We Need New Strategies To Stop Gun Violence

Mass murder in this country will continue unabated no matter what happens next. More dead children. More grieving families. More meaningless words spoken by politicians of all viewpoints.

If we are ever going to have any hope of diminishing the level of gun violence in this country we have to stop looking to politicians as our only hope for change. Guns kill people and no matter how you twist it, mass murder would be difficult without access to automatic weapons as well as guns of any kind.

The issue is about guns. Those who don’t think so will never change their minds and we have to accept that reality if we are ever going to change anything. That means moving away from the political arena into the court of public opinion. Mass protests and demonstrations can make a difference and that is the only way we will ever slow the death rate from gun violence in this country.

Abortion, The Supreme Court, and the Death of Democracy

American women will soon find it more difficult to make decisions about pregnancy thanks to the persistent bullying of a minority of Americans. When the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, abortion will be an issue that will be controlled by individual states.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, “If Roe were overturned or fundamentally weakened, 22 states have laws or constitutional amendments already in place that would make them certain to attempt to ban abortion as quickly as possible. Anti-abortion policymakers in several of these states have also indicated that they will introduce legislation modeled after the Texas six-week abortion ban.”

Lament of A Hopeful Pessimist

There is something programmed into the human psyche that hopes for a better world than the one we have. Hope is important.

The problem is that what some people think makes a better world can be at odds with what others think. That is the world as it is.

When the pandemic unfolded it looked as though the leaders in this country were finally beginning to understand how dysfunctional our health care non-system is. It became clear that those at the lower end of the economic ladder did not have access to the same level of health care as those with more resources.

Lies Continue to Be Murder Weapons

A strong culture of lying has developed among world leaders as well as the people who support them. That culture is growing and it is able to turn lies into a pseudo-reality by repeating them so often that people start to believe them.

It might seem reasonable to believe that as the human species has evolved it would move in a direction of embracing the truth.

That has not happened.

Words Are Not Enough For Ukrainians

When Hitler was committing atrocities too much of the world stood by and did not do enough to protect the 12 million people whose lives became just one of the horrors of war. People who survived the Holocaust try to keep the memory of those events alive because they don’t want that kind of horror to play out again.

What we are witnessing now in Ukraine is the systematic brutality and elimination of a population of people deemed to be expendable by Putin and the Russian war machine. We are able to see the images of what war does to people and places at a level of detail never before possible and that should be enough to force world leaders to act to stop the Russian war machine.

The Wounds of War

Thanks to the heroic efforts of journalists risking their lives in war zones, the world is able to see the human tragedy of mankind‘s worst behavior. Coverage of the war in Ukraine has been exceptional and the continued work of journalists is a critical factor in any movement toward a cease-fire or the end of the war.

Among the many tragedies unfolding is that of a lack of access to timely medical care for people with chronic diseases that require drugs and treatment on an ongoing basis. Diabetes comes to mind because, without insulin, type1 diabetics can die. It is that simple.

Brattleboro District 3 Forum

In an effort to promote citizen involvement and help RTM members better represent their constituents, there will be a public forum for District 3 residents at 3 pm on Sunday March 13 in the social hall at Trinity Lutheran Church, 161 Western Avenue. This citizens’ forum is intended to allow people who live in District 3 to express their concerns and to ask questions about Town issues in advance of the RTM meeting on March 19.

I would encourage RTM members from District 3 to attend to hear from their neighbors.

The Common Good Is Becoming Uncommon

The words “common good” recently popped into my brain and I have been trying to understand what that means in a world that is increasingly being turned upside down on a daily basis. I looked for definitions of the common good and have come up with one, from the web site ThoughtCo, that describes what I am thinking about.

