No Pony In This Show

I don’t care what Donald Trump has to say about the tentative debt ceiling agreement reached between President Biden and Kevin McCarthy, nor do I give a rat’s arse what Ron DeSantis thinks of it.  Neither of them are the president, neither are sitting in Congress, nor are they likely to be either.  They are, therefore, irrelevant to the discussion!  The unfortunate truth is that at this point, the only people whose opinions are relevant are the 535 members of Congress whose majority approval is required to pass this bill and save the nation from an extremely consequential default on its debt.

Is this a good bill?  Hell no!  The debt ceiling should have been lifted without consequence, without conditions.  The debt ceiling is simply the device that allows us to pay the debts we have already incurred through the years. Period. Budget negotiations are intended to be separate from paying the debt, but in this day of political polarization and obstructionism on one side of the aisle, that was not to be.  I am frustrated over the concessions that President Biden had to make, especially in three areas:  the environment, food stamp work requirements, and taxes/IRS funding. But, I realize that given the time frame and the crucial importance of raising the debt ceiling, there was no other viable option.  I would, if I were a member of Congress, voice my disgust, my protest, but I would vote for this bill, because the alternative would be so much worse … for everyone.

People like Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis are what I think of as pseudo-politicos because their actual understanding of governance, of how government is intended to operate, is nil.  Furthermore, they don’t care … they are politicians, not governors nor leaders in any sense of the word.  Their only focus is on winning the next election, on pulling the wool over the eyes of enough people with their lies and loud voices to gain or maintain a high-level office with its built-in power, privileges, and potential for greater wealth.  They need to shut up, but since they won’t, then the media needs to refuse to give them a voice.

I’ve said it so many times that I think I say it in my sleep: ‘Rights’ like the freedom of speech and freedom of the press, are always accompanied by responsibilities.  The responsibility of the press is to tell the truth, not to tell people what they want to hear, or what the politicians want them to hear, but instead to tell them what they need to hear:  the truth.  Nobody … NOBODY needs to hear what a twice-impeached former president posts on his private social media outlet.  And if Trump or DeSantis wish to campaign for next year’s election, then fine, but they need to keep their message one of what they plan if they should win, not weigh in on what is happening now that really is none of their business beyond the extent to which it is the business of us all. They have no pony in this show.

One Year After …

Yesterday marked one year since the horrific school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 children and two teachers:

  • Nevaeh Alyssa Bravo, 10
  • Jacklyn Cazares, 9
  • Makenna Lee Elrod, 10
  • Jose Manuel Flores Jr., 10
  • Eliahna Garcia, 10
  • Irma Garcia, 48
  • Uziyah Garcia, 10
  • Amerie Jo Garza, 10
  • Xavier Lopez, 10
  • Jayce Carmelo Luevanos, 10
  • Tess Mata, 10
  • Miranda Mathis, 11
  • Eva Mireles, 44
  • Alithia Ramirez, 10
  • Annabelle Rodriguez, 10
  • Maite Rodriguez, 10
  • Alexandria “Lexi” Rubio, 10
  • Layla Salazar, 11
  • Jailah Nicole Silguero, 10
  • Eliahana Cruz Torres, 10
  • Rojelio Torres, 10

Since that tragic event, what has happened?  Well, aside from the numerous and completely useless ‘thoughts and prayers’ that have been sent to nobody in particular, NOTHING.

In the year since Uvalde, there have been more than 650 mass shootings in the United States, and still, Congress, state legislators, state governors, and the courts have done naught but sit on their fat arses … or in some cases, even reversed what few gun laws that were in existence.

In the immediate aftermath of the Uvalde tragedy, Congress did manage to pass one milquetoast piece of legislation that …

  • included incentives for states to pass so-called red flag laws that allow groups to petition courts to remove weapons from people deemed a threat to themselves or others
  • expanded an existing law that prevents people convicted of domestic abuse from owning a gun to include dating partners rather than just spouses and former spouses
  • expands background checks on people between the ages of 18 and 21 seeking to buy a gun

Not many teeth in that law, but worse yet,  there is a new bill on the table in the House today that would repeal the law and what little it does.  So no, my friends, NOTHING is being done to prevent another Uvalde … or Parkland … or Sandy Hook … or Columbine.  No ban on assault weapons, no new training and licensing requirements … in fact, many states have recently eliminated any requirements for permits related to carrying a concealed weapon.

