Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Background Checks - ruffling feathers on both sides of the aisle…

No, I am not your typical middle-aged, suburban, housewife and mother.  Frankly, I’m not typical at all.  I don’t see things the way others see them.  I don’t believe the same things others believe.  My thought processes are often far different than friends and relatives.  I try very hard to see the bigger picture, rather than dwell on either the pros or the cons of an issue.  Perhaps the only thing we can all agree on in this country is that no matter what you believe about any given topic, there will always be someone whose beliefs are diametrically opposed to yours.  And that is their right.

We are each a conglomeration of our education, upbringing, religious background, environment, financial circumstances, and work/life experiences.  These are the things that mold us into individuals unduplicated on the planet.  (Yes, I know there are identical twins, but let’s not go there.)  What a horrible world this would be if we all looked the same, talked the same, thought the same, and did the same things…it would be like a remake of The Stepford Wives, 7.08 billion strong!

I’m sure it’s no secret to my political detractors that I am indeed a Democrat.  I tend to think of myself as a moderate, but there are those who would call me a flaming liberal.  I believe in equality under the law.  I oppose war unless it is in response to direct attack, and if we become so engaged, I believe in going in, getting it done, and getting back out.  I support teachers, our armed forces, medical personnel, first responders, and others in professions too numerous to list who provide essential services to our citizens.  I believe that everyone deserves access to adequate healthcare.

And in what many will consider a complete disconnect, I like guns.  I believe in the second amendment, and I believe I should have the right to own and carry a weapon if I so choose.  I have fired all manner of weapons from a snub-nose 22 and a Baby Glock, to a Colt 45 revolver (quite a kick), to an AK-47, to a Remington 700 sniper rifle (my personal favorite).  I also believe in personal responsibility.  That means, if you want to own or carry a weapon, you should be trained, appropriately licensed, and registered.
Yes, I agree, that registration and background checks will not prevent every criminal from obtaining a weapon.  Yes, I agree that there will inevitably be more terrorists or psychopaths who will acquire weapons illegally and use them to evil ends.  But if better background checks and registration stop even a small percentage of such catastrophic events, why would anyone object?
Before you start arguing that the Toomey-Manchin amendment to S 649 the “Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act of 2013” was going to result in confiscation of your weapons, or a creation of a national firearms registry (it in fact prohibited the establishment of such a registry), or limitations on the type of ammunition you could obtain, or restrictions on the size of your clip or magazine, or in any infringement regarding the Constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens, you should probably actually READ the amendment.
If you don’t care enough to slog your way through every word of that amendment and find out for yourself exactly what it proposed, then all you are doing is aping the biased opinions of others, no matter which side of the argument you support.  Because I like guns, and want my rights protected, I did indeed slog through that amendment, all 8,119 words of it.  There was nothing in that amendment for gun owners to fear.
The amendment was voted down, not because it contained any threats to our Constitutional rights, but because there are elected officials who are determined to not compromise with the current administration, regardless of the wishes of their constituents.  Their actions are personally and politically motivated and not in the best interests of their employers (that would be we the people).  I find their actions embarrassing as well as reprehensible.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Boyleston Street, April 15, 2013

Lives, and limbs, and loved ones shattered
as shrapnel and ball bearings battered the innocents on Boyleston Street.
Concussive waves of pressure blew them down; debris, and smoke, and injured
all around the sidewalks and the shops on Boyleston Street.
And hundreds turned and ran into the fray
to help the ones that couldn’t get away,
as screams and sirens mingled in the air
so many helping hands reached out with care.
I watched events unfold with sinking heart
while through the night the ranks of victims mounted.
But so did stories of angels giving shelter, food, and comfort
to so many strangers unknown and uncounted.
I drifted off into a troubled sleep, praying for the victims,
while trying not to weep.
When I woke I realized with crystal clarity,
how often unspeakable horror
brings out the best in our humanity.
No matter how great our sorrow,
no matter how large our defeat,
As a phoenix we rise from the ashes,
like the ashes on Boyleston Street.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Stop the Presses....

I can’t help but comment on a couple of news items that caught my eye this week. 

Number one on the list was the First Lady unintentionally saying she was a busy single mom.  She realized her flub immediately and corrected herself.  I have seen dozens of negative or accusatory explanations for her words.  One person said it was evidence that the President’s marriage is a sham, especially since no one has seen their marriage certificate.  Unless every married couple in the country is framing and hanging their own marriage certificate on a wall, it’s highly unlikely anyone has seen their certificates either. 

