Violence

Einstein

Reading time – 1:24  .  . .

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.Albert Einstein

I don’t know if Einstein actually said that, but I’m confident he believed it. In any scientific experiment, consistently providing the same string of inputs generates a consistently identical set of outputs. The same is true of ordinary human endeavors.

On the morning of November 6, 2017 the agencies investigating our most recent mass murder, this in Sutherland Springs, Texas, held a press briefing which included comments from a woman who lives in that horribly assaulted town. She said that what we – all of us – can do is to pray for the survivors and to support them with money donations to either of a couple of funds just established in support of the people in that community.

I’m not an expert on the subject of whether prayers offered by people around the country will provide help to the brutalized survivors. Surely, we like to think that they will. We have an innate need to help others who are suffering, so praying will at the very least serve that, as well as help to deal with this assault on our collective sense of loss of safety in the world.

What she did not address is anything that might help the next sanctuary full of church goers, or the next audience at a movie theater or concert, or the next group of children walking home from school in a dangerous inner city neighborhood, or the people on a popular bike and jogging path in a city, or the next holiday lunch gathering of coworkers, or people enjoying a nightclub, or college students walking across campus, or workers at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, or kids at a suburban high school, or a schoolroom full of first graders.

If we fail to change anything, we are assured of the same outcomes over and over. We’d be insane to expect anything different. We’ve seen this movie, we’ve lived it and thousands have died from it. We know it will never end unless we do something different.

The immediate defensive crouch assumed by the obstructionists to taking action is that there is no perfect solution to our self-inflicted savagery and no one thing will make all the difference.

It’s time to stop hiding behind that excuse for inaction.


The Onion puts light on our self-induced helplessness here.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we’re on a path to continually fail to make things better. It’s my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That’s the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Two Shirts

Two ShirtsReading time – 1:39 seconds; Viewing time – 2:47 .  .  .

July 5 – Alton Sterling is shot and killed by Baton Rouge, LA police.

July 6 – Philando Castile is shot and killed by St. Anthony, MN police.

July 7 – An angry sniper – a black man – kills 5 and wounds 7 white Dallas police, as well as wounding at least 2 civilians.

What are we to make of all that? Try this.

Tens of thousands of people participate every year in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. They are committed to preventing and curing breast cancer, so does that mean that these people don’t care about those who suffer from heart disease or diabetes?

The Mothers Against Drunk Driving leaders are singular in their focus, many of them because they have lost someone due to a drunk driver. Does that mean that they think it’s okay to drive stoned?

Tax Increment Financing is a tool used by cities in many countries for the purpose of redevelopment of sub-standard neighborhoods. Does that mean that the mayors of these cities don’t care if other areas fail?

My mother gave me two shirts as a birthday present many years ago. I immediately went to another room to try one on and then returned, only to hear Mom say, “You don’t like the other shirt?”

Clearly, choosing one doesn’t mean the dismissing of another. It isn’t a zero-sum game.

All of which is to say that the lily white criticism of Black Lives Matter, proudly proclaiming that all lives matter, is stupid and, worse, it’s racist. I have yet to hear any spokesperson for Black Lives Matter say or imply that only black lives matter. Their mission is about changing things so that black lives matter as much as every other life.

So, when you hear blabber-mouths complain about the Black Lives Matter movement, hear their words for what they are: an attempt to avoid the very real subject of active racism in America. They are trying to make it look as if whites are the poor victims of blacks who don’t want to get murdered by cops. That’s racism.

In an article for STAT about racism, police brutality and the training of our medical professionals, doctor/author Jennifer Adaeze Okwerekwu declares that, ”  .  .  .  as a nation we have a crippled conscience.” Perhaps those who complain about Black Lives Matter should get a pair of cultural crutches.

Does this speak to you? Then speak it along to friends & followers – LIke it, Tweet it, LInk it, FB it with a link to http://bit.ly/29RaiPA.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Antonio Davon Brown

Gay_flag.svgReading time – 2:44; Viewing time – 5:04  .  .  .

