Many of you already know that I'm running to represent District 94 (Seat B) on the Democratic Party State Central Committee. Election day is April 4, and I appreciate the good wishes I've received.
If you don't know me well, please know that I want to help build more effective Democratic Party leadership in Louisiana. If you're a Democrat in District 94, which covers parts of Metairie and New Orleans, I ask for your support on April 4 – Paul Anger, Ballot #125.
More about me …
I'm a retired editor – father of 7, grandfather of 13, married 21 years to Vickie Dahlman-Anger. We live in the Metairie home where she grew up, and this is personal to me. If we can elect more Democrats, we'll improve lives for ourselves and our neighbors.
My background – worked as a reporter, editor and publisher for 48 years and guided newsrooms to 2 Pulitzer Prizes and 4 national Emmys. I serve on the advisory board of LSU's Manship School of Mass Communication, support the Whitney-Cecile Homeowners Association (volunteer, ex-board member), take an active role in Metairie Indivisible, and volunteer to register voters in New Orleans.
What Democrats must do – track voting records and hold Republicans accountable in real time, educate voters on what Democrats stand for and what we won't stand for, identify and support quality Democratic candidates, register voters, increase turnout, and more.
State Democratic leadership must be on the job every day, using modern tools – like social media, texts, direct mail, video. That's not happening now.
But with your help, I'll work hard to make sure that it does. Thanks again, Paul Anger
If Brett Kavanaugh’s ascension to the Supreme Court depends on whether he could be proved guilty of sexual assault in a court of law, at least with what we know now, then he will be wearing the robes soon. The current “limited” FBI investigation shapes up to be as perfunctory as the Senate hearing.
But this is not a court of law. We’re deciding whether to hire this guy into the Supreme Court, where thoughtful discourse and interpretation of the U.S. Constitution should be the standard of behavior, even when justices don’t agree. Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were best friends.
Kavanaugh? A Supreme Court Justice? He shouted his testimony at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, interrupting his questioners and at one point badgering a senator about what SHE likes to drink. His scripted testosterone was exceeded only by red-faced screamer Lindsey Graham, a one-time Trump critic who has reinvented himself into a fire-eating, true-believer.
When Kavanaugh wasn’t refusing to answer whether he’d welcome an investigation, he sniffled into the microphone, a man reduced to tears by the injustice of it all. No, his family shouldn’t have to go through this, any more than Christine Blasey Ford’s family. I’m sure it was wrenching for him to talk with his daughter.
But there’s a pattern with him — he brought this on himself. In that hearing room, he seemed fully capable of uncontrollable rage, swift swings of emotion and drinking to excess, if not more.
As he acted out his testimony, we saw a bully, accused by three women, his dark background clouds all falling into place -- the creepy yearbook posts, his shorthand calendar items related to partying, the unflattering descriptions of his drinking bouts by several classmates of his Yale years, his previous little lies before the Senate committee, best friend Mark Judge’s book called Wasted, and so on.
To put into common-sense, real-life terms — all of us have applied for jobs, and lots of us have hired people into jobs. Is Kavanaugh’s behavior what we look for in an entry-level clerk, much less a Supreme Court Justice?
And set politics aside. Most Democrats didn’t like Justice Neil Gorsuch’s legal views, either, but he is wearing the robes because he didn’t present Kavanaugh’s troubling behavior.
No matter where the FBI ends up in its “limited” investigation, I wouldn’t hire this guy. For anything.
-- Paul A
Vote Nov. 6!
Vote against Trump and the mean-spirited agenda being pushed by Trump's Republican sycophants in our Statehouse and in Congress.
And if you're thinking you'll put up with Trump because the economy keeps humming, think again. Take a peak over the horizon.
Just as history will condemn Trump for his daily lies, corruption, disregard for law, ignorance of the Constitution, attempted collusion (at minimum) with Russia, obstruction of justice, admiration for Putin and other strongmen, racism that gives cover to white supremacists, affairs with playgirls and prostitutes, hush money, obsession to destroy his enemies (including John McCain), attempts to undermine the American institutions that try to hold him in check (Department of Justice, FBI, intelligence agencies, the press) …
History will also condemn Trump as disastrous for Americans' well-being – unless you're among the wealthiest 2% or so. Consider that as you head to the voting booth.