Is this why Republicans and religious groups are so hellbent and determined to keep women under their thumb, force them to become baby manufacturing plants, so that we can afford to have our children shot to death and still have a hefty population?  Does that offend you?  Well, then, don’t tell me … call or write to your members of Congress and tell them how you feel!

There is something deeply flawed with a country, a people, who value their right to own a killing machine more than they value the lives of their own children.

Enough Already!!!

Yesterday, a man entered the district office of U.S. Representative Gerry Connolly of Virginia.  The man was carrying a baseball bat and said he wanted to see Representative Connolly, who was not in the office at the time.  So, the man used the baseball bat on two staffers, both of whom are now in the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.  The man is in police custody.

I do not know what his beef is with Representative Connolly, nor do I really care, but what I do know is that violence is NOT the solution to problems!  Period.  Apparently, the man has spent so much time in the dark world of conspiracy theories that he no longer thinks like a human being.  The man, 49-year-old Xuan Kha Tran Pham, filed a lawsuit against the CIA last year in which he claimed the agency had been “wrongfully imprisoning [him] in a lower perspective based on physics,” and alleging that he is being “brutally tortured… from the fourth dimension.” The complaint, which seeks $29 million in damages, aligns with the beliefs of conspiracy theorists who claim they are being “gangstalked,” or secretly watched and psychologically tortured using nonexistent technology.

Think back to last October … remember when Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul, was viciously attacked in their California home?  And these, while the worst of the incidents so far, are not the only ones.  According to PBS Newshour …

Since the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, threats to lawmakers and their families have increased sharply. The U.S. Capitol Police investigated around 7,500 cases of potential threats against members of Congress in 2022. The year before, they investigated around 10,000 threats to members, more than twice the number from four years earlier.

Why???  Why does it increasingly seem that people are turning to violent methods as a way of solving their problems?  Note that I am not a sociologist nor a psychologist, so my answer is based only on common sense and what I see happening in this country, but it seems to me that most of the blame lies with politicians who condone violence.  When thousands of rioters, many with guns, break into the United States Capitol, breaking windows, crapping on the floors, destroying offices and other property, brutally beating police officers, calling for the Vice President and Speaker of the House, saying they are going to lynch them, and then the politicians refer to the violence as “legitimate political discourse”, it opens a door to further violence.  When the rioters are referred to as “peaceful tourists”, it opens another door.  And when a presidential candidate says he will pardon all of their sentences on “day #1” if he is elected, it speaks volumes that this is somehow ‘okay’.

The majority of us have enough intelligence to understand that no, this is definitely NOT okay, but all it takes is a handful of people without much intelligence or common sense, with a bone to pick, a grievance, real or imagined, against one of more members of Congress, and … you’ve got a problem.  Well, folks, we’ve got a problem and a serious one at that.  Remember Pizzagate?    All it takes is a germ of an idea in the head of someone like Edgar Maddison Welch or Xuan Kha Tran Pham or David DePape, and a gun or a baseball bat or a hammer in their hand, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

In addition to the politicians who have encouraged and incited violence by downplaying such events as the January 6th attempted coup and other violent events, I blame the right-wing conspiratorial media like Fox ‘News’, OANN, NewsMax, and more, for telling lies, for riling the masses.  As I’ve said a few thousand times before, every right comes with an associated responsibility, and much of the media these days claim their right to freedom of the press, without accepting the responsibility to report accurately while engaging in conspiracies and lies.

I have serious disagreements with my own representative, Warren Davidson, but in no way would I consider using violence to make my point, or to harm him.  They say the pen is mightier than the sword, so I confine my protestations of his policies to emails and letters, but sadly some people do not know how to use the pen, only the sword.  Where are we headed, people?  How do we fix this?  And how do we hold accountable those who have helped create this culture of violence?


I was working on a post sharing my concerns about the future of A.I. – Artificial Intelligence – for this morning when the first news out of Allen, Texas came that “nine people have been injured and several killed at a shopping mall.”  Few details were available yet at that time, so I found out what little I could, and moved on, knowing I would come back in search of further details every few minutes.

