NOW TOO MUCH FOR US? We say guns, they say mental illness!

FRIDAY, APRIL 14, 2023

Justin Jones, bring us together! After Monday, it's been a very good week, mass shooting wise.

Admittedly, Monday was bad. 

On that occasion, a 25-year-old man walked into a bank in Louisville and fatally shot five people. One week earlier, a mass shooting inside a Nashville school had taken the lives of six people—three adults, three 9-year-old children.

Why do people conduct these mass shootings? According to CNN,  the Louisville shooter's family "plans to have his brain tested for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, commonly known as CTE." 

It would be interesting to see what some such procedure might show.

That said, this type of mass shooting incident has become a familiar part of the American scene. It has become a cultural norm, one of many destructive norms we the people don't seem to be able to find our way back out of.

With respect to the culture of mass shootings, a familiar pattern obtains. Our blue tribe prescribes a certain approach to this deeply destructive state of affairs—an approach which involves the regulation of guns.

Personally, we agree with such proposals. That said, office holders of the red tribe talk about the role that mental illness plays in these mass shooting events. 

Our tribe tends to dismiss such statements as acts of bad faith, as they often may be. That said, mental health issues are an obvious part of this syndrome too, but rarely the twain shall meet in our segregated tribal discussions.

It's easy for those of us who are blue to see the apparent bad faith of the red tribe's office holders. At the end of a very discouraging week, we're going to leave you with a few events which capture much of the way our own blue tribe tends to behave.

We'll start last night, as Al Franken spoke with Alex Wagner about the phenomenon which has often been called "the big sort." 

At one point, Wagner posed this question: "Does it feel to you like we are eventually sorting ourselves into deeper blue and deeper red states?"

It was a decent question. Increasingly, members of the red and blue tribes don't even live in the same localities, let alone hold the same views. Responding to Wagner, Franken said this:

"Yeah, we're doing nothing to bring people together, we're just always dividing people, and we are getting more separate, living more in our different areas that are red or bkue, and this has been happening for quite awhile, hasn't it?"

AS their discussion continued, the pair agreed that they weren't "trying to draw a false equivalence" between the behaviors of the red and blue worlds. That said, under a visual which said "Red States Gone Wild," here's how the segment ended:

FRANKEN (4/13/23): There's just an escalation in how far gone the Republican Party is. I mean, when they call January 6th a "legitimate political discourse," I mean—it's close to parody, but it's not, because it's not funny.

Speaking of behavior which comes close to parody, have "they" called January 6 a "legitimate political discourse?"

That's a referece to a single statement made by a single Republican official about a year ago. In our view, that was never an accurate account of what that one person had said—but so what?

Under current rules of the road, it became a standard jibe in our standard blue tribe jibe book. After seeming to lament the way we don't bring people together, Franken turned to that bit of script and said that "they" have said that.

Franken and Wagner agreed that current Republican policies and impulses are crazier than those of our own party. A person could quite sensibly advance that view.

That said, does it help when our tribunes insist on promoting the lazy tales which keep us blues feeling good? For another example from this week, consider what Lawrence said.

Lawrence O'Donnell contains multitudes. He's very experienced in several realms, and he knows a lot. We've often complimented him as one of the only mainstream journalists who was willing to speak with medical specialists, in a perfectly reasonable way, about the mental health, or lack of same, of one Donald J. Trump.

That said, Lawrence also has a history of failures of anger management which have created a string of entertaining though unhelpful episodes. He sometimes adopts his Dorchester accent during such episodes. 

Beyond that, he may still be subject to the unhelpful anger of We Northern Irish against the rebels Down South.

On Tuesday night, Lawrence played tape of a public statement by Rep. Justin Jones, who had just been reinstated to the Tennessee House.  For ourselves, we hope that Rep. Jones turns out to be a wise and effective political leader. 

In our view, Lawrence let his anger flash at that point. Different people will hold different views about the utility of a statement like this:

O'DONNELL (4/11/23): The white Republicans in power in the Tennessee state House, which was built by slaves, have shown how little has changed in that building in the 55 years since Avon Williams, Jr. became the first black person elected to the Tennessee Senate in the 20th century.

The white Republicans are holding power in a House which was built by slaves!

Each person can judge the utility and wisdom of such formulations, offered by people like Lawrence. We've seen a lot of such statements in the wake of recent Tennessee events.

For ourselves, this sort of thing has made us think back to a column by the very angry Jimmy Breslin in 1999—an angry column about what an obvious old school white Tennessee racist Candidate Gore so plainly was.

