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Mass Shooting In Indianapolis Makes This Another Normal, Typical American Day, Thanks To The NRA

April 16, 2021

It is early Friday morning…..not yet 3 A.M. when I write this post.  There has been another horrific and senseless mass shooting. A gunman killed eight people and injured at least four others Thursday before killing himself at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis. The New York Times reported a person who saw “a man with a submachine gun of some sort, an automatic rifle, and he was firing in the open.”

The headlines about mass shootings in America take place so often that they start to blend together. They start to lose their shocking and breathtaking impact as we know this is just another normal and typical day. That is due to our nation placing the selfish needs of those who hold onto their weapons with a fetish quality as being more important than the lives and safety of the vast majority of the nation.

We have every reason to be angry this morning upon hearing the news of the latest mass shooting. But the NRA has bought Congress and our anger will not stand in the way of the dollars to be made for the gun industry. Republicans are never going to allow for the passage of bills to curtail gun violence.

But we know what is happening to our nation. Bullet by bullet, victim by victim, we know. Our gun culture is producing grave–quite literally–consequences for the nation. I have two points to make about our culture.

First, consider a trend I have noticed for many years where on Christmas Day men will post their new semiautomatic weapons on social media–as if Santa is no more than an NRA delivery service.  It is far beyond gross.  Guns have become a fetish for men who need some external means to enhance their image of being masculine.  So the Republicans are correct, in some regards, when they claim that mental health is a part of the problem with gun violence in our nation.

Second, consider my love for fast cars with the ‘need’ for an AR-15.  When creating my MINI convertible for manufacture in Britain I could have opted for the top-end engine model which would have almost lifted the tar off the roads. But there is no place for driving in such a fashion so I allowed reality to make the decision.  Just as there is no sensible reason for owning a car with power not really needed or able to be used, one can then relate it to a gun, such as an AR-15, where its usefulness in the real world is nill.

Meanwhile this morning eight victims were pronounced dead at the scene of the latest mass shooting. Four people were transferred to area hospitals, including one person in critical condition. 

And the NRA will twist whatever they can get their hands on to prevent any GOP Senator from urging for anything more than thoughts and prayers for the gun victims.

Wisconsin Newspapers Hit Hard In Pandemic

April 15, 2021

It has been a very tough year for many professions and groups in Wisconsin as the pandemic raged. Reporters, journalists, and newsrooms of newspapers and print publications were not spared. As noted by Poynter, “It’s getting hard to keep track of the bad news about the news right now. But we have to“.

I agree it is important to know the impact of job cuts and the business losses for the newspaper profession. I say this because the morning newspapers that ferret out corruption and investigates issues untouchable to the average citizen is an essential component for how we are made aware of the world. 

I have been posting for years about the woes of the newspaper industry in the digital media age. I have written about the revenue from the industry being cut in half between 2008 and 2018 because of a ruinous decline in print advertising. And to the gut of the matter that means during that same time frame newsroom employment declined 25%. (Pew Research)

This all resonates because the need for accurate information is more important than ever. The past four years have been a daily reminder as to why that is true. Having access to independently gathered, accurate information is as essential and vital to our process of governing as is the right to vote.

Now take a look at what happened to the newspaper industry in Wisconsin, reported by Poynter over the past year.

  • In March, Isthmus, a weekly in Madison, Wisconsin, announced it had to “go dark for an undetermined amount of time.” In November, it announced it applied for nonprofit status. 
  • Shepherd Express in Milwaukee suspended its print edition.
  • The Janesville Gazette will stop printing on Saturday and Sunday.
  • The Washburn County Register in Shell Lake will close at the end of September. It’s owned by the Inter-County Cooperative Publishing Association.
  • Forum News Service reported layoffs and the end of Monday and Friday print in its “more than two-dozen newspapers in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.”
  • The Capital Times in Madison announced furloughs and pay cuts.
  • Capital Newspapers in Madison laid off at least one person, Poynter has learned. It is co-owned by Lee Enterprises and The Capital Times Company.
  • Lee Enterprises had furloughs and cost-cutting measures, including a 20% pay cut for executives. It owns six newspapers in Wisconsin.

There are many reasons to feel sad and nostalgic over losing reporters and column inches in newspapers in our communities. But I wonder if the country can be as strong and educated without the work that is done by newspaper reporters, and the printing presses that roll out the daily first read of history?

