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Gun Safety Is Important - And We Are Still Failing To Act

Category: Guns
Posted: 11/07/17 08:28

by Dave Mindeman

The myriad of gun trolls that pervade the internet dismiss any argument about gun safety with a blizzard of arguments that never seem to center on what guns do.

The argument they make is that if you don't know the difference between a semi-automatic and automatic weapon, then you have no business in the debate.

Really?

Do semi-automatic and automatic weapons both kill? Do they kill large numbers of people in a short period of time? What else do we need to know? The technicalities (and there are many) that gun manufacturers have placed on the mechanics and nuances of the various weapons in this country are meant to distort what the real debate happens to be. And that debate is essentially, how do we keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous people.

The NRA and gun activists oppose any changes in any method of weapons restriction. We cannot have a CDC study on guns. We cannot ban weapons from those on the no-fly list. We cannot have an effective registry because the lobbyists refuse to allow proper records to be maintained.

Here is the main example:

The ATF's record-keeping system lacks certain basic functionalities standard to every other database created in the modern age. Despite its vast size, and importance to crime fighters, it is less sophisticated than an online card catalog maintained by a small town public library.

To perform a search, ATF investigators must find the specific index number of a former dealer, then search records chronologically for records of the exact gun they seek. They may review thousands of images in a search before they find the weapon they are looking for. That's because dealer records are required to be "non-searchable" under federal law. Keyword searches, or sorting by date or any other field, are strictly prohibited.


Records still can be found - but the intention is to make it slow and difficult. How effective are background checks going to be if records are maintained this way?

The recent "error" by the Air Force about the Texas shooter is, yet, another example of how reports on guns are not taking seriously. The NRA lobbies Congress to make things as difficult as possible.

And then there is the merging of gun records and mental health records.

Even though federal law prohibits the sale of firearms to certain individuals with a history of mental illness, history has shown that it's still too easy for dangerous people experiencing a mental health crisis to obtain firearms. Currently, laws are in place that require licensed dealers (but not unlicensed sellers) to conduct a background check prior to the transfer of a firearm to screen out these and other prohibited purchasers.

However, federal law cannot require states to make information identifying these people available to the federal or state agencies that perform background checks, and many states fail to voluntarily report the necessary records to the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), especially with respect to people prohibited from possessing guns for mental health reasons. As a result, some individuals known to be dangerous can pass background checks and obtain firearms.


You would think that we could make these processes easier and more straightforward. But under the watchful eye of the NRA, all of these methods of maintaining records are made difficult, restricted and in some cases simply ignored by the various states - especially deep red ones.

At some point, we have to decide what type of legislator do we want to make decisions on the laws regarding guns.

What we have now is just woefully inadequate and it has made America less safe than other developed countries. Terrorism has certainly given us a set of difficult problems - but compound that with dangerous people obtaining military style weapons in a retail setting - well, I think you know what that means.

The last mass killing with a gun in Australia led to gun bans and actual confiscation. They have not had a major incident since. Weapons are highly restrictive in Europe and ownership in Japan is minimal.

We, not only have the worst record on mass killings of any other industrialized country, but we are the only nation that pushes for less control on weapons rather than more.

Nobody advocates doing what Australia did. But there are common sense measures that can work if allowed to and there is public support to do just that.

Guns are never going away in America. And that is fine. But they are dangerous and public safety demands that we address that.

Technical arguments about guns don't matter - safety does.
comments (2) permalink

Lessons of 1972

Category: 2016
Posted: 11/02/17 23:04

by Dave Mindeman

I have been involved in politics since the George McGovern campaign. You remember that don't you? The anti-war candidate. The liberal's liberal. The victim of the Nixon subterfuge. I loved McGovern. He spoke real truth to power. He believed in liberal ideals. He would fight for the poor and downtrodden. He believed that Vietnam was a massive mistake.

He took the Democratic Party by storm and carried so many young people with him to.....

ignominious defeat.

The worst political thrashing I ever saw. Lost nearly every state. Lost the popular vote 37-61. It left me stunned. Disillusioned. Hopeless.

It was not so much that my candidate lost, but the ideas that I thought were obviously the "right" ideas got thrashed as well. The country obviously did not believe in the same liberal ideas that I did. I was crushed.

But I kept going. I learned something valuable. That ideals and election politics are different things. The mandate to make policy goes to the winners -not the ones with the best ideas.

After that election, being liberal became a joke for many years. Pie in the sky liberals. Idealistic neophytes. No connection to reality. Yeah, I heard them all.

Since that time, I have worked ceaselessly on working for political change. It has happened from time to time, but never with any sense of completeness. I have learned that you have to accept setbacks. You have to accept politics as it is, not as you want it to be.

Democrats have often been ill equipped for the fight and often fight each other more than the real political enemy.

