guns

That Elusive More Perfect Union


There are always impassioned young men who are quick to anger, who instantly deliver a snarl and vitriol, are over-eager to dominate and impatient for violence. Some remain that way for a very long time. They love their hate and anger and the rush of power they get from that, as their spittle flies. Ignorance is no impediment and they are easy targets for manipulators. They are heedless of who gets hurt in their quest for power and vengeance. Indeed, hurting others is more than collateral damage; it’s their reason. *

Click me and discover our violent reality

It should come as no surprise to any of us that people nurture their grievances today much as the Southern traitors did in 1861. They justify their rebellion in their victimhood. They have the power rush and their absolute belief in their righteousness. They hunker down and plot ways to attack, to hit back. We’re seeing it today in a continuing assault on reality, on our democracy and in their cowardly, selfish retreat from integrity.

Our ongoing mass carnage is testament to our national belief in violent solutions to all problems. The Gun Violence Archive tracks our mass shootings (that means bullets ripping apart 3 or more people in a single incident). To understand the efficiency with which we execute violent solutions, there have been 25 mass shootings in just the past 12 days, with 18 killed and 96 wounded. Click on the pic above or the inline link in this paragraph in order to read the page. Then scroll through the other pages. It might come to you that our killing one another isn’t just horrible; it’s normal. It’s every day. And that’s just the gun violence.

Smug, arrogant Jefferson Davis and his ministers. Nine men, each with a metaphorical White supremacist, self-righteously raised middle finger. Sound familiar? Click the pic for Jamelle Bouie’s essay.

Timothy McVeigh thought he was a patriot and hero for bombing the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City and killing 168 people. Dylann Roof thought he was doing the right White supremacist thing by killing all nine people present at the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. And the January 6 insurrectionists are still sure they are the true patriots, having beaten, bear sprayed, stabbed, blinded and killed the very people they pretended to champion with their Blue Lives Matter flags. May the rivers of testosterone forever flow!

Here’s a short list of things standing in our way of making things better:

  1. The lack of courage to enforce our laws evenly and fairly.
  2. Politicians whose primary driver is their self-interest.
  3. As a subset of #2, politicians who are terrified of their constituents and are spineless to the point of complete refusal to lead.
  4. Politicians who know they can’t get reelected unless they lie, cheat, steal and undermine our democracy, so they do it all.
  5. A rapidly changing world that has left millions in terrible circumstances. That’s matched with a Congress and state legislatures that are bereft of solutions, are intransigent and useless for everything but stoking the fire of rage in their “base” in order to get reelected.
  6. Idiots promoting guns, encouraging “Second Amendment remedies” and the message that everyone should be packing heat.
  7. Our refusal to energetically teach and promote civics.
  8. Our lack of a requirement for service to our nation, leaving us ignorant of one another and unwilling to sacrifice for our common good.

Clearly, this list could go on for pages. Glad to have your important additions – use the Comments section below.

It’s satisfying to point fingers, especially at politicians, but the truth that we really don’t want to acknowledge is that Pogo was right – see the cartoon to the left.

We met US in Oklahoma City, Charleston, Ft. Hood, Parkland, the Pulse Night Club and the Las Vegas concert, at Sandy Hook, the Capitol Building and in so many other places. And in every case we were and are Americans committing violence on Americans.

It is still true that the behavior we tolerate is the behavior we get. And we have tolerated far too much.

Click me for the story from The Onion.

If becoming an actual United States in a more perfect union is the goal, then that begs the question of what we are willing to do make that happen. We have some congresspeople, mostly ex-military, who get the idea of protecting and defending the Constitution, who are wired for duty, honor, country and who understand integrity and accountability. One thing we can do is to elect more people like them, irrespective of party labels.

It’s painfully obvious that pointing fingers will not be useful. If we are to get better results, we’re going to have to do something different.

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  • The spoken words are often shouted by overheated individuals who evidently believe that the lungs are the seat of wisdom.” George Will
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The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up. Do something to make things better.

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The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The American ISIS – Part Two


This is Part Two of The American ISIS. Part One was published on Wednesday, July 7, 2021. You can find it here.

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Kurt Andersen’s 2017 book Fantasyland is a remarkable journey through our 5 century endeavor to perfect our ability to believe almost anything. It’s about how we blind ourselves to obvious reality and embrace outrageous explanations and fantasies to fill our gaping ignorance and feed our passions. We may be reaching perfection in that right now and could achieve escape velocity.

I recommend Andersen’s book to you but caution that you may find some of his views objectionable. Should that happen, simply focus on the basic American manias of belief in whatever puffs our bubble and our need to be wowed by ever more spectacular wow. There are hard consequences to those vulnerabilities. Our enthusiasm to believe the otherwise unbelievable is especially true when we live in fear of the ground shifting farther away from what feels solidly familiar. We clutch after vaporous memories of an imagined better time that never happened and we demand that it return.

