Last Monday, I attended the 33rd Annual Lincoln Awards Luncheon of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence(ICHV). This year’s award recipient was Democratic U.S. Representative Robin Kelly of the 2nd Congressional District. Since long before she was elected to the U.S. House, Congresswoman Kelly has been striving to find ways to reduce the tragedy of gun violence in our society. The ICHV Award recognized her efforts.
Among her comments, Representative Kelly spoke of her attempts to find common ground on the gun issue with Congressional colleagues from both sides of the aisle. For instance, right now there is a push by the NRA to make gun silencers legal. (They have been illegal for civilians for decades in the United States, along with the sawed-off shotgun.)
Hoping to find a Republican legislator who might have a personal perspective on this issue, she made an appointment to speak with Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise. Representative Scalise was one of four congressmen shot while playing baseball with colleagues in Washington D.C.
Kelly was only given 5 minutes of the congressman’s time but made the most of it. She immediately got into a discussion about silencer legalization. She pointed out that if Scalise’s crazy assailant’s gun had been equipped with a silencer a lot more shots could have been fired and people injured or killed before anyone knew what was actually happening. She added that the same could be said about the crowd in the Las Vegas shootings.
But even with such clear logic against silencers staring him in the face, Congressman Scalise told Robin that he will support the legalization of silencers. To me the congressman’s response was mind-boggling. It reminded me once again of how firm the grip of the NRA has become on too many legislators, and how successful the “guns make us safer” propaganda has become as an NRA tool to influence voters. Continue reading Guns for Everyone!
Last week, the NTD News mentioned two upcoming events that I think are especially deserving of some follow-up comments. After living nearly one year with the Trump Administration, it’s clear that his cabinet’s depressing and destructive policies are not about to change. And although it’s the Holiday season, I don’t think we should expect Donald Trump and his Republican leaders to discover compassion after a visit from Marley’s ghost.
But we can’t let them wear us down. And the two gatherings I mentioned above might be just what you need to raise your spirits and your determination as we go into the New Year.
The first event is happening this Sunday afternoon (2:00-3:30 pm) in Evanston at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center, 1655 Foster Ave. It’s being presented by the Indivisible project. – Who are they?
I’ll lift words from their website: “The Indivisible project is a registered 501c(4) nonprofit. Our mission is to cultivate and lift up a grassroots movement of local groups to defeat the Trump agenda, elect progressive leaders, and realize bold progressive policies. Across the nation, over 6,000 local groups (at least 2 in every congressional district) are using the Indivisible Guide to hold their members of Congress accountable. Indivisible is a project of the Advocacy Fund.” (You can learn more by clicking here.)
The appearance of six thousand Indivisible groups across the United States is good news for all of us. Certainly it’s not the first progressive grassroots movement of its kind. Other organizations like it have made their mark in the past and continue to today. Move On, DFA, OFA are three examples. The appearance of a fresh new citizen’s movement like Indivisible is a healthy development. Continue reading Thinking Positive
Tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day, is the holiday that reminds each of us to recognize all the things in our lives for which we should be thankful. — Thanksgiving also kicks off the holiday season, a time when everybody’s schedule gets a bit more hectic. For that reason, I considered excusing myself from writing this week’s commentary.
Also, given the endless barrage of lousy news we’ve had to endure over the past year, I wondered if any discussion in a political blog about feeling thankful would make me sound like a Pollyanna.
Then I looked at things from another angle and decided that I could list just a few suggestions for thankful thoughts. (I’ll be brief) – Yes for us liberals, the year had plenty of political setbacks, policy reversals and embarrassing national moments. And yes, we’ve had to watch the nativism, anger and hate encouraged by Trump and sanctioned by Republican leaders, slowly diminish our nation.
But from a different perspective, here are three positives coming out of the past political year :
— The shock of this past year’s outrages has resulted in an encouraging awakening across the country. A lot of previously uninvolved Americans have awakened to the need for their involvement in the political process. For this we should all be thankful.
