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Sunday, May 29, 2022

Two different answers to school shootings

     The past week, I watched how two different networks viewed how to reduce the number of school shootings.  MSNBC and Fox News had two different solutions.  While MSNBC focused on reducing the availability of semi-automatic weapons of war to the general public, Fox News had solutions that talked about arming teachers and "hardening" schools.  Many of the techniques mentioned sound like we should turn schools into facilities that resemble a prison so that even a person with an AR-15 couldn't penetrate.  Here are just some of the proposed changes----installing the bulletproof glass, metal detectors, erecting doors without windows to make it more difficult for a shooter to see inside, and perimeter fencing. Not sure how many of us want to send our children into a building that resembles a US embassy in a war zone.
     The measures of hardening schools have spawned a billion-dollar industry.  As the Washington Post has written, "The frequency of school shootings in the United States has spawned a whole industry of school security companies, which hawk bulletproof backpacks, ballistic whiteboards, tourniquets and programs that train former Special Operations officers to guard schools, a market that had grown to $2.7 billion in 2018, the year that a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., killing 17 people — including 14 students."
    Apparently, all it took for the gunman in the latest shooting to overcome to enter the building was a propped open door and a security guard who was not at the school at the time of the shooting.  I guess there is no limit to hardening schools that gun rights advocates will go to so that the general public can have access to weapons of war to attack schools, houses of worship, and grocery stores.  Making our neighborhoods a potential war zone seems to be acceptable to keep the Second Amendment a sacred right. 


Saturday, May 28, 2022

Weekend funnies


And finally,

Called to get Blue Book Value on my car. They asked if the gas tank was full or empty.

“You know you’re getting old when you stoop to tie your shoelaces and wonder what else you could do while you’re down there.” - George Burns 

Friday, May 27, 2022

Guns and masculinity


     After every mass shooting, the one area looked at are mental health issues and how to identify and treat mental health.  But looking at the mental health issue in more detail it becomes apparent that mass shootings are just a mental health issue for only one gender and one age group.  Young men seem to predominate the profile of mass shooters.  For some young men, the ability to translate their aggression into socially acceptable ways, such as sports and low-level teasing of others, leads others into destructive behavior.  It may translate into destructive behaviors such as vandalism and bullying or for a portion of young men into the need to exact revenge for their hurt feelings by killing as many people as possible.  All of us males have experienced the surge of testosterone as we became adults and have had to learn how to minimize this surge in destructive ways.  While young females during this same period generally deal with controlling feelings that are internally directed, young males have to control their feelings that are more likely to be externally directed.  

     The reality is that we can try and have societal "guide rails" in place to identify and treat the toxic destructive actions of young males, there will always be a certain number that escape these societal measures.  When you add in the easy access to weapons designed for mass killing that exists in America and you have created the situation for continual mass shootings.  As much as the deniers of this reality want to have us look in other directions as the solution to mass killings the experience of the rest of the world shows us that the availability of guns in America explains why we experience so many gun deaths and mass shootings.  America isn't the only country with toxic young men but we are the only one with a Second Amendment.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Just a simple choice

If you don't agree with that tell me which of your kids' lives you would be willing to sacrifice for the right to bear arms in America?


Tuesday, May 24, 2022

America today: May means school graduations and school shootings


    This past weekend I was talking to someone about how this time of year seems to be a time for school shootings and I was wondering if it would happen again this year.  I didn't have to wait too long for this to occur.  Today we have all seen once again how killing young school children is just the price we pay so that few restrictions are placed on an American's right to own a weapon that can quickly kill quickly.  Thanks to the NRA and Republicans America has never outgrown the Wild West when it comes to guns.

    I couldn't help thinking while watching Gov. Abbott in Texas today talking about the horror of the school shooting and remembering his words as he signed laws making gun rights in Texas and making the state a gun sanctuary state.  Not sure what the message he will convey to the parents of the children killed today when he meets with them.  Maybe he will say "we grieve for your loss and our thoughts and prayers are with you but it should be a comfort to you that living in Texas the 2nd Amendment means more than your child's life." I would hope that as he talks with the parents he would not be smiling as he was in the picture above.

    As we hear all the actions that would prevent this situation from happening again are meaningless unless they stop the sale of semi-automatic weapons to regular citizens.  Background checks, mental health treatments, police resource officers in schools, and red flag measures are useful but nothing will stop these mass killings unless weapons that can kill multiple people quickly are made illegal.  Don't hold your breath for that to happen in America.


