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Blog, Newsletter Articles: Physicians and Guns

By Mark Rosenberg, M.D.

gunsandchildren Once upon a time, when life seemed to be much more straightforward, a visit to the pediatrician’s office consisted of basic questions about child development, what foods parents should be feeding, and some basic safety precautions. Most of you remember those visits.

Life has become more complex, as well as more dangerous for children. Did you know that last year 55 toddlers shot someone with a gun? Firearms-related deaths are one of the top three causes of death in American young people. In the most recent year that data are available, 2009, 7400 children under age 20 were hospitalized for injuries from firearms. The majority were unintentional assaults, 2000 were accidents, and 270 were suicide attempts.

While we are shocked when we hear of a report of a mass shooting, firearms-related incidents involving children are occurring in every city every day—20 times a day on average.

While we have made great strides in providing a safe environment for children from automobile safety to clean air and water, we have failed children with respect to our public health interventions for firearms safety. Guns are the ONLY consumer products manufactured in the United States that are not subject to Federal health and safety regulation. Your child’s teddy bear has gone through a more rigorous evaluation than any handgun.

There are a number of reasons for this failure, but they all boil down to our collective refusal to recognize that firearms pose a threat to public health. First, to be effective public health requires data, yet as a result of Congressional action, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) has been prohibited from collecting data on firearms-related injuries and deaths, despite their obviously large numbers. Second, we are not enacting simple legislation that could reduce risks to children without limiting the ability of adults to obtain a firearm. For example, we could require manufacturers to increase the pressure required to fire a handgun. This might reduce the likelihood that a toddler who finds a gun is able to pull the trigger to discharge the weapon. States also could enact laws to require safe storage of firearms if children are present in a home. Illinois has done so. Third, we should repeal a little-known provision in the Affordable Care Act that prohibits physicians from documenting patients’ answers to questions about guns. While gun rights advocates claim the intent is to prevent the Federal government from keeping a database of gun owners, the effect is to essentially muzzle physicians from asking about firearms safety. And in Florida the courts have upheld a law that prevents pediatricians from asking even asking parents about guns or counseling them about firearms safety.

President Obama’s executive action to require background checks for sales at gun shows is an important step in the limitation of illegal gun sales, however another important step is the recognition of injuries caused by firearms as a public health issue. That will lead to a better understanding of the impact of firearms on children help ensure our children’s safety.

Blog, Newsletter Articles: Tenth Dems Celebrate the Life and Legacy of Dr. King

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Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday was January 15, and the federal holiday that honors his memory fell on January 18. Among the events over that busy weekend in the 10th Congressional District were the annual Waukegan Township Martin Luther King, Jr. Dreamers’ Breakfast on January 18, and the North Shore Baptist Ministers’ Alliance celebration of Dr. King on January 17, in North Chicago. Many Tenth Dems leaders, volunteers, and friends were spotted at both events.

Blog, Featured, Newsletter Articles: Double-Talk Dold’s Desperate Deception

Don’t be fooled. The incumbent 10th District Congressman, Republican Bob Dold, is no independent. Facing a race against one of two strong Democratic candidates, either Nancy Rotering or Brad Schneider, in a presidential election year that pundits say gives an advantage to the Democratic candidate, he is pulling out all the stops to convince 10th District voters otherwise. But facts don’t lie. Dold would like us to believe that he can represent the values of 10th District residents as well as either of these progressive Democrats. Better, he argues, because he has the ear, he says, of the Speaker of the House, his pal Paul Ryan.DoldRyan2

Ryan was Mitt Romney’s running mate. He rose to prominence as the author of budget proposals that would have ended Medicare as we know it and turned over Social Security to Wall Street.

In his first term in Congress, Dold consistently supported these reactionary budgets. In return, Dold’s pal Paul has used his power as the new Speaker of the House to appoint Dold to an “advisory group” that is supposed to influence the Republican agenda. Republican press releases tout Dold as one of two “moderates” in the advisory group. Not surprisingly, the other purported moderate appointed to the Speaker’s advisory group is, along with Dold, one of the two most vulnerable Republican House incumbents.

What has Dold accomplished as a member of the Speaker’s advisory group? Since Dold supposedly has the Speaker’s ear, what “moderate” legislation has been put forward in the House? Conversely, what ultra-right-wing legislation has been held back?

Well, the first act of the House after the winter holiday break was to send a bill to the President to repeal the Affordable Care Act and withhold all federal funds from Planned Parenthood. Given the Republican majority in the House, for the Speaker to bring up the bill guaranteed its passage by that body.

Of course, President Obama vetoed the bill, protecting more than 20 million Americans’ access to healthcare. But that didn’t stop Ryan from doing a victory lap. Ryan boasted that passage of the bill by both houses of Congress proved that, with a Republican in the White House, a Republican Congress could get rid of Obamacare once and for all.

Depriving millions of Americans of access to healthcare by repealing Obamacare and defunding Planned Parenthood is not an agenda that reflects the values or priorities of the 10th District. Either Dold’s claim to being an influential moderate with the Speaker is nothing but election year hype, or Dold’s just not very good at influencing the Republican leadership.

So much for Dold as a moderating influence on his pal Paul.

But are we really surprised that Dold’s rhetoric doesn’t match reality? He’s always been a reliable vote for Paul Ryan’s right-wing budgets. Ryan lists Dold as a “strong conservative” meriting his financial support, along with such Tea Party types as Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton and Iowa Senator Joni Ernst (who as a candidate promoted castrating pigs into a Senate seat). (See http://www.prosperitypac.com/prosperity-victory-project/.) And would it be reasonable to expect Dold to undermine national Republicans when just last year he signed a secret contract with them pledging to support their agenda? (See The Washington Post, 9/3/15.)

