Friday, August 02, 2013

Watching the tide go out

Watching the tide go out

 Every day, there is a bit less.
He's no longer angry, but has no sense of humor anymore, either.
No push-button issues anymore, but few memories of the past either.

Got to get some gas for my car, he says.
Daddy, you don't have a car.
Oh yes, I have a car.
Where are you going to drive your car?
He doesn't remember
Even when I mention some of his favorite trips
The drive to Paradise
Up and over the North Cascades Highway.

When I mention the drive past Crater Lake, he wakes up.
You drive up through all the trees, and then suddenly you're out of them.
Then there's ... nothing.
Nothing? There is Crater Lake! Bluest blue in the world.
No memory of that, it seems. Just driving over the treeline.

Or perhaps he means that there was once a mountain,
And it's been blown to smithereens
Leaving only a lake to fill the empty space.

2 August, 2013

Thursday, April 18, 2013


As a followup to my previous post, I can only quote Gabby Giffords, in part:

People have told me that I’m courageous, but I have seen greater courage. Gabe Zimmerman, my friend and staff member in whose honor we dedicated a room in the United States Capitol this week, saw me shot in the head and saw the shooter turn his gunfire on others. Gabe ran toward me as I lay bleeding. Toward gunfire. And then the gunman shot him, and then Gabe died. His body lay on the pavement in front of the Safeway for hours. 
I have thought a lot about why Gabe ran toward me when he could have run away. Service was part of his life, but it was also his job. The senators who voted against background checks for online and gun-show sales, and those who voted against checks to screen out would-be gun buyers with mental illness, failed to do their job. 
They looked at these most benign and practical of solutions, offered by moderates from each party, and then they looked over their shoulder at the powerful, shadowy gun lobby — and brought shame on themselves and our government itself by choosing to do nothing.
Quoted from

Her entire Op-Ed is well worth reading. I hope every United States Senator reads it, and takes it to heart.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Cravens, Courage in the US Senate today

RAGE! That was my first response to the news that the US Senate today was unable to pass even less-than-universal background checks for firearm purchases -- even with a majority, and even with the vast majority of Americans, even gun-owning Americans, even NRA members -- in favor. Now comes discouragement. How will we progress as a country, if over ninety per cent of us are ignored? Only the gun manufacturers and their toadies get their way.

Here are the nays, from

Alexander (R-TN)
Ayotte (R-NH)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Baucus (D-MT)
Begich (D-AK)
Blunt (R-MO)
Boozman (R-AR)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coats (R-IN)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
Cruz (R-TX)
Enzi (R-WY)
Fischer (R-NE)
Flake (R-AZ)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Heitkamp (D-ND)
Heller (R-NV)
Hoeven (R-ND)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Johnson (R-WI)
Lee (R-UT)
McConnell (R-KY)
Moran (R-KS)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Paul (R-KY)
Portman (R-OH)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reid (D-NV)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Rubio (R-FL)
Scott (R-SC)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)

I want to call out the Democrats who voted no, as a Hall of Shame.

Senator Baucus of Montana, for shame.

Senator Begich of Alaska, for shame.

Senator Heitkamp of North Dakota, for shame.

Senator Pryor of Arkansas, for shame.

Senator Reid of Nevada, so much shame on your head.*

I can't begin to express how much disappointment and sadness you have brought to me.

On the positive side, there were Republicans who bucked their party, and they should be called out as well. These Republicans showed as much courage as the roll above earned shame today.

The Roll Call of Courage:

Senator Susan Collins, of Maine, thank you.

Senator Mark Kirk, of Illinois, thank you.

Senator John McCain, of Arizona, thank you.

Senator Pat Toomey, of Pennsylvania, double thanks to you.

Thank you to all of the heroic victims of gun violence who spoke up, who worked, wrote, raised money, and lobbied for gun safety. Thank you to all of you in the majority who voted for gun safety.

There is so much more I want to say, but while feeling so full of rage and sadness, I will refrain. We must be the change we want in the world.

*I've heard that this NAY vote was "merely procedural." I guess time will tell if that is true or not. However, by not reforming the Senate rules when there was a lot of momentum to curb the power of the minority, Harry Reid set the stage for this heart-breaking vote today.

Friday, April 05, 2013

We know better. Why aren't we doing better?

It began with me complaining a bit. My dad said, you're a bit negative tonight. So I turned it around. I said, Dad, we know how to do better. Why aren't we? We have in the past. I grew up in the Fifties, in the decade following the Second World War. We had a Republican president, yet we managed to build the interstate highway system, and send all the returning veterans to college! Of course the top tax rate was above 90%, yet the rich were doing very well. And the average worker was doing well too, and unions were, not coincidentally, very healthy.

