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A Barbecue/ Pool Party Must Have… The Weekend Cheat Sheet

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This week, political discourse took on a whole new level of animus. Before you unwittingly subject yourself to the verbal equivalent of a cavity search by an angry guy with enormous hands, you’d be well advised to brush up on the basics.

Orlando has endured 3 tragic events this week.

On Friday night, one of the finalists from season 6 of The Voice, Christina Grimmie, was gunned down by a crazed fan after her Orlando concert. She died the following morning. She was 22 years old.

On Saturday night, actually Sunday morning, at 2:01, an armed assailant entered Pulse, a popular Orlando nightclub that caters to a predominantly gay clientele. He pledged allegiance to Isis and used the phrase Allah Akbar. He shot and killed 49 innocent victims and injured 53 others. He was killed in a gun battle with police.

160615005241-disney-world-alligator-child-florida-live-savidge-00001126-large-169Finally, a family was enjoying an evening on a beach that was created to compliment a lagoon that had been dredged at the Grand Floridian hotel at Disney world when an alligator suddenly snatched and killed a two-year-old boy.  The father wrestled the gator in an attempt to save his son but he was no match for the animal. The alligator and the child were gone in less than a minute.

Three shocking tragedies, in one weekend would devastate any community. Orlando is not just any community. The murder of Christina Grimmie was horrible. Unfortunately, Americans have developed the ability to compartmentalize. If this young woman’s murder had been the only atrocity of the weekend, it would have been a lead story for 48 hours. That never happened because the massacre at Pulse was a much bigger story. Not only was the body count incredibly high, but it was a tale chock full of political potential.

When you observe the fleeting moment of empathy, fade into a vehement political tirade, you’d be well advised to excuse yourself and grab a drink. You’ll probably need it.

Unless you earn your livelihood in the political arena or spend a disproportionate amount of time as a news junkie, you are in for a surprise. And not the fun kind. Within 12 hrs, tops, the curtain was raised and the drama began.

To be fair, it’s an election year and politicians across the board, are feeling the pressure. By Sunday night both sides had developed highly detailed scripts and specific talking points to use this devastating episode to bolster support for party agendas.

Gun control vs the second amendment

gun-lawsThe democrats predictably, are using the incident to illustrate the need for more stringent gun regulations. The republicans, equally predictably are changing the narrative to the erosion of civil liberties. Rather than working together to implement a strategy to deal with an increasing number of deadly shootings, members of both parties have become totally uncompromising. They’ve also become extremist. As a result, facts are being intentionally misrepresented in order to raise voter ire.

Political distraction is the phrase being used to dismiss any opposition. Both sides employ the line equally. It’s the one thing they can agree upon. It’s an ideal safety expression. If you’re stuck for either an exit line or a neutral quip that sounds like commiseration but says nothing, it’s your go to phrase. All you have to do is throw your hands up, make a sound of disgust and say, Political distraction. It’s only good for 2-3 uses per gathering, so use it wisely.  There is also rampant finger pointing. Blame is being cast about like wayward darts during Greek week. Obama has blamed Trump’s language. Trump has blamed Obama’s desire to diminish America’s global influence and name calling has become fairly routine throughout Washington.

Terrified of becoming irrelevant, print media has joined in on the fray.

The New York Times featured an editorial on the NRA’s complicity in terrorism and The Boston Globe ran a full page picture of an AR- 15 on the front page, with the words Make It Stop.

The other two hot button issues are immigration and defining terrorism. Most of the talking points haven’t changed. You either would like to be a good person who believes in inclusion and equality or you would like to enjoy financial growth and physical safety. It’s best not to suggest that those desires aren’t mutually exclusive. That just makes both sides fume.

obamaThe debate over the phrase, Islamic terrorism, came to a head this week. Hillary finally said it, in only one speech, after Trump suggested that if you can’t identify the enemy by name, you can’t be the president. Then he went further. He said that President Obama should resign, due to his inability to speak the words, which demonstrates the fact that he has prioritized Muslim sensitivity over American safety. The president responded with a blistering, highly emotional, public rebuke of both, Trump personally and republicans in general.

It only got uglier from there. Members of the house couldn’t even manage to pull off a moment of silence to honor the shooting victims, as both sides were engaged in a contest to prove who loves the LGBT community more. A mother of one of the victims at Pulse said that all she could focus on was the death of her son and that she wanted to rip all of their throats out when they politicized the event.

By Thursday there were a few voices of moderation. They were not particularly welcome. As of today, both parties have started hearing internal demands to dial it back.

If you hear any ” facts”, unless you check them yourself, your best bet is to file them away with stories about the one that got away. The current political environment is caustic. It will undoubtedly recalibrate by next weekend. Until then you’d be well advised to lay low if any one brings up the subject. The chances are pretty good that they’re looking for a fight.

Happy Father’s Day

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