The anger of Us Northern Irish isn't always enormously smart. That said, We Northern Irish have been doing this since the time of Civil War. Each individual is allowed to decide if they think this is helpful or smart.

We'll leave you with two statements, the first by Brother Franken, who wrote some great jokes for Gore:

Yeah, we're doing nothing to bring people together, we're just always dividing people.

That's one statement, from last night, yanked out of a larger context. The second statement comes from Professor Cottom. 

In our view, she pretty much got it right:

I keep my eyes on the South for a lot of reasons. This is my home. It is the region of this nation’s original sin. Nothing about the future of this country can be resolved unless it is first resolved here: not the climate crisis or the border or life expectancy or anything else of national importance, unless you solve it in the South and with the people of the South.

We think Cottom got it right. We think Cottom knows what we need, though Lawrence and the rest of the cable news Rolling Stones may know what we want.

Has our nation achieved a state of affairs which is "now too much for us?" Can we possibly find a way "back out of all this?"

It may seem, at this point, that the party favored by our blue tribe can't possibly lose next year. The large majority of the public disagrees with the GOP with respect to abortion. A very large percentage of voters favor tougher laws with respect to access to guns.

It almost seems like there's no way our self-impressed tribe could possibly lose. To that, we'll only offer this:

Just sit back and watch us try!

For quite a few years, it has seemed to us that there's no easy or obvious way out of our devolving political mess. In our view, turning things over to Lawrence's anger may not be the way to proceed.

We say guns, they say mental illness. Justin Jones, develop your skills and bring us together! Bring us together, please!


  1. "After Monday, it's been a very good week, mass shooting wise."

    Somerby really should check the statistics before he makes a foolish statement like this one. Here are the mass shootings on Thursday of this week:

    Four people were injured in each of four different mass shootings, one shooting with four injuries in The Bronx, NY; one in Houston TX; one in Detroit MI; and one in Bridgeport CT.

    On Wednesday, there were 6 people injuried in a mass shooting in Toledo OH; 1 person was killed and 5 were injured in Goldsboro, NC; 1 was killed and 3 were injured in Fort Wayne, IN; and 4 were injured in Trenton, NJ.

    On Tuesday, 1 person was killed and 3 were injured in Washington DC. There was also 1 killing on Monday, but it killed 6 and injured 5 in Louisville KY.

    This is hardly a good week, simply because Somerby didn't bother to look up who was being shot and killed after Monday. Info is available from the Gun Violence Archive:

  2. "That said, mental health issues are an obvious part of this syndrome too, but rarely the twain shall meet in our segregated tribal discussions."

    Somerby makes it sound like those of us on the left oppose mental health treatment, when we are for BOTH mental health treatment AND gun control. Even in the presence of mental health problems, further tragedies could be prevented by limiting access to guns by disturbed individuals. The problem is that the right neither supports gun control nor mental health treatment. They express condolences, blame mental health and move on without doing anything about any of the causes of such mass shootings.

    Meanwhile, those of us on the left have not accepted that these shootings are now part of our culture. That is unacceptable to us and we want our politicians to take action to reduce such incidents, not tolerate or trivialize them (as Somerby did today when he didn't bother to look up how many mass shootings have occurred since Louisville and considered it "a good week" because all the deaths did not occur in one location). I find his attitude offensive.

    1. What about the mental health of 70-year-old bridge players who compulsively troll blogs with borderline, illogical misreadings?

    2. @11:50 seems clear to me


  3. "Personally, we agree with such proposals."

    Oh, dear. Demigod Gore's old creation tells us that in the US of A "the estimated total number of overall firearms in civilian possession is 433.9 million."

    What makes you, dear Bob, think that your War on Guns would turn out any better than the good old War on Drugs? about "the apparent bad faith"... ...although, let us not underestimate the plain stupidity...

  4. "Speaking of behavior which comes close to parody, have "they" called January 6 a "legitimate political discourse?"

    Yes, the right has called it a protest march. First, the organizers of Trump's rally called it that: "The "Save America" rally (or "March to Save America", promoted as a "Save America March") took place on January 6 in the Ellipse within the National Mall just south of the White House."

    Here is an article describing the Republicans who now call 1/6 a legitimate protest instead of a riot:

    Tucker Carlson, in particular, called it "a peaceful gathering:"

    Then there is this: "About half of Republican voters characterize the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol as a “legitimate protest,” according to a new survey published Thursday, a finding that comes as a handful of GOP lawmakers continue to try and cast the riot in a more positive light. "

    The survey, is available here:

    So, what is the point of Somerby's attempted revisionism? It is gaslighting when Somerby attempts to convince us that something we all heard and saw, did not actually happen. Luckily the press has documented the attempt to recharacterize the 1/6 riot by the right wing.