But WAIT!!!  It didn’t end there!  There were at least two other mass shootings yesterday, Saturday, one in California and one in Columbus, Ohio, about 90 miles up the road from where I currently reside.  I saw something as my daughter flipped through cable news channels about a fourth mass shooting, but haven’t been able to verify yet, so we’ll stick with the number three for now.  I like to deal with facts, not conjecture.

As of this writing, just after midnight, the Texas shooting has resulted in 8 deaths, including at least one child, and 7 injured including a 5-year-old child.  The gunman was killed by police but his death is not included in the above figures.  In the Columbus shooting, one person was killed, three were injured, and the gunman committed suicide.  And in Chico, California, one teenage girl was killed, three other teens were injured near the campus of California State University.  Details are subject to change, but that’s what I have for the moment.

Needless to say, three damned mass shootings in one day was enough to send me into a state of extreme anger, but the words of the U.S. Representative Keith Self, who represents the district in which the Texas shooting took place, made me immediately shut down my post about A.I. and sent my fingers pounding the keyboard of my laptop!  Mr. Self says that those who are calling for stricter gun laws rather than just ‘thoughts and prayers’ …

“… don’t believe in an almighty God … who is absolutely in control of our lives. People want to make this political, but prayers are important.”

Take your thoughts (if you are capable of having any) and your damned prayers, and shove them up your backside, Mr. Self!  That was the most inane, cruel, and unconscionable response you could have possibly made!

Meanwhile, Senator Ted Cruz and Governor Greg Abbott send their thoughts and prayers.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr …

Counting yesterday’s three mass shootings, the United States has so far this year had at least 199 mass shootings in 126 days, or approximately 1.6 per day … every single damn day!!!  WHEN is Congress going to get off their damned arses and GET THE GUNS OUT OF THE HANDS OF CIVILIANS???  The last time I communicated with my own Representative, Warren Davidson, his response was basically to tell me that the lives of our children and grandchildren do not matter, as he will never do anything that would infringe on people’s 2nd Amendment “rights”.  Translation:  he will never do anything that might cost him a few votes by the gun-loving nutcases!  BULLSHIT!  Ol’ Warren will be hearing from me again next week.

I’m sure I’ll have more in the coming days, but for tonight … rant over … I need to catch my breath and try to calm down just a bit.

Once Again, We The People LOSE!

Yesterday, the Louisiana state legislature voted on a bill to increase the state’s minimum wage.  Currently, Louisiana’s minimum wage is the same as the federal minimum wage rate:  $7.25 per hour, or $15,000 per year.  After taxes and other payroll deductions, the minimum wage earner likely brings home around $10,000 per year, less than $1,000 per month.  Care to guess how they voted on the bill?  Keep in mind that Louisiana is south of the Mason-Dixon line, sitting between Mississippi and Texas.  Yep, they rejected the bill.

The failed bill would have gradually increased the state’s minimum wage to $10 an hour in 2024 and to $14 an hour in 2028. Louisiana has the second-highest poverty rate in the country, with nearly 19% of the population impoverished, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.  The state has a Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, but a majority Republican legislature.  One of the legislators who voted against raising the minimum wage, Beryl Amedee, issued this utterly stupid statement:

“We’re trying to improve the lives of our residents in our state, especially those who have lower incomes. But I believe that the free market is taking care of this by offering jobs with higher wages. The real problem we have is that we have a lot of people in the state who are not qualified for higher skilled jobs, better paying jobs.”

Bullshit!  Of course they’re not “qualified for higher skilled jobs” … they can’t afford to go to college and they’re too busy working three jobs!!!

Oh … but wait!!!  The legislature did pass one bill to increase pay … their own!!!  Now, admittedly their rate of pay was jaw-droppingly low:  $16,800 per annum, not much more than the minimum wage.  But they voted to raise their own pay by 238%, to $40,000 per year.  So, the person pumping their gas, serving up their burgers at McDonald’s, or manufacturing their cars will continue to work three jobs just to feed their family, while the legislators will suddenly see something of a windfall.  I sure am glad I don’t live anywhere in the southern half of this country!

