Uvalde Massacre: Too Much to Bear

The twenty-seventh U.S. school shooting of 2022 occurred 24 May 2022 in Uvalde, Texas. It is too much to bear. I am tired of politicians talking about praying for the families of the victims. It is high time we – they – DO something.

I don’t want to hear about mental health, candle-light vigils, the second amendment, or anything else except commonsense gun laws. President Biden says he’s tired of these massacres, well so are we all. And I can’t imagine how the people feel in every city in which these massacres have occurred.

Screen Shot 2022-05-25 at 11.27.03 PMTexas Governor Greg Abbott was disingenuous when he talked about gun laws in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York not reducing gun violence. Sure, there is gun violence in those cities, but not mass murders in elementary and high schools, churches, and Walmart, for goodness’ sake. Since 2009, there have been over four mass murders in Texas’ schools, churches, and stores. I’d say there’s something bad wrong here that the Texas legislature can do something about. But I’m not counting on them.

For since 2009, the legislature has done nothing but loosen restrictions on guns. Rather than improving the “wild West” ethos in our state, we now have open carry laws, and gun buyers are not required to be trained on firearm use. People carry long guns openly. And who needs a semi- or fully automatic machine gun? They only are used for killing people.

It is a travesty that Governor Abbott, Senator Cruz, and others stood before us today and talked about improving mental health care when Abbott and the legislature refuse to expand Medicaid. Texas has more uninsured folks than just about any state. But I digress.

The Texas Governor and legislature need to ACT. Immediately. Abbott can call a special session and show Texans and the nation that he is serious about reducing gun violence in our schools, churches, department stores and other public places. If the governor and the legislature do not act, and soon, I say we, you and I, take our discontent to the streets as many did in 2020 over the murder of George Floyd. This time, it’s for 19 dead children and two dead teachers that we protest.

Yes, WE must do something, too.

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Permitless Carry: A Not So Stellar Idea

The Texas legislature has passed a permit-less gun carry law. Who thought this up? The only good news about this for the rest of the country is that these permit-less gun-toting Texans probably can’t bring their guns into other states because they have NO GUN PERMIT! Another tidbit of good news is that guns remain prohibited in Texas schools, courthouses, and bars.

Who thought this up: According to Rep. Matt Shaefer who introduced the bill in the Texas House, “the ordinary citizen is the first responder” and the ability to defend oneself is a “God-given right.” In keeping with Shaefer’s wishes, the bill was not amended before it finally passed.

The Firearm Carry Act of 2021, allows a person 21 years or older to carry a handgun either concealed or in a holster. Schaefer clarified that the bill only applies to handguns, not AR-15s, or rifles. “I think it is a bill that is the strongest bill I’ve seen in my legislative career regarding the rights of our Second Amendment,” Republican Senate sponsor Charles Schwertner said.

The major problem with the new law – it passed the Senate 17 to 13, before Governor Abbott signed it into law – is that no permit means no gun use or safety training, either.

Who’s against the For the People Act?

You guessed it: the Republicans! The vote on S1 yesterday was 50 in favor. Fifty Democrats. Not one Republican voted yes! In the face of this, I am proud to say that the president of the Unitarian Universalist Association had something to say about it:

On Wednesday, June 23, 2021, Rev. Dr. Susan Frederick-Gray, President of the Unitarian Universalist Association [my religious denomination] released the following statement: 

“I join faith leaders across the country and demand that the United States Senate vote yes to debate and then pass the For the People Act. As a Unitarian Universalist minister, I call on all senators to follow their elected duty and moral conscience to maintain the integrity of our democracy and voting rights. And I decry any use of the filibuster to block this critical legislation. We must protect everyone’s fundamental right to vote—especially Black, Brown, Indigenous and low-income communities that have been disenfranchised for generations.

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“In fact, we must end the procedural filibuster because it renders our government ineffective and obstructs the will of the people. The filibuster has historically been abused and wielded to prevent vital civil rights and voting rights legislation from being passed. Conservatives must stop retelling the Big Lie as a false reason to shut down this legislation. They fear the For the People Act because it will nullify their state bills that thwart free access to the polls—through throw-back Jim Crow legislation. The UU faith tradition upholds democratic principles and the inherent worth of all people and we believe that every voice matters, every vote matters.

“Pass the For the People Act, end the filibuster, and let the voice of the people be heard.

I completely agree with Rev. Frederick-Gray’s statement. Let the people say, “Amen!”

GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY!

Derek Chauvin is found guilty on all three counts against him in the murder of George Floyd.

I am overjoyed, relieved, and at a loss. Though a guilty verdict has been rendered against Derek Chauvin, we must wait nearly eight weeks for the judge’s sentencing decision.

Meanwhile, there are many other murder cases in which police (and others) are culpable; and we don’t even know if those former police officers or others will be indicted, much less tried in a court of law.

As a result, my joy over Chauvin’s verdict is overlayed with frustration: imagining, worrying about what comes next. Will Chauvin’s sentence satisfy the millions, like me, who think he should get the maximum on all counts and serve them consecutively? Will any other former police officers have to stand before a jury of their peers and be tried for murder? Is this verdict a victory?

This verdict is, for me, bittersweet at the moment, because there are many others gone in recent memory for whom we have not had anything like justice.

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Trump Incites Riot; That’s a Felony. Lock Him UP!

Donald J. Trump’s most recent spiral away from reality began just after 3 November 2020 when it became apparent that he was losing the presidential race. From that day forward, he began agitating his followers by repeating over and over again the lie that he, not Joe Biden, had actually won and that the election had somehow been stolen from Trump.