“The “common good” refers to those facilities or institutions that benefit all members of a given community. The common good contrasts with those things that benefit only specific individuals or parts of the community. Examples of elements making up the common good include basic rights and freedoms, police and fire departments, national defense, courts of law, highways, public schools, safe food and water, and natural resources. In most cases, providing the elements of the common good requires a degree of individual sacrifice such as the payment of new or higher taxes. Today, many impactful social problems are caused by the lack or failure of essential elements of the common good.”

Postponed : Lecture on Critical Race Theory (CRT)

We’re having a problem.

The CRT lecture by Etan Nasreddin-Longo must be postponed (date TBA).  Professor Nasreddin is well.  Unfortunately, one BCS staff member is sick with COVID, and other residents at BCS headquarters are sick and in isolation.   Although we would be glad to see everyone, we have plenty of help from the community.  Please do not drop in unannounced. 

We Need A New Definition Of Parenthood

Over the past 50 or more years we have heard just about every possible argument for and against abortion. In 1973 the issue seemed to be settled from a legal perspective when the Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade, making abortion a constitutional right.

But the debate never ended and the anti-abortion forces have been patiently packing the courts with sympathetic judges with the hope of once again making abortion a criminal act. In 2021 we are now on the verge of having a country where abortion will no longer be a constitutional right. The Supreme Court could go further and turn pregnant women who have abortions into criminals.

When it comes to abortion and the law I have a simplistic view. The courts should not be telling a woman what she can and can’t do with her body. There are many other issues to consider and I will not rehash them.

As The Planet Dies All We Get Is Blah, Blah, Blah

This is the 26th year that world leaders have come together at the Conference of Parties (COP) organized by the United Nations. During those years the planet has been increasingly abused by humans and is now in danger of even more climate catastrophes than we have already experienced.

Climate activist Greta Thunberg has declared COP 26 a failure and she has made it clear that as the planet dies all we get are words of recognition that a crisis is taking place. What little action there has been to fix the planet has not been enough and world leaders have nothing to offer but empty promises of throwing money at the problem a few years from now.

The Pandemic Revealed and We Turned a Blind Eye

There seemed to finally be hope that the American health care non-system would finally be scrutinized in a new way. It became clear that as the pandemic unfolded our public health infrastructure was inadequate to meet even the most basic of needs. It also became clear that what we call health care in this country is really a reflection of the socioeconomic divide that is growing wider every day.

We learned that if you have money and live in a “good” neighborhood you have a better chance of staying healthy and avoiding the ravages of the pandemic. This comes as no surprise to anyone who has had their eyes open for the past few years.

Climate Not Christmas, Sharing Not Shopping – Scientists Say Get Real

Recent research shows children around the world are highly anxious and depressed — not just about the climate, but about their parents and governments doing nothing about it. Isn’t it weird to talk about it and see it looking so calm and harmless in a screen or paper? If you really think about it, you can get very very upset in a few moments. As a serious active work it will make you anxious and depressed. And now we know, when we do nothing, children feel betrayed. Belief in the science of climate change is not enough… Scientists have been demanding radical, drastic, unprecedented action.

The crisis is unthinkable. But doing nothing is NOT an option. We must act.

Infrastructure Crumbles While Politicians Fight

It’s the same old game. One side doesn’t like what the other side is proposing so they will block every attempt to pass the other party’s legislation. The difference this time is that the entire country’s infrastructure hangs in the balance.

Even Washington politicians of all parties know that this country lags behind most of the industrialized world in keeping bridges, roads, railways, drinking water, internet access and a host of other basic necessities up to an acceptable standard. These issues have been with us for decades and we finally have an administration willing to make the effort to make life better for all Americans.

Everyone knew that such a project was going to cost a lot of money, even in Washington dollars. It started out at around six trillion dollars and the political process has whittled it down to 1.5 trillion. The Democrats want to pay for the plan by taxing the rich and making them pay the fair share that they have not been paying for years.

