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Vietnam through New Eyes, part 5: The faces of today by Marjorie Arons-Barron

The images will last forever, I am certain. The bustling narrow streets of the Old Quarter area of Hanoi,  the water puppet show dating back to the 10th century,  the 11th century Temple of Literature honoring scholars and men of learning, the Museum of Ethnology, the Women’s Museum in Hanoi, the War Remnants Museum in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), the Imperial Citadel of Hue, the lantern-lit old town of Hoi An with its charming tile-roofed wooden buildings, the ruins of the ancient Cham kingdom (Vietnam’s version of the newer but larger Angkor Wat), the French influence on Hanoi and Saigon, the site of John McCain’s imprisonment, Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh and his humble homes, and the umpteen temples and pagodas, markets, rivers, beaches and rice paddies.   But it’s the people whose images are most deeply imprinted and who will be the face of the future in this fascinating country.

A child living in the heavily bombed countryside outside Hanoi during the war, whose father was killed fighting in the North Vietnamese Army, works hard at her job but makes time for a wide range of charitable activities.  Her daughter is at college in the U.S.  An artist whose studio is in her small home, but whose paintings have been acquired by the families of French and American presidents.  A proud and tough former South Vietnamese officer,  who invited us for tea in his home and showed us his creative art work that belies his painful past. A young student of history, whose farmer father lost seven of his ten siblings when a Viet Cong guerrilla fired into his Mekong Delta home on the misinformation that South Vietnamese officers were quartered there. Afterwards, the student’s father cut off his right index finger so he couldn’t shoot a gun and could avoid conscription.

We found uniformly positive attitudes toward American people,  especially when contrasted with negative views of China. Attitudes toward American presidents differed dramatically. Trump was widely criticized for his indifferent Danang and Hanoi appearances last year. Obama and Bill Clinton are missed. But there was one former war photographer we met in Saigon who greeted us in his tiny apartment wearing a navy Trump 2016 tee shirt and a red “Make America Great Again” cap.  We thought it was a joke, but it wasn’t.

Outsiders tend to look at the Vietnamese in binary terms: Hanoi versus Saigon, Communists versus anti-communists, bad guys and good guys. Post 1975 Vietnamese who settled in the United States have still another take.  But the reality is more complex.

The Vietnamese were victims of foreign aggression, for millennia by the Chinese, for more than a century by the French. (A French guillotine stands near barbed wire tiger cages in one of the war museums in mute testimony of that era’s brutality.)  And then the Americans, beginning with the Truman administration. But the Vietnamese were not just victims; they were brutal to one another and also to the Laotians and Cambodians. They don’t like to discuss this aspect of their history.

The economy is growing rapidly, spurred on by the privatization of formerly state-owned companies and vibrant foreign investments.  South Koreans, for example, who were fighting Communism in Vietnam during the war are making large investments today.  South Korean tourists are there in high numbers, along with Japanese, Chinese and Thai.  There are fewer Russians, but they are still a presence.

For people who traditionally shop fresh daily, super markets and frozen foods are coming; upscale shopping malls are spreading; foreign brands from Hermes to Starbucks are increasingly present.    Rows of luxury condo developments marketed to foreigners are under construction on the beaches near Danang. With increased prosperity, and few if any environmental controls, has come throat-burning, eye tearing air pollution and contaminated  water.    With staggering new wealth and old-style corruption has come growing income inequality, with the World Bank estimating that the richest five percent of Vietnamese hold a quarter of all income.

Reconciliation is an ongoing process, but what all the people we met have in common is that they are survivors. They will educate their children. They will hold down two or three jobs if necessary. They will look for economic opportunities. They seem to compartmentalize the Communist government’s refusal to share power, the constraints on freedoms of speech and press.  To our questions, they smile meaningfully but turn the conversation in other directions.  They shrug knowingly when asked about well-known corruption at all levels of government, but are more comfortable discussing  pay-offs for promotions and other benefits common in the private sector. They go about their lives.

Despite all these challenges, they are pragmatic individuals, forward-looking and optimistic. They’re easy to like and to admire.

