Thursday, February 22, 2018

Repel the invaders of democracy. In November 2018, will voters still remember why they were so furious in February? ... by gimleteye

The Parkland massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School triggered the largest demonstrations by students since the Vietnam War.

I was a high school student in the late 1960's. If memory serves me well, I was as passionate and determined as the children today who took their protest against weapons of war in American streets to Tallahassee and to the White House in Washington, DC. I marched against the war, organized, and campaigned for Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern -- both Democrats -- before I was old enough to vote. I recall the marvel of technology called the mimeograph machine where I was assigned to make copies of protest flyers.

I didn't just march. My teenage activism deeply impacted my adult life as an engaged and ardent Friend of the Everglades and supporter of clean air, clean water and a sustainable planet. The point: while my passion didn't burn out, I have become very well educated how to tend the flame.

The short observation: the elections during the throes of the Vietnam War didn't work out so well for either McCarthy or McGovern. Beyond the fact of our favorite candidates losing, the student protests of the 1960's lit a fire under the far right that quickly materialized (as history records) the organization of a lobbyist culture built to protect a right-wing message machinery that remains far more sophisticated and well-funded than its opponents among Democrats or Independents.

The obstacles to change materializing from student protests today are enormous.

For one, the NRA -- a front organization for a few billionaire gun manufacturers -- is a well-oiled and politically sophisticated machine. The NRA front men have taken cover, for the time being, while key surrogates like President Trump and Senator Marco Rubio (from my home state, Florida) play delay, waiting out controversial choices that keep weapons of war on American streets and inside American schools.

It is a telling signal that corporate America remains on the sidelines as if to say, this is not our battle. No corporate race to support the children or grieving families: neither at Sandy Hook, nor Parkland nor the Denver suburb where movie goers were shot up like figures in a computer game.

So, what to make of this generation's nightmare compared to the 1960's?

Think about it this way. Students in the 1960's protested US foreign policies including an invasion of Vietnam under false pretense: communism's imminent spread through falling dominoes in Southeast Asia.

Today, the United States is not invading: we are being invaded. Recently, Business Insider reported:
The Economist Intelligence Unit released on Wednesday its 2017 Democracy Index, which ranks 167 countries on a 0 to 10 scale. Only countries with scores above 8 are categorised as "full" democracies.

The US was downgraded from a "full democracy" to a "flawed democracy" in the same study last year, which cited the "low esteem in which US voters hold their government, elected representatives, and political parties."
Obviously, the invasions against American democracy are being duly noted. Since the Parkland shootings, President Trump has signaled an idea -- trumpeted in private by the NRA which poured more than $30 million into his 2016 campaign -- that the solution to in-school violence is to arm more teachers and janitors with rifles inside schools.

Voters should be repelled by the illogic of inviting an invasion of violence into safe-spaces.

It is also a fact that the United States has been invaded -- using social media platforms as superhighways into American politics -- by a hostile foreign power, Russia under Putin; a fact that the Republican Party -- once the hawkish party of the right -- and President Trump just plain refuse to acknowledge or accept.

Today's student protesters are real American patriots. They need to understand themselves that way and spread the message like tens of millions of Paul Revere's. The nation's enemies are tolerate attacks on our way of life and force us to consequences; whether through the internet, troll factories spewing lies, or deranged gunmen whose right to carry AR-15's are protected by a NRA taking millions from Russia.

If student protesters embrace this grounding idea, that they are the true patriots, the next problem to address: will American voters stay focused and engaged for the better part of a year, until next November's election, to tip the balance back to common sense and to repel the invaders?

As of Feb. 18, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam still had the “NRA Sellout” language on his campaign website, but it has since been removed, according to tweets highlighting the removal.

Once a 'proud NRA sellout,' Putnam won't say if he'd use term again
By MATT DIXON 02/20/2018 09:01 PM EST Updated 02/20/2018 10:11 PM EST

TALLAHASSEE — Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam began his gubernatorial campaign by branding himself an “NRA sellout,” and after a Florida school shooting that left 17 dead last week, will not say if he would use the controversial language again.

Putnam, who is running in a heated Republican primary, closed the door late Tuesday on a POLITICO reporter who asked if he would again use the messaging, which showed up in digital ads promoting his campaign, but has now been scrubbed from his website.

The questions came Tuesday after the last of four roundtable meetings convened by Gov. Rick Scott in the wake of the shooting, which happened at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The shooting has rocked the Capitol, and spurred Scott and legislative leaders to begin work on a package of gun reforms.

When first asked by the reporter about the “NRA Sellout” campaign messaging, Putnam said there is no comparison between law-abiding gun owners who have firearm collections or hunt and schools shooters.

“It is just flat wrong to equate those law-abiding citizens with the monster who perpetrated what happened in Parkland,” he told a POLITICO reporter, who did not ask if there was a comparison.

When asked a follow-up question about whether he would use the “NRA sellout” language again, he disappeared with a staffer into a side door leading to his Capitol office.

The digital ads using that language asked people to give their email addresses to "sign up" if they were a "proud #NRASellout," a tool his campaign used to build its internal email lists. The technique of using digital ads to build email lists is a common campaign strategy. They are later used to blast out campaign messages or raise money.

Shortly after the ad campaign ran last August, it was taken down, Putnam campaign Communications Director Amanda Bevis said. He is in a sharp-elbowed primary against Rep. Ron DeSantis, and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who is not officially in the race but is already funding campaign-style television ads.

Beyond the NRA, the early stage of Putnam’s campaign has focused on Second Amendment rights, a policy area over which his office has big sway. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is charged with approving conceal carry gun permit applications, a fact he has started highlighting. Last month, Putnam’s office made a point of announcing that he has expedited conceal carry permits for 100,000 active military members and veterans.

Before abruptly ending the Tuesday interview, Putnam also talked about some reforms he would like to see the Legislature take as it prepares post-Parkland legislative packages. He said his biggest concerns are tied to different government agencies poorly communicating with each other, an issue that was discussed during the Scott-convened roundtables.

“Unfortunately, Parkland is an example,” he said. “When you’ve got a school system that expelled a child, a law enforcement that had three dozen interactions with his family, and yet no one was communicating with each other."

He said he also wants increased school safety measures and reform of the Baker Act, which allows involuntary institutionalization and examination of those showing signs of mental health problems.

He said he was not sure if any gun reforms were needed.

“I think we have to see what the details [of the bills] are,” he said. “We will see what will come out Friday.”


Anonymous said...

You should build a wall or move to Cali and join the real invaders.

Anonymous said...

Adam Putnam is an idiot. Putnam, on behalf of the state, spent nearly half a million dollars waging a lawsuit against a small dairy selling milk without added vitamin A. The suit alleged that milk without added Vitamin A wasn't milk! (Fake milk from a cow? What will these cows think of next?)And the lower court ruled in favor of the state!

The dairy appealed the court's decision. Thankfully, the appeals court sided with the dairy. It was, however, stipulated the milk container note Vitamin A wasn't added. By the way, too much Vitamin A can be harmful to your health. Vitamin A is added to many products, not just the milk on your grocer's shelves.

Per the articles about the state's propensity to sue - lawsuits have cost the state about $19,000,000. Nineteen million dollars is the sum the state paid-out for lawsuits it lost. Duh!

Anonymous said...

Great piece on activism Alan. Keep up the good work!

Beware of Adam Putnam! He may be further to the right than