If I were a groundhog in the US (a reprise seems just as true today)

Note: I wrote this post ten years ago. Just feel how easily it could have been pulled from today’s news.

If I were a groundhog in the US, I would consider going back in my hole. Otherwise, I might get shot. In my newspaper yesterday, the first day of February, there were four stories on gun deaths that were headlined or sub-headlined under the category “Briefly” which notes news nuggets or updates. As these stories were under this category, it shows how routine gun deaths have become in America. Since we lead the civilized world with 80% of the gun deaths of the top 23 wealthiest countries, the comment about routine is on the mark.

So, let’s at least honor the deceased by mentioning these four stories. I will give you the headline then a brief synopsis.

Teen accused of killing his grandmother appears in court – Seventeen year old Clayton Eli Watts and two others are accused of killing Watts’ grandmother Jimmie Diane Paul. The victim was described as a bubbly woman who cared for others. One of Watts’ neighbors said “he was such a good boy.” I add this as it appears often in these stories and goes back to a post I wrote ten days ago – “How do you know who the good guys are?”

Police: Teenager shot by fellow student at GA middle school – A student opened fire at his middle school Thursday afternoon, wounding a 14 year-old in the neck before an armed officer working at the school was able to get the gun away (I know this is not a gun death, but could have been). Access to guns. Access to guns Access to guns. If you have guns at home, lock them up. Responsible gun owners know this and realize its importance.

Phoenix office shooter found dead of apparent suicide – A man who shot and killed a call center CEO and wounded a lawyer where they were meeting to discuss a contract dispute was found dead early Thursday of an apparent suicide. Arthur Douglas Harmon, age 70, died of an apparent self-inflicted gun shot wound ending a 24 hour man-hunt. I will let you draw your own conclusions as we don’t know what went through his head. Yet, I am troubled by the fact a man would bring a weapon to a contract dispute. Again, this goes back to our need for civil discourse. This is not a movie or video game – you should not kill someone who disagrees with you.

County prosecutor killed near North Texas courthouse – An assistant district attorney (DA) was shot and killed near the courthouse where he worked. A masked gunman shot Mark Hasse, the DA, multiple times in the parking lot at 9 am as Hasse was headed into work.The killer is still at large. The police are searching through the DA’s cases for clues as to who may have done this apparent targeted shooting.

These are four stories that appeared yesterday. I would ask you to do a test over a week’s worth of news. Tally the number of gun shootings and deaths that occur in the paper over a week. If these occurred on February 2 – Groundhog’s Day – the critter would have gone back in his hole. This is the bigger context for why our country needs to do something. I said it over the summer after Aurora in “Another day in America: a sixteen year-old kills thirteen year-old friend.” If you do not care about the adult shootings at least care about the kids – per the same study which I cited the 80% statistic above, it is not the worse one for the US. 87% of all children gun deaths of the top 23 wealthiest countries are in the US. And, there have been over 119,000 children and teen gun deaths in America since 1979.

As a parent and citizen, I find these numbers shameful for America. Countries around the globe think the US is the wild, wild west. Guns have always been a part of our fabric, but due to market segmentation and money, gun ownership has become a wedge issue and something that has gone way beyond the intent of the Second Amendment. Since Constitutionalists like to cite the purity of the Second Amendment, then we should use the context of when it was written to say the following:

If the Second Amendment need not be reviewed in the context of today’s time and must be viewed in the context of the time of our founding fathers then it could be argued that women nor African-Americans of any gender have the right to own a gun. The constitution was written for a free white male society, so if we want to be literal about the Second Amendment, then we need to be literal about everything. So, women and African-Americans you are not afforded the same rights as white men and cannot own a gun.

My point is all laws have to be reviewed over time. Slavery was wrong and after a painful war and 100 ensuing years, African-Americans were afforded the same liberties as others. We still have issues, but the Civil Rights Act remedied constitutional shortsightedness. The same could be said about Women’s Suffrage. It took almost 150 years for Congress to remedy the slight to women on voting rights. The Second Amendment served a purpose, but the NRA and its more strident followers seem to believe what they think it intended need not be reviewed and reconsidered. The current context does not preclude the duty to rethink our laws and their applicability.

