Eleven years ago I came up with the banner “Laughing Matters.” Five-hundred and fifty columns later, either I’ve changed or the world has. For years, I’ve often felt “Laughing Matters” isn’t appropriate for especially grim news. Given Sunday’s historic mass murder in Las Vegas, this is one of those weeks.
A solution I proposed to my editor (to no avail, unfortunately) was that, for times where it feels inappropriate to have the “Laughing Matters” banner it could read “No Laughing Matter.” Instead of the little figure laughing he would be frowning. The new banner would signal to the reader that, for this week, the column might be a little more serious than why I procrastinate doing my laundry. (Which has gotten worse and I can’t figure out why.)
Also, during this less than hilarious week, on Tuesday Trump visited Puerto Rico. (Since evidence of Russian-linked social media ads targeted swing states like Michigan and Wisconsin I’ve stopped calling him president Trump but rather ECRB, “Electoral College, Russian-Backed President.)
And I’m annoyed by the endless term the Russians “meddled” in our election. Did the Japanese “meddle” at Pearl Harbor? Our elections were attacked and any president should want to get to the bottom of it and prevent further attacks. But ECRB says it’s a hoax.
Also on Tuesday, I was shocked by Trump throwing rolls of paper towels to Puerto Ricans, during which he looked like a seal trainer throwing fish. Trump took the paper towels and, like carefully shooting free throws, shot the rolls into the audience. (
Of a more serious nature this week, much respected GOP Senator Bob Corker says only Trump’s advisers Tillerson, Mattis and Kelly “Keep us from total chaos.” Speaking of Tillerson, shockingly it appears he called Trump “a moron.” I’ve been doing that for the past eighteen months. Then again, I’m not Secretary of State, though neither will be Tillerson for long.
Michelle Obama famously said, “Being president doesn’t change who you are it reveals who you are.” Pulitzer-prize winning Presidential historian Jon Meacham says “The presidency is where character and history intersect.” Enter Trump. Every other president in my lifetime, from Reagan to Obama, has always risen to lift our spirits in times of national disasters. Trump seems to lacks basic “empathy” that almost all humans have. (That said, he’s proud of his free throw shooting form.)
Later Tuesday, Trump jokingly told assembled Puerto Ricans, “Your hurricane has played havoc with our budget.” Nobody laughed. Referring to the relatively few deaths (34), “Maria wasn’t a real catastrophe like Katrina.” (I’m betting to the families of the dead victims, Maria was a real catastrophe.)
Trump always manages to make everything about himself. He often repeated how many compliments he received from Puerto Rican officials. But when San Juan Mayor, Carlin Yulin Cruz, apologetically told Trump, “It’s not about politics, Mr. President, it’s about saving lives,” Trump didn’t even acknowledge her. Shockingly thin-skinned, Trump is infuriated by any criticism, especially from a woman.
That brings me to Sunday’s massacre in Las Vegas, which with 58 deaths, is the worst mass murder in modern American history. (Of the approximately 500 injured, there are dozens still in critical condition.) Trump tweeted “My warmest condolences.” Warmest condolences? Who talks like that?
This massacre came only 1 ½ years from the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando where 49 people were killed and 58 were injured. Then candidate Trump suggested that the Pulse atrocity might have been minimized if patrons had been armed with guns. Drunk and dancing armed with guns? What could go wrong there? That said, 1/3 of America probably still agrees with Trump.
The Las Vegas shooter, Steven Paddock, was reportedly a multi-millionaire and at 64, is the oldest mass murderer in modern American history. In his hotel room were 10 semi-automatic rifles, many equipped with “bump stocks” that converted them into an automatic rifles, capable of firing hundreds of rounds in a minute.
Democrats immediately proposed outlawing bump stocks and fixing loopholes in current gun laws. (Including no background checks on weapons bought at swap meets.) But, thanks to the NRA, many GOP legislators said “Now is not the time.” (Coincidentally, GOP lawmakers, strongly supported by Trump Jr., were considering approving gun silencers and cop-killing bullets. Thankfully, that’s unacceptable, for now at least.)
If now isn’t the time for new gun laws, I don’t when is. After a horrific apartment building fire, people don’t say “now isn’t the time” for new fire regulation laws. After the gun massacre in Newtown, Ct. in 2012 where twenty 6 and 7-year-olds were fatally shot, people eventually forget the tragedy. (Trump friend and right-wing radio host Alex Jones, who has millions of followers, even claimed Newtown was no kids were killed and the parents were actors.)
For those who think I’m too rough on Trump, I’m not blaming him for my laundry procrastination. But it had my crossed my mind.
Jack is at facebook.com/jackneworth, twitter.com/jackneworth and firstname.lastname@example.org