The most important day

Today is the most significant inauguration in my lifetime. The countdown has begun. By 11:00 my time President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will take over the reins of a much wounded America. The past 4 years have been a national nightmare. It has been exhausting to watch the daily and hourly tweets from an unfit, unhinged and dangerous President. He left the country in worse shape that he found it but we should have taken a cue from his own inauguration address when he used the word “carnage” to describe the country. Now we can look back on that speech and understand that Trump was actually predicting the mayhem that ended his presidency.

Presidents have to deal with all kinds of unexpected events that shape their time in office. Certainly Trump could not have predicted the death and destruction a pandemic would do to the country and the world. But we elect Presidents so they can deal with crises like the coronavirus pandemic. We expect that they will be surrounded by expertise and intelligence that will keep us safe and that they will do everything they can to prevent or stop the threat. We expect common sense.

Boy were a lot of people wrong. I was not one of them. But I could do nothing to stop this man from doing almost nothing to stop the spread of the pandemic that has taken the lives of 400,000 precious Americans. I could do nothing while the nation watched as anti-Semitic White Supremacist rioters turned Charlottesville, Virginia into a scene of death. They were armed of course. They always are. Because they can be. They intimidate. They bully. And sometimes they act with their guns to cause more death and destruction.

Let’s review one a few of the racist and hate-filled shootings during Trump’s presidency.

A Walmart in El Paso, Texas that left 23 dead and 23 injured- mostly people of color.

Gilroy Garlic festival shooting in California- perpetrated by a young white man with White Supremacy leanings. 3 died with others injured.

Virginia Beach, Virginia where a white disgruntled male shot and killed 12 people and left others injured.

Another White Supremacist shot and killed 11 at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

There are others of course. Every President has faced mass shootings as only happen in America. Other Presidents have expressed sympathies and brought the country together in their remarks or their actions after the shooting. President Obama famously broke into singing Amazing Grace at the memorial for the victims of the Mother Emanuel church shooting in Charleston, S.C.

Here is a full list for your perusal.

Gun deaths have increased in the last 4 years so they are now at one of the highest in many years. According to the Gun Violence Archive.In 2020, 43, 465 Americans died from gun violence.

In the last 4 years we have also seen an increase in heavily armed citizens at our state capitols and on our streets strutting around with openly held loaded guns at the ready. This is #notnormal and we can’t let it be. I will hope to see a decrease in such violent intimidation of American citizens and elected leaders whose lives have been threatened over the last 4 years. When a sitting Governor Gretchen Whitmer is the victim of a plot to kidnap her and kill her, we have a serious problem. This must stop but I fear it won’t. At least we will have a new President who will call out dangerous people like those in Michigan who were thankfully arrested.

That is carnage and much of it happens on our streets and in homes a few at a time.

Yes. There has been carnage. Trump’s presidency ended with the Jan. 6th insurrection attack of the U.S. Capitol. He incited the White Supremacists, the neo Nazis, the militia groups, the dangerous crowd of his supporters who had violent intentions on their minds and in their hearts. He is and was a sore loser and a dangerous man. He left us with the national PTSD after the worst event that has happened in America in many generations.

There is hope. A new day is dawning as I write this. Last night I lit 4 candles- one each for 100,000 victims of the COVID pandemic. President elect Biden and Vice President elect Kamala Harris led a beautiful, powerful and emotional ceremony of remembrance for the victims. The country wept as we experienced a cathartic moment that was necessary. There is national PTSD about the damage done physically, emotionally and economically to our country. President Trump mishandled the pandemic so badly that he is responsible for many of the deaths. He is responsible for the deaths at the U.S. Capitol. He is responsible for the rise of domestic violence and White Supremacy in America.

Never again.

I look forward to a common sense, decent, caring, competent White House team and administration. The country needs healing. I have no illusions about getting the gun laws passed that will save lives and have been ignored for decades. But I do have hope that we will pay attention to our nation’s gun violence epidemic and at least try to do the right thing.

Welcome President Biden and Vice President Harris. A lot rests on your shoulders. May you succeed and may you bring us hope and the unity that is needed to heal us from the monster that has been serving as the President of our country for 4 hate-filled, angry, twitter-filled rants and unsettling years.

Insurrection at the Capitol

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“An explosion caused by a police munition is seen while supporters of US President Donald Trump gather in front of the Capitol Building in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2021. (Reuters Photo: Leah Millis)”
from
https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/us-capitol-hill-siege-explained-7136632/

I have been thinking about what happened at the Capitol yesterday. It was an attempted coup. It was insurrection. It was domestic terrorism.

For years, people in the gun violence prevention movement have been watching insurrectionists stockpile guns and ammunition. Their entire purpose has been to use their arsenals to fight against their own government. Yesterday they had their chance to do just that. Luckily D.C. has strong gun laws but several people have been arrested for carrying guns and ammunition anyway. Now I ask you to imagine what could have happened in the halls of Congress had one of these armed folks opened fire? Too scary to think about. I have watched the reports from Congress members about the terror that ensued as they hid and ran from the Trump thugs who broke into the people’s House. Congressman Jason Crow, who was in the House chamber, called his wife to say he loved her. Let that sink in.

Does this sound familiar? Remember the calls that the Parkland students made to their parents as they were locked down in their classrooms as a mass shooter was shooting their classmates before their eyes?

It’s horrifying. It leaves behind PTSD that will never go away.