Early evening on Tuesday, January 23rd, as we were returning to our hotel in Hue from a day in the DMZ, loud cheers erupted from the cafes and bars. Jubilant people poured onto the streets, cheering and waving their arms in joy. The Vietnamese soccer team had just done the impossible. It had defeated the Qatar team with a post-regulation-time penalty kick and had, against all odds, made it into the finals of the Asia 23 Cup.  (Think

Hugh Harkness photo

Philadelphia Eagles.) The streets of Hue and other places across Vietnam went wild, with young people on motorbikes and piled into rickety pickup trucks waving red Vietnam flags.  We joined the crowd.  Our camera battery depleted, British photographer Hugh Harkness shared this photo.  “We’re small, but we’re tough and resilient,” was the enthusiastic consensus among team supporters. (It was a lesson learned the hard way decades before by the American military.)

Saturday’s final was against Uzbekistan in a snowstorm in China. Snow is not the natural habitat for the heavily under-dog Vietnamese.  The taller and heavier Uzbeks are used to snow. The Vietnamese persevered, and at halftime the score was 1-to-1.  In Hoi An, we were the only non-Vietnamese watching with the staff of our hotel, rooting along with them. The score was still tied at the end of regulation time. Could they do it again? With a minute of overtime left, the Uzbeks scored, and it was over.

The Vietnamese were disappointed but not crestfallen. They had done better than anyone had dared dream. The next day, we watched storefront television sets in Saigon’s Chinatown as all Vietnam welcomed home their silver medal national team. All were proud of their achievement. They are scrappy and determined.  They will be back. It is a metaphor for their future.

Lowell Week in Review: February 18, 2018

Selecting a City Manager

Hiring a new city manager for Lowell is a big deal. Consequently, today’s post will deal exclusively with how that process was conducted the last time a city manager was hired, with some Lowell political history tossed in for context.

City Manager Kevin Murphy’s announcement this week that he would retire on April 1, 2018 was quite a surprise. When he was selected, Manager Murphy promised that the three pillars of his administration would be public safety, economic development and education. History will show that he delivered on all three. In the coming weeks, I’ll write more about the accomplishments of the Murphy administration but today, let’s cover the process of selecting a successor City Manager.

At this past Tuesday’s council meeting, less than 24 hours after the Murphy retirement announcement, councilors indicated an intent to follow the same process that was used when Murphy was selected back in 2014. Before discussing the particulars of that process, it might be helpful to review the history leading up to the vacancy that Murphy filled because, as Harry Truman once said, “the only thing new in the world is the history you’ve not yet read.”

Murphy’s predecessor, Bernie Lynch, served as city manager for more than seven years. He was hired on June 30, 2006 with the votes of Mayor Bill Martin and Councilors Eileen Donoghue, Bud Caulfield, Rodney Elliott, Kevin Broderick, Jim Milinazzo, and George Ramirez. Councilors Armand Mercier and Rita Mercier both voted for Frank Keefe.

In the November 2007 city council election, incumbents Rita Mercier, Bud Caulfield, Bill Martin, Armand Mercier, Kevin Broderick, Rodney Elliott and Jim Milinazzo were all re-elected. Eileen Donoghue, who had run in that fall’s special Congressional Election to replace Marty Meehan (which election was won by Niki Tsongas) did not run for re-election to the council, and Joe Mendonca, who had replaced George Ramirez when he resigned from the council, lost his reelection effort. Replacing Donoghue and Mendonca were Alan Kazanjian and Mike Lenzi. Bud Caulfield was unanimously elected mayor. During this council term, Manager Lynch would typically get five votes on important issues, but he also had a rockier relationship with this council than with the council that had elected him.

In the November 2009 election, perhaps due in part to council antagonism towards Lynch, the voters made some changes. Rita Mercier, Bud Caulfield, Kevin Broderick, Jim Milinazzo, Bill Martin and Rodney Elliott were all reelected. Armand Mercier and Alan Kazanjian both lost, and Mike Lenzi did not run. Replacing them were former councilor Mendonca and newcomers Frankie Descoteaux and Patrick Murphy. Milinazzo was unanimously elected mayor. In general, this council had a better relationship with Lynch than did its predecessor.

The November 2011 election also brought three new councilors. Incumbents Rita Mercier, Rodney Elliott, Kevin Broderick, Patrick Murphy, Bill Martin and Joe Mendonca were all reelected. Incumbents Bud Caulfield and Franky Descoteaux did not run, and incumbent Jim Milinazzo, the mayor, finished twelfth. The three new councilors were newcomers Vesna Nuon and Marty Lorrey and former councilor Ed Kennedy. Patrick Murphy was elected mayor by a five to four vote with Murphy, Broderick, Lorrey, Martin and Nuon voting for Murphy and Elliott, Kennedy, Mendonca and Mercier voting for Elliott.

