Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Your guns - I call police!

The NRA tells us we will all be much safer if more people are packing.  Guns, guns everywhere ... all kinds of guns!  Guns at home, guns in schools, guns on the streets, guns in stores and restaurants and bars - and in the car, for sure.  Hey, a gun really comes in handy while involved in a road rage incident on the freeway at 70 mph!

So let me tell you what will happen when I see you walk into a store or a restaurant with your AR-15 ... or any other kind of firearm.  I will call police.

Arizona is an open-carry state.  Do I want to change that?  No.  Do I want to take away your firearms?  No.

But know this:  If I see you with your firearm in a public place, I will do what's necessary to 1) protect myself and 2) protect others.  I will slowly retreat and call 9-1-1.

Now, why in the world would I call police when you are a law-abiding citizen?  The answer is simple:

I WON'T KNOW IF YOU ARE A GOOD GUY ... OR A BAD GUY ... you'll just be a guy with a gun, and I'm not going to take a chance on guessing incorrectly.

Nothing will happen to you, but you will be inconvenienced.  Police have no choice but to stop and question you - and people will be watching and probably taking photos/videos with their phones.  You'll go viral in minutes! Once you have convinced officers that you're packing just because you want to show off what a manly man you are, they will let you go.  

I will be thankful that you didn't open fire on innocent people, but I will also reflect on what might have happened.  And, perhaps you should reflect, too.  Maybe someone else in that store will be armed as well - and won't bother calling law enforcement. The possibilities are numerous - and none are pleasant.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Did I lie to my students?

I was driving around running errands today and listening to NPR news - and I nearly cried.  It suddenly occurred to me that my former students probably think "that old woman lied to us."  

You see, when teaching U.S. History and U.S. Government, I always covered the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the rest of the Amendments.  I used many primary sources to teach the subject: minutes of the meetings and conventions, Federalist Papers, letters and notes from one founder to another, and memoirs written by those men involved in the drafting of those extraordinary documents.

My students spent a little extra time on the First Amendment because when one looks at those primary sources, it becomes clear that our nation's founders considered the First Amendment to be the most important amendment to the U.S. Constitution. And when you think about it ... without the First Amendment, the rest mean nothing!  Really ... without the First Amendment, the rest are useless! In case anyone needs a reminder:

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Religion, Speech, Press, Assembly and Petition. Interpretation of this amendment is far from easy, as court case after court case has tried to define the limits of these freedoms.  Example:  Your free speech rights don't give you the right to yell, "Fire!" in a crowded theater because that endangers the lives and safety of others.  Example:  Burning your American flag is not a crime because the flag is a symbol of freedom, not freedom itself.

And all of this brings me to the current controversy surrounding some NFL players who are petitioning their government (yes, that's exactly what they are doing) by kneeling during the National Anthem. They are protesting the social injustice that exists in America.  This country's president made their protest a cause celebre because his approval numbers are way down and he needs his supporters to chant his name.  So he changed the narrative, claiming the protest is against the flag, the National Anthem, the military and who knows what else ... maybe even apple pie and the iPhone.  And his supporters bought it - hook, line and sinker.

Then the Vice-President spent a few minutes at an NFL game and walked out in protest when some NFL players took a knee.  That little display of "patriotism" cost taxpayers about $242,000 and had been staged prior to the trip.

And today, the NFL commissioner asked all NFL teams to stand during the National Anthem with a namby-pamby statement of unity, blah, blah, blah.  It is interesting to note that the commissioner's  statement comes after the president threatened to yank the NFL's tax-exempt status.  Can the president actually do that on his own?  I don't know.  

But what I do know is that my former students have just witnessed the president, vice-president, NFL commissioner and probably some of their friends, co-workers and family members ... all take nasty jabs at the First Amendment, just more attempts to tear it apart.  I'm sure those young people are wondering why I made such a big deal about the importance of that amendment ... not only to our country, but to their individual lives.  

And they might think I lied to them.  When I look around at the angry faces of people who are more than willing to chip away at the First Amendment ... well, maybe I did lie.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Just don't do it!

