Physician, Heal Thyself

I was on vacation in the Texas panhandle when our nation experienced two mass shootings in two very different parts of the country.

From CNN:

  • Two shootings: At least 31 people were killed over the weekend in mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.
  • El Paso: 22 people were killed in El Paso after a mass shooting on Saturday. Police said they found an anti-immigrant document espousing white nationalist and racist views, which they believe was written by the suspect. He may face hate crime charges in addition to capital murder charges.
  • Dayton: Another nine people were killed in a shooting in the Oregon District of Dayton, Ohio. The suspect in that shooting is dead.

Meanwhile, Studly Doright and I were involved in family fun at a reunion–grandkid watching, overeating, swimming, laughing, hugging, playing, storytelling. As news of the shootings came through we absorbed the generalities and continued with our event. My heart was heavy, but there was nothing any of us could do at that time except love our own families and watch over each other. Now that I’m home, I have time to process the information, and I’m furious.

As with every mass shooting in this country, politicians offer thoughts and prayers, yet nothing meaningful gets done to prevent the next shooting, or the one after that. In many ways it seems that some members of our current administration have encouraged such violence.

In May of this year, at a political rally, the current POTUS asked the Florida audience how to stop migrants from entering the country.

“How do you stop these people? You can’t, there’s,”–Trump paused as an attendee shouted, “Shoot them!”

Trump smirked and said, “That’s only in the panhandle you can get away with that statement.” The crowd cheered wildly for 10 seconds before Trump continued his speech.

I live in the Florida panhandle. That kind of talk is not acceptable even here, but our Divider-in-Chief encourages it and applauds it. He has set the tone, and it is one of violence and hatred of those who are not white “Christians”.

Now, in the wake of the shootings, many Republicans are scrambling to cover all of their familiar talking points.

1) Blame the video games! As if kids in the U.S. are the only ones who play violent video games.

2) Blame mental illness! So only the U.S. has a population suffering from some form of mental illness? And while mental illness might play a role in these heinous acts, in 2017 trump rolled back an Obama-era regulation that made it more difficult for people with mental illness to purchase guns. Yes, trump green lighted gun ownership for those who might be prone to violence.

3) Blame gays! A few crazy people believe that homosexuality is to blame for our gun violence problem. Of course these people also believe homosexuality causes earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and tornadoes.

4) It’s not the gun’s fault! Well, maybe guns don’t kill people, people kill people, but easy access to guns sure makes it easier for them to do so.

5) It’s because we can’t pray in school! Seriously? God, as I understand it, is omnipresent. I’m not sure any of us can keep such a deity out of any location. And, as the old saying goes, as long as there are tests, there’ll be prayer in school.

5) If someone wants to kill, they’ll find some other way if guns aren’t available. Again, guns are way too easy to attain in this country. Bombs? Not so much. Knives? Easy to come by, but it’s difficult to achieve the body count that guns provide. And let’s face it, it’s a huge body count these killers (overwhelmingly white and male) are aiming for. Plus, killing with a knife is up close work. These mass shooters don’t want to dirty their hands, and a gun allows them to kill indiscriminately from a distance. It’s an impersonal act that reaps huge results.

The GOP is now urging us to come together, but most Republican congressmen and women aren’t willing to jeopardize their good standing with the National Rifle Association by enacting meaningful gun control legislation. It’s difficult to “come together” with people who are okay with gun violence as long as the NRA is lining their pockets.

I am a gun owner. I enjoy occasionally taking target practice. No one is coming for all of our guns, but there must be change. We are the only first world country that has mass shootings on an almost weekly basis.

Peace, people.

March for Our Lives in Tallahassee

On Saturday I joined more than 2,500 people marching for common sense gun control in Tallahassee, FL. We gathered in front of Ruby Diamond Concert Hall and marched to the steps of the historic state Capitol building where more supporters awaited.

Young and old, we chanted for the entire length of the route. When one lead voice failed, another took up the chant. I cried more than once.

My back has been out of sorts lately, and I came close to staying home. In the end I said, “Screw it; I’m doing this.” Sometimes I make really great decisions. This was one of those times.

Peace, people.