This, my friends, is why it is criminal for the U.S. Congress to keep refusing to raise the federal minimum wage rate from $7.25 where it has stagnated since 2009, despite a rising cost of living.  About 30 states have raised the state minimum wage, but obviously we cannot count on state legislatures, particularly in the south, to treat the average worker fairly.  Take a look at the minimum wage rates for the 20 nations with the highest minimum wage:

Top 20 Countries with the highest minimum wage in 2020 (US$):

  1. Australia – $14.54
  2. Luxembourg – $13.67
  3. New Zealand – $13.18
  4. Monaco – $11.88
  5. Ireland – $11.54
  6. France – $11.46
  7. United Kingdom $11.37
  8. Netherlands – $11.21
  9. Belgium – $11.06
  10. Germany – $10.68
  11. San Marino – $10.55
  12. Canada – $10.33
  13. South Korea – $8.99
  14. Israel – $8.17
  15. Japan – $7.52
  16. Spain – $7.30
  17. United States $7.25
  18. Andorra – $6.72
  19. Slovenia – $5.84
  20. Taiwan – $5.26

We fall into 17th place … the United States that claims to be one of the best, most democratic countries in the world?  HAH!!!  It is time the United States Congress gets off their fat, overpaid arses and do their job!!!

Time To Move Into The 21st Century!

One of the biggest disgraces of this nation is that the federal minimum wage rate has not been raised since July 2009 – fourteen years, during which time the overall cost of living has increased by more than 23% and the cost of housing by 47% in the same time frame.  Republicans in Congress have repeatedly refused to budge on raising the minimum wage.  Why?  Well, for one thing their biggest donors are wealthy corporations whose profits might be slightly reduced if they had to actually pay a living wage to the people who are doing all the work!

Senator Bernie Sanders wrote an OpEd for The Guardian that sums it all up better than I ever could …

We must raise the minimum wage to a living wage

In the richest country on earth, if you work 40 hours a week you shouldn’t have to live in poverty

Bernie Sanders

17 April 2023

Congress can no longer ignore the needs of the working class of this country. At a time of massive and growing income and wealth inequality and record-breaking corporate profits, we must stand up for working families – many of whom are struggling every day to provide a minimal standard of living for their families.

One important way to do that is to raise the federal minimum wage to a living wage. In the year 2023, nobody in the US should be forced to work for starvation wages. It should be a basic truism that in the US, the richest country on earth, if you work 40 hours a week you do not live in poverty. Raising the minimum wage is not only the right thing to do morally. It is also good economics. Putting money into the hands of people who will spend it on basic needs is a strong economic stimulant.

When over 60% of American workers are now living paycheck to paycheck, when the life expectancy of low-income Americans is in decline, when we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major country, we can no longer tolerate a federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, a wage that has not been raised since 2009. Incredibly, the federal minimum wage has lost over 27% of its purchasing power since it was last raised 14 years ago. That is unacceptable. Millions of Americans cannot be allowed to fall further and further behind economically, unable to afford the housing, food, healthcare, childcare and education they desperately need in order to live in health and dignity.

Whether they are greeting us at Walmart, serving us hamburgers at McDonald’s, providing childcare for our kids or waiting on our table at a diner in rural America, there are too many Americans trying to survive and raise families on $9, $10 or $12 an hour. It cannot be done. This injustice must end. Low-income workers need a pay raise and the American people want them to get that raise.

Poll after poll shows overwhelming support for raising the minimum wage to a living wage. But it’s not just polls. In 2021, the Democratic majority in the US House of Representatives voted to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The bad news is that we lacked the votes to pass this legislation through the equally divided Senate. Not only did a $15-an-hour minimum wage bill fail to win the vote of a single Republican in the Senate, eight Democrats voted against it as well.

That was then. Now is now. And things are changing. As a result of years of congressional inaction, cities and states all across the country are taking the low-wage crisis into their own hands and raising their minimum wage. Some are doing it through legislative action. Others are doing it through ballot initiatives.

