One year ago today, I was at work when someone came running in talking about a school shooting.

My first thought was- oh, geez. Not again. When will the madness end? Luckily, nothing like that ever happens in our neck of the woods- Roanoke, Virginia- right?

Of course, you know how it turned out. Roanoke, Virginia is a Hokie community; it has been for the last sixty years. To you sports fans out there, the Hokies are more adored in Roanoke than the Green Bay Packers are in NE Wisconsin- and that's saying something. The community pride in the school and it's position in the community is deep and heartfelt.

So when the tragedy broke a year ago, our hearts broke, too. We were all Hokies; this tragedy hit us all very deeply and profoundly. The entire city of Roanoke shut down for two days; Blacksburg and Christiansburg for the better part of a week. And those wounds will take decades to heal, if ever. To have Virginia Tech become such an integral part of the American lexicon in the same way Columbine has- that will never go away.

Today, the city is a sea of mauve. There's memorials services going on- I'm about go to attend one- and try to grieve as a community, even one year later, hoping these wounds will heal.

Whatever your religious persuasion, even if you have none, keep us in mind this evening, say a prayer, have a moment of silence; whatever is important to you. For the victims; for the families; for our community; but, most importantly, for the hope that nothing like this will ever happen again.

Thank you.

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Not Another Year in Review

     Well, it's another end of the year and with it comes the onslaught of year in review diaries and analysis. So, in keeping with the spirit of the times, I'd like to offer mine. Rather than review a litany of stories and issues that have developed over the past year, I thought I would do just one. I wanted to find the one story that stood out over all the others. Of course this is a formidable task considering the sheer volume of information we are bombarded with on any given day. More information does not necessarily translate into better information. As our sources of information are being reduced by mergers and media conglomerates, it is easy to get caught up in the hype of what others want us to know.

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Polls Show Declining Power of Gun Lobby

Gun Lobby's Declining Pull
By Glenn Hurowitz

Even in the wake of a shooting as horrific as the Virginia Tech massacre, the gun lobby still looms very large in Washington. Neither the congressional leadership nor any of the leading presidential candidates have indicated that they're going to bring up gun control legislation that could prevent guns from getting into the hands of people like Cho Seung-Hui - or the criminals who used guns to kill 11,624 Americans in 2004 alone. "I hope there's not a rush to do anything," said Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid.
It's not that most Democrats think that common sense gun control measures don't make sense. It's that they've bought into the notion (peddled aggressively by the National Rifle Association) that any support at all for gun control is political suicide.  
It's an old Washington trick: if you can't win a policy debate on the merits, convince politicians that a certain policy will help them get elected. And the NRA has been a master at this gambit. During the 12 years in which Republicans controlled Congress, lots of pro-gun candidates won big with the NRA's vocal support.
But are those victories actually attributable to the gun issue - or were there other factors at work as well?
Public opinion data suggests that the gun lobby has played only a very small role in determining election outcomes; indeed, there's a strong indication that support for reasonable gun control measures actually boosts performance at the polls, even in relatively conservative districts.

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Obama in Milwaukee

This is Obama's speech which he gave at fundraiser in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  I am posting this because I think it is a very impressive speech.  Some have suggested he should have canceled the event.  Read his speech and decide for yourself.


"I have to tell you that we have been doing a lot of these community kick off rallies since I announced that I was running for president on back on February 10 and we have been drawing extraordinary crowds and generating enormous energy and typically these are fun and raucous affairs. I come out and I deliver -- if I've got the energy -- a stemwinder and folks are cheering and we've got flags and balloons and music is piped in and usually I think we have Aretha Franklin and Bono or somebody to get everybody fired up. But as the mayor said we didn't think that was appropriate today and I hope that people don't feel a little bit cheated because we didn't think it was appropriate.

"As you all know 33 people lost their lives today, this morning. Most of them were of the age of many of the young people in this audience, they were going to class, they had their lives in front of them, their parents were proud of them and looking forward to having them home for summer or visiting them on campus and their lives were cut short in a tragic and random fashion. And so it makes all of hearts ache, particularly those of us who are parents. I have an eight-year-old daughter Maila and a five-year-old daughter Sasha and they describe all that I hold dear in the world and so when I hear stories like this I think from the perspective of a parent and I try to imagine what that must be like - not even just the parents of those that were killed or wounded but a parent who knows their child is there and is uncertain as to whether they were in that class or participated in one of the venues that was struck. And it makes us think about violence in this society.

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The War Against Our Kids

The excerpt below is posted with the full knowledge and permission, even encouragement, of the author, who wants his essays to be read by as many people as possible.

From The Hill's Pundits Blog

Imus, Virginia Tech, Iraq, Pollution: Let's End The War Against Our Kids

Brent Budowsky

All across America today, while we mourn together the tragic loss in Virginia, nuts are buying guns, candidates are bragging they kill bunnies with semiautomatic weapons, and politicians tremble with fear of gun lobbies.

And more young Americans die.


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