He concludes his book quoting Hannah Arendt, who escaped Germany in 1933, came to America and became a leading political philosopher. In her 1951 book The Origins of Totalitarianism she wrote, “The essential conviction shared by all ranks [in a totalitarian movement], from fellow-traveler to leader, is that politics is a game of cheating.” Consider that in the context of our fellow-traveler mobs chanting “Stop the steal!” and their dear leader having whined, accused and lied incessantly since 2015 about rigged elections and who now donkey brays about how the 2020 election was “stolen” from him and his mobs.

Back to Arendt:

“A mix of gullibility and cynicism have been an outstanding characteristic of mob mentality before it became an everyday phenomenon of masses. In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and nothing was true  .  .  .  Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow. The totalitarian leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable truth of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.”

Her references were to Stalin and Hitler but she could as well have been writing about 21st century America and Donald Trump. We’re not a different species from any other people at any other time and this story is a recurring one. The difference is that it is being played out on us today and it is our democracy that is in danger.

The Nazi Brown Shirts and Stalin’s Death Squads and Pol Pot’s Kymer Rouge were each absolute followers of an absolute, tyrannical leader. They were constantly infused with propaganda. So, too, were and are the al Qaeda and ISIS vengeful mobs.

Right here at home our American ISIS is propagandized by Trump. He is yet another megalomaniac who will get his way or he will burn it all down. His followers have promised death to whomever he points a stubby finger at, including the Vice President of the United States. There are over 300 million guns in private hands in America and most are owned by a relative few, meaning that we have propagandized militias with over-stocked arsenals and barely contained rage. Even some of our military and police are fully propagandized.

These American ISIS members have promised ongoing violence fueled by their self-righteous certainties of patriotism and their imagined unity with 18th century revolutionaries. They have demonstrated their eagerness to inflict their violence on others. In fact far right extremists are the biggest perpetrators of domestic terrorism in America – by far. Now consider what will happen when their tyrannical leader, their Caligula, is indicted and convicted of his crimes.

Consider, too, how critical it will be to pass S.4263, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and H.R.1, the For The People Act to stop a Republican steal of our upcoming elections and of our democracy.

The facts are before us, so expecting the American ISIS to make good on their threats is an exercise in reality. Believe your eyes.

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Good News!

On Friday President Biden fired the Trump appointed head of the Social Security Administration, Andrew Saul, and solicited and received the resignation of his chief deputy, David Black. Saul spent the past years doing everything he could to deny benefits to seniors, our disabled and others for whom the system is supposed to work. He tried to bust the employee union and more.

Saul’s firing is a fine start to removing all the Trump toadies who have their jobs due to campaign donations and blatant conflicts of interest with the agencies they lead, like Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who spends his days hobbling the post office system and slowing your mail.

Well done, President Biden. Keep purging!

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The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

I’ve Got a Bad Feeling About This


The violent far right people with AK-47s and AR-15s and basements full of ammunition don’t see themselves as domestic terrorists. They don’t think January 6 was an attempt at insurrection and they see the desecration of the Capitol Building and their causing 5 deaths as righteous fulfillment of Thomas Jefferson’s dyspeptic rant about the refreshing of the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots and tyrants. That works well, of course, unless it’s your blood. Or your daughter’s or your son’s or that of anyone you care about.

Bear in mind that Jefferson had been reacting to the very real cruelty of a mad king, not to a democracy doing what democracies always do – feeling their way forward with the pendulum swinging back and forth. In other words, blood refreshment of liberty is not a solution for today’s democracy challenges. Tantrums venting a violent temper over either real or imagined wrongs is not legitimate patriotism. In a functioning democracy, seeking blood refreshment for the metaphorical tree of liberty is delusion. It’s tyranny while waving an American flag.

Which is exactly what OAN is doing.

From The Independent (be sure to click the link and watch the OAN video):

A host on the far-right cable channel One American News Network, which has amplified a fabricated narrative fuelled [sic] by Donald Trump and conspiracy theorists that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from him and his supporters, has suggested “traitors” who “tried to steal power” by defeating the former president should be executed.

The OAN host is Pearson Sharp, who later claimed that he wasn’t calling for executions. Then he doubled down on calling for executions.

This is not 1776. The British aren’t coming. We pay taxes not to enrich a king, but to do together the things we cannot do individually, like building highways and providing for our national defense. We actually count ballots because that is how we determine who won our elections and we have gobs of safety procedures to ensure our elections are clean. That way no amount of reality denial based on outrageous lies and vaporous evidence can upset the will of We the People. Pretty cool, eh?

Yet we have millions – yes, millions – of our fellow citizens who believe in violent rebellion because of taxation (that’s what they say), because of those cheating Democrats and because of other awful, horrific but unspecified, fact-free government outrages. Mostly, though, they seem to be upset now because they didn’t get their way in the last election. So they endorse the Big Lie, they believe in conspiracies of sex trafficking and drinking of children’s blood and they create vast armories of real life, death creating weaponry. This isn’t a paint ball exercise. They intend to kill.

They really think they are going to instigate armed conflict against unarmed civilians (that would be you), the police and our military and then secede from the Union. They think they’re the patriots and that the rest of us are either tyranny drivers or ignorant puppets of the tyrannicists. Red, white and blue, baby, unless it’s a Trump flag. Is there a difference in the minds of these deluded people?