While the election of three new councilors did not signal voter dissatisfaction with Manager Lynch, this council faced some divisive issues and council opposition to Lynch became more pronounced, especially from Elliott, Mercier and Kennedy. Lynch’s support was further weakened in August 2012 when one of his strongest council supporters, Kevin Broderick, resigned from the council. He was replaced by eleventh-place finisher John Leahy (tenth place finisher Armand Mercier had passed away at the start of 2012). While Leahy was not a Lynch opponent, neither was he the strong supporter of the manager that Broderick had been.

The election of November 2013, in retrospect, can be seen as a negative response by voters to either Lynch or to the divisiveness that had engulfed the council during the previous term. Three of Lynch’s reliable supporters, Lorrey, Nuon and Mendonca, all lost, and Mayor Murphy did not run. Replacing them were former councilor Jim Milinazzo and newcomers Bill Samaras, Dan Rourke and Corey Belanger. While neither Rourke nor Belanger expressly campaigned against Lynch, they were more aligned with Lynch critics than Lynch supporters. Additionally, the three incumbent councilors most hostile to Lynch – Mercier, Elliott and Kennedy – finished one-two-three in the council election, and on inauguration day in January 2014, Rodney Elliott was unanimously elected mayor.

That council’s first regular meeting (January 7, 2014) began with a motion about the Christmas crèche (or Nativity Scene) that had historically been located on City Hall Plaza but which that Christmas season had been placed down the street on the grounds of St. Anne’s Church out of concern by the city manager and city solicitor (and others) that the city erecting a religious display on city property created Constitutional problems. A number of councilors were greatly angered by this move and directed their ire at Lynch. (Please read my transcript of that portion of the meeting).

With that as a prelude, the council proceeded through the rest of that night’s agenda to the final item which was a request by the city manager that the council go into executive session to discuss the status of his contract. Lynch’s contract was expiring, and everyone expected him to seek a renewal of it. Councilors opposed the executive session request and said that if the city manager’s contract was to be discussed, it would have to be in open session.

Mayor Elliott then recognized Manager Lynch who began by congratulating the newly elected councilors and then read a letter which began “Please accept this letter as my resignation effective March 10, 2014 . . .”

Although most expected a very hostile relationship between the new council and Lynch, I don’t think anyone expected him to resign, so his announcement came as quite a surprise.

On January 14, 2014, the council held a special meeting to discuss the process of hiring a new manager. The first issue was salary. The council unanimously agreed that any advertisement would state that the outgoing manager’s salary was $180,000 and that the new manager’s salary would be negotiable. The council also agreed to update the job description from that used to hire Lynch seven years earlier. Next, Councilor Kennedy moved that the advertisement state that the council would not offer the new manager a contract, but that failed with Councilors John Leahy, Rita Mercier, Bill Martin, Jim Milinazzo and Bill Samaras voting not to exclude the possibility of the contract, and with Councilors Ed Kennedy, Dan Rourke, Corey Belanger and Ed Kennedy all opposed to offering a contract in any case. Next, the council voted to advertise the position in the Lowell Sun, the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald and on the websites of the city of Lowell and the Mass Municipal Association. The council then set February 28, 2014 as the deadline for applications.

A few days after that application deadline, the council met again (on March 3, 2014) to discuss the next phase of the process. Councilors agreed that they would review all applicant resumes and that each councilor would submit to the city clerk their top five candidates no later than Friday, March 7. The clerk would then compile the nine sets of “top fives” and whichever five were selected most often would be the finalists and would advance to the interview stage. During this initial screening process, the names of the applicants would be kept confidential.

The next issue was public input. Councilor Samaras favored the establishment of a committee of community members that would meet with the finalists, but most councilors preferred a public hearing at which any citizen could speak publicly to the council about the qualities they hoped to see in the new city manager. This public hearing was set for March 12, 2014. Because public input would not be received until after councilors had already made their “top five” selections, there was some community dissatisfaction that the councilors would be making that initial selection before they heard community input. Nevertheless, that was the process adopted.