Remember that the economy improved for seven straight years under President Obama. Yes, it has accelerated under Trump, but for the vast majority of Americans, he's sown the seeds of destruction:
Huge tax cuts for the wealthy – with little or no benefits to the middle class.
Rapidly growing income inequality, which got a turbo-boost with Trump's giveaways to the wealthiest.
Soaring national debt – into the trillions because of the tax cuts, so crushing that the cost of debt could overwhelm our ability to continue Medicare and Social Security.
Less funding for social services that benefit middle- and low-income wage earners.
Cuts to Medicaid – the health-care lifeline for low-income Americans – and continued attacks on the Affordable Care Act. More and more Americans have no health plans at all.
Workers' wages stagnant despite very low unemployment.
Anti-union regulations that weaken workers' bargaining powers.
Trade wars that hurt American farmers, threaten layoffs in many industries and raise prices for all of us.
The politically motivated obsession with coal, a dirty fuel and a minuscule part of our economy and workforce.
Lower auto emissions standards, jeopardizing American automakers' competitiveness versus foreign automakers – not to mention the impact on us all as the planet heats up.
Lax environmental regulations that mean costly taxpayer cleanups down the line.
Windfalls for Wall Street and reduced protections for Americans' nest eggs and mortgages, as if the 2008 meltdown had never happened.
Cuts to public education at all levels.
Crushing student debt – worse under Trump. Many young, educated Americans can't buy a decent car (much less a house), can't even contribute to the economy.
Enough is enough. Vote your best interests.
Vote for elected officials who will provide for our common good – affordable education, health care as a right for all Americans, public safety, clean energy, preservation of Medicare and Social Security and a reasonably level playing field for anyone who wants to reach for the American Dream.
Vote for candidates who will reverse our descent into a country of haves and have-nots.
As former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said decades ago:
“We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both.”
We need less political name-calling and insults -- encouraged by Russian bots sent out to destroy our democracy -- and we need more common-sense discussion. More wisdom.
Wisdom is out there, if we're open to seeking it from all sources.
Quoting longtime conservative columnist George Will, a Republican until he resigned from the Republican Party, fed up with spineless colleagues who made too many excuses for Donald Trump and took too little action to censure him:
“We shall learn from Robert Mueller's investigation whether in 2016 there was collusion with Russia by members of the Trump campaign. The world, however, saw in Helsinki something more grave – ongoing collusion between Trump, now in power, and Russia.
“The collusion is in what Trump says (refusing to back America's intelligence agencies) and in what evidently went unsaid (such as: Stop disrupting Ukraine, downing civilian airliners, attempting to assassinate people people abroad using poisons … and so on.)”
Why this collusion for all the world to see? Again, quoting Will:
“The most innocent inference is that for decades Trump has depended on an American weakness -- susceptibility to the tacky charisma of wealth, which would evaporate when his (Trump's) tax returns revealed that he has always lied about his wealth, too.
“A more ominous explanation might be that his demonstrated incompetence as a businessman tumbled him into unsavory financial dependencies on Russians.
“A still more sinister explanation might be that the Russians have something else, something worse, to keep him compliant.”
To keep him a puppet to Putin's puppet-master.
Mueller's investigation must be allowed to proceed to the end. It's difficult to fathom that the 26 Russians now under indictment did not have contact, or coordination, or collusion from Americans. Putin himself, in the infamous Helsinki press conference where Trump threw our country under his bus, said that, yes, he did want Trump to become president.
More wisdom …
Quoting from the historical fiction novel about World War II, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – this passage comes from a chapter wherein a German leader of Hitler youth indoctrinates his teenage trainees:
“You have minds. But minds are not to be trusted. Minds are always drifting toward ambiguity, toward questions, when what you really need is certainty. Purpose. Clarity. Do not trust your minds.”