— The push back from so many newly attentive American voters is having an effect. It no doubt played a role in the defeat of Republican attempts to destroy the Affordable Care Act. For this we should all be thankful.
— Ironically, we should also be thankful for the highhanded approach by the GOP in presenting their hastily prepared tax reform legislation. It has earned Republicans the increasing distrust of voters as a bright light has stayed focused on its many flaws and inequities. This bodes well for the 2018 mid-term elections and the chance to start repairing things. Continue reading Thank You GOP
Last week in the NTD News commentary, I offered my perception that the Democratic Party needs to present a stronger issue-oriented image. Instead of spending hours of media time reacting to Donald Trump’s endless string of foolish actions and legislative demands, Democrats should proactively be presenting their own clearly defined legislative proposals for helping the American public.
I know that the Democrats who represent us in the House and Senate would say that this is already happening. The periodic email messages from those office holders or from national party leaders (along with a fund solicitation) usually include information about bills the Democrats support or oppose. Even so, as I follow the media each day I am not getting the impression that the American public has any clear idea of what specific legislation Democrats advocate.
So, last Wednesday I noted that Republican efforts to pass a “tax reform” package offers a perfect opportunity for the Democratic Party to position its agenda in the public’s mind. A short, memorable list of tax changes benefiting average Americans is one way to clearly differentiate our priorities from the “reforms” being pushed by Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump and their corporate and billionaire masters.
What specific tax legislation could the Democrats declare they are fighting for? — Well, before I get into that I would point out that this urgent Republican effort to revamp the entire tax system at this moment in time is a highly questionable priority. Is it wise to completely overhaul our tax laws within such a ridiculously short time frame. Is the urgency warranted? Continue reading Democratic Tax Reforms?
Well, the votes from Virginia and New Jersey are in and Democrats have soundly defeated every statewide Republican opponent in those elections. I guess we should, at least briefly, celebrate this victory. Fact is, the winning margins were a bit larger than expected – nearly 8% in Virginia, over 13% in New Jersey.
There are probably several reasons for this. It could be that pollsters and pundits underestimated how disliked Donald Trump is becoming among a growing number of Americans. Also, the TV commercials run by Republicans in Virginia followed the Trump playbook and disgusted or frightened some voters who normally might have ignored the election and stayed home from the polls.
But I’m sure that at least in Virginia, some of the victory margin was the result of the mobilization of volunteer Democrats from across the USA, who did their part phoning to get out the vote. This is encouraging as we near the 2018 Election year. – For those of you who participated in that phone effort, congratulations!
But here’s another aspect of this story. In Virginia, only 47% of the eligible voters did vote (although that was the highest for their state elections in 20 years), and in New Jersey, the turnout was less than 37%. This voter apathy or purposeful disengagement needs to be addressed by Democratic Party strategists.
Voters across the United States are cynical and disillusioned. Today we’re in a world where things are changing so rapidly, the public is desperate for reassurance that someone in their government recognizes their concerns. I won’t get into how we got where we are, it’s a pretty messy trail. But I don’t feel that either political party is offering a clear path to better days. Continue reading Yesterday’s Wins
Sunday, the Democratic Party of Evanston held their Annual Dinner. And speaking as a member of the New Trier Democrats, I must say it was an inspiring evening. But I guess that’s always the case when North Shore liberals, their office holders and candidates all get together with the common goals of protecting and furthering progressive values. Good people. Good goals.
As you’d expect, there were plenty of candidates mingling with the crowd. To me, two were particularly memorable. One was our former Governor, Pat Quinn, who had just announced his candidacy for Illinois Attorney General. That surprised a lot of people. He seemed rested and ready to enter a Primary race that features several formidable Democratic candidates.
The other person who especially caught my attention was Kelly Mazeski, one of ten (at this point) Democrats who have declared their candidacy for the 6th Congressional District. Why was a 6th District candidate schmoozing with a roomful of 9th District voters? Well, the 6th’s seat is presently held by Republican Peter Roskam — and wherever we Democrats might live in Illinois, we all want to see Roskam gone from Congress.