And so it goes.

Republicans Pick On Powerless Groups, Trans Children Latest Target

April 13, 2021

I know how it felt when the Republican Party, both in Wisconsin and from the power of the Oval Office, worked feverishly to place anti-gay marriage referendums on state ballots. As a gay man, I had a personal stake in the attempts to undermine my rights. From that experience and taking note of their attitudes and policy moves on several issues it is clear nothing makes the GOP seem more powerful than when they can place bigotry into law.

But as a student of history and one involved with government and current issues the tactics from the GOP rip at a central understanding. That being this nation always is at its best when we strive to include more people under the large social umbrella. Not limit and restrict such liberties.

It would seem obvious that transgender rights, which is the latest attempt by conservatives to fight the culture wars, will be the toughest fight in the gender wars. But what is gut-wrenching is that they now use children as their partisan club. The battle though is being engaged by the majority in the nation in the same way we gained civil rights for gay Americans. Simply put, success will be attained over time due to more people realizing that others in their lives–perhaps the ones they know best and love–are actually transgender.

Putting a face to the issue is the best way to break down walls.

For now, the reason this issue resonates with me is due to the impact this has on children who are well-aware of the person they are and the need to have acceptance and understanding from the adults in the nation. The political class must recognize their responsibility for preventing the effects of causing trans children to have depression and even commit suicide. Add to the list the bullying and torment of their peers as they play off of the political rhetoric, and it underscores why we need to care.

I come from a background where anti-gay bullying was terrible in my school years, and which was a cause for the suicide of my best friend. I know the toll such boorish behavior causes and the long-lasting impact it creates. So when I say we must help trans children, even if it is not totally understood, I know the reason why we must be caring adults.

I read a powerful article in The Atlantic that cuts to the core of what the Republican Party is doing as it uses trans children as the latest weapon for their partisan ends.

The time for blaming the nation’s problems on gay people was over; now was the time to come together as a country and blame our problems on Muslims. For the past 30 years, the GOP has pursued a consistent strategy: Find a misunderstood or marginalized group, convince voters that the members of that group pose an existential threat to society, and then ride to victory on the promise of using state power to crush them.

Again and again, Republicans have targeted groups they believe too small or too powerless to spark a costly political backlash. By attacking them, the GOP seeks to place Democrats in a political bind. If they decline to bow to demagoguery, Democrats risk looking either too culturally avant-garde for the comfort of more conservative voters—whose support they need to remain viable—or too preoccupied with defending the rights of a beleaguered minority to pay attention to bread-and-butter issues that matter to the majority. This strategy has worked in the past—President Bill Clinton, who signed the federal statute outlawing same-sex marriage in 1996, was no Republican. Many people across the political spectrum accept the premise that defending a marginalized group’s civil rights is “identity politics,” while choosing to strip away those rights is not.

We simply must overcome the bigotry.

We accomplish that by first denying oxygen to the political party that attempts to use trans children for their conservative ends.

And so it goes.

Now It Is Brooklyn Center

April 12, 2021

If all the events that had come before in Minneapolis were part of a book plot an editor was reviewing for publication, it would be tossed aside if the following chapter contained the events which unfolded Sunday in Brooklyn Center. Simply put, the police shooting and death of a Black man mere miles from the trial of another officer for the killing of another Black man……well, it strains the credulity factor.

But, yes, sadly, and most unbelievably here we are again on a troubled road following the death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright.

It will be a question today in places across the country if there will be protests in light of the news that has shaken the Minneapolis area. There could not have a more dreadful happening in an area already filled with raw tension due to the court proceedings for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin who is standing trial in the death of George Floyd. The question many have is will there be marches and protests in other places to show solidarity with the community in Brooklyn Center?

I urge restraint and a laser-like focus on changing policies and create more community policing, which is used with success in so many places nationwide. That does not, however, undo the horrific situation that unfolded 24 hours ago. What news came from the police department today was just plain awful, and will not likely reduce tensions. Rather, I suspect, actually increase them.

Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon told reporters today that he suspects the officer who fatally shot Wright during a traffic stop Sunday might have done so by accident.

“It is my belief that the officer had their intention to deploy the Taser but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet,” adding that he believes this was an “accidental discharge.”

This does not send a message of confidence to the Black community as such a report from the police department only underscores the feeling of many that their lives are in danger from law enforcement. That is an untenable situation for a society that needs law and order but also confidence that those wearing the Blue uniform are professional in all regards.