There are always malcontents – tyrants in metaphorical high chairs, screaming, kicking and pounding their spoons and forks on their trays. We can thank decades of power grubbing liars and cowards in government and on the airwaves for our ever-escalating passions of anger and carefully stockpiled and curated resentments. What is new is our total failure to discipline these people by telling the truth. We have instead allowed their grievance sickness to metastasize.

Our First Amendment that enshrined freedom of speech was a marvelous invention and it remains a spectacular tool of freedom. But where have the freedom of speech sane voices been for most of the past half century, as voodoo economics and Tea Party tantrums and air head stupid stuff were visited upon us? Did we think the manipulative, power clawing calls to fear and hatred by the malcontents would magically vanish? Did we think that those unimaginably rich donors funding usurpation of our democracy didn’t matter?

To quote from the trash compactor scene (at 1:37) from Star Wars, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

And this time I don’t think a cute R2 unit will come along to save us.

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From Common Cause

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is doing all he can to destroy the Postal Service. Last year, he was a major player in ex-President Trump’s plot to silence mail-in voters by sabotaging the USPS — and even now that President Biden has taken office, DeJoy is still trying to gut this vital public service.

I signed a Common Cause petition urging the USPS Board of Governors to fire and replace DeJoy — and I hope that you will, too – a couple of clicks starting right here will get the job done.

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Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Have A Nice Memorial Day


From Giovanni Russonello’s article in the New York Times:

“QAnon Now as Popular in U.S. as Some Major Religions, Poll Suggests
.

“But it’s not just the notion that the election was stolen that [QAnon] caught on with the former president’s supporters. QAnon, an outlandish and ever-evolving conspiracy theory spread by some of Trump’s most ardent followers, has significant traction with a segment of the public – particularly Republicans and Americans who consume news from far-right sources.

“Those are the findings of a poll released today by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Interfaith Youth Core, which found that 15 percent of Americans say they think that the levers of power are controlled by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles, a core belief of QAnon supporters. The same share said it was true that ‘American patriots may have to resort to violence’ to depose the pedophiles and restore the country’s rightful order.

“And fully 20 percent of respondents said that they thought a biblical-scale storm would soon sweep away these evil elites and ‘restore the rightful leaders.'”

Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene are conducting hate rallies. Last week Gaetz began, saying, “We have a Second Amendment in this country and I think we have an obligation to use it.” He was reported by Heather Cox Richardson and all major news agencies this way:

“[Gaetz] told attendees that the nation’s founders wrote the Second Amendment to enable citizens to rise up against the government. ‘It’s not about hunting, it’s not about recreation, it’s not about sports,’ he said. ‘The Second Amendment is about maintaining, within the citizenry, the ability to maintain an armed rebellion against the government if that becomes necessary.’

“As the audience cheered, Gaetz continued: ‘I hope it never does, but it sure is important to recognize the founding principles of this nation and to make sure that they are fully understood.’”

These are powerful words harkening back to our founding days of tricorn hats and muskets and thoughtful men in wigs, except for one thing: every bit of Gaetz’s chest thumping declaration is false. All of it.

The Second Amendment was included in the Constitution for many reasons, including self-defense. It was also included to keep southern slave states in the Union. White slave masters were vastly outnumbered by slaves then and the slave owners figured they needed a mechanism to counter any slave rebellion. Local militias – essentially vigilantes with firearms – was their solution. The Second Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights to appease the slave owners.

Further, as Garrett Epps writes in The Atlantic. ”  .  .  .  the main—indeed, almost exclusive—purpose of the [Second A]mendment was, in fact, to protect the rights of states to maintain and arm militias.” And, indeed, they’ve done that. Today they’re called the National Guard.

However chest-thumpingly satisfying it may be to our citizens wearing camouflage, carrying military weapons and assaulting our state capitols and the Capitol Building in DC or plotting to kidnap and assassinate the governor of Michigan, they aren’t the militias envisioned by the Framers. They aren’t well-regulated. They aren’t even militias. They are insurrectionists in waiting.

There is nothing in the Second Amendment or in The Federalist Papers or in the words of any Founding Father, nor is there any representation anywhere of a right of citizens “.  .  .  to maintain an armed rebellion against the government,” to rise up in violence against democracy – not a word, however our many insurrectionists and impassioned blowhards think there is. What’s worrying is that our self-righteous believers in citizen tyranny own a huge proportion of the over 300 million firearms in this country.

There is no cabal of Satan worshiping child sex traffickers running the world or our country, nor is there an imminent biblical-scale storm that will sweep away elites. There is no right of insurrection. Accusations are not the same as evidence or proof. Fantasies aren’t the same as facts. Lies are not truths. But some people will believe whatever feeds their passions, hate and anger, good sense be damned.

And all of this fantasy based insanity that promotes tough guy-ism and stokes violence flies in the face of the special day we set aside for our military people who died protecting our nation from “all enemies, foreign and domestic.” That refers to enemies of the Constitution.*

Go to your local Memorial Day ceremonies tomorrow, be they in person or virtual. Honor our fallen ones and say thank you.

And have a nice Memorial Day – while we still have our democracy.

