Hot Topic #23: Thoughts on Puerto Rico, Las Vegas, and Our President

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Image Credit: ThoughtCo

The last few weeks have felt like forever.

It’s been a laundry list of natural disasters, yet another horrific massacre on U.S. soil, and I’ve felt helpless.

  • August 17-September 1 — Duration of Hurricane Harvey
  • August 30-September 12 — Duration of Hurricane Irma
  • September 16-30 — Duration of Hurricane Maria
  • September 19 — Central Mexico earthquake
  • October 1 — Mass shooting at Route 91 Harvest Festival, Las Vegas, Nevada

All the while, President Trump has continued tweeting, