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What Should We Do?

We knew that the easy access to assault weapons was a terrible problem in America. We know that we “lead” the world in the horrible statistic of deaths by gunfire. We desperately want this to change, but know that it has become less and less likely. As someone recently said, we are the killing fields of the world, where anybody over 18 can walk into a store and buy any amount of assault weapons and ammunition he can pay for, and then walk out of the store with them.

Millions of these killing machines are in the buyers’ homes, unless they gave them to other people. And now, and increasingly, they are in the hands of mentally warped people full of hate and anger and a death wish for themselves, displaced onto others, and they go out and kill as many people as they can, before they are shot or captured.

There always have been, and may always be, psychologically and emotionally disturbed people who want to do violent acts. That is awful enough, if they injure or kill even one person with their fists, or a knife, or a handgun. But an assault weapon allows them to kill many people in less than a minute, people who cannot hide or escape, or survive a bullet wound.

And not one thing changes with regard to making it more difficult, if not impossible, for people to buy these weapons, which have only one purpose, to kill many people. They are for war battlefields, but they are bought in the millions by teenagers and adults all over the country, and nothing is done to stop or curtail it.

That is the bottom line, how do we stop it? The only way to do it would be for Congress to pass and the President to sign strict laws prohibiting or at least limiting the sale of assault weapons. We used to have such a law, passed during the Clinton Administration.

But the subsequent GW Bush Administration which came into being after he lost the popular vote, and would have lost the electoral vote, had not Bush’s brother, the governor of Florida, and his secretary of state, delayed the state-required recounting of votes there, until the Right Wing majority on the Supreme Court said it was too late to count the vote, let the bill lapse, and it has never come back, and likely never will, unless there is some drastic change in the configuration of the country.

We have a Far Right Supreme Court which is poised to strike down New York and California laws which attempt to put some restrictions on the buying or carrying of guns. They are owned by the Radical Right and its arm of the NRA. They do not care about the fact that a vast majority of Americans want a complete ban on assault weapons, and an even more overwhelming majority want comprehensive background checks for anyone who wants to buy a gun. They were put in there to make sure that it will even be easier for people to buy and kill people with guns.

We can go on with this, and how bad it is. We would prefer to take a more proactive stance, and hope and try for something be done; but there is only one reasonable chance, which is that Congress somehow passes strong gun laws. And there are so many impediments to that.

Do we want Congress to somehow pass some kind of “red flag law,” which would possibly require that people with some kind of documented history of mental illness be on a list which would at least require further checking before they bought their guns, or even possibly stop the purchase? We want anything to stop any gun killings, but the trade-off here will be that if this is what gets passed, it will do very little, and will get the Republicans off the political hook, and take away an issue which might help to give Democrats real control of the Senate.

We know that Republicans desperately want to mute this issue. They always look to blame anything but the existence of assault weapons. They blame mental illness, not enough school officials with guns, not enough doors locked, rap music, Democrats’ “divisiveness,” video games, anything but guns and the gun culture. They figure that this will go away, at least until another mass shooting.

Or even if it does not, if they block all the “political exits,” control the Congress, or at least keep using the filibuster, own the Supreme Court, there is nothing that can be done to stop the gun culture. Abbott in Texas was very recently imploring the people of the state to buy more guns! Does he get a kickback from the NRA from each assault weapon sold? Probably not literally, but definitely in effect.

I don’t want the Republicans to be able to pass some weak bill which then will be used to stop any more bills from getting passed for a decade or more. But of course a weak bill is better than no bill, unless we have some chance to get a better one. Maybe if people pour out to vote this Fall, the makeup of the Congress and a few state legislatures can be changed. Maybe that is a vain hope, but we can make a big effort right now. My position is that I don’t want a weak, Republican face-saving bill to be the very small thing which is done.

There are no obvious answers, no clear path. I do know that we have our best chance right now, with the anger and sadness pervading, and people desperate for something to be done. But there are many negative forces which are in place to defuse and scatter and distract. It has worked for them before, they know their gameplan. Ours could be to make strong gun safety laws, along with protection of abortion rights, essentially the only issues for the upcoming elections, and not get bogged down or deflected by the myriad of other potential issues.

Democrats are often blamed, sometimes accurately, for having too diffuse a message, while Republicans pound away at one or two themes. This time, we should be the one that does it, even if it goes against our appreciation of complexity, and wanting to appeal to all of our diverse constituencies. We must be direct in focus, more hard-hitting than we like to be, relentless, and never feeling embarrassed by it.

We desperately need to fight to win, and to make sure that the people who vote know exactly what is on the ballot, literally or by proxy effect; and that more people than ever before go to the polls to make that necessary difference. We need to pass major gun safety legislation, and the only way we can is to make the elections about that issue, and then win them. Don’t let the Republicans get away from that by pretending that they want to do anything but paper over it.

The Uvalde shooter claims another victim

The husband of Irma Garcia, one of the two teachers killed in the slaughter at Robb Elementary School, has died. It appears his death was brought on by grief at the death of his wife.

They leave behind 4 children.

Ukrainian Pastorale

Pavlo checks in with the lovely Luba. They visit Babushka on her little farm, check on the new calf and the garden, and spread a feast of beets, pickled watermelon, and cake.

This little farm is away from the fighting somewhere in east central Ukraine.

They wait for victory.

Slava Ukraini

I’m now a single issue voter: abolish the filibuster

There is no good reason for keeping it. If any legislation manages to get past it, it will pass or fail on a simple majority vote as it should.

The filibuster does two things: it prevents the United States from evolving in response to environmental, economic and social changes, and it serves as cover for politicians, primarily Republicans, who don’t want to be forced to vote on some very controversial issues because they know their policies are wildly unpopular to voters. In the latter case, partisanship is used as a tool to prevent any legislation at all.

The majority of Americans who voted in 2020 have seen their hopes and expectations dashed by the filibuster. And let’s not forget that although Republicans NEVER break ranks on a filibuster when they’re determined to block something, it’s Democrats Joe Manchin and Kirsten Sinema who refuse to override a filibuster. They’re the ones that are preventing any changes whatsoever to anything we care about.

It’s incredible to me that the 5th largest economy in the world, California, has virtually no say over federal legislation. Everything it cares about is passed in the House and blocked by filibustering Republicans in the Senate. California has less sway over federal legislation than West Virginia. That’s outrageous. Regardless whether you approve of California or not, if you truly believe in democracy, its voters deserve to be heard in the Senate, not buried under 50 red state senators and two rebels without a cause.

Yes, Joe Manchin and Kirsten Sinema are defying the will of the 81,000,000 voters who gave the Democrats the senate. They are putting a stop to everything that the majority of us value. These two, incredibly selfish, clueless, tone deaf, compromised senators are standing in the way of the vast majority of the rest of the country on policies that make significant differences to our lives.

And worst of all, we are being held hostage by the domestic terrorist ammosexuals who call themselves Republicans.

The voting rights bill filibuster should have been the last straw. The failure of Build Back Better with its shitty and paltry paid family leave should have been the last straw. The failure to pass legislation protecting the ability of women to choose when or if they will have children should have been the last straw.

But I think Uvalde really is the absolute last straw. It’s the one that broke the back.

The filibuster has got to go. We don’t need it. We will need to learn to create policy and vote on it in a different way, without fear.

Ending the filibuster covers all of the policies that have been stuck in the Senate. Take it out and the legislation will flow again. Maybe we won’t get everything we want but we won’t be spinning our wheels going nowhere while classrooms full of 10 year olds are slaughtered and their parents stand outside the school and scream helplessly. That should NEVER happen in this country again and all of the lame solutions that Republicans have suggested are either impractical, extremely expensive or dangerous.

So, I am a single issue voter this year. My goal is to see that we elect as many senators as possible that will either eliminate or seriously undermine the effect of the filibuster. Even if Republicans realize the jig is up on passing universal background checks, I’m still voting exclusively on ending the filibuster. I am very lucky that I live in a state where I can do that. I’m putting my vote behind John Fetterman. There will be others that will get a bit of cash when they text me. It won’t be a lot but combined with other people who have also become single issue voters on the subject of the filibuster, it may be just enough to offset Manchin and Sinema.

We need four new Senators who will vow to remove the filibuster out of the way of important legislation in order to make Manchin and Sinema lame ducks for the rest of their terms.

Who’s with me?