     I hope none of the children's funerals create a scheduling conflict for Gov. Abbott when he is scheduled to be at the Annual NRA Convention in Texas this Friday.

More Americans died of COVID than died in World War II in half the time

 More COVID facts.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Nothing like a war to make progress on climate change


     The example of a boiling frog is often used to explain how we ignore the impact of climate change until it is too late to solve the problem.  Climate change goals always seem to have a 20 to 30-year time frame.  The war in Ukraine and the danger of being dependent on Russian oil have made countries speed up the transition in a much shorter time frame.  Giving Russia 20 or 30 more years to sell the world its oil and gas now means supporting their efforts to control other countries through invasion.  Climate change now has an urgency that goes beyond cleaning up the environment.  Putin's miscalculation might be the best thing for the climate change effort.  Talk about unintended consequences.  Thank you Putin?


     Unfortunately, the fact that the United States, a fossil fuels producer, doesn't have the same urgency as European countries in making this rapid adjustment.  Advocates for the fossil fuel industry in the States have even been using the war in Ukraine as a way to try and increase our drilling of oil and gas.  Those advocates always point to the need to use fossil fuels during an extended transition time to other energy sources.  They want us to ignore the consequences of extending the transition timeframe so that they can squeeze out their profits from their valuable oil and gas reserves.  Thanks to the development of low-cost solar panels developed by China and other countries the panels are now more cost-effective than other sources of power. I hate to think what a current Trump administration would be doing now to increase the drilling of more polluting energy sources.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

From mental health reform to homelessness

    This morning in the Baltimore Sun there was a story about the sale of the Spring Grove Mental Hospital complex to UMBC.  The State will lease back the hospital for the foreseeable future but eventually, it will probably close.  The State has done similar things to Springfield Hospital and Crownsville all of which were the locations for mental health treatment for the past 100 years.  Closing these institutions and transitioning care to community settings was the basis of the reform movement of the early 1970s. The development of psychotropic drugs to manage mental illness was supposed to make this transition possible.  The reality was that the drugs made people even less able to function independently.   In 1972 I worked in a psychiatric halfway house in DC.  The halfway house movement was supposed to be part of the transition from hospital to the community.  I remember going to St. Elizabeths Hospital  to pick up patients to bring to the halfway house.  The hospital sat in the best location in southeast DC for a view of the city.  I always remember standing and admiring the view and thinking how much a developer would pay to build homes there with that view of the city.  Now, much of the land is used for Homeland Defense offices.
      Like so many reform efforts to move people from institutions to the community, the mental health deinstitutionalization movement has had more failures than successes.  The lack of transferring the money from the institutions closed to create community resources has meant that many people with mental illnesses have ended up in homeless shelters or living on the street.   The money saved in closing the institutions was never tied to the development of new community services but got spent for other more politically popular government services.  The mentally ill population is politically weak and relies on others to advocate for their needs.  That reality and the stigma of mental illness will probably always mean that when dollars get allocated for government services the mentally ill will be shortchanged and the streets will remain where many will be deinstitutionalized to.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

A telling sign of the condition that Baltimore is in


    While Baltimore City officials talk about a renaissance in the city you only have to look at the Baltimore Sun this morning to see a different picture.  Today there were 20 pages of tax sale properties listed.  That represents many thousands of properties in default on their tax bills.  Not the sign of a healthy city that has a murder problem and a deteriorating Inner Harbor.  Blue-collar cities that were healthy in the 1950s have been hollowed out in our digital tech age.  How to move those cities in a new direction that restores health to the cities is the challenge they face this century.  Are cities obsolete in a digital age?

Monday, May 9, 2022

A liberal response to the possible Supreme Court ruling on Roe


     While the final ruling from the Supreme Court is still a month or two away the ruling will certainly be one that liberals will find appalling.  Justice Alito based much of his argument for overturning Roe on the fact that abortion is not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution. It may not have mentioned it because the Constitution was written by wealthy men who were not concerned with "women's issues." In reality, the first law restricting abortion was not written until 1821.  According to the American Progress organization colonial women could have abortions until the time of feeling movement in the fetus or after 14 weeks.  Unfortunately, some states what the situation to go back farther than colonial times.  