Since 2013, the people of 12 states – New Jersey, South Dakota, Arkansas (twice), Alaska, Washington, Maine, Colorado, Arizona, Missouri, Florida, Nevada and Nebraska (twice) – have voted on ballot initiatives to raise their state’s minimum wage. Every single one of these initiatives passed, none with less than 55% of the vote. And these are not just strong “blue states” voting for economic justice. In the recent November 2022 midterm election, two states that voted in Republican governors, Nebraska and Nevada, voted to raise the minimum wage. In 2020, the citizens of Florida, with a Republican governor and two Republican senators, also voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

The MIT living wage calculator estimates a living wage as a salary that is adequate enough to support a family without luxuries. For two working adults and one child, a living hourly wage for each adult would be $18.69 in West Virginia, $17.55 in South Carolina, $21.57 in Maryland, $20.01 in Utah and $19.33 in Wisconsin. Even in my own state of Vermont, the living wage is $19.58, more than $6 above the current state minimum wage.

But there are many families that do not have two working adults and rely on single moms who are raising their children on their own. In that case, the required living wage is much higher. As an example, a single mother in West Virginia would need to make $33.39 an hour to support herself and one child.

So it is not radical to suggest that raising the minimum wage to $17 an hour over a period of several years is the right thing to do. In fact, had my 2015 bill to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour that was indexed to median wages became law, the federal minimum wage this January would be at least $17.40 an hour. And while we deal with the minimum wage, we must also address the scandal of the tipped wage, which has been stuck at an abysmally low $2.13 an hour for more than 30 years thanks, in large part, to the powerful restaurant lobby which has spent millions in campaign contributions and lobbying expenses since 1991 to keep workers in poverty.

Together, these two proposals would provide an increase in pay for tens of millions of desperate Americans – disproportionately women and people of color. It would also be a huge boost to single moms. Let us not forget that these are the essential workers who kept the economy going during the worst of the COVID pandemic. At that time we called them heroes and heroines. Well, rhetorical praise is nice. A livable paycheck is better. Let’s do it.

Short, Angry, and To The Point

Republican House member Steve Scalise spoke about the Nashville school shooting earlier today:

“The first thing in any kind of tragedy I do is I pray. I pray for the victims. I pray for their families. I really get angry when I see people trying to politicize it for their own personal agenda, especially when we don’t even know the facts. We’ve talked about things that we can do, and it just seems like on the other side, all they want to do is take guns away from law abiding citizens, before they even know the facts. The first thing they talk about is taking guns away from law abiding citizens. And that’s not the answer, by the way. So why don’t we number one, keep those families in our prayers.”

I had not intended another post today, but after reading Mr. Scalise’s words, it’s either verbalize my frustrations here, or punch a hole in the wall!  There is so much to rebut here that I don’t know where to start.  A word of warning, this is a rant on my part and I will not mince words, nor will I apologize for what I say or how I say it.

  • You can pray until the cows come home, Mr. Scalise, but that is NOT helpful. Millions of people have been praying for decades about the severe gun problem and related deaths, yet the numbers keep rising instead of falling.  You can believe whatever the hell you wish, but don’t shove your rhetoric down MY throat.  Keep your useless prayers, take comfort if you wish in the myth that if you just pray hard enough, no more children will die.
  • “We don’t know the facts …” he says???  We know that a person bought 7 guns, took three of them into a school and murdered three children and three adults.  That’s a fact.  It’s also a fact that over 10,000 people have died by gun violence in less than three months, more than 400 of them children!   And to say that we are ‘politicizing’ it for our ‘own personal agenda’ is disgusting, offensive, and proves that Scalise is not mentally competent to serve in the United States Congress!
  • The incessant call for ‘thoughts and prayers’ by Mr. Scalise and others in Congress is naught but a sorry distraction, a sorry excuse for the fact that THEY are NOT doing their jobs!  Much easier to sit on their fat arses and mumble a few words of prayer than to go against their big donors in the NRA and pass laws that actually protect children!  Their job is to legislate in the best interest of this country.  Having more guns than people in the country, including millions of assault weapons that can mow down a crowd in under a minute is NOT in the best interest of the nation!  It is getting people killed EVERY DAMN DAY!
  • Scalise says we, the people with both brains and a conscience, want to take guns “away from law abiding citizens.” Law abiding citizens, Mr. Scalise, DO NOT purchase seven guns, as did the Nashville shooter!  Law abiding citizens DO NOT own AR-15s!  Assault weapons are purchased with only one thing in mind:  to kill humans!  You yourself were a victim of a mass shooting, and yet you foolishly refuse to even consider any form or fashion of gun regulation!  What a damn fool you are!