Before Marching Today

People from every continent on earth, except for Antarctica, are marching today for common sense gun control. I’m joining the march in Tallahassee, Florida. We’ll start at Ruby Diamond Auditorium and march to the historic Florida Capitol building.

Right now I’m taking advantage of a bench beneath the spreading arms of a graceful oak tree in front of Ruby Diamond. Hundreds of folks are milling around, carrying signs, discussing the possibilities for real change in our gun laws.

Are you marching today? If so, where?

Peace, people.

Dinner with Ms. NRA

For several months now I’ve been attending MeetUp functions with women in my area. Various members of the group get together for wine or lunch. Sometimes we go for leisurely walks and visit historic landmarks. I always enjoy myself.

I’m beginning to get to know some of the women who attend, and find some of us have a great deal in common. On the whole, we tend to be a fairly progressive group. Even those that tend to be more conservative politically are appalled by the antics of our current potus.

One evening last week seven of us met for wine and dinner at a local restaurant. I knew three of the women in attendance, but three were new to MeetUp.

One of the first timers bristled a bit when the talk turned to the need for action on gun control. The shootings in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine’s Day are still very much on our minds.

“Well!” she huffed. “I’m a member of the NRA, and we can’t ban assault rifles.”

I restrained myself–you all would’ve been proud of me, but she also announced that she was carrying (a gun, I suppose, but might’ve been drugs, the terminology is similar), so maybe it was fear and not restraint that kept me silent.

We turned the talk away from guns, and someone else mentioned the Me Too movement. Again this woman spoke up, “Just ridiculous. These women parading around with hats shaped like vaginas…”

“I have one of those. I wear it proudly,” I said.

“Well, it’s so vulgar and extreme,” she countered.

“Sometimes, we have to be extreme to make a point,” someone else added.

The conversation was steered away again, and we continued to drink our wine and snack on appetizers. We even found things we had in common with Ms. NRA. I don’t want to know if she voted for trump. I don’t want to discuss women’s issues with her. I definitely don’t want to take up gun control when she’s in the room. But, if she’s at any future MeetUps I’ll strike up a conversation with her. Maybe I’ll wear my pussy hat.

Peace, people.

Behold The National Rifle Association’s Worm in the Florida Apple

https://www.msnbc.com/stephanie-ruhle/watch/new-yorker-nra-lobbyist-in-fl-has-unprecedented-power-and-influence-1168600643717

Watch the entire video link from MSNBC, and see why I am fuming.

I live near Tallahassee, Florida, and have personally attended hearings on gun laws at the Capitol. On my first visit the bill being considered in our House of Representatives was to allow open carry in our state. The opening process was mundane–lots of parliamentary procedures and much palavering.

Then one by one people from both sides of the argument were called upon to explain in front of a panel of legislators why they either were for or against the right of Floridians to openly carry firearms. One older woman wearing a red hunting jacket and sporting a grey pageboy style haircut sat right up front, not quite part of the panel, but not a part of the regular gallery like myself. It was Marion Hammer.

I heard during this hearing that Marion, who is NOT a duly elected official in the state of Florida, had helped craft this open carry bill. Every time there was a proposed change to the bill or a question about what was included this woman was called forward to consult with our ELECTED lawmakers. She holds an immense amount of power, but again, IS NOT AN ELECTED OFFICIAL.

There is something rotten about a system that gives one person the power Ms. Hammer wields. Didn’t Americans launch a revolution based on our right to be represented by duly elected officials? Right now her favor or lack of it can make or break a politician in this state. She needs to go.

Don’t

Don’t

Don’t be shocked by another school shooting, the eleventh in this brand new year.

Don’t tell me we are better than this; obviously, we are not.

Don’t send up thoughts and prayers. God honors action, not weepy hand-wringing.

Don’t try to console me; your words are empty.

Don’t tell me you are pro-life when clearly you support the industry of death.

Don’t.

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/tennessee/articles/2018-01-23/governor-1-dead-many-wounded-in-kentucky-school-shooting

Again, Dammit

Again Americans
mourn the deaths of
those lost to
gun violence.

