass shootings are on the rise, averaging 11 each week in 2021.

Oh yeah, my friends, this country has a serious gun problem.  Some who love their killing toys have misinterpreted what the Founding Fathers intended when they wrote the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution … NEVER did they intend for people to own weapons not even heard of back in their day that can kill hundreds of people within a minute or two.  NEVER did they intend for every person to carry a gun everywhere they go, even to the grocery store or to church.  And NEVER did the Founders intend us to use those weapons to simply randomly kill people because we did not like the colour of their skin, what they wear on their head, where they came from, or because we were having a bad day.

The United States is literally the laughingstock of the world for our gun policies, or should I say lack of gun policies.  No, wearing an orange shirt today will not change that, but it is one step in raising awareness that guns in America are one of the biggest problems we have, one of the biggest hurdles to our safety, our lives.

To the gun nuts, I say this:  NO, the Constitution does NOT give you the right to own an AR-15 or AK-47, it does NOT give you the right to own an arsenal, and it does NOT give you the right to intimidate innocent people by carrying your gun into schools, restaurants, bars, grocery stores, etc.  You do NOT have a right to leave that gun unsecured where your child may get it and cause heartbreak.  You do NOT have a right to be in my presence with that damn blasted piece of machinery.  Period.  My right to safety and life in this case supersedes your right to have that gun attached at the hip.

No one is immune to gun violence, as proven by the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that claimed the lives of 20 first-graders and six educators.   So far this year 18,429 people have lost their lives to guns, and last year a total of 43,558 people were killed by guns in the U.S.  So far, I have yet to hear of that “good guy with a gun” that the National Rifle Association claim exists, but every single day I hear of a lot of bad guys with guns … people who should never have been allowed to own a gun.

So, if you own an orange shirt, wear it this weekend to show your support for human life, to demand change in gun laws, to demand action.

Good People Doing Good Things — JJ Watt

I did not even have to go in search of this week’s ‘good person’ — he fell right into my lap.  Okay, okay, no not literally.  But he was a headliner today, so he wasn’t hard to find.  As you all know, sports is not my strong suit, and football (American-style, with the ovoid pigskin, for my non-US amigos) is definitely not my forte.  But yet, today’s good person is an excellent football player, I am told, but an even better human being.  Allow me to introduce today’s good person doing good things, Justin James Watt, better known as JJ Watt.Ellen tweetJJ Watt is star defense end for the Houston Texans and on Saturday it was announced that Mr. Watt will personally be paying for the funerals of all ten victims of the Santa Fe, Texas, school shooting the day before, Friday, May 18th.  That’s right – you heard me – he is paying for all ten funerals, 9 students and 1 teacher, who were shot and killed on that fateful day.  Now, that in itself would have earned him a place in this post, but there is so much more that he gets the whole post.

Watt’s history of helping out after school shootings dates all the way back to 2012 and the Sandy Hook shooting where 27 were killed.  Watt invited some of the children from Sandy Hook Elementary to meet him and participate in a day of football and much-needed fun at the Texans’ stadium.

“I just kind of wanted to give them as normal a day as possible, just running around, having fun, going out on the field. We were kicking field goals. They were trying to put it through the uprights. Just be kids. And to see them in a normal setting, having fun and big smiles on their faces was awesome.”

Watt-Sandy-Hook

On Monday, Watt visited with survivors of the Santa Fe High School shooting at Clear Lake Regional Medical Center and cheered both the victims and the hospital staff!

Watt joined the Texans in 2011, and has been doing good things for the community almost since day #1.  On July 2, 2011, the Berry family was traveling home from a vacation in Colorado Springs. The parents, Joshua and Robin Berry were killed in a head-on collision while also leaving their two sons, Peter and Aaron handicapped. Their daughter, Willa, suffered minor injuries. Watt met the children at a fund-raiser and grew close with them. He played wheelchair basketball with them and pantomimed rolling a wheelchair after sacking a quarterback in a 2012 game. The pantomime was an agreed upon signal between the Berry children and Watt as a post-sack celebration.

Justin J. Watt Foundation, a charity organization that provides after-school opportunities for children in various communities, in order for them to get involved in athletics in a safe environment. This foundation’s motto, “Dream Big, Work Hard” is sold on wrist bands and T-shirts. Since this foundation was launched in 2010, Watt has raised over $1 million.

Remember Hurricane Harvey that hit Houston last August?  JJ Watt started a fund-raiser to help the victims of Harvey and kicked it off with $100,000 of his own money.  He said he was hoping to get the fund up to $200,000 with donations from others.  But guess what?  Mr. Watt has some selling-power, for the fund blew past the $200,000 mark in a matter of hours and finally ended up at $37 million from more than 200,000 donors!  And he took a personal interest in seeing that the funds were distributed where they were most needed, often working into the night with relief groups and organizers.

