Keeping Things in Perspective

I have sat down to write about my friend VERNON a couple of times. Nothing I have written seems right.

xTgsHMATQ4StB4ArbffqAQI am lucky enough to live on the seacoast of New Hampshire. We are still a town small enough where you get to know most everyone and everyone still stops to help. Vern is a character in this town. Everyone knows him. His bright smile. His happy, “hello!” and his generally cheerful disposition.

I first met Vern at the now closed BREAKING NEW GROUNDS. The cafe on Market Square frequented by locals and tourists alike. Vern and I would share a table with a few other regulars as I had my afternoon coffee.  Sometimes we would talk, sometimes we would both be reading or writing. If you were lucky enough- you would make Vern’s CARD LIST.  He would sit at  the cafe and write cards to friends. Things to cheer them up, wish them a good day or just say “HI”. (I made the list by the way!) Vern has some medical issues that make walking and balance a challenge.  Even though getting around for him is difficult, he is in town on most days. At our new coffee hang out, Cup of Joes, at The Gaslight for lunch or just walking through town and sitting outside on warmer days. Many locals know Vern from his days working at the bank or the art gallery.

As the year went on, Vern’s mobility challenges increased. He went from a cane to a walker. He regularly goes to PT and I have even brought him to my Portsmouth gym, Atlantic Gymnastics, to work on some strength.

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My personal goal is to see him back on a cane this spring.

Vern and I were trying to meet up for a coffee today. I was running late because today was one of those days where I was just not having any luck. I plow my gyms and properties and today I needed to spread salt on our icy parking lots. In short, the salt spreader broke. I had to spread the salt by hand. Take the salt spreader apart. Try to fit it. In the process of trying to fix it break off two bolts skinning all the knuckles on one hand.  I then ended up bleeding all over my jacket as I drive the truck to the mechanic who will now fix what I couldn’t.

I could have been in a really pissed off mood. I was late for meetings, behind with work that I needed to do. And I was going to miss my coffee with Vern. But you know what? I live in a great area. With a great family and great friends. I can get around with out any help. I do not need a cane or a walker and if I did I know that people in town would help me carry my coffee.

Vern- Thanks for helping me keep things in perspective and thanks for the cookie today!

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UC San Diego history prof’s book on fall of Rome’s democracy draws parallels to today

UC San Diego history prof’s book on fall of Rome’s democracy draws parallels to today

The parallels are striking: Rising income inequality. Partisan gridlock. The erosion of political norms and the loss of faith in public institutions. Angry populist uprisings.

Is America going the way of Rome?

“Mortal Republic,” by UC San Diego history professor Edward Watts, raises the question. The book has been garnering national media attention — The New Yorker, Smithsonian, Time, Vox, the New York Times — since its release in November.

“The lesson we can take away from the Roman example is that a republic doesn’t last unless you protect it,” Watts said in an interview. “It can and will die unless you ensure that it lives and thrives.”

Rome’s representative democracy lasted almost 500 years, still among the longest in history, and its checks and balances and other consensus-building elements were used by America’s founders as they drafted their own system of government.

But what the Romans put in place slowly crumbled and led to an autocrat taking power, and the early Americans understood that, too. The United States would be a republic, Benjamin Franklin once said, “if we can keep it.”

Watts, 43, has been teaching Roman history for about 20 years and he’s noticed a shift in his students’ interests away from the later empire to what its republic might teach us about the challenges facing democracies in the United States and elsewhere.

He found himself increasingly having similar conversations with family and friends. And he began thinking about the structural similarities between the Roman government when it started coming under strain and some of the things happening today.

So he wrote this book, his fifth.

The main purpose was to help readers “better appreciate the serious problems that result both from politicians who breach a republic’s political norms and from citizens who choose not to punish them for doing so,” he writes.

Watts cites complacency as a key danger.

“You take for granted the fact that you are going to live in a free society and you take for granted the fact that the republic that’s been there for hundreds of years is going to remain there for hundreds more,” he said.

“What that does is give you the false sense of assurance that you can take steps and make decisions that have short-term benefits for you as a politician or as a voter, but have long-term consequences that are quite negative for the system.”