At the vigil on the Northbrook Village Green there were rainbow flags draped over the gazebo railings, but the vigil wasn’t about gays.

The officiants were from a dozen different faiths, but the vigil wasn’t about religion.

The attendees held candles, but the vigil wasn’t about primitive lights.

In the final analysis, the vigil was about reaffirming our common humanity. We need that reaffirmation, because we are too often battered by attempts to destroy our common humanity.

Prayers were offered to stand together and to remember, honor and stand for those cut down by angry violence, and for all of us – not just those gathered on a spring evening in the park, but for all people everywhere – to live in peace and love.  And I assure you that doing so, living for that day of peace and love, is not enough.

Waiting for that day will only get us more of what we are getting right now, over 80 U.S. homicides per day by firearm. We have more than twice as many mass shootings per year than the next 4 countries combined. Vigils won’t stop the next homicide. But vigils can propel us off our passive backsides and into action and that is the only thing that will begin to stop the carnage.

90% of Americans want universal background checks for the sale of any firearm and 80% of NRA members want that, too. Why isn’t that the law of the land? The vast majority of Americans want assault rifles banned entirely, but anybody with enough cash can buy one in minutes. Why is that?  Following the massacre in Orlando, there is now pressure to create legislation to prevent anyone on a terrorist watch list from buying firearms. That effort required nearly 15 hours of filibustering by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) just to enable a discussion of the topic. Why do so many congressmen and senators block any gun safety measures from becoming law? What is the reason for all the push-back against what Americans want?

The answer is the money of the NRA. Without it, many members of Congress would have trouble funding their reelection campaigns, so they take money from the NRA and then do its bidding to enhance sales of firearms for the companies of the firearms industry, the true masters of the NRA. That makes it possible for an angry young man to purchase an AR-15, a handgun and lots of ammunition and then kill 49 people and wound another 53 in an Orlando night club. Here is the translation of that into simple truth:

The senators and congressmen who make themselves beholden to the NRA care more about their political careers than they do about more than one hundred casualties in just one night in Orlando, or the holiday partiers in San Bernadino, or 20 little kids and 6 teachers killed in Sandy Hook, or the people in a church in Charleston, or the movie goers who went to see the new Batman movie in Aurora or the kids at Columbine High School. These legislators care more about their political careers than they do about the brutal deaths of over 30,000 Americans every year. And if you are the next victim of an angry young man who decides to shoot up the theater you’re attending, these legislators really don’t care. Not about you.

And that won’t change just because we held candles during the vigil in the Village Green Park. Our silence will only enable the next massacre. That will only start to change when you get up and make your voice heard. So, get up. Get active. Get heard.

Go to www.PeacefulCommunities.org and sign the petition. Attend a rally. Get up. Get active. Get heard.

Go to the websites for the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence and People For a Safer Society and take the action steps. Get up. Get active. Get heard.

Antonio Davon Brown

Antonio Davon Brown

Captain Antonio Davon Brown was a down-to-earth guy, according to the Orlando Sentinel. He was a 2008 graduate of Florida A&M University and had been deployed in Kuwait. He and I did not know one another and now that he has been murdered in the Pulse Nightclub in Orland, FL, we will never know one another. That he was there suggests that he liked to have a good time. He might have been gay – or perhaps he just liked hanging out with friends and the loud, upbeat music and some drinks.

Captain Brown was not a statistic. He was a real person who lived and loved and hoped, just like you and I do. He was only able to do that for 30 years. Just 30 years, because in America, buying an AR-15 is as easy as buying a gallon of milk.

Get up. Get active. Get heard. Right here, right now.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The 2,700 Club

Reading time – 69 seconds; Viewing time – 3:04  .  .  .

Point #1

There’s plenty of data showing that moments of anger can escalate to crimes of passion and somebody’s death occurs far more easily when there is a gun present. That’s exactly what happened in the Northlake Mall in Charlotte, NC last month, when two people got into an argument and at least one of them had a gun.

