From gun lovers to Russians

Guns and climate change

Well, another week and another mass shooting in the United States. We do not as yet know what caused this 21-year-old white man to kill 22 and injure another two dozen people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. There are reports that he wrote an online piece that give an indication of this as a “hate crime” against immigrants. I’d like to know how much Rush Limbaugh and other right-wing radio this fellow has absorbed over the past few years.

And as I slept Saturday night, yet another mass shooting occurred in Ohio with 10 victims including the shooter.

The hate and fear pulsing through our country now can only lead to more death and destruction. With a president who does almost nothing to hold the country together and almost daily tweets his current hate target, one doesn’t have to look far to see where these heinous crimes originate. Furthermore much of the media feeds the “fear of others” that can tip unstable minds into doing unthinkable things. We primarily need a new president who will unite us as the citizens of one country. I hope all the voters will recognize this and not vote for someone who does anything else.

During the Democratic presidential debates last week, I was pleased to see Jay Inslee get a moment’s notice when he went after Joe Biden’s vague plan to address climate change. Candidate Inslee is right on the money. We don’t need a vague, feel-good plan that is initiated somewhere off in the distant future; we need a plan that starts doing the hard stuff on Inauguration Day. The Democrats, like the Republicans, have been snuggling in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry so long that emerging will be almost as painful as being born.

Painful, that was how I viewed Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s deal with the devil on the federal budget. Is she getting senile, giving the Republicans free access to the government’s coffers till after the next presidential election? I can almost hear them squalling about spending as soon as a Democrat wins the presidency or even threatens to do so. The Democrats need a new progressive leader if they are to make any progress.

The blast of hot air from Europe did make it to Greenland this past week, and up to 60 percent of the surface of the vast ice sheet was covered with melt water at some point. The Greenland ice sheet will take a long time, centuries, to melt fully but it does seem to be heading that way. When it is fully melted, sea levels will be about 21 feet higher. At that point, every East Coast city will be partially or fully inundated. The greatest migration in human history will have to be managed as a billion-plus people flee the rising seas. Do we want to go there?

Last week in the Nelson County Times’ letters to the editor, I was encouraged by one writer to expand my readings and not be duped by the media. I’d like to point out to everyone, including that writer, that I regularly read The Associated Press and Reuters news feeds plus the online versions of the Guardian, Al-Jazeera, the BBC and CNN. I don’t waste time on news sources that mainly spread hate and fear. I also don’t spend my time watching horror movies or doing Facebook, Instagram or other social media or tweeting inanities.

We can do so much better.



Trying to sow division

There has been much talk of late about Russian interference in our election process. In this age of cyber supremacy, the possibility that “someone” from anywhere in the world could interfere in our election process must be acknowledged. The underlying questions should be, “What is the gain to the rouge nation and how is it attained?” It would appear that there is only one intended result of a foreign nation’s intervention in our elections, and that is to create conflict among Americans, causing the national leadership to lack supporting unity in foreign affairs. Russian interests were believed to have been introduced into the 2016 election, however, there has been no indication of any abridgment of the vote count. Other than an increase in American domestic political party divide, there appears to have been no other foreign gain.

We are now hearing of “some people” using social media to influence voters’ political viewpoints. Is this why when you Google a type of product on the internet that you soon begin to see ads related to your product search showing up on your computer screen when it is on an unrelated topic? Politics is just a product to be sold. The problem might not be foreign interference, but rather covert propaganda being marketed on social media by domestic political parties. The use of social media to clandestinely influence elections on behalf of domestic political parties has real potential.

Having worked the Election Day polls for many years, I hold that those who accomplish their polling station duties are straight troops. To “hack” vote collection systems is a possibility, but nationally, with so many different vote processing systems, this would be very difficult. Perchance the problem is not in the vote count but rather, in subtle propaganda to voters through social media.



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