The Gun is Fear

The shootings in Buffalo and Texas have wrecked me – and I can’t keep watching the same old arguments fly by in screenshotted tweets in Instagram stories.

It’s all so predictable and isn’t going to change anything. And that makes this grief feel worse.

This thought keeps pinging around in my head and it won’t go away. It’s not fully formed yet. But it’s something like this…

America was built on fear – fear that Europe would come and take it from us; as slavery was ending, that all of these people we’d imported and enslaved would rise up and do us in, and then fear of immigrants and the “others”.

So, we built the biggest military in the world. We have the most overly funded police forces in the world. We made rules about who could vote and who could come here, who could marry who, and where they could go.

We wrapped our fear in laws and religion and called it culture.

We have more guns than people and the mere presence of those guns (the facts are irrefutable, but I know that won’t stop you) is why so many thousands of people die by them every year. Just having a gun in your house, yes, even you “responsible” gun owners, makes you many many times more likely to die by gunshot.

Guns take bad moments and turn them into tragedy. Having access to a gun means that at your lowest moments you might not just drink yourself into a stupor or harm yourself, you could kill everyone you love – in a moment.

We take our fear, wrap it in the flag or camo, and call it patriotism. We arm it to the teeth so we never ever have to confront what it’s guarding: our own inability to face our collective fears.

Until we admit that fear drives our actions – that it drives all of our passion and drive around gun culture, it will not change.

The opposite of fear is love. We need to love ourselves, our children and our communities more than we fear them.

Give up the fear, and we’ll give up the guns.

The Case For Obama

I’ve been considering writing a post about why I’m voting for Barack Obama in November, but I’ve been too busy to sit down and actually write it all down. Thankfully, my friend Joe has written an excellent case for Obama with positive reasons to vote for Obama.\
On top of all of the things Joe mentions, for me, this is the first time I’ve been able to vote in an election where I’m voting for someone. I like Obama. I’m happy that we finally have a presidential candidate who made it through the primaries that is intelligent, thoughtful, and stands for things I actually agree with, that isn’t entirely beholden to the party machine or big business. I think Obama is a great antidote to the last eight years, and I won’t hesitate at all to vote for him. In 2004, I voted against Bush. In 2000, I voted against both parties by voting for Nader (not like it mattered, Virginia was going for Bush and everyone knew it).\
For me, it’s all about intelligence, thoughtfulness and how I think the candidates will do actually governing, not about an individual issue. I think Obama has the perfect temperament to be president and actually fix a lot of the damage done by Bush & Company. He won’t be able to fix it all, and I don’t expect miracles, but he’ll surround himself with the best people for the job, not the ones who paid the most. He’ll make sound decisions based on facts, not gamble with lives based on hunches and forgeries.\
This isn’t a vote against McCain or his ridiculous pick for VP. I don’t agree with them on anything, or what’s become of their party and what they did to our country, but that doesn’t matter. I’m happily voting for Barack Obama.\
If you’d like to try to convince me, you can save your breath. I’ve heard them all, listened to McCain’s talking points and positions – there’s no way in hell I’d ever vote for him again. He betrayed everyone who supported him in the 2000 election (and I did) by spending the last eight years cozying up to the worst extremes of his party, and his choice of Sarah Palin proves it. She is the antithesis of everything I believe in. She doesn’t believe in science, wants Creationism taught in our public schools and is wrong about pretty much everything else… extremely wrong. How can I endorse that kind of stupidity? It’s just not going to happen, so, like I said, save your breath.\
Update: Andy asked in the comments (which aren’t showing up for some reason… I swear it’s a bug and not intentional) to re-address Palin’s stance on Creationism, and I’ve found another report from the same source as the one above that’s very well attributed that shows her stance on the subject and others. That she hasn’t pushed for it to be taught in school is small consolation: she uses all the same code words that every other creationist uses when trying to inject misinformed Christianity into public schools. That Creationism exists at all is a stunning tribute to modern American Christianity’s misunderstanding of the Bible, its translation over time and the nuance of the language it was originally written in. Instead of focusing on the parts of the gospel that are really important, like the Sermon on the Mount (you know, “blessed are the peacemakers“), the Religious Right has twisted religion to be about war, hate and shunning those that are different by selectively ignoring the many parts of the New Testament where Christ contradicts and supersedes the harsher laws of the Old Testament. It doesn’t belong in government, and I want nothing to do with it. She said even more outrageous things in her speech last night. For example, “The Iraq war is a task from God.” You have got to be kidding. The Iraq war is the biggest mistake our country has made in my lifetime, has cost the lives of over four thousand US soldiers and untold thousands of Iraqi civilians, fomented terrorism the world over and destroyed our reputation as a country. What happened to “love thy brother as thy self” or the other things that, you know, Jesus actually said:\
bq. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy … Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.\
I don’t understand how that’s not abundantly clear to any Christian of any denomination or sect. Anyone who quotes anything else is twisting the truth to suit their own desires.

Max Is a Poet

Max and I talk about all kinds of things, and you already know that he reads everything. It’s sometimes hard to figure out how to explain things to him. He’s worried about stuff like the environment, and recently, the war in Iraq. I’ve been trying to tell him not to worry about it (because he’s eight), but once he latches on to something, it’s hard for him to let go.\
He’s also been in his school’s writing group since last year (for 3rd graders, but they made an exception for Max), and likes poetry. He was home sick today, and wrote this. Again, it’s not like we spend a lot of time indoctrinating him…\
The Iraq War\
bq. The USA is bad to me.\
Being very bad to my glee.\
After the 2008 election,\
The USA will reach perfection.\
The Iraq War is over,\
So unfair! No government left.\
With great stubbornness,\
W. Bush refused to stop it,\
it’s true,\
so blue.\
He’s a great kid, but he’s got to learn to lighten up.