BAN ASSAULT WEAPONS NOW!!!  There is no other starting place … if you want your children and grandchildren to live in a safe place, then demand that your representatives and senators take action this week!  NOW!!!

Ban Assault Weapons NOW!!! NO COMPROMISE!!!

Yesterday, Jim Jordan canceled a hearing to de-regulate “pistol straps,” devices that enhance the killing efficiency of pistols.  His reason for cancelling wasn’t respect or compassion for the six people, three of them children, who died in the Nashville school shooting earlier in the day, but rather fear that the shooting would trigger negativity by people with a conscience (Democrats).  Jordan did not want Democrats to use the hearing to highlight that Republicans care more about blood money from lobbyists than they care about the lives of schoolchildren.

Most mass shootings, including the one yesterday at a school in Nashville, Tennessee, are committed using assault weapons such as the AR-15.  And so once again it is time to have serious discussion about reinstating the assault weapons ban that was allowed by Congress to expire in 2004, but next time it needs to be made permanent – assault weapons were made for the military, not for civilians and they need to be made completely inaccessible to the public!!!  No compromise!!!

Let’s hear what Robert Reich has to say on this topic …

The lives of our children or the greed of gun manufacturers?

By Robert Reich

28 March 2023


Yesterday morning, a woman armed with assault rifles entered a Christian school in Nashville and fatally shot three nine-year-old children and three staff members before she was shot and killed by the police.

It makes me weep. It’s happening again and again and again. Our children.

President Biden renewed his call for Congress to reinstate the Assault Weapons Ban, but with Republicans in control of the House there’s little to no chance.

So far this year, there have been 129 mass shootings in the United States.

Ten of the 17 deadliest U.S. mass shootings since 2012 have involved AR-15s. In a review of the history of the AR-15, the Washington Post reports that it was originally designed in the 1950s as a soldiers’ rifle. “An outstanding weapon with phenomenal lethality,” according to an internal Pentagon report. It soon became standard issue for U.S. troops in Vietnam (where the weapon was called the M16).

Few gunmakers envisioned that ordinary people would buy the semiautomatic version, which didn’t seem suited for hunting and appeared overkill for home defense. The National Rifle Association and other industry allies focused on promoting traditional rifles and handguns.

Today, the AR-15 is the best-selling rifle in the United States, owned by about 1 in 20 U.S. adults, or roughly 16 million people. It dominates the walls and websites of gun dealers. (Republican Rep. Barry Moore of Alabama has even introduced a bill to declare the AR-15 the “National Gun of America.”)

What accounts for this dramatic change? Follow the money. The early 2000s were a tough time for the firearms industry. Gun sales had been flat for several years. But after the Assault Weapons Ban ended in 2004, gun manufacturers saw a chance to ride a post-9/11 surge in military glorification. As America soldiers were seen in Afghanistan and Iraq wearing tactical gear and holding M16 and M4 carbine rifles, gunmakers used the conflict-zone images to market AR-15s.

“We made it look cool,” said Randy Luth, the founder of gunmaker DPMS, one of the earliest companies to promote AR-15s. “The same reason you buy a Corvette.”

One Smith & Wesson AR-15 ended up in the hands of Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager who fatally shot two people and wounded a third during 2020’s racial justice protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin. As Rittenhouse explained during his trial, he chose an AR-15 because “I thought it looked cool.”

Another AR-15 was alluring to the gunman who killed 10 Black people at a supermarket in Buffalo in May 2022. “The AR-15 and its variants are very deadly when used properly,” he wrote in a manifesto filled with racial vitriol. “Which is the reason I picked one.” Ten days later, 19 schoolchildren and two adults were shot to death in Uvalde, Tex., with another AR-15.

The string of attacks prompted President Biden, who as a senator had strongly supported the 1994 assault weapons ban, to promise a renewed effort to stop the sale of military-style weapons. Last year, the Democratic-led House passed a new assault weapons ban on a tight party-line vote of 217-213 — the first time the measure had been voted on in nearly three decades. But the Senate, also run by Democrats, never took action.


