Sandy Hook

Sandy Hook

Friday, December 12, 2014

Weeping While Congress Sleeps

Fifteen years ago in Denver, I was working on a research project for a reporter when a city editor came running in and yelled, "Stop what you're doing." Without another word she abruptly turned on her heels and stormed out the door, visibly shaken. When she returned a couple of minutes later, tears were falling as she reported the kind of news I never expected to hear in my lifetime.

After she gave me my grim assignment, and as we worked to pull all the harrowing stories and photographs together over the weeks and months that followed, I prayed none of us would ever have to deal with this kind of news story again.

To this day I cannot see a photograph depicting anything remotely related to  the Columbine shooting without losing my composure. I literally cannot hear or even see the word "Columbine" without breaking into tears.

Not only did my hopes and dreams that nothing as horrific as Columbine would ever repeat itself, my dreams literally turned into nightmares that would play over and over again. Two years ago, we lost 20 innocent little angels and six adults, including four dedicated school teachers.

Today, I still weep every time I look at photographs of these innocent little faces and the brave ones who died trying to save them.

Today, I'm still weeping while Congress sleeps.

Further Reading: Deadly School Shootings Since Columbine

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Tennessee Memo: Legislators Sell Their Souls Lock, Stock and Gun Barrel

Right to Bear Arms Co.
The Tennessee Senate passed a bill in February that, according to the Right to Bear Arms Co. in San Diego, CA is a "Great victory for gun owners in Tennessee as their cities and counties will not be able to ban guns from local parks. . . ."

The bill was sponsored by none other than Sen. Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville). The very same Stacey Campfield who brought us the Assault Pressure Cooker (APC). Yep, this fellow sure has an active imagination when it comes to his weapons.

The vote was 26 to 7, which explains one of our problems in Tennessee. We're so red we make Putin look blue.

This past Wednesday, yours truly joined the local chapter of Moms Demand Action in an appearance before the House Subcommittee on Civil Justice to express our dismay over this bill. Well, the "hearing" was civil - sort of - but it was swimming in condescending male chauvinism, the likes of which I haven't seen since I left Nashville 40 years ago. In fact, out of 23 or so members, I think I was the only little old lady there in tennis shoes.

House sponsor Rep. Tilman Goins (R-Morristown), a choir boy looking little fellow, presented his argument which mostly consisted of the usual NRA talking points mixed up with a whole lot of Second Amendment mythology. After all, our boys have been getting plenty of support from the NRA and they're kind of obligated to show their appreciation by giving back - that is, if they want any money in the future.

Telisha Arguelles Cobb, testifying for MOMS, said that the real priority here should be the right of our children to enjoy public parks with the reasonable expectation of being safe and secure. She reminded the men and women who have our lives in their hands that many mayors and even our Republican governor are against the bill.

But, says Rep. Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol) during the discussion that followed, "you" - meaning "you" empty headed little ladies who should stay home and let the big boys handle the affairs of state - "you" may not be aware that every time "you" go to Walmart or a bunch of other places there are people walking around with concealed weapons. "There is no difference." (paraphrased) It was all I could do to keep my big ole mouth shut and my little ole butt on the bench.

Suffice it to say, the representatives on this committee - with the exception of a couple of brave Democrats - were more concerned about their convoluted interpretation of the Second Amendment, keeping the NRA satisfied, and holding sway over Tennessee municipalities.

The bill goes before the full committee next week and then before the full House. With 70 Republicans, one Independent and 28 Democrats, my dog Bo can predict the outcome. If he could vote, he'd vote against it because he likes to go to the dog park and doesn't relish the idea of some human man flaunting his manhood at his expense.

The governor is right in arguing that "this is a property matter and not a constitutional one":
“City councils and county commissions have said, ‘OK, our taxpayers have paid for that park,’ and their elected representatives, I think, should get to decide what happens in the parks,” he told reporters after making a jobs announcement in Dickson. "To me, it’s not a Second Amendment right. It’s the same right anybody should have with a property they control."
I hope he sticks to it but wouldn't it be grand if a politician - left or right - came out and actually put the lives of people above some sick notion that carrying guns comes first? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see what the ugly consequences could be.

If this bill passes
     - What parent is going to take or allow their children to go to the park?
     - What school is going to hold events in parks?
     - What churches and organizations are going to hold picnics at the park?
     - What family is going to gather for a reunion at a park?
     - Who's going to take their dog to the park?
     - Who's going to park at the park?

If this bill passes, we might as well close the parks and return the tax money to the tax payers, because one day the parks will look like this:


If you are on Facebook, please report this page: Selling the Second Amendment

CALL AND EMAIL your TN State Representative and Senator TODAY and tell them you DO NOT want guns in our parks!

Sign this petition to say you oppose guns in our parks.

Guns in parks opponents speak out on WSMV Channel 4

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America:

Moms Demand Action - TN/Nashville

UPDATE - 3/20/14:
A bill allowing permitted gun owners to take a firearm with them into parks despite gun bans put in by local governments was stashed behind the budget by the House Finance Subcommittee Wednesday.

The move is usually viewed as an omen the bill will not pass. The House measure, which passed the Senate 26-7, includes a $38,000 price tag to pay for pulling down signs reading guns aren’t allowed.
Nashville Post 

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Ode to Sarah Palin


There are bitches who are full of glitches
There are witches who have no hitches
There are stitches which fall into ditches.