So I guess I got used to Stuff Getting Done. As I came to adulthood, I saw the war on poverty, the voting rights act, Medicare, cleaner air, cleaner water -- all efforts to fix big problems in American society. We saw problems, and made real efforts to fix them. What happened to that?

We know that global climate change is getting more extreme, faster and faster now. And we know what to do to slow down the destruction, and even turn things around. And we in the US do nothing, at least on the national level.

At one point, we saw poverty as a terrible national problem. Now we have more poor Americans than ever before, and it's barely mentioned. Half the food that we grow is thrown away, yet more people than ever before are hungry. We used to care about this, and made HUGE progress with the commodities food program, and food stamps, and various welfare schemes, but rather than expand these effective programs, we're shrinking them!

The US puts more people on prison than almost anywhere else on earth. Why? We know how to bring down crime. We've done wonderful pilot projects where young parents are given excellent help to learn to be good parents, and know that that brings down crime rates. We know that high-quality preschool helps kids all the way to college. But we haven't made preschool available for every American child. And many American kids get no sex education, and even more are never taught about how to handle relationships, and use birth control. The result is that American teens have babies at much greater rates than the rest of the Western world. We know what works, but we aren't doing it.

When we sent American GIs to college, the US vaulted into the future. We aren't we sending ALL American kids to college, who want to go? Why are we building more prisons, instead of more colleges?

I could provide many more examples, but they all illustrate the same point. We know what to do, and we're not doing that. Often we're doing the opposite, or rewarding "bad behavior" rather than what serves the country's progress, public health, economy, prosperity, job growth, and on and on.

Why aren't we doing better? My dad had no answer. I know the common answers -- money in politics, growing inequality, etc. But again, we know what we need to do, and we're not doing it. Why not?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Common-sense gun safety legislation

I'm a gun owner. I want common-sense gun safety regulation. What is currently under debate in the US Congress is less than adequate, yet it certainly is better than nothing. If the assault weapons ban had not been allowed to lapse, Adam Lanza (the Newtown shooter) would not have had access to the weapon and 30-round clips he used to murder so many people in less than five minutes. I was upset when the ban was allowed to lapse; first, I couldn't understand why it had a "lapse date" in the first place. For another, the Vice President at the time supported renewing it. Yes, Dick Cheney supported the assault weapon ban. And yet, Congress was so gutless that it was allowed to lapse. The President nor the Vice President back then provided any leadership on the issue, and neither the Republicans nor Democrats seemed to pay a price for their cowardice.

How many hundreds of thousands of Americans have died from gun violence since that happened? Certainly not all of them would have been alive today if we had never decided to allow civilians to own military-style assault weapons, extended magazines, and armor-penetrating bullets. Guns designed to kill lots of people, as quickly as possible. However, many of the mass shootings which have so shocked the nation and the world would not have happened, or at least had fewer dead.

Now we have a chance. We have a President willing to spend his political capital on gun regulation, rather than privatizing Medicare. We have a Vice President willing to spend lots of time and energy on fact-gathering, dialogue with those on both sides of the argument. We have great new groups newly-energized, and willing to spend money and energy to fight the pernicious influence of the NRA.

I want to talk a bit about the NRA. I grew up looking at Daddy's American Riflemen magazines, which were mostly interesting to me because of the photos of gorgeous countryside and animals. I knew Daddy had hunted in the past, but he never shot Bambi while I lived at home. Later he did do some moose hunting in Canada, and I loved eating some of that meat. Back in those days, the NRA stood for the average hunter, and marksman. Sure, there were a few ads for guns, but it seemed that the money Dad sent them was spent on hunter safety classes and such. In those days, the NRA stood for gun safety, in extreme contrast to its present stance. Why the difference? I think it's the source of money. They claim four million members, but the vast predominance of money in the organization comes from gun manufacturers. They actually have protected the gun manufacturers from civil suits! Can you imagine how much more unsafe our cars would be if the car manufacturers were safe from being sued? This fact shocked me, and shows to me what they really care about; the money from their patrons, the gun manufacturers -- no longer the average gun owner.

If you care about this issue, contact your Representatives and Senators. If do not have contact information, the League of Women Voters have the easiest way to find out:
Or simply call the the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (the phone number is (202) 224-3121 locally or toll-free 1-800-962-3524 nationally) and ask for a particular legislator. You can even just leave a short message with the operator. This week, legislators are in their home districts, so you can call or visit their local office if you prefer.

We can allow nothing to happen, or we can provide the impetus for change, if we act. Let's do so.

PS: When gun manufacturers are again subject to suit, I'll be more satisfied.