My memories of 9/11/2001

I have two very strong memories about 9/11. September 11, 2001 was a beautiful morning. We'd been living in our home for a little over a year, and were clearing some of the land to build a barn. We'd borrowed a friend's tractor-mounted wood chipper and were chipping up cedars as we cut them. That morning, Mark couldn't get it started. We were still fairly new to town, and didn't know who might be able to fix it. I came inside to call a friend who'd lived here many years and ask her. When she answered the phone, I knew something was wrong. This is a woman who just didn't get shaken up easily, but she sounded as if she'd lost the world- something in the tone of her voice. I asked her what was wrong, and she asked if I'd been watching TV, which we hadn't, we'd been outside chain sawing down "cedars" since first light. She told me that a plane had struck the towers in NYC and that she didn't know what was going on. She said I should turn on the TV, which I promptly did, and watched in horror. I watched, dumbstruck for several minutes, then remembered Mark out on the tractor. I ran out to tell him that planes had flown into the World Trade Centers and that he should come watch. He didn't believe me at first, said I MUST be mistaken, then I think he saw the look on my face. He turned off the tractor and ran inside with me. We spent most of the rest of the day, like so many of us, glued to the TV, watching in horror as the towers came down. We heard the reporters speaking of people jumping to their deaths, and cried along with the rest of our nation and much of the world.

The other memory that is linked with 9/11 was our adoption. We'd had one referral a year or so earlier, but 6 months into it, when they finally did the DNA test, they found that the woman relinquishing little Flor de Maria was actually no biological kin to her. She was arrested, little Flor was taken from the only home she'd ever known (her foster mother's home) and placed in a government orphanage. We'd tried to find out where she was, and offered to pay to place her in a better orphanage, as the government ones were notoriously poorly-run, over-crowded and under-staffed, but were told we "had no right to know anything about the child"- the baby we'd loved for 6 months, who we'd visited and held the month before. It was devastating.
In August of 2011, we'd told them we were finally ready to move forward with another referral, but that we wanted a DNA test done before we even saw photos of the baby. They'd called us the last week of August, told us they had a referral and that they were getting the DNA test done. As it turns out, they accidentally mailed us the referral package, with photos, before the test was done. We'd put it up, refusing to even look, until we knew for sure this child was legally able to be relinquished, but we were on pins and needles, wanting to see if this was indeed to be our daughter. The DNA test was done, and was in the air, on its way to the lab in New Jersey on 9/11. Of course, the plane was landed, and everything stood still for our adoption, too. They finally ended up driving everything, so the DNA test did get to NJ, a few days later, and we found out in late Sept. that the woman relinquishing this baby was indeed her biological mother, so we opened the package and accepted the referral of our Lettie.

In my mind, Lettie's life is tied up with 9/11. Her DNA test being slowed down by all the landed planes, but also that in her lifetime, there has only been 1 month and 2 days that the US was not at war, and she is 15 now. She, and all children, deserve a world without constant, ongoing war, but how do we get there? I feel like we've spent the last 15 years fighting, and it doesn't seem to be getting much, if any, better. Should we try something different? I know that is "sacrilege" to some, but when doing the same thing over and over gets basically the same results- more carnage, more radicalized males and now females, too, maybe we need to consider a different path, but certainly not hate-filled one of the GOP Presidential nominee.

This is a day for remembering- what we were doing, how we remember this day, how our lives, and the lives of people all over the world have been changed since then.Tomorrow, we need to talk more about how we go forward, how we make this a better world, so that children aren't living in a war-world for all of their lives. I believe we owe that to our children.

For all who lost their lives on this fateful day 15 years ago, my heart goes out to their family and friends. For all who have had their lives irrevocably changed in the wars since, my heart goes out to you and your families. We need to do all we can for our veterans who are fighting, but also for the people who live in those parts of the world where they truly don't know what the next minutes bring. Hug your families today, remember that some folks didn't get a chance to say "goodbye." Life is precious.

 

Posted on 11 Sep 2016, 6:39 - Category: 9/11



Republicans bury their head in sand, betting lives that climate change isn't real

In mid-June, Congress passed an amendment to the Department of Defense authorization bill to block funding for military planning to prepare for climate change.  Every Democrat voted against the amendment, but almost every Republican, including those in the Texas delegation, voted for it, thus denying critical resources to our military. 