It was also interesting to me that the candidacies of Kelly Mazeski, and all of her 6th District Democratic opponents, did relate directly to the message presented by the Dinner’s featured speaker, Dr. Austan Goolsbee. Continue reading Goolsbee’s Goal
This week started off with two Republican senators, Bob Corker and Jeff Flake, condemning the leader of their political party, President Donald Trump, for his incessantly un-presidential conduct. To me, their protests were long overdue.
Sure, I know we’ve heard such criticism before. But it has pretty much all come from Democrats. (The exception would be Senator John McCain, who loathes Trump in general.) The White House and Republican leaders chalked up those past criticisms to party politics. However, this time the criticism was from Republicans, U.S. Senators no less.
So, is this the start of something big? Will a growing number of Republican Congress-members join in a public censure of Trump’s behavior? I wouldn’t hold my breath. The two Senators who were so outspoken have also said they aren’t running for reelection. – So much for political bravery. Continue reading Donald the Distractor
Here’s a list of local and statewide Democratic candidates (so far) seeking your vote in the 2018 Primary Election. Below, we provide links to the candidates’ campaign websites. Not all candidates have campaign websites at this time. We will try to update this information as it becomes available.
A number of years ago, after some sort of nationally tragic shooting — a political assassination…a crazed gunman on the loose… I can’t remember which — I had this thought: If I were a government strategist working for America’s Cold War adversary, the Soviet Union, and my mission was to create instability in the United States, I would do everything I could to encourage an indiscriminate proliferation of guns across our nation. The distrust, divisiveness and fear this would generate would be an inexpensive “battlefield” victory.
Back then, whenever anyone questioned the presence of so many guns in civilian hands, the National Rifle Association defended those millions of weapons as America’s insurance against a Soviet invasion. It was a kind of Hollywood scenario, like in the movie “Red Dawn.” (Today, ironically, the “patriotic” NRA’s rationale is that guns might someday protect us from our own government.)
The NRA’s Soviet invasion rationale was clearly bogus. It’s highly doubtful that Soviet intelligence ever believed that the best strategy to weaken the United States as a world power would be to physically invade our huge nation. But if other less costly methods had been found, they might have been worth trying.
Anyway… the Soviet Union is now long gone. And until recently I hadn’t thought much more about my musings on how a foreign power could weaken the fabric of our society by simply encouraging a potentially dangerous American peculiarity. But recently, I’ve realized I was on to something. Over the past year as we’ve learned of Russia’s meddling in our election I now see clearly how a shrewd adversary can weaken a nation’s internal cohesion and its position in the world without setting foot in that country or firing a single shot.
Continue reading Russia Invades Texas
On Sunday, the New Trier Dems held their annual fundraising dinner. The turnout was impressive. And as the crowd gathered during the social hour prior to the dinner, the energy generated by so many politically engaged Democrats was palpable.
I suppose that’s not surprising as we approach a crucially important election year. However, there seemed to be an additional vibe to the evening that struck me as unusual. Some of this feeling may have simply come from the exceptional number of serious candidates mingling with the crowd. But I think beyond that, there was an undercurrent of urgency in the conversations I had or overheard that I haven’t felt in years – or maybe never.
Without specifically saying the words, a lot of thoughtful people are starting to recognize that the United States is in real danger of being destroyed or at the least permanently disfigured by our psychologically defective President and his blindly loyal supporters.
I never felt this vibe during the bumbling years of George W. Bush with his disastrous involvement in Iraq. Nor during the Vietnam War years when our country was so deeply divided. Or even during Nixon’s Watergate crimes (when, thankfully, we still had a Congress that wasn’t dysfunctional). Back then I knew our country was being harmed but I never had this sense that we were in danger of forever losing America’s potential to be a better nation. Continue reading Dinner Notes