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In Case You Missed The Craziest Play in Baseball

Watch this.

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  • * I’m reminded of a line from Aaron Sorkin’s wonderful movie The American President:

“How do you have patience for people who claim they love America, but clearly can’t stand Americans?”

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Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.

Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Speak


On Saturday I attended the Rally After the Verdict, organized by the Abolition Coalition of Skokie, IL and supported by the NAACP of Evanston. The point, of course, was to open eyes to the need for action, that the verdict isn’t the end of the story.

Indeed, some don’t even see it as a victory. One speaker told us she’s a school teacher and one of her students told her – and this is close to verbatim – that celebrating the jury’s guilty verdicts against Derek Chauvin was like applauding a fish for swimming.

Chauvin was so obviously guilty of murder – we all know what we saw – that it’s something of a wonder that there could be a question in anyone’s mind of his guilt. And I know in my bones that this verdict is just a small stepping stone on a very long path, but it is movement. So much is needed in mankind’s eternal struggle and our ongoing national struggle for freedom and justice, which leaves me with a notion of what is required.

Last week I taught a class for a friend who is a professor at Florida Gulf Coast University. I focused on how our politics work and how that affects whether we Americans are getting what we want. For example, since the slaughter of those little kids at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 over 90% of us have wanted universal background checks before the transfer of ownership of any firearm. That we don’t have that speaks both to the power of the gun lobby and the enormous amounts of money legislators have to raise in order to win an election. The point is that there are powerful reasons why we aren’t getting what we want – including liberty and justice for all – and things will remain this way until we make things change.

So, I told the students that they must speak up if they’re to get what they want, and that applies to you and me as well, of course, because,

If you don’t make your voice heard, people who want a very different America from the one you want will be heard, because they will be the only ones talking.

That’s right: If you go silent, they won’t shut up. They’ll continue pushing for what they want and you’ll have disempowered yourself. That’s why we all must speak up,

In 1966 Dr. Martin Luther King spoke at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, saying,

“I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.”

So do I. Go look in the mirror and you’ll know, too. That’s especially true for our younger people, our Millennials and Gen Zs. They are going to live much farther into the future and we are right now, right this minute, crafting the America they and all of our descendants will inherit.

So, give some thought to a definition of your vision for America, the one you want to leave to your dear ones, especially those who will be here long after you and I are gone. They will be “We the People” then. What do you want their America to be?

As an example – and just a guess – you surely want them to have full voting rights. There are a lot of people working day and night right now to make sure that they don’t have those rights and that they will never have a voice. That’s why our future “We the People” need you to speak up for them right now.

Speak. And keep on speaking. Let your voice ring out for the America you believe in.

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Bonus Section

Here’s a Star Wars prelude to the prediction of Gianna Floyd, George Floyd’s daughter, who said, “My daddy is going to change the world.”

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Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.

Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

RepublicanLand


This is not just another rant about anti-democracy, anti-fact, anti-truth, anti-progress Republicans. Sure, this is a rant and it’s fun to bash the bullies, but what Republicans are doing is amplifying their ingrained dishonesty to the point of imperiling our national bedrock. So, this is a semaphore signal or perhaps the ride of a descendant of Paul Revere. The turncoats are coming! The turncoats are coming! No, wait, it’s worse than that: they’re already here.


Let’s see what’s going on in RepublicanLand.

  1. Republican legislatures in at least 43 states have passed or are in process of passing at least 360 laws to make voting more difficult specifically for people of color, poor people and anyone else likely to vote for Democrats. Read Heather Cox Richardson’s take on this here.
  2. The House passed the For the People Act (the Voting-Rights bill) with zero Republican votes. This law would negate most of the pernicious state anti-voting laws. The Senate has promised similar opposition. Are you seeing a pattern yet?
  3. Republicans voted unanimously against the American Rescue Act, the bill that allows us to dramatically crank up the fight against Covid-19 and to help Americans who have been hit hard economically by the pandemic. This is a bill that has a 70% approval rating by Republican voters and even greater approval numbers from Democrats and independents. And all Republicans voted against it. They are trying to keep Democrats from having any wins to brag about and it’s painfully clear that they don’t care who – perhaps you – gets hurt by their scorched earth actions.
  4. They have vowed to vote in lock step against the American Jobs Plan, the infrastructure building/rebuilding initiative that is already supported by 52% of the electorate and that number is growing. Same reason as #3 above.
  5. The proposed funding for the American Jobs Plan is an increase in taxes on corporations from 21% to 28% (it was 35% prior to the Trump tax giveaway) and on people making over $400,000 per year. This is an overwhelmingly popular idea, but Republicans in Congress oppose it. Same reason as #3 above.
  6. Gun safety has once again come to the front burner and Republicans oppose any form of legislation to curb our ongoing massacre. They continue to do that even as 90% of Americans want universal background checks on the transfer of all firearms and that number has been a constant since Sandy Hook in 2012. Think: campaign contributions and yet again, #3 above.

What all of these and even more Republican manipulations have in common is that they are efforts by a minority of Americans to hold on to power, control, money and a frail, fragile self-image. They either refuse to or are unable to create policies to attract more voters in order to win elections, so,

their sole efforts are to protect themselves at the peril of our nation through obstruction in Congress and obstruction at the ballot box.

.

I bash Republicans regularly because they offer virtually nothing that is praise-worthy. The party has been taken over by a rage-filled mob and traditional Republicans, unable to deal with the craziness, are exiting. Would that this were not so, but this is what passes for the Grand Old Party today. Perhaps that acronym should keep its letters but now mean Grand Obstruction Party.

And that is exactly why we must be vigilant and active. Absent our involvement, this underhanded minority will steal our entire country.

The April “The Lady Doth Protest Too Much, Methinks” Award

This month the awarding of this most sarcastic honor is (so far) nearly a toss up.

On the one hand we have Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Hypocrisy) wailing his objections to corporations that are weighing into politics, like voting rights. He says that’s “stupid.” How awful and inappropriate, he tells us, that MLB took the All Star Game from Georgia and Coca-Cola, Home Depot and more big corporations have offered public criticism of Republican voting suppression laws. McConnell waves his political purity for all to see, even as he gleefully solicits and accepts corporate campaign contributions. He doth, indeed, protest too much.

On the other hand we have Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Pluto) and his alleged sex scandals and whatever else the Feds are investigating about him. He’s a purist, a Trumpian blowhard of Olympian caliber who apparently engages in the same or similar practices as Trump himself, including howling his integrity and his victimhood in incoherent rants. His only two supporters are Rep. Marjory Taylor Green (R-QAnon) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Wrestling Scandal). I guess the congressmen to whom he showed pictures of his female conquests in the nude couldn’t speak up on his behalf. Perhaps they liked the pictures and maybe their giggles echo yet in the House cloakroom, but they’re kinda busy just now, it seems. Still, Gaetz caterwauls his abusive indignation to anyone who will stand still long enough to hear about his untaintedness. He doth protest too much, too.

Whom to choose  .  .  . ?

I can’t help but recall televangelist Jim Bakker, who was a fire and brimstone preacher against dishonesty of any kind, right until he was indicted and convicted of fraud and conspiracy. Same for all preachers who extolled purity, then were caught in sex scandals, like Jerry Fallwell, Jr., Ted Haggard, Jimmy Swaggart and more.

And all the Catholic priests preaching against sin while sexually violating children.

Really, it’s all the holier-than-thou types whom we at last learn have feet of clay.

Like today’s Republicans in Congress and state houses, protecting the sanctity of voting by preventing citizens from voting. And it’s all happening in the land of minority rule, RepublicanLand.

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Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.

Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

We’re Still Not Free


Can you believe we’re still having conversations about basic Covid stuff? I mean, we’ve known what to do to defeat this pandemic for most of a year and the rising availability of vaccines has greatly enhanced our ability to fight it, but still over 60,000 Americans test positive every day and our hospitals are filling up once again.

Through most of the past year we sat on our hands and allowed a lot of people to get sick, and a lot of people to suffer very long duration horrible symptoms and we’ve stood by and watched over half a million of our fellow citizens die. Dr. Deborah Birx recently said what you know to be true, that about 450,000 of our 550,000 Covid deaths were preventable. Early on in the pandemic a study at Oxford University said that 70 – 99% of U.S. Covid deaths were due to poor national leadership; i.e. they were preventable, but for self-serving you-know-who.

Given that,

How is it that so many millions of Americans still refuse to wear a mask? Yeah, I know it’s a terrible infringement on their individual freedom, poor babies.

How is it that Republican governors like DeSantis (FL), Abbott (TX) and Noem (SD) are doing everything possible to prevent any requirement for mask wearing in their cities, at work and inside retail stores? Of course, they’re doing it to suck up to their flagrant and vocal constituents in order to collect campaign donations, but they harm those very constituents because they, like so many others, continue to get sick and die.

How is it that the vast majority of White Evangelicals oppose vaccines on self-righteous religious grounds?

How is it that way too many of our citizens are both anti-science and conspiracy believers who refuse vaccines for staunchly held, anti-fact reasons? No, vaccines don’t cause autism, as proven conclusively and repeatedly by – guess what? – science. And Bill Gates isn’t packing nanobots into vaccines so he can track and control you.

In all cases – mask and vaccine refusers, political contribution suckers and science and reality deniers –  these are people ruled by self-serving confirmation bias and a drive for power and control.*

Why are we treating this deadly disease like it’s an optional game of volleyball in the park, where refusing to play is no big deal? There are milliions of our people doing that, and that is why we’re still not free of this awful disease.

Here’s a parallel to that.

President Biden is initiating a series of Executive Orders aimed at curtailing our gun slaughter, but those will only be temporary fixes, subject to the whim of the next President. We need Republicans to act, but they’ve proven to be intransigent on this issue, as they are to most challenges.

Here’s my view about gun safety reform:

We’ll have strong gun safety legislation and the beginning of curtailing our national carnage when we and our legislators at last decide that we love our children, our relatives and our friends more than we love our lust for power and control.

Given the overwhelming public support for gun safety laws, it’s our Second Amendment thumpers and our political contribution suckers whom we have to win over if we’re ever to be free from this brutality.