Last night on “Real Time with Bill Maher,” Sam Harris who has angered both sides of the gun control issue said basically gun ownership should be more like getting a pilot license. You should have to go through a thorough background check and be trained before you get one. There should be no exceptions. I agree. The police want us to register the bullets so crimes can be solved more easily. I agree.

We also need more training in schools and by parent(s), teachers, clergy, Sunday school teachers, mentors and other adults, that civil discourse is needed. It is OK to argue, but do not feel you are being treated without respect if someone disagrees with you. We need to openly discuss how to argue and advocate for your position. Gun deaths are occurring more often due to access to guns following heated arguments.

We also need better access to mental health treatment and remove the stigmas. 20% of people will need mental health assistance or medication during their lifetime. 10% of any employer’s health care members are taking medication for a mental health issue. I have noted before my concern over weapons on college campuses where depression has a higher propensity. Kids get away from parents and think the world is their oyster and realize they have to work hard to succeed and not everything is as imagined. All it takes is one impulsive, bad decision married with gun access and a student’s life is over. Not off the subject, but there have been studies that show the presence of a gun heightens suicidal tendencies.

We need to look at the violence of movies and video games. There is a correlation in our society, but is it causal in any way? Is it causal when other factors are present? I do not know, but this something we need to look into. I go back to the late 1970’s when gun deaths started ending crime shows as it tied up the bad guys in a neat fashion. Now, everyone is slaughtered by guns. Yet, as I have pointed out to my kids, have you noticed the good guys always shoot straighter than the bad guys in the movies? It does not work like that in real life. The bad guys can shoot as well.

We need to think about where we want to restrict guns. Guns should not be around bars or restaurants or any venue where alcohol is served. Period, end of story. Guns, testosterone and alcohol do not mix. Someone will get needlessly killed when these three ingredients are mixed. We have already seen an increase in fan violence without guns. It gets back to the civil discourse where arguments ensue over sports teams, usually with drunken patrons. At a NC State University football game two years ago, a drunken man was endangering others by driving fast around a parking lot. After being confronted by two good Samaritans, the drunk driver, went home, got his gun, came back and killed the two good Samaritans. Access to guns. Access to guns. Access to guns.

So, for all of us groundhogs and our groundhog children, please let’s address our runaway gun problem in America. It is shameful to be number one on the list of leaders in gun deaths. Most responsible gun owners agree.

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Martin Luther King – thoughts against the use of violence still resonates

On this holiday, we should remember the words of its namesake. Martin Luther King once said, “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very things it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, it merely increases the hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

These aspirational words ring true even today. A historian made a comment on the news the other day, saying the only thing man has been very good at since the beginning is killing people. To many people have died when leaders say I want what you have or you are different from us or you worship the wrong way. On this latter point, one of the keys to our founding father’s separation of church and state in the US constitution and bill of rights was a comment made by Thomas Jefferson who noted that Europe had been awash in blood due to religious zeal and he did not want religious zeal doing the same in our country. This runs counter to self-proclaimed constitutionalists who want a national or state religion and don’t realize they are advocating against the constitution.

My blogging friend George Dowdell has written a thought-provoking post about “No More Us and Them.” A link to his post is below.* When religious leaders exclude, they create this kind of divide. Yet, when religious leaders are inclusive, religion is at its finest. Just witness the actions of the people’s Pope Francis to see what one leader can do. We should follow his lead. We must do our best to be bridge builders. We must do our best to condemn intolerant thinking and action. We must do our best to not condone violence. We must do our best to control the proliferation of violent tools to people who should not have them and govern all owners of them well, as these tools are designed to kill. We must do our best to work toward civil discourse when disagreements occur. And, we must not tolerate treating women as second class citizens or even assets, which is even further demeaning.

I recognize we all cannot be like Atticus Finch (see Emily J’s post on “The Perfect Book: To Kill a Mockingbird” with the link below **) and wipe the spit away borne from someone looking for a fight, but he shows us what real courage looks like. It takes more courage not to fight back when it would have been so easy to do so. I recognize we cannot all be like Gandhi whose example was studied, admired and copied by Martin Luther King showing that civil disobedience is far more powerful than violence. I recognize we call cannot be like Mother Teresa who just went around helping people and praying with them not caring how they worshiped. And, I realize we cannot all be like Jesus who uttered the words we should all live by and can be found in other religious texts – treat others like you want to be treated.

