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Posts Tagged ‘Gun Violence’

I’ve heard people say, the day after #HumanRightsDay, that they will lose their faith in people if Alabama elects a pedophile like Moore tomorrow. Granted, seeing pastors and some southern Republicans stick by him is confusing and contradictory if you happen to be a practicing Christian. Listening to Mr T’s robo-call of support is yet another nonsensical stunt from our Groper-in-Chief.

But it’s Moore’s racist point of view, and his willingness to endorse the agenda of the NRA that is truly frightening.

After all, it’s not just what he did as a middle-aged man with a teenager – it’s how he will vote as another old white guy in the Senate that is truly frightening! How can you say you believe the woman who was 14 when Roy Moore sexually assaulted her and simultaneously want the man in office. Easy, Trumpsters write this off as another “boys will be boys” moment. Locker room talk? It never happened. Denial is a powerful thing.

Maybe, but it’s a ‘bless his heart’ kinda Southern thing too, this Fundamentalist/Baptist faith in a God who is all powerful and therefore can take the rap for anything bad that ever happens; this is on the other side of a religious spectrum of ‘it’s a bad idea for one’s religion to guide policy in the US…’ ya know, cause the founders were trying to SEPARATE church and state.

“Moore suggested that a lack of faith in God may have played a role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, as he quoted a passage from the book of Isaiah in a February speech at the Open Door Baptist Church. The passage suggests that because God’s message was rejected, sin will come like a high wall that suddenly collapses.”

Then he compares that high wall to the Pentagon. He indicated that God may be upset because “we legitimize sodomy” and “legitimize abortion.” Families were closer during slavery! He has even blamed the Sandy Hook shooting on Americans who have, “…forgotten the law of God.” He believes we are a sinful people. I believe he is insane! https://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/27/roy-moore-outrageous-things-he-said-243207

Remember when Congress failed to pass a universal background check after the Sandy Hook massacre? That’s about when I lost my faith completely. Our legislators showed their true colors back then, and as my brother Eric likes to say, “We have the best democracy money can buy.”

They are willing to sacrifice 90+ lives a day to gun violence, and would now like concealed carry gun owners to be able to carry their weapons across state lines with impunity. So if a woman flees to a neighboring state, her abuser can easily bring his weapon of choice along for the chase. Republicans really respect women and girls, right? Women who lost their children in a classroom, girls who are being strangled by their gun-toting boyfriends.

Being an old school feminist, I’m really glad the #MeToo movement has started a revolution of sorts, but I wonder how we can bring about the kind of common sense gun reform our country so desperately needs. How about making it easier to vote, instead of harder? That could be a start, along with throwing the money/lobbyist class off the Hill.

Tis the season for sharing. Who cares whether you say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays?” Not me. While you decorate your trees and light your candles, while you go to the church or synagogue or nature trail of your choice, while you make your end of year charitable donations, think about ways we can make our country more equitable and just for all our citizens. I’d like to keep my faith in humanity.

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On Saturday, Bob and I met the other in-Laws, Grandma Shavaun and Grandpa Mike, at Monells for brunch. We enjoyed a serious, family-style Southern meal that included the Bride, Groom, kiddos and another group at the same table. Lots of biscuits, bacon, chicken, corn pudding and cinnamon rolls were passed along with the requisite eggs and pancakes!

The Groom’s parents had arrived from VA to help celebrate a certain little Pumpkin’s birthday.

On Sunday, the Love Bug’s little brother had his 3rd birthday party at a gymnastics training center with the whole preschool class in attendance. Lots of jumping, swinging, balancing and climbing ensued while parents milled about talking about the latest childhood illness or the best barbecue. Just as I was uploading a picture of my grandson to Instagram, sweaty and smiling, a news alert popped up on my Iphone. Another shooting.

I wonder if the Bride and the Rocker remember me dragging them to a Town Hall meeting with my friend Betsy. Do they think about collecting all those toy guns at the community college, where we handed out teddy bears in exchange for water pistols. I wrote about that Republican congressman in the paper, the one who didn’t want to receive all those toy guns at a Town Hall, because he voted against the assault weapon ban. His incumbency was over at the next election.

