Thursday, April 26, 2007

Recently the First Lady Laura Bush appeared on the Today Show she proceeded to stick her foot in her mouth so badly she almost kicked herself in the butt.

Video Clip

ANN CURRY: Do you know the American people are suffering… watching [Iraq]?

LAURA BUSH: Oh, I know that very much, and, believe me, no suffers more than their president and I do when we watch this. And certainly the commander-in-chief who has asked our military to go into harm’s way.

AC: What do you think the American people need to know…

LB: Well, I hope they do know the burden of worry that’s on his shoulders every single day for our troops. And I think they do. I think if they don’t, they’re not seeing what the real responsibilities of our president are.

AC: It must be hard for you to watch him in this.

LB: It’s hard. Of course, it’s absolutely hard.

Why gee I believe there is something in there that bears repeating. “Believe me, no suffers more than their president and I do when we watch this”. OK let me see if I can calm down enough to write something mildly coherent.

Laura Bush dares compare her suffering to that off all the soldiers who have come back with missing limbs, eyes and skull. Laura Bush dares to say her and her husband are suffering worse than the mother or wife of a dead soldier. She seems to think that they are the burdened ones. The president who has taken more vacation than any other in history is horribly burdened by this war. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t want to invite Cindy Sheehan in for coffee. He has a guilty conscience. Though I kind of tend to doubt that. If he had a conscience he would have been institutionalized after all the suffering he allowed to go on in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

It’s not a matter of conscience it’s an utter lack of context. Let’s face facts. The Bush family hasn’t missed a lot of meals or paychecks or had creditors knocking on their door or buried a lot of their young because the hospital refused them. I would guess the Bush family’s definition of suffering is a might bit different than other people’s. Remember after Hurricane Katrina hit and all those people have to go sleep in the Astrodome and Barbara Bush, the president’s mom said this stupid spiteful thing? “Almost everyone I've talked to says, “We're gonna move to Houston.' What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas... Everybody is so overwhelmed by the hospitality, and so many of the people in the arenas here, you know, were underprivileged anyway. This is working very well for them.” [Source] You see kids the Bush family doesn’t seem to have a really good handle on this whole suffering thing. To them suffering means only one type of bottle water available at the tennis court or getting to the restaurant too late to get the risotto. It would seem that somewhere in Laura’s mind she really is suffering worse than anyone. She’s too insulated to realize anything else. Living in the White House and being the governor of Texas’ wife and having a husband that went from being addicted to nose candy and hooch to being addicted to Jesus can’t leave one terribly grounded in the reality the other 300 million Americans endure.

So Laura either needs to live the life of a single mom trying to raise three kids or the reality of a young wife carrying for her husband who is now a brain damaged veteran of the Iraq War or she simply needs to get better handlers to tell her what to say. I doubt she would do the first two.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

In the wake of the shootings at Virginia Tech there has been a renewed interest in the debate over gun control. Of course this fervor over gun control will last about another week and then the public will move on and worry something else. Perhaps another celebrity will pass under odd circumstances. Those seem to be quite the attention grabbers.

But that aside what about gun control? What of this “hot button” issue? It does seem to stir up rather vigorous debate. Of course by vigorous debate I mean people yelling at each other and solving nothing. It does spark some rather passionate responses. But I think most of that can be attributed to the fact that gun control, like abortion, really seems to stir up the extremes of the issue. You don’t hear a lot out of the moderates on gun control. You only seem to hear from the NRA that thinks Americans need .50 caliber machine guns and assault weapons or you hear from the ban guns and let’s all go share our feeling over a latte crowd.

So what’s a sane person to do? Let me try and explain where I stand on the issue, which is an odd mixture or pragmatism, realism and maybe dash of resignation.

Let’s be honest for a moment. But just a moment I don’t want to seem pushy. Americans are armed to the teeth and that isn’t going to change. This is an armed madhouse we live in and the inmates are running the asylum. So unless we send in, rather ironically, armed guards into every house and have them forcibly remove all the guns we aren’t going to disarm. So we need to be a bit smarter about guns. Plus I realize that there are legitimate non-criminal reasons for owning a firearm.

If you want to hunt I say go for it. But the weapons that are actually good for hunting are stuff like shotguns and rifles. The shotguns aren’t off the sawed off variety. The rifles aren’t of the semi-automatic kind. So if someone wants to own a 30/30 bolt-action rifle for hunting I’m ok with that. If they want an Uzi for the same purpose I have issues.

If some wants to target shoot I’m ok with that. Though I would suggest that archery is a more ancient and more difficult discipline and might also be worthy of your time. But if you want to stand around shooting clay pigeons and paper targets fine. So be it. But again you don’t need Uzis and such for this purpose.