We must treat others like we want in return. We must elevate women in a world to equal footing with men. We must challenge our historical texts which were written by imperfect men to diminish women. We must be the ones who lift others up. If we don’t then we will continue to be our own worst enemy and do what we are good at – violence and killing.

*

http://georgedowdell.org/2014/06/10/no-more-us-and-them/

**

http://thebookshelfofemilyj.com/2014/06/09/the-perfect-book-to-kill-a-mockingbird/

Welcome to America – I hope you are packing heat (a second reprise)

Second reprise in November, 2022: Two more mass shootings have occurred in America in the past few days. Maybe it will be easier to post when there have not been any shootings that day. Today, it was reported that seven were killed at a shooting in a Walmart in Virginia. Last week, five died in a nightclub in Colorado Springs. Yet, it is still early in the week. A watered down gun bill was passed earlier this year. It was something, but not enough. In the US, the real danger is not even the mass shootings. It is the everyday killings over a fight, crime, or escalated disagreement. Or, it could be when a four-year old finds a gun and thinks it is a toy. As for the mass shootings, it not ironic that the two that just happened dovetail the reference in the first reprise in May, 2021.

First reprise in May, 2021: The following post was written almost eight years ago, but as you read it, the events seem to come right out of today’s headlines. This is one topic I am truly tired of writing about, as lobbyists have hobbled the ability for legislators to act like parents and spouses and do something. Americans have said in surveys they want, yet nothing gets done. It reveals who butters the bread for these politicians. At this moment, one more shooting has occurred in Virginia. After Colorado. After Atlanta….

I have written several posts about our excessive gun violence in America. We lead the world by far in gun deaths and children gun deaths. Yet, we continue to do nothing about it. We have a parade of children led shootings at schools the past few weeks, yet we continue to do nothing about it. Pick up any US newspaper anywhere in the country and count the number of gun death or violence stories. I wrote a post about Googling a “six-year-old kills four-year-old” and counting the number of stories that pop up. Yet, we still do nothing about it. We have mass shootings, which are horrific tragedies, but dwarfed by the daily killings of kids, yet we still do nothing about it. And, Americans by virtue of reputable surveys, clearly want better background checks and more elongated waiting periods, yet we still do nothing about it.

Here are a few links to these previous posts.

I am thinking of the person who finally asked Senator Joe McCarthy during his communist witch hunt trials, “Senator, have you no shame?” That was actually the beginning of the end for McCarthy. I fully recognize the complexity of what is causing gun deaths, but the NRA and strident gun amassers would like you to believe that guns have little to do with gun deaths. Responsible gun owners know this not to be the case, which is why they take great pains to teach their use and put them away for safekeeping. So, using the McCarthy line above, “NRA, have you no shame?”

We are well past the time to act on these issues. It is a poverty issue, it is mental health issue, it is a lack of civil discourse issue, it is a violence in entertainment issue, but make no mistake about it, it is an access to guns issue. Without access to a weapon, the child does not kill his sibling or cousin. Without access to a weapon, the depressed teenager, college student or adult does not act on an impulse and end a life. Without access to a weapon a drunken patron at a bar or ball game does not go to his car and come back guns a blazing because they were offended.

NRA, have you no shame? You could have acted responsibly like the majority of gun owners, yet you decided to fan the flames of a fervent crowd and crow about Second Amendment rights, which I still have not seen anyone threaten. You have also usurped the leadership of the GOP and taken them down a darker path along with some other fervent misconceptions. As a result, we cannot have the long overdue civil, appropriate debate about this topic looking at all issues, including what Americans, even Republicans want by far – better background checks and elongated waiting periods. We should do more than that, but those two issues are no brainers and largely popular.

It is past time. NRA, have you no shame? NRA, stand down. We need to have a better conversation without your involvement, as you violated the trust of Americans and responsible gun owners, whom you no longer represent.

Three tragedies bring it home

There were three separate tragedies around the world that took the lives of multiple hundreds of people and harming even more. In Somalia, there was a terrible massacre of 100 innocent folks due to two car bombings by a rebellious group. I will not give credence to the group by naming them. In India, a pedestrian bridge collapsed killing 135 people. And, in South Korea, at a Halloween festival, about 154 people were crushed in a “stampede” of the panicked and overcrowded gathering.