Researchers have also examined the laws: a ban on semiautomatic assault weapons and large-capacity magazines was passed in 1994. It was lifted in 2004.
Experts said lifting the ban helped to usher in a new era of mass shootings. With these weapons, individuals could shoot faster and for longer periods of time – and consequently were able to kill more people in their attacks.   http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41890277

We forget that once upon a time we didn’t sell these deadly Ruger AR-556s. President Bush didn’t exactly lift the ban, he just let it run out. He could have pushed to extend its life, but instead it’s now much easier to mow down a large group of people in a very short amount of time. Killing people is all this rifle is good for, so maybe just maybe soldiers should be carrying them, but Joe the Plumber? http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2017/11/everything_we_know_about_the_sutherland_springs_shooter_an_ar_556.html

America the beautiful, where our health is regulated and our guns receive the finest care.

I felt sick serving birthday cake. It’s hard to explain the combination of helplessness and hopelessness that sinks into one’s soul at the news of another mass shooting in the middle of a 3 year old’s party. But here are some numbers to contemplate:

This particular AR-556 was manufactured in Mayodan, NC after the state that gave us a bathroom bill offered the gun company, Sturm, Ruger, & Co. “…as much as $13.7 million in tax breaks, after a bidding process in which the state raised its offer three times.” The CEO of that company made over 4 Million dollars in 2016. The company employs over 2,000 people in their factory that used to dye yarn for textiles; “At the beginning of October, 11,600 Americans had been killed by gun violence so far in 2017.”

And THREE of our worst mass murders have occurred in the last 16 months thanks in large part to the availability of the AR-556.

  • Pulse Nightclub, Orlando  =  49
  • Las Vegas Concert  =  58
  • Sutherland Springs, TX  =  26

And it’s the mental health of our legislators that I am calling into question. If only Dr Seuss were still alive, he could write a new book. You could be shot here or there, you could be shot anywhere.

The sound of thunder woke me early this morning. Please vote today, vote for your grandchildren. Vote for a sane gun policy. Get out your umbrellas, a little rain shouldn’t stop you.

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My MIL Ada likes to listen to Rachel Maddow before falling asleep, and as much as I love Rachel myself, I just can’t do it. She would keep me awake all night with worry. I much prefer reading fiction until my eyes are crossed and I can’t remember one sentence from the next. But since Charlottesville was invaded by Neo-Nazis, I can’t resist the news, even at night.

Last night I caught a snippet of Rachel discussing the social media campaign to “out” the men (and they were mostly men) who showed up in golfing attire with helmets and assault weapons. It seems the KKK types no longer feel the need to hide behind hoods and masks. Still, I felt slightly queasy, because it’s so easy to host a website that “names and blames” the people who attended that white nationalist/supremacist rally.

These men are now losing their jobs.

It’s like being put on a sexual predator list, only instead of thinking a pervert lives next door, they think a racist bigot is mowing the lawn. “Hi, how’s the weather?” And it reminds me why I don’t like being put on any list.

The Nazis in Germany made lists of Jews and anyone else that opposed their propaganda.

The radical Christian right made lists of abortion providers.

I’d rather we discuss why those men from Pennsylvania and Ohio and North Carolina, those weekend “Warriors for Christ” as one proclaimed himself to be, were better armed than the police sent to guard everyone. And even though a car was used to kill Heather Hyer, a peaceful counter-demonstrator, a modern day abolitionist fighter, and two VA State Troopers died while on duty protecting everyone in Cville, that scene was potentially a powder keg for an all out riot with guns blazing and many more lives lost.

When Bob and I were fairly new to Cville, we attended a Bonnie Raitt concert on the Historic Downtown Mall. Before entering the Pavilion, I was frisked, my bag was searched, and I was told I could not bring my camera into the venue. My CAMERA. It was a small digital camera and we both looked shocked and said, “What do you suggest we do with it?”

At that time I was using my camera to take pictures for my blog, so it was always on me. Meanwhile everyone else was streaming past us with their cell phones! We mentioned this fact to the official screener, “You know, every cell phone has a camera, right…?” She just shrugged her shoulders. Inside the open-air concert, the first band was warming up as Bob walked back to his car in a parking lot on the other side of the Mall with my camera.

Virginia is an open-carry state. That’s why all those white militia men waltzed around looking like Rambo out for a stroll. Whatever your politics, allowing the NRA to make public policy that would endanger all our citizens, including the police, is madness.

