The Shutdown Rant

I can tell that I’ve already alienated people on Twitter because I’ve been on this topic. I’m pretty okay with that. I figure you have to speak up for what you believe in. If your political opinion or religious faith *offend* someone, then that’s up to them to deal with. I believe in loving one another and tolerance, but I don’t believe in ignorance.

I can’t believe that the government has been in “partial” shutdown for nearly four days now. I could get into all the yadda-yadda-yadda about who’s to blame (Tea Party Republicans and the GOP leadership) and why it’s bad for the country (our politicians aren’t supposed to throw a fit to change LAWS they don’t like; we have a different process for that. It’s in the constitution!)

But James Fallows at The Atlantic pretty much nails it. So you can go read his take instead. Remember: both sides are not equally culpable. It’s the GOP who is crashing this country. If you want to blame the President and the Democrats for doing nothing and for not negotiating, you go right ahead. They don’t have anything to negotiate on. The Tea Party is being completely unreasonable.

To review: The Affordable Care Act was passed into law in 2010. The Supreme Court upheld the law as constitutional in June 2012. And Obama was reelected in 2012.

Yeah, the law is complicated; most laws are. And yeah, a lot of people have a lot of misgivings and doubts and questions.

But you don’t shutdown a government because you don’t like one of its laws. That’s not how it works. Well, I guess this time it is.

Guess what? Government is shutdown, and Obamacare is rolling out.

I have serious concerns about this shutdown. It is hurting real people. Real families. I don’t think Congress and conservative pundits realize that. I heard a bunch of conservative pundits going on yesterday about how it’s a minor inconvenience.

Guess what, if you have two parents working for the government in non-essential roles, it’s a little more than inconvenient to not be getting a paycheck. Especially if you’ve already been affected by the sequester, and have been furloughed for the past few months.

If you are a poor mom who depends on Head Start to get to your job on time while knowing your kids are fed and cared for until school starts, you’re a little more than inconvenienced. If you don’t have a backup plan for childcare, you’re shit out of luck.

If you are poor, elderly, sick, and you rely on government programs to help you get well or get work, you’re screwed.

And let me tell you something else: the GOP doesn’t care. They aren’t holding their breath until they turn blue. They are getting paid.

They’re telling poor, and sick, and elderly people, they are telling “non-essential” government employees to hold their breath.

Donate to your local food banks. See if they will take formula and diapers because WIC, the program for Women, Infants, and Children, is running out of money and shutting its doors across the country. Write, call, email, and tweet your representatives. I didn’t vote for the Republican in my district, but I’ve emailed and tweeted.

I could very well lose my job, too, and I don’t work in government. The company for which I work depends heavily — too heavily for my comfort right now — on government spending. It’s a little tense around the office lately.

Don’t sit around and think this shutdown stinks because people won’t stop talking about it and some tourists are being inconvenienced.

Act now. And do something in the next election if one of your guys (or gals) contributed to this mess.

Thinking Aloud: Gun Control

I read Josh Marshall’s editorial at Talking Points Memo yesterday, about what he calls “his tribe” that is, people who don’t carry guns and are, unabashedly, non-gun people. It’s worth a read.

A sample: “I think guns are kind of scary and don’t want to be around them. Yes, plenty of people have them and use them safely. And I have no problem with that. But remember, handguns especially are designed to kill people.”

I talked about this in the immediate aftermath of Newtown myself. A lot of what Marshall talks about in his article — in sum, how he rejects the idea that gun culture can run roughshod over non-gun people like him in the name of the 2nd Amendment — hit home for me.

I shot guns occasionally. I was a Girl Scout, and pretty good with the .22 rifles we used to shoot cans. As an adult, a boyfriend and I shot skeet (pretty fun, and I was pretty good at that, too), and at a target range. I fired an AK-47 (the AR-15 of the ’90s). It was hot. I was 24.

I briefly dated a man who had a permit to conceal carry. And he did, as I discovered the first time I was kissing him. Explained the way he wore t-shirts under very baggy flannels (he wasn’t into grunge, so that wasn’t why). Walking me home later that night, he said, “Don’t you feel safe knowing I have a gun on me?”

No, I said. No, I don’t feel safe at all, actually.

We didn’t go on another date.

Fast forward to where we are in America today. Some days, I feel like going to buy a gun, use it to practice at the target range near my house. You know, for the zombie apocalypse. I would probably store it off site — I don’t want a gun in my home, not as long as my children are young.

Most days, I don’t want a own a gun. Most days, I don’t care about gun owning either way. I do think most of the gun owners I know (even the conceal carry guy I walked home with that evening) are perfectly responsible gun owners, well within their rights to own guns.

But it’s gotten out of control, the gun culture in America. Like Josh Marshall, I don’t want to live in a high-fear, mutual assured deterrence kind of society. And I don’t think all the guns have to go away.

But some of them do. And some people should not be able to get guns. And some kinds of ammunition should not be available to the general public.

I support the gun control measures that Vice President Biden (I’m an unabashed fan of his, as I’ve said) and President Obama proposed earlier this week. (The only part of it that gives me pause are the HIPAA provisions; I need to hear more about those.) As Biden put in in his email to me (I know!), “Each of them honors the rights of law-abiding, responsible Americans to bear arms. Some of them will require action from Congress; the President is acting on others immediately. But they’re all commonsense and will help make us a little safer.”

If now is not the time to talk about this, to move on this, then I don’t know when is.

Random Thoughts: The TGIF, Big Time Edition

First of all, I want to thank everyone who commented on my last post. Your words were thoughtful and encouraging, and I do have replies, I just haven’t quite gotten there yet. So, just, thanks.

Secondly, I had so many thoughts and emotions when President Obama articulated his support for same sex marriage. That he did it at all before the election in November; that he was able to put into words a lot of what I felt on the issue. Like the President, my feelings on same-sex marriage definitely evolved. I’m not entirely proud of that. I have close friends and extended family members who are gay. When the issue of same-sex marriage was starting to come into the public sphere, I just shrugged and thought, “Civil unions should be enough.” Part of that was probably because of my faith. I have no delusions that a gay or lesbian couple will ever be married in a Catholic church, but I really feel that it’s time to stop saying, “Well, such-and-such should be good enough.”

Same-sex couples and their families deserve all the rights and protections accorded to married people by the state and federal governments. Full stop. I don’t feel that the federal government needs to legislate on this issue, but at the very least, states have got to stop legislating against it. It’s so bigoted and ugly. (Hello, North Carolina!)

Thirdly, I can’t wait until my parents get their copy of TIME Magazine! My very short take: Blame TIME. The mother featured isn’t a mean, judgmental, attachment parenting lactivist, which you will learn if you read her Q&A (and here’s more proof). But that headline sure makes her come across that way. As I tweeted to someone earlier: “The image is provocative, but ‘MOM Enough’? That’s just inflamatory.” And that’s on TIME, all the way.

Lastly, I still haven’t figured out what’s next for me. The most important thing is that Dan’s in my corner, and that we will figure this out together. My weekend consists of seeing The Avengers (yay!), errand running and gymnastics, cleaning my whole house on Saturday (stop laughing!), and whatever Mother’s Day brings (I have made no plans).

What’s next for you? Any fun plans this weekend?