Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A Shift

And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They're quite aware of what they're going through

~~ "Changes" by David Bowie

Since the shooting in Parkland on Friday, I have been very emotional. Ken would say, "How is that different from every day?" Fair enough. I've been more emotional than I usually am. 

The shooting itself was obviously horrific and worthy of tears. But you know what is really getting to me?

Seeing these kids speak up and speak out. Their words are powerful. Their resolve is powerful. 

THEY are powerful. 

I honestly don't know what will happen. The Florida state legislature refused to take up a ban on assault weapons today. But I don't think these remarkable young people are done yet. 

And doesn't something feel different this time? I think it does. 

After Sandy Hook, it felt different, too. I submitted a petition to the White House site (this is back when the White House cared about people) to ban assault rifles and high-capacity clips. I got some support but not enough to generate a response from the White House. I thought for sure that after 20 kids were gunned down, our Congress would act. 

I was wrong. 

This feels different. This feels like a seismic shift in this debate, much like the MeToo movement felt like a seismic shift in our culture about how we treat women. 

It was dismaying today to see the attacks on these kids, often from Russian bots and trolls, but also from the "president's" idiot son, Junior. Accusing them of being deep state shills and other such nonsense. How utterly disgusting, and utterly unsurprising, to see these people dismiss and discount these kids' genuine horror, rage, and sorrow at seeing their friends and classmates gunned down in cold blood. 

The "president" blamed the FBI for devoting too much time on the Russian investigation. Sure, because the FBI has only one investigation and only a handful of employees. Over 12,000 agents and over 35,000 employees can multitask, asshole. A pox on you and your horrible family.

On April 20th, the twentieth anniversary of the Columbine shooting, kids are planning a nationwide walk-out. On March 24th, they are planning a march on Washington, D.C., and I am hopeful that there will be marches all across the country, including in my own city. I will be proud to join them. 

Again, I have no idea what will happen. But this really does feel different. I think people have had it with the NRA, which used to be an organization that taught gun safety for hunters and advocated for responsible gun ownership. They've turned into shills for the gun manufacturers and the gun lobby and as far as I'm concerned, they are a terrorist organization. Fuck you, NRA, and fuck you, Wayne LaPierre. There is so much blood on your hands that you will never erase the stain. 

A ch-ch-ch-change is coming. 

Beth's Books: A Political Two-fer

I'm a little consumed with politics right now and the two books I've read so far have both been political books. Why only two books so far? Especially when I have a goal of 52 every year? I'll explain in a moment.

But I'll say now that I realize that I need to step away from political books for a bit and get back into reading for sheer pleasure. Something that takes me away rather than depositing me directly in the midst of the current shitshow that is American politics.
I probably read a short book every day with all the political stories I read. It is probably time to get back to reading some fiction, some science books, and even political books, but maybe from a historical viewpoint. I have a copy of All the President's Men to read.
Not that that has anything to do with what is happening now.
The first book I read this year was Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win by Luke Harding.
My initial thought after reading this book was that this entire administration is rotten to the core. It is a well-researched book that provides all the sordid details of the questionable Russian dealings of people like Paul Manafort and Carter Page. It is no surprise that Robert Mueller has charged Manafort with multiple counts. I suspect that there will be more to come.
I was also struck by the sheer arrogance of people like Manafort who seem to think that they won't be caught. I look forward to watching Mueller reduce him to mincemeat.
The second book is the current NYT nonfiction #1, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff.
I've often thought about how much I would love to talk to certain politicians or people in that arena. The Obamas. The Clintons. The Bidens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, even. People like James Comey and Robert Mueller. People who are intelligent, informed, thoughtful, have interesting viewpoints and interesting stories, even if I don't necessarily agree with their viewpoints.
I've been fortunate enough to talk to a few here and there. My Mayor, Pete Buttigieg, is a super smart, great guy. I've had a chance to talk with the former Speaker of the House of the Indiana state legislature, Pat Bauer. I've gotten to say hello to one of my Senators, Joe Donnelly. I even had a nice conversation with Martin O'Malley, who was smart and engaging and asked me and Ken about some Indiana political issues.
It took me forever to read this book because I realized how completely boring the "president" is. He is not smart. He is not informed. He doesn't have a thought in his head other than how something relates to him. He has no idea how to engage or connect with others.
He's the guy who, if I were talking to him at a party, I'd figure out a way to extricate myself because I'd be rolling my eyes at his complete and utter self-absorption and lack of intellect.
The only enjoyable parts of this book were the ones about James Comey and Robert Mueller because they seemed to be the only ones in the whole thing with a shred of decency and integrity. (Also because of my Comey Crush.)
I can't NOT recommend it but I can say that it was not a particularly edifying read.
If you had to pick between the two, choose the former. There is a lot more research and detail there.
Happy (sort of) reading and remember to vote in your primaries and in November.