The same principle is true of suicide, which is a specialized form of homicide. It’s a lot easier to pull a trigger than to jab a knife into one’s chest or slit one’s wrist. Just the daunting task of slicing into your body or imagining a wrenching death from poisoning is enough to prevent many people from ending their lives and they are later grateful there wasn’t a gun within reach.

Point #2

The TSA recently announced that almost 2,700 handguns were confiscated from carry-on luggage at U.S. airports last year. That number is up 20% from 2014, perhaps suggesting that we were 20% more stupid in 2015 than in 2014. That may be an incorrect analysis, but let’s consider who would try to get a gun past security at an airport.

Idiot #1 – An ISIL operative bent on taking down an airliner and killing people on the ground in a seventh century leap for martyrdom.

Idiot #2 – A true-blue American with absolute faith and belief in the Second Amendment and who is standing up for his right to do stupid things. His back is straight, eyes alert and ahead, proud to be a pistol packing cowboy believing himself to be a direct inheritor of the intent of the Founders, as he passes through the body scanner without his boots.

Idiot #3 – “Oh, yeah. I forgot it was in there.” I had a discussion recently with a TSA agent at O’Hare, who told me that’s what they commonly hear when they find some fool’s gun in his luggage. They forgot they had a loaded Smith & Wesson in their suitcase? Forgot?!!! Actually, it doesn’t matter if they forgot. Trying to get a gun past security is a crime and each of the 2,700 were quickly given an opportunity to meet new and – let’s say, interesting – people at the local slammer.

Therefore,

Every one of these idiots is a form of terrorist, regardless of his hijacking intent. That includes the one who is the NRA’s “good guy with a gun” and who thinks he’s going to gun down bad guys on an airplane. In reality, that scenario is the Northlake Mall shooting all over again. It’s the crime of passion or the depression-driven attempt at suicide that turns into someone being murdered solely because there was a gun handy.

2,700 fools with guns is a terrible statistic, because one of those guys who didn’t get caught could have been on your flight with his  loaded 9mm. Next time you go through screening at the airport, instead of being annoyed by the delay, thank the TSA folks for doing a great job to protect you.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

ACTION STEP: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Crimes of Passion and Packing Heat

Northlake Mall Shooting

Northlake Mall, Charlotte, NC

Reading time – 53 seconds; viewing time – 2:56   .  .  .

Crimes of passion are exactly that: crimes of passion. When the fight-or-flight instinct kicks in, the amygdala is screaming out imperatives at about 10 times the rate of our analytical, logical pre-frontal cortex. In other words, we act solely in response to the passion of the moment and we slay that dragon and obliterate the danger before us. And we believe that imperative is justified if we see ourselves as having been victimized. Have a look at Arthur C. Brooks’ brilliant piece in the December 20 New York Times for more on that.

On December 24, 2015, some pistol packing fool got his impassioned conflict with another person violently solved in the Northlake Mall in Charlotte, NC. What might have prevented that from happening?

The NRA says that we need more “good guys” to be packing heat in order to alleviate the slaughter that continues unabated in America. They push back against any attempt to promote gun safety, ideas like universal background checks and prohibiting violent felons from owning guns. Their push-back is most commonly anchored in the claim that such laws would not have deterred shootings like those at Sandy Hook Elementary School and the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, CA. It’s a stupid argument, but let’s apply its logic to the North Carolina mall shootings and another from not long ago.

More people packing heat in that mall would not have stopped that slaughter because it happened way too fast. In fact, more people packing heat likely would have made it unclear who the bad guys were and even more innocent people would likely have been injured or killed by ignorant shooters.

Think next about the movie theater in Aurora, CO where in 2012 that idiot opened fire during the Batman movie. What do you suppose would have happened if a few dozen other movie goers were carrying guns? The additional carnage that would have been created by the NRA’s so-called “good guys carrying guns” and doing their version of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, but this time in a dark movie theater, would have been horrific. And they wouldn’t have even have stopped the shooter from killing and wounding people.