Today's news reminds me of the old joke about the doctor and his patient.  The man walks in and twists his arm around and says, "Doc, it hurts when I do this."  And the doctor replied:  "Then stop doing that!"

This is my message to folks who are offended that some NFL players are silently kneeling during the National Anthem:  Simple - don't watch!  But more on that in a moment.  

This reminds me of my tattoo.  Yes, at the age of 68, I got a small tattoo on my ankle.  Why?  Because I've wanted to get one since I was 18 and figured, really, at this point in my life I should be able to do it.  However ... when I took a substitute job at my old high school, some teachers were super upset!

"Why in god's name did you get a tattoo?"

"That makes you look like trailer trash ... you know that, don't you?"

"Why would you do THAT to yourself?" 

My reply is simple:  If my small, plain tattoo offends you so much, then why do you continue looking at it?  Huh?  I got the tattoo on July 31 and I will bet that on August 1, every person on this planet went about their day as usual because ... my tattoo doesn't affect anyone but ME!  But, you see, these teachers couldn't stand the fact that I did something they won't do - and they felt the need to criticize me for it even though it doesn't affect them at all.

Same with the current NFL protests.  If seeing an NFL player kneel silently during the National Anthem offends you, then don't watch!  Don't put yourself through that horror!  Just use your clicker to go to another channel for two minutes.  Take a trip to the bathroom or the kitchen.  I'm sure you need to refill the chip bowl and grab another beer.  So simple, really.  If you CHOOSE to watch, then you are a masochist and I'm sure there are therapists who can help you deal with that.  But I'm telling you how to handle it without charging you a penny!

It's quite clear that you are willing to restrict their 1st Amendment rights so I won't even address that.  And it's obvious that even though their peaceful protest doesn't affect your life in any way, you are more than willing to criticize them ... and you want to force them to do it YOUR way.  I won't address that, either.

I'm addressing what you can control:  YOUR actions.  So ... just don't watch!  It will make you feel better ... really, it will.  If you must listen to the National Anthem prior to the start of the game, simply turn your back to the TV.  Put your hand over your heart.  And thank your lucky stars that you live in a country where you have the freedom to make that choice.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Wearing my RESIST t-shirt!

You will find that this post is much like the last one I made in March ... but time does move along and I think the theme is just as important - maybe more so.

Yes, I live in a red state.  Good 'ole Arizona keeps electing Republicans no matter who they are or what they do.  So, it's pretty obvious that when I wear my RESIST t-shirt, I stand out in the crowd.  That shirt attracts some attention, not all of it positive.  But sometimes - like today - it gives me a chance to inform and educate.

I was checking out at the grocery store and the cashier said, "You're resisting, huh?"  I politely told her that I am resisting because my values are being assaulted and I really need to do something.  She said she tries to keep up with things, but it's getting so depressing, she mostly stays away from the news.  The 20-something young man who was busy bagging my groceries was listening. I remarked that if we don't pay any attention and remain silent, our lawmakers assume that silence means we agree with what they are doing.  

Young man: "I don't get why it's so important to know about the government."

Well, the social studies teacher in me saw visions of quick lesson plans and a semi-captive audience.  I had just a few moments before all my groceries were bagged and in the cart.

Me: "The government affects your life every single day and I can prove it."

Young man  (grinning ... hey, what does the old lady know, right?):  "Okay, prove it."

Me: "How did you get to work today?"

Young man: "My car."

That's when I went into my spiel about mandatory auto insurance (state government), auto safety standards (federal government), fuel taxes (federal/state), car loan interest (depends on prime rate set by feds), driver license (state), vehicle registration (state), traffic signs/lights (city government), speed limits (city), street maintenance (city) .....

Now my groceries were bagged and in the cart and I started to leave, telling the young man that government goes way beyond just his car!  The cashier said, "Thank you!" and so did the man in line behind me.  The young man wanted to know if I needed help and I thanked him for the offer, but told him I could handle it.  However ... he took the cart and started to the door!

Outside, he asked for more since I only told him about his car.  So ... in blistering heat, I told him as much as I could about other ways the government affects him every single day.  