Asking questions

Watts grew up in New Jersey and got his Ph.D in history at Yale. He taught for 10 years at Indiana University in Bloomington before coming in 2012 to UC San Diego, where he specializes in Roman and Byzantine history.

“I got interested in history because as a high school student I was first exposed to Roman culture and Roman history and really was shocked by how much we could learn from a society that is so distant from us,” he said.

That got him asking questions, trying to bridge the present and the past, and he found the process both challenging and rewarding.

“Mortal Republic” shows how Rome’s elected leaders who initially believed in national service and personal honor moved away from collaboration, compromise and consensus as the population expanded.

Wealth became concentrated in a small number of families who figured out how to manipulate an increasingly sophisticated economy, and they used their money to influence the political process. The fortunes of the middle class stagnated.

Attempts to address income inequality and ease public resentment moved slowly. Rome’s army was privatized, which eventually caused soldiers to put the interests of plundering commanders (and their own desires to share in the loot) ahead of their country.

Over the course of a century, starting in about 130 B.C., outbreaks of economic populism grew increasingly violent. Government rules were broken, traditions ignored, the notion of a common good trampled. Immigrants were disparaged. Politicians used their own militias to intimidate opponents, and when that didn’t work they sometimes turned to assassinations.

Eventually came civil war, and the republic was done. Romans traded liberty for the stability promised by the autocracy of Augustus.

“Above all else, the Roman republic teaches the citizens of its modern descendants the incredible dangers that come along with condoning political obstruction and courting political violence,” Watts writes. “Roman history could not more clearly show that, when citizens look away as their leaders engage in these corrosive behaviors, their republic is in mortal danger.”

Because of when his book came out, some online-forum commentators have dismissed it as a thinly veiled jab at President Trump, whose two years in the White House have been marked by a steady upending of the status quo.

Watts was writing the book during the 2016 campaign, so Trump was certainly on his mind. But he said the president wasn’t the main target.

Political, not partisan

Like most college historians, Watts is cautious about going too far in comparing and contrasting what happened 2,000 years ago to what’s going on today.

“You can’t take a political figure like Trump or Pelosi or whoever and say there’s a Roman example and this is how we understand this person,” he said.

Instead he hopes readers will see that his book “gives us a set of tools to think about the American republic as something that has particular qualities, and it allows us to imagine courses of action that allow us to advocate for the system,” he said. “So in that sense, I think the book is both highly political and not partisan. I hope that it gives us a way to speak for the larger concern about our political system.”

His own view is that “we are in a dangerous political process right now. I think that we’re in the middle of something, the end of the beginning maybe.”

But he also thinks “we have time to right the ship” if Americans can “again embrace what makes our republic work, and defend it.”

That means being willing to support a politician’s policies while also objecting to his or her methods, Watts said. It means refusing to allow governance be a zero-sum game where one side wins and the other side loses.

“I think that’s one of the profound departures we have in the United States from what a republic is supposed to do,” Watts said. “In a functional republic, you don’t have politicians playing exclusively to their base and disregarding everybody else.”

He’s been heartened by the responses to the book from critics and other readers who think it “offers a way we can think positively about steps we can take to maybe correct the trajectory of our political life.”

Will we take them?

“I won’t say that I can guarantee that will happen,” he said. “But I think there is a path forward that has a positive outcome. The challenge we have is to understand what that path is, and decide if that’s what we as a society want.”

A List of Presidents Worst to Best

I firmly believe that no one is purely good or purely evil. The presidents job must be insanely difficult. The stress of the  decisions they must make even with the BEST advisors would drive me over the edge.  I googled ” Presidents BEST and WORST moments” . I wasn’t looking for anything overly political slamming one person or defending another. I was just looking for some facts. Here is what I found. I think it was from USA Today.

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Author’s note: Yes, I know there have officially been 45 presidents. See below for the commander in chief who messed up the numbers.

The bad ones

44. James Buchanan – Didn’t believe black people should be allowed citizenship. Also did nothing to prevent the Civil War, which led to the death of hundreds of thousands of people. If his own mother saw him walking down the street, she’d punch him right in the nose.

43. Franklin Pierce – Remembered for 1.) trying to expand slavery into Kansas and Nebraska; 2.) nothing else.

42. Andrew Jackson – Slave trader. Slaughterer of Native Americans. On $20 bill!

41. William Henry Harrison – Died after 31 days in office. Tried to officially legalize slavery in Indiana when he served as governor of the territory. Known by nicknames “Old Tippecanoe,” “Hot Rod.”