And so it is with masks and vaccinations. The refusers are the key obstacle to our resuming full personal and national health and are the ones we have to win over if we’re ever to be free from this brutality.

Meanwhile, we know what to do to defeat this pandemic – really, both pandemics. The trick is getting people to do the right thing.

Jennifer Rubin explains why it’s so hard to do that here.

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End Note

Each year the local high schools combine their singing and orchestral talents into a marvelous spring concert of about 500 very talented kids under wonderful direction. It’s held in the cathedral of Techny Towers, a massive and beautiful sanctuary, the acoustics of which compel music to sound. It is a singer’s and musician’s delight.

The programs are new each year, but the closer is always The Battle Hymn of the Republic. Written by abolitionist Julia Ward Howe in 1861, it is a prayer for a time when we were ripping ourselves apart, not unlike today. If you have not heard this majestic piece in full, you need to – it’s attached below. As you listen, imagine that you’re surrounded by singers and musicians. They’re in front of you, along both sides and even along the sides of the balcony above and around you. You’re surrounded by a message.

The point of bringing this into the conversation is a line from the Hymn. It is inherently Christian, so feel free to take this in that way. But also read and feel these words as a compelling message for us in these dark times of civil strife.

As He died to make men holy let us live to make men free

That’s free, like: Our people healthy and free from pandemic; You and I free from the danger of firearms in the hands of those who would harm us; Our citizens free and with full and equal rights – all of them. Feel free to add to this list.

Let us live to make men – and women – free.

  • Glenbrook Festival of Music, March 13, 2016
  • Glenbrook High Schools, IL D-225, Choirs and Orchestra

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* Indeed, I believe that lust for power and control was the gut level driver for Derek Chauvin to murder George Floyd. Life and death is the ultimate power and control.

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The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Survival


Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI)

“The single greatest threat to our security right now is domestic terrorism and the tensions and polarizations between us.”

Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), former CIA Agent, now serving on the House Homeland Security Committee.

Given her security background and current access to national security information, it seems likely she knows what she is talking about.

I wrote of that same concern in a recent post and some of my words were picked up in a very clever Star Wars format video that you can see below. Many thanks to reader Bob Beltran for his creativity.

The key words from both are:

In the absence of the Republican Party and with Trump soon to be headed to prison, the nation will face its most threatening foe: domestic terrorism. All that stands against this hateful enemy is “We the People” in a desperate fight for democracy.

The words “absence of the Republican Party” refers to:

⋅  The incremental departure of moderates and conservatives from the GOP, leaving only extremists

⋅   The decades-long GOP negation of anything Democrats propose, regardless of the needs and desires of the citizenry – ”  .  .  .  the modern G.O.P. is allergic to any proposal to spend taxpayer money to advance the public good.” – Paul Krugman

⋅   The de facto abdication of fact and reason as official Republican Party policy

What is left in Congress are people on a self-important power trip that is long on puffery, slogans and inaction and short on observable facts and useful policy. That is increasingly leading us to a two party system of Democrats versus domestic terrorists flying a GOP banner. That’s dangerous stuff, especially in the hands of politicians who believe QAnon conspiracies and are beholden to citizens with firearms and the inclination to use them. Our very survival as a democracy is threatened.

There’s more.

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I continue to be amazed by President George Washington’s prescient comments in his Farewell Address of 1796. He used a great deal of it to direct caution against the nefarious acts of “factions,” by which he meant political parties. His primary concern was the action of men loyal to party over country.

Bear in mind that this was then a new country and the states were only loosely connected, making the union vulnerable to sabotage by vested interests, like political parties. That was his context and his concerns for our republic were well founded. Crucially, his concerns remain applicable for our republic even today. Here is one piece of his warning:

” .  .  .  [parties] are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government  .  .  .  “

Hold that thought.

From The New York Times: On Politics newsletter of March 25:

“State-level Republican lawmakers have proposed hundreds of bills this year that would tamp down voting rights  .  .  .  “

In that same newsletter they report:

“Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, said that states simply ‘are not engaging in trying to suppress voters whatsoever’.”

Really, Mitch? How would you explain to President Washington the over 250 Republican Party/Faction bills in 43 states that have been described by many as Jim Crow 2? Like the Georgia law that makes it a felony to give water to people standing in line for 8 hours to vote. Bear in mind that their wait is primarily due to states shutting down polling places in non-White and poor areas.

Back to George Washington.

McConnell’s posturing and manipulation now look a great deal like the very ”  .  . . [usurpation] for themselves the reins of government” by “cunning, ambitious and unprincipled men” about which Washington warned us. And even McConnell’s disingenuousness seems almost tame compared to the outright anti-American insurgency that is much of the GOP in Congress. Don’t tell our first president about that. He warned us.

So, instead We the People must focus on the survival of our democracy. This is no spectator sport, so, TAG – WE’RE IT.

Special Note: Washington’s Farewell Address is read in full in Congress at the start of every new Congress. Even so, the Republicans just can’t seem to remember his message.