Finally, councilors discussed the finalist interview process. Previously, each applicant had opening and closing statements of three minutes each, and a question from each councilor with five minutes to respond. The council delayed making a decision on this until a future meeting.

The next night, March 4, 2014, would be Bernie Lynch’s last meeting as city manager. He submitted the FY2015 budget and made some farewell remarks. Although Lynch had hinted he would be willing to stay on as manager until his successor was in place, councilors rejected that possibility by immediately appointing City Clerk Michael Geary to be interim city manager.

Prior to the March 12, 2014 public hearing, someone leaked to the media the names of the 29 applicants, the names of the six finalists (there was a tie for fifth place) and the number of votes each of the finalists received. The initial applicant names were never to have become public, nor was the vote totals for the finalists, and the finalist names were only to be revealed after that night’s public hearing. (Lowell has a long tradition of these kinds of leaks to the media, so don’t be surprised if it happens again this time).

Eleven citizens spoke at that evening’s public hearing on the traits and characteristics they desired in the next city manager.

At the close of the public hearing portion, the council decided on the particulars of the interview process. Each finalist would have a ten minute opening statement and a five minute closing statement. In between, each councilor would have ten minutes to question each applicant. Given the length of each interview, councilors decided to do just two per night. The evenings selected for interviews were March 25, 26 and 27.

The six finalists for the city manager’s job were:

Greg Balukonis who had been the administrator of North Reading, Massachusetts since 2005. Mr. Balukonis was also a finalist for the position of Dracut Town Manager.

Robert Bruner who was the former city manager of Birmingham, Michigan. He held that job for three years.

Peter Graczykowski who was the former City Manager of East Providence, Rhode Island. He held that job for two years.

Daniel Keyes who had been the administrator of Blackstone, Massachusetts since 2011.

Kevin Murphy who had represented the Highlands and Acre neighborhoods of Lowell as a State Representative since 1997. He also worked for Lowell as an Assistant City Solicitor for 13 years.

George Ramirez who was the Administrator of Devens, the former U.S. Army base in Ayer, Massachusetts, that had been developed as a residential and business zone. He was also an attorney who served on the Lowell City Council in 2006 and 2007.

(On the floor of the council, Rita Mercier stated that Councilor John Leahy should recuse himself from participating in the election of the manager since Ramirez was his brother-in-law and that any participation would be a conflict of interest, however, Leahy replied that state ethics laws only required him to publicly disclose this relationship, which he had done, so it was legal for him to fully participate in the process).

After watching all five interviews (one of the finalists had withdrawn), here’s what I wrote in my Sunday Week in Review of March 30, 2014 which was before the council took its vote on who would be manager:

The City Council interviews of the five finalists for the position of Lowell City Manager dominated politics in the city this week. I watched all five interviews and thought the interview process went pretty well. The council was fortunate to schedule only two interviews per day because sitting through nearly four hours of this stuff on Wednesday and Thursday nights was pretty fatiguing for the viewer which I assume was also true for councilors. The ten minute time blocks for openings, closings and per councilor questioning also seemed good. The ten minute per councilor rule benefited applicants who were concise and direct in their answers since that enabled each councilor to get through his or her own series of questions and not seem rushed near the end. Some questions were pointed; others were not. I don’t remember any instances of high drama or tension. Everyone stayed pretty relaxed through the process. Nor was there any apparent confusion. Candidates, councilors and support staff were there when they were supposed to be. Acting City Manager Geary was the official time keeper and no one seemed to abuse the time rules. I assume there’s been plenty of lobbying and pleading going on this weekend – why should this decision be any different than all the other times that city managers have been selected in Lowell? – but I’ll skip the prognostications and trust the councilors to do the best they can. In many respects the big decision was made last November with the outcome of the city election. Had other candidates been elected, most likely Bernie Lynch would still be there and the only debate would be over the length of his contract extension. Elections have consequences, however, and because of that we’ll have a new city manager tomorrow night. I’ll be watching tomorrow night and will record who says what and post it here right afterwards.

At a special meeting on Monday, March 31, 2014, the council elected Kevin Murphy to be city manager by an eight to one vote with Mayor Elliott and Councilors Kennedy, Martin, Mercier, Milinazzo, Rourke, Samaras and Belanger voting for Murphy. Councilor Leahy voted for George Ramirez.