40. John Tyler – After his presidency, he was elected to the Confederate Congress. Like if the “Independence Day” sequel featured Bill Pullman running for mayor of Mars.

39. James K. Polk – As a 10-year-old, he had surgery for bladder stones. His only anesthetic? Brandy. That’s pretty cool, but he also supported slavery.

38. Zachary Taylor – Body was exhumed in 1991 after a theory surfaced that he was poisoned because of his anti-slavery stance. He owned slaves, too, but felt icky about it. Back then that made him a progressive.

37. Andrew Johnson – Slave owner. Was tasked with healing the nation after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Responded by getting impeached.

36. Millard Fillmore — Once belonged to the Know Nothing Party, a political organization built on hatred of Catholics and Irish immigrants. Somehow that’s the second-worst thing he did. Also supported returning slaves to their plantations. (Man, a lot of these guys supported slavery.)

35. Donald Trump – At least he doesn’t support slavery.

34. Richard Nixon – Fascinating and brilliant man who obliterated any chance of us ever trusting the federal government again.

33. George W. Bush – Started wars and stood by as the economy disemboweled itself. In a few years, when we’re fighting off radioactive slug monsters for half-eaten cans of pinto beans, we’ll remember him fondly.

32. John Adams – Thought it should be illegal to criticize the president. If elected today, he would imprison half of all Facebook users.

31. Warren G. Harding – Used his power to enrich oil companies. Patron saint to all current politicians.

30. Herbert Hoover – Once ordered the U.S. military to attack a bunch of World War I veterans, a story that is somehow true.

The mediocre ones

29. James Garfield – Shot six months into his term. Died after his surgeons failed to wash their hands. Went on to inspire a famous comic strip: “Cathy.”

28. Gerald Ford – Did great Chevy Chase impression.

27. Bill Clinton – Walking personal disaster with a shady political legacy. Still one of the more likable Democrats.

26. Chester A. Arthur – Had the same facial hair as Lemmy from Motorhead.

25. Martin Van Buren – Fighting to end slavery? Great! Forcing Native Americans off their land? Not great at all.

24. George H.W. Bush – Until he died he Could probably still beat you up.

23. Jimmy Carter – Was a very nice man and therefore unqualified to be president.

22. Rutherford B. Hayes – Had great beard. Truly the hipster of the 1870s aristocrat crowd.

21. William McKinley – Never climbed Mount McKinley.

20. Grover Cleveland – Only man to be elected to non-consecutive terms (thanks for messing up the numbers on this list, G.C.). Took four years off in between to travel through Europe and find himself.

19. Benjamin Harrison – Former Indiana resident! Fought for black voting rights. Utterly forgotten, should be remembered.

18. William Howard Taft – Last president to consistently wear facial hair, at least until the Dwight D. Eisenhower Mutton Chop Debacle of 1954.

17. Lyndon Johnson – Champion of Civil Rights. War-criminal-esque bungler of Vietnam. Picked up his beagles by their ears; did the same thing to Vice President Hubert Humphrey.

16. Calvin Coolidge – His refusal to regulate Wall Street may have partly led to the crash of ’29. But hey, he also kept his mouth shut most of the time, and that’s such an endearing quality these days that I’m surprised I didn’t rank him No. 1.

15. Harry S. Truman – Lost 1948 election to Thomas Dewey in a landslide.

14. Dwight D. Eisenhower – When people say “Make America Great Again,” they’re talking about returning to the Eisenhower administration of the 1950s. And why not? It was positively utopic – unless you were black, Hispanic, LGBT or a woman.

The good ones

13. Ulysses S. Grant – U-S-A! U-S-A!

12. Woodrow Wilson – Maybe I should put his wife, Edith Wilson, here instead. She basically ran the executive branch after Wilson had a stroke in his second term.

11. Barack Obama – You’re probably mad about this.

10. Ronald Reagan – Great Communicator. Pioneer of greedy-Wall-Street implosions. Beloved by current-day politicians he would probably hate.