The Bernie supporters remind me of that time in 1972. You want to find some excuse for why things did not work. It was all so unfair. The system is biased against us. We need to change everything. It is all bad.

In 1972, I learned that it wasn't the system that had to change, because there are too many negative forces holding it in place....rather it was I who had to change. To stop hiding behind my sense of right and wrong and understand that politics is really nothing about right and wrong - rather it is a method of obtaining power - of simply winning with whatever it takes.

It is a game with no rules. It is unfortunate, but true.

And the only absolute necessity is for a Party to stand together against the other side. If we had a European parliamentary system, there would be more room for party nuance. To form real coalitions with votes and power. But we do not have that. This is a two party democracy with all the flaws and foibles that go along with that narrow definition.

Which is why the here and now is so important. Our democracy is at serious risk. We have a President who understands completely how things work with no rules. How to get the advantage at every turn. To manipulate people and power.

And, once again, we continue to believe that right will still win out. That justice will always prevail. And that Camelot still exists.

Learn the lessons of 1972. As Vince Lombardi put it so well -

"Winning isn't everything; it's the ONLY thing."
comments (0) permalink

The Resistance Needs An End Game

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 11/02/17 02:39

by Dave Mindeman

There are a lot of different resistance groups - many, many of them. A lot of the people involved have found themselves newly active - ready to make a difference...to fight the good fight.

But it is one thing to turn your outrage into action. It's another to really and truly change government and policy.

I'd like all of you in the resistance to please take note. Nothing I say here is meant to discourage you; far from it. And nothing I say here is intending to tell you what you should do or how to do it.

But I would like you to assess and think about your end goal.

People I have met who are active in this new resistance do not like either party. They are sick of politics and how it works. They want to really change things and make things better.

Those are noble goals. But the basic question is how? How do we make things better.

Holding forums...talking policy....meeting together for discussion. Those are all good things, but as you move into the next year, where does this lead?

The truth is - it brings you back to the Democratic Party. We all know how the Republican Party does things. They have control and it is pretty chaotic. And let's get realistic - the Republican Party is not a governing party.

There really ends up being only two choices - and, to me, we are left with the Democrats because the Republican Party has morphed into something untenable. For some of you, that choice seems just as bad. You have bad feelings about the things they do. And they have just as many bad actors and what appears to be unfair rules.

But if you come full circle, we are talking about who wins in November. Who will get to decide legislative agendas - policy - and governance. And though you may not like the Democratic method of campaigning or how the ads are made or the rhetoric they use - Democrats have a proven record of making government work....and for everybody, not just the 1%.

Yes, they take in the big donations. They have to. It is how the campaign finance system works. It is how you compete in campaigns. We have at least a better chance of changing that with Democrats winning than we do with Republicans bought and paid for by big money.

So, what I am trying to say is that with all the things you want to fix in our political structure, the end game has to be Democrats winning election contests. You have to embrace a Party you may not like or trust, but which represents the only means of escaping the ridiculous nature of our current power structure.

We have caucuses coming up in early February. If you want to effect change and restructure the Democratic Party - your only path is to attend the caucus and begin the process of moving through the chain of events that lead to nominations and campaigns.

My wife, Roxanne, has been dedicated to educating people about this process. And it is not to indoctrinate people into the Democratic Party, but rather teach you how to navigate it for change.

She holds classes in Apple Valley (DCUE Office, 6950 146th St. W #112,
Apple Valley, MN 55124) on the 3rd Saturday of every month through the caucuses and beyond. That would be something important to attend and learn about, because that is the only way to truly fix any of this.

The Democratic Party has serious flaws - but quite frankly both parties do and that will never change. Because of our two party system, Republicans and Democrats pull in coalitions of people - neither is a monolithic entity. And because of that, there are going to be things that one group or another does not like. You have to work around the things you do not agree with 100% to promote the things that are important to you. At the very least, the Democratic Party is closer to the needs of the resistance than the Republicans....and third parties are not feasible in this climate.

The real differences in the Parties is that Democrats truly do represent a Big Tent philosophy - especially with minority and low income groups. Yes, they disappoint us in that regard. Mostly because they have not been in power much lately and when they are, they are very timid in their actions. But that makes it all the more important that the resistance activity bolster the energy of the party and steer it in the right direction. That has to be done within the Party - having a say - making your points.

Republicans have shown quite clearly how tribal they are. Despite all the talk about "Never Trump", they still, in the end voted for him in November. They always vote R - regardless of where that R ends up.

So, please, examine the direction you want all of this to go. Activity is good and if you wish to continue only that - great, I hope it works for you.

But if you want to make an electoral difference...if you want your policy ideas to have a chance at being implemented - then you have to choose what you want November 2018 to look like.

If 2018 is not a strong Democratic year - well, we are looking at more of what we have now.

If you are like me - then you cannot take another day of this.
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