If you have watched “Designated Survivor” you understand the horror of a domestic terror attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Let me get back to gun extremists. A very small percentage of gun owners own a lot of guns. I can safely guess that many of these mostly white thugs were gun owners and gun extremists with a lot of guns perhaps left at home, in a car or maybe concealed? That has been mentioned as a possibility at yesterday’s attack. Let’s look at the American gun phenomenon and stockpiling guns. From this article in the Guardian:


But America’s gun super-owners, have amassed huge collections. Just 3% of American adults own a collective 133m firearms – half of America’s total gun stock. These owners have collections that range from eight to 140 guns, the 2015 study found. Their average collection: 17 guns each.
After the Las Vegas shooting, officials said the killer had 23 guns in his hotel room, and another 19 at home. Some Americans asked, shocked, why one person purchasing so many guns had not set off any red flags.
AdvertisementPart of the answer is that owning more than 40 guns is actually fairly common in the United States: there are an estimated 7.7 million super-owners, which might make it difficult to flag a mass shooter building an arsenal from enthusiastic collectors and gun enthusiasts piling up different kinds of guns for hunting different kinds of game, a selection of handguns for self-defense, and various accessories for the popular, customisable military-style rifles that enthusiasts have compared to lethal Lego sets for grown men.
“Why do you need more than one pair of shoes? The truth is, you don’t, but do you want more than one pair of shoes? If you’re going hiking, you don’t want to use that one pair of high heels,” Philip van Cleave, the president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a gun rights group, explained last year.
Super-owners were less diverse than gun owners overall, with super-owners more likely to be male, less likely to be black or Hispanic, and more likely to own a gun for protection, researchers said.

Well, Mr. Van Cleave, no one needs so many guns that they can overwhelm an entire legislature, or Congress, or gathering of people. No one.

We are seeing the result of weak gun laws and the pandering of our lawmakers to the monied and powerful corporate gun lobby and far right extremists. We are seeing the result of pandering to the far right by Trump and the Republicans. It’s a vicious circle. The “base” believes the lies that Trump tells and they repeat it and then the Republicans are afraid of the base for repeating Trump’s lies.

It happened before our very eyes yesterday.

The second amendment extremists think the amendment is all about them being able to attack their own government or to protect themselves from a tyrannical leader. Those of us on the other side believe that common sense gun laws are necessary to protect all of us from insurrection as well as “ordinary” gun violence. With Joe Biden as President and a Senate now controlled by Democrats, there is hope that the changes supported by the majority will actually be passed and make us all safer.
What happened yesterday was #notnormal.

We witnessed an attempted coup on the United States of America fomented by an unhinged and dangerous President. Had the insurrectionists brought and/or used their guns, we would be having a different discussion today.

There was a lot of violent and racist symbolism displayed yesterday. The Jim Crow era is alive. One photo showing a man carrying a Confederate flag in the Capitol Statuary Hall is frightening, to say the least. And then there is the yellow Gadsden flag, symbolizing all kinds of things but of late, it is seen often at pro gun rallies and the words, “Don’t Tread On Me” have a clear meaning about not taking away guns or gun rights:

The Gadsden flag has appeared at other political protests, too, such as those opposing restrictions on gun ownership and objecting to rules imposed in 2020 to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Most recently the flag has been flown and displayed at some post-election protests, including events where demonstrators called for officials to stop counting votes – and both inside and outside the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., during the counting of the electoral votes on Jan. 6.

Because of its creator’s history and because it is commonly flown alongside “Trump 2020” flags, the Confederate battle flag and other white-supremacist flags, some may now see the Gadsden flag as a symbol of intolerance and hate – or even racism. If so, its original meaning is then forever lost, but one theme remains.

At its core, the flag is a simple warning – but to whom, and from whom, has clearly changed. Gone is the original intent to unite the states to fight an outside oppressor. Instead, for those who fly it today, the government is the oppressor.

#Enough We don’t need to be intimidated by the flags of insurrectionists. Of course they also carry American flags as if they are the only true patriots. They are not. They are the opposite of patriots. They are seditionists. They are displaying racist symbols. We get it.

We’ve all had enough of the Republicans aiding and abetting a madman and his conspiracy theories and paranoia. And listening to some ( Lindsey Graham, William Barr, John Danforth) try to explain themselves today to make try to restore their reputations is just sad and despicable. It’s too late. We’re sick of them all. They have failed us and they let this happen. Their regrets are not enough. They made a terrible and almost fatal mistake. We hold them accountable.

These folks could have stopped the man behind the attack long ago but they made their choice. They could have looked more carefully at supporting people with blind ambition and vetted them more carefully. The time to support someone just because they are conservative or liberal is over. Those who quietly supported Trump even though it was sickeningly obvious that he was evil and sick and totally unfit for the job are now responsible for the monster they allowed and created. They gave themselves to a man who will be written about for years to come as one of the most evil “leaders” ever to occupy the White House. It’s on them.

We are better than this. And we are going to make sure questions are answered and that extremist groups are no longer going to have the support of an elected President or Congressional leaders. There should be arrests. There should be and will be consequences. We are tired of conspiracy theories and lies. We want the truth. We want the facts. We want lawmakers who don’t blindly follow a madman like they are cult members just so they can appoint conservative judges and give their rich friends tax breaks. We want a public that is not so angry they are ready to destroy their own democracy because a maniac sitting in the White House and his nutty personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani told them to use violence to get their way.

They have some explaining to do. We are waiting.