Point of View Columns

The United States of Gun – The Story Never Ends

Literally a week does not go by without another mass killing in the United States. Recently, the death toll has been increasing like the scoreboard for some insane video game, with mass killings every few days. And there is no end, indeed not even respite, in sight.

It is ironic that in a country that claims some kind of exceptionalism that the carnage continues unabated. The gun lobby and the gun manufacturers literally insure with their massive political donations and 24-7 propaganda machine that there will always be a critical mass of lawmakers in virtually every state and always in the Congress that will block any meaningful changes in the laws in the near, and sadly, bloody future.

With a Supreme Court that has now established a new and lethal interpretation of the Second Amendment which will very likely result in opening the remaining floodgates that will result in a virtual tsunami of guns and consequent deaths. And the irony is that the Second Amendment literally says nothing about the right of individuals to own guns, to wit:

A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. (emphasis added)

Even a casual visitor to the pages of the Constitution with only a gossamer thread of knowledge about American history will know that the Second Amendment was the reflection of the very real memory of the British colonial power dismantling state militias that were key to the American Resistance in 1775 and onwards. There is literally no indication in the writings of Madison, Hamilton, Franklin and any of the other key framers of the Constitution that the Second Amendment was intended to mean that every person had a constitutional right to own a gun.

Even granting that the Constitution has been reinterpreted to reflect the times, the reality is that well over 60 percent of the American population, when asked, favors some kind of gun control laws, rules and regulations. Yet we are supposed to believe that this so-called inalienable right is worth the lives of tens of thousands of men women and children who die from guns.

In this country guns are the leading cause of death among children (emphasis added). There is no so-called developed nation on the planet that would find that such a statistic as acceptable. Yet in this so-called exceptional country the proponents of gun carnage will send their crocodile tears and empty thoughts and their profane prayers to the survivors and this daily deluge of blood.

Almost exactly ten years ago, a 20-year old by the name of Adam Lanza killed his mother and then went to the Sandy Hook Elementary School where he shot and killed 26 people, including 20 children between the ages of 6 and 7 years of age with an AR-15 style automatic rifle. And then he shot himself in the head.

Reports of the carnage were too awful to photograph. Let it suffice to say that the carnage was so complete that parents of the children were only able to identify their sons and daughters by the clothing that they had been wearing when they left for school or, in some truly horrific cases, only by DNA evidence.

It was said at the time that, if this country could not do something about gun violence and mass shootings after Sandy Hook, it never would. And then…. in the last ten years this country has done nothing of substance.

If, ten years after Sandy Hook and after ten years of more dead men, women and children this country cannot seriously address the issue of gun violence, then it is quite possible that this country will shoot itself to death in some kind of demented suicide pact.

This country has more guns than people. And if this killing continues unabated, there will continue to be fewer people than guns.

There is no rational interpretation of the Second Amendment that justifies any American should be forced to live in the United States of Gun in order to satisfy the insatiable greed of gun manufacturers and those men and women who foresee an apocalypse where only having a gun will save you.

Clearly, this story never ends.

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Point of View Columns

Trump – The King of Lies

Yesterday Donald Trump – the twice impeached former President of the United States, the two-time loser of presidential elections – announced that he was running to be elected president in 2024. And after Trump University, and Trump Steaks, and Trump bankruptcies, and Trump failed casinos, Trump failed hotels and Trump failed airline and Trump wines, he is actually a viable candidate for president. Which demonstrates once and for all what a low bar of quality and qualifications define a credible presidential candidate in 2022.

Trump decided to announce his hardly unexpected candidacy at this Mar-a-Lago resort. It should be mentioned that this is the same Mar-a-Lago that was the subject of an FBI raid pursuant to a search warrant that yielded thousands of pages of highly classified documents, the mere possession of which typically results in a significant time in a federal prison facility. And that may still be the result for Trump.

