Beyond Watergate

A rather lengthy but important message. Well worth the time.

Barataria - The work of Erik Hare

Our political system is under attack by a foreign nation.

Revelations that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) server was hacked by Russians known to be working for state intelligence is only the tip of the iceberg. Like the break-in at the Watergate offices of the DNC on 17 June 1972, it appears to be part of a coordinated effort to influence the election. Unlike Watergate, it is being run by Putin’s Russia – a vast “kleptocracy” of mafia known as the “Bratva” (brotherhood) that routinely conducts similar operations around the world.

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Outside the Mainstream

I have been having a back-and-forth with a friend on Facebook who simply cannot bring himself to even consider voting for Hillary Clinton. He seems determined to vote for a Third Party candidate, probably the Green Party’s Jill Stein. In any event, as I have been thinking about the reasons for and against such a decision, I have checked on Dr. Stein’s credentials and they are rock solid. In fact, her program is almost identical to the one I would choose if I were in a position to do so. She shines like a jewel in the mud that is today’s politics.

However, I will not vote for her for reasons given in a previous post, but also because I realize that (a) the president of this country has very little real Constitutional power to effect change, and (b) someone so far outside the mainstream who would have to work with a large group of seasoned politicians, each with his or her own agenda, would be even less effective than was Barack Obama — and that says a lot.

To take the first point, the Constitution was written by men at a time when they were struggling to free themselves from the grip of one of the most powerful monarchies on earth. They distrusted power and above all else they distrusted the so-called “right of birth.” They didn’t like aristocrats. So when it came time to write the section of the Constitution that dealt with the Senate — which was the closest thing they could come up with to the House of Lords without being housed by Lords — they stumbled and sputtered and wound up with the notion that those with wealth would be the best guarantee of a safeguard to ward off the machinations of the President and the House of Representatives, the latter of whom would be made up of the “vulgar” (as they liked to say) who would only keep their seats for a year or so and would then be back off to their farms. They gave the Senate immense power and they gave the president almost none. They worried more that the president would abuse his power than that the Senators would abuse theirs. Henry Adams saw this as a terrible mistake about a hundred years later and hoped that President Grant would modify an old document that was in need of correction, that he would untie the hands of the president.

Well, that didn’t happen and as things now are we have a president who, while he or she may have a certain amount of de facto power based on the prestige of their position, must still work with a Congress made up of professional politicians (the founders never saw that coming!) who know their power and blindly exercise it. They have proved it recently in refusing to act to confirm (or deny) the president’s Supreme Court nominee. And the president, as we have seen, cannot effect profound change, such as meaningful gun control, without the blessing of the Congress.

So a political novice, relatively speaking, no matter how well qualified and well-intentioned she may be, cannot possibly hope to effect change in such a system stacked as it is against her. The argument that  we need to change the system, that “if everyone thinks a vote for Stein is a throwaway vote then it will become a self-fulfilling prophesy” is weak. It is tritely true but in the real world it is irrelevant, because radical changes in the system are extremely improbable and predictions by a handful of people cannot alter the votes of enough people to affect the outcome of this election in any significant way. We may not like it, but that’s the way things are at present. And until that changes a vote for Stein, or any third party candidate, is in fact a throw-away vote. As attractive as Jill Stein is, I honestly do not think she can win and if I were wrong and she did somehow win, she would be largely ineffective.

We could argue until the proverbial cows come home as to whether a vote for Stein is a vote for Trump, but that argument gets us nowhere; we must make tough decisions in the here and now in the world as it is — and not the world as we might like it to be. And this is why I would vote for Clinton, despite any reservations I might have, because she can win and she knows how to deal with professional politicians. She can make the most of an office that would hinder the novice.

From reading about Hillary, however, I have come to have fewer doubts and I do think she will make an excellent president. She is certainly not “evil” and therefore not the lesser of two evils. She espouses many worthy ideals (including a Constitutional amendment to rid us of the cursed “Citizens United” decision that gave unlimited power and influence to the corporations); she, is bright, tough, and progressive. And she is so much better than the only other viable alternative that it is really, as they say, a no-brainer.

