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    • Democratic Congress Members Want What Republicans Want
      So, here we have it: On Hugh Hewitt’s show, McConnell says it’s “highly unlikely” he’d allow Biden to fill a Supreme Court vacancy in 2024 if he’s majority leader. He also doesn’t commit to allowing a vote on a nominee if a seat opened up in *2023*. “Well, we’d have to wait and see what happens.” This is the new normal. Republicans get all of their Supreme C […]
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Anglo-Saxon style? I’m here for it!

Have you seen the manifesto from the America First Caucus? It wants to return America to its Anglo-Saxon political roots and architectural styles.

Ooo! I can’t wait.

But first, I hope we don’t have to do a 23 and Me test because I’m pretty sure I’d be excluded, though number 1 child did it and says we’re whiter than most Republicans. But you know, it might not be the right kind of white. We’re mostly Irish, Scottish, English and a touch of Jewish. It’s the English part that might disqualify us. Our ancestors came from a part of England that was settled by Vikings. Yep, we’ve got a healthy chunk of Scandinavian in us but it’s the Swedish variety, not the Danish variety.

The Angles came from Denmark and the Saxons to the right of the Netherlands area. That’s totally cool with me. It was Norwegian and Danish Vikings (I guess they are the “good” Vikings”) that also settled Iceland and Iceland was the site of the world’s first parliamentary democracy- the Althing. If we do the parliamentary route, voile! (Or Thwak!) there goes that miserable two party system we’ve been plagued with for 240 years. That right there would be an improvement.

Our Puritan colonists spent a lot of time in the Netherlands to avoid religious persecution back in England. The Netherlands are known for tolerance and assimilation of diverse groups. More than 50% of its population has no religious affiliation. And have you seen their bike lanes? Amazing.

Denmark has one of the strongest social safety nets around and happiest citizenry on earth. The progressives will have a field day.

As for Anglo-Saxon architecture, I look forward to scrapping McMansions for Mead Hall Revival with long smoky hearths and sleeping platforms. Maybe they’ll bring back the shield maiden look. Or the hot blonde guys on horseback. It would be like living in a JRR Tolkien fantasy. I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life!

Let’s hear it for Beowulf!

(Wait. I have the Seamus Heaney translation. Is that allowed?)

Please, someone tell me that the Swedish thing isn’t going to turn into some bureaucratic nightmare.

Prayers and Actions

A man wearing a hood and carrying an assault rifle, went into a parking lot at a Fed Ex building in Indianapolis,, and starting shooting people. Then he went inside and shot some more people, and then he shot himself. He is dead. He killed eight people,, and at least five others are seriously wounded.

It is so depressing to write about this, or any of the other mass shootings which occur with ever-increasing frequency. CNN writes, “This incident marks at least the 45th mass shooting in the United States, since the Atlanta-area spa shootings on March 16,” It is depressing for many reasons. The loss of life, the people who were at one moment doing errands, thinking about the weekend, their families and loved ones, and then in a moment, shot dead. The fact that this keeps happening, faster and faster, and nothing is done. The apparent utter futility of it all.

The same thing happens every time. The news media solemnly and respectfully covers it. Families and friends are shown grieving. The public wants to know, “Why?” What caused this man (it is virtually always a man ) to do such an awful thing? What is his background? Are there notes on his computer? What was his political affiliation? Then this dies away, if you will forgive the phrase, in a few weeks. There are all those other news stories; and there are more mass shooters to learn about.

What in general causes some man to go to a place where there are other people walking about or sitting, and start shooting as many of them as he can, before killing himself? Some of them don’t kill themselves, they are killed by police officers, or are apprehended. But many do shoot themselves.

One could hypothesize, as if by doing so, we could get to the heart of the matter, and thus prevent more of this. That is really the only purpose in it, though there is a general curiosity about motives, almost ghoulish if it has no meaning beyond that.

A personal gotterdammerung? Someone decides to end his life in a blaze of carnage? He thinks this will make him famous, even in death? He thinks he is making a statement of some sort, expressing his anger, hatred, frustration at the world? He is in some cases trying to kill specific people at a place he worked at or did business at, and then kills a bunch of other people, too?

It is chilling to contemplate how the media, trying to do the best job in these situations, has all this speculation about motive, then there is some followup when the police release a bit of information about the killer; then it sort of disappears. Does anyone remember the various motives of the 45 mass killers of the last month? Do they not all merge together in a tapestry of madness? Can anything be learned or gleaned or extrapolated from, to help to prevent these killings?

In this case, we now have learned that the mass killer had likely worked at the Fed Ex store last fall. We also leaned that his mother had contacted law enforcement last spring, saying that she was afraid that he was going to commit “suicide by cop.” They went to his home, found a shotgun and seized it. They interviewed him, and did not assess that he evinced Racially Motivated Violent Extremist (RMVE) tendencies. There were no criminal violations, so they didn’t pursue it further. Obviously he purchased another rifle, killed at least eight people with it, and very likely did not do it for racial extremist reasons.

Of course, there are other types of psychopathy besides RMVE. The net is cast too narrowly, and that may be a political choice, because of the threats the FBI has uncovered over the last few years. The shooter’s mother apparently tried to prevent this, but she did not get the help she needed. The nineteen year old man just got out of his car and started shooting, according to police.

If you are that mentally disturbed, you may not even have the capacity to realize the horrible pain you will cause to others. They have a lot of shootouts on TV, and they don’t too often deal with the aftermath, I do not think. Given the dreadful results, it would have been better had he just shot himself first, but for some reason, he wanted to strike out, maybe a form of projection, or to go out like in the movies. Who can know, and who can say how we can stop the next one of these?

