Small Town Republicanism Highjacked – Take Back Republicanism – a Commentary by Bay Area Author & Political Strategist: Chris Edwards

As Published in The Napa Valley Register 2/9/2021

“That’s another one of those Clinton murders,” Ms. Greene said, referring to John F. Kennedy Jr.’s death in a 1999 plane crash, suggesting that he had been assassinated because he was a potential rival to Hillary Clinton for a New York Senate seat.

Ms. Greene casually unfurled the cascade of dangerous untrue conspiracy theories in a video that was originally posted to YouTube in 2018. It provides a window into the warped worldview amplified by the freshman Republican congresswoman from Georgia…a conservative provocateur who has proudly brought the hard-right fringe to the Capitol…

The excerpt in The New York Times 1/29/2021, would normally seem foreign to Napa, sadly that is no longer the case.

What is the case, is these fringe conspiracy minded individuals are now out and proud. One outcome of Doris Gentry ‘s poorly executed run for mayor, is elements of the fringe backed her- out, loud and exposed themselves.

These individuals moved to the mainstream and highjacked Doris Gentry’s campaign messaging, with her blessing, until caught. She backpaddled and claimed, “not to have them in her rolodex,” yet she continues down the path with them looking like a fool in their grips, hook, line, and sinker.  Even after a resounding loss, she still propagates their messaging in social media with a recent homophobic post on Facebook. She posted on the now defunct Parlor, without remorse.

A former grand jury member, a restaurant owner and doll maker, a former homeland security employee and members of the right wing religious community all embraced her campaign, high jacked its messaging; and under its auspice brought the Proud Boys, Walk Away and extremists into the mainstream of Napa.


The Napa County GOP under the leadership of Chairman, Larry Green invited the public, “To See What The GOP Is All About” as reported in the Napa Register 6/13/2019 and hear Walk Away founder, Brandon Straka, spew propaganda. Since then Straka was arrested in connection with the Capitol assault. Indeed, this did prove what the, present, Napa GOP, is all about! It continued to support Doris Gentry after the revelations of her resume embellishments and the fact her Chocolate and Wine Charity Fundraiser only netted a profit of less than $200.00 on $56,000.00 raised. The GOP leaders doubled down – its leaders via social media posts and comments, attacked people that exposed Doris.

Doris launched her campaign with Ben Bergquam trying to legitimize their movement locally, all the while the press identified him as a Proud Boy. His Napa debut was at the launch fundraiser for Doris Gentry, as seen in multiple videos. This fine “patriot” was, also arrested, for harassment and trespassing on government property in Sacramento per The Hill 1-31-19.

The GOP party leadership still has not distanced itself from these extremists. It is being used as a platform of hate, and it’s time that the silent majority of rational, educated Republicans, take the party back.

Many within the communities of people of color and the LBGTQ community have witnessed this thuggery in Napa for decades only to be  told; “oh,  you are exaggerating, that is old Napa from decades ago, every city has issues, that’s not my Napa.


Well, the dirty little secret is, this is “our Napa” of the past and continues in the present. It has been swept under the carpet for too long.

Now we make the national headlines with Ian Benjamin Rogers arrest for bombs, machine guns and The LA Times Reports 1-28-21; “ A suspected far-right extremist and radicalized supporter of former President Trump facing federal explosives charges may have been targeting California Gov. Gavin Newsom and the San Francisco Bay Area headquarters of social media giants Twitter and Facebook, according to the FBI.”


This has got to stop; here, now, and today. The centrist of both parties need to purge radicalized individuals from their rolls.

The Republican party needs to take a hard look at itself. It was once a party of law and order, fiscal responsibility, constitutional principles, and patriotism. The party used to support the constitution. It once led, as an example, of constructive compromise, under constitutional and logical science based debate. Not any longer. It has been highjacked by radicalized, false, and conspiratorial ideology; that is self-serving, and does not represent constitutional law nor the views of the SILENT MAJORITY.


Until the Republican party can take a self-inventory, purge itself of this contagion and re-establish itself to its founding principles; it will decay upon itself, as a failed cause.

Today, the leaders of the Republican Party of Napa County need to stand up and retake true Republicanism, or the Central Committee and its leaders should be recalled, as should any Republican elected official that continues down these rabbit holes of conspiratorial fraud they are perpetuating onto this nation.

https://napavalleyregister.com/opinion/letters/republicans-need-to-take-a-long-hard-look-at-themselves/article_20724bdd-b78d-5582-9b17-85e92b883fb1.html

Remembering the Challenger 35 years later – Author Chris Edwards

The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster was a fatal incident in the United States’ space program that occurred on January 28, 1986, when the Space Shuttle Challenger (OV-099) broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, killing all seven crew members aboard. The crew consisted of five NASA astronauts, and two payload specialists. The mission carried the designation STS-51-L and was the tenth flight for the Challenger orbiter. The Challenger disaster should best be remembered for the sacrifice of seven astronauts who died in the accident-  Judith ResnikDick Scobee, Capt. Michael J. SmithEllison Onizuka,  Ronald McNairChrista McAuliffe, and Gregory Jarvis.