Young man (after finishing loading my groceries in the car):  "Okay, you proved it.  But do I have to watch all the news and know everything?"

Me: "No.  But you certainly should make an effort to keep somewhat informed so you can find out if you like what our elected officials are doing ... or not.  Then you need to let them know.  YOUR views are important but they mean nothing if you don't share them with the people who make the laws that affect you."

He grinned ... did a funny little salute thing ... and said, "Just wait 'til I tell my friends!  They don't know any of this stuff!"

I think I need to buy a couple more RESIST t-shirts.  😊

Thursday, March 16, 2017

"I'm not into politics"

I was early for an appointment today and it was just me and the nice receptionist sitting in the very small lobby.  She is about 40 years old, nice dress, immaculate hair, great makeup.  Somehow, politics came up and she said:

"Oh, I'm not into politics."

Then she looked a little embarrassed and tried to explain by saying that politics and government just  don't affect her.  WRONG thing to say to a history/government teacher.  ::sigh::

So, I asked her to name the very first thing she did when she woke up in the morning - the very first thing.  She said, "I turn the light on."  Okay ... so I explained public utilities and the Arizona Corporation Commission, rates, etc.  Aha!  Government/politics involved in the very first thing she does in the morning.  

Then we went on to the bathroom, water, water/sewage rates, clean and safe water ... yep, government/politics involved in the water she flushes, drinks, bathes in.  And ... how government failed (and is still failing) in Flint, Michigan.

Breakfast.  Uh, huh ... food labeling, food safety, food packaging, food prices, farm subsidies, utilities for cooking and preserving the food.  Yep, government/politics involved before she even gets dressed in the morning.

By the time the tax guy was ready for my appointment, the receptionist had gotten in her car for the little exercise I had given her.  Mandatory auto insurance, auto safety regulations, road maintenance, traffic signs, fuel taxes, driver license, license tax ... yep, government/politics involved in her transportation.

This woman was more than a little surprised at how much government (therefore politics) is DIRECTLY involved in her life.  And she hadn't even gotten to work yet!

As I was headed down the hall for my appointment she asked how she could learn more.  I suggested she read ... and figure out what is really important to her.  That's the best I could do in the short time I had.

"I'm not into politics."   Well, honey ... politics is into you,  so get your head out of the sand and find out what's going on.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Because of women who marched ...

On January 21, 2017 women marched.  The Women's March in Washington, D.C. alone brought in 440,000 people. Crowd scientists told the New York Times that the march was three times the size of Donald Trump's inauguration crowd.  And don't forget ... the Women's March was not limited to Washington, D.C. Organizers list at least 673 sister marches from places like Russia, Indonesia, and Antarctica, with attendance of about 5 million. 

It was a day of empowerment.  But if you were on Facebook that day, or a few days after, you could read the conservative comments - written by women.  And those comments dismissed the march as being "silly" or "feminazi" or "ridiculous and unnecessary."  Oh, yes, the right wing had a field day and I expected as much.  What I didn't expect is that women would be that petty in response to a march that centered mostly around women's issues ... in other words ... human issues.

And then I read this.  I sure wish I had written it, but I didn't.  It is attributed to Ann B. Adams.  I don't know if she wrote it or if she shared someone else's words, but it needs to be repeated.


To all my conservative friends mocking and complaining about the Women's March on Washington and around the world, a gentle reminder:

Every time you go into the voting booth to choose your candidate - Republican or Democrat - you are doing so because of women who marched.

Every time you refill birth control so that you may plan and decide the best time for your family to have children (or how many), you are doing so because of women who marched.

Every time you go to a job outside the home to provide for you or your family, you are doing so because of women who marched.

Every time you open a checking account or credit card, buy property,  or make an independent financial decision, you are doing so because of women who marched.

The things you have today are the product of protest, social unrest, activism, and resistance.  Even the most anti-feminist 21st century woman still lives in the shadows of female activists who were willing to fight for generations they would never know.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

You might be a Liberal!