9. John F. Kennedy – American icon whose death hurled the country into a dank darkness from which it still hasn’t crawled. His life was cut short before he could truly achieve greatness / screw everything up.

8. John Quincy Adams – Better than his dad.

7. James Madison – Owned slaves. But he basically wrote the Constitution, so people conveniently forget about that.

6. James Monroe – Owned slaves. After Jefferson and Adams, he was the third president to die on the Fourth of July – none of which, surprisingly, from fireworks accidents.

5. George Washington – Owned slaves. Father of our country. Had wooden teeth, horse hair, bionic limbs that gave him supernatural jumping ability.

4. Theodore Roosevelt – Davy Crocket killed a bear when he was only three. Teddy wondered what took him so long.

3. Franklin Roosevelt – Piloted America through the Great Depression and World War II. Remembered by conservatives as filthy communist.

2. Thomas Jefferson – Basically one of the most fascinating Americans to ever live. Stratospheric genius. Hypocritical slave owner.

1. Abraham Lincoln – An American saint. I’m tempted to write “if you don’t like Lincoln, you can get the hell out,” but he would hate that statement because it goes against everything the country he saved stands for.

Topping this list with Lincoln is like ending a rundown of “best hamburgers” with filet mignon. He was too good for us and we didn’t deserve him.

We probably don’t deserve this country either, but we’re lucky to have it. Let’s not make the same mistake we did with Lincoln.

Cruising with Mom

This last week I took my MOM on a cruise.

5 years ago my wife lost her mom. My mother-in-law was a great lady and my wife and I both wish we had more time with her. Another dinner, another vacation. I learned that time is fleeting and we need to make the best of the time we have. Ever since then, I have taken my mom on a vacation every year. We have been to Iceland and on a few cruises.

My parents divorced when I was 10. My brother and I lived most of the time with our Mom. There is a tight bond between us. This year Mom and I decided to go on a cruise out of Tampa. What she didn’t know is that my brother and his son were going to join us.

We boarded the ship, checked into our stateroom and went and sat on the deck. My brother texted me when he arrived. I said, “Mom, lets go see if our luggage is here”. We went down in our room and I texted my brother that we were here.

There was a knock on the door and I asked mom to go get it. She opened up the door and there stood her grandson. She was stunned. She looked at me, back at him and said, “how did you get here?”. Then my brother stuck his head around the corner.

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After she was done crying we went out on the balcony for a group photo

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The trip was great.

Mom has always struggled with directions.  She is the kind of person who needs a GPS to get out of her driveway. We can laugh about it now BUT she spend a great deal of time wandering around the ship trying to find our room, the restaurant or the casino. I pointed out that our stateroom was 79. Therefore on the ODD (starboard) side of ship.

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At one point my brother and I were sitting at a bar and talking to someone about mom’s lack of direction. We look up, and there goes mom wandering by. A few minutes later she wandered by in the other direction.

It was a pretty stormy trip. Rain and wind but we had a good time. Our stateroom had a good size (nearly walk in) closet. Mom had stepped in to get a shirt and a wave pitched the boat closing the closet door on her. There was NO HANDLE on the inside of the closet! She did manage to wedge her fingers in and get the door open. It was pretty funny.

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What we know and what we don’t know.

Warning, folks, this one’s long. It’s been a busy, busy week for USA Gymnastics, the fallout from which is ongoing and seemingly continual. So, let’s sum up what we know: A. Rhonda Faehn, National Team Coordinator, was forced to resign/fired/let go, for reasons unknown. B. Following Faehn’s removal – which may or may not have […]

via What we know, what we don’t know – and what we suspect — College gym writer – and gym writer, period.

WHAT ANIMALS THINK ABOUT EPA CHIEF SCOTT PRUITT

WHAT ANIMALS THINK ABOUT EPA CHIEF SCOTT PRUITT

“Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, is under increased White House scrutiny over his housing and travel arrangements as some of his own senior staff are expressing growing frustration with the public criticism of their boss.” — New York Times, April 5, 2018

– – –

American White Pelican
(Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)
Galveston, Texas

“Scott Pruitt’s scandals at the EPA are pretty damaging, in my opinion,” said the pelican, who then resumed his attempts to extricate himself from a puddle of sludge spreading from an oil refinery that would suffer no consequences for its actions. “This is probably the worst thing he has ever done.”