During what can only be described as a “low energy” Trump rant, he was able to set a new world record for the number of lies uttered in a single speech. The fact checkers at CNN and MSNBC (Fox News doesn’t believe in checking facts) were exhausted by the sheer number of falsehoods uttered in succession. And between the web of lies and the statements totally devoid of logic, common sense or basic intelligence, we witnessed a preview of the torrent of insane rhetoric that will be spewed across this nation for perhaps as long as two years. Here are just a few samples:

-Trump stated that if he were president that Russia would have never invaded Ukraine. Of course, this is the same Trump that tried to shake down Ukraine and get the government of that country to investigate his political enemies – holding up hundreds of millions of dollars of military aide. And it is hard to imagine Trump, who has adopted such a servile posture towards Putin would have ever done anything to aid Ukraine.

-Trump said that theCOVID-19 epidemic was under control during his presidency. This would come as something of a surprise to the families of the over one million Americans who died from this disease, due in large part to the infinite incompetence of the Trump administration in dealing with the pandemic.

-Trump claimed that that 2022 election was a great victory for the Republican party when virtually every candidate that he supported – with just a few exceptions lost. The Republicans who won, like Brian Kemp in Georgia and Ron DeSantis in Florida kept their distance from the stench that accompanies Trump wherever he goes.

-Trump came up with a figure of 232 wins and 22 losses for the Republican Party which must be calculations provided by a polling company based on Venus.

-Trump claimed that Herschel Walker, yes that Herschel Walker, would make a great senator. And it is that absolutely pathetic judge of character and intelligence that may present the greatest danger to America and the Planet Earth if he ever sets foot in the White House again.

-And a Trump speech would not be a Trump speech without him proclaiming his historic victimhood and martyrdom. All of the federal and state charges against him, all of the investigations against him – state and federal, are in The World According to Trump all “witch hunts” and actual attacks on all the good men and women of MAGA nation.

It is sad, pathetic and frightening that, after all that is known about Trump, his lies, his cruelty, his incompetence and his baseless bombast, the are thirty to forty million people who would love to see him as President of the United States.

It is time to be very concerned about the Clear and Present Danger Called Trump.

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Point of View Columns

First Thoughts After the Election – 11.9.22

There is a very popular author in the alternative history genre by the name of call alternative history by the name Harry Turtledove. “Alternative history” can best be summarized as “what would have happened if John Kennedy survived the assassination attempt in Dallas?”

Similarly, one day historians may look at the 2022 elections and wonder what would have happened if the projected Republican tsunami had actually occurred. What we do know is that, at least for the immediate present, here are some of the things that will not happen:

  • There will be no national abortion ban
  • There will be no reduction of taxes for high end corporate CEO’s
  • There will not be a successful effort to end to Social Security
  • There will not be a successful effort to end Medicare
  • The Affordable Care Act will not be repealed
  • There will not be a successful effort by Congress to overturn the 2024 presidential election.

What we do know is that the Republicans like Senator Rick Scott, who was the author of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee platform that articulated the assault on so many Americans, is not going away and is definitely not giving up.

If we have learned anything over the past several decades it is that the right wing of the right wing is persistent and committed to its cause. They are not looking at the 2022 election results as a setback and they are certainly not viewing the results as a permanent failure.

They are, and have been, very intentional and very strategic and as persistent as the natural phenomenon of erosion. And the analogy is apt, because erosion only stops when its target is either eliminated or drastically changed. And so it is when the target is American democracy and basic human rights.

The progressive movement is characterized by stops and starts and is seemingly always reacting to real danger only when the danger transitions from possible to imminent to immediate. And it is certainly the case right now.

The fact that over 300 election deniers were running for different officers across the nation is more than a warning (can you say Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin?), it is a clear and present danger. And is clear that the progressives, liberals and anyone concerned about the maintenance of some version of justice and liberty need to stopping playing defense and starting being proactive.

