Guns, Guts and Glory

Yesterday President Obama passed a number of executive orders to curb gun violence.  His proposals included:

*Require criminal background checks for all gun sales.
* Take four executive actions to ensure information on dangerous individuals is available to the background check system.
* Reinstate and strengthen the assault weapons ban.
* Restore the 10-round limit on ammunition magazines.
* Protect police by finishing the job of getting rid of armor-piercing bullets.
* Give law enforcement additional tools to prevent and prosecute gun crime.
* End the freeze on gun violence research.
* Make our schools safer with more school resource officers and school counselors, safer climates, and better emergency response plans.
* Help ensure that young people get the mental health treatment they need.
* Ensure health insurance plans cover mental health benefits.

In light of this action, which I have to admit, was pretty fast (just a month since the Newtown tragedy), I’m already fatigued by folks who complain that it won’t make a difference.

While I see that point, this is a huge problem and will take many years to address, why is the default response to throw up our hands as if there is nothing that can be done.

Probably the most effective outcome of all of this effort is the end on the freeze on gun violence research.  And discussion.  The first step to addressing gun violence is talking abou it, something the NRA has tried to stop for decades.  There is good reason for this: talking about gun violence makes us aware of it, and the need to stop it.  That’s been the first step in making a difference drunk driving, smoking, and child sexual abuse.  Wayne LaPierre should be very afraid that we’re talking, tweeting and blogging about guns.

The more you know, the more likely you are to act.


On Being Married, Being a Professor, and Getting Ahead

Friends and colleagues often ask if I’m married to an academic. Most days I have to stop myself from saying “hell no.”  Here’s why:

From The Atlantic:

When I was a graduate student in history, I loved to read the acknowledgements sections of books. If you looked carefully, all the trade secrets kept within the small, competitive field were revealed, from who was the most helpful specialist in an archive to creative means of financing research.

Inadvertently, I also learned quite a bit about historian’s marriages. Consider For Cause and Comrades, in which Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James McPherson writes, “The person most instrumental in helping me produce this volume has also been the most important person in my life for the past forty years, my wife Patricia. In addition to enriching my life every day, she has been a superb research assistant, having read almost as many soldiers’ letters and diaries as I have.”

Ostensibly, McPherson, a professor at Princeton since 1962, is giving credit where it is most certainly due. To an aspiring female historian, this rather typical acknowledgement represents a looming threat. It can be found at faculty dinners, when wives outside the academy explain they, too, once pursued a higher degree. Without fail, they look at you a little sadly and say, “best of luck” or, far worse, “stick with it.” During office hours, when advisors described the paths of female colleagues, it sounds more like the summary of a horror film than a professional trajectory: few survived.

Despite all this, my cohorts and I believed that we were entering a radically different kind of history department, one where women could forge their own careers, rather than merely supporting their husbands’. Surely, the changing of the guard in progressive institutions had already occurred. A new study from the American Historical Association suggests, however, that many of the field’s problems remain unresolved.

Read the rest of this article here.

Three strategies the White House can employ to push Immigration Reform Forward

Pablo Manriquez for HuffPost

The political window in Washington is open for landmark, comprehensive reform to the immigration code.  President Obama is expected to push for a bill in the early part of this year.  Here are three ways the White House can lead the charge for meaningful, comprehensive immigration reform.   

1.  Empower Cecilia Muñoz

President Obama listens to Cecilia Muñoz, and for good reason. Cecilia Muñoz is awesome.  As Assistant to the President and Director of his Domestic Policy Council, Muñoz has proven herself as a brilliant and loyal enforcer for the president on immigration reform.  Muñoz came up through NCLR.  She knows how the fight for immigration policy works in Washington better than anyone on the White House team.  She also has a groomed and connected Hispanic press shop — the first of its kind in the White House — and a rising tide of Hispanic media to activate and involve in a supremely beneficial policy battle for America.  That’s what immigration is, after all (12).

2.  Reach Out to Marco Rubio

Any serious negociation of comprehensive immigration on Capitol Hill must involve Marco Rubio.  Republican honchos recently met privately in Miami to map out the Hispanic outreach for the 2014 midterm election cycle.  Senator Rubio was surely factored into the strategy in a big way, especially if the Republican Party rallies behind him to support immigration reform.  The freshman senator from Florida supports a path to citizenship, and has so far been willing to make himself vulnerable to what Colin Powell calls the “dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the [Republican] party.”  The White House should collaborate with Marco Rubio to rally the American people behind meaningful, comprehensive immigration reform.

Read the rest of this post on HuffPost Latino Voices