INSANITY!!!!

This makes perfect sense to me.

Filosofa's Word

I have a proposal to make.  I propose that there be a psychological exam requirement for all candidates vying for the office of President of the United States.  One of these candidates is showing increasing signs of insanity, and I think the only fair way to determine whether there is sufficient mental capacity to perform the job is to provide psychological testing to all candidates, including any 3rd party candidates who are able to meet the other criteria to be on the ballot in November.

insanityThe candidate to whom I refer, of course, is none other than Donald Trump.  This man never actually seemed quite sane, since his first speech of the campaign season when he said that Mexico was sending us “killers and rapists”.  During the course of the past 13 months, he has said many outrageous things, most of which I have included in prior posts on…

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The Nader Effect

There was considerable controversy surrounding Ralph Nader’s various attempts to become president of the United States. The most controversial election was almost certainly when he ran against George W. Bush and, according to some, ruined Al Gore’s chances of becoming President. In Florida, as we know, Bush defeated Gore by only 537 votes while Ralph Nader was garnering 97,421 votes as an Independent candidate. Many would conclude, despite Nader’s denial, that this cost Gore Florida, a pivotal swing state.

But we are dealing here in what logicians call “counter-to-fact conditionals. We are saying, in effect, what if….? Anyone can play that game and there never really is a winner. Let’s agree that, given all the election “irregularities,” George W. Bush would have won in any event — whether or not Nader had run independently, though I have my doubts.

In the present election there is a very attractive Green Party candidate in Jill Stein. She is very bright and has impressive credentials; she is much more qualified for high office than at least one of the two major candidates currently running. One worries that the votes that go her way might otherwise go to Hillary Clinton and in losing those votes Hillary will lose the presidency to Donald Trump (perish the thought). It is quite possible, given the Nader effect as I would call it. Even if we allow that Bush would have beaten Gore without Nader running, there is always a shadow of a doubt.

In many ways Jill Stein is for me the most attractive alternative in this race. Ideologically speaking, I am closer to her than I am to either of the other two. But I will vote for Clinton because I don’t want to throw away my vote (Stein can no more win than Sanders could get the Democratic nomination. I just won’t happen.) And I don’t want to see Trump elected and spend the next four years (undergoing therapy) worrying that my vote helped put him into office.

Hillary is not perfect. Disturbingly, she is a favorite of the corporations like so many of her political friends. The appealing thing about Sander’s run was that he knew the real battle is with the giant corporations. Sanders understood that if we are to hope to reestablish this democracy as a government of the people, the corporations must be put in their place. Well, we saw how that went. The monied interests on the left (and the right?) took control of the Democratic machine and saw to it that Hillary Clinton was nominated. Not that socialist, Sanders.

But Sanders — who is also ideologically closer to Jill Stein than he is to Hillary Clinton — endorsed Clinton because he is a political realist and he knows she is the only one in the group (and there are more) who can beat Donald Trump. And beating Donald Trump is and must remain the main objective of any voter with a grain of sense who cares about this country and the values (cloudy though they are at times) that this country stands for. Trump is simply not an acceptable candidate for the highest office in this land. Period. Moreover, Hillary is a gifted and intelligent political animal who would do a commendable job as president. She knows where the skeletons are buried and she knows how to play the power game. Despite her flaws, many of which have been created by the opposition, she is the only reasonable alternative.