Now let’s apply the NRA’s “it wouldn’t have stopped certain killings” logic to these shootings and their push-back against gun safety measures.

More people packing heat would not have been useful in stopping either the killing at the North Carolina mall or in the movie theater in Aurora, CO. In fact, they would have made things much worse in both cases. Therefore, according to the NRA’s own logic, we should not have more “good guys” carrying guns.

Quod Erat Deonstrandum.

Dear NRA: Stick that up your Glock.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

President Bush Got One Right

Doofus George at the DoorReading time – 44 seconds  .  .  . 

I was frequently embarrassed by the way George W. Bush presented the United States to the world. He said some inane things. He mispronunciated [sic] words. He displayed his doofus look with regularity, making me wonder what, if anything, was going on inside his head.

One of the things he said that seemed patently stupid was his claiming that Islamic fundamentalists hate us because of our freedom. Really? It wasn’t because we had spent decades supporting despotic middle-east rulers who made the lives of their people miserable and often too short? It wasn’t because Palestinians, their religious brothers, were suffering and, as the Islamists saw it, because we support Israel? It wasn’t because they wrapped their politics in their violent religion and saw us as infidels?

Interestingly, while all those reasons are true, we in the West really are hated for our freedom – in a certain sense.

Islam is an absolutist religion. You either believe and obey or you are an infidel. There is no middle ground, no wiggle room for changed circumstances or new information. Qur’anic  law mandates harsh penalties, so for true believers, their explanation (not justification, but their explanation) for brutality and murder is, “Allah requires me do it.”

Their personal responsibility is solely to obeying directives from 7th century Arabia, as recorded 150 years after the Prophet Muhammad died. You  might want to read any of the books by Ayaan Hirsi Ali for clarity about that and on the drivers of the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The point is that the 9/11 killers and the ISIL members now committing atrocities believe that they are doing God’s work. They see themselves as holy. They are motivated by their notion of right as spelled out in the Qur’an and interpreted literally. Because what they do is for Allah and is at Allah’s direction, there can be no compromise. And that’s exactly why they will be ever-dangerous to people in the west and why there is no room for negotiation with them.

To them we are infidels, unholy, dirty and perverse in the eyes of God because we afford ourselves the freedom to believe as we choose, to live with individual free will – personal freedom. That is why, oddly enough, George W. Bush actually got this one right.

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

What Should We Do?

Reading time – 121 upsetting seconds  .  .  .

WARNING: People are being murdered, but you might not care. Have a look at this and you’ll understand. Then come back here for an eye-opener.

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I’m a curious guy, so when a horrific event unfolds, one of my first reactions is to wonder what’s behind the event, pushing it to its terrible end. It’s the “Why?” question we all ask when yet another killer snuffs out the lives of innocent people. It turns out that some smart people with the resources for research have looked into this question extensively and it’s pretty easy to get information.

For example, in a summary article on sott.net they report,

Nearly every mass shooting incident in the last twenty years, and multiple other instances of suicide and isolated shootings all share one thing in common, and it’s not the weapons used.

The overwhelming evidence suggests the single largest common factor in all of these incidents is that all of the perpetrators were either actively taking powerful psychotropic drugs or had been at some point in the immediate past before they committed their crimes. [emphasis added]

Most shooters are male, in their teens to early 20s and they are on drugs – prescription drugs, legally prescribed and obtained. Some side effects of these SSRI drugs (Selective Serotonin Re-Uptake Inhibitors ), like Zoloft, Ritalin and Prozac, are suicidal tendencies and violence.

We are a drug-taking society and we carry the expectation that a pill will solve our problems. This from AntidepressantAdverseReactions.com,

In addition to depression, SSRIs are marketed for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (“OCD”), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”), Social Anxiety Disorder (“SAD”) and Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder (“PMDD”) and Panic Disorder.

See? Just take a pill and all those nasty symptoms go away.