The coming hours and days will be tense ones, for sure.

The Antithesis Of Donald Trump Lashing Out Over Election Loss

April 11, 2021

Upon waking this morning I heard the news of Donald Trump spending 50 minutes in a nasty rage this weekend while in front of top-tier donors of the Republican Party. He threw Vice-President Mike Pence under the bus, cursed out Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and even verbally went after the leader’s wife, Elaine Chao.

This morning The New York Times summed up the bombastic behavior with, “Trump used the final night of the retreat to talk about himself, his grievances and how he plans to enact retribution against those who voted to impeach him.”

As I read those words my mind flashed to the writings about President George Herbert Walker Bush on the night that he lost reelection in 1992. While recalling a lot of the stories and facts I have read over the years I admit to having difficulty remembering from which source I obtained the information. So I spent several minutes locating online where the antithesis to Trump’s behavior was discovered. It was located in Jon Meacham’s ‘Destiny and Power’, a biography about Bush.

In the Houstonian Hotel’s suite 271 on the evening he lost his bid for a second term as president of the United States, George Herbert Walker Bush climbed out of bed and slipped into an adjoining wood-paneled living room. Weary but restless, he settled on a small sofa. 

It was there he spoke for his tape-recorded diary.

For now, though, Bush needed a way forward through the shadows of defeat, and he returned to a few core truths that had always guided him. “Be strong,” he told himself in his living room musings, “be kind, be generous of spirit, be understanding, let people know how grateful you are, don’t get even, comfort the ones I’ve hurt and let down, say your prayers and ask for God’s understanding and strength, finish with a smile and with some gusto, do what’s right and finish strong.”With that, the forty-first president of the United States retired for the night, rejoining the sleeping Barbara. Now he had a plan. Now he could rest. He told himself something else, too, in the days after the de- feat. “It’ll change,” he dictated. “It’ll change.”

This weekend, and prior to the latest Trump outburst, I wrote a post about how it is best when a candidate shows class when conceding an election. There was a troubling episode locally which I was addressing following the April election.

Over the years I have been able to see in real-time how a concession is handled, while more often reading or watching such a happening through the media.  But in each case, a concession following a hard-fought campaign shows the mettle of a person perhaps better than any other facet of seeking office.

I deeply respect the handshakes and quick banter that two professional tennis players allow each other following a mentally and physically punishing game.  It is an honorable way to conclude the contest regardless of the outcome.  When it comes to the end of a political campaign I also desire to see the best of one’s character shine.

The gracious nature of Vice-President Al Gore following the grueling legal wars of a recount in 2000 demonstrates the reasons character matters when it comes to our elections.  The same rules of the road apply in local elections, too.  Being graceful with concessions makes for a strong mark of character.

Bush was a classy man in many ways, both in politics, and out. His lack of vindictiveness has long been known. That his name came so easily to mind when reading about Trump proves the high road that he took in life.

And so it goes.

Trailer Park Behavior (45th) vs. Character (46th)

April 11, 2021

If you needed any more evidence of the vast difference in tone, behavior, or decorum between President Joe Biden and the other one who sat in the Oval Office you only need to learn of what happened this weekend at Mar-a-Lago.

Donald Trump had a money-maker for his business as the Republican National Committee–in an effort to assuage him–held their donor retreat at his gaudy club. On Saturday night he used 50 minutes at the microphone to again showcase his instability, lack of couth, and overall lack of being verbally ‘house-broken’.

Trump ripped into Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell before the crowd of movers and shakers with deep pockets by called him “dumb son of a bitch.”

But that was just the warm-up pitch.

Trump also went after McConnell’s wife, former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao for resigning her cabinet post after the January 6th insurrection. That comes as no surprise as he does not like strong women.

Why this all lands on CP is due to the minefield that the Republican Party created, embraced, endorsed, and now must live with. They allowed for the hijacking of their party starting in 2015 and now find the donor base wondering what in the world is to be done to end the madness. (Ahhh….stop funding it…..)

“Trump used the final night of the retreat to talk about himself, his grievances and how he plans to enact retribution against those who voted to impeach him — which runs counter to the donors’ main objective of making sure their dollars go toward winning overall.