Slings and Arrows

I can’t think of any decent person in recent history who has suffered the slings and arrows of derision more than Hillary Clinton. I am not a particular Hillary fan, but I do think she has been muddied over to the point where we can’t find the real woman underneath all the slander. Recently, however, I read an essay on line that was borrowed from the Facebook page of a man named Michael Arnowitz. What he had to say about Hillary was most interesting and in light of recent events, most relevant. I have cut much of the original (though it can be found on his Facebook page) and attach it here (And by the way, if you want a well-reasonaded defense of Hillary’s choice for V.P. you might visit this site and read what one of the brightest bloggers I have met has to say on the subject):

In the course of a single conversation, I have been assured that Hillary is cunning and manipulative but also crass, clueless, and stunningly impolitic; that she is a hopelessly woolly-headed do-gooder and, at heart, a hardball litigator; that she is a base opportunist and a zealot convinced that God is on her side. What emerges is a cultural inventory of villainy rather than a plausible depiction of an actual person.” —Henry Louis Gates The quote above comes from a fascinating article called “Hating Hillary”, written by Gates for the New Yorker in 1996. . . . 




To conservatives she is a radical left-wing insurgent who has on multiple occasions been compared to Mikhail Suslov, the Soviet Kremlin’s long-time Chief of Ideology. To many progressives (you know who you are), she is a Republican fox in Democratic sheep’s clothing, a shill for Wall Street who doesn’t give a damn about the working class. The fact that these views could not possibly apply to the same person does not seem to give either side pause. Hillary haters on the right and the left seem perfectly happy to maintain their mutually incompatible delusions about why she is awful. The only thing both teams seem to share is the insistence that Hillary is a Machiavellian conspirator and implacable liar, unworthy of society’s trust.

 . . . 

And this claim of unabated mendacity is particularly interesting, because while it is not the oldest defamation aimed at Hillary, it is the one that most effortlessly glides across partisan lines. Indeed, for a surprisingly large percentage of the electorate, the claim that Hillary is innately dishonest is simply accepted as a given. It is an accusation and conviction so ingrained in the conversation about her that any attempt to even question it is often met with shock. And yet here’s the thing: it’s not actually true. Politifact, the Pulitzer prize-winning fact-checking project, determined for example that Hillary was actually the most truthful candidate (of either Party) in the 2016 election season. And in general Politifact has determined that Hillary is more honest than most (but not all) politicians they have tracked over the years. . . . 



Also instructive is Jill Abramson’s recent piece in the Guardian. Abramson, a former reporter for the Wall Street Journal as well as former Executive Editor of the New York Times, had this to say about Hillary’s honesty: “As an editor I’ve launched investigations into her business dealings, her fundraising, her foundation and her marriage. As a reporter my stories stretch back to Whitewater. I’m not a favorite in Hillaryland. That makes what I want to say next surprising. Hillary Clinton is fundamentally honest and trustworthy.”

. . . .

. . . the most common opinion seemed to be that she was a self-righteous leftist who considered anyone with other views to be morally inferior. In short, the prevailing anti-Hillary accusation was not that she was unrelentingly dishonest, but that she was just intolerably smug.


 . . . 

But while conservative propaganda and lies are a constant in “Hillaryland”, if we look at Hillary’s career, and the negative attacks so often aimed at her, it seems clear that more than just political machinations are at play. My current conviction is that the main fuel that powers the anti-Hillary crowd is sexism. And yes I’m serious. So go ahead and roll your eyes. Get it over with. But I think the evidence supports my view, and I’ve seen no other plausible explanation. And just to be clear, I don’t think it’s ONLY sexism. But I do think that this is the primary force that has generated and maintained most of the negative narratives about Hillary.


. . . 

Hillary is nobody’s idea of perfect. Fine. But in my view if a man with her qualifications were running in the Democratic primary, Bernie would have been done before he even started. And if a man with her qualifications had been running for the Republicans, they’d be anointing him the next Reagan while trying to sneak his face onto Mount Rushmore. . . . .