For two months, Trump peddled this lie and similar nonsense to his gullible minions, and by Wednesday, January 6, when he returned to Washington with thousands of his followers in tow, the pot was at the boil. His tweets had become more and more provocative and incendiary: Come to Washington D.C. January 6! It’s going to be WILD! he told his 88 million Twitter followers. In D.C., not only did Trump stir the pot, he poured gas on the roaring fire: “Fight like hell,” he urged as he told them to make their way to the Capitol.

We all watched in horror as his handiwork was realized in the desacration of the Capitol complex.

Trump attempted a coup. He incited thousands of his followers to riot, and as a result, five people are dead, and the Capitol’s House and Senate chambers are in shambles.

However, his attempted coup failed.

Donald J. Trump should be detained and charged with inciting to riot and insurrection, because incite is exactly what he did. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and all the other members of Congress who supported Trump in his lying and agitation should also be charged. Though they were successful in starting a riot that defiled the capitol building and traumatized the people who work there, Trump, Cruz, and their followers were unable to prevent the Congress from certifying the Electoral College ballots.

So, in spite of Trump’s misguided, felonious efforts, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be inaugurated as president and vice president of the United States on Wednesday, January 20, 2021!

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I Will Miss Voting on Election Day

I VOTED at the Dallas County Elections Department on Round Table Drive in Dallas  TX about 15 to 20 minutes from my home around 5:15 this evening. I drove into the parking lot, was directed to a parking space, showed my photo ID, signed and printed my name and wrote my voter registration number in space 8 on a sheet of paper on a clipboard.
Jacqueline checked my signature with that on my driver license and returned my ID and brown envelope containing my ballot to me. I said, “What do I do with this, go inside?” And she answered, “Now, you vote!” She then lifted up a large blue satchel with white (or gold?) embroidered writing on it and an open zipper just wide enough to accept my brown carrier envelope into which I pushed it.
I had voted!
 
Jacqueline gave me my “I Voted in Dallas County” sticker, we bid each other goodbye, and I drove back home. The whole enterprise took barely 40 minutes. There was no one in front of or behind me. If Jacqueline had not been so cheerful, it would have been a sad affair.
 
I like to vote in person on Election Day; but since I voted absentee in the primary, the Elections Department sent me an absentee ballot for the November 3 election as well. When I found out what a Federal Case it would be to vote in person now that I had the absentee ballot, I resigned myself to voting in absentia. And it was a breeze. I don’t know how to get off of the absentee voting list, and I’m not sure I want to. It looks like the Election Day polls have seen the last of me . . .
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Thoughts on the Final 2020 Presidential Debate

Week before last, Donald Trump said, “I’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate!” What that actually meant, folks is, “I’m not going to waste my time talking to the majority of the American people.”  And, so he reverted to type. Less than a week out of the hospital with Covid-19, Trump was on the hustings creating Super-Spreader rallies with his acolytes. He makes no bones about it: He is their president, not yours and mine.

Joe Biden and Trump have  agreed to a final debate at Belmont University in Nashville TN on Thursday, October 22 at 8 PM CDT, 9 EDT. I usually tape  and alternate between both C-SPAN and PBS, and that’s what I will do on Thursday. I like those stations because they don’t do any or much talking while the candidates are sharing their points of view.

Of course, the number one question on everyone’s mind is a two-parter: will Trump act with decorum or try to wreck this final debate as he did the first; and will NBC’s Kristen Welker be able to maintain order on the set?

I’ll be watching and hope you will be, too. I’ sure you’re sick of hearing what a momentous election will conclude on Tuesday, November 3. But you know it is. Most people already have made up their minds, and millions already have voted, so the last debate is rather anticlimactic. For most of us the debate is more a thought exercise than anything else.

In the few remaining days until the debate, the media – and you and I – will speculate on how it will go, and how often Trump will misbehave and flaunt the rules he’s agreed to observe. Have fun!

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Notorious RBG Dead at 87

We all knew she couldn’t live forever, but I, for one, was shocked, surprised, and saddened by the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg this evening at her home in Washington DC.  I think many of us were surprised, even though we knew she was ill with pancreatic cancer.

I am devastated. She was more important to the nation than many know.

Just leaving a rally, Donald Trump looked like a deer in the headlights when he heard from reporters that Justice Ginsburg had died. Amazingly enough, he was able to make appropriate comments in that moment and later in a written statement.

As I write, people who cared about Justice Ginsburg are gathered and gathering outside the Supreme Court of the United States. They are milling about aimlessly, just wanting to be with likeminded people, at one point breaking out in “Amazing Grace.”

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Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Notorious, Illustrious RBG, was 87 years young. I say young because she became a pop icon in her 80s, celebrity which she thoroughly enjoyed. Notorious RBG was a riff on the rapper Notorious BIG’s name, and she says they had something in common – they were both from Brooklyn NY.

I also call her young, because she just never missed a beat or a day of work except because of health issues. She was a Super Diva in the gym with a workout a book published about her exercise routine. Dogged by various cancers since 1999 Ginsburg overcame them all except this last. Finally, her health – pancreatic cancer — has interfered with RBG’s 27-year reign on the Supreme Court for the final time.

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Now, all we can hope is that the Republicans will take the same position in the days ahead as they took when Justice Scalia died in 2016. I paraphrase:

We are too close to the presidential election (the election was almost 10 months away) to consider President Obama’s nominee. The people should have a voice, so we will not consider a nominee until after the election.

The election is only seven weeks away. Will the Republicans be hypocrites or honorable people? Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, and the Senate Judiciary Committee will reveal the answer in the days to come.

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And finally:

Screen Shot 2020-07-03 at 10.56.12 PMMake your plan to vote and VOTE

early, in person,

by mail, OR

on election day.

I will vote on election day.

What’s your plan?

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