This amendment is a serious mistake, and now we can only hope that the Senate does not agree to adopt it in conference committee. We expect our military to keep us safe, now and in the future, and that requires planning. They deserve our full support in that incredibly difficult mission.    

The amendment to block funding for this vital planning is a mistake for at least three reasons:

First, it undermines our military.  Since the George W. Bush Administration, the Department of Defense has identified climate change as a serious threat. Climate change is expected to cause a host of security issues, including water and food shortages, mass migrations of people, humanitarian crises and conflict over water resources. Rising sea levels are expected to endanger critical naval infrastructure. Texas has 367 miles of coastline, rising seas will affect us directly. Climate change has serious implications for threat development, weapons acquisition and personnel training. Our military fully recognizes these challenges, and has identified the need for careful planning to prepare for them. Even Republican mayors in Florida are starting to work on raising their street levels and considering the impact rising waters are already having on their towns. This is responsible management, and we should support it.

Second, blocking planning now will cost more money and create more risk in the future.  According to a report by Politico, military experts say that effective planning now would save money in the long run. Failing to account for the effects of climate change will also create the risk that the military is ill-prepared for future engagements, lacking the right equipment, skills and strategies to respond to future challenges. That means more resources will be required and, even more concerning, risks will be higher than necessary.

Third, this action ignores the reality of climate change and the will of the American people. The vast majority of climate scientists have concluded that climate change is a serious risk, as have the climate experts working for the military. Republicans in Congress have frequently said that they “are not scientists”, but they seem to have no trouble overruling the experts who are, or listening only to the small percentage of scientists who are paid by the fossil fuel industry. (“Follow the money.”) According to recent surveys, a large majority of Americans are concerned about climate change and want to see action taken.  A November 2015 poll by the New York Time and CBS found that 75% of Americans believe climate change is having a serious impact on our environment now or will in the future.  A January 2015 New York Times poll found that 74% of Americans believe the Federal government should be taking action on climate change.  In ignoring the need for long range planning around climate change, this action by Congress is out of step with the reality of climate science and the American people.

Some in Congress defended the amendment by saying that climate change planning would “distract from combatting ISIS.”  But the military does not and never has had the luxury of focusing on just one thing.  Our military must constantly prepare for a wide range of risks across the globe, both now and in the future.  According to David Titley, a retired Rear Admiral and former senior-level military scientist, the military is capable of responding to ISIS and planning for climate change at the same time. “When you are running an organization of $600 plus billion, you have a lot of people and need to consider a lot of things.” It would be irresponsible for our military to focus so much on one current threat that they fail to plan for future threats. 

Responsible long-range planning is just common sense, and is especially critical when it comes to military planning to keep our country safe now and in the future.  We should support the military in this effort. This seems to be more of the “block anything Obama” track, but the military first IDed climate change as a serious threat during George W. Bush’s presidency. It shouldn’t be about politics, but Republicans are playing political football with our country’s (and therefore our children’s) future. This is not responsible governance, and should not be allowed to stand.

 

 

Posted on 29 Jun 2016, 8:16 - Category: Responsible Governance



Yes to "No Fly, No Buy"