Most of the people who hate Hillary when she’s running for office end up liking her just fine once she’s won. And I have every confidence that history will repeat itself again this November. As for myself, I have been watching Presidential elections since Nixon. And never in my life has there been an easier or more obvious choice than now. Trump is not merely a bad choice, he is (as many leading Republicans have already admitted) a catastrophic choice, unfit in every possible way for the office of the Presidency. 
As such, I happily voted for Hillary in my primary. And I will proudly vote for her in November. Yes she will disappoint us all on occasion. Who doesn’t? But I think she’s also going to surprise a lot of people. She will fear neither consensus when possible nor ass-kicking when necessary. She will safeguard us from the damage a right-wing Supreme Court would inflict on the nation. She will stand for the rights of women, LGBT Americans, and minorities. She will maintain critical global relationships, and she will react to dangerous situations with the temperament of a seasoned and experienced professional. And in a nation that didn’t even allow women to vote until 1920, she will make history by shattering the very highest glass ceiling, and in doing so forever change the way a generation of young women view their place in our Republic.
She’s going to be a fine President.
I’m with her.

Appeal To Fear

One of the typical gambits during an election year (or two) is the appeal to raw emotion. Politicians and those who resort to this tactic do not bother with logic or reason; they know the appeal to pride, hatred, or fear works like a charm. We have come to expect this from the Republicans, especially, but recently the Democrats have discovered that it might work to their advantage as well. I have been receiving daily fear-notices from the Democratic big-wigs shouting about the latest atrocity committed at the Republican Convention and warning me of the dire consequences that are certain to follow if Trump is elected president of these United States. I copied one of the latest, which I suspect you have also received:

Are you watching this?!

Mike Pence just officially accepted his nomination to be Vice President — and predicted a TRAGIC outcome:

PENCE: “I know we will elect Donald Trump to be the 45th president!”

We can’t let that happen! That’s why President Obama reached out for your help earlier.

“This convention should be a wake-up call for all of us.” – President Barack Obama

We CANNOT let Trump and Pence get to the White House.

That’s why a group of all-star Democrats has agreed to match every dollar if we get to $1,OOO,OOO by midnight tomorrow.

MILLION DOLLAR MATCH: PENDING

Suggested Support: $1

We have to hand the Republicans a crushing defeat.

Will you chip in $1 now?

They SAY they only want $1.00, but I strongly suspect they will accept more if I were so inclined. And by the way, the note loses something in the translation: in the original it appeared in bright colors amidst the capital letters. And it is just one of the many I have received in the last few  days. Honestly, people, do these folks really want to lower themselves to the level of their opponents? I would like to think that those who fear Donald can do so perfectly well on their own without bright messages shouting at them from their computers. I dare say there have been dozens of phone calls as well. I simply don’t answer the phone these days unless I know the caller.

It is apparent to anyone who has been following the Convention — even from afar, like myself — that there has been absolutely no attempt whatever to deal with the issues of the day. There has only been name-calling and hate-mongering — along with the usual nonsense designed to get Republicans fearful of Hillary Clinton, even to the point of calling for her death!

We can only hope the Democratic Convention will see that this is a terrible mistake and will address the issues that face us all in these Troubled Times — such things as global warming, the vanishing nature of the Middle Class, the growing numbers of poor and homeless, disproportionate taxes that allow the very rich to escape payment altogether, the atrocity that is Citizens United (which Hillary has pledged to help us rid ourselves of), and the like. Heaven knows there are plenty of issues out there that need to be addressed.

But above all else, the Democrats need to show some sense of unity and coherence while they rally behind the woman who can, in fact, get the job done and do it well, in order to lure the disillusioned followers of Bernie Sanders back into the fold and convince others that a vote for a third party candidate (like Jill Stein) — no matter how attractive she is and how she does indeed represent another way of going forward — is idealistic but hopeless, indeed it amounts to no less than a vote for Donald Trump.

When Bernie endorsed Hillary I suspect he saw the handwriting on the wall: she’s the only one that can beat Trump. But in taking him on, let us hope that the Democrats take the high road and not resort to wild emotional appeals.