Many major donors have been fed up with Trump’s antics since Jan. 6. While Trump was speaking, we spotted at least two — both of whom received prominent appointments during his administration — out dining with friends at a local restaurant in Palm Beach rather than sitting through the former president’s dinner at Mar-a-Lago.

Trump’s lack of interest in the state of the Republican Party also creates a problem for fundraising: Per the NYT, Trump’s new fundraising enterprise has $85 million in cash on hand, while the RNC has $84 million. This comes just days after the RNC officially responded to a cease-and-desist demand from Trump’s lawyers over the use of his likeness for fundraising. It’s just a reminder that the party can’t quit Trump — which GOP fundraiser Fred Zeidman told the NYT was “a tremendous complication.”

The continuous bombast, crudeness, and reckless behavior from Trump during his term in office were far more than this nation was willing to allow. It had to end, and it did. The rants and childish ways were an international embarrassment. After all, most of my readers know the difference between Trump and actual leadership, decency, and virtue.

Last year I read the 1912 nomination speech from Warren G, Harding, then an Ohio newspaper editor, for President William Taft at the Republican Convention. The following portion showcases one of those moments of the stark contrast between the Republican Party then and now.

The nomination speech declared that Taft was “as wise and patient as Abraham Lincoln, as modest and dauntless as Ulysses S. Grant, as temperate and peace-loving as Rutherford B. Hayes, as patriotic and intellectual as James A. Garfield, as courtly and generous as Chester A. Arthur, as learned in the law as Benjamin Harrison, as sympathetic and brave as William McKinley……”

No honest person in the Republican Party today could pen a similar type of statement about Trump. No one in the future will wish to have their political career attached to Trump. Character, after all, is not a word that anyone can employ in a favorable way towards Trump.

But the news this weekend does show the difference between trailer park behavior and those who reside at a higher level with character and intelligence.

And so it goes.

What To Say (And Not!) After An Election Night Loss

April 10, 2021

I have over time mentioned the words and tones used by a candidate when conceding an election. There are classy ways to handle what is, without doubt, a tough moment and then there are dreadful ways to make the statement to the winner. The statement that was submitted by Brandi Grayson, the CEO of Urban Triage, following her opponent taking 65% of the vote this week was the most stunning election night comment I have ever become aware of over the decades of following politics.

I deeply respect the handshakes and quick banter that two professional tennis players allow each other following a mentally and physically punishing game.  It is an honorable way to conclude the contest regardless of the outcome.  When it comes to the end of a political campaign I also desire to see the best of one’s character shine.

Madison Isthmus reported the following about Brandi Grayson who was seeking a seat on the city council.

Grayson had some missteps that may have cost her. She sought, received and then shunned an endorsement from Progressive Dane. The political party shares many of her policy positions, including the need to invest more in city services other than the police department. But in January she called the political party “dangerous.” Grayson also strayed far from local issues, drawing criticism from Indigenous people for calling them “red” and claiming that Black people were “the original inhabitants of the land known as America.” 

After the results came in, Grayson said her southside district “voted for anti BLACKNESS.” 

“It wasn’t just [white] people, it was Black people. Lots of Black people. Elders. Church folks. Conservatives. Moderates. And others who just didn’t vote,” Grayson wrote on Facebook on election night. “It was CONFIRMATION that Madison will kill me and allow the mayor and the same alders to show up to give condolences.” 

That reminded me of an embittered Richard Nixon who lost his 1962 California gubernatorial bid and then lashed out at the media. His famous line still echoes with “you don’t have Nixon to kick around any more, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference.”

Over the years I have been able to see in real-time how a concession is handled, while more often reading or watching such a happening through the media.  But in each case, a concession following a hard-fought campaign shows the mettle of a person perhaps better than any other facet of seeking office.

I found it troubling a few years ago when Wisconsin State Assemblyman Adam Jarchow was reported to have tweeted his concession to the victorious Patty Schachtner following the special state senate election. I grasp the fact that everything these days is seemingly done on the gadgets people carry around like aged smokers do with their oxygen tanks.  But when it comes to concessions there is a need to be personal and more connected.  Surely the phone number for the opposing campaign was available.  Call me old-fashioned but just pick up the phone and place the call!

