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Thursday, September 19, 2013

America at defining point; what we do “defines a nation” ─ Tom Diaz

Fiddling while ...
Issues underlying killing sprees
Editing, brief comments by 
Carolyn Bennett

As a general rule, “countries don’t slip into really bad places in history by being taken over. They slip into being in the bad place because they do not pay attention or they are not willing to stand up and take action.” 

Gun control is one question “but a deeper question … Americans need to ask themselves is, ‘who are we?’

How do we relate to other Americans? [Indeed how do we relate to the world]

Are we willing to accept this?

Tom Diaz is right. We can and we must do better than this lot in Washington and better than we do.

I think Congress has already done what it is going to do,” Tom
Fiddling while ...
Diaz said today on the Democracy Now program, “which is pretty much nothing.” What a sad but true commentary.

There are at least three ways to look at the specific problem of guns and gun violence, he said. “One of them is the public health and safety approach.” That’s no mystery. We know the lethal combination of mental state, mental illness, and firearms amounts to “a recipe for trouble.” But “even in many cases, up until the moment they pull the trigger ─ mentally healthy people [often] act out in moments of rage or depression ….”

Fiddling while ...
We know what to do, he says, but what we do not have is “the political will to do” what needs to be done.

“We are at a defining point in America,” Diaz says. “What kind of society are we going to be?

There is lots of fine talk. You can go to Capitol Hill every day; you can go to the White House and hear something about the president does not accept these increasing mass shootings as the new normality.

There is a carelessness in the body politic.

Antiviolence activist Shundra Robinson, who lost her 18-year-old son,
Who we are
How world sees us
Because of
What we do
Deno Wooldridge, to gun violence as he stood on his grandmother’s front porch three years ago in Chicago, was this week on Capitol Hill. Today on Democracy Now she said that her delegation of parents and others met with two members of Congress (Latham of Iowa and Kelly of Illinois); but “basically,” she said, the powers that be handed them off to congressional aides and “some of them didn’t even take notes” for making their reports to members of Congress.

She said one of the aides threw up his hands and said “although your stories are compelling and … really heartbreaking; … what can we really do?” This “was quite offensive to the parents because,” she said, “our stories are not meant to be compelling. We are not here for people to feel sorry for us.

U.S. drone violenceSouth Central Asia
“We are here to cry out for help ─ for people not to wait until they are walking in our shoes to get out here and help us, collectively, to make a difference….  

You have to first admit that you have a problem,” she advises, and at the point of admitting, the healing begins. “America, we are sick. We’re ill. We have a problem.… We are losing a future, losing our generation — the next generation of pediatricians, doctors, nurses, lawyers.”

U.S. drone violenceSouth Central Asia
As the smoke settles on the most recent mass domestic shooting (though U.S. carnage continues raging in South Central Asia and the Middle East), the Washington Navy Yard incident, that left 13 people dead (including the shooter), Tom Diaz reflects on what always happens: “Everybody in the spectrum ─ whether they are pro-gun or anti-gun, pro-gun-control or pro-access for everyone ─ says, ‘Oh, yes, of course, troubled people, mentally ill people should not have access to guns.’ … We can all agree on that.… But when it breaks down to the details,” the divisiveness begins. And constructive action is stymied.
U.S. drone violence
South Central Asia

The fact of the matter is, Diaz says [and of course we all know this as well], “it is what we do, not what we say, that defines this nation.”

The words bear repeating, “We are at a defining point in America.”

Sources and notes

“‘What Kind of Society Are We Going To Be?’: Ex-NRA Member on the Failure to Address Gun Violence,” Thursday, September 19, 2013,   http://www.democracynow.org/2013/9/19/what_kind_of_society_are_we

Tom Diaz

Diaz was assistant managing editor of The Washington Times (1985-1991). He worked at a think tank specializing in international organized crime and counter-terrorism (1991-1993) and was lead counsel on counterterrorism and firearms issues for the Crime Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives, helping to conduct fact-finding hearings and write key antiterrorism and gun control legislation (1993-1997). He was also lead Democratic counsel during 10 days of intensive House hearings in 1995 concerning the 1993 disaster at the Branch Davidian Church at Waco, Texas.

Tom Diaz is described as a former gun enthusiast and NRA member whose changed his views “while working as a Congressional staffer doing research on gun legislation and interviewing victims of gun violence”; an American writer, lawyer, and public speaker on the gun industry and gun control issues. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Georgetown University who had been private and government practice since 1972.

Diaz is author of Making a Killing: The Business of Guns in America (1999); Lighting Out of Lebanon: Hezbollah Terrorists on American Soil (2006); No Boundaries: Transnational Latino Gangs and American Law Enforcement (2011); and The Last Gun: How Changes in the Gun Industry Are Killing Americans and What It Will Take to Stop It (2013)

“‘This is Genocide in America’: Mother of Slain Chicago Teenager Condemns Gun Violence Epidemic,” September 19, 2013, http://www.democracynow.org/2013/9/19/this_is_genocide_in_america_mother

Congresswoman Kelly

New York City native, Robin Lynne Kelly is a Representative from Illinois who rose from Illinois State House of Representatives (2003-2007), chief of staff for Illinois state treasurer (2007-2010), Cook County, Illinois, chief administrative officer (2010-2012) to the U.S. Congress, elected as a Democrat to the One Hundred Thirteenth Congress here tenure extends from April 9, 2013-present.

Dr. Kelly has worked in public service in Illinois for 25 years. Credits attributed to here include: Director of the Crisis Nursery at Crittenton Care and Counseling Center (1984-1987), Associate Director of The Youth Shelter (1987-1990). Minority Student Services Director at Bradley University (1990-1992), Director of Community Affairs in Matteson (1992-2006), and co-founder and past president of the Unity Coalition of the South Suburbs, Commissioner on Human Rights in Cook County (1998 -), Board Member of the Hate Crimes Commission (2005),  Board member for the Rich Township Food Pantry (1994-), Illinois Theatre Center (1993-), Bradley University Trustee (2003-), board member of the Bradley University Council (1998-).

Dr. Kelly is a graduate of Bradley University at Peoria, Illinois (B.A., 1977; M.A., 1982) and Northern Illinois University at DeKalb (Ph.D., 2004).  She was a counselor and community affairs director in Matteson, Illinois in the years 1992-2006.


Congressman Latham

Thomas Paul (Tom) Latham, part owner of Latham Seeds, a family-owned Iowa seed company founded by his father, before going to Congress, is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. His tenure, elected as a Republican to the One Hundred Fourth and to the nine succeeding Congresses, has extended from January 3, 1995. He is a native of Alexander, Iowa, south of Mason City, and a graduate of Cal Community College at Latimer (1966), Iowa, Wartburg College at Waverly (1966-1967) and Iowa State University at Ames (1967-1970).

Latham is attributed with staunch advocacy of federal prohibition of online poker. In 2006, he cosponsored H.R. 4411, the Goodlatte-Leach Internet Gambling Prohibition Act. In 2005, he introduced the ‘Angie Fatino Save the Children from Meth Act’ in memory of an Iowa teenager who had struggled with a Methamphetamine addiction and at the age of 15 committed suicide (1997). The bill died in committee but the Iowa legislature has since passed similar legislation and federal law has now been enacted limiting the sale of pseudoephedrine.

http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=L000111 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Latham


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