Once again, the fact that the right wing of the right did not create a tsunami of victory on a national basis points out that there were some rays of victory (can you say Senator John Fetterman and Governor Wes Moore?) cannot obscure the fact that a dark wave of ugly, racist, anti-libertarian Republican candidates are already lining up to run the cities and states and the nation lining up for 2023 and 2024.

To be clear, this is not the time to be afraid.

This is the time remember the heritage of being part of the struggle for freedom and humanity.

Now is the time.

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Point of View Columns

An Afro-Asian Misunderstanding, When Hate Speech Becomes Murder Speech and Election Nightmares

An Afro-Asian Misunderstanding

It is a sad case of irony that Asian American organizations have joined with the right-wing white conservatives in the effort to eliminate affirmative action from university admissions protocols. Clearly the irony is lost on the Asian American spokespersons who claim that initiatives meant to address centuries of oppression directed against Black Americans results in discrimination against Asian Americans.

Part of the irony is that from the days of the Chinese Exclusion Act to the current wave of random violence committed against Asian Americans, Asian Americans know what true discrimination really looks like.

The other part of the irony is that the very (very) modest efforts to increase Black admissions at colleges and universities represent only a good start towards true redress of the grievances of the national Black community. For members of the Asian American community to suggest that these modest efforts are at their expense is both myopic and wrong.

Obviously, there is plenty of opportunity for addressing any perceived discrimination by examining the admissions policies that still result in many institutions having predominantly white student bodies, faculty and administration officials. Targeting Black people is the result of misguided thinking as well as ignorance of the very real fact that the true opponents of affirmative action are seeking an even greater presence of white students, not Asian Americans.

It is very strategic for right-wing white conservatives to have Asian Americans in the forefront of the battle against affirmative action policies that benefit Black people.

Sadly, these same Asian Americans will find that their victory in the current Supreme Court cases will result in their being the next target of their current partners.

When Hate Speech Becomes Murder Speech

Just a few days ago Paul Pelosi, the 82-year-old husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was attacked in their San Francisco home by a hammer wielding intruder, fracturing his skull and arm. And, it turns out that the real target of the intruder was Nancy Pelosi – he intending to interrogate her and “break her kneecaps” with one of the two hammers that he brought to the house (along with a bag full of zip ties).

This was not a random break-in.

This was not the work of a madman.

This was what happens when hate speech turns into murder speech (it is only by the grace of God that Paul Pelosi did not die from the attack).

This is what happens when MAGA denizens, right wing republicans and the far-right militants spew hate speech on a daily basis on any and every media platform.

Nancy Pelosi has been a target of this hate speech for several years and the only surprise is that this is the first direct attack on her (that we know of). And we should remember that on January 6, 2021, armed right-wing terrorists roamed the Capitol chanting “Nancy” as they searched for her – certainly intending to harm her if not kill her.

Republicans have responded to this atrocity with perfunctory “thoughts and prayers” and jokes and silence. Condemnation of the hate speech that preceded this particular attack is not and will not be forthcoming.

And this is the way that civil discourse and democracies begin to fade away as something terrible begins to take its place.

Election Nightmares

For anyone waking up from autumnal hibernation, election day is November 8th. Of course, millions of Americans have voted through early voting and mail-in voting, two modes of voting that are being targeted by the right-wing throughout the country.

Some brief observations:

  • The unexpected volume of early voting activity throughout the country is matching the voting levels in presidential election years. This should augur well for the continuation of democratic traditions (maybe).
  • There are several senatorial races that will determine Republican or Democratic control of the Senate. Thanks to state level gerrymandering by Republican legislatures the Republicans re virtually guaranteed to take control of the House of Representatives (can you say Speaker Kevin McCarthy?).
  • Between voter intimidation, voter fraud and election denial the 2023 could be the year that the Republican conservative autocrats could be controlling the Supreme Court, the House of Representatives and the Senate – leaving President Joe Biden in the role of Horatio at the gates of Rome trying to protect what might be left of the integrity of many American institutions – a nightmare scenario to be sure.

IF YOU HAVE NOT DONE SO – PLEASE VOTE.

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