Culpability

We don’t talk much about moral responsibility, or culpability, these days. We are big on “rights” but we fail to acknowledge that rights imply responsibilities. If I have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that imposes a responsibility on my part to acknowledge your rights to the same. There’s no such thing as one-sided rights — except in the cases of  children or the mentality challenged who cannot possibly be expected to acknowledge their rights to those who are responsible for their welfare.

But in failing to acknowledge responsibilities, we have become experts at pointing fingers at others to avoid blame. “Mikey made me do it, Mom.” We expect that in children, but we have arrived at the point where everyone seems to be acting like a child, pointing fingers when blame is due. The N.R.A., and those gun manufacturers that support that group, are a case in point. They like to say that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. This is a half-truth. It’s not altogether false, but it is not altogether true, either. To see this we need to distinguish between necessary and sufficient conditions when assigning causes. For A to be the cause of B (and therefore responsible for B) A must be the necessary and sufficient condition for B. For instance, in order for me to have killed Sam who lies dead on the floor it is necessary that I have been there when it happened. If I was there holding a gun and there is sufficient DNA evidence that I shot Sam, then there would appear to be both necessary and sufficient conditions for me to have been the killer.

The N.R.A. is right in that if there were no people there would be no gun deaths. But, then, if there were no guns there would be no gun deaths, either. Guns are the necessary condition for the gun deaths to occur. There need only be a nutter or two, along with fear and rage, in order to realize the sufficient conditions for gun deaths to occur. And there are plenty of nutters, as we are finding out daily. Thus, those who provide the guns are at the very least partially responsible, culpable, for the gun deaths and cannot simply point the finger elsewhere. To be sure, many of those nutters would find another way to wreak havoc, but the consequences would not be nearly as catastrophic as they are when the nutter is armed with an automatic weapon supplied by the gun manufacturer who is at the very least partially responsible for those terrible deaths since he provides the shooter with a weapon.

The Republican Convention runs this week and we are told that, since Ohio is an “open carry” state, there is a number of New Black Panthers and White Supremacists on hand, fully armed and ready to fight if the occasion arises. It’s a volcano primed to erupt and we can only hope that the occasion does not arise. But if it does and if people are killed, as they most certainly would be, then those who provided those militant people with weapons are at least partially responsible for the results. They will have provided the necessary conditions for the event to happen, if not the sufficient condition. Those who promote this sort of behavior with inflamed rhetoric must also be regarded as partially responsible for the results.

When we are screaming about our “rights” we must remember that those rights imply responsibilities as well. And we might do well to recall that the so-called “right to bear arms” is a right, under the Constitution, that is guaranteed to militia — not White Supremacists or Black Panthers (New or Old).

Formula For Success

So, you wanna be president, eh? I have some tips for you garnered from years of looking and listening at key holes. These are some of the things successful politicians do to win voters — especially voters that would put them in the White House. Pay close attention!

  1. Exude confidence. Appear to be in charge. You want to convince your listeners that you have everything under control, are cool under fire, and will achieve greatness.
  2. Know your audience. Know what they want to hear and tell them precisely that. It’s not about what is true, it’s about what people want to hear.
  3.  Repeat. Again, repeat. If you say something several times people will believe it is true, whether it is or not. Indeed, truth is not the issue, it’s all about what people want to hear and saying it enough times that they will believe whatever you say.
  4. Appeal to emotion. Don’t try to overwhelm your audience with facts. Facts will just confuse people. Know your audience and know what they fear and what they desire. Exploit their known prejudices: play on them. Then probe. And repeat.
  5. Deal in generalities. Don’t get bogged down in specifics. People don’t what specifics anyway. They want clichés and formulas, no matter how vapid or even how untrue. Richard Nixon won his way into the White House by telling folks he “had a plan” for getting us out of Viet Nam. He never said what that plan was, because, as it turned out, he had none. But people believed him because it was what they wanted to hear (refer back to point #2 above).
  6. Smile, look sincere, and pause for effect after saying something your audience responds to favorably — as though you knew what they were thinking.
  7. Never, ever admit you were wrong. Don’t change your mind even if it has been shown that what you said was a bald-faced lie. Stick by your guns and attack those who insist that what you said was untrue. People prefer their candidates to be self-assured, even if they are chronic liars. They won’t recognize a lie anyway and very few of them will bother to check your “facts” to see if they are true.
  8. Pander to your audience. Give them more credit than they deserve. As a group they may have a collective I.Q. of 73.6 but treat them as though they are brilliant and wise enough to make you their choice for president.
  9. Attack your opponents at every opportunity. Blame every problem on them, especially if something terrible has just occurred, and assure your audience that if you were president this sort of thing would not have happened and will never happen again if your are elected. Your opponents can do nothing right. Stress that. Don’t worry whether or not this is true because, as said above, the audience doesn’t care about the truth, they want to hear what they already believe is true.
  10. Keep it short. K.I.S.S. No long sentences. No logic. No lengthy explanations with data and evidence to support. Remember that your audience has the attention-span of a cocker spaniel and act accordingly.