Another said that this was an obvious Freudian slip that means either they are pretending to be happily married, or that the First Lady is chomping at the bit for this term to be over so she can dump him and strike out on her own.  Another said she was an embarrassment to our country.  One said everything that comes out of her mouth is a lie.  Another wanted to know how you make that type of mistake.  Then there was the one who insisted that the First Lady said it to get back at the President for his comments about the “best looking attorney general.”  She did this because it is well known that he has had numerous affairs “behind her back” since they were in Chicago.  The criticism goes on, and on, and on. 

My take is, it was nothing more than a slip of the tongue.  This woman has made more speeches in the last 5 years than most of her critics will make in a lifetime.  She speaks frequently about family and about busy and hard-working single mothers.  Trust me when I say that after you have given that speech over and over all across the country, the words flow out by rote.  Saying something unintended happens to me with frequency.  I’m sure it happens to those folks too. Can any of these critics even imagine what it must be like to have to weigh every word that trips across their tongue and have it pounced on by those who wish them ill?  It never ceases to amaze me how those who hate can take one small thing and blow it up into a volcano.  This is not news.  Get over it and move on. 

Second, there were two notable deaths in the news this week and the contrast in reporting about them was huge.  Roger Ebert died at age 70.  He was a much beloved movie critic, one who has entertained me for years.  He was an obviously kind, well-adjusted man who lived out his bout with cancer with a grace and dignity few can muster.  He was an inspiration to those suffering with similar afflictions.  He was honored and eulogized in media across the globe for his contributions to the world of entertainment, as he should have been.

Then there was the notable death of famed rocket scientist, Yvonne Brill, age 88.  A woman ahead of her time if ever there was one, she was denied entry into the engineering program at the University of Manitoba because she was a woman.  Not to be deterred, she pursued a degree in mathematics and graduated from college in 1945.

She worked for Douglas Aircraft and Rand Corporation, among others.  And she worked for NASA.  She invented the propulsion system that remains the standard for keeping satellites in orbit.  Without her there would be no satellite television broadcasts or global positioning.  You would have no use for that TomTom or your Sirius XM radio.  Later on, she worked as the director of the space shuttle's solid rocket motor program.  

She was awarded NASA’s Distinguished Public Service Medal in 2001 and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation in 2011 (which happens to be the highest honor bestowed on an inventor or an engineer in the United States).

This wonderful scientist has been breaking the glass ceiling for over 60 years.  So how does the New York Times start her obituary?

“She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children. ‘The world’s best mom,’ her son Matthew said.”

This was a highly accomplished scientist.  Her obituary should have begun by touting those incredible accomplishments.  Although her beef stroganoff was undoubtedly tasty, unless she was a chef of the stature of Julia Child, starting her obituary with her stroganoff skills was an incredible insult.  Her son’s personal comments, although important and meaningful, do not express her importance to the world at large.  The writer who thought that was appropriate needs to get a clue and should seriously consider a career change.

And just so we’re clear, if I should leave this earthly habitat any time soon, I make lousy stroganoff!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Back from the brink....

I have survived the week, and now feel as though I can once again put pen to paper, or fingers to keys, as the case may be.  I have come to the realization that I’m too old to be doing anything involved in home improvements or moving a family of six from one house to another.  This lesson was learned after scrubbing cabinets, walls, fridges, woodwork, installing a backsplash, cutting and installing trim wood, taping and painting a kitchen, and restoring an old beat-up hardwood floor to its former glory.

Every bone and muscle in my body aches.  Doing this on top of a full time job, choir prep for Easter, hosting a writer’s meet-up, accompanying my mother to radiation treatments, responding to e-mails and blog comments, and multiple runs to the bank, the hardware store, Lowe’s and Home Depot (to name but a few), was more than a bit over the top for the week.  Going full tilt from 5:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. is not for the faint of heart.  I remember when I could operate on 3 hours sleep a night for weeks without feeling the effects.  Those days are long gone.

As I sit here, typing away, knowing it is quarter past midnight, knowing I have to be up at 5:30 for more radiation treatment runs, I breathe a significant sigh of relief.  Meredith, Gary, four kids, three cats, and 99.9% of their possessions are in their new place.  If they ever move again, they are on their own.  Mom has spoken!