But for those currently in leadership positions, it should also be remembered as a colossal failure of process – a process designed by the best and the brightest. By the people who sent men to the moon. That was a sobering thought on January 28, 1986, and it remains so today.

The space shuttle Challenger disaster remains one of the most evocative events of the American 20th Century—and for more than just the obvious reasons.

Certainly, the 35th anniversary of this tragedy returns to mind a multitude of images, memories and emotions that prompt pause. But it also reminds us of the crucial importance of informed decision making and risk oversight which are as relevant today as they were on January 28, 1986.

As some will remember, the specific, highly technical cause of the Challenger accident was the notorious “O-Ring”; i.e. the failure of the pressure seal in the aft field joint of the right solid rocket motor. The failure was due to a faulty design unacceptably sensitive to a number of factors, including the effects of cold temperature (launchpad temperature was 36 degrees on January 28).

But more important to remember is the decidedly non-technical contributing cause: the multiple risk management errors that fatally flawed the Challenger launch decision. As documented by the presidential review commission, these were not errors arising from system complexities, but rather from the erosion of once-effective and redundant safety protocols. 

Space, space exploration and the benefits are not without risk. The risk is worth the reward however we should never sacrifice safety protocols and redundancy further the governments legislative branch has a responsibility of checks and balances in oversight to ensure safety is in place, contracts are not awarded unfairly and the value to the American people in life and treasure is never taken for granted.

Our hearts continue to bleed for the errors of that fateful day but our quest for what is out there amongst the stars should always continue…

A Photo of the Space Shuttle Challenger lifts off – January 26, 1986 seen on authorchrisedwards.com website.

Our heart pour out to our hero’s of the space program but our minds always look up and forward in the quest forward for what lies above us. We are not alone!

January Important Issues Poll 2021

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A Gas Mask and an Atomic Vault protected Democracy 1-6-2020, But will Democracy Prevail?

The events in the capital raised an amazing memory from my teen years.

When in student congress, several years ago, we toured the capital, held a session of student congress, and I sat at then Congressman (Jim) James Ralph Sasser’s desk, since I represented Tennessee as a student legislative representative.

I dropped my pen and found a bag attached to my seat. Congressman Sasser’s aid laughed and said don’t touch that, “it’s a relic of the Cold War period, masks are provided to every member of the house and senate while on the floor and in their offices as a safety precaution in the event of terrorist attack or a gas attack by the Russians.”

Photo of the old Cold War era Congressional Gas Mask found on authorchrisedwards.com written blog

Imagine my shock, 30 plus years later, when I watched the news and watched members of congress sustain a domestic terrorist attack, and hear the order for members of congress to huddle to the floor, and to place on their masks.

Here are some facts on the masks on the capital floor protecting our legislative leaders of the 21st Century. Those relics or masks are a bit different than the ones I reviewed but the need apparently remains the same – the safety of our legislative representatives from attack foreign and sadly domestic.

The Scape CBRN 30 escape respirator.Photo on the website AuthorChrisEdwards.com of present masks is provided by Popular Science of The Scape CBRN 30 escape respirator used by congress now.

Sadly that horrific day what we as Americans say as an example was David Trone, a Democratic congressman from Maryland, tweeting on January 6, saying, “I am safe. We have been evacuated.” The tweet included three images of the eye-catching pieces of protective equipment. While they’ve been referred to as gas masks, they’re technically known as escape hoods.

Sometimes also called escape respirators, these hoods serve a key purpose: to allow an untrained civilian to quickly and safely get away from an area that may have a chemical, biological, or even radiological or nuclear threat present.

These specific hoods were made by ILC Dover, according to Doug Durney, the product line manager for that company’s PPE gear.

Here’s what they do, and how they work.

When you open it from its case, it automatically comes on. A fan system pulls air through filters—both a HEPA filter as well as a carbon one—and then fills the hood with clean air. Air also exits through a valve located elsewhere on the hood.

The hood forms a seal around the wearer’s neck, but the system also creates a positive pressure gradient between the inside of the hood and the outside air—meaning that air wants to flow outward from the protective gear, and not into it. That helps prevent contaminants from getting in even if someone’s long hair, for example, gets caught in the area where it seals against the neck.

Unlike a true spacesuit, it’s not designed to be tightly sealed off from the environment.

This item is called the Scape CBRN 30, and it comes in two varieties: one that also protects against carbon monoxide (the Scape CO/CBRN) and one that doesn’t. The acronym CBRN is a common term referring to chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats, and “30” in this case references the time period it’s intended to protect the wearer for: 30 minutes.

That relatively short time frame highlights the gear’s purpose—it’s intended to be thrown on quickly as someone leaves a dangerous area. That differentiates it from the type of gear that professional first responders might don when purposely entering a hot zone. More advanced protective suits include their own air supply; these do not.

The violent, deadly incursion into the Capitol last week produced a shocking stream of images, and among them was the bizarre sight of some people wearing spacesuit-like transparent pieces of gear over their heads.© Provided by Popular Science The Scape CBRN 30 escape respirator.