Are We Happy Yet?

Toward the end of that incredibly prescient novel, Brave New World, the Controller is having a discussion with Helmholtz and the Savage who have come to the point where they cannot accept the Brave New World and are about to be shipped off to an island where other malcontents live, though the Savage will hang himself before that can happen..

The Savage has been brought up in a reservation as an outcast reading, of all things, Shakespeare and he has been asking the director if such books are read any more in the Brave New World. Of course, they haven’t. Folks like Shakespeare simply don’t happen in the Brave New World. This world, the world Huxley sees as our future, has traded great artists and creative minds for “happiness.” As the Controller says:

“. . .our world is not the same world as Othello’s world. You can’t make [fast cars] without steel — and you can’t make tragedies without social instability. The world’s stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can’t get. They’re well off; they are safe; they are never ill; . . . they’re so conditioned that they practically can’t help behaving as they ought to behave. And if anything should go wrong, there’s soma. . . . that’s the price we have to pay for stability. You’ve got to choose between happiness and what people used to call high art. We’ve sacrificed high art.”

Hopefully the reader will recognize the allusions to what is going on in Huxley’s dystopia. But there are several points I want to make that do not require any familiarity with the novel. To begin with, we might note the comment at the very end of his snippet: “we’ve sacrificed high art.” I used to assign this book to my students many of whom simply could not see what it had to do with them. But it has everything to do with them, because in so many respects ours resembles Huxley’s world. We have, consciously or not, traded high art for what we deem to be happiness. But, then, we have no more idea what happiness is than do the citizens of Huxley’s world. We think it’s all about pleasure as we live our hedonistic lives eating, drinking and making merry (or Sally or Ruth, or Ben) while our minds atrophy on the constant bombardment from television and electronic media and we gleefully replace the real world with social media. We even have soma — or any number of reasonable substitutes.

Huxley’s world is based on the premise that stability is better than unrest and discontent. Those who are discontented are simply removed. We haven’t gotten to that point yet — certainly not the elimination of discontented people. But if one of the two principals running for president of this country has his way we will get there. The man is deluded, of course, and wouldn’t recognize high art if it bit him in the butt. But he’s all for stability and insularity, getting rid of those who just don’t fit — i.e., those who would disagree with him and his insane policies.

It is, of course, discontent and even resentment that have formed the warp and woof of this country since a group of rebels got together and threw off the yoke of British rule and then declared their independence and wrote a constitution which is, for the most part, one of the truly great documents created by the human mind. But since that time we have seen the country gravitate more and more in the direction of Huxley’s dystopia. We seem to want to rid ourselves of those who would disagree with us or who are simply different. We certainly won’t listen to them. Rather than embrace difference and dissent, which are the lifeblood of any democracy, we seem to be content to see the country head further and further down the road toward oligarchy: let the rich buy the country and tell us what we want. After all, they are the ones who provide us with entertainment and keep our minds off real problems while, with their other hand, they rake in the profits. If this means that a great many people will die from guns going off haphazardly it matters not as long as they don’t go off in my direction. If it means that the wealthy will continue to suck the life out of a dying planet, so be it, as long as the planet lasts long enough for me to get in another round of golf.