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2022 Winter Olympics

With the reasonable assumption that the pandemic will be under control by February next year, likely many people are planning a trip to China for the Beijing Winter Olympic Games. But does attending these Olympics send the wrong message to that brutal and dangerous regime? Would attending be counter-productive for the free world?

I recommend that you read what Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) has to say about that before making travel plans. He has a nuanced proposal that is well worth our consideration.

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so,

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, educate me and all of us. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

No Really, Facts Don’t Matter


Over the last 10 years more than a billion votes have been cast in America. During that time there have been 31 cases of confirmed voting fraud. That’s 0.0000031% voting fraud, or 31 hundred-millionths of a percent. That’s the same as 99.9999969% authentic, legal voting.

If these pitifully few cases of voting fraud were lumped together in one small town in one election they would not be enough to alter the outcome of the contest for street sweeper dispatcher. Just understand the obvious: we simply don’t have a problem of voting fraud. What we do have is a tsunami of false accusations of voter fraud.

The former President of the United States couldn’t produce a single piece of evidence of voting fraud in support of any of his over 60 frivolous lawsuits, all of which were laughed out of court. Nevertheless, he and his sycophantic, fact-free supporters continue to make the baseless claim that there was massive voter fraud in the 2020 election and that the election was stolen.

Here’s one of those sycophants, fact-free Rep. Mary Miller (R-IL 15):

That’s delusional Mary Miller proudly tweeting a claim of hundreds of thousands more votes for Trump in swing sates, a claim for which she has zero evidence. And so it is with every other disappointed Trumpy claiming fraud. They might cloak their claims in patriotic sounding phrases, like “ensure all legal votes are counted,” but the sum total of what they offer in support of their claims of a stolen election is vapor – no evidence, no data, no facts. Because there aren’t any.

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Thanks go to JN for the pic

During the Obama administration Republicans constantly beat the drum, “Obama is coming for your guns.”

Pop quiz:

Q. Over the 8 years of the Obama administration, what was the total number of guns that were taken from freedom loving gun owners – or any other gun owners, for that matter?

A. Zero

Q. How many gun safety laws have been enacted since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre of little kids in 2012?

A. Zero

Q. What percent of all Americans want universal background checks before the sale or transfer of any firearm?

A. 90%

Q. Does that include Republicans?

A. Yes

Q. Does that include NRA members?

A. Yes – 70% of them

Q. Would universal background checks cause the ATF to confiscate anyone’s guns?

A. No, it would just prohibit the sale of firearms to mentally unstable people and to violent felons.

Q. So, is anyone coming for anyone’s guns?

A. No

Q. Doesn’t the Second Amendment guarantee and even encourage gun ownership?

A. Not in the way it’s promoted today. Originally, the Second Amendment was an accommodation to slave states so that slave owners could control their slaves. Plus, the United States had no money for a standing army and they feared the British would come back, which they eventually did. That was the point of “a well regulated militia.” The Second Amendment was never intended to mean that any dangerous half-wit could own assault rifles and hundred round magazines. The arms they were talking about were muskets and even they were not supposed to be in the hands of any dangerous half-wit.

Nevertheless, the fact-free hysterical ones continue to make the same fact-free claims, both about the right to own guns and that Democrats are coming to take them away.

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What about the war on religion? Surely, there really is such a war. There must be, given the hair-on-fire, bible-thumping claims and woe-be-unto-us predictions from fervent believers and big church pastors.

The First Amendment begins with these words: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion  .  .  . ” That has been interpreted to mean that everyone may practice the religion of their choice, as well as everyone having the right to freedom from religion. It’s entirely up to the individual. Government is Constitutionally prohibited from weighing in on the issue.

Back to the pop quiz:

Q. If an American citizen chooses not to believe in or practice any religion, does that harm those who do believe in a religion or does that harm religion itself?

A. Seriously? No

Q. If government passes a law that is in conflict with any part of any religion, does that constitute an attack on that religion?

A. No. Refer to the First Amendment quote above.

Q. But what if people are allowed to vote or go shopping on the sabbath, activities which are forbidden by several religions? Doesn’t that constitute a war on religion?

A. Seriously, again? Okay, freedom of religion means that the strictures of a religion may not be imposed by law on anyone. So, you can vote or go shopping on Saturday and Sunday and it won’t constitute any harm or threat of harm to anyone’s religion. If you don’t think such activities are okay, don’t do them. Nobody is attacking your religion.

Q. Is America a theocracy?

A. No. Theocracy is another word for religious fascism. This is a democracy.

Q. Wasn’t it intended to be a theocracy?

A. No. Read the Federalist Papers so you stop asking dumb questions.

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Pastor Rick Joyner is the trifecta of crazy claims. His fiery insistence that Trump won, that the election was stolen and all the rest of the unsupported Trumpy claims is a favorite stomping ground for him. He continues to call on true Christians to arm themselves for the coming civil war – he’s falling only slightly short of inciting violence. But best of all he’s thumping his bible, saying liberals are in league with the devil and Democrats are going to “criminalize Christianity.” He says all of this googly-eye stuff and has no facts to support any of it, but of course that’s no obstacle to his mouth.