I don’t care how long it took our little potentate to respond to Charlottesville. His true nature is making itself clear. I do care about our country, and I want that pendulum to swing back quickly. We must start passing common sense gun laws and stop trying to take health care away from millions. The vitriol must stop, we cannot let anger and hate win. Naming every single one of those vile men who chose to carry weapons into my adopted hometown is going low, and I ‘d rather be like Michelle, and go high.

Yesterday, we visited Parnassus, my favorite book store in Nashville after Kindergarten. Let’s remember, we teach our children how to hate and fear “the other,” but it’s never too late to teach them how to be kind, how to love.

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“We are now so interdependent that it is in our own interest to take the whole of humanity into account.” Dalai Lama

This week was enough to make all of us cry. First in Baton Rouge, a man selling CDs on a sidewalk named Alton Sterling was thrown to the ground and shot point blank by a policeman. His crime? Carrying a gun while Black. It is all on YouTube thanks to a cell phone video. Then in my brothers’ home state of MN, another Black man was killed by a cop, and another cell phone video went live, so people on Facebook could watch Philandro Castile take his last breath while his girlfriend tells the officer, “You shot four bullets into him sir!” His crime was a broken tail light, and the audacity to tell the police he was licensed to carry a gun, while reaching for his wallet.

When a Black sniper in Dallas, an Army veteran,  decided to take vengeance into his own hands, we all thought this is it. Something has got to give, we cannot sustain our country by buying guns and living behind gates, by living in fear of the “Other.” And for a split second it did seem as if the Red and Blue was weaving itself back together again. But it didn’t last.

When I met a woman from Dallas at a memorial service on Friday, we touched on the troubles. I was truly grieving, so much senseless loss. And she said, “What about Black on Black crime?” and her daughter took her elbow, cautioning her to be careful what she said….I wasn’t sure where she was going. But from the younger woman’s reaction I knew it would be bad.

When White people talk about “Black on Black crime,” it’s like saying all Mexicans are rapists. It’s code for an underlying bigotry; don’t trust them, they’re gangsta. When I taught Head Start in the projects of Jersey City, I remember people calling it a ghetto. The word ghetto actually comes from the pogroms in Russia – it is Yiddish and means: an organized persecution or extermination of an ethnic group, esp of Jews.

When White people say, “Castile was doing everything right,” what that means is he was licensed to carry a gun, he had a good job, he wasn’t selling cigarettes or CDs on the street. He bought the American Dream, he didn’t have to hustle, he worked at a Montessori school for f-sake. And he had a fiancee and a baby girl in the back seat. He lived in a fairly progressive part of the country, but that couldn’t save him from a terrified cop with a gun. And the underlying message?

Since Castile was doing right, all those other unarmed Black men must have been doing something wrong!

safe_image.phpWhen the President compared the Black Dallas shooter to the Neo-Nazi White shooter in Charleston he was making a valid point. There is not much we can do to predict which mentally ill young man will wake up one day and decide to take out a number of people based on race or ridiculous ideology. Why is the gunman of one crime a lone wolf, while another morphs into a terrorist?

Today, social media is turning the tide around these issues. We can no longer ignore a militarized police force. We must witness the mass murder of police in the middle of a non-violent protest march. We are teaching our children to shelter in closets in our schools, because the right to bear arms is so precious to us.

We will always have a few bad cops. And we will always have the mentally ill. The flint to this combustible mixture is the gun, and God help us, if our legislators cannot regulate guns in this country, we may run out of hope. Because racism can be cured; racism needs to be taught, and we as a people can decide to stop teaching hate to our children.

The whole world is watching.IMG_4812

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After touching on a woman’s anger in the book “Fates and Furies,” I thought long and hard about my own PDAs (public displays of anger). Remember I went to Catholic school, where any display of emotion was well squelched out of us. The nuns wanted us to walk humbly before God, in our little plaid uniforms. Good advice, except all the boys didn’t seem to care what the nuns wanted.

In the 1970s women’s liberation caught up with me. I had found my voice, and like most newbies it needed refining. I couldn’t wait for some unsuspecting vacuum cleaner salesman to ring my door bell so I could practice saying, “NO!” After all, Meghan Trainor wasn’t even born yet; can you tell I love her new song. NO?

My name is NO my sign is NO my number is NO

When did we lose that stubborn two year old temper? This morning it seemed like fate (Ha) when my Lenny email arrived – “Women Have Anger” by Casey Wilson.