For example, David Trone, a Democratic congressman from Maryland, tweeted on January 6, saying, “I am safe. We have been evacuated.” The tweet included three images of the eye-catching pieces of protective equipment. While they’ve been referred to as gas masks, they’re technically known as escape hoods.© courtesy of ILC Dover The Scape CBRN 30 escape respirator.

Sometimes also called escape respirators, these hoods serve a key purpose: to allow an untrained civilian to quickly and safely get away from an area that may have a chemical, biological, or even radiological or nuclear threat present.

These specific hoods were made by ILC Dover, according to Doug Durney, the product line manager for that company’s PPE gear.

“When you open it from its case, it automatically comes on,” Durney explains. A fan system pulls air through filters—both a HEPA filter as well as a carbon one—and then fills the hood with clean air. Air also exits through a valve located elsewhere on the hood. The red LED you may have seen in photos shows that it’s on.

The hood forms a seal around the wearer’s neck, but the system also creates a positive pressure gradient between the inside of the hood and the outside air—meaning that air wants to flow outward from the protective gear, and not into it. That helps prevent contaminants from getting in even if someone’s long hair, for example, gets caught in the area where it seals against the neck. Unlike a true spacesuit, it’s not designed to be tightly sealed off from the environment.

This item is called the Scape CBRN 30, and it comes in two varieties: one that also protects against carbon monoxide (the Scape CO/CBRN) and one that doesn’t. The acronym CBRN is a common term referring to chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats, and “30” in this case references the time period it’s intended to protect the wearer for: 30 minutes.

That relatively short time frame highlights the gear’s purpose—it’s intended to be thrown on quickly as someone leaves a dangerous area. That differentiates it from the type of gear that professional first responders might don when purposely entering a hot zone. More advanced protective suits include their own air supply; these do not.

“It’s designed for a relatively untrained user, where you pop it on your head, and go,” Durney says. “There’s no on-off button.”

“You can be seen, and you can see,” he adds, referring to the fact that it’s a transparent hood-like system, as opposed to a tight-fitting mask that could obscure part of your face. (Individually, these ILC Dover escape hoods cost about $580, which is the price listed on Grainger.com.)

Escape hoods like this from the company are designed to protect against nasty agents like mustard or sarin gas, ammonia, chlorine, or anthrax. They’re also effective at keeping radioactive particulates out of your lungs—dust that may be radioactive, for example—but they wouldn’t guard against the effects of ionizing radiation itself.

In this case, the escape hoods were reportedly used because of tear gas in the area, according to The New York Times and other reports.

The caching of escape hoods verses the cold war version of gas masks is a decidedly 21st-century phenomenon in the Capitol. It was a post-9/11 type of purchase according to sources but initiated due to an ever growing concern of domestic terrorism within the United States.

The Los Angeles Times reported in 2002 that some 20,000 hoods were sent to the Capitol in June of that year, and that they were made by a company called Survivair at that time. The context, beyond the air-based terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., was the anthrax attacks that involved two U.S. Senators’ office and the rising calls for protection from the threat of domestic terrorism. Five people died as a result of that biological agent in 2002. The Capital police are receiving and increasing number of threats of domestic terrorism and investigate them rigorously. The numbers of those threats have increased exponentially the last 4 years as our nation has become more divided and less oriented toward compromise and collaboration.

We witnessed a true assault on our democracy, not by a Cold War adversary but initiated by the occupant of the White House, 70 plus congress persons and about 7 Senators as co-conspirators.

Shame has been brought on the capital dome by those individuals. A Cold War relic that was put to use on this day, January 6, 2020 by a group domestic terrorists and thugs. This day will be marked in the annuls of history.

A sad day, as a copy of the constitution is protected, in the national archives, sealed in a vault, that would withstand an atomic blast, today it was attacked and its guidance and wisdom was chipped away at, by the occupant of the White House, his co-conspirators in congress and the senate and the mob whose violence he instilled.

On the website of authorChrisEdwards.com is also a photo of US Constitution stored at the National Archives in a vault that can withstand an atomic blast. Sadly the constitution and what it represents was chipped away at, by the violence and antics, of the occupant of the White House on January 6th, President Trump and his co-conspirators that breached the Capital and attempted a Coup against the Democratic Process of Counting the Certified votes of state via the Electoral College of Jan, 6, 2020.

Patriots? No, terrorist and insurrectionist, cowards; who use the name patriot and the constitution in vain. You brought and continue to bring shame on our forefathers and everything they represent. Luckily the wisdom of the leadership of the house and the senate, the the reverence to the constitution by the Vice President allowed the constitutional processes of democracy to prevail.

As of March, prosecutions have begun, law enforcement has now weaved together a thread of the conspiracy and identified hundreds of perpetrators that played a part of the assault on our democracy.

On this day of January 6th, 2020 democracy prevailed. The bigger question for each of us, is will it withstand the constant assault on the rights of the silent majority, the economically challenged, people of color, women, immigrants, the middle and lower classes, as we move forward from this event? Will wealth and power continue to corrupt the systems of government and will further assaults on our leaders become the norm as more Americans distrust the institutions that are the foundation of our daily existence? Time will tell, and you and I each are responsible and we each own the outcome.