When Bill Clinton signed the original Assault Weapons Ban in 1994, he was widely condemned by Republicans and gun owners. The Democrats’ subsequent losses of the House and Senate in the 1996 midterm elections were partly blamed on the ban. But it saved lives.

The 10-year length of the ban has allowed researchers to compare mass shooting deaths before, during, and after the ban.

Before: From 1981 (the earliest year analyzed) until the ban went into effect in 1994, the proportion of deaths in mass shootings in which an assault rifle was used was lower than it is today, and the average number of yearly deaths attributed to mass shootings was 7.2.

During: In the years after the assault weapons ban went into effect, the average number of yearly deaths from mass shootings fell to 5.3. Even including 1999’s Columbine High School massacre (the deadliest mass shooting during the period of the ban), the 1994 to 2004 period saw lower average annual rates of both mass shootings and deaths resulting from such incidents than before the ban’s inception.

After: In the years after the assault weapons ban expired in 2004, the data shows an almost immediate – and steep – rise in mass shooting deaths to an average of 25.

Researchers have calculated that the risk of a person in the U.S. dying in a mass shooting was 70 percent lower when assault weapons ban was in place than it is today.

Facts, data, logic, analysis — do they play any role in what our government decides? The Republican Party in particular no longer listens, or thinks. It is owned — lock, stock, and barrel — by the gun industry.

You might think that preventing young children from being murdered in random mass killings by assailants with assault weapons would be a goal shared by all lawmakers. But you’d be wrong.

The Assault Weapons Ban must be reinstated — the greed of gun manufacturers be damned.

Filosofa’s Philosophical Nuggets

Today I’m offloading some of the bits ‘n pieces, jumbled thoughts about anything or nothing, that are clogging up my mental lines.  Take them with a grain of salt, or for whatever they’re worth, for they are just snippets I jot down when I need to get a thought out of my head so I can focus.

  • What does it take to truly outrage Americans? Short answer:  You can’t.  If killing their children doesn’t earn any sustained outrage, then they are blind, deaf, dumb and numb to the gun culture and incapable of caring.  If Uvalde, Parkland, Sandy Hook and other school shootings haven’t managed to capture their attention for more than a 3-day news cycle, then nothing will.  They sit around and pray to whatever deity they find comfort in that their own children will be spared, rather than actually demanding action on the part of the lawmakers they elected and whose salaries they pay.

  • Justices Thomas, Barrett, Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, Alito and to a lesser degree Roberts have ensured that we can no longer trust the U.S. Supreme Court to ‘do the right thing’ in handing down justice. The Republicans in Congress have guaranteed us that the law works in favour of only the wealthy and the uber-religious.  Police forces around the nation have shown us that they ‘protect and serve’ the white portion of the population at the expense of all others.  They tell us to ‘trust’, but just who are we to trust?  Who has earned our trust?

  • If you need a church, synagogue, mosque or temple, if you need a bible, quran, or talmud, if you need a rabbi, priest, or minister to tell you what the right thing is to do, then I would suggest you are not listening to your own conscience. I think we ALL know right from wrong, but some people will allow religion to silence or override the voice of reason from within.

  • My granddaughter, Natasha, and I often have conversations about events happening near and far, and her voice is always refreshingly astute. I don’t remember the topic we were discussing when she uttered these words, but I found them spot-on!
    • “If you don’t want to be insulted when you’re dead, don’t be a piece of garbage while you’re alive.”

  • Ever wonder how people across the pond view our antics? This is a comment from a UK reader on one of Robert Reich’s recent posts:

    • “I am just utterly staggered and confounded by how those in the House and in Congress are prepared to abandon all normal rules and, it would appear, your constitution, to support this liar, fraud and sexual predator. It is also, I fear, a very sad reflection on the educational and intelligence levels of so many in the USA that they are also prepared to vote for this man, to support people who at least purport to believe in QAnon and to see nothing wrong with all the attempts to deny large numbers of people their basic human rights. However, anybody who finds a small group of cells to be vastly more important than the child that it might grow into or the woman whose body is required to support it, has to be verging on insane in my book. It’s just a shame that so many of your population appear to fall into that category.”