The morning following the 1988 election victory of State Representative Lary Swboda the phone rang in his Kewaunee County home.  I had worked in the district often that fall on the campaign and as I stood in the kitchen as Lary answered the call I was privy to one of the gracious acts of politics.  Bob Papke, then Door County Clerk, had run, up to that time, the most expensive race for the state assembly.  He had been condescending and rather mean-spirited during the months leading to Election Day.  But on the phone, as Papke spoke to Lary there was a gentlemanly quality to the conversation and though the two would never be friends, an air of good sportsmanship was most apparent.

I have no partisan stake regarding concessions as shown when a woman I deeply respect failed at the art of being professional and gracious on election night. That person was a Democratic candidate–and one I had supported–Kathleen Falk.  

I was very disappointed to have read that she did not show up on Election Night to greet campaign workers and countless Democrats who worked so very hard for her over the past many months.  On Election Night she did not need to concede, (given the closeness of the race) but did need to say thanks.  To stay at her home and watch the returns come in was not what many expected.

It is Saturday afternoon as I write this post, and I am unhappy that Kathleen has not conceded the race for Attorney General.  Being defeated in an election after a well-fought effort should not be an embarrassment.  But not being a better sport in the arena of politics is much worse than coming in second place.

The gracious nature of Vice-President Al Gore following the grueling legal wars of a recount in 2000 demonstrates the reasons character matters when it comes to our elections.  The same rules of the road apply in local elections, too.  Being graceful with concessions makes for a strong mark of character.

And so it goes.

Prince Philip’s Death Makes Memorable Front Pages Of Newspapers

April 10, 2021

To the British people, he’s the longest-serving royal consort in the nation’s history serving alongside Queen Elizabeth for 65 years. They had been married for 73 years. The country, indeed the world, is paying tribute today over the news of the death of Prince Philip with truly must-see front pages of newspapers.

Most Americans Do Not Personally Know Active Member Of The Military

April 9, 2021

I have often wondered how military policy would look if more valedictorians served in the armed forces. What would their families demand of policy-makers when constructing international policy or engaging in military maneuvers? Over the years thoughts of this kind percolated when issues of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’, and more recently transgenders openly serving were making headlines  During the national dialogue with both topics the end result furthered an image of the military as being small-minded and backward.

For many in our country who are not involved in the military, but listened and watched those debates, concluded that living a double life was quite pre-Stonewall.  Most Americans know gay people, more and more know a transgender person, and poll after poll shows a strong level of support for a variety of ever-more rights to ensure equality is provided regardless of sexual orientation or biology.  When those topics were making headlines nationally about the military it needs to be noted gay dates for high school proms were no longer uncommon.  In other words, society is moving forward.   

So must the military.

So, it has long been perplexing to me the disconnect between what is happening in neighborhoods across the nation and then what comes from the aging politicians and military planners in Washington.  All this underscores how the mindset of the military as a whole needs to be shaken up.  After all, gay men and women and transexuals just want to serve their country with their heads held high. Does not the nation want a military made up of members serving with pride?

As I think about this matter one question keeps popping forward. Why would any intelligent and self-confident young man or woman coming out of high school want to join the military?  Why would any well-reasoned and educated person want to enter an organization that is so disjointed and illogical when it comes to human sexuality? Or join an organization that is simply backward with their scope of thinking when it comes to people in another land, or the faith they follow?

This should be concerning to us all.

Most people do not personally know any active enlisted members of the military. I do not. But during my life, I have known a number of valedictorians.  Three are in my family.  My husband James, along with my niece Katrina, along with her father Darvin. They all had the honor of representing their class on graduation day. 

But I have known only two people (neither were family, and both were casual acquaintances) who served in Iraq, and in each case, they were stationed there for less than a year.  In one case it was only for a few months, and the young man spent most of it on a base.   When he returned, he told of the type of stunted social development some of his fellow soldiers had, and how uncomfortable it made him hear the way they talked about the people and country where they were stationed.  The words they used were not the ones he heard at home or uttered on his own.

While my dad served in World War II, and a few uncles were in this or that branch of the armed forces, none of their children made the military a destination when they reached adult age.  No one in my high school made the military a career, and the vast majority never even made the military a pit-stop on the road to the future.  I think most people have the same experience as I have had.  Most people simply do not know someone personally in the armed forces.

Why is that? 

Does it not warp the way we feel about war and the policies of the nation if we do not at least know one person involved in a conflict?  It is different to have a young man from the larger community shredded by a roadside bomb than to have a son or cousin meet the same fate.  Does that fact make a difference when we condone this or that military adventure?  I think it does.