Author Chris Edwards January 7, 2020 Updated March 1, 2020.

2nd Life Media & Boutique Winter Wonderland in Lights Window Display Roadrunner Emporium Wins 1st Place in Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce Competition by Author & Artist Chris Edwards & Artist & Coach Rene Sepulveda

Thank you Alamogordo Chamber Of Commerce. Our Winter in Lights Window Display representing the natural environment of the area desert and Forest won the Christmas Winter in Lights contest in the business category. We appreciate the community support.

We will keep the display up a few more weeks, so the community can come by and enjoy if you’ve not seen it in person.

Thank you Roadrunner Emporium owner Debra Reyes for allowing Rene Sepulveda and myself via 2nd Life Media and Boutique the opportunity to showcase our appreciation for the region’s beauty.

Again, thank everyone, for your support. Please support small business and stop by with a mask, To see Debra and the team of over 40 artist at 928 New York Avenue, Alamogordo.

#Shoplocal#ShopNewYorkAvenue#SupportSmallBusiness#localartist#AlamogordoArts#OpenforBusiness#AlamogordoMainStreet#2ndLifeMedia#2ndLifeBoutique#RoadrunnerEmporium#ArtistReneSepulveda#AuthorChrisEdwards#ChristmasinLights#AlamogordoChristmasInLights#AlamogordoChamberofCommerce#Maskup#covidsafebusiness#windowdisplay#Christmaswindowdisplay#NewMexicoWinter#ShopNewMexico#AlamogordoNews#OrteroCounty0:00 / 1:530:04 / 0:09+17

Winter in Lights Window Display Christmas Window Display Roadrunner Emporium 928 New York Avenue Alamogordo New Mexico by Author Chris Edwards & Artist Rene Sepulveda 2nd Life Media & Boutique Featuring Cholla Art (Cholla Cactus Art by Rene Sepulveda)
Winter in Lights Window Display Christmas Window Display Roadrunner Emporium 928 New York Avenue Alamogordo New Mexico by Author Chris Edwards & Artist Rene Sepulveda 2nd Life Media & Boutique Featuring Cholla Art (Cholla Cactus Art by Rene Sepulveda)

Merry Christmas with a Tularosa New Mexico Luminaria Christmas Celebration 2020 Festival of Lights

This Christmas Eve 2020 we wish all of our family, friends, business partners, associates and followers a Very Merry Christmas. Tonight we showcase the luminaria or “farolito” of Tularosa New Mexico and end our Christmas Greeting with our window display at our location of 2nd Life Boutique at the Roadrunner Emporium in the historic Main Street Area of 928 New York Avenue Alamogordo. The Village of Tularosa sets out thousands of small paper lanterns (a candle set in some sand inside a paper bag) which is of significance to the state of New Mexico at Christmas time, especially on Christmas Eve. Typically used in Hispanic culture, the paper lanterns have to some extent replaced the older tradition of the vigil fire luminaria with which they became confused. There are sometimes conflicting opinions about the correct use of the term “luminaria.”

Most of us refer to the paper bag lantern in this way, but some traditionalists insist the correct term is “farolitos.” Historically, a true luminaria is a series of small bonfires lining the road. Originally, small bonfires were used to guide people to Christmas mass. Often, they are associated with the final night of Las Posadas, which is the symbolic representation of when Mary and Joseph were seeking shelter in Bethlehem, walking from home to home for a place to rest.

In that honor every Christmas Eve thousands of luminarias are displayed throughout the Village of Tularosa. This tradition is decades old. We then end our video Christmas Greeting with a view of a Christmas in Lights Winter Wonderland Window Display at Roadrunner Emporium and a wish from our 18 year old 4 legged friend Sammy. To each of you we wish a safe, healthy and peaceful holiday!

Christmas Window Display Alamogordo Christmas in Light Alamogordo Main Street 928 New York Avenue Alamogordo New Mexico designed by Artist Rene Sepulveda and Display Artist & Author Chris Edwards

https://2ndlifemedia.com/2nd-life-media-videos

#2ndLifeMedia#RoadrunnerEmporium#AlamogordoMainStreet#Tularosa#AlamogordoChamberofCommerce#ShopLocal#OrteroSmallBusiness#TularosaChristmas#AlamgordoChristmasibLights#AlamogordoNews#AlbuquerqueJournal#AuthorChrisEdwards#CoachReneSepulveda #Renefit

Remembering World AIDS Day 2020

Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever international day for global health. Every year, United Nations agencies, governments and civil society join together to campaign around specific themes related to HIV. Each year, on 1 December, the world commemorates World AIDS Day. People around the world unite to show support for people living with HIV and to remember those who have died from AIDS-related illnesses.

I became involved in the 80s, when I saw hundreds of young men and women around me dying mysteriously. Upon moving to California, I saw 100s loose their lives. 