In addition to Watt’s mega contributions to humanity, he does a lot of little things, too.  For example, there was the time he popped in to surprise his favorite teacher on the day of her retirement, thanking her profusely for all she’d done not only to inspire him, but all of the kids she’d taught during her 41 years as an educator.Watt-teacherThere is much negativity about sports super-heroes these days, their exorbitant salaries, arrogance and hedonistic lifestyles.  It is heartwarming to come upon one like Mr. JJ Watt, who is truly a humanitarian, who is using both his money and his voice to do things to help people.  Thank you, Mr. JJ Watt, for all the good you do and have done.Watt-tweet

He doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk.  Two thumbs up to Mr. Justin James Watt!  two-thumbs

The Case Against Alex Jones

Well, well, well … well, well.  All I can say is it’s about time.  Well past time, if you ask me, that ol’ Alex Jones of Fox News’ InfoWars is heading off to court.  In December 2016, I considered Alex for an Idiot of the Week post, but I didn’t do that post.  Today, curious as to why I hadn’t, I found in my notes that I considered him simply too evil for an IOTW post.  A brief bit of background …

On December 14, 2012, 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children between six and seven years old, as well as six adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.  As first responders arrived at the scene, Lanza committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.  President Obama, as well as leaders from many countries and organizations throughout the world also offered their condolences through the weekend after the shooting.There were a few however, who chose to further add to the grief and torment of the families, rather than join in offering compassion, and among those, Alex Jones led the pack.  Within days, Jones put out a video, since removed by YouTube for violation of terms of service, saying that the massacre was “staged,” “inside job,” “undoubtedly there’s a cover-up,” “giant hoax,” “the whole thing was fake,” “in my view, manufactured”.  He was selling snake oil, nothing more, and he knew his snake oil wasn’t the cure for anything, but guess what?  He didn’t care, for he was making money.  He was the talk of the town, his video having been viewed more than 10 million times by mid-January 2013, less than a month after the murders.

Nope, Alex didn’t care, but can you even imagine what it must have been like for the parents of those murdered children?  They lost the most precious part of their lives, and then to hear this nutcase say it never happened?  I remember now why I thought he was too evil for an IOTW post.  But it didn’t end there.  Jones’ claims that the ‘deep state’ government orchestrated the ‘event’ in order to justify shutting down or repealing the 2nd Amendment were as nothing as compared to what came next.

In a March 2014 broadcast, speaking of the parents of the murdered children in Newtown, Jones said …

“Undoubtedly, there’s a cover-up, there’s actors, they’re manipulating, they’ve been caught lying, and they were pre-planning before it.” 

He has accused the families of the murdered children of being paid actors, of lying and the media of staging coverage with green-screen video technology.  Does Jones even belief this himself?  I seriously doubt it … any more than I think Leonard Nimoy believed he was on the Starship Enterprise saving the world from evil.  (All you Trekkies out there, please forgive me for my blasphemy!)  But it got attention, it had entertainment value, and Fox, InfoWars and Jones were making money.

Today, a few of those parents stand a good chance of getting a bit of their own justice.

Leonard Pozner and his former wife, Veronique De La Rosa, parents of 6-year-old Noah Pozner who died in the shooting, have filed a lawsuit in Travis County District Court in Austin, Texas, where Jones lives and InfoWars is broadcast.  A second lawsuit, also in Travis County District Court, has been filed by Neil Heslin, father of murdered 6-year-old Jesse Lewis.  Both lawsuits are based on comments Jones made just last year in a segment on his radio show called “Sandy Hook Vampires Exposed,” which aired on April 22, 2017, as well as other broadcasts he has done over the 5-year period since the murders.  Four-and-a-half years later, and Jones was still milking this tragedy for all he could, bringing new waves of grief to the parents.  And not only grief over their lost children, but threats and obscene phone calls & letters.  One such threat was by 57-year-old Lucy Richards, who last June pleaded guilty to issuing death threats to Leonard Pozner, for she was convinced by Alex Jones’ taunts that the entire thing was a hoax and that the parents of the slain children were lying.  Ms. Richards is now serving a five-month prison term.

Noah Pozner

Jesse Lewis

The lawsuits contend the defendants acted with malice and their defamatory publications have injured the plaintiffs’ reputation and image and that they have exposed them to “public and private hatred, contempt, and ridicule.” Both lawsuits are for a minimum of $1 million, a paltry sum for Jones, whose net worth is estimated at between $7 million and $10 million.

I am a firm supporter of the 1st Amendment, the right to freedom of speech, the press, and religion.  However, I do not support unlimited free speech, nor does the law.  Remember Pizzagate, another of Jones wild conspiracy theories?  People almost died because one man actually believed his fantasies.  I hope these parents win their lawsuits, if for no other reason than to send a message to Fox and other media outlets that allow such pure garbage as Jones puts forth.  The message needs to be that there are limits, there is accountability, and the media has a responsibility to be truthful, else to label fiction as just that – fiction.  I think networks such as Fox and Breitbart that allow … nay, encourage … such falsehoods, should be obligated to label them as such, to present a clear and bold disclaimer that “what you are about to see is not based on fact, but is for entertainment purposes only.”