I bring this all up today because there is still a strong perception of the military as a place that stigmatizes certain people or groups of people who wish to serve the nation. Such ‘jar-necked’ notions, create an atmosphere where a whole segment of the country says “I want my kid to go to college and not get messed up in the army.”  

That may sound elitist, but it is an honest statement that is played out over and over coast-to-coast in living rooms and kitchens every day.  The military is seen as red-neck and most parents want their kids to have a different direction in life.  That is proved by the fact so many Americans do not know someone serving in the military.

And it will continue to be that way as long as in the military “sand-monkey” is thought to be a funny term, and those who can quote Thoreau are ‘fags’.

It is essential for the long-term military interest of the nation that a strong and determined signal is sent that the modern defense establishment understands that society has changed, and they need to change too.  Until that happens folks across the nation with a good job (because this is also very much an economic issue) are saying “our kids are going to college, they are not getting into the military.”   It has everything to do with what image they want their family to have, and a deeper sense of what parents want their kids to connect with as adults.

Who can blame any parent for wanting the best for their children?

U.S. Gun Violence Is “International Embarrassment”, President Biden Seeking Changes To Gun Culture

April 8, 2021

There has been no other single issue that has engendered more posts on Caffeinated Politics than that of gun violence and the need to enact gun control legislation. There have been 478 posts about gun control over the past 14 years. My desire for stressing the issue started in high school when I wrote my first Letter to the Editor of the Waushara Argus, my country newspaper, about the need for a better understanding of the intent of the Second Amendment. In other words, I have been at this task for over 4 decades.

As I write again about guns I do so with very mixed emotions. While I am heartened with the actions taken by President Biden with his executive actions, I am saddened over two more mass shootings in the news.

By now most of my readers will have heard the reports that a person opened fire, killing one person and critically injuring four other people, in a shooting near an industrial park in Bryan, Texas. Earlier in the day, we learned of former NFL player Phillip Adams committing suicide in South Carolina after he shot and killed five people, including a prominent doctor, his wife, and their two grandchildren.

The shootings, such as reported today, are what too many Americans have come to expect to hear on any given newscast. The mass shootings and obituaries from gun violence are now part of the fabric of daily life in this country. But for many years there has also been a growing demand that someone take leadership that starts to roll the absurdity backward.

Enter President Joe Biden.

While I would like very much to have an enlightened and credible opposition party in congress that works in concert with needed gun control measures, that does not appear to be the case. Therefore, since Congressional Republicans don’t care about tangible government outcomes, instead desiring only saying NO, and offering cultural war issues as a platform, it becomes incumbent on the president to act.

I will be the first to admit the action today was only a portion of what needs to be done. But at the same time, I am pleased that steps are being made and that someone again sits in the Oval Office who does appreciate the gravity of gun violence in this nation.

We learned today that the Justice Department will issue a proposed rule to curb the proliferation of so-called ghost guns, which are those insidious kits that allow a deadly weapon to be assembled from pieces–and more to the point with no serial numbers. The absolute necessity for this rule is obvious as it would require that the components in the kits have serial numbers that would allow them to be traced. I am also very pleased to know that these guns will be legally classified as firearms. And still more important is that these buyers will be subjected to background checks. Such checks are very favorable with the public.

Our President also alerted us today that there will be a requirement that when a device marketed as a stabilizing brace transforms a pistol into a short-barrel rifle, that weapon is subject to the requirements of the National Firearms Act. Anything that enhances the killing power of a gun must be curtailed.

I call upon Congress to act with common sense and pass national red flag legislation. While Biden said the Justice Department would also publish model red flag legislation for states, to make it have teeth will require those elected to safeguard the nation with congressional action. The reason such passage is essential is that this law would allow police officers and family members to petition a court to temporarily remove firearms from people who may present a danger to themselves or others.

The gun topics that Biden presented today are termed 80/20 issues, in that the vast majority of the nation has supported, time and again, these matters in polling data. Even with the NRA in a much-weakened state, it still holds a master’s control over Congressional Republicans. That means the will of the people will be undermined if the needed and popular gun control measures are not enacted.

But more needs to be done than what was talked about today. I strongly supported and advocated Biden’s campaign promise to ban the importation of assault weapons, along with a voluntary gun buyback program. I also want to see the NRA’s desire not to have full data collection and documentation of gun crimes compiled tossed into the trash bin. We simply must demand and then fund both the Justice Department and FBI so they can enforce the nation’s current gun laws, track firearms, and keep complete statistical data.

