January 24, 2023
Dear readers, I should have included a reminder that I will not publish a newsletter Tuesday evening / Wednesday. I will be attending funeral services and visiting with the family of a dear friend who passed over the weekend.
It’s guns. The more we have, the more innocent people die. Guns are for killing. Automatic weapons are for killing people. Australia and New Zealand removed automatic weapons from their countries and their democracies continue without this mayhem. We should have the same right to live without fear. We need to end this now
Congratulations on the baby and I have no doubt that even your newborn granddaughter could out-maneuver McCarthy--
Robert, congratulations on your new grandchild!
I'm going to write something unpopular. If Democrats impose a litmus test on their candidates and electeds, they can paint some of those worthy people in a corner. I will start by saying that I would like to see very strict gun safety laws in line with the best ones internationally. Even more urgently, I want to save our democracy and start to establish bipartisanship.
The newly elected Democrat in my semi-rural district won by less than a 1% advantage. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez ran as a blue collar Democrat and flipped our district against 49:1 odds, denying office to an extreme MAGA candidate. Her position on assault weapons was startling at first. She said she would not ban assault weapons but wants to raise the age of owning one to 21 instead of 18. If she had said she wanted an assault weapons ban, our member of congress would be Joe Kent.
I believe that Marie Perez is following the wisdom of successful politicians like Nancy Pelosi, who wouldn't bring a bill to the floor unless she knew she had the votes to pass it. There is a lot more work to do before we can pass strong, research-based gun safety laws. Much of that work is getting Democrats and true moderates elected. Until we do so we won't achieve gun safety or complete putting down the ongoing coup being mounted by the extreme right in our country.
We cannot tie the hands of candidates and electeds who represent the people in their district by hearing the plurality of their constituents who may have views that differ from what is best for our nation in the long run. Only by doing so can they reliably garner a plurality of votes. This argues against adopting political litmus tests.
I ask all who respond to this post to keep in mind that I want strong gun safety laws and believe that imposing litmus tests is counterproductive to achieving that goal.
Most of us are old enough to remember when smoking cigarettes was viewed as normal and for some it was "cool". In fact, it was (and still, sadly is) glorified in films. Telling Americans that smoking was suicidal and stupid was deemed a fools errand. But we did it. It took a long time but we did it. Now, smoking is viewed with disdain - as just plain stupid. It is prohibited in most spaces.
If someone were to enter your home now and say "do you mind if I smoke?" I suspect your response would be like mine. Tobacco kills. We banished it. WMDs kill. We can banish WMDs, too.
Remember the TV ads by the Marlboro man speaking with a device held to his throat? Remember the pictures of smokers lungs.? It was a long hard campaign. There were mighty forces in opposition. Many people rebelled and tried to smoke in restaurants anyway. But we still prevailed. We changed how tobacco was viewed. We saved millions of lives. We can do the same thing with WMDs.
My favorite take on the gun problem, with which I agree, is the song, "If It Were Up To Me" by Cheryl Wheeler:
Maybe it's the movies, maybe it's the books
Maybe it's the bullets, maybe it's the real crooks
Maybe it's the drugs, maybe it's the parents
Maybe it's the colors everybody's wearin
Maybe it's the President, maybe it's the last one
Maybe it's the one before that, what he done
Maybe it's the high schools, maybe it's the teachers
Maybe it's the tattooed children in the bleachers
Maybe it's the Bible, maybe it's the lack
Maybe it's the music, maybe it's the crack
Maybe it's the hairdos, maybe it's the TV
Maybe it's the cigarettes, maybe it's the family
Maybe it's the fast food, maybe it's the news
Maybe it's divorce, maybe it's abuse
Maybe it's the lawyers, maybe it's the prisons
Maybe it's the Senators, maybe it's the system
Maybe it's the fathers, maybe it's the sons
Maybe it's the sisters, maybe it's the moms
Maybe it's the radio, maybe it's road rage
Maybe El Nino, or UV rays
Maybe it's the army, maybe it's the liquor
Maybe it's the papers, maybe the militia
Maybe it's the athletes, maybe it's the ads
Maybe it's the sports fans, maybe it's a fad
Maybe it's the magazines, maybe it's the internet
Maybe it's the lottery, maybe it's the immigrants
Maybe it's taxes, big business
Maybe it's the KKK and the skinheads
Maybe it's the communists, maybe it's the Catholics
Maybe it's the hippies, maybe it's the addicts
Maybe it's the art, maybe it's the sex
Maybe it's the homeless, maybe it's the banks
Maybe it's the clearcut, maybe it's the ozone
Maybe it's the chemicals, maybe it's the car phones
Maybe it's the fertilizer, maybe it's the nose rings
Maybe it's the end, but I know one thing
If it were up to me, I'd take away the guns
Thanks again for a great summary of the current insanity. DeSantis may well be stupid, despite his Ivy League degree. He certainly is ignorant, though much of that would seem to be elective. But this goes way beyond ignorance and stupidity. What he certainly is is disturbed. And, with over 30 years as a mental health practitioner, I use that term advisedly. As such he takes his place among the current rogues gallery of deeply--and flagrantly--disturbed individuals whose psychopathy has given them extraordinary power with weak, fearful and terminally venal copycats, whom they variously and simultaneously manipulate, frighten, motivate and empower.
