Friday, July 27, 2012

This Might Get Loud

“I hope that…we all reflect on how we can do something about some of the senseless violence that ends up marring this country.”
President Barack Obama – 7/22/2012

“The White House has made clear they’re not going to use this horrific event to push for new legislation.  I agree with them.”
House Speaker John Boehner – 7/24/2012

“This is not the appropriate time to be grandstanding about gun laws.”
NJ Governor Chris Christie – 7/24/2012

It has been a week since the shooting in Aurora – a week filled with mourning, sadness, outrage, and sound bytes.  Last Friday morning we learned about the shooting and experienced a few long, hard, uncomfortable hours while waiting to hear from our daughter who lives in Denver.  She’s the one who would think nothing of going to a midnight screening of the new Batman movie, even on a Thursday night.  Our concern and worry gave way to fear and anxiety as the hours passed, until she finally called to let us know she hadn’t gone to the movies and that she was okay. 

Sadly, the parents and families of other kids didn’t get that same phone call and are now left with emptiness, devastation, and memories - incomplete lives snuffed out too early by a lunatic with an assault rifle.  You never think it will happen to you and your family, but then it does and your world gets ripped apart in ways that can’t be fixed.

The reality of life in this country is that none of us are safe any longer.  Not at school.  Not walking on the streets.  Not in a parking lot.  Not at home.  And not in the comfort of a suburban multiplex.  Each year almost 12,000 people lose their lives to gun violence – over 30 people each day.  Although the right to bear arms is protected by the Second Amendment and has been upheld by the Supreme Court, our Founding Fathers never could have imagined the need for assault weapons when they carved out the Bill of Rights.  We can argue and debate the practicality and semantics of the Second Amendment, but there is no reason for anyone outside of the military to own an assault weapon. 

Governor Christie said that we shouldn’t rush to judgment.  That we need to wait and mourn and reflect.  Let more time pass.  But if now is not the time to push for stronger gun laws, especially those that outlaw assault weapons, when exactly is the right time?  Nothing happened after Columbine.  Or the shootings at Virginia Tech.  Or Fort Hood.  Or when Gabby Giffords was shot.  Did anyone complain that we rushed to judgment after 9/11 when lawmakers acted quickly with new legislation and took actions that eroded privacy, eliminated due process in some cases, allowed racial profiling, and took intrusive steps that limited our freedoms?  I cannot even walk through airport security with taking off my shoes or emptying coins and keys from my pockets, but I can buy an AR-15 assault weapon and all the ammo I need without more than a cursory background check.
Just in case I want an AR-15.  And thousands of rounds of ammo.  Because somebody’s interpretation of the Constitution says I can have one…..what if I want a bazooka?

The President said, “My daughters go to the movies.  What if Malia and Sasha had been at that theater?”  But he doesn’t get it – each one of those victims at the theater was somebody’s child.  Somebody who had a life worth living.  Those were our daughters.  Those were our sons. 

All of them were our children.

Obama could have fought to support a Democratic bill that would have reinstated a ban on assault weapons that the Bush Administration let expire, but instead he chose to turn the other way.  He’s choosing to do nothing now.

He’s my guy and I support his presidency, but some times he pisses me off like every other politician does.  We don’t need politicians who understand our pain.  We need leaders who can take action and fix things.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Dear Mr. President

Dear Mr. President-

It’s been a while since you heard from me – in case you forgot, I’m one of the 69,456,897 who voted for you 3+ years ago.  Like many others, I bought into “Change You Can Believe In” hook, line, and sinker.  But that change thing isn’t working out the way we thought it would.  There’s a serious problem going on in this country and you may not even be aware of how bad it is or how many people are affected.  We need jobs.  People are out of work.  Families are hurting.  Children are hungry.  Joblessness has created homelessness.  The economy is in a crash and burn mode, and none of us see anybody inside the Beltway offering real, tangible solutions that will make things better.
So here’s a little advice:
You need to define your presidency by putting people back to work.  Don’t wait until after November when you’ve had your one on one with the gun-slinging capitalist out of Massachusetts.  Do something about creating real jobs now.

Bush the 1st once spoke about “that vision thing” and we all know how his re-election worked out, but you need to get to work on “that job thing” right away.  There’s a lot of talk from Washington about putting people back to work – a lot of back slapping at your own campaign site about tax incentives for small businesses and tax breaks for clean energy.  Investments in manufacturing technologies and patent reform that will bring inventions to market faster.  Seriously?  That’s it?  That’s the sum total of our economic solutions and remedies?  Show that to the guy who just ran out of unemployment benefits after 99 weeks – the same guy who is over-qualified for most jobs he applies to and is unsure which way to turn next.  The guy who is looking at food stamps and welfare because he’s out of options and out of luck and out of work.  I don’t think he really cares about tax breaks – all he wants is a job and a steady paycheck.

That guy can’t take tax incentives to A & P for groceries.

FDR had his New Deal, and from my perspective, things aren’t much different now than they were back in the 1930’s.  The New Deal faced vocal conservative opposition.  So will anything you choose to do.  So what?  Do it anyway.  Get over to Capital Hill and do some lawmaking on jobs and the economy, and if you have to go all LBJ on the opposition to makes things happen, do it.  FDR’s Public Works Administration worked with private companies to build over 30,000 projects like bridges, buildings, tunnels, airports, and roads – we have the same kind of infrastructure and mass transit needs now that we did back then.  Give that same out of work guy a hammer, nails, and a paycheck and let him get busy.

We all wanted to believe in the American Dream with the house, lawn, two kid family, and upwardly mobile status.  We all want to believe that things are getting better.  We all wanted to believe in hope and change.  Hope is a good thing but the guy who is out of work and out of benefits can’t take hope down to Chase or Wells Fargo and use it to pay his mortgage. 

That bright and shiny future we once believed in is a myth. 

It all comes down to jobs.  That’s the only solution we can believe in.