Don’t just take Nicholas Kristof’s word on this. Google “Rick Joyner criminalize Christianity” and read the pieces that come up. It’s unclear whether this guy is all about an ego-driven power trip or if he’s delusional like Mary Miller. Either way, he’s dangerous because he’s calling for Americans to commit violence against Americans without any justification except that he didn’t get his way. He has fantasies about Christianity that he thinks are real and he wants a shooting war. All based on no facts.

Hair-on-fire people continue to claim election fraud and Second Amendment fantasies and they continue to thump on their bibles, making apocalyptic claims with absolutely no basis in fact. Lack of reality simply isn’t a problem to them in making their fiery, baseless accusations.

There is so much blazing certainty in this country, based on so much vapor and believed by millions. That’s very dangerous.

No, really, facts don’t matter. Not to these people. So facts better mean something to you.

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If you’re open to a some more facts and truth that the folks described above don’t seem to recognize, read this admittedly snarky apology to Trump supporters. There is a pretty good chance you’ll recognize these events as things that actually occurred right here on Earth 1. It would take powerful denial skills to refuse these truths, yet clearly millions are capable of that level of denial.

Thanks to GS for the pointer to this piece.

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so,

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, educate me and all of us. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Sing It With Me


A video of this post is inlne below.

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Our national mania for freedom (“You can’t tell me what to do!“) and  our desire for retribution for both real and imagined wrongs, combined with our obsession over firearms (click for the truth about “Second Amendment remedies“) is a potent combination that is doing exactly what it’s designed to do: it’s killing people.

15 were killed and 24 injured at Columbine High School

9 were killed at Mother Emanuel AME Church

17 were killed at Marjorie Douglas Stoneman High School

11 were killed and 6 wounded at Tree of Life Synagogue

58 people were killed at the Las Vegas music festival

49 people were killed and 53 were injured at the Pulse Nightclub

20 little kids and 6 teachers were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School

8 people were killed in Atlanta spas

10 people were killed in a Boulder, CO supermarket

Click me

You know that this list could go on and on and you’d recognize the names, like Poway and San Bernardino and El Paso and Aurora and Sutherland Springs, Virginia Tech and Ft. Hood. We’ve already had 25 mass shootings in March alone, over one per day, and here’s the key point: most or all were done with legally purchased and carried weapons. Some of the killings were done by mentally ill people. Some were done by delusional angry people. Doesn’t matter much. The victims are still dead.

President Obama stood before the nation after the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre of those little 5 and 6 year old kids, wiping away tears as he spoke. He prayed that we would come to our senses and enact gun safety legislation that would begin to put an end to the murdering of so many of our innocents, but that still hasn’t happened. We still don’t have universal background checks. We don’t prohibit concealed and open carry. We don’t prohibit ownership of assault weapons. We don’t limit the size of ammunition magazines or the number of firearms and the amount of ammunition anyone is allowed to own. We do nothing – literally nothing – to stop the bleeding and dying.

A lot of our politicians have had a backbone-ectomy and have refused to do a thing about preventing our national carnage, even as 90% of us want universal background checks and more.

Exactly who do you think is doing all that shooting: lefties? Get real. In fact, get so real that you’ll read the unclassified version of the Intelligence Community assessment of domestic violent extremism. You can download a copy here.

No time to read? Okay, I’ll make this quick. Things are terrible and they are rapidly becoming even worse.*

Here’s a lovely set of statistics. There are enough firearms in private hands in this country to equip every man, woman and child with a gun and still have millions of firearms left over. That’s the first statistic.

Here’s the second: 50% of all those firearms are in the hands of just 3% of the population and a lot of those people are very angry. Worse, they think they’re the true patriots and the proper arbiters of justice and that violence is a fine solution.

We live in the lunacy of unrestricted firearms in the hands of angry people who think a stop sign is an abridgement of their freedom. Or they think that somebody else is the cause of their problems and unhappiness and that all the somebody else’s should be made to pay. Better hope you’re not a somebody else. Meanwhile, sleep well and have a nice day.

Which is hard to do right now if you live in Boulder, CO or Atlanta, GA or even Newtown, CT. And who knows? Maybe your town will make the news just like theirs, so that the name of your elementary school or your high school or your favorite supermarket or spa will be known across the nation.

You know the words of the mass murder song, so sing it with me: Thoughts and Prayers.

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ADDENDA

From Giovanni Russonello in the New York Times – On Politics newsletter of March 24, 2021, wherein he directs a fictional stage play.

“Senators, assemble, stage left and stage right, and face the audience. Now, express your outrage and frustration. Demand change. Or, if you’re standing on the right, direct your outrage at those across from you, ridiculing them for suggesting that changing the laws might even address the problem.”

This is, in fact, a constantly recurring drama that played out yet again the day after the Boulder, CO massacre. This is why things never get better.

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Click through the graphic below to the Mother Jones “A Guide to Mass Shootings in America.”

The Geography of Mass Shootings in America – Click the pic

  • ——————————–
  • * 2020 was a great year for gun murders in America. We’re number one and certain to stay there. Read about it here.

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so,

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, educate me and all of us. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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