Piping Plover
(Charadrius melodus)
Lake Huron, Michigan

“I find it pretty suspicious that an EPA administrator was renting an apartment for such a low price from the wife of an energy lobbyist,” noted one of the last piping plovers in the Great Lakes, hopping along the shore and searching fruitlessly for any location for a nest that wasn’t already destroyed by human activity or climate change. “And what makes me angry is that I know the real estate in D.C. is expensive. It’s just so unfair.”

Channel catfish
(Ictalurus punctatus)
Ohio River

“If you ask me, giving huge raises to your staffers without going through the normal administrative procedures is unacceptable,” said a catfish who prided herself on reading Politico every morning. “And he should have been more careful. Just look at all of the turnover there’s already been in Trump’s cabinet so far.” She then resumed her leisurely swim downstream, ingesting astronomical levels of arsenic, lead, and mercury that would be passed on to the fisherman who caught her later that day.

Polar Bear
(Ursus maritimis)
Northern Alaska

“But did he really do anything so bad?” asked a Republican-leaning polar bear on a patch of ice. “I mean, yes, he rented his apartment from the wife of an energy lobbyist. But I’m sure lots of lobbyists and government officials responsible for regulation are friends. It’s a revolving door.” At that moment, the bear heard about the EPA administrator’s travel expenses. “What the hell?” he exclaimed, as his ice broke away and started floating into the open ocean.

American Bison
(Bison bison)
Yellowstone National Park

“I personally have more issues with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. I just don’t like that guy,” opined the large land mammal before being shot by a poacher.

Wood Frog
(Lithobates sylvaticus)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

“I’m so confused,” confessed the amphibian, wallowing pensively in the metallic green water of a pond near the heart of American industry. “Who’s in the government anymore? Who’s out? Will we have any stability in policy? This is what worries me most of all.” The frog had seven eyes.

Monarch butterfly
(Danaus plexippus)
Raleigh, North Carolina

“Does anything even matter?” asked a monarch butterfly, raising its wings in exasperation as it was blown off course on its annual migration by the exhaust from a vehicle that was no longer subject to fuel efficiency standards. “I’m so tired even trying to argue about it at this point. If he leaves, someone else will take his place who will have exactly the same views. It’ll look new and different, but inside it’ll be the same gross hairy caterpillar.”

Canary
(Serinus canaria)
Coal Mine, West Virginia

The canary had no opinions on any scandals at the EPA. Because it was dead.

Today’s Rebels Are Model Children

Source: The Parkland Rebels Are Model Children – The Atlantic

Today’s Rebels Are Model Children

The young protesters now on the march are responsible and mature—and they’re asking adults to grow up.

Emma González speaks at the March For Our Lives.
Anyone used to worrying about coddled young people, their backbone eroded by oversolicitous elders and smartphone addiction, was in for a surprisingly mature show of spine at last weekend’s March for Our Lives. The Parkland, Florida, survivors-turned-prodigy-activists and their followers—along with Dreamers and other youthful protesters lately—couldn’t possibly be denounced as out-of-control “bums,” President Nixon’s epithet for (older) student protesters half a century ago.

Quite the contrary. These young people do grit and gumption with star-pupil poise and politeness. “Sorry for the inconvenience,” read one teenager’s sign at the Washington, D.C., rally. “We’re trying to change the world.” Nearby, a kid proudly waved a neon-orange poster that proclaimed, in big letters, “GPA > NRA.” The call-and-response chant that carried the day, under the direction of Martin Luther King Jr.’s 9-year-old granddaughter, conveyed the same overachiever zeal: “Spread the word all across the nation, we are going to be a great generation.” The Parkland student Emma González’s feat of silence at the podium, as the writer Nathan Heller tweeted, defied category: “the fact that it was conceived—and dared—by a high-schooler is breathtaking.” The adults on hand didn’t presume to boss off-the-charts performers like these around.  “If you don’t listen to them now,” read one woman’s poster, ”they won’t listen to you later.”