And we’re taking ever more of these drugs. In a 2014 Scientific American article, they wrote,

Antidepressant use among Americans is skyrocketing. Adults in the U.S. consumed four times more antidepressants in the late 2000s than they did in the early 1990s. As the third most frequently taken medication in the U.S., researchers estimate that 8 to 10 percent of the population is taking an antidepressant.

We throw pharmaceuticals at ourselves willingly – we like quick fixes – and sometimes we do so inappropriately. Just do a search on “SSRI overprescription” and read any article (here’s one from Psychology Today and here’s one from the American Psychological Association) and you’ll see that’s true. But the story is worse than that.

The pharmaceutical companies actively, enthusiastically and artfully tell the happy tale of how their products make life better. They are far less prone to put out front the downsides, the side effects. In fact, they go out of their way to soft-peddle and sometimes suppress them. (Same deal: just do a search on “suppression of SSRI side effects” and read any article – here’s one.) The pharmaceutical companies make a profit of over $6,000,000,000 per year on SSRIs; little wonder they don’t want to tell us the risks of violence from giving acting-out little Johnny some pills.

But then Johnny grabs the legally purchased guns from dad’s house and goes to the movie theater or the local school and kills a bunch of people, then himself. And we’re all shocked and surprised.

In a 2013 study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Justice, they found what you’ve felt all along, that things are getting worse, that there are more and more mass shootings. Here’s a chart of 160 active shooting incidents by year where 3 or more people (not counting the shooter) were killed:

Blair, J. Pete, and Schweit, Katherine W. (2014). A Study of Active Shooter Incidents, 2000 - 2013. Texas State University and Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington D.C. 2014

Blair, J. Pete, and Schweit, Katherine W. (2014). A Study of
Active Shooter Incidents, 2000 – 2013. Texas State University and Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of
Justice, Washington D.C. 2014

As you can see, you were right: there really are more and more mass shootings.

To be sure, some people have a medical need for pharmaceuticals. But perhaps we’ve taken the lazy way, throwing pills at symptoms instead of dealing with root causes, and in the process, and likely unknowingly, invited increasing horrors upon ourselves.

Surely, gun safety has to consider the mental stability and competence of those who want guns. At the same time, we don’t have to invite greater mental instability by so often feeding our kids and young adults the very drugs that make them suicidal and violent. Maybe a pill isn’t always the answer. Maybe we should be directly dealing with mental health issues. Good idea, right?

There’s a problem with that: we’ve dramatically reduced the resources we deploy to deal with mental health. From a 2013 Forbes magazine article,

From 2009 to 2011, states cut mental health budgets by a combined $4 billion- the largest single combined reduction to mental health spending since de-institutionalization in the 1970s.

Ronald Reagan championed the curtailing of the “welfare state” and he cut funding for a slew of social programs, among them resources for treating mental illness. From Sociology.org,sidebar

.  .  .  Ronald Reagan pursued a policy toward the treatment of mental illness that satisfied special interest groups and the demands of the business community, but failed to address the issue: the treatment of mental illness.

What are the special interests and business community that were satisfied by Reagan’s policy? The pharmaceutical industry at every level. For those folks, doing anything that drives the sale of more meds is good for business. The real needs of people with mental illness just isn’t their problem.

So, now that we have an undisputed, ever-increasing series of mass shootings, as well a clarity about what’s causing so many of them, what do you think we should do: give more pills with potentially lethal side effects in order to mask symptoms; or treat the real mental health issues of our people? Consider your answer to that question in the context of sending your kids off to school and wondering if their going to class will be a life-threatening act.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

ACTION STEP: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Just So You Know All of What It Means

Reading time – 96 seconds  .  .  .

You know about mass shootings, of course, but a review is useful, so have a look at the partial list below.