Gun violence is so out of control that no one law change, or even a slew of them, will stop all the deaths and injuries. We all know that. But the efforts made today, and those urged for the near future are meant to chip away at the segments of gun violence where it is possible to make a real impact. We must at least try.

And so it goes.

White Men So Insecure They Stormed Nation’s Capitol

April 7, 2021

It was a news story that did, once again, underscore the issue of just how dreadfully insecure some white men are in the nation. There is just no way to read the recent story and not shake one’s head in amazement. I would snicker if the insurrection on January 6th had not been deadly, or so damaging to our democracy. However one reacts to the news this week about those arrested one thing is most clear. It is just really sad how some people think, and then act out in such dangerous ways.

Political scientist Robert Pape undertook a study which was published Tuesday in The Washington Post that shows data supports most of the people arrested in the assault on the nation’s capitol harbored more than just ‘outrage’ over the last election. The data shows they came from places that were rampant with fears that the rights of minorities and immigrants were crowding out the rights of white people. (Meanwhile, the majority of our citizenry knows full well that white males have it made in the nation.)

When Pape mined down into the data he found the idea of the Great Replacement, which is an absurd far right-wing lunacy theory that minorities and immigrants are seeking to take over the country, actually has a hold on some whites in this nation. How does a segment of the country become so obsessed with racial paranoia that they attack our capitol?

When we mix less-educated people with a continuous daily blend of disinformation we get the outcome that we saw play out on our televisions early this year.

From Fox News in the morning, right-wing AM radio talk shows throughout the day, and then a bevy of equally appalling hosts on their favorite programming at night it is not hard to understand how some are easily led astray. Add in the successful two-term presidency of ever-popular Barack Obama and how the Republican Party took full advantage of playing to and using the pliable and gullible base, and we wind up with some whites thinking their place of political prominence is on the decline.

Never mind that this base of white voters is continuously duped into working against their own interests. From taxes to health care to climate change this base rejects facts to align with their tribe they have been told will protect them. But all those issues pale in comparison, they are repeatedly told, to the idea that immigrants or people of color are going to make it in life better than they will.

Never mind that the work ethic is stronger and family binds tighter among those immigrants coming across the border than the fractured families that too many white families create. They will not consider that too many of the under-educated whites are not properly trained with skills for the 21st century. I suspect many of them know deep down they can’t even compete with energetic, determined, impassioned immigrants. Someone who will walk and find a way to the southern border has far more gumption than a guy in Ohio that chooses to just grouse about ‘goods made in China’.

While there is no doubt that the violence and death that resulted in the insurrection on January 6th was in large part the result of Donald Trump’s dog whistles, it needs to be better understood the tinder box that is much in evidence with right-wing elements in the nation. Pape’s research is a great service to that end.

And so it goes.

Dose Of Common Sense

April 6, 2021

This is why the GOP ‘demand’ that our ‘normal routines’ open up fully now is a bad idea. The reason I post is due to the continued and ridiculous notion that a sizable segment have about resistance to the vaccines. Vaccines, I needlessly have to add, which are aimed at stopping a pandemic!

Try and wrap your thinking around the absurdity unveiled in the latest polling data.

  • One in five (19%) Americans continue to say they are not at all likely to get the vaccine. This figure has barely budged since the beginning of 2021.
  • Republicans (31%) and those with a high school education or less (28%) remain most resistant to the vaccine.
  • Only half (52%) of parents currently say they are likely to have their child get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is available to their age group.

Just half of U.S. parents plan to get their children vaccinated for COVID-19 as soon as they can, and 48% said they wouldn’t.

It does concern me that Republicans surveyed were most resistant to vaccinating their children. It is insulting to our intelligence to read such polling results. It does, however, underscore what we know about that demographic.

I grew up with WWII-era parents and can speak to the support they gave to the medical and scientific advances then underway to stop or curtail the deadly diseases they knew too often to wreak havoc. As such, I was always marched off to get the next needed vaccination. I suspect a large swath of my readers can say the same about their parents.

Pollster Chris Jackson, senior vice president for Ipsos Public Affairs, said if enough parents remain reluctant over time about their children getting shots, that could spell “the end of the easy part of the vaccination story.”

Education matters, and once again we have proof of that fact.

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