Jones is also being sued by Brennan Gilmore, who received death threats after Jones maliciously and incorrectly claimed Gilmore was a CIA operative who helped stage the scenario where a driver plunged into a group of protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia last year, killing Heather Heyer.

Alex Jones is not at all a nice man, not even a decent human being, for he puts forth his theories in order to make money, with no thought as to the lives he is endangering, the grief he is causing.  I would very much like to see Fox decide that he isn’t worth the trouble, but since he brings in the money, that is unlikely.  It is also unlikely that the public will tire of his garbage and tune out, or wise up and realize that he is not a newscaster, not an analyst, but merely an entertainer.

One final thought:  Donald Trump has praised Alex Jones, saying “Your reputation is amazing. I will not let you down.”  Perhaps Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, the one who also represents conspiracy theorist Sean Hannity, will take on Jones’ case. Think on that one for a while …

Bring Your Gun To School Day? Let’s Not.

It makes sense, if you think about it.  Donald Trump hates schools.  He hates children.  It stands to reason that a man who can barely speak in more than 2-syllable sentences, a man who cannot string an entire sentence together either in writing or verbally, is not likely to care a whit about education.  Add to that, the fact that he nominated an unqualified woman who also hates schools and children for Secretary of Education, and … well, it’s proof enough for me that he simply hates schools and children.  He has far more respect for the uneducated … he even said that in a campaign stop in Nevada last February: “We won with highly-educated, we won with poorly educated! I love the poorly educated!

So it should come as no surprise to anybody that he has another part of his plan to completely destroy the U.S. educational system, and with it the children, the next generation, and the future of our nation.  One of his campaign promises:  “I will get rid of gun-free zones on schools, and — you have to — and on military bases. My first day, it gets signed, okay? My first day. There’s no more gun-free zones.” And of course Betsy DeVos will support him on that, as she previously claimed that schools needed to have guns to fight off bear attacks!!!

All joking aside, however, while Trump claims that our nation’s greatest threat is terrorism and therefore we should ban all Muslims from certain countries from our nation, the reality is that guns in the hands of the wrong people … not necessarily even bad people, but simply people who make mistakes, people who get angry … are 17 times more likely to kill than are terrorists.  The last thing we need is for schools to become shooting ranges, with stressed parents walking into a school with a gun under their belt.

The gun-free zone initiative prohibits individuals having or taking out a gun within 1,000 feet of public or private school grounds. Congress passed the act, and it was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush. It has been challenged and revised, but is still in effect today (no, Trump didn’t manage to ‘get rid’ of it on his first day), and its repeal would require more than an executive order.  Congress would have to repeal the most current “gun-free zone act,” or pass a bill that would eliminate the restrictions. A year ago, I would have said that Congress would never do that, but today I am less certain.  And another option, of course, is that Trump could simply instruct … or ‘encourage’ … agencies not to enforce the existing law.  Would they?  Who knows, but given his propensity for bullying and, whenever possible, firing those who oppose him, it is certainly a question to consider. And, with Jeff Sessions now serving as U.S. Attorney General, even if the law is enforced at the local level, it may fall through at the state or federal.

The NRA spent over $30 million on Trump’s campaign last year, in addition to another $20 million on the campaigns of five senate-hopefuls:  Richard Burr (NC), Marco Rubio (FL), Roy Blunt (MD), Todd Young (IN), Joe Hack (NV), and Rob Portman (OH).  Of those, only one, Joe Hack, lost his election.  The NRA wants some things in return, including fewer, more lenient, gun regulations.  They now own at least a part of Trump and the five U.S. senators named above.

A bit of trivia: Perhaps the earliest shooting to happen on school or college property, in what would become the United States, was the notorious Enoch Brown school massacre during the Pontiac’s War. Three Native Americans entered the schoolhouse near present-day Greencastle, Pennsylvania, shot and killed schoolmaster Enoch Brown, and nine children (reports vary). Only two children survived.

The last thing we need in this country is another Sandy Hook.  In this century alone, just 16 years and one month, there have been 187 school shootings in the U.S., resulting in 250 deaths and 180 injuries.  To abandon the gun-free zone law would be to invite more, not less …. to make our children far less safe.  But that is what Donald Trump promised those who would vote for him, and so far he seems determined to keep those promises, including keeping our children poorly educated and unsafe.

My inspiration for this post came from Nicholas Kristof’s column yesterday, titled Husbands Are Deadlier Than Terrorists.   I took a seed from his column and veered off in a different direction, but please do read his column … he provides a very sound take on the threat of terrorism vs. the threat of citizens with guns.