In India, the 137 year-old suspension bridge had just reopened after repairs. In South Korea, the police said they had “heavy responsibility” for the stampede as they did not act enough to concerns over crowd size.

It pains me to see innocent people killed because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. With 9/11, many Americans died because they either went to work like they always do or hopped on the wrong plane that day. Plus, with shooting massacres, Americans just get in the way of an extreme or challenged individual in possession of a rapid-fire weapon.

It is sad that we have to be so alert these days to our surroundings. Going to school, work, the mall or a party or just walking across a bridge should not be a threat. These three incidents highlight how dear and precious our lives are. Incumbent leaders offering thoughts and prayers is woefully inadequate, as some actions could have been taken in advance to make folks more mindful. At least the Seoul police acknowledge their mistake.

Anytime I see crowds crushing folks to death, it reminds me that putting too many people in the same space with limited exits that funnel out is not a good thing. I am reminded of fire marshals being concerned about occupancy. What we citizens fail to realize is the occupancy is more to do with the ability to exit a place on fire. The same must hold true with crowd size at events, whether the tragedy is related to violence or other mania.

What we can do about this as patrons is be mindful of where exits are. How do we get out of here if something amiss happens? Plus, if you feel you are being squashed with too many people in attendance, leaving should be a consideration. At a Who concert in Cincinnati, about ten folks were crushed to death as the band played. At a wedding, too many people were on a hotel balcony and it fell on other reception attendees.

We also must demand of our elected officials actions to make us safe. Words are cheap. We need better gun governance to make people safer. We need better auditing and review of highway, train and pedestrian bridges to avoid problems. Here in the states, so called leaders will ask after a tragedy, how could you let this happen? The answer usually includes lack of funds to repair things, so patchwork fixes are used for years. In other words, elected officials cut funding to prevent a problem. I am not saying that is what happened in India, but it would not surprise me if it was.

As for the rebels, these become hard ones to deal with as it is hard to determine whose cause is more righteous. But, one thing is for certain in my view. Killing innocent people is not appropriate. It is murder, no matter who does it. It matters not who has been gaslighted into thinking their cause is more righteous. One thing I have long noticed is it usually is the older cult members who talk the more malleable young members into driving bomb laden vehicles and strapping on bombs. Think about that. The best line from the movie “Troy” is “war is old men talking and young men dying.”

Be safe out there. Take a few steps to plan exits and ascertain if there may be an undue risk. And, don’t let a day pass without telling your family that you love them or giving them a hug or heartfelt goodbye.

Note: Our British friend Roger posted the following on the subject of the Somalia bombings.

Moderation in all things, including moderation

The above title is a quote I heard from Alan Alda, the actor most famous for playing Dr. Hawkeye Pierce in the long running TV show “MASH” about doctors and nurses during the Korean conflict. His interviewer liked it so much he commented. Alda coined this phrase when he was sixteen, “Moderation in all things, including moderation.”

His point is it is more than OK to do things in moderation, but there are occasions when a person needs to take a leap of faith and go for it. This comes from an actor who remains quite busy with various podcasts he hosts and acting roles. Plus, he is a very charitable person.

Alda was more than just the weekly doctor with a huge heart, surgical brain, skilled hands and appetite for making out with the nurses. He had a long list of movies and shows he did during and after his MASH work. I recall a couple of movies off the top of my head.

He and Ellen Burstyn turned a Neil Simon play into a wonderful movie called “Same Time Next Year.” The premise is the two meet and continue to meet up once a year at this beautiful inn overlooking the Pacific Ocean. They confide in each other and speak of problems and love they have their spouses. Seeing Burstyn change her attire and attitudes each year is what makes the movie sing, while Alda plays more of a straight man.

Carol Burnett, Rita Moreno and a wonderful cast join Alda for a very funny movie called “Four Seasons.” These three couples decide they are going to take four vacations (bad idea) together in one year. The humor heightens when one of the couples separates and the husband brings a young girlfriend to the next vacation. Like with Burstyn, seeing Alda and Burnett together is a treat, as very few people can rival the character acting of Carol Burnett.