If you feel the need to protect your home and family with a firearm, I’m sort of ok with that. Though I have doubts about how effective a burglar deterrent a gun really is. I recognize that some people, for whatever reason derive piece of mind from having a weapon at the ready. If you do I think there needs to some restrictions. Licensing would be a nice touch. Somehow having a well-educated gun owner makes me sleep better. Having someone brandishing a weapon that learned all their firearm skills from Clint Eastwood movies makes me uneasy. So some licensing and gun education would be nice. Also you don’t need some high capacity firearm to protect your invaluable collection of Don Ho records. Chances are you will never discharge the weapon. Much less put 15 rounds into a guy. So a six shots tops seems logical to me.

As you can tell from my tone I’m not a fan of guns. I wish we had never invented the stupid things. The Chinese when they invented gunpowder used it for fireworks. Then those goofy blue-eyed Europeans got a hold of it and the rest is blood soaked history. Some days I wish I were born a rattlesnake. It would be an improvement. At least I understand why rattlesnakes kill.

I know we’re not going to disarm. The pro-gun folks are right in that if somebody wants somebody else dead bad enough they’ll find a way to kill them. Cain and Abel started a downward spiraling trend. But the problem guns have mad killing to easy to impersonal. It used to be if you wanted a guy dead you at least had to lay your mitts on the guy or look him in the eyes. Now with the modern technological curse that is the gun. You can drive by a guy’s house and kill him without even seeing his face. The weak can slaughter the strong and the coward can kill the brave. It seems horribly unnatural to me.

I know the NRA is fond of trumpeting every time someone stops a robbery or whatever with their personal firearm. They don’t seem to trumpet all the drive by shootings and armed robberies. They’re not so quick to point out all the accidental gun deaths. They’re none too proud of all the people that think this life totally sucks and put in a gun in their mouth to end their pain. Selective observation gets us nowhere. We need to understand that guns while unfortunately necessary are powerful and horrible machines.

I know this debate is really about human nature and not guns. Anything that gives people power needs to be addressed with some skepticism be it guns, government or religion. As much as I want to be hopeful for the human race it‘s hard. We keep finding new ways to destroy and control our fellow human beings. Ultimately this gun debate will rage on until people decide to not live in fear and to treat each other more considerately.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

So what have I learned by watching the news today? Well Don Imus said some very naughty things about the Rutgers women’s basketball team and got suspended from his job as a radio talk show host. I also learned who the daddy of Anna Nicole Smith’s baby is. Since it’s not me and it was no one that would make the media have a seizure, like OJ Simpson, I don’t care. Never really did think the kid was mine or care for that matter.

I’ve also picked up that John McCain thinks that Baghdad is as safe as Mayberry to walk around. Of course when 22 armed soldiers flank you, 10 armored Humvees and two Apache helicopters escort you, safety is kind of relative.

Of course the media covered McCain’s visit so well, because he is running for president. Apparently now the Presidential elections start in earnest right after the mid-term elections. This is a bad idea. Let me explain.

For one having these long drawn out elections makes for a lot of political burnout. If you think it’s rough seeing attacks ads on TV for a few months during an election. Try sitting through years of talking heads blabbering back and forth on TV about it. The apathy could be overwhelming. Americans are already alarmingly apathetic towards voting and politics in general. Force it down their throats for two years and their going to stay home on election Tuesday.

Also these long drawn elections favor the well-connected politicians with lots of ability to raise money. Generally this money comes from people who expect something in return. You would have to be a naïve little monkey to believe that candidates are drawing tens of millions of dollars from people making small donations. If we are ever going to end the cycle of presidents who are beholden to big business, we have to change the way elections are run. By allowing candidates years now to have fundraisers where big businesses pay thousands for a dinner and later expect to have the ear of the candidate we are never going to break this cycle.

Of course the media will more than likely coronate a candidate on February 5th 2008 when 20 states have their primaries. The media has taken to calling it Super Duper Tuesday. I’m not making that up. I wish I were. So all the primaries that follow good old Super Duper Tuesday might be utterly irrelevant. Somehow the idea of one day to hold all the primaries and caucuses just gets more tempting all the time. Why shouldn’t the whole country have a say in who gets to run for President from each party? We don’t hold the elections on separate days why hold the primaries on widely separated dates and make so many of them essentially meaningless?

As you might be able to tell, I’m suffering burnout. I know it’s necessary to keep an eye on the news and politics and I don’t hate it but I don’t love it either. It’s easy to burn out when so much of it seems so wrong.