Friday, April 28, 2017

Open carry?

When I stopped to get my New York Times this morning in Kresgeville, the door was locked.  Bobbi came over to unlock it and said the State Police had just been there and told her to lock up, since a scruffy looking man was in the area, and he was carrying a gun.  I later found out that the Pleasant Valley School District was under lockdown for the same reason.

Wait a minute.  Isn’t it legal to walk around Pennsylvania with a gun, including a loaded gun?  Don’t we have open carry?  Isn’t this what the NRA and Trump want?.  Especially since Trump got rid of the restriction that prevented mentally ill people from buying guns.

While I am on this subject, former U.S. Representative Jay Dickey of Arkansas died earlier this week.  Dickey was the man who in 1996 attached a rider to a House bill to prevent studies of firearm safety.  The law stipulated “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”  Since then the government has spent approximately $240 million to study traffic safety and virtually nothing to study deaths from firearms.  The auto safety studies, it is estimated, have saved about 350,000 lives.  

About the same number of Americans die from guns as from auto accidents.  


In 2012, after the massacre of 12 people in Aurora, Colorado, Mr. Dickey changed his mind.  He was no longer in Congress, however, and his law is still in effect.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Worst 100 Days

He says the 100 day mark isn’t important, but he is obviously obsessing about it.  He’s trying to jam through a tax bill that will aid his own businesses, and he desperately wants to undo the Affordable Care Act before the weekend.

It would all be sad if it weren’t so pathetic.  Sad!  Pathetic!  

Oh yeah, he got Gorsuch on the Supreme Court.  That will not go down in history as an accomplishment.  Not after the Republicans blocked an appointee who was actually qualified to sit on the Supreme Court.  Sad.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Umuganda

In 1994 the Hutu majority in Rwanda slaughtered approximately one million Tutsi and moderate Hutu who refused to take part in the slaughter.  It was the worst example of genocide since the World War II killing of the Jews.  Approximately one million Rwandans were killed, men, women, and children, many hacked to death with machetes.

Now, once a month, all Rwandans between the ages of 18 and 65 must take part in community service for three hours.  The day of service is called Umuganda.  Each community picks a project, and Rwandans, both Tutsi and Hutu, must participate.

Rwanda is not paradise.  The President, Paul Kagame, in office since 2000, recently pushed a constitutional amendment allowing him to be elected for a third term.  Nonetheless, it is qhard to imagine living in a country where approximately one half of the population tried to kill the other half.  The Rwandans are attempting to atone and to forgive.  It is an amazing undertaking, and I hope it will succeed.


I learned about Umuganda in an article by Megan Specia in the New York Times, (26 Apr. 2017), p. A6.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Fair Districts PA

Tonight at the Carbon County Democrats for Progress meeting, we heard  a talk from representatives of the group Fair Districts PA.  This group is spearheading an effort to change the Pennsylvania Constitution to end gerrymandering in the state.  As the speaker pointed out, in Pennsylvania voters don’t pick their legislators; legislators pick their voters.

One of the most amazing statistics presented is that 57 percent of the candidates running for state or federal legislative seats in Pennsylvania had no opponent in the last general election.  Think about that.  Over half of our legislators ran unopposed.  I’m not sure what you call that, but it is not a democracy.


Currently there are two bills in the Pennsylvania legislature that call for an amendment.   Both bills, SB 22 and HB 722, have Republican and Democratic sponsors.  Now all we need is a groundswell of constituents who believe in fairness and a representative democracy.  That may be a stretch, but I’m hoping this effort succeeds.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Ann Coulter wants me dead

There’s a big controversy at U.C. Berkeley on a decision to postpone and reschedule a speech by conservative agitator Ann Coulter.  This is a woman who wrote that liberals, of which I am proud to say I am one, have a tendency to commit treason.  A book by Ms. Coulter, entitled “Treason:  Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism,” argues that liberals have an inherent tendency to take a position on the side of treason.

The penalty for treason is usually death, either by hanging or firing squad.  I conclude, and I believe rightly so, that Ms. Coulter thinks people like me should either be shot or hung.  


I certainly think that Ms.Coulter has a right to speak at U.C. Berkeley.  I am an absolutist when it comes to the First Amendment.  I just hope she is escorted by a contingent of police officers.  I would hate to think that she might shoot some liberal professor for treason.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Planet Doesn't Have Time For This

That was the headline in today’s Sunday Review section of the New York Times.  I mean, really.  The polar ice caps are melting.  The Amazon rain forest continues to shrink.  Drought in Syria is a main cause of instability.  The Aral Sea is no more.  The coral reefs are dying.  The oceans are rising.  The Everglades are on fire.  

And Trump and his appointees actually deny that global warming is real.  Not that it is caused by humans, mind you, but that it isn’t real.  


Yesterday our grandson marched in the parade in Chico, California, defending science.  I am so proud of him, but I never thought we would need demonstrations defending the scientific method.  As one of the signs said, “One dark age is enough.”  How did we ever reach this point?

Saturday, April 22, 2017

EPA cuts

At our booth today at the Earth Day festival in Jim Thorpe more than 200 people signed postcards to Sen. Toomey telling  him to fight the proposed cuts to the EPA.  We asked people to add comments to the cards.  People wrote that they wanted clean water and clean air.  Quite a few people mentioned that they were voters, and a number also noted that they were Republicans.


I hope Toomey listens.