Last weekend’s march was not the first evidence of super-upstarts, aggrieved youths totally on top of their game in a way that few grown-ups in political life are these days. Two months ago, more than 100 sports-prodigies-turned-public-survivors made national headlines as they delivered their stunning version of the same call—protect us, and listen to us. At the sentencing hearing of Dr. Larry Nassar, convicted of serially abusing athletes under his care, his victims powerfully yoked personal trauma to a systemic indictment. “Adult after adult, many in positions of authority, protected you,” said the former captain of the phenomenal U.S. Olympic gymnastics team, Aly Raisman, staring straight at Nassar. “How do you sleep at night?… You are the person [the USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee] had ‘take the lead on athlete care.’… I cringe to think your influence remains in the policies that are supposed to keep athletes safe.”

The reverse side of the “Sorry for the inconvenience” sign at the march aptly summed up the unexpected generational dynamic on public display: “When our children act like leaders and our leaders act like children you know change is coming.” Today’s young protesters—the Dreamers have been at this for a while—aren’t extremist misfits, or out-of-control tweeters, or squabbling grandstanders. Their trademark is breaking the mold by being the ultimate model children. They win gold medals at the Olympics, write 50-page term papers on the U.S. gun-control debate, excel at the piano (as the girl who first inspired Senator Dick Durbin’s DACA mission did). They strive not just to fit in but to soar in America.

As disciplined achievers, they aren’t just a stark contrast to their shaggy 1960s forebears—viewed by their elders as “vagabond dropouts in a vaguely academic orbit,” Renata Adler wrote in a New Yorker piece about student organizers back in 1965. More relevant, they subvert stereotypes of Millennials and Gen Z kids as needy snowflakes. Young people, the refrain goes, have been hovered over at home and cosseted by “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces” at school. Immersion in social media has corroded their attention spans, mental health, interpersonal relations, and agency in the real world.

Yet the recent upsurge of youthful activism doesn’t look much like a symptom of arrested development or fragility. The triggers that these kids are worried about are physical, not just psychological (guns are a leading cause of death among 15-24 year olds). No critic could construe their demand for safe spaces as a request for fainting couches; they’re talking about classrooms and doctors’ examining tables. Being traumatized hasn’t inspired this cohort to retreat. The Parkland kids were ready for more than quiet, private mourning,  and student leaders wasted no time in getting busy. Savvy about social media, they have been insistent about the need for real—not just virtual—contact and action. Rallying their peers hasn’t been hard.

Especially against the backdrop of current anti-establishment fervor, what stands out are the conventional priorities that seem to unite these student activists today—and the fact that those priorities represent an endorsement of mature responsibility. Kids demand that their voices be heard, but they aren’t pushing back against adult vigilance. They want more of it, not less. They’re campaigning for higher age limits for gun ownership. They want tough and consistent oversight, in the form of universal  background checks for gun sales, rigorous “athlete care,” coherent immigration laws.

Youth is impatient, of course. “We don’t like to wait for things,” a speaker at the march warned. How, Raisman demanded, could adults have blithely dismissed athletes’ complaints, year after year? Yet at the rallies, as in the courtroom, the more striking message was that adults shouldn’t assume kids are counting on instant gratification. They’re not stupid. They know first-hand how grownups stall, how distractions intervene. “Never again” is meaningless, Raisman insisted, until everyone implicated in the Nassar scandal is held accountable, however long it takes. “Vote them out” is a rousing chant, but “this will be hard,” a teenager at the D.C. podium emphasized. “Do you have the will?” Or as another put it, “This isn’t Coachella, this isn’t the Oscars. This is real life. This is reality.”

Fast-track kids are in a hurry, eager for glory—but they’ve also learned from experience (just ask Raisman) how much grueling work is entailed to get there. And the Parkland standouts need no reminders of how lucky they are to have the chance to keep slogging away, day after day. It’s the rest of us who do.

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Mental Health and Gun Regulations

Statistically the USA cannot have MORE mental illness than other countries. New Hampshire certainly cannot have less mental illness then other states. What the USA does have is the most guns and giving the lack of gun regulation in New Hampshire we probably have more than many states. Given those basic facts New Hampshire easily could be the next state in the news for a mass shooting.

If, as the politicians say, that this is not a gun issue it is a mental health issue, why are no other countries faced with mass shooting to the level of the USA? If indeed it is a mental health issue, why are we cutting funding to programs?

It seems that New Hampshire may be facing a perfect storm. We are in the midst of an opioid epidemic, mental health programs are largely under funded and we have little to no gun regulations.