   Instead of the fight being directed at reinforcing the right to abortion in liberal states I want to propose a better way to respond.   Liberals should work to finally get the Equal Rights Amendment finally added to the Constitution.  The issue of whether enough states have ratified the amendment is controversial.   It all seems to boil down to the National Archivist to rule that the Amendment has met the threshold to have it go into effect.  The Office of Legal Counsel of the Trump Administration ruled that Congress didn't have the right to extend the 7-year time limit for the states to ratify the amendment.  This ruling has been supported by the current Biden Administration in court and that is blocking the Archivist from ruling the amendment is approved and is now part of the Constitution.  Attorney-General Garland could change this stance and let the courts could give the Archivist the right to rule on this matter and hopefully rule that the requirement had been met.  The Trump Administration didn't have any problem blocking the ruling so the Biden Administration shouldn't have any problem overruling that decision.  Elections have consequences.

    So how would this change the Roe ruling?  An argument could be made that the Equal Rights Amendment gives women the same right as men to control their health care decisions.  This is the route that Justice Ginsburg thought the right should have been based on.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Why conservatives always lose eventually


    The Harlem Globetrotters the entertaining traveling basketball team always had the Washington Generals as the team to beat.  The Generals had to look like they had a chance to win but you always knew their job was just an act and that they would lose once again.   This situation reminds me of how our politics plays out.  Conservatives always want our country to never change and win temporary victories but always end up losing in the end. This reality makes conservatives disgruntled and bitter.  Sometimes their disgruntlement causes them to even attack Congress.

    With the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion this week conservatives are celebrating a seeming victory in their 50-year battle on abortion.  Right now it is uncertain how long it will take for their victory to be undone but if history is a guide the victory will only be temporary.  

     Conservatives politically use conservative religious doctrine to support their political beliefs.  Conservative religious beliefs, like conservative political beliefs, can never change or they lose their value.  It is not surprising that almost all of the opposition to abortion has a strong fundamentalist religious basis.  Opposition to change is the common theme in both.  Conservatives have to get used to losing as there is nothing more certain than change.


     Look for the Maryland General Assembly to move to attempt to put the right to abortion in the Maryland Constitution.  This could even happen in a special session if the Supreme Court overturns Roe. The culture war is heating up and will play out in this year's state elections.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

My question on the leaked Supreme Court opinion

    There is a great deal of speculation about who leaked the first draft of the opinion on the abortion case. Speculation has been mixed about whether it came from someone with the liberal justices or the conservative justices.  Each side may have its reasons for leaking the opinion although Fox News seems convinced it was from the liberal side.  My question in looking at this is "why was the first draft the one leaked?"  By now there are probably second or third drafts either written or being written.  Why were they not leaked?  What is being played out between the first draft and the later drafts?  Is the leaker trying to freeze each justice's position at the time of the first draft?  There is obviously a 5-3 majority for overturning Roe.  If Chief Justice Roberts decides to join the 3 justices in the minority then it will take one of the majority justices in the first draft to change their opinion to not overrule Roe completely.  Roberts may have had some success in doing that in later drafts and that is why the first draft was the one leaked.   Would any of the majority justices have the courage to be labeled as a traitor to the Right to Life movement now that we know where they stood in the first draft? It would seem to me that leaking the first draft now and not later is designed to freeze the first opinion in place than to change the vote in a direction of not overruling Roe.

    Time will tell if the leaking side will ever be known but it will probably come out eventually.  It took "Deep Throat" dying to have them revealed.  Probably won't take a death this time.

Monday, May 2, 2022

Who going to pay for Social Security?

     The population of the USA grew last year by just under 400,000 for the entire country.  That is a 0.0% growth and it is the slowest in the entire history of the USA.  The declining birth, increased death rate from COVID and a slowing of immigration are the reasons for the slow growth.  This might be a different story than what you hear on Fox News.  Almost 50% of the growth was in the Hispanic population which you probably did hear on Fox News.  Asian, Black, and multi-racial populations make up almost all the rest of the growth.  The White population actually decreased in total numbers.  This isn't the first time we have had a the fear of immigrants.

    Without more immigration, our country will be in the same situation as Japan and Russia with a declining population of an increasingly aging population.  Currently, the only place with a high birth rate is Africa and South America.  The health of an economy depends on a healthy working population making programs like Social Security and Medicare viable.  The ratio of workers to people collecting Social Security has gone from 16 workers per recipient in 1950 to 2.8 workers in 2013.

   The future looks like fewer schools and more senior centers.