DATE                    LOCATION                 PEOPLE KILLED             PEOPLE INJURED

Oct 1, 2015        Roseburg, OR                         10                                    10

Jun 18, 2015      Charlston, SC                           9                                      0

May 23, 2015     UC Santa Barbara                    7                                      7

Apr 2, 2015         Ft. Hood, TX                            3                                     16

Sep 16, 2013      Washington Naval Yard          13                                      3

Jun 7, 2013         Santa Monica College             5                                       0

Dec 14, 2012       Sandy Hook Elem. School     27                                      1

Oct  21, 2012       Brookfield, WI                          3                                      4

Sep 28, 2012        Minneapolis, MN                     6                                      2

Aug 5, 2012          Oak Creek, WI                         6                                      3

Jul 20, 2012          Aurora, CO                             12                                    58

Jan 8, 2011           Tucson, AZ                               6                                    11

There have been many more mass shootings, of course, including Virginia Tech, Texas Tech, Columbine, as well as the every day, garden variety homicide-by-firearm – about 30 per day. The list is endless and we can proudly proclaim that we lead the world in mass shootings, with 90 of them between 1966 and 2012. That doesn’t count murders like the on-air assassination of Allison Parker and Adam Ward in Virginia this year – just the high body count shootings.

There have been over 406,000 deaths by gun violence in America since 2001. Compare that to 3,380 American deaths by terrorism in the same period and you may want to reconsider how you react to fear mongering over terrorists and focus instead on a far more likely threat to your well being.

Requiring universal background checks would not end gun massacres this year or next year or the year after that. It would, though, start the process of keeping firearms out of the hands of mentally unstable people and those convicted of violent crimes, of whom it can reasonably be said that they are violent by nature and should not have easy access to tools of murder. Clearly, requiring universal background checks is part of the solution and it is an easy one to implement, too. But consider the perverse truth about the resistance to sensible gun safety laws:

  1. The National Rifle Association (NRA) exists primarily to promote the sale of firearms in order to protect the revenue and profit of the corporations that make up the firearms industry. Because universal background checks would put 66% more gun sales under scrutiny, it would likely put a damper on gun sales. Firearms manufacturers don’t want that to happen, so they send their lobbying arm – the NRA – to oppose background checks. And this is where it gets nasty, because that means that gun manufacturers value their profits more than they value the lives of the nine students who were just killed at Umpqua Community College.
  2. Politicians want to keep their jobs. Doing that requires lots of campaign cash and the NRA is a big campaign donor. The contributions the NRA makes to politicians makes those politicians beholden to the NRA. Indeed, if they don’t do the bidding of the NRA, the NRA will see that they get primaried by someone who will do the NRA’s bidding. And this is where it gets nasty again, because what that means is that many politicians care more about their careers that they do about the 19 little kids and 7 teachers who were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
  3. There are ardent Second Amendment supporters who believe in what they see as the principles of that amendment. They loudly proclaim that we have to have guns in order to protect us from tyrannical government. This is where it gets nasty yet again, because what that means is that those ardent Second Amendment types are implicitly saying that regular massacres like those listed above and all the rest of our gun violence, including what can happen to you the next time you go to a movie theater, is simply the price we must pay for liberty. They think you volunteered to wear a bulls eye.

Offered just so you know all of what it means.

In other news: As of this writing both North and South Carolina are experiencing torrential downpours, with some areas receiving well over a foot of rain. It is catastrophic in its effect and meteorologists have described this as a once in 500 years event. Drenched and drowning in all that rain and flooding, residents of the Carolinas can at least celebrate the good news there is no such thing as global warming.

Finally, it’s always a real mind-blower when anyone from far right Wackoville forsakes its propaganda, abandons the hyperbole that contains no more than 0.5% fact and instead tells the truth. I’m wondering if doing just that might disqualify Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) from becoming the next Speaker of the House. Recall that you were warned that, “You can’t handle the truth,” (from A Few Good Men).

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

ACTION STEP: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Stupidity

Image generated by Ghostscript (device=ppmraw)

Image of a galaxy, courtesy of Hubble

Reading time – 57 seconds  .  .  .