Bravo to the US House of Representatives for their sit-in protesting Paul Ryan’s refusal to allow a vote on reasonable gun safety laws. Bravo, too, to the Congresspeople who are broadcasting via Periscope & Facebook, and CNN and C-SPAN for broadcasting it, so that the people of the world can see participatory democracy. Ryan ordered the House cameras cut off, but with an iPhone and the Periscope ap, we can still see. Shame on the Republicans for adjourning and leaving for the holiday. I wonder how many more people will died before they return on July 5, due to the easy accessibility of guns to people who the majority of Americans agree should not have that acess. Why are the Republicans so afraid of a vote?
Earlier this week, the Senate allowed a “cloture” vote on some gun safety bills, none of which got the 60 votes needed to actually bring the bills to the floor, where only 51 votes would be needed to pass them. The Democrats wanted a much more inclusive list, (no fly, various terrorists watch lists), which includes around 1 million people. It is my understanding that the bills the Republicans wanted to pass would have affected only ~2,700 people. One million vs 2,700. There is no doubt that many more lives would be saved with the Democrats’ bill, but I’ve got to tell you, if it is between something and nothing, I’ll go with something. Had they passed the Republicans’ bill, the Democrats could have then said they did it save at least some lives, but hammered the GOP on the 997,300 people who are on the various lists of possibly dangerous people who would still have easy access to weapons. Sen. Susan Collins is working on a compromise**, and I know that is a bad word for some people, but that is how government works. You work like heck for what you want, and most bills leave both sides relatively unhappy, but if something is accomplished, that is better than nothing, and something gives us a starting point to push for more. That is the kind of Congressperson I’ll be. That doesn’t make me a DINO, what it makes me is someone who will work to get things done.** (This "compromise bill " sounds like one of the bills from the GOP offered this week, but does have some bi-partisan support now.)
We don’t want to live in a “Minority Report” world- but we do live in a different world than did our founders, and if folks are on a list where they’re suspected of terrorist sympathies, they don’t need to be able to buy a weapon that can murder dozens in seconds as easily as you can purchase groceries. The gun show/internet background check loophole needs to be closed, too, as many people who otherwise aren't allowed to purchase guns can currently buy them that way.
The GOP is worried that it might stop someone who should be able to buy one of these guns, yet there are processes for someone to challenge their inclusion on these lists. These lists should be consolidated, so that, for instance, when the FBI has someone on their list, local police will know it, too. It might save some lives along the way. These are no perfect bills, but we have to start somewhere. If you can’t fly easily, you shouldn’t be able to easily buy weapons that can be used for massacre. Anyone who buys a gun or over a certain amount of ammunition needs to be background checked, no matter the source of the gun or ammo. I’ll go a little further, saying that we need to reinstate the ban on semi-automatic weapons. Weapons of war have no place in civilian life. Massacre prevention is important, and you need to question anyone for whom you plan to vote this fall about their massacre prevention stance.
The GOP says it is about mental illness, and there is no doubt the mental illness has played a large part in the mass shootings by white males, but terrorism isn’t what we consider mental illness. I’ll also point out that all countries have people with mental illness, but most countries of the civilized world have much stricter laws about weapons such as those used in most mass shootings in the US, and they don’t have the epidemic of mass shootings as does the US. They don’t have laws preventing the government from paying for studies about the effects and causes of gun violence. No, they also don’t have a 2nd Amendment, but our 2nd Amendment is not an open invitation for anyone to buy whatever guns/weapons/ammunition they want. The 2nd Amendment says "A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."  The NRA and their minions always ignore that first part, which, since it was the first part of the sentence, I think the founders thought that “well-regulated” and “militia” were important. If they were well-regulated, then they’d obviously have some type of registration of who were those people, so they could call up a "militia" when needed,  but the Republicans won’t even let the TABC computerize their background check records-(which would make background checks much more accurate & quick)- all is on paper, boxes and boxes and warehouses full of paper. If you’ve not seen Under the Gun, I urge you to watch. It will give you a lot of facts and figures about the “gun wars.”
Democrats don’t want to take away guns people already own, that is just more fear-mongering from the NRA and their GOP servants. What most reasonable people want is for people who are on watch lists as being possible terrorists or terrorist’s sympathizers not have the ability to purchase the “tools” to commit massacres in our country. The majority of gun owners, nonLegislative Republicans and even NRA members support this.  Most reasonable people don’t believe that civilians need “armor-piercing” bullets, such as the 3,000 rounds that were purchased by the murderer of those in the Aurora, CO. movie theater. Those bullets made it impossible for people to hide behind the seats, because the bullets tore right through them, and we won’t even talk about the carnage done to people’s bodies by these bullets.
When Congresspeople care more for keeping their job than for the safety of their constituents, they should be fired. It isn’t NRA money they fear losing as much as it is that the NRA will whip up an extremist to “primary” them, and the way the Republicans have drawn the districts, they know the extremists make the decisions on who wins the GOP primaries. Anytime one is willing to sell out their constituents to keep their job, they need to immediately resign and go into another line of work, IF they have any integrity. If they truly believe that the 2nd Amendment is the most important amendment, as my opponent has stated, then they need to be fired by their constituents, and someone hired who WILL vote for common sense gun laws.
If you see the current CD25 Congressman out and about during the Republican recess, please ask him if he supports universal background checks, and what he will do to keep weapons that can kill dozens of people in seconds out of the hands of terrorists in our country. Don't let him wiggle out of it, make him answer.
Lastly, thank you for your support. Convention was hectic, and I didn't get to meet as many of you as I had wished, but I'm working on getting to all the counties. If I've not yet been to your town/county/local club, please contact me and invite. We'll get it scheduled and get there.

 

Posted on 24 Jun 2016, 8:31 - Category: Reasonable Gun Safety



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