From January 7, 2014, the date that Bernie Lynch announced his resignation, to March 31, 2014, the date Kevin Murphy was hired to replace him, exactly twelve weeks had passed. If we apply that same standard to this year’s process, with Kevin Murphy having announced on February 12, 2018 his plans to depart, a new city manager should be hired by May 7, 2018.

Vietnam through New Eyes, part 4. My Lai and the trail of tears by Marjorie Arons-Barron

The entry below is being cross posted from Marjorie Arons-Barron’s own blog.

Ronald S. Haeberle//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

So many places drew us away from the breathtaking landscape, the mouth-watering cuisine, and inviting art galleries and toward the American experience in Vietnam. Toward places familiar from books and contemporaneous television news: Red Beach #2 in Danang, where the first U.S. combat troops landed in March, 1965; China Beach, where the GI’s went for R ‘n’ R; Hien Luong Bridge, over the Ben Hai River in Quang Tri Province at the 17th parallel, dividing north Vietnam from south; the head of the Ho Chi Minh trail, and the Vinh Moc tunnels, which the North Vietnamese dug by hand to move people and supplies to their soldiers – tunnels in which they hid by day and from which they emerged at night to fight. The tunnels are a testament to North Vietnam’s ingenuity and included meeting rooms, wells, and health room. Sixty families lived in the Vinh Moc tunnels, and 17 children were born in the narrow, dank interior.

There are many military cemeteries, those in the North better maintained than those in the South, per order of the Communist government in Hanoi.  Some cemeteries have graves for the unknown as far as the eye can see; others have mass graves to collect remnants of soldiers.

No place drew us more ineluctably than My Lai, a hamlet in Son My village, in Quang Ngai Province, site of the infamous My Lai massacre. There, on March 16, 1968 Lt. William Calley

led some 100 soldiers from Charlie Company in the mass killing of 504 Vietnamese villagers. They were civilians, mostly women and children, including 56 infants.  Calley’s orders were to wipe out the Viet Cong in Son My, but army intelligence had been wrong. The VC were nowhere to be found. Frustrated and reportedly enraged by American casualties suffered in the recent Tet offensive, Calley and his men drove on, setting homes on fire, slaughtering farm animals, gang-raping women and, finally, shooting people as they lay on top of each other in a ditch, throwing a grenade or two after them for good measure.

But for a few brave Americans who defied his orders and gathered evidence to prove the crime, the horror might have gone unnoticed. Freelance writer Seymour Hersh took the story public late in 1969. He received a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage. Noteworthy for standing tall were Hugh Thompson, the helicopter pilot who refused to turn his guns on the terrorized civilians and helped guide some villagers to safety, crew members Lawrence Colburn and Glen Andreotta. It took until 1998 for the three to be honored for their bravery, Andreotta posthumously. The museum at My Lai also pays tribute to GI Ronald Ridenhour, who heard from buddies what had happened at My Lai, gathered eyewitness accounts on his own, and wrote to officials in Congress and the Pentagon, finally prompting an official investigation.

Calley was the only soldier tried for the slaughter. He was given a life sentence at hard labor, but President Richard Nixon, having previously tried to discredit a witness to the massacre, set Calley’s release in motion, which happened shortly after Nixon left office.  Fourteen others were charged but never tried. One other officer was court martialed but found not guilty. The event polarized both those for and against the war but especially intensified home front opposition.

As we stand in the modest museum in My Lai commemorating the massacre, it’s hard to get our heads around this event. Could it just have been the fog of war? The confusion of challenging circumstances? The depravity that all wars engender? Remember the Haditha massacre of 2007, when U.S. Marines in Iraq shot to death 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians, including women, children and elderly,  in revenge for the IED killing of a comrade? Are such horrors inevitable accidents, or are atrocities simply tacitly accepted war policy?

Such crimes probably happen more often than we like to think. The very same day in My Son in March of 1968, there were similar slaughters in other nearby My Lai area hamlets.  A large bronze plate is inscribed with the names and ages of the slain villagers. My Lai is not on the usual tourist itinerary. On the day we went, our guide, my husband and I were the only visitors. We viewed the horrific photos and relics while moving silently from room to room.

