Dedicated to Donald Trump:

“At long last sir, have you no sense of decency?”

This famous question was asked of Senator Joseph McCarthy (Wisconsin Republican) by Joseph Welch, the venerable lawyer during McCarthy’s Congressional hearings in the mid- 1950’s. The Red- baiting demagogue had accused The Secretary of the Army of Communist sympathies. He was the last in a long line of government officials, social and literary figures who had been called before McCarthy’s committee and submitted to charges , insinuations, false hoods and demands that left their reputations and careers in shreds. McCarthy used bullying tactics to his advantage throughout the hearings.

Donald Trump, who leads the field of Republican candidates running for President , bears a strong resemblance to Joseph McCarthy. He has zoomed to the top in the polls with his brash, boastful attacks on his rivals during the debates and at his own rallies that draw thousands of cheering admirers. Trump wears his red cap and appears to speak off the cuff sharing his candid unflattering opinions of his opponents. Jeb Bush, his favorite target “has low energy.”
“Marco Rubio is always sweating. Have you noticed?” His basic slogan is “Make America Great Again.” His mantra is castigating Barack Obama as a “failed, weak leader.” He has said that Senator John Mc Cain —a U.S. Navy pilot shot down during the Vietnam War and tortured for five years in Hanoi — was NOT a hero because he had been captured. His fans appear to forgive such outrageous statements.

Trump has always been proud of his cleanliness and fastidiousness. He has called himself “ a clean hands freak “ and considers hand shakes “a terrible custom” . He also has displayed a fixation on bodily fluids over the years, especially those of women. There was an incident in 2011 that made the news. Trump was being questioned during a deposition by a woman lawyer. She asked for a break so she could leave the room and pump breast milk for her three-month old daughter. Trump berated her with “You’re disgusting!” and stormed out of the room as reported in The New York Times.

After the first Republican debate, Trump made headlines when he commented on Megyn Kelly’s tough questioning of him by saying, “you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” Politico has noted that, “Trump has remarked on Rubio’s perspiration at least eight times in the last seven weeks.” Twice he suggested that sweating would put him at a disadvantage with Vladimir Putin who would see him as “soggy”.
The pattern has been that Donald Trump makes statements that are accepted as fact by his supporters. When he said that Muslims in Jersey City and Paterson were cheering after 9/11, those alarming words were declared completely untrue by officials in both cities. However, they remain in people’s minds and are referred to by others who feel that Muslims are different from other Americans.

On Saturday evening, December 19, the third Democratic Debate took place before a large enthusiastic crowd in New Hampshire. Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley were the three candidates. ABC had two experienced moderators and the debate was informed and lively throughout. Wide ranging topics were discussed: The threat of ISIS and how to confront ISIS in Syria and elsewhere. Gun rights and Gun control. Wall Street and how to control it in the future. There was a mid-debate break. Sanders and O’Malley returned before Clinton. The moderator began a question before she returned a few minutes later to applause from her supporters. ( This viewer thought it an error on the moderator’s part to begin before all were on stage.)

On Monday, Donald Trump was back to his fixation on women’s bodily fluids. He made the following comment about Hillary Clinton’s mid-debate bathroom break, “I know where she went. It’s disgusting. I don’t want to talk about it. It’s too disgusting.” Of course, his remarks went viral!

A reporter interviewed the Clinton staff and discovered that the setting for the debate was not equidistant from men’s and women’s rest rooms. Women had to walk a longer distance taking extra minutes. A Clinton staff member had checked it to the seconds beforehand to have the exact time. Trump was not interested in facts. I guess he just couldn’t resist one more vulgar and insinuating remark, especially about the woman he hopes to face once he is nominated by the Republican party. There’s no doubt that he now believes he is going to win the primaries and go on to the Presidential Debates. He constantly gives his growing lead in poll results.

Hillary Clinton dispensed with her Republican opponents handily during the eleven hour marathon Benghazi hearing. She never lost her cool. Donald Trump would be wise to watch tapes of those hours. Perhaps he would then concentrate on doing his homework and learning about the formidable challenges that will face the next president. Enough of veiled innuendos and bullying. Stop the insults. America is great right now!  And Hillary Clinton knows how to keep it great.  She is determined to do just that when she is elected President of The United States in November, 2016.

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Restricting Guns in Our States and Cities

 

After another mass killing on December 2 in San Bernardino, California killed fourteen people, the Senate voted down two weapons proposals from Democrats. One would have expanded federal background checks of purchases on line or at gun shows; the other would have prevented people on the terrorism watch list from buying firearms. The pattern continues of mass murders followed by Congress refusing to pass measures approved by nine in ten Americans. It is time to follow the alternate route of gun laws passed by the states and cities.