Why are our legislatures doing NOTHING? They are actually doing LESS THAN NOTHING. It was just a year ago that President Trump signed into law a bill allowing people with mental illness to purchase guns.

Like our neighbors (Vermont and Maine), New Hampshire has very liberal gun control laws. What makes New Hampshire law on gun unique however, is the level to which these laws exhibit such looseness.

Even with such loose laws towards firearms, New Hampshire consistently ranks as one of the safest places in the United States. I want it to stay that way. Adopting more progressive gun laws will keep us safe. Keep our students safe and curb gun trafficking.

I am tired of “Thoughts and Prayers” being offered followed by “it’s too soon to talk about this” and “lets have time to grieve and not politicize this”.
If it is to soon to talk about gun regulations after the school shooting in Florida, is it too soon to talk about gun regulations after Las Vegas? Virginia Tech? Sandy Hook? Columbine?

I believe that many politicians feel their NRA rating is more important than the safety of citizens. The vast majority of people in the country want some kind of gun regulations.

New Hampshire has two large gun manufacturers and it seems like their money is more important than our safety.
I urge our representatives in our state and in Washington to take a stand before it is too late.

WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR?!

When I was growing up there were two places where I always felt safe. HOME and SCHOOL.

The USA faces another school shooting today. 16+ more people dead.

50 – The number of mass murders or attempted mass murders at a school since Columbine. (FBI records)

141 – The number of people killed in a mass murder or attempted mass murder at a school since Columbine. (FBI records)

68 – The percentage of school shooters who got their guns from relatives or at home. (US Secret Service, US Department of Education)

270 – The number of shootings of any kind at a school since Columbine. (ABC News review of reported cases)

1 – The number of shootings per week, on average, on a school or college campus in 2015. (ABC News review of reported cases)

I don’t want to hear a politician send their THOUGHTS and PRAYERS. I want politicians to DO THEIR JOB! Let’s have gun laws that will make shootings like today harder.

To every politician who sends their thoughts and prayers then cozies up to the NRA or avoids the issue altogether because they are afraid of the NRA money- FUCK YOU!

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Most Americans support stronger gun laws — laws that would reduce deaths. But Republicans in Congress stand in the way. They fear alienating their primary voters and the National Rifle Association.

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Below are the top 10 career recipients of N.R.A. funding – through donations or spending to benefit the candidate – among both current House and Senate members, along with their statements about the October Las Vegas massacre. These representatives have a lot to say about it. All the while, they refuse to do anything to avoid the next massacre.

