Wisconsin voting effort ‘outrageous’

We didn’t think the Donald Trump “Big Lie” team could go lower than it did in Arizona, challenging the election results with a hyper-partisan “research” team, ruining voting machines and in the end being embarrassed when election results were found to be even more in President Joe Biden’s favor.

But the “Big Lie” coalition has now hired an attack dog in former conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman to not only create more false narratives about the Wisconsin election count, but go after election clerks personally who must prove the election wasn’t rigged.

Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers rightly called out the effort as a sham and “boondoggle” that will cost taxpayers $700,000. In a video, Gableman vowed to subpoena local election officials if necessary who have to prove the election was run fairly. In other words, the burden of proof is not only on the accused, but on them to prove something didn’t happen.

Ridiculous.

Gableman’s effort has also drawn fire from Wisconsin Republicans. Republican state Sen. Kathy Bernier, chair of the Senate elections committee, said: “There is not a reason to spread misinformation about this past election when we have all the evidence that shows otherwise.”

While the inquisition has no chance of changing the election results, these kinds of efforts are designed as disinformation campaigns. The perpetrators know the headlines will be picked up by social media and spun out of control leaving facts behind. They are dangerous efforts that should be condemned.

Biden beat former President Donald Trump by 20,000 votes in Wisconsin and the tally has been held up by numerous state and federal courts.

The game is over. Trump lost. These continued assaults on legitimate voting systems can only be seen as attempts to undermine American democracy.

The (Mankato, Minn.) Free Press

Gun violence research needs funds

When the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called gun violence a “serious public health threat” in a recent interview, it may have seemed like garden-variety politics. It was anything but. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC’s director, was ending more than two decades of near-silence on the topic — and suggesting a better approach may finally be on the way.

The last time a CDC director attempted to address gun violence was in the mid-1990s, when some of the agency’s research had connected home firearm ownership to higher rates of gun deaths. A Republican Congress, heeding industry lobbyists, promptly passed legislation blocking the CDC from spending resources to “advocate or promote gun control.” It also cut $2.6 million from the agency’s budget — the exact amount spent on gun research the prior year.

Over the next quarter-century, virtually all federally funded gun research ground to a halt. With few grants available, academics avoided the issue. Published research fell by 64% between 1998 and 2012. Although gun violence is the second-leading cause of death among young Americans, the U.S. government spent only $12 million to study the topic — extending a grand total of 32 grants — between 2007 and 2018. Cancer, the third-leading cause, received $335 million a year.

The result of this abdication is that very basic policy questions remain unanswered, even as firearms cause more than 30,000 U.S. deaths a year. Do restrictions on assault weapons reduce violence? Are there “best practices” that could prevent suicides, homicides or accidental injuries? What reforms could impede mass shootings? The government spends about 1.6% as much on such questions as it does researching traffic deaths.

Such willful ignorance is shameful in its own right. But the lack of solid research and data makes responding to America’s epidemic of gun violence that much harder. Evaluating current initiatives is needlessly difficult, while novel approaches proceed without a sound empirical basis.

Thankfully, things are starting to change. In 2018, Congress effectively lifted the restrictions on federal gun research. The next year, lawmakers approved $25 million for such studies. With Walensky now making the issue a priority, real progress seems possible.

Yet pitfalls remain. One is that Congress must remain committed to funding gun-violence research despite opposition from Second Amendment absolutists. The federal government’s effort to reduce traffic fatalities took decades of sustained attention and generous funding. Gun-violence research deserves no less.

A related risk is politics. Few issues divide Americans more than guns, and plenty of Republican lawmakers still cynically conflate research funding with anti-gun activism. But objective research that can shed light on shared goals — such as reducing accidents and suicides — should be able to command support among lawmakers of good faith.

In that light, perhaps Walensky’s most important gesture was an outreach to gun owners. “We cannot understand the research of firearm violence, firearm injury, without embracing wholeheartedly the firearm-owning community,” she said. “Come to the table. Join us in the conversation.”

That sounds like a good start.

Bloomberg News