I’ve realized that anger doesn’t seem to be as palatable on a woman as it is on a man. And I’m angry about that. I’m angry at women who can’t access their anger, or who cover it by masquerading as little sweeties, or those who display it and are off-putting. Which are all versions of myself I have spent my life trying to wrangle and negotiate.

Even as I acknowledged that there’s a degree of sexism in the way the world treats an angry woman, as I got older, I started realizing my outbursts were causing real problems. For starters, I lost a lot of phones. Whenever I would feel a flash of white-hot rage overtake me, my first impulse was always the same. To throw my phone. My phone! My very lifeblood! No available slab of drywall was safe.

I never threw my phone, I was more about throwing a well-placed F bomb at someone. But speaking of drywall, I currently have between three and six guys running around my house finishing the basement and fixing drywall tears, and spackling and hammering and vacuuming. The noise is enough to make you weep. That is, when I’m not all super angry bird about the four gun violence bills that were (excuse the pun) shot down in the Senate yesterday. I am pretty hot under my collar at the moment. The good thing is we may have reached a tipping point, so strike while the iron is hot ladies. How could the Senate decide terrorists deserve to have their guns, while they don’t allow any guns or knitting needles on the floor of their esteemed body? Nope, not even if you have a concealed carry license…or an unfinished sweater sleeve.

Call. Text. Write. Walk on Washington. Do anything to get your legislators’ attention. Get angry people.This is righteous anger. Nobody needs an assault weapon to hunt, everybody wants to expand background checks so terrorists and maniacs can’t get their hands on a gun. The American people are mad as hell, and come November I would be very surprised to see those GOP members who voted against sanity yesterday return to the Hill.

This afternoon, two women Senators got together to put forward a bipartisan proposal to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists. They held a news conference and they had a tag line – “No Fly? No Buy.” Our very own VA Senator, Democrat Tim Kaine was a part of the new bill and may be considered as a running mate for Hillary. Will they be able to reach a compromise before November? Or is this system as broken as I think it is?

Remind me to tell you the story of my knitting needles in Heathrow Airpot. Maybe I should keep a pair of needles in my glove compartment, after all, we ladies don’t wear gloves anymore. It’s time for a new generation to come out and vote, to just say NO and take up the gauntlet, to repair democracy. The days are getting shorter.   IMG_4727

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It’s ironic isn’t it, that my last post was titled “No News?” When we came through customs at Kennedy Airport, we re-emerged in our country, so happy to be home. To sleep in our own bed, to talk with the kids, to pet the pup! Our mountains compare well with the foothills of the Alps after all. Now don’t get me wrong, we thoroughly enjoyed the Viking cruise from Budapest to Passau on the Danube. And surprisingly, my country/farm/boy, who usually hates big cities, loved Prague.

But I couldn’t believe my eyes after we found the departure gate to Dulles. Our journey home started at 3am Czech time. Viking had to reroute us through Amsterdam instead of Paris because of the Air France strike. We flew KLM from Prague to Amsterdam to NYC finally…only a three hour stopover until our connection to DC. Then a two hour drive to central VA. So I thought it was jet lag when I looked up at a TV monitor in Kennedy, the CNN screen had pictures of a Voice contestant that I loved, Christina Grimme, a hometown girl from Southern Jersey. And the scroll said she’d been murdered in Orlando.

She was so young and talented, signing autographs. My heart broke for her family and friends. And then the next day, we awoke to another horrific attack in Orlando, a mass murder at a gay nightclub, Pulse. After ten days in Europe, our return seemed surreal. Was this a trick? The wonderful, magical world of Disney that I knew and loved as a child, with Tinkerbell sprinkling magic dust on our black and white TV screens, must have been a century ago.

I’m so sick of the media deluge, asking victims how they feel, asking Hillary to say “Islamic Terrorism.” When will our country wake up?

Not after a madman shoots up a college or an elementary school, certainly not. Does it really matter if it’s a white, neo-Nazi in Charleston targeting a Black church, or an Arab  Muslim born and bred here targeting a gay nightclub in FL? Terror is terror. Our legislators hands are dripping with the blood of 33,000 gun violence victims every year. Most of them, 64% are suicides; people who may have been saved if a gun wasn’t within reach at a certain point in time.