I will always be moved by the tireless work of Russell Kassman, Chris Carnes, Sharon McNight and others who helped bring joy to the infamous Ward 5B one Christmas by moving in a piano and bringing a performance to a ward of men dying but whom got one last moment of joy in their life. 

And for decades since each have tirelessly worked along with Donna Sachet

and her “Songs of the Season” to continue to raise funds, educate and inspire. 

So many people have helped over the years and so many people died due to early government inaction. The lessons of that day carry forward today. History has a tendency to repeat itself with a broader punch when we don’t learn the lessons of our past. But through the wisdom of people like Chris Carnes, Gretchen Carol Fleischmann

Sharon McKnight, Russell Kassman, Donna Sachet and then later in life Floyd McGregor, L Pierce Carson, Martin Durand, Deb Stallings, and others we carried hope forward via The Napa Valley AIDS Project and ultimately In partnership with Liz Alessio and the Care Network and Planned Parenthood. 

Thank you Hank Plante for keeping the stories alive over the decades.  We must never forget our history, as it is a reflection of whom we are today and whom we will become tomorrow.

I became involved in the 80s, when I saw hundreds of young men and women around me dying mysteriously. Upon moving to California, I saw 100s loose their lives. 

I will always be moved by the tireless work of Russell Kassman, Chris Carnes, Sharon McNight and others who helped bring joy to the infamous Ward 5B one Christmas by moving in a piano and bringing a performance to a ward of men dying but whom got one last moment of joy in their life. 

And for decades since each have tirelessly worked along with Donna Sachet

and her “Songs of the Season” to continue to raise funds, educate and inspire. 

So many people have helped over the years and so many people died due to early government inaction. The lessons of that day carry forward today. History has a tendency to repeat itself with a broader punch when we don’t learn the lessons of our past. But through the wisdom of people like Chris Carnes, Gretchen Carol Fleischmann

Sharon McKnight, Russell Kassman, Donna Sachet and then later in life Floyd McGregor, L Pierce Carson, Martin Durand, Deb Stallings, and others we carried hope forward via The Napa Valley AIDS Project and ultimately In partnership with Liz Alessio and the Care Network and Planned Parenthood. 

Thank you Hank Plante for keeping the stories alive over the decades.  We must never forget our history, as it is a reflection of whom we are today and whom we will become tomorrow.

Author, Executive Coach, Artist Chris Edwards

A Celebration of Thanksgiving and Native American Heritage Month (A Window Display RootArt Root Art by RENEFIT Fitness Coach & Artist Rene Sepulveda & Executive Coach, Author & Design Artist Chris Edwards)

Window display celebrating Native American Heritage Month and Thanksgiving at the Roadrunner Emporium, 2nd Life Gallery, 928 New York Avenue, Alamogordo New Mexico

The commissioned window display crafted by Rootart (root art) artist Rene Sepulveda and Author and Collaborating Artist Chris Edwards celebrates Native American culture and its intersection to our Thanksgiving, a celebration of the harvest and the earth.

November is National Native American Heritage Month, a tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans. We invite you to commemorate this special month right here in New Mexico, home to 23 pueblos, tribes, and nations and more than 1,000 years of Native culture by viewing our educational window display.

On August 3, 1990, President of the United States George H. W. Bush declared the month of November as National Native American Heritage Month. The idea of giving thanks is central to Native heritage and culture, and Thanksgiving is simply a chance to appreciate the good things of life like family, community, and the riches of the land.

Long before settlers arrived, Native tribes celebrated the harvest and the gift of Mother Earth’s abundance. Native American spirituality, both traditionally and today, emphasizes gratitude for creation, care for the environment, and recognition of the human need for communion with nature and others.

Thanksgiving as a holiday originates from the Native American philosophy of giving without expecting anything in return. In the first celebration of this holiday, the Wampanoag tribe not only provided the food for the feast, but also the teachings of agriculture and hunting (corn, beans, wild rice, and turkey are some specific examples of foods introduced by Native Americans.

This window display represents an appreciation for the lessons of Native Americans and their contributions to the celebration of Thanksgiving and the communion with nature and humanity it represents.

Created in collaboration by Rene Sepulveda and myself and commissioned for Debra Reyes and her Roadrunner Emporium, 928 New York Avenue, Alamogordo New Mexico in honor of all of our families united in our quest for a safe, healthy, beautiful and bountiful Thanksgiving season. Thank you Quynh Giao Tonnu and Mary Sittle for your contributions and inspiration. The Gallery showcases over 40 artist and celebrate the abundance of the harvest this season.

to learn more visit 2ndLifeMedia – Tree Root Art Rootart, Tree Root Art Rootart, Print Media, Rootart Treeroot Art by Fitness Coach & Artist Rene Sepulveda | 2ndLifeMedia

Softening of America A Commentary By John F Kennedy Revisited 60 Years Later 4/2/2021