There are twitches who make our faces itches
There are snitches who we'd like to switches
Sarah Palin is just such a kitsches

Several of my blogging buddies have been discussing this vapid twit on Facebook. Who would ever have thunk that this twit would still be thumping around? In an article from July 4, 2009 entitled Sarah Palin and Her Followers: One Woman's Retrospective I wrote:
I wish her well but seriously doubt that she will ever ask herself what she did wrong, becoming even angrier and bitter over time. I firmly believe that, like so many who are intellectualy challenged, she is as tenacious as a Pit Bull wearing lipstick, going for the jugular and never letting go.
And she has never let go. Everywhere you turn, there she is in all her magnificent frazzled razzle-dazzle.

And the entire media - not just Fox News - treats her like some kind of oracle. On CBS - not surprising with their abrupt swing to the right. On ABC-Chicago. But on Mediate we learn from reading the comments that this vapid know-nothing still has her know-nothing supporters.

Apparently, it takes the Brits to remind us of things Sarah Palin has said that have turned out to be "pure and absolute hokum". I have faith, however, that most American readers - at least those who don't listen to Fox or read Breitbart or World Net Daily - could triple the list for the U.K.'s Indepenent.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Nelson Mandela: His Day Is Done

  Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela
1918 - 2013
Credit: Gideon Mende/Corbis
I've spent a lot of time looking at this photograph and reflecting on this man's life. I see kindness and gentleness in his face, deep intelligence and uncanny wisdom in his eyes. I see character. And dignity. And grace. I see a man with immeasurable intestinal fortitude and strength of character. A man with unfathomable nerves of steel. And a man, like everyman, not without flaws.

In my eyes, the Black Pimpernel was bigger than life itself, so how presumptuous would it be for this unsophisticated white woman in the heart of Red Neck Bible Country to even attempt to capture the essence of the man?  Besides, millions of words have already been written about the life of Nelson Mandela - movies made and songs written. Anything I might add would be redundant.

Instead, let's look at a couple of articles that capture Mandela's influence on other peoples and generations and how the history of South Africa very much parallels our own.

Jelani Cobb writes in the New Yorker about Mandela's politics of forgiveness, and compares him to other revolutionary leaders of his time and to our "kindred histories":
To an extent greater than most Americans recognize, but which Nelson Mandela understood implicitly, the United States and South Africa are products of kindred histories: both founded by settlers, both emerged from wars to overthrow British colonialism, both forged national identities on their respective frontiers. Before the election of Barack Obama allowed this country, albeit briefly, to indulge the idea of postracialism, Mandela was revered here as a proxy for the American past. His capacity to emerge from twenty-seven years in prison without bitterness broadcast the hope that this country’s own racial trespasses might be forgiven.
. . . the architecture of apartheid was explicitly modelled on America’s Jim Crow system of segregation. Decades before Reagan rejected sanctions against the regime or Dick Cheney denounced Mandela as a terrorist, this country had planted its feet firmly on the wrong side of South African history. When Mandela declined to press charges for the past, it was not just white South Africans he was absolving.
Interestingly, just as more radical black organizations accused Mandela of placating whites after the demise of Apartheid, the same types of criticism were and still are leveled at the first black president of the United States - a man  who "began his public career agitating on behalf of the man who became the first black President of South Africa." Hopefully, however, our president will not have to "view the trajectory of "other anticolonial movements" from prison.

It’s entirely reasonable that the first black President of the United States began his public career agitating on behalf of the man who became the first black President of South Africa. It’s also consistent that Barack Obama emerged as a Presidential contender on the strength of the Mandela-esque speech he delivered to the 2004 Democratic National Convention, in which he opined that there was no black America or white America, simply the United States of America. Such sentiment was no truer in post-apartheid South Africa than it was in the United States that night, but it does suggest the political potency of redemption. Mandela has been praised in this country largely for the moral principles he calls to mind. A good part of that adoration, though, is owed to the moral felonies he allowed this country to forget.
Listen to Nokuthula Magubane, a member of the born free generation, as she is being interviewed in her comfortable suburban living room 45 minutes east of Johnnesburg:
“Yes, we were oppressed by white people; yes, it happened; yes, it hurt,” Ms. Magubane said while Mr. Mandela was still clinging to life. “But let us forgive each other so that we can move on fully and contribute fully to the South Africa we want to see in the future.”
Nokutthula's generation are called the born frees, known as millenials in other countries, and were born after or right before the end of Apartheid. Also known as the Mandela generation, they tend toward optimism and "insist that their determination to look to the future and not the past is the greatest tribute they can pay him."
While older South Africans complain about born frees not acknowledging the past, some born frees complain about their parents’ trying to hold them “captive” to it.
“We are constantly reminded of what happened directly by those who were involved in the struggle — as a means of keeping us loyal, they brainwash us by continuously reinstilling fear about what the ‘white man’ has done, about how much pain was caused, how much suffering their generation suffered,” wrote AkoLee, a blogger who says she was 6 in 1994, when Mr. Mandela became president. “They say we are ungrateful for not thinking the same way they do, for questioning what the ‘black man’ is doing.”
Do not older African-Americans who survived Jim Crow and who participated in the Civil Rights movement also worry that the young people of today don't fully appreciate the suffering that their parent and grandparents endured?
Most black South Africans 20 years ago would not have recognized the life that Ms. Magubane leads. A third of her friends are white. She has known many of them since she started school. She calls her white choir leader “Tanni Christine,” or “Auntie Christine” in Afrikaans.
As for Mr. Mandela, she said: “We have seen his example, and now we’re going to follow it. We’re going to take it one step further into the future, and we’re going to build the South Africa that he would have loved to see.”
Maybe, just maybe, the glowing enthusiasm and optimism of youth is indeed the highest tribute this generation of South Africans, and  following generations, can pay Mr. Mandela.

His Day Is Done: A Tribute to Nelson Mandela
Dr. Maya Angelou