Yes, you read the title correctly:  you might actually be a Liberal.  You just don't know it.  And you don't know it because the political right-wing has been filling your head with crap for so long that you might not even know what "liberal" really means these days - or how liberals affect your lives on a daily basis.

Do you like the idea that women have the right to vote?  Liberals brought us the 19th Amendment, so if you're a woman and you like casting a ballot right along with men, then you are supporting a liberal idea.

Let's talk about work for a little bit, shall we?  Are you glad employers can't force you into working 60-75 hours a week like they used to be able to do?  Really?  Well, you can thank liberals for the 40-hour work week AND overtime!  Yeppers ... any time you make more money because you worked past that 40 hours a week, you might want to find a liberal and buy him a cup of coffee.  Oh, and have you ever been hurt on the job?  Liberals gave us the Workers Compensation Act!  And for veterans, liberals came out with the G.I. Bill of Rights.  I know three veterans right now who are using that to pay for higher education.  I wonder if they appreciate liberals as they are attending classes.  I doubt it; they are all right-wing conservatives who appear to love the benefits, but hate those who made the benefits possible.

Speaking of education!  Thousands and thousands of Americans (me included) made use of Pell Grants and Guaranteed Student Loans to get our college degrees.  Yep ... those pesky liberals wanted to make it possible for all Americans to continue their education past high school.  And for the little guys, liberals used real data and learned that the earlier children can be a part of an organized educational setting, the better chances of academic success they will have later.  So ... they gave us Operation Head Start.

Do you like the fact that you have clean, safe water to drink?  Then thank liberals for the Clean Water Act.  Of course, if you are in Flint, MI then you are probably still forced to drink bottled water because the conservatives running that city haven't made the repairs or rebuilds needed to bring clean water to all residents.  And the conservative-run Congress refused to appropriate any money for the repairs/rebuild.  Meanwhile, children in Flint are being monitored for - and treated for - lead poisoning.

If you're a senior like I am, you might just appreciate Social Security and Medicare!  I know I do!  I paid into it and now it's time to get some of it back.  Liberals gave us both.  Social Security lifted millions of older people out of poverty ... and it still does.  And without Medicare, I suspect there would be a health care crisis worse than any we've seen to date.  Thank you, liberals, for understanding the "promote the general welfare" clause of the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution!  Welfare = well being.  Promote the well-being of the citizenry.

Liberals gave us the Peace Corps.  Our people go to developing/third world countries to teach them how to farm and educate and develop their economies.  Imagine that ... we send people to help those countries instead of bombing the crap out of them!  What a concept!

Liberals gave us desegregation and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  For liberals, it boils down to equality and that which is promised in the 14th Amendment:  equal protection of the laws.  There are no exceptions.  Equal protection of the laws ... period.  

Voting Rights Act of 1965.  Do you like the idea that every qualified person in this country should have easy access to the ballot box?  You do?  Well, then, you need to know that liberals gave us that law.  

How about a balanced federal budget?  Conservatives talk a big game, but the last time since 1970 that we had a balanced federal budget was when Bill Clinton was President and the liberals controlled Congress.  The U.S. government suffered budget deficits every year from 1970 through 1997. Democrat Bill Clinton was president in 1998, when the government finally recorded a surplus. There also were budget surpluses in 1999, 2000 and in 2001. 2001 was the last year the Clinton administration proposed the budget.  Next came conservatives who nailed us with a budget deficit once again.

Health care reform ... there's Obamacare!  Yes, about 20 million people with health insurance, most of whom didn't have it before because of pre-existing conditions or lack of money to pay the premiums.  Actually, this was a conservative plan that liberals turned into a reality.  And now, conservatives want to dump it all and start all over instead of simply fixing what needs to be fixed ... and who gives a hoot about the Americans who will lose that health safety net! 

Listen ... you probably support much of the above.  You just didn't know liberals gave it to you - and that conservatives fought all of it tooth and nail.  The list is much longer than the items discussed in this piece ... all liberal ideas brought to you by people who understand that equality and general well-being of the citizenry are essential to our country.

I am proud to be a liberal.