While doing research on a book I am writing on a New Mexico Track and Field Coach Bob Robert Sepulveda I came across this amazing take on physical fitness by President JFK. Quite a different approach to what we see today. I wonder if we as citizens truly embraced what president Kennedy embraces below if the national crises Covid-19 would be so severe or would our diabetes and obesity issues be less and us a healthier and happier nation? Maybe the softening of America’s youth he refers to then is a wake up call for now to become more physically active and to embrace fitness…

On Dec. 26, 1960, President-elect John F. Kennedy penned a piece for Sports Illustrated touting the importance of “physical soundness” for Americans — for kids and grown-ups alike. A precursor to today’s America’s Great Outdoor Initiative, which encourages families to get outdoors, it hit the outdoor nail on the proverbial head. Read on to see The Soft American in its entirety…

The Soft American
By President-elect John F. Kennedy

Beginning more than 2,500 years ago, from all quarters of the Greek world men thronged every four years to the sacred grove of Olympia, under the shadow of Mount Cronus, to compete in the most famous athletic contests of history—the Olympian games.

During the contest a sacred truce was observed among all the states of Greece as the best athletes of the Western world competed in boxing and foot races, wrestling and chariot races for the wreath of wild olive which was the prize of victory. When the winners returned to their home cities to lay the Olympian crown in the chief temples they were greeted as heroes and received rich rewards. For the Greeks prized physical excellence and athletic skills among man’s greatest goals and among the prime foundations of a vigorous state.

Thus the same civilizations which produced some of our highest achievements of philosophy and drama, government and art, also gave us a belief in the importance of physical soundness which has become a part of Western tradition; from the mens sana in corpore sano of the Romans to the British belief that the playing fields of Eaton brought victory on the battlefields of Europe. This knowledge, the knowledge that the physical well-being of the citizen is an important foundation for the vigor and vitality of all the activities of the nation, is as old as Western civilization itself. But it is a knowledge which today, in American, we are in danger of forgetting.

The first indication of a decline in the physical strength and ability of young Americans became apparent among United States soldiers in the early stages of the Korean War. The second came when figures were released showing that almost one out of every two young American was being rejected by Selective Service as mentally, morally or physically unfit. But the most startling demonstration of the general physical decline of American youth came when Dr. Hans Kraus and Dr. Sonja Weber revealed the results of 15 years of research centering in the Posture Clinic of New York’s Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital—results of physical fitness tests given to 4,264 children in this country and 2,870 children in Austria, Italy and Switzerland.

The findings showed that despite our unparalleled standard of living, despite our good food and our many playgrounds, despite our emphasis on school athletics, American youth lagged far behind Europeans in physical fitness. Six tests for muscular strength and flexibility were given; 57.9% of the American children failed one or more of these tests, while only 8.7% of the European youngsters failed.

A Consistent Decline

Especially disheartening were the results of the five strength tests: 35.7% of American children failed one or more of these, while only 1.1% of the Europeans failed, and among Austrian and Swiss youth the rate of failure was as low as .5%.

As a result of the alarming Kraus-Weber findings President Eisenhower created a Council on Youth Fitness at the Cabinet level and appointed a Citizens Advisory Committee on the Fitness of American Youth, composed of prominent citizens interested in fitness. Over the past five years the physical fitness of American youth has been discussed in forums, by committees and in leading publications. A 10-point program for physical fitness has been publicized and promoted. Our schools have been urged to give increased attention to the physical well-being of their students. Yet there has been no noticeable improvement. Physical fitness tests conducted last year in Britain and Japan showed that the youth of those countries were considerably more fit than our own children. And the annual physical fitness tests for freshman at Yale University show a consistent decline in the prowess of young American; 51& of the class of 1951 passed the tests, 43% of the class of 1956 passed, and only 38%, a little more than a third, of the class of 1960 succeeded, in passing the not overly rigorous examination.

Of course, physical tests are not infallible. They can distort the true health picture. There are undoubtedly many American youths and adults whose physical fitness matches and exceeds the best of other lands.

But the harsh fact of the matter is that there is also an increasingly large number of young Americans who are neglecting their bodies—whose physical fitness is not what it should be—who are getting soft. And such softness on the part of individual citizens can help to strip and destroy the vitality of a nation.

For the physical vigor of our citizens is one of America’s most precious resources. If we waste and neglect this resource, if we allow it to dwindle and grow soft then we will destroy much of our ability to meet the great and vital challenges which confront our people. We will be unable to realize our full potential as a nation.

Throughout our history we have been challenged to armed conflict by nations which sought to destroy our independence or threatened our freedom. The young men of America have risen to those occasions, giving themselves freely to the rigors and hardships of warfare. But the stamina and strength which the defense of liberty requires are not the product of a few weeks’ basic training or a month’s conditioning. These only come from bodies which have been conditioned by a lifetime of participation in sports and interest in physical activity. Our struggles against aggressors throughout our history have been won on the playgrounds and corner lots and fields of America.

Thus, in a very real and immediate sense, our growing softness, our increasing lack of physical fitness, is a menace to our security.

However, we do not, like the ancient Spartans, wish to train the bodies of our youth to make them more effective warriors. It is our profound hope and expectation that Americans will never again have to expend their strength in armed conflict.