Again politicians
offer their thoughts
and prayers and
meaningless
platitudes
whilst simultaneously
pocketing what can only be
described as
blood money
courtesy of the
National Rifle
Association.

Again mothers mourn
the loss of children
and children mourn
the loss of parents
while those
lacking in
humanity worry that
Obama’s gonna
confiscate their
fucking
guns.

Don’t talk to
me of prayers on
one hand
and praise
guns on the
other.
Your hypocrisy
is exceeded
only by your
utter lack of
compassion.

Guns and Thorns

the fetishists have cried,

“leave our guns alone!”

when no one has called

for their removal.

paranoid fools who fail

to see or care, cry time

and time again that any

move breeds futility

while still more innocents

die and we offer up only

thoughts and prayers.

Peace, people.

  

A Paranoid Congress and Guns

  
I am a gun owner who once again weeps in horror and disbelief at our Republican legislators’ most recent unconscionable actions.
From the New York Daily News, 12/04/15:

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans voted against barring suspected terrorists, felons and the mentally ill from getting guns on Thursday afternoon, parroting National Rifle Association arguments that doing so would strip some innocent people of their constitutional rights to gun access just a day after yet another massacre on U.S. soil.

A pair of Democratic measures – one to close background check loopholes to make it harder for felons and the mentally ill from buying guns, another to ban those on the terror watch list from buying guns – both went down in flames against near-unanimous GOP opposition.

Most of these same legislators offered up their fervent prayers for the victims of the tragic domestic terrorist attack in San Bernadino the day before they voted against measures that might help avoid similar tragedies. 

I couldn’t conceive the thinking behind their votes. After all, the GOP and its puppet masters the NRA assert again and again that,

 “Guns Don’t Kill People. People Kill People!”

Wouldn’t any sane and decent person then logically deny certain people, say those on the terrorist watch list, those with a history of mental illness, and those who have served time for felony convictions, the right to purchase and own guns?

Gosh, it seemed like a no-brainer to a little old country girl like me. So, why did our supposedly learned legislators vote in such a decidedly unlearned way?  

Carly Fiorina provided a clue in a recent televised appearance saying that a friend’s husband had been placed on the terror watch list in error and that she did not believe the list was accurate. I deemed that a small picture reaction to a big picture problem, until I looked at the Republican Party’s behavior over the past seven years.

Since the first term of President Barak Obama, the Republican Party has operated as an extreme oppositional force. On the night of President Obama’s first inauguration a group of powerful Republican Party members assembled in a not-so-secret meeting, led by Paul Ryan (who has just recently been elevated to Speaker of the House), and agreed to block the President in any way possible. Often this agreement has worked to the detriment of the nation as a whole. Common sense and the best interests of the country were tromped on in favor of making certain that the Obama presidency  failed. Treason, anyone? 

Instead of failing, President Obama was elected to a second term. Could Republicans and their NRA backers be concerned that depending on the outcome of future elections that some of them might end up on a no-fly, no-buy watch list? Has their paranoia gone to that extreme?

That could certainly help put their decidedly unlearned votes in a new light. Unless of course their favorite slogan is meaningless. Maybe it is the guns that kill people. Pick a side GOP. You can’t have it both ways.

Peace, and common sense, people.

Check out the Twitter feed of Igor Volsky @igorvolsky for information on the amount of money provided to congressmen by the NRA. Each time a congressman tweets out his or her thoughts and prayers Mr. Volsky supplies donation details. It’s a sick, slick business.

Paranoia is an unfounded or exaggerated distrust of others, sometimes reaching delusional proportions.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV), the diagnostic standard for mental health professionals in the United States, lists the following symptoms for paranoid personality disorder:

suspicious; unfounded suspicions; believes others are plotting against him/her

preoccupied with unsupported doubts about friends or associates

reluctant to confide in others due to a fear that information may be used against him/her

reads negative meanings into innocuous remarks

bears grudges

perceives attacks on his/her reputation that are not clear to others, and is quick to counterattack

Sources: 

Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

National Institute of Mental Health. Mental Health Public Inquiries, 5600 Fishers Lane, Room 15C-05, Rockville, MD 20857. (888) 826-9438. http://www.nimh.nih.gov.