Nearly 50 years to the day from the massacre, we stopped en route to the My Lai killing field at a local pig market, vibrant and colorful. (Seeing the little squealers jammed together into crates and hauled off to become next day’s spring roll or pho soup was enough to make me consider becoming a vegetarian!)  Through our translator, Jim questioned farmers and buyers about their thoughts on My Lai, just down the road. Their recollections were dim, if they remembered at all. (Three quarters of the population of Vietnam are under 40 years old.)  Even for the older generation, more prone to “forgive but not forget,” their minds are on their families and their livelihoods.  Perhaps today’s economic and security relationship with the United States, especially given Vietnamese tensions with China, transcends that horrifying history.  As Americans, however, there are valuable lessons in forcing ourselves to remember what happened here.

Some American veterans have done just that.  A group from Veterans for Peace helped to restore a Guernica-like mosaic mural near the museum depicting the slaughter. GI’s have raised money for scholarships for Vietnamese children. Some have left plantings and memorial plaques. We left a contribution.

Under a fragrant frangipani tree, a plaque from veteran Billy Kelly reads in part “Mai Khong Quen,” which translates as “Never Forget.” And we shall not.

School shooting tragedy by the numbers by Marjorie Arons-Barron

Every time I have written about gun violence and mass shootings, one reader or another (you know who you are) will charge me with being a bleeding heart liberal.  So, let’s take the emotion out of the equation.  After all, we’ve been through this scenario multiple times.  The horror has become part of our national brand. Let’s look at some numbers.

A mentally ill 19-year old was too young to buy a beer or a handun but legally allowed to purchase an AR-15 assault rifle. His out-of-control actions as a high-school student had led to 39 calls to local police to address his disruptive and threatening behavior.  He had posted multiple messages on social media that he owned a gun and wanted to carry out a school shooting. (The FBI today admitted it had failed to follow protocols having been tipped off to this information.) The killer accomplished his goal this week, discharging some 150 bullets into children and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. He left 17 dead and 15 wounded, some with life-threatening injuries. Hundreds of students fled into nearby streets, afraid for their lives, possibly traumatized forever.

In December, 2012 a Newtown, CT elementary school shooting left 26 dead, 20 chidren and 6 teachers.  After the Sandy Hook slaughter, despite innumerable calls for limiting the ready availability of guns,  especially assault weapons, the U. S. Congress did nothing.  It wouldn’t even bar terrorists on the no-fly list from buying weapons. Since then, there have been 239 school shootings,  with 438 persons shot, and 138 killed. For a breakdown on all these events, check out the non-profit Gun Violence Archive.

There are 55 million elementary and secondary school children who deserve a safe school environment. And we can’t guarantee it, thanks to the gun lobby and the cowardice of the Senators and Representatives whom it has bought.  The  President, whose own son is school-aged and presumably vulnerable, gave a saccharine “thoughts-and-prayers” speech and decried the lack of attention to mental illness. He obviously did not acknowledge that his own budget cuts funding for mental illness. Nor did he mention gun control or the lax laws that weaponize that mental illness.  The advocates are calling for stricter regulation.  And, before long, it will all blow over….until the next time.

Mind you, these are only the school shootings.  This doesn’t include the atrocities committed at concerts, houses of worship, retail establishments and other public spaces. The Washington Post has compiled another list.

Another set of numbers.  The National Rifle Association gave about a million dollars to candidates in the 2016 election cycle. Ninety-nine percent went to Republicans. (Notice the silence of Florida Senator Marco Rubio, bought and paid for by gun rights groups.) The NRA also spends more than $3 million a year in lobbying. Draw your own conclusion.

There is a sad predictability to all this, as captured by Nestor Ramos in today’s Boston Globe.   The only things we don’t know about the next shooting, as he points out, are who? where? and how many?

So where do we go from here?  In listening to interviews with some of the youngsters who survived the Stoneman Douglas shooting, I was struck by how reasonable they are and how disgusted they are with the refusal of elected officials to act. So here’s another number: there are 24 million young people – aged 18 to 29 years- who are eligible to vote. Only half of them voted in the last national election. One can only hope more will be energized by the craven neglect of elected officials to pass reasonable gun safety laws and get involved in the electoral process.

I was surprised to learn that the Murdoch-owned New York Post, a Trump supporter, said on its front page today “we need sensible gun control to help stop the slaughter.” It urged the President, like Nixon going to China, to take the lead in restoring the federal assault weapon ban, raising the age to buy firearms, banning bump stocks and killing the proposed concealed carry reciprocity act. Trump doesn’t consider the Post fake news, but will he listen?

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