    1. "That's a reference to a single statement made by a single Republican official about a year ago." What a bunch of BS from Bob. During the 1/6 coup attempt to end American democracy Fox broadcaster Ingraham already was saying it was mostly peaceful except for antifa agitators. For Christ's sake Majorie Taylor Green goes to pray with the "political prisoners" unjustly jailed by the "Biden regime". Somerby is no longer being serious.

  5. "He sometimes adopts his Dorchester accent during such episodes."

    It has been documented that bilingual people revert to their native language when expressing strong emotion, either using words or by swearing. This also happens with childhood accents. This is not a matter of Lawrence "adopting" his earlier accent (modified to become a broadcaster). That sounds deliberate and false. Most likely Lawrence isn't aware of doing this.

  6. "Beyond that, he may still be subject to the unhelpful anger of We Northern Irish against the rebels Down South."

    There is no comparison between the Irish troubles occurring in another country, and the differences between the North and South in the US. For one thing, the liberals in both blue Northern states and cities, also live in the South. There are no "pure" red states, despite the majorities in some elections. For another, we liberals do not see this as a rural/urban divide, or a North/South divide, but as a left/right divide over politics and values.

    As a person of Irish descent, I find it offensive when Somerby tries to equate the Northern Irish/Republic of Ireland troubles to the US's very different problems. It shows ignorance and trivializes Ireland's concerns. And it isn't the least bit clever, but deeply stupid to equate the two.

    1. Get over your descent.

    2. The Irish Republic doesn’t call itself Southern Ireland.

  7. The second amendment is evil.

  8. We shouldn’t focus too much on mass shootings, when considering policy changes. Most shootings are NOT mass shootings. Most gun uses do not involve shooting at all — merely brandishing the gun is more frequent. Most gun uses are defensive.

    David in Cal

    1. Most gun uses are not defensive. In fact defensive use accounts for only .9% of crimes. You’re 9 times as likely to be killed or harmed by a gun than be defended by it.

      Brandishing a gun is a right wing justification for murdering someone, point a gun at a right winger and instead of defending yourself, you’re going to wind up dead; these are people living in existential fear of any slight that challenges their dominance.

    2. David in Cal,
      Better gun laws might help with the epidemic of white on white crime.

  9. Somerby’s claims are embarrassingly ignorant.

    The left/right divide goes back 10-12k years, the divide is between egalitarianism and equality vs hierarchy and dominance.

    The blue tribe is effective when it’s engaging in activism like Justin Jones does, protesting and calling out right wingers like TN governor Lee, who he referred to as racist and a white supremacist and urged to resign. In other words, we are effective when we stand up to right wing oppression by “impolitely” calling it out. That’s what motivates the electorate. Not this “can’t we all get along” bs that Somerby pretends to push; we tried that with neoliberalism, it was a colossal failure.

    Notably, Republicans have only made cuts to mental healthcare, so when they talk about it, it’s obviously performative. We’ve always had people with mental health issues, the pertinent difference in our society with relation to mass shootings is a massive increase in guns, particularly assault weapons.

  10. Wasn't the person who said that the Republican National Committee Chairwoman. In discussion of a Censure motion against Kiz and Liz?

  11. Somebody should keep this blogger away from sharp objects.

  12. At a minimum, Congress should pass a law making it illegal for "good guys with guns" to sell/ give/ trade guns to criminals.

  13. Other peer countries have mental illness…

  14. Lawrence also quoted from MLK’s letter from the Birmingham jail, which was MLK’s impassioned response to a group of so-called white moderate/“liberal” supporters of civil rights who called upon MLK to stop the protests and the agitation, and to wait for civil rights to work themselves out through existing political and legal frameworks.

    MLK said that, effectively, “wait” had always meant “never” for the black man.

    “I am greatly disappointed with the white moderate”, said MLK.

    Those white moderates also felt MLK was not being useful or wise, and they deplored the civil rights demonstrations.

    Sounds like Somerby and the Tennessee Republicans.

  15. It’s hard to believe Bob does not get that the big idea on the left is to get the guns away from the people who are mentally ill. The opposite of what the miserable Crumblys did (they are people of the Right who intentionally gave a
    gun to their mentally challenged Son)
    Background checks, ya dig. Glad I
    could hip you to the latest jive, daddy-o.
    Salute to Bob he let Franken’s
    (accurate) statement on “legitimate
    political discourse” stand, and did not
    go crazy on that one again.