My older brother and I got our only younger sibling when he was 12 and I was nine and a half. At the time, it was the most exciting thing that had happened to me--and at that time, we'd had three x-country road trips (very exciting!). When she finally came home (she'd been two months premature) the first thing that happened was I got to give her a bottle. My mother sat me down in a comfortable chair, put a surgical mask on me, and gave me the bottle and Miriam. When Miriam finished the bottle and my mother took her, she told me that Miriam would be a lot more fun when she got a little older. Me: "But she IS fun!"
So I can empathize with the 20 month old's desire to hold the new baby.
Postscript: That baby--now a nurse- recently was in charge of getting Fairfax County VA vaccinated.
Congratulations. Our fight is for the future of our children. So we must fight hard. Ron Desantos appears as a lackluster blob to me. Not impressed. The GOP is so desperate for someone other than Trump that he looks good to them. It’s laughable. He barely won his last race. Not impressed.
Congratulations, Grandma and Grandpa! Cherish every moment!
I've never supported the idea of a litmus test before, as it never struck me that there was a single issue that was a make or break for me. I'm warming to the notion now, as it relates to gun violence.
I spent a good part of yesterday trying to write about the Second Amendment and how the "right to keep and bear arms" is merely an allusion - 2A alludes to the right, but doesn't grant it. The more I researched it, the more I found my argument weakened. But I also found some alarming statistics.
In my research, I found that as of yesterday, we'd experienced 36 mass shootings in 2023 (39 as of today), and 2,672 total gun violence deaths (including accidents, homicides, and suicides), a pace that puts us at about 600 mass shootings and 44,000 deaths for the year. Firearms have recently been reported to be the number one cause of death of children, a grave statistic in its own right. In a country of 333 million people, we possess over 400 million firearms, with more made and distributed every day.
With the high impact of mass shootings, we lose sight of the singular tragedies that occur over 100 times a day. Those who espouse gun rights blame those who beg for sensible gun legislation and vice versa, as the bodies pile up.
Guns are the common denominator in the 44,000 deaths we'll likely see this year. Access to guns is the problem, and access to weapons of war simply exacerbates it. We must come together and demand common sense gun regulation and enforcement, before it's too late. The arms race must end.
If there's one positive lesson we can take from the ex-president's approach to problem-solving, it's to attack from all angles. It's not enough to just push for a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines, mental health evaluations, licensing of all gun owners, registration of all firearms, repeal of liability protection for gun manufacturers, monitoring of social media, or even a litmus test. We must do all of those things and more, and we must demand enforcement of the laws that are already on the books. Each year, the lives of over 40,000 of our fellow citizens depend on it.
As a part-time resident and Democratic activist in Florida, we shouldn't underestimate DeSantis' political skills and write off the potency of his future candidacy.
Although DeSantis shares the MAGA right wing agenda with Trump and the "Freedom" Caucus, he isn't stupid when it comes to winning elections.
IMO, DeSantis is more the second coming of Richard Nixon than a crazed, hard right ideological crusader. He's calculating, slimy and dishonest but his base loves what he's doing in Florida.
We need to remember, Republicans across the country love leaders who know how to win while soft pedaling all the right wing dog whistles.
According to Texan oral history, back in the 19th century, there was a defense to murder that went "Your honor - he *needed* killin'!" There's a significant number of Texas Republicans who should be thankful they live in the 21st rather than the 19th centuries there.
Who yells at you regarding anything!!! Shame on them. Today's newsletter is filled with so much about the work we all must do. Thank you. Some numbskull ( one of my dad's words) from Texas exercised his right to bear arms via the Constitution on LinkedIn. No matter who gave facts, he came back with that peculiar psychosis that seems to be only American. It. Is. His. Right. And the right of every American to own as many guns, rifles, machine guns, killing machines as they so wish. Last night we watched something on Amazon with Kevin Costner and Diane Lane about a couple in Wyoming or Montana who drives to one of the Dakotas to get their grandson. It represents what I call ¨The Deliverance People.¨ How to educate them and bring them into this century is a daunting task. I lived in many states in the U.S. from the time I was a child, and each place I could/can feel the difference. It's in the air. It's in the eyes. My personal tragedy is that my children were born in Houston even though we had planned on moving to San Diego when my first husband graduated from law school. I wonder how differently they would have become as adults had we done that.
As you say, details are still emerging, however, the HMB shooter has been detained alive. He's a 67 year old Asian man. Again, speculation, but there seems to be indications of previous work conflicts. Perhaps, the shooting in Monterey Bay triggered this fellow to finally vent his anger.... tragedy after tragedy, but we can't allow ourselves to be inured to it.
It has always been about the gun and more importantly the type of gun. A simple fact is if the mass shooters only had a rifle less people would have been killed and injured. No where in the Second Amendment does it state that anyone has a right to an automatic weapon design for military use and today there are millions in circulation and easily accessible by people who should never be near a weapon. The appropriate gun laws would reduce some access to the automatic weapons and possibly provide some safety but in recent mass shootings the shooter acquired the weapon legally and a gun law would not have stopped the mass shooter from obtaining the weapon. Australia got it right when they took the guns away but politics and lobbyist and NRA money make that action impossible in our country. Another Republican lie about “ the good guy with a gun” has proven deadly for many Americans and will continue until everyone says enough is enough.