  • The people of the United States have become so ideologically divided that we’ve made it easy for politicians at all levels to prey on us, to use us as pawns in their games where the prize is wealth and power. Quite honestly, I do not see how we can become any more divided, but then I’ve said that before.  Some predict a civil war in this country, but … there are only ideological boundaries, not physical or geographical ones.  It is We the People who are the problem, not the politicians who are opportunists and not missing a chance to use our divisions to their own advantage.

  • What’s in your checking account right now … no, just go check, don’t project or extrapolate … the dollar or pound amount right this minute? Now … I want you to just think about this … what if you donated half of that amount right now, right this minute.  Would you have to default on the rent/mortgage?  Would you and your family have to go without food tomorrow or next week?

  • Does this statement make any sense to you?
    • “To save free speech on college campuses, Republican lawmakers and governors say it’s time to stop talking about diversity, equity and inclusion.”
      • WHOSE free speech??? Confusing, to say the very least.  Seems to me they are saying that to save free speech, we need to kill it.

Well, I feel much better now!  The cobwebs are clearing and I think I might be able to find a focus soon!  Thanks for putting up with my jumbled collection of thoughts, for helping me sweep a few of the cobwebs from the corners of my mind!

Job Requirement: Walk A Mile In My Shoes

We humans … all of us … have built-in defense mechanisms that allow us to tune out certain things.  If you walk frequently in a city, you have likely learned to tune out the homeless person sitting against a building, hoping someone will stop and offer him a meal.  When we pick up our child at school, we rarely notice that tall kid with the holes in his shoes, or the skinny child whose clothes are two sizes too big, or the child being pushed to the bus in a wheelchair.  We become inured to things that would bother us, would disturb our vision of the world we live in, perhaps even give us a twinge of guilt for our own well-being relative to others.

Most of our politicians today are wealthy by almost any standards and have always been so.  They do not notice us … until election day.  And if they don’t notice us, have never spent time with a family mired in poverty, or a person suffering from the effects of AIDS, or a homeless mother and her children living in their car, then they don’t understand the problems of those people.  How could they?

Imagine if, in order to have his or her name on the ballot, a candidate running for Congress had to spend one month living in subsidized housing, living on nothing more than food stamp benefits, a small stipend for non-food items, and not much more to survive on for that month, with zero access to their own wealth or family.  Or imagine if that candidate had to spend 10 hours of every day for a month volunteering in a homeless shelter, food pantry or soup kitchen.  Might it open their eyes and give them a sense of empathy for what the people of their country go through on a daily basis?

Politicians have no idea what life is like for the poor in this nation, and that lack of understanding leads them to make decisions that are in the better interests of the wealthy than the average Joe.  I have long said they all … in both parties and with few exceptions … live in ivory towers far above the madding crowd and have zero understanding of what it’s like to have to live on a tight budget, to serve rice 5 nights a week and maybe chicken once a week for a treat.  They have no comprehension of what it’s like to have to choose between paying the electric bill or taking your asthmatic child to the doctor for a much-needed checkup; between buying food or insulin.

Before astronauts fly into space, they spend days inside of simulators to gain an understanding of what their journey will be like.  But most members of Congress are far removed from the people they represent and have only read about their trials and tribulations, never experienced them first-hand, not even for a day.  Airline pilots receive thousands of hours of training before they are allowed to fly a plane full of a hundred or so passengers, but members of Congress who are responsible for making decisions that affect 330 million lives receive almost no training.  Most members of Congress hold a law degree, not a degree in social work, and in recent years the people have elected members of Congress who didn’t even finish high school!

There’s a saying – walk a mile in my shoes – that seems apropos here.  Granted, no one person can experience all the hardships people go through, but if they lived a month in the life of those less fortunate, might it open their eyes a little?  Might it give them a level of empathy that few have when they first take that oath of office?  And might it weed out those who have no stomach for even a month without the trappings of luxury to which they are so accustomed?   Might it make them more interested in funding those things that help people live better lives rather than space exploration that provides no benefit, or military hardware that destroys lives?  Might it change their priorities just a bit?