Trump demands certainty. Don't question why we need to tear children from families seeking legal asylum at the border. Don't believe the independent media. (They were silenced in Hitler's Germany.) Don't wonder why we need tax breaks for the richest and fewer services for those who are not the richest.
And again from All the Light We Cannot See. In this passage, a member of the French resistance (an elderly woman) is arguing with someone who counsels caution and a head-down, wait-and-see attitude toward the German occupiers of their little town:
“Do you know what happens, Etienne, when you drop a frog in a pot of boiling water?”
“You will tell us, I'm sure.”
“It jumps out. But do you know what happens when you put the frog in a pot of cool water and then slowly bring it to a boil? You know what happens then?
“The frog cooks.”
If you still believe in Donald Trump as the leader of America, much less the free world …
If you believe that your 401K will continue to prosper long-term as Trump and oligarchic policies create fewer haves and more have-nots in America …
If you believe that tariffs on our allies are the answer as more farmers, consumers, companies (i.e., Harley-Davidson) and workers suffer …
If you believe that Social Security and Medicare will survive in an everyone-for-themselves America …
If you believe that Trump really puts America first and not himself, then you are …
Florida has taken incremental steps toward gun safety – timid, but a start.
Even that was too much for the National Rifle Association, which sued to block Florida from raising the age to buy assault rifles from 18 to 21.
The NRA will lose the legal battle. Courts have consistently ruled that guns can be regulated within the Second Amendment, and there are many age-related public and private sector precedents – the drinking and voting age, plus restrictions on driver's licenses, on car rentals, more.
Almost 100 per cent of Americans now support universal background checks for any gun sale under any circumstances. The NRA would have you believe the current system is just fine. In fact, it's shot full of loopholes.
The NRA exists solely to promote the gun industry, trying to wrap itself in our flag even as it corrupts our political process and perverts the Second Amendment – which is not threatened one iota by basic gun safety measures.
NRA Spokeswoman Dana Loesch, she of black hair, black clothes and a black outlook on the First Amendment, recently released a video on NRATV. She addresses it to athletes who exercise their right to protest, journalists who tell the truth, comedians who use jokes as weapons. She calls them liars and phonies.
Loesch ends her screed with: “Your time is running out. The clock starts now.” With that, she turn an hourglass upside down.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas survivor Sarah Chadwick reduces Loesch to a mean-spirited fool with her own video on behalf of the #NeverAgain movement. Chadwick looks straight into the camera and parodies Loesch:
"We've had enough of the lies, the sanctimony, the ignorance, the hatred,
the pettiness, the NRA ...
“We're done with your agenda to undermine the safety of our nation's
youth and the individual voices of the American people ...
“To every government official unwilling to take action and make change,
to everyone with an A-plus rating from the National Rifle Association, to
every spokeswoman with an hourglass who uses their free speech to
alter and undermine what our flag represents …“
"To the politicians who would rather watch America's youth die than get
assault rifles off the shelves, to the manipulating lobbyists who think
their political stances should be the only ones supported by legislation,
to those who refuse to accept common-sense gun safety as a bi-
partisan issue, to those who call high-school students paid crisis actors
and refuse to listen …"
“Your time is running out. The clock starts now.”
Then Chadwick turns her own hourglass upside down.
The video is posted everywhere. Find it, like it. Share. Comment. Call your elected officials' attention to it. Tell them an A grade from the NRA equals nay on election day.
And congratulate the companies that have ended relationships with the NRA. Call their customer service lines – Delta, United, First National Bank of Omaha, Enterprise, Alamo, National, Symantec, MetLife Auto & Home, Simplisafe, Allied and North American Van Lines, Hertz, Teladoc, Chubb, Avis, Budget. The list grows.
Two iconic companies that have done nothing so far: Apple and Amazon. Both continue to carry the NRATV channel in their streaming services.
Amazon customer service managers will tell you the NRA channel is under review, and they're taking feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We can wonder why they need more feedback to do the right thing. This isn't an issue of free speech – the NRA is a lobbyist for one industry and a political animal that tries to destroy politicians based on one issue. Would Amazon carry the Nancy Polosi channel, or the Paul Ryan channel?
