Column 1: Where next?

Martinez News-Gazette Columnist

WHERE NEXT? When next? Who next? How many innocent victims next? Why next?

Questions that no one can answer, but too many not trying hard enough to make certain there will not be a ‘next’. The chances of there being no ‘next’ time are so very slim. Perhaps no such thing as a ‘next time’? Wonderful thought, but what are the odds? What needs to be done to increase the chances of ‘no next time’?

This ghastly tragic past week has shaken Americans from coast to coast, north to south. A nation which has never been invaded by a foreign power in combat has now been attacked by three of its own people. Another attack directed at innocent men, women and children. Another attack added to those of recent years which have taken other innocent lives in unbelievable locations which would seem as safe places. Who is to stop this madness being carried out by individuals who have a ‘problem’. What is their problem, something being looked at by experts in the fields of crime and mental illness.

Why, in this nation of 300,000,000 residents, are their more than 300,000,000 guns owned by someone? This number reported in the past week among many other facts and statistics by alleged reputable sources. How many are assault-type weapons, and for what possible use? Certainly not a weapon to keep under your pillow or bed to defend against intruders in the home. Certainly not a weapon to kill some unfortunate animal which happens to become a target. More likely a weapon to make its owner feel more ‘macho’ in gun circles out on the local target range?

The time has long passed when such heavy-duty weapons intended for battlefield mass killing to be banned in society. Ban the sale for starters. Ban the use anywhere, even on target ranges. Make their ownership less attractive, even to satisfy the ‘proud owner’.

Why now? Why are we seeing an upsurge in mass killings in this best possible nation of peace-loving citizens? What has caused the shooters to do their dastardly deeds? While the experts are scratching their collective heads looking for reasons why people do such things, is there something in our recent history to consider?

More and more conversations include discussions of the steep downturn in civility in the past several years. Many, of course, lay the blame for the apparent change on the current Oval Office Occupant whose gross never-stopping twitter messages disparage anyone and anything which he decides to dislike. Name-calling and nasty language which we’ve never heard from the CEO of the United States. It all started during the 2016 presidential campaign, and it increased since January 20, 2017. No sign of it slowing. No sign of the vast numbers of critics making a dent in his poor demeanor, either. How disheartening!

Wonder if any members of the First Family ever cringe or grimace at the tweets good old dad issues nearly 24/7 when not golfing? Wow!

(Columnist’s note) One public quote of ‘bad language’ I recall from a president was from Harry Truman commenting on a critical big-time national columnist’s ‘review’ of First Daughter Margaret Truman’s piano recital. It was not well-received by Mr. President, the feisty former ‘haberdasher’ from Independence, Missouri, elected U.S. Senator, then Vice President, then became President upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945. When asked about the ‘review’ Harry Truman responded, “I would like to punch the son-of-a-bitch in the nose!” Not nasty. Just honest!)

While we have President Truman hot on our keyboard, there’s another quote, this from Bess Truman, enduring sweet wife. One day one of Bess’s lady friends overheard Harry commenting on something. He proclaimed that that’s “that’s bull manure”. Asked by her friend if that language bothered her, Mrs. Truman replied, “It has taken me years to get Harry to say manure.”

FIRE SEASON is upon us, for sure. All warnings to residents to be prepared for a ‘big’ season should have been heeded by now. Like get your property cleared, etc. The several-day fire in the Clayton/Marsh Creek/ Morgan Territory area was a great wake-up call which could have been worse had it not been for quick responses by several agencies. Even then, some residents were evacuated as a precaution.

Much of Contra Costa County was on the list of ‘wild fire hazard’ areas, in a report by the chief of Contra Costa Fire District. The map, although small in print, was sufficient to give us a good idea of what we are facing in the future. Ask any former resident of fire-ravaged areas north of us if they ever thought what could happen to them. We need to heed the warnings.

U.S. COAST GUARD celebrated its 229th anniversary on August 4th as the premier life-saving agency in our nation. A force of some 42,000 men and women, afloat and ashore, here at home and overseas, serving with other nations’ sea-going forces in its many missions. Its proud history of service is unparalleled in accomplishments saving lives, property, the environment, natural resources, fisheries and intercepting illegal drugs and migrants. The active duty Coast Guard is assisted by several thousand Auxiliarists, civilian volunteers, some of whom serve in fulltime jobs to augment active duty ‘Coasties’

Coast Guard motto: ‘Semper Paratus’, always ready.

CHEERS, again, for the Martinez Police Department for its 24/7 coverage of our community with vigilance and effectiveness. Reading the periodic Police Blotter which this newspaper prints is great. Seeing in print the kinds of crimes our officers uncover, many with routine traffic stops, causes head-scratching in disbelief. Criminals really are not smart, the reports tell us. Great work gentlemen and ladies!!

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