Mass shootings and Sen. Jeff Merkley for president

• What links the largest mass shootings in the U.S in the past 30 years?

The common denominator is guns. We can talk about mental illness or terrorism, but you can’t talk about shooting without talking about the guns that fired the bullets. Your ideology or your mental state don’t matter if you can’t get hold of a weapon capable of killing masses of innocent people. We’ve reached a point in America where the shooting at Umpqua Community College in 2015 in which 10 people, including the gunman, died doesn’t even warrant inclusion on most mass-shootings lists. That’s how out of control it is.

Gun control. Now.

• Dolores is just the documentary we need after 18 hours of brilliant but relentless pounding on the Vietnam War by PBS documentarian Ken Burns. Opening Friday, Oct. 6, at Eugene’s Broadway Metro, the new film details the career of Dolores Huerta, who organized the United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez, devoted her life to human rights and environmental justice and, at the age of 87, continues to work — mostly on community organizing. Huerta fought racism, sexism, income inequality, the down sides of advanced capitalism and big ag. Her life is a light for all of us, and Peter Bratt’s documentary captures it.

• Why not our own Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley for president in 2020? We hear rumblings and see him more and more on national TV. The New York Times included Merkley in its Oct. 1 story on “Who Can Beat Trump in 2020.” Yes, he was listed last, but the Times said: “If the populist wing is looking for a Plan C, Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon humbly suggests himself. He was the only senator to endorse Mr. Sanders in 2016, has been spending a fair amount of time in Iowa of late, and has become the go-to guy on Capitol Hill for liberal groups like MoveOn.” We’d love to see an Oregonian in the White House.

• It’s time to sign! The deadline for collecting 7,000 valid signatures on a Eugene initiative petition to create an independent elected city auditor is Oct. 12. “We know auditing saves agencies money,” says Gary Blackmer, recently retired director of the Oregon Secretary of State Audits Division. “We calculated it all different ways at the Oregon Secretary of State Office, and looking at three-year averages we return about $5 for every $1 spent.” Sounds like a good deal to us. See details of the independent auditor proposal at

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