Categorized as Max, war

Not Working? Let’s Change the Name!

The White House is going to retool the Iraq mission. If you read the article carefully, they’re not actually going to change anything except they’re going to rebrand it.\
Yes, people, this is what we’ve come to. June was the bloodiest month in Iraq since the beginning of the war, the Iraqi government and military have met none of their benchmarks, and the White House is embarking on a rebranding effort. It only proves they have no idea what they’re doing.\
We’re not going to buy it, Mr. Bush. We don’t believe you or anyone who works for you anymore. You’ve proven yourself to be a liar, and by association, everyone who works for you is tainted by your dishonesty (or, hired by you because of their talents for dishonesty). You’ve failed every test put before you as Commander in Chief. Why the hell should we trust you now?\
It’s time for Congress to do their jobs and get us out of this thing. Senator Webb’s amendment to force the military to keep active duty soldiers at home for at least as long as their deployment is a good start in actually supporting our troops (three times as long for guard and reserve troops), but it’s time to do more. The surge isn’t work and isn’t going to – not because there’s anything wrong with the troops or even with the military other than they’re being stretched too thing. It’s not working because the orders from the civilian leadership in the White House are wrong, have always been wrong, and show no signs of improving.

Bad Idea

Can we agree now that the invasion of Iraq was a bad idea? Nothing that the Administration said would happen has happened:

  • There were no WMD.
  • Saddam had no ties to Al Qaeda.
  • We weren’t greeted as liberators.
  • Fighting them there hasn’t made us safer here.
  • Democracy hasn’t “flourished” in Iraq or been a good example to anyone.
  • We could fight the war on the “cheap”.
  • We could do it without losses. If you think the war is worth it, worth the sacrifice, read this, and think about it again.\
    On top of the things that the Administration got completely wrong, they’ve turned this country upside down. The United States of America has now admitted to torturing suspects. We’ve admitted to hiding prisoners in secret and illegal prisons scattered throughout the world. We’ve sent innocent people to other countries to be tortured for knowledge they didn’t have. We’ve let Osama bin Laden escape for 5 years. That’s five years of tough talk and inexcusable mistakes at all levels of government.\
    Whatever the President’s intentions, or the intentions of those who support him, he’s a complete and utter failure. And that’s not a “partisan” statement. Really think about it. Look at what he said would happen in Iraq, or after Katrina, or how we would find bin Laden. Nothing he has promised has happened. Nothing he has claimed has turned out to be true. He told us we don’t torture. He told us we followed the Geneva Conventions. He told us New Orleans would be rebuilt. He’s either a liar, or the most imcompetant leader in modern history… I’d bet on both.\
    Our government is a disgrace, a disgrace to its citizens, its history and its ideals. It’s time to do something to change it.\
    How? Vote. Vote in November and do what you can to kick out of office anyone who supports our incompetant president and his cronies, no matter what party they belong to. Yes, most of them happen to be Republicans, but the Democrats are still responsible for not standing up stridently enough. They could have stopped the Patriot Act. They could have done more to hold those responsible accountable for their actions. Some Democrats, like Joe Lieberman, actually support this Administrations ridiculous policies.\
    Vote for people who will hold them accountable, who will find the truth, and do something about it. If we don’t, we’re just as guilty as those who approved the torture, who ordered the bombs to be dropped, who have failed so completely to do the right thing.

Yes, I’m still waiting on

Yes, I’m still waiting on people to give me data that I can then manipulate and build things with. I’m waiting on things to be installed so I can use them. I’m waiting on people to figure out that they have a job to do and then do it. In the meantime, I’m using my mad webSkills © to build fabulous philanthropic things that will benefit mankind. Can I tell you what they are? Well, I’d rather not because I’m trying to be humble about the whole thing. But, it’s SO hard when it’s this cool. You know? I want to show everyone what I did (am doing – it’s not QUITE finished yet) and say, “See, ain’t this neat?” But, I’ll be good and save it.

On a completely different note, I hate the networks. Their handling of their “entertainment” has been pretty sad so far. Case in point: NBC’s Third Watch ran a two hour docu-weepy about firefighters. Now, if it was called “Dateline” or “an NBC News Special”, that would be fine. But, they’re using the country’s pain, and these firefighters experiences as an advertisement for their crappy show. To make matters worse, the shows premiere next week actually has the balls to cover the days of 9/10 and 9/11 from their fictional characters points of view. I can’t believe it. I’m in shock that NBC could think that this is a good idea. West Wing’s tolerance info-mercial was bad enough. Now, they have to go and do this? I may never watch NBC again.

Which bring up another TV point: Why don’t I care about the new season? There are three shows I watch with any enthusiasm now: The West Wing, Once and Again and That 70’s Show. Everything else could get cancelled and I wouldn’t care. I couldn’t sit through last week’s Survivor. I hate ER now. Maybe it’s because I crave news. Maybe I just don’t feel the need to be “entertained” by fiction as much now. I’d much rather watch a concert or a sporting event. I think it’s that nothing the networks could come up with could be as moving or traumatic as what’s been happening. In their attempts to recover they’re only making it worse.