Eighteen states, including California, require background checks for either all or hand gun sales. Certain cities and towns like Highland Park, Illinois have passed their own laws. After the massacre of school children in Newton, Connecticut ,Highland Park passed an ordinance in 2013 banning categories of guns, including the AR-15 and the AK-47. In many mass shootings, the weapons are semi-automatic assault rifles with high capacity magazines. The Highland Park ordinance was challenged in the courts and on December 7, 2015, The Supreme Court refused to hear the second amendment challenge, 7 to 2 with only Justices Scalia and Thomas dissenting. It was the 70th time since 2008 that the Supreme Court refused to consider a law suit challenging federal, state or local gun regulation.

There was a federal Assault Weapons Ban passed in 1994 when Bill Clinton was at the end of his first term in office , and Democrats controlled both the House and Senate. Of course, there was intense lobbying against the ban by the National Rifle Association (N.R.A.), but the bill was successfully passed and forwarded to Clinton who signed it the next day. Weapons banned included AK-47’s, Uzis and Tec 9’s. There was a sunset clause that the ban had to be renewed in ten years- 2004. By that time, George Bush, Republican, had completed his first term in office and a study by `Christopher Koper concluded that the 1994 law’s success in reducing crimes committed with banned guns was “mixed”. “The ban has been successful in reducing crimes with assault weapons….. However, the decline was “offset” in the late 1990’s by “the use of other guns equipped with large-capacity magazines.” With fierce lobbying by the N.R.A. of senators and representatives, Congress did not vote to extend the l994 ban on assault weapons.

On Saturday, December 5, 2015, The New York Times ran an editorial on the front page for the first time since 1920 –almost a century ago. “The Gun Epidemic” was the title of the statement by the publisher of The Times, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. He wrote that his purpose was “to deliver a strong and visible statement of frustration and anguish about our country’s inability to come to terms with the scourge of guns. It is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that people can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill with brutal speed and efficiency. These are weapons of war barely modified and deliberately marketed as tools of macho vigilantism and even insurrection. America’s elected leaders offer prayers for gun victims and then, callously and without fear of consequence, reject the most basic restrictions of weapons of mass killing. “

President Obama spoke to the nation about the heinous massacre at San Bernardino and called once more for legislation against assault weapons. He noted how many times mass killings have happened in recent months in different parts of the country. It was a reminder that the United States has a gun culture that dates back centuries in contrast to many countries in Western Europe. Samuel Walker, professor emeritus at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Nebraska has said, “There’s a worship of guns in American culture. It’s like a religious object, an extension of your body. We can’t begin to make any progress controlling it.”

In Dunblane Scotland , a massacre in March 1996 killed sixteen children outside their primary school. A 43 -year old man tore through the gymnasium using four hand guns in a three minute massacre. Public outcry swept through Great Britain. The result was the government banning private ownership of automatic weapons and hand guns across the British Isles including Scotland and Wales. There was no Wild West history and gun culture there as in the United States. Police in England did not carry guns at that time. Most carried night sticks to maintain order. In Scotland, a nation of 5.3 million people, police report that the weapon of choice is a knife. Guns remain tools for farmers and hunters. Only 2 percent of Scotland’s police officers carry guns.

In Australia , after a shooter killed 35 people in 1996, the government enacted a mandatory gun buyback program of semiautomatic and automatic rifles and shotguns. As a result, the country bought back more than 650,000 weapons. Hillary Clinton said at a town hall in New Hampshire that a national gun buyback program is “worth considering”. She explained that “the Australian government offered a good price for buying thousands of guns. Then they basically clamped down, going forward in terms of having a background check approach and setting a different standard for gun purchases in the future.” That idea of course could be seen in the United States as a way for the “Feds to come for our guns” as many Pro Gun Rights activists threaten will happen. Clinton has pushed to repeal a law that allows gun manufacturers and dealers to have legal immunity from civil lawsuits. She has also called for a “national movement” to counteract the political power of the N.R.A.

Certain states and cities are passing gun control laws. In New Jersey, the legislature passed a gun control bill, but Governor Christie vetoed it. The Democratic Senate could not attract enough Republicans to over ride his veto. States can also expand gun rights as happened in Utah that permits guns in schools. Tennessee allows guns in bars and Georgia gave the okay to guns in airports. The latest gun control action took place on December 10, when Governor Malloy of Connecticut announced the state would ban gun sales to people on the Federal Terrorism List. Although Congress remains at a stalemate, the states and cities are taking action– some for gun rights and others for gun control. Mid-western and Southern states are more likely to favor gun rights, while Eastern and Northern states favor gun control.
“The Gun Epidemic” continues!