A third movie I liked a lot was not a comedy, but a drama called “The Seduction of Senator Joe Tynan.” He played with Meryl Streep in this one, so there seems to be a pattern of his acting in movies with very talented leading ladies. Streep plays an intern who falls for the married Senator played by Alda. The premise is the rise and fall of a Senator do to his tryst.

There are of course several other movies he starred in or played key roles in. He even played the antagonist in some of the movies. That took some getting used to. He was much more enjoyable to watch when he could pull for him, even though he would make us cringe being smart-ass.

MASH was one of my favorite shows, playing each Saturday night in one of the best comedy line-ups ever. Ironically, the final show of the night was “The Carol Burnett Show” which is fitting that the two stars would play in a very funny movie together. What is also fascinating about MASH is the parade of future stars that came through the show, either for a few seasons or one or two episodes.

I recall having a crush on Blythe Danner, the mother of Gwyneth Paltrow, and a good actress in her own right, as she played a love interest. I also recall Marcia Strassman, who would go on to play in the sit-com “Welcome Back Kotter,” as another one of Alda’s love interests. I also remember Brian Dennehy, Edward Hermann, Ed Begley, Jr., Ron Howard, Patrick Swayze, Lawrence Fishburne, et all who played for an episode, most often as a wounded soldier, either mentally or physically or both.

What made the show popular went beyond the actors. The writers scoured documents about a wartime hospital in Korea and actually pulled some episodes out of those files. The one I remember vividly is when a wounded soldier had an unexploded shell in his chest, which was a true incident.

So, let me know what you think of Alda and his work on MASH and elsewhere.

Republican governors call fellow Republicans on the carpet for criticism of FBI

In an article in Newsweek penned by Jason Lemon called “Republican Larry Hogan Rips GOP Lawmakers Calling to ‘Defund’ FBI: ‘Absurd’,” a Republican who is known for more rational thinking has called others on the carpet for their criticism of the FBI. It should be noted that Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas joined in the criticism by the Maryland Governor of fellow Republicans about the FBI. Here are a few paragraphs with the link to the full article below.

“Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, slammed fellow GOP lawmakers on Sunday who have called to ‘defund’ the FBI in the wake of the Monday raid on former President Donald Trump’s Florida residence.

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican and staunch Trump loyalist, this past week called for defunding the federal law enforcement agency, and even began selling shirts and hats with the words ‘Defund the FBI’ printed on them. Representative Jeff Duncan, a South Carolina Republican, also floated the idea of abolishing the FBI in a Monday Twitter post. Meanwhile, a number of other GOP lawmakers have attacked the FBI, accusing the agency of corruption and political bias.

The Republican governor said that such calls are ‘dangerous,’ and added that ‘there are threats all over the place,’ warning that ‘losing faith in our federal law enforcement officers and our justice system…is a really serious problem.’…

The FBI, with the approval of Attorney General Merrick Garland, carried out the raid of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort home, searching for top secret and sensitive compartmentalized information, as well as other classified documents. Trump and his allies have condemned the raid, with the ex-president calling it part of a ‘hoax’ and an ongoing ‘witch hunt’.”

One of the tactics of authoritarian type leaders as the come into power is denounce all institutions as bad and ineffective. The institutions are the problem and I am here to take them apart, the authoritarian says. As Michael Lewis noted in his excellent book “The Fifth Risk,” the deep-state, who has been labeled and ridiculed tends to be made up of hard-working people who not only take their oaths seriously, they “know what they are talking about.”

Mind you, every institution is imperfect and we need to guard against bureaucracy creep. The same goes for laws and regulations – we need to monitor them, improve them when needed and scrap when obsolete. In essence, there is needed oversight.

Over the last six years, we have heard a former president claim on numerous occasions that investigations were “witch hunts” or “hoax.” Just pick a topic and search “Donald Trump and witch hunt” or “Donald Trump and hoax.” He called COVID-19 a “Democratic Hoax” and how many hundreds of thousands died in the next few years? He called a judge sentencing the disbandment of the Trump Foundation ordering the former president to repay the money he took from the foundation for his personal benefit a “hoax.” He still he had to fork over $1.6 million and the Foundation funds were distributed per the by-laws before being terminated.