Progressive United! Slate Wins Third Straight Election with Mandate at Vermont AFL-CIO Convention

Northeast Kingdom, VERMONT: Today the progressive UNITED! Slate overwhelmingly won their third straight election for leadership positions within the Vermont State Labor Council, AFL-CIO at their annual Convention. United! prevailed in winning 18 of 19 Executive Board positions including David Van Deusen for President (2nd term), Dwight Brown for Executive Vice President (1st term), and Danielle Bombardier for Secretary-Treasurer (2nd term). United! also won elections for the Chair of the Rank & File Presidential Advisory Committee (Damion Gilbert), and for President of the Green Mountain Riders Union Motorcycle Club (Dan Brush). The election results are viewed as a mandate by the incoming leadership to keep moving in a more progressive direction.

UNITED! was formed in 2019 in response to the continuing decline of the labor movement happening all over the country, including right here in Vermont. Union density — the percentage of workers who belong to a labor union — has been hovering around 10% nationally, a record low. In Vermont, union density is 11.8% as of 2020, but has climbed in 2021 due to new organizing by UFCW, AFSCME, and AFT. The Vermont State Labor Council now has over 11,000 members.

Bernie Sanders’ New Political Life

The longevity of the political life of Bernie Sanders is nothing short of amazing. I think too many of us tend to take him for granted as our lone voice in the wilderness for what is just and fair for the American people.

Bernie is a political anomaly because he does what he says he will do and he has never wavered from his core principles over the decades of his political career. There are not too many Washington politicians who fit that profile and Vermonters, as well as the rest of the country, are lucky to have such a mensch in office.

We need to remind ourselves from time to time just how valuable Bernie has become to the national political process, especially during these times of political rancor and turmoil. I have always been amazed at Bernie’s ability to stay above the fray and forge straight ahead, despite the fact that Washington power brokers have tried to marginalize him at every turn.

Empty Bowls Fundraiser for Foodworks Remains Virtual in 2021

BRATTLEBORO, VT — In recognition of increased COVID case numbers, the Empty Bowls Steering Committee has opted to go virtual again this year as opposed to returning to an in-person dinner.  For 18 years now, local potters have created and donated beautiful and functional bowls to raise funds for the food shelf that has now grown to be Foodworks. In that regard, this year is no different.

“We experienced incredible support last year, putting on Empty Bowls in the time of COVID,” explains Groundworks Board Member and Empty Bowls Co-Chair Beth Kiendl. “The tweaks we made last year—shifting to selling bowls in local storefronts—were so successful due to the community support for our work providing emergency food to all who need it in our community.”  

Some Progress In Climate Legislation

The Climate Crisis Committee of the Windham Southeast School District is advocating bold legislation..
Two years ago BCS started a Climate Crisis Committee in the school district in order to create a standing forum for climate issues and to keep climate issues in the board directors’ attention. The school district is larger than Brattleboro, and people are more sensitive and protective about it. So, it is a good venue.

In steady times the purpose of education is the transfer of culture and society. The Greta Thunberg Resolution addresses climate crisis through the schools. Realistically, scientifically, in the ultimate crisis the purpose of education must be to prepare students for life in that crisis, and to encourage serious action for survival and rescue. Since we all recognize Greta Thunberg as an exemplary influence on our students and society the WSESD should reduce the school week to four days, so that students have time to pursue climate rescue following Greta Thunberg’s exemplary activism. Many people who say they admire and support Greta Thunberg will oppose the resolution. So, the resolution illuminates latent denial.

Keeping Windham County Safe for Immigrant Communities

Join the Windham County No Más Polimigra campaign and Migrant Justice for an on-line information session on loopholes in the county’s Fair and Impartial Policing Policy that allow the Sheriff’s Department to collaborate with federal immigration authorities–and what we can do to close those loopholes. We will be joined by a farmworker from Migrant Justice who will talk about why this is important to the human rights of their community and we’ll hear about how this affects our local asylum seekers. Aug. 30, 6:30-8:30

Register at bit.ly/KeepWindhamSafe to get the Zoom link.