Said Harlan Ellison, “The most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.” That is cynical and harsh, yes, but there surely is an element of truth to be found in that statement. Let me offer a simple syllogism:

Doing self-destructive things is stupid

Many Americans are doing self-destructive things

Therefore, many Americans are doing stupid things

Perhaps your mind is instantly pushing back on that condemnation. Fair enough, yet here is a short, off-the-top-of-my-head list to make my case:

  1. We are largely ignoring the threat of climate warming that shows us every day that the planet is going to hard boil us. Evidence of our folly: In the face of the globally warmest years we’ve ever recorded, we continue to subsidize fossil fuel industries and provide next to no support for non-carbon based energy sources.
  2. After nearly forty years of failure, we still practice the same supply-side, trickle down economics that has financially stagnated most middle-class Americans and has forced millions into poverty.
  3. We have waged about 50 years of near-continuous war, largely because we have tolerated a spineless Congress that both abdicates its responsibility and knuckles under to what President Eisenhower labeled the military-industrial complex.
  4. We have allowed our state governments to abandon their financial obligations (that’s “obligations” as in: “duty-bound”) for deferred pay to state workers, an act of irresponsibility that may put millions into retirement age peril.
  5. We have allowed huge corporations not only the First Amendment right to speak, but to control our laws and regulations. That has given us more guns and murders per capita than any other western nation, crops that are designed primarily to resist ever-greater applications of toxic pesticides, rather than delivering safe, nutritious food and so many more examples of the undermining of safety, good sense and democracy.
  6. We have allowed candidates’ need for huge amounts of money to control our elections. Example: notice how press coverage of campaigns focuses more on campaign fund raising than on candidate policy proposals for the betterment of America.

All of that and more goes on because half to two-thirds of us fail to show up on election day. That’s self-destructive. That’s stupid.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

ACTION STEP: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Knee Jerks

Knee prepared to jerk

Knee prepared to jerk

Reading time – 42 seconds  .  .  . 

New York, July 14, 2015 – These exchanges took place on the Morning Joe program on MSNBC just moments after a deal between 6 countries and Iran to prevent nuclear proliferation had been announced and before anyone other than the negotiating parties knew its terms.

Mika Brzezinski: “Senator Lindsey Graham, have you seen the deal?”

S. Graham (R SC): “Ah, no.”

Seconds later he continued:

S. Graham: “We’ve ensured that [Iran will] become a nuclear nation, ensured that there will be a nuclear arms race  .  .  . You have created a possible death sentence for Israel  .  .  .  This is a virtual declaration of war against Sunni Arabs.”

Later on the same TV program  .  .  .

Joe Scarborough: “Senator [Tom Cotton, R-AR]*, you obviously heard the president’s speech. What’s your initial reaction?”

S. Cotton: “Joe, this proposed deal is a terrible, dangerous mistake that’s going to pave the path for Iran to get a nuclear weapon, while also giving them tens of billions of dollars of sanctions relief, even lifting the arms embargo at a time when they’re destabilizing the entire middle-east  .  .  .”

JS: “Does [the aggressive inspection regime] satisfy your concerns about inspections?”

S. Cotton: “No, Joe .  .  .  They will have weeks to delay, they’ll be able to decide which sites that we inspect .  .  .”

It’s most impressive that these men along with so many other Republicans seem to be clairvoyant, in that somehow they see all the danger embedded into an arms limitation agreement that they haven’t read and about which they are totally ignorant.

Actually, it is far more than sad that they have a knee-jerk rejection to anything President Obama supports and that they justify their rejections with fabricated facts. The reason it is more than sad is that they are willing – even eager – to counter the president even if their self-serving behavior leads to another avoidable war. They prefer dead soldiers and a plundered American treasury over resolving differences through diplomacy if diplomacy might give the president a “win.”

These knee jerks could reasonably be accused of treason.

* Senator Tom Cotton is the author of the letter signed by 47 Republican senators sent to the leaders of Iran. It indirectly instructed the Iranian leaders not to trust the President of the United States. That could reasonably be called treasonous, too.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

ACTION STEP: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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