On an average day, 91 Americans are killed with guns. And our murder rate is more than 25 times the average of other developed countries. https://everytownresearch.org/gun-violence-by-the-numbers/

Twenty-five times. Because in Eastern Europe, where terror reigned supreme during the first half of the last century, it’s not so easy to buy a gun. First of all, there are no hand guns or assault weapons for private citizens, none. Why do we need these? That officer was a “good guy with a gun” inside Pulse, but he couldn’t stop that bad guy with an AR-15 and a pistol.

In Europe, if you want to hunt you must apply for a license to own a hunting rifle, twice! Two separate applications and then have a note from your physician, and THEN actually meet with a psychiatrist! 

Please don’t tell me it’s our mental health system, because I agree it needs some work. And please don’t tell me that if everybody had a gun we’d all be safer because that’s ridiculous nonsense. I won’t bother to read Trump’s narcissistic inane Tweets either, this is not a partisan fight. And my interpretation of the 2nd amendment is the National Guard, not the NRA. If a guy who had a record of abusing his ex-wife, and was interrogated by the FBI TWICE, could legally purchase an assault rifle and a handgun on the same day, any sane person should be asking themselves why?

Bob Iger, Disney CEO released a statement on the shooting: “We are all heartbroken by the tragic and horrific events in Orlando, and offer our thoughts, prayers and support to everyone in our community affected by this senseless act.” http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/disney-seaworld-respond-orlando-shooting-901897

Thoughts and prayers are not enough. Voting for Hillary might just help, and calling your legislators, to let them know the tide is turning. Let’s start with banning assault weapons, again, and how about a background check, and go from there; it’s time for our legislators to wash their hands or vote them out of office. https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/ban-ar-15-civilian-ownership

And let’s all go to Disney World! Can you see the skeleton nodding his head in agreement on Prague’s astronomical clock?IMG_4639

 

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Last night I ventured out into the rolling hills of Albemarle County to attend a cocktail/get-together/girl-fest at an old friend’s farm. It was billed as a “Squeeze,” to reference a term associated with Dolley Madison.

With an astute sense of purpose and considerable charm, Dolley Madison navigated the waters of Washington society in an unprecedented way. She brought together disparate groups of politicians, diplomats, and local residents in a social setting. Weekly parties, called “Wednesday drawing rooms,” or “Mrs. Madison’s crush or squeeze,” provided a relaxed atmosphere for politicking and mingling. With no invitation required, these parties sometimes attracted four hundred guests. Some individuals who rarely associated with one another found themselves together at the White House. Even a boycott by President Madison’s opposition party, the Federalists, fizzled when members realized there was no political advantage to staying away.  http://www.whitehousehistory.org/teacher-resources/saving-history-dolley-madison-the-white-house-and-the-war-of-1812

I met a past Mayor of Charlottesville, an art and fashion historian, and the woman who ran the county’s social service network for thirty years. I talked with a lovely young woman who coordinates Planned Parenthood’s educational initiatives. It was an incredible evening jam-packed with energy, enthusiasm and best of all, fun.

Since I knew I was among “my People,” I asked almost everyone one important question – Hillary or Bernie? And I must say that Bernie was winning in my anecdotal poll. His approach to politics hasn’t changed; he’s deliberate and determined, much more progressive than Hillary. And they all liked his wife, who kind of reminds me of Dolley.

So while Planned Parenthood put their considerable support behind Hillary, and the President was in NOVA schooling the nation about guns at a Town Hall meeting, Trump was vowing to get rid of gun-free school zones. I was dumbstruck!

At least this will be an election year where the stakes are very clear. Would you like the NRA to continue influencing public policy? How about writing bills according to one’s religion? Or would you rather elect someone with integrity, someone who won’t mock disabled people. Someone who actually believes in science?

I’ve been thinking about Dolley this morning. She was thrown out of her Quaker religion for marrying outside her faith and never looked back. She and President Madison retired right up the road apace at Montpelier. Her reputation was secured in 1812, when was brave enough to stay at the White House while the British advanced, saving many of the nation’s art treasures, including that famous portrait of Washington. But it was that indescribable something that set her apart, her “joie de vivre.”  Her …”social skills, charm and personal popularity to win over her husband’s political opponents and help advance his career.”

Dr Jim always says it’s personality that can cog up the works in any business. But it’s also personality that can help a system as big as the federal government run smoothly. Above all else, we need another Dolley (or the male equivalent) to get our legislators talking and in the same room, if not on the same page. A civil discourse, is it too much to expect?     IMG_3722

 

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