When I began writing these columns in 2006, “Laughing Matters” seemed an appropriate banner. With what’s occurring in the world these days, including ISIS beheadings, the Paris attacks, and mass murder shooting sprees in the U.S., perhaps “No Laughing Matter” would be more fitting. I once suggested to Daily Press management that maybe I should have two banners, which I would alternate depending on how serious the subject was for that week. As I recall the collective response was a yawn.
As I write this early Thursday morning, it’s still unclear as to the motivation of the horrific mass murders in San Bernardino Wednesday morning where 14 people were killed and 21 injured, 10 critically. Granted, shooting rampages are not generally the subjects for humor, and not to fear, I won’t try to do so. But, to ignore Wednesday’s shocking events would suggest that I live in some sort of bubble. (Which, at this moment, actually doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.)
By the time you read this, there will likely be many more facts. But, as of now, and according to the L.A. Times, here is what is known. Shooting suspect Syed Farook, 28, a health inspector with San Bernardino County, joined colleagues at a holiday celebration party Wednesday morning at the Inland Regional Center.
Following what some witnesses say was a dispute while others are not certain, Farook disappeared shortly before the mass shooting erupted. Did he then go get his wife? (“Honey, grab the pipe bombs!”) And, armed with automatic weapons, long guns, pistols and bullet proof vests, the pair returned to open fire at the Regional Center causing the city the worst single day of violence in its history. And the two, who are reportedly parents to a 6-month-old daughter they left on some excuse with the baby’s grandmother, were later killed in a highly violent gun battle with police.
Was the shooting spree the result of workplace revenge or Jihadi terrorism, or both? Whatever the truth, it’s quite likely to be exploited in the current presidential campaigns. But, until then, consider this. Ninety-three percent of the country is in favor of nationwide background checks for gun purchases and yet the NRA blocks any such law. (Even though 93 percent of the country probably doesn’t agree that the sun rises in the East!)
Also, an individual can be on the Terrorism Watch List, meaning he or she can’t get on a plane, but they can still legally buy a gun. And reportedly, in the U.S. this year we’ve had 355 mass murder shootings (four or more injured or dead) in 341 days. That’s more than one mass murder a day. Good grief. What a world.
Thankfully, there has been some uplifting news recently. Mark Zuckerberg, 31, co-founder and CEO of Facebook, announced on Tuesday that he and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, 30, would give 99 percent of their Facebook shares “during our lives” — holdings currently worth more than $45 billion — to charitable purposes.
The pledge was made in an open letter to their daughter, Max, who’s a week old. (It’s Max and not Maxine.) Excuse the cynic in me but I can’t help wonder how Max will feel about the letter 50 years from now when it dawns on her that her folks donated $45 billion that otherwise might have gone to her.
Speaking of charity and politicians’ exploitation, Donald Trump is talking about giving $5 million to the Wounded Warriors Project. The operative word is “talking.”
Trump, who to me bears a striking resemblance to Mussolini, mused out loud at a rally that he might tell CNN he will not appear at the next GOP debate unless they donate $5 million to Wounded Warriors. He immediately added, however, that such a move might hurt his poll numbers, so he wasn’t so sure. (If you want to see the comparison photo of Trump and Mussolini, email me and I’ll send it to you pronto. It’s hilarious and scary.)
If Trump were even remotely sincere about Wounded Warriors, he’d write a check today for $5 million. Of the $10 billion net worth he constantly brags about, it would be a drop in the bucket.
At less than half of Trump’s age, Zuckerberg has more than four times Trump’s wealth, but he never once has bragged about it. Whereas the Zuckerbergs are donating 99 percent of their fortune to charity, for Trump $5 million is less than 1 percent. (Actually it’s 1/20th of 1 percent. What a sport!)
For sheer chutzpah, it’s hard to top Trump’s faux devotion to veterans, especially given his calling John McCain less than a hero. (“I like my heroes not captured,” Trump said on national TV.)
Now Trump claims he said McCain was in fact a hero. But when he did he was so sarcastic with that ugly “give me a break” expression, it was obvious he was demeaning McCain.
As for Trump’s own military service during the Vietnam era, he received four student deferments and failed a physical because of a painful bone spur. (And yet, to a reporter, he couldn’t remember which foot.) These days Trump often has those feet wedged deep in his mouth following his numerous racist, misogynistic and anti-Muslim rhetoric, and recently he mocked a disabled reporter, setting a new low even for The Donald. And yet, nobody seems to care. What a world, indeed.
Jack Neworth is at facebook.com/jackneworth, twitter.com/jackneworth and email@example.com.