Clearly, there is either not enough money, and not enough personnel, to deal with the kind of calls his mother made to law enforcement. While we are understandably horrified at the recent fatal police misconduct, not having enough personnel and dedication to stop mass shootings before they happen, is no answer to that. That his mother was that concerned, and then the police just let it go, is almost unfathomable, except to consider that there are an increasing number of men like that now; plus, if they start arresting all of them, there will be lawsuits galore against them. Why he was not put on a list preventing him from ever buying another gun, is another outrage, but of course, assault weapons are virtually flying out of the stores now, partly attributable to the people who were running the country and owning most of the media

Beyond obvious, the consistent thread is access to weapons of mass destruction. Twisted minds, distorted psyches, people ‘snapping,’ have always existed, although certainly the modern world, with its stoked anger, social media-propagandized outrage, and sense of anomie, causes more of it. But even so, having a weapon which can kill many people within seconds, before anyone can stop it, is what is at the center of these horrible events.

Anyone who can’t or won’t see this, is almost beyond hope. There are far too many guns, and far too many places for seriously mentally disturbed people to kill many people within a minute or two. Why are these kinds of weapons being made and sold? Why is everyone either so afraid of the gun lobby, or so mentally twisted themselves, that they fetishize and worship these things, as if the only way they can evince potency is to have many of them, and wave them around proudly, and dare someone to castrate them, by taking their gun away? It is a sickness at the soul of American culture, and what is the vaccine for that?

We are either going to do something drastic about this, or it is going to be a fact of life. Wherever we go, there could be a person armed with one or more assault weapons, ready to kill as many people as he can. You can’t go in the supermarket, you can’t go to a Fed Ex office, or a nightclub, or a synagogue, or a church, or a school, or anywhere else, and feel safe?

The United States has five percent of the world’s population. It has thirty percent of the world’s mass shooting events. Forty percent of firearms sold are in the United States. It sounds like insane “gun culture” to me. Eradicating that would be an almost impossible task. There are so many people and organizations and political leaders who figuratively have blood on their hands, for either stoking anger and violence, or absolutely refusing to allow any gun laws to be passed.

We used to have some laws to at least curb the ability of people to obtain guns, particularly assault weapons. We passed an assault weapons ban under President Clinton. President GW Bush let it expire. At this point, it seems almost impossible to imagine that we could pass another one. The Republicans in Congress, beholden to whomever they think elects them, and/or as rabidly against such legislation as their donors and base are, absolutely will not pass anything close to that.

It is possible that some minor legislation might get through, something like a red flag law, defined as “a law that permits police or family members to petition a state court to order the temporary removal of firearms from a person who may present a danger to others or himself.’ One can immediately see the very limited value of this, almost a fig leaf to hide the fact that the gun violence epidemic will not even be slowed down, much less stopped.

The only hope would be removal of the Senate filibuster, and then passage of an assault weapons ban, but we’ve got two Democratic senators who are absolutely opposed to getting rid of the filibuster, which has turned the Senate into a place where a bill cannot even get to the floor, unless 60 senators vote to override the filibuster. And even if somehow such a bill got to the floor, it would likely not get 50 votes to pass. This country is being paralyzed, if not actually run, by a minority of people who control enough of the levers of power under our anachronistic electoral system, to block any legislation that its fanatic and gun lobby bases do not want.

What else can be said? We are either going to stop these mass killings, or we are going to live with them. The rest of it is sound and fury signifying nothing good for us. This is America, we like to think that we can do anything we set our mind to. Then we must set our mind to this, unless too many people believe that fifty or more mass shootings a month is the cost of “American freedom,” which they do not think includes the freedom to be safe while shopping, or learning, or enjoying a cultural event, or praying. The gun lobby worshipping Republicans are very much about prayers, after the fact.

Natural Selection of Refuseniks?

I got the latest update on the number of Covid cases in Allegheny county. There are some interesting patterns emerging.

As expected, the number of cases for those over 65 is smaller than during our previous spikes, reflecting the number of people in this demographic that have been vaccinated.

The greatest number of cases now are for individuals 25-49, which represents the largest population in the report. This also makes sense as this cohort is only now getting vaccinated.

We are seeing more reported cases among children, especially K-12.

What interests me is the 50-64 age group. I need to confirm this but it looks like this number is creeping up. Here in Allegheny county, this group has been able to be vaccinated for several weeks. So, this number should be coming down.

Another interesting note is the number of women becoming infected has been more than the number of men infected. This trend has been going on for several weeks.

If I can get my laptop up and running (yes, I do all of this blogging on a iPhone), I’ll see if I can track it on a spreadsheet. But it looks to me like we are running into some natural selection among women, who tend to be skittish about vaccines, and the 50-64 year olds, who I suspect includes a higher number of refuseniks.

The b.1.1.7 variant is dominating this most recent spike. It’s more easily spread and may be more deadly because it is likely to give recipients a higher viral load.

So, if the unvaccinated are getting this variant and spreading it, they’re more likely to get sicker and end up in the hospital.

The good news is that the number of deaths is coming down. The bad news is if you get it, you’ll be sicker.

AND being unvaccinated means contributing to the continued shutdowns or reductions of certain businesses.

Mother Nature is a bitch but she’s pretty upfront about her methods. No one who doesn’t get a shot should be surprised.