He said and still says the 2020 election was stolen from him using bogus election fraud claims that he has abysmally been unable to prove after people spent a lot of money on attorneys to do so. He cannot lose that election as many times he has with a court case record of 1 win out of 65 or so cases and no wins in every recount, audit and review.

And, numerous Republicans have testified under oath and at huge risk that the former president had a heavy hand in a seditious act against Congress. Quite simply, the insurrection against Congress would not happen if Donald Trump was not president. When he got to court a financial fraud case last week, he pleaded the 5th which is not usually a sign of innocence.

So, before we walk down a path of calling this FBI raid a hoax, know a couple more things. A judge felt there was enough evidence to issue a warrant. A very well thought of judge by Republicans and Democrats (who should be on the Supreme Court) personally signed off on the raid as Attorney General. I expect Donald Trump to cry foul as his ego cannot allow criticism of any kind. What frustrates me most is his sycophants who go out of their way to support his claims and his fans who for some reason ignore the overt lying and fraud.

Let’s get to the bottom of this. And, for those that are crying foul now, what are you going to say if he is charged with another crime, much less convicted of one? As painful as it will be, our country needs to hold the former president accountable or it will happen again.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/republican-larry-hogan-rips-gop-lawmakers-calling-to-defund-fbi-absurd/ar-AA10Eolm

Disturbing survey result – we cannot condone violence

I read yesterday of two alarming results from a University of California survey of 9,000 people. 1 in 5 said violence to promote a political cause would be appropriate and 7% said they would be willing to kill someone toward that goal. Really? Have we sunk that low believing the divisive rhetoric of too many that so many would commit capital offenses for a politician’s gain?

The majority of these folks have felt empowered by the former president to be more public. I guess all the folks who are pleading guilty or being convicted for an insurrection on our Capitol building at the behest of the former president are not evidence enough that this is a poor path forward. Maybe when the former president is charged with sedition for his apparently more active role in the insurrection these folks will be given pause.

And, just because the right has its extremists who are promoting violence and even death, that does not give any extremists on the left a hall pass to do the same. Civil discourse and peaceful protest are more than fine. Violence is not the answer, unless your question is when can I go to jail?

One of America’s key tenets is the peaceful transition of power. We are more divided than before because a former president’s ego is so fragile, he cannot admit he lost and per his niece will “burn it all down to avoid losing an election.” It is only our democracy – we must hold it dear and ignore those sycophants who are aiding and abetting the bogus claims of the former president. I was delighted to see a bipartisan Senate bill pass to better protect the electoral process to prevent a demagogue from trying what the former president did – an insurrection.

Taking the former president at his word is a fool’s errand. Listening to his allies and sycophants who are holding cans of white paint to whitewash history is also such. But, so is taking the word of so-called leaders of any movement that condones and promotes violence. That is inane. It is also criminal. If your group promotes this, find the door before it is too late.

Fox News legal analyst calls out the former president about the insurrection

“‘Breathtaking’: Fox News analyst says latest Jan 6 hearing ‘should shock everyone’” by Gustaf Kilander reveals an increasing number of folks who are calling the former president out on his role in the insurrection. A few paragraphs will provide a few key points of just the latest condemnation on Fox News, of all places.

“Fox News legal analyst Jonathan Turley said that the seventh hearing of the January 6 committee was ‘breathtaking’.

Mr Turley shared his sense of shock at the revelations concerning former President Donald Trump and his December 18 2020 meeting at the White House discussing how to overturn the election with his allies.

‘It’s … damaging,’ Mr Turley said in reaction to the pre-recorded deposition with Trump White House Counsel Pat Cipollone. ‘The account of that meeting in the [Oval] Office is really breathtaking. It’s very disturbing.’

‘At one point, there was a suggestion that there might be fisticuffs,’ he noted. ‘It’s almost like this is Dr Strangelove and the president is saying there is no fighting in the war room. It was just a bizarre moment.’

‘You’re in the Oval Office and people seem to be actually chest pounding. So this is very disturbing. All of these details should disturb everyone,’ Mr Turley said.

A major focus of the hearing was Mr Trump’s 19 December tweet about a ‘big protest’ at the coming joint session of Congress: ‘Be there, will be wild!