Senate
1. John McCain
Ariz.
“Cindy & I are praying for the victims of the terrible #LasVegasShooting & their families.”
$7,740,521
FROM THE N.R.A.
2. Richard Burr
N.C.
“My heart is with the people of Las Vegas and their first responders today. This morning’s tragic violence has absolutely no place here in America.”
$6,986,620
FROM THE N.R.A.
3. Roy Blunt
Mo.
“Saddened by the tragic loss of life in #LasVegas. My thoughts are with all of the families affected by this horrific attack.”
$4,551,146
FROM THE N.R.A.
4. Thom Tillis
N.C.
“Susan and I send our deepest condolences and prayers to the families of the victims of this horrific and senseless tragedy in Las Vegas.”
$4,418,012
FROM THE N.R.A.
5. Cory Gardner
Co.
“My family and I are praying for the families of those injured and killed in Las Vegas last night.”
$3,879,064
FROM THE N.R.A.
6. Marco Rubio
Fla.
“I’m praying for all the victims, their families, and our first responders in the #LasVegas #MandalayBay shooting.”
$3,303,355
FROM THE N.R.A.
7. Joni Ernst
Iowa
“My prayers are with all of the victims in Las Vegas, and their loved ones affected by this senseless act of violence.”
$3,124,273
FROM THE N.R.A.
8. Rob Portman
Ohio
“Jane & I mourn the loss of innocent lives in this horrific attack in Las Vegas last night. We are praying for those taken from us, their families & all those injured in this attack.”
$3,061,941
FROM THE N.R.A.
9. Todd Young
Ind.
“We must offer our full support to the victims and their families as our nation mourns.”
$2,896,732
FROM THE N.R.A.
10. Bill Cassidy
La.
“Following closely the horrendous act of violence in Las Vegas. Our prayers are with those who were injured, killed and their families.”
$2,861,047
FROM THE N.R.A.
House
1. French Hill
Ark.
“Martha and I are praying for the families and victims of this senseless act of evil. […] We must continue to work together to stop this kind of terror.”
$1,089,477
FROM THE N.R.A.
2. Ken Buck
Co.
“I’m praying for all of those impacted by the evil events in Las Vegas last night. Our country must stand together in support of the families of the victims and the community.”
$800,544
FROM THE N.R.A.
3. David Young
Iowa
“My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families and friends of the horrific and evil tragedy in Las Vegas.”
$707,662
FROM THE N.R.A.
4. Mike Simpson
Idaho
“Though no words can heal our hurt, and no explanation will ever feel sufficient, I pray that all involved may find comfort as we process this devastating tragedy.”
$385,731
FROM THE N.R.A.
5. Greg Gianforte
Mont.
No statement released.
$344,630
FROM THE N.R.A.
6. Don Young
Alaska
“Anne and I are praying for all those involved or impacted by this heinous act of violence.”
$245,720
FROM THE N.R.A.
7. Lloyd Smucker
Pa.
“Horrific act of violence in Las Vegas. Cindy and I pray for the victims, their families, and the first responders.”
$221,736
FROM THE N.R.A.
8. Bruce Poliquin
Maine
“My thoughts are with all those effected in the horrifying attacks in Las Vegas. The nation is with you.”
$201,398
FROM THE N.R.A.
9. Pete Sessions
Tex.
“My deepest sympathies are with all who were harmed by this horrific tragedy.”
$158,111
FROM THE N.R.A.
10. Barbara Comstock
Va.
“I am heartbroken by the mass murder that took place last night in Las Vegas and I am praying for the victims, families, and first responders.”
$137,232
FROM THE N.R.A.

All of these representatives are Republican. The highest rankedDemocrat in the House is Sanford Bishop, who ranks 41st in career donations from the N.R.A. Among the top 100 House recipients, 95 are Republican. In the Senate, the top two Democrats are Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who rank 52nd and 53rd — behind every Republican but Dan Sullivan of Alaska.

Finally, why are our numbers different from those in Bret Stephens’s column on the Second Amendment? Because ours include money the N.R.A. spends on behalf of candidates, in addition to money it gives directly to candidates.

A Season of Hope. We can have better days.

fullsizeoutput_3ea1The days are getting longer. Each minute brings us closer to summer here in the Northern Hemisphere.

2018 has taken a toll. A toll on our patience. A toll on un individually and collectively.  We need to remember that we are of one race. The human race. When one of us succeeds- we each succeed. It breaks my heart and my spirt to see people walk by a struggling individual. To see a mighty nation turn it’s back on it’s neighbor.  I still hold out hope for us. We are truly better than what we have recently shown.

Time does not have a rearview mirror or reverse. It can only move in one direction. We have HOPE for better days.

And you ask me what I want this year
And I try to make this kind and clear
Just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days
Cause I don’t need boxes wrapped in strings
And designer love and empty things
Just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days

So take these words
And sing out loud
Cause everyone is forgiven now
Cause tonight’s the night the world begins again

I need someplace simple where we could live
And something only you can give
And thats faith and trust and peace while we’re alive
And the one poor child who saved this world
And there’s 10 million more who probably could
If we all just stopped and said a prayer for them

So take these words
And sing out loud
Cause everyone is forgiven now
Cause tonight’s the night the world begins again

I wish everyone was loved tonight
And somehow stop this endless fight
Just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days

So take these words
And sing out loud
Cause everyone is forgiven now
Cause tonight’s the night the world begins again

Some great artists have been taken from us this year.

Dolores O’Riordan of the Cranberries.

These are songs I remember playing almost nonstop when my daughter was an infant. I still tear up.

Aretha Franklin, The “Queen of Soul” sold more than 75 million records during her life, took the form to new levels, gave a voice to the civil rights movement and inspired generations of singers

Although not a musician- Russ Solomon, the founder of the enormously influential and widely beloved Tower Records chain.

Rest In Peace.

Happy New Year All.

Peace,

Tony