But if Amazon folks want feedback, OK. Suggest they watch those videos – Loesch the fool, Chadwick the survivor.
– Paul A
Let's take a whiff of what National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre is spewing.
He blames the Parkland mass murder on the FBI, the police, the lack of school security – but not the easy availability of the assault rifle wielded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
He calls the NRA to a war footing. Says more gun-safety laws mean creeping “socialism” in America. Thumbs his nose at student survivors of the massacre.
Anyone who advocates getting assault rifles off the streets, says LaPierre, simply wants to “eliminate the Second Amendment” and make us “less free.”
But the Never Again movement, led by children more formidable than he realizes, is not about taking away reasonable guns used for hunting, skeet, target shooting or personal protection. Never Again is no threat to the Second Amendment.
We should tighten school security and bolster background checks. We do need law enforcement to perform better.
But let's apply common sense. Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia, like most of the world, have police who make mistakes, schools that aren't fortresses and a fair share of mentally ill folks.
Unlike America, however, they do not allow assault rifles. They do not have mass killings, not like we do.
That's also ignored by Sen. Marco Rubio (R.-Fla.), NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch and Donald Trump.
Rubio and Loesch showed fortitude in appearing before 7,000 mostly hostile community members at CNN's town hall, not far from Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland. Trump had his own televised round-table in the White House.
Apply the smell test:
Rubio says it's impossible to ban assault rifles because manufacturers can find loopholes to make weapons legal ... OK, close the loopholes. Or make all semi-automatic weapons illegal, as suggested sarcastically by Rubio – but loudly applauded by the crowd.
Rubio says the NRA hasn't bought his support by giving him millions. They just admire his stance on gun control ... Even a child – like those showing such courage now – can see through that.
Rubio says he is finally considering limits on super-sized assault-rifle magazines because of the Parkland massacre ... Really? He needed Parkland to make him aware that extra bullets let a shooter kill faster without having to reload?
Rubio says a previous ban on the AR-15 and assault rifles like it didn't work ... Except, it did. It was in place from 1994-2004, and significantly reduced crime related to those weapons.
Since the law lapsed? Tragedies have accelerated. Newtown, Aurora, Orlando, San Bernardino, Sutherland Springs, Las Vegas, Parkland. Who's next?
Loesch turned combative on questioners, even students, putting on her tough talk-show personna and wielding NRA talking points like a club. The Second Amendment is sacred and has no limits. The FBI and the Broward County sheriff's office are to blame for the killings. And the media.
She dodged questions about assault rifles, even when challenged by a gutsy Parkland survivor … LaPierre ought to give Loesch a raise with, as one student called it, “NRA blood money.”
At his round-table, Trump clutched a hand-printed note card that – magnified by cameras – reminded him to greet his guests, listen to them, ask for ideas. Sort of a teleprompter for dummies.
After everyone finished, Trump brought up his own idea: Arm teachers. Put a gun in classrooms ... Even Rubio cringed at that.
For those who want to wipe away the slime of moronic, self-serving, evasive comments and outright lies, there's inspiration to be found. Check out the original song “Shine,” written and performed at the town hall by the Stoneman Douglas drama club:
“We're Putting Up a Fight / You May Have Brought the Dark / But Together We Will Shine a Light.”
The children shall lead.
- Paul, Metairie Indivisible
Protecting children from being slaughtered in school has nothing to do with the Second Amendment.
Reasonable citizens will always own reasonable guns for reasonable purposes – a pistol for personal protection, a rifle for hunting. So let's get past the spurious argument that trying to stop mass killing somehow means a slippery slope to take away Americans' rights.
That's a convenient argument to duck behind for politicians in the pocket of the National Rifle Association. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., ducks every chance he gets. While in Congress, records show that Ryan has received more than $300,000 from the NRA. He's on NRA speed-dial.
Ryan's colleagues? Over their careers, the top 10 NRA recipients in the Senate and House, all 20 of them Republicans, have pocketed more than $40 million.