But physical fitness is as vital to the activities of peace as to those of war, especially when our success in those activities may well determine the future of freedom in the years to come. We face in the Soviet Union a powerful and implacable adversary determined to show the world that only the Communist system possesses the vigor and determination necessary to satisfy awakening aspirations for progress and the elimination of poverty and want. To meet the challenge of this enemy will require determination and will and effort on the part of all American. Only if our citizens are physically fit will they be fully capable of such an effort.

For physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body; it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity. The relationship between the soundness of the body and the activities of the mind is subtle and complex. Much is not yet understood. But we do know what the Greeks knew: that intelligence and skill can only function at the peak of their capacity when the body is healthy and strong; that hardy spirits and tough minds usually inhabit sound bodies.

In this sense, physical fitness is the basis of all the activities of our society. And if our bodies grow soft and inactive, if we fail to encourage physical development and prowess, we will undermine our capacity for thought, for work and for the use of those skills vital to an expanding and complex America.

Thus the physical fitness of our citizens is a vital prerequisite to America’s realization of its full potential as a nation, and to the opportunity of each individual citizen to make full and fruitful use of his capacities.

It is ironic that at a time when the magnitude of our dangers makes the physical fitness of our citizens a matter of increasing importance, it takes greater effort and determination than ever before to build the strength of our bodies. The age of leisure and abundance can destroy vigor and muscle tone as effortlessly as it can gain time. Today human activity, the labor of the human body, is rapidly being engineered out of working life. By the 1970’s, according to many economists, the man who works with his hands will be almost extinct.

Many of the routine physical activities which earlier Americans took for granted are no longer part of our daily life. A single look at the packed parking lot of the average high school will tell us what has happened to the traditional hike to school that helped to build young bodies. The television set, the movies and the myriad conveniences and distractions of modern life all lure our young people away from the strenuous physical activity that is the basis of fitness in youth and in later life.

Now is the Time

Of course, modern advances and increasing leisure can add greatly to the comfort and enjoyment of life. But they must not be confused with indolence, with, in the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “slothful-ease,” with an increasing deterioration of our physical strength. For the strength of our youth and the fitness of our adults are among our most important assets, and this growing decline is a matter of urgent concern to thoughtful Americans.

This is a national problem, and requires national action. President Eisenhower helped show the way through his own interest and by calling national attention to our deteriorating standards of physical fitness. Now it is time for the United States to move forward with a national program to improve the fitness of all Americans.

First: We must establish a White House /Committee on Health and Fitness to formulate and carry out a program to improve the physical condition of the nation. This committee will include the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare and the Secretary of the Interior. The executive order creating this committee will clearly state its purpose, and coordinate its activities with the many federal programs which bear a direct relation to the problem of physical fitness.

Second: The physical fitness of our youth should be made a direct responsibility of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. This department should conduct—through its Office of Education and the National Institutes of Health—research into the development of a physical fitness program for the nation’s public schools. The results of this research shall be made freely available to all who are interested. In addition, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare should use all its existing facilities to attach the lack of youth fitness as a major health problem.

Third: The governor of each state will be invited to attend the annual National Youth Fitness Congress. This congress will examine the progress which has been made in physical fitness during the preceding year, exchange suggestions for improving existing programs and provide an opportunity to encourage the states to implement the physical fitness program drawn up by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Our states are anxious to participate in such programs, to make sure that their youth have the opportunity for full development of their bodies as well as their minds.

Fourth: The President and all departments of government must make it clearly understood that the promotion of sports participation and physical fitness is a basic and continuing policy of the United States. By providing such leadership, by keeping physical fitness in the forefront of the nation’s concerns, the federal government can make a substantial contribution toward improving the health and vigor of our citizens.

But no matter how vigorous the leadership of government, we can fully restore the physical soundness of our nation only if every American is willing to assume responsibility for his own fitness and the fitness of his children. We do not live in a regimented society where men are forced to live their lives in the interest of the state. We are, all of us, as free to direct the activities of our bodies as we are to pursue the objects of our thought. But if we are to retain this freedom, for ourselves and for generations to come, then we must also be willing to work for the physical toughness on which the courage and intelligence and skill of man so largely depend.

All of us must consider our own responsibilities for the physical vigor of our children and of the young men and women of our community. We do not want our children to become a generation of spectators. Rather, we want each of them to be a participant in the vigorous life.

Lynching Legislation History; 2020 Update

SHAME on: GOP members Ted Yoho of Florida, Louie Gohmert of Texas and Thomas Massie of Kentucky. The chamber’s lone Independent, Justin Amash of Michigan—who famously switched from Republican to Independent over his support for impeaching President Donald Trump—also voted no.

Sixteen members did not vote. The proposal, however, received broad bipartisan support and passed 410-4.

In 1900 Representative George Henry White, a black Republican from North Carolina, introduced the first anti-lynching bill in Congress. It was subsequently defeated in a committee.

The Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill was first introduced in 1918 by Representative Leonidas C. Dyer, a Republican from St. Louis, Missouri, in the United States House of Representatives as H.R. 11279.