As a matter of fact, Dold’s peerless Republican pedigree spans decades. After working for Vice President Dan Quayle in the 1980s, his next career step took him to Bob Dole’s failed 1996 campaign to defeat Bill Clinton and retake the White House for Republicans. Dold also was a legal aide to the partisan House committee that attacked the Clintons.

And just last week, on January 27, Dold cohosted a Paul Ryan fundraiser in Chicago where tickets cost as much as $50,000 apiece. (See Crain’s Chicago Business, 1/26/16, at http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20160126/BLOGS02/160129899/speaker-ryan-sets-big-chicago-fundraiser and http://www.politico.com/story/2016/01/paul-ryan-chicago-fundraiser-ticket-price-218226.) Congressional cohosts for this fundraiser included Peter Roskam, the 100 percent anti-choice Illinois congressman who is dedicated to overturning Roe v. Wade and who, as a member of the Benghazi committee, subjected Hillary Clinton to one of the rudest of the hostile cross-examinations she endured during the committee’s 12-hour long interrogation.

We deserve someone in Congress who represents the values of 10th District residents, not the political interests of D.C. Republicans. That’s why we’ll be working hard to elect whichever Democrat prevails in the March 15 primary.

You can read about the Democratic candidates for Congress, Mayor Nancy Rotering and former Congressman Brad Schneider, in this issue of Tenth News.

Blog, Featured, Newsletter Articles: Ted Cruz’s Hypocritical Tea Party Values

by Steven Gan

I’ll be honest with you about Ted Cruz. He scares me. Even more than Donald Trump with his offensive and outlandish insults and megalomania, Cruz makes my skin crawl. As a ring leader of the Republican Tea Party Caucus in Congress, his strategy to shut the government down back in 2013 not only cost tax payers over $30 billion, it accomplished nothing for his party or the nation. When I look at Ted Cruz, I see a power-hungry ideologue who as President would impose his rigid and reckless Tea Party ideology on America.cruz

But as we watch the Republican political chess game, I’m guardedly encouraged that Ted Cruz is going to face two battles of his own making that will prevent him from becoming the Republican nominee.

First, what started out as a minor nuisance, the debate about whether or not Cruz is a “natural born” citizen of the United States, is morphing into a major concern for Cruz, whose American mother gave birth to him in Canada. In fact, until 2014, Ted Cruz was both an American citizen and a Canadian citizen.

Article II, section 1, clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution states: “No Person except a natural born Citizen…shall be eligible to the Office of President.” Some legal experts, including Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe, have opined that to be “natural born,” one must have been born on American soil.

Trump has skillfully planted seeds of doubt among Cruz’s base of support. I’ll leave the question of Canadian-born Cruz’s eligibility to serve as President of the United States to the legal experts, but I admit that I’m just delighted it’s a discussion that continues to distract him from focusing on other issues.

Second, Cruz appears to have made a major misstep when he criticized Donald Trump for having “New York values.” For the life of me, I do not have a clue as to what “New York values” are, but since it sounded insulting to the people of the state with the fourth largest population in the U.S., Cruz won’t be welcome there anytime soon.

And how hypocritical of Cruz to defame New Yorkers when one of his single biggest donors is a hedge fund billionaire from … New York. Robert Mercer, co-chief executive of Renaissance Technologies, has poured $11 million into Keep the Promise, a political action committee supporting Cruz. It’s also worth noting that Cruz’s wife Heidi is on leave from her job as managing director at Goldman Sachs, the New York investment bank.

So on one hand Cruz criticizes Trump for having “New York values,” but on the other, open, hand, he’ll take New York money.

I guess that’s what you call Cruz’s “Tea Party values.”

Blog, Featured, Newsletter Articles: On the Campaign Trail in Iowa with the Mikva Challenge

By Mark Rosenberg, M.D.

Having learned about the Mikva Challenge at a Tenth Dems University event last spring, I volunteered to chaperone a group of Chicago high school students for a weekend in Iowa. The goal was for the students to better understand the election process as well as the issues addressed by candidates.

The Mikva Challenge is nonpartisan. As it happens, though, despite the large number of Republican contenders, my van was assigned to a Democratic campaign—that of Bernie Sanders.

The five students I chaperoned learned the issues, made phone calls, and canvassed door-to-door in 12 degree temperatures. Among the memorable experiences were meeting Chris Christie at a town hall-type event in a bar, hearing Bill and Chelsea Clinton speak briefly at a rally for Hillary, and getting a telephone pep talk from Senator Bernie Sanders. Still, the highlight had to be, while parked on a side street, watching a wild turkey chase the students around the van. (Video evidence is available on request.)

Here are my personal political impressions:

The Bernie Sanders campaign has the most energy and volunteers. Recent polls seem to confirm that he has a large lead among independents and young people. The Clinton campaign seems to be in shock at the success of Sanders and has lost focus.

On the Republican side, the Ted Cruz campaign seems to be by far the best organized, having copied the Barack Obama playbook. Marco Rubio has the template but not the ground game. Chris Christie’s is pretty much a single issue campaign, relying on the scare value of terrorism. Donald Trump has little organization visible but is relying on his name and rhetoric. The other Republican campaigns were practically invisible.

What we learned was the pivotal role both Iowa and New Hampshire play in selecting the parties’ nominees. Iowa seems to represent a microcosm of each party, with conservatives, evangelicals, and tea partiers on the Republican side and labor, progressives, and students on the Democratic side.

Still, the Iowa caucuses do not always select the eventual nominees. They do often leave some candidates by the wayside, a phenomenon we’ll likely witness after February 1.