Do dollars mean more than lives? And if we're talking about preserving Americans' rights, what about the rights of the children murdered in Parkland, Florida? The rights of their parents, their friends, their loved ones?
Did the shooter have a right to deliver – as was said so eloquently – “17 bullets to the heart” of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School?
Enough. Let's rapidly deal with what must be done, now:
Ban the AR-15 and semi-automatic weapons like it.
They should only be used by the military and law enforcement.
They're not designed to help Americans defend home and family. They're not called defense weapons – they're called assault weapons. They're intended to kill as many people as possible, as fast as possible.
There had been a ban on the manufacture for civilian use of the AR-15 model – plus similar weapons – from 1994 to 2004. The ban had loopholes, letting manufacturers make small changes in weapons so they'd be legal. Still, the president of the International Chiefs of Police told Congress in 2004 that crime traced to assault weapons had fallen by 66%.
That testimony didn't carry nearly as much weight as the NRA's cash, and Congress let the ban lapse. Since then, the AR-15 has been used with tragic results in Parkland and other infamous sites – Newton, Orlando, Aurora, Las Vegas, others.
We need another ban, stronger, minus loopholes.
Require background checks for ALL gun sales.
Private, unlicensed sellers, including those at gun shows, are not required to do them. But background checks of a national database of criminals, drug users and those with violent behavior are relatively simple and often take only a few minutes.
Prohibit guns from changing hands until a background check is COMPLETE.
No exceptions, even when a background check gets bogged down. Dylann Roof, the South Carolina white supremacist who murdered nine black church-goers in 2015, was allowed to buy a .45- caliber Glock after three days elapsed because his background report – showing drug possession and multiple arrests – was delayed by a paperwork error. He should have been rejected.
Outlaw bump stocks.
This was the equipment of choice by Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock in 2017. He fired 1,100 rounds into a concert crowd and killed 58 people. Semi-automatic was not good enough for him. His bump stocks converted weapons into fully automatic killers.
Congress seemed to be tip-toeing last fall toward a ban on bump stocks until the NRA wagged its fingers. After that, Ryan and others quietly dropped the idea.
Yes, keep guns out of the hands of those who exhibit dangerous behavior.
So-called red flag laws can help. But this is tricky when applied to mental illness – what sort of illness qualifies? How do we determine whether someone is truly dangerous? The Parkland shooter clearly exhibited threatening behavior and should have been stopped; other cases are not so obvious.
Certainly, we can offer more services to the mentally ill and make our red-flag database more robust. But that will only have so much impact when so many people have such easy access to killing machines.
Taking any – or all – of these steps does not violate the Constitution. None of it should be political or partisan. Nobody's moral compass should be swayed by the NRA.
It all comes down to a simple question:
Should Congress put America's safety first and finally – finally! – take action to protect us and our children?
Tell your elected representatives how you answer that.
Louisiana Congressional Delegation
Next Election: 2020 for Cassidy, 2022 for Kennedy.
Bill Cassidy, Republican.
D.C. Office – 202-224-5824. Metairie – 504-838-0130. Baton Rouge – 225-929-7711
John Neely Kennedy, Republican.
D.C. Office – 202-224-4623. New Orleans – 504-581-6190.
Next Election for All: 11-6-2018
Steve Scalise, Republican, District 1
D.C. Office – 202-225-3015. Mandeville – 985-893-9064.
Cedric Richmond, Democrat, District 2.
D.C. Office – 202-225-6636. New Orleans – 504-288-3777.
Clay Higgins, Republican, District 3.
D.C.Office – 202-225-2031. Lafayette – 337-703-6105.
Mike Johnson, Republican, District 4.
D.C. Office -- 202-225-2777. Bosier City – 318-840-0309.
Ralph Abraham, Republican, District 5.
D.C. Office – 202-225-8490. Monroe – 318-322-3500.
Garret Graves, Republican, District 6.
D.C. Office – 202-225-3901. Baton Rouge – 225-442-1731.