Florida Representative Stephanie Murphy said the tweet ‘served as a call to action and in some cases as a call to arms’. She said the president ‘called for backup’ as he said Vice President Mike Pence and other Republicans didn’t have enough courage to try to block President Joe Biden’s win at the January 6 joint session.

The tweet ‘electrified and galvanized’ Mr Trump’s supporters, said Maryland Representative Jamie Raskin, especially ‘the dangerous extremists in the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys and other racist and white nationalist groups spoiling for a fight’.

Mr Raskin said Mr Trump emboldened the groups around a common goal. ‘Never before in American history had a president called for a crowd to come contest the counting of electoral votes by Congress,’ he said.

The committee spliced together video clips from interviews to describe a meeting from December 18, in the hours before Mr Trump’s tweet, in almost minute-to-minute fashion.

Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who testified live before the panel two weeks ago, called the meeting between White House aides and informal advisers pushing the fraud claims ‘unhinged’ in a text that evening to another Trump aide. Other aides described ‘screaming’ as the advisers floated wild theories of election fraud with no evidence to back them up, and as White House lawyers aggressively pushed back.”

The words I focus on are “disturbing” which is used several times and “unhinged” which is even more descriptive. Unhinged is a word that best describes a toddler when he is doing a hissy-fit. The toddler did not get his way and so he has flung himself on the floor in front of everyone and is screaming bloody murder. Think of this visual, when you see or hear the words of the former president. “I didn’t lose. They stole it from me. I won by a long shot.”

We just need the House Select committee and the Justice Department to send Donald to his room. And, while unhinged is more colorful, another apt word is more repulsive – seditionist.

A more national conservative beacon owned by Murdoch calls Trump on the carpet

In an opinion piece called “Rupert Murdoch’s team has heard the Jan. 6 committee’s message” by Dennis Aftergut in The Hill, the recent editorial by The Wall Street Journal is highlighted. Note, the WSJ is owned by Rupert Murdoch, whose New York Post also condemned the former president for his lies and seditious actions.

Here are the first few paragraphs from The Hill piece, with a link to the entire article below:

“How do you know when a core communication that crosses the partisan divide has gotten through?

Answer: When media from both sides of the divide receive the message.

That’s what happened on Saturday, June 11 — even before yesterday’s second hearing of the bipartisan House Select Committee investigating the events that led up to Jan. 6, 2021, and the violent siege of the Capitol that day. A powerful national voice of conservatism, The Wall Street Journal, let us know that it heard what the committee was telling us at its June 9 hearing.

In the Journal’s Saturday editorial entitled, ‘The Evidence of the Jan. 6 Committee,’ its editors offered a powerful summation: ‘Mr. Trump betrayed his supporters by conning them on Jan. 6, and he is still doing it.’ This from the newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch, who also controls Fox News, the cable channel that refused to show the June 9 prime-time hearings.

Even so, his preeminent newspaper’s editorial is noteworthy because journalists on the left heard and amplified the virtually identical message. The eminent James Fallows articulated it: ‘Donald Trump lost the election, and everyone [in his circle] including him knew it.’ Fallows wrote that the mistake the Jan. 6 mob members made ‘was believing the lies they were continually fed by Trump himself.

There is not much more to be said other than the following. The former president betrayed more than his followers. He betrayed the United States of America and we are still paying the price with greater division and discord. All because his shallow ego cannot tolerate losing the election.

Two questions on gun deaths – a letter to the editor

The following is a letter I wrote to the editor of my local newspaper. It is necessarily brief but poses two questions that I want to ask certain politicians. Please feel free to adapt and use, if you like it.

Members of a political party are saying our gun death issues are not a gun problem, but a mental health one. Two questions. 1) If that is the only reason, then why does the US have more gun deaths than the next twenty-two first world nations combined? I presume these 22 countries have people with mental health issues as well.

2) If this is only a mental health issue, then why are members of this party against expanding Medicaid which provides mental health benefits? The number one cause of gun deaths in the US is suicides. Access to a weapon plays a role and saying it does not is naive and political. All it takes is one impulsive act and it is over.

As a result, any solution has to be multi-faceted to work including better gun governance and access to mental health services as only two of the components.