It was intended to establish lynching as a federal crime. The Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill was re-introduced in subsequent sessions of Congress and passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on January 26, 1922, but its passage was halted in the Senate by a filibuster by Southern extremists who formed a powerful block that exceeded their percentage of the population by having disenfranchised blacks.

Attempts to pass similar legislation took a halt until the Costigan-Wagner Bill of 1934. Subsequent bills followed but the United States Congress never outlawed lynching due to powerful opposition from Southern senators.

It was not until 2018 that the Senate would pass (unanimously) anti-lynching legislation, the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act but the House failed to do until today.

Finally today February 26, 2020, the House of Representatives passed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, a revised version of the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act, by a vote of 410-4. Shame on the 4 voting against and the 16 who opted to not vote on this historic legislation.

History of Lynchings:

Lynchings were predominantly committed by whites against African Americans in the Southern and border states.

According to statistics compiled by the Tuskegee Institute, between the years 1882 and 1951 some 4,730 people were lynched in the United States, of whom 3,437 were black and 1,293 were white.

The first wave of lynchings occurred in the years immediately following the Civil War, but fell off sharply with the dissolution of the first Ku Klux Klan about 1870.

There was a revival in the 1890s; the largest annual number of lynchings occurred in 1892 (230 persons were lynched that year: 161 African-Americans and 69 whites) and continued for the next two decades at relatively high levels, in what is often called the nadir of American race relations, a period marked by disfranchisement of African Americans and Jim Crow in the South, and discrimination against African Americans across the country.

Many lynchings were the result of Southern whites’ extrajudicial efforts to maintain white supremacy, after gaining disfranchisement of most blacks through discriminatory voter registration and electoral rules, and imposing segregation and Jim Crow laws on the black population in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Maintaining white supremacy in economic affairs played a part as well.

Social changes resulting from a rapid rise in immigration from southern and eastern Europe, the rise of the Second Ku Klux Klan, and the internal Great Migration of blacks from the South to industrial cities in the Northeast and Midwest contributed to violent confrontations. In 1917, white mobs had attacked blacks in East St. Louis (a city located directly across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, Missouri) over competition for work and punishment for strikebreakers.

In 1900 Representative George Henry White, a black Republican from North Carolina, introduced the first anti-lynching bill in Congress. It was subsequently defeated in a committee.

In April 1919, the NAACP published a report which disproved the myth that stated most lynchings were based on African-American attacks on white women: less than one sixth of the 2,500 African Americans lynched from 1889 to 1918 had even been accused of rape.

Representative Leonidas C. Dyer, who represented a majority African-American district, had taken notice of the hate crimes occurring around him and was outraged by the violence and disregard for law in such riots. Dyer was especially concerned about the continued high rate of lynchings in the South and the failure of local and state authorities to prosecute them. This inspired his anti-lynching bill.

A silent protest in support of the bill was organized by African Americans on June 14, 1922 in Washington, D.C. Republican U.S. President Warren G. Harding announced his support for Dyer’s bill during a speaking engagement in Birmingham, Alabama. Although the bill was quickly passed by a large majority in the House of Representatives, it was prevented from coming to a vote in 1922, 1923, and 1924 in the U.S. Senate, due to filibusters by the Southern Congressional bloc.

Southern Senators opposed anti-lynching laws and other civil rights legislation on the ground that blacks were responsible for more crime, more babies born out of wedlock, more welfare and other forms of social assistance, and that strong measures were needed to keep them under control.

On June 13, 2005, in a resolution sponsored by senators Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and George Allen of Virginia, together with 78 others, the US Senate formally apologized for its failure to enact this and other anti-lynching bills “when action was most needed.”

On June 30, 2018, three senators (Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Tim Scott) introduced the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act to make lynching a Federal hate crime.

Poster above created by the NAACP at the turn of the century…

The Senate voted unanimously in favor of it on December 19, 2018. The House of Representatives also needed to vote on it, and the President needs to sign it, before it can become law. The house did so today and now let’s see if the administration will do what is right and just?

Update to Original Post:

The act was introduced in the US Senate in June 2018 by the body’s three Black membersKamala HarrisCory Booker, and Tim Scott. The legislation passed the Senate unanimously on December 19, 2018. The bill died because it was not passed by the House before the 115th Congress ended on January 3, 2019.

2020 bill

On February 26, 2020, the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, a revised version of the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act, passed the House of Representatives, by a vote of 410–4.  Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has held the bill from passage by unanimous consent in the Senate, out of concern that a convicted criminal could face “a new 10-year penalty for… minor bruising.” Paul requested expedited passage of an amended version of the bill which would require “an attempt to do bodily harm” for an act to be considered lynching, noting that lynching is already illegal under Federal Law. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer criticized Rand Paul’s position, saying on Twitter that “it is shameful that one GOP Senator is standing in the way of seeing this bill become law.” Senator Kamala Harris added that “Senator Paul is now trying to weaken a bill that was already passed — there’s no reason for this” while speaking to have the amendment defeated. To date the bill has not passed and is not signed due to the actions of 1 Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.

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