Like the denizens of Huxley’s Brave New World, we know about diversions and having fun. We avoid strong feelings of love and affection — though we allow hatred to run rampant. We don’t have any Shakespeares any more, or any Beethovens, or build buildings that inspire deep feelings, such as the Cathedrals of old. Instead, those few with creative minds invent and tinker with inventions, ways to make our lives easier, make sure we don’t have to suffer or do without.  What is left of the arts is largely ignored in our haste to get back to our iPads. We no longer have the attention spans or the imagination necessary to engage art fully.

The fact that so many of my students couldn’t see what Brave New World had to do with their world is the thought that shakes me the deepest. We cannot possibly address our problems if we refuse to admit that  they are there, and we seem perfectly content to be….content..

Nervous Times

The satirist Tom Lehrer once said he felt like a Christian Scientist with appendicitis. We are all learning that feeling as the news keeps getting worse and more and more slugs rise to the top of the mud that Donald Trump has stirred up with his hate and fear-mongering. He seems fit only to lead a mob, certainly not to lead this country. There can be no doubt that (a) the slugs were there all the time and (b) Trump’s rhetoric has given them the courage to speak and act their bigotry openly. These are, after all, the forgotten ones, the ones who find themselves among the discarded of society, the bottom-feeders, unsuccessful and frustrated by a system they blame for their own shortcomings. They see this man as the one who can deliver them from their despair and bring them a brighter day. He gives them license to voice their opinions openly and act out their hatred.  After all, if a “successful business man” says those things, they must be true. He has somehow managed to give bigots the conviction that their way of hating is perfectly acceptable.

There are so many problems with this scenario one hardly knows where to begin. But the extent of this phenomenon must be addressed. It’s easy to say, as I have in the past, that much of it is the fault of a flawed educational system. But that’s only a part off the problem and it doesn’t appear that it will be fixed in the near future — especially since those who can fix it are products of that very system and they see no problem.

The same remains the case with gun control, which is another part of the problem — a large part. There are so many guns out there in the hands of nervous nutters that even if a law were passed today prohibiting the purchase of automatic weapons there would remain a monumental problem, one that law enforcement is probably unable to deal with effectively. And, given that many of those in law enforcement are clearly fearful (and with good reason), one cannot ask those men and women to solve our problems.

Those who might take steps to gain some control of a system that is clearly out of control, the Congress, is paid by monied interests not to think (and they do that very well) and to simply pause in their daily activities from time to time to say a silent prayer for those who have been brutally killed in the name of hatred and bigotry.  They fiddle while Rome burns. But it would take strong laws preventing the sale of all automatic weapons together with a recall of such weapons already sold, coupled with enforcement of those laws by the National Guard, to begin to make inroads against the rising tide of hatred and fear.

I tend to be pessimistic when it comes to the motivation of most of my fellow humans, but I like to think I am being realistic when I say that a solution is possible only if the Congress is radically altered in its make-up and the leaders are courageous enough to take on such powerful entities as the N.R.A. Until that happens, until some sort of leadership and courage are shown at the Federal level, the situation will remain the same or even get worse. There are growing numbers of fearful people who are frustrated by their lack of power and the unwillingness of those in power to take any steps to improve their collective lot and these people are armed and will continue to act in haste and wreak havoc. If cool heads don’t prevail, we may well become an armed camp in which might makes right.

We need to remind ourselves that the appendix can be removed when it is inflamed and the pestilence that pervades this country at the present time can also be rooted out. But it will take decisive and courageous action on the part of those with the power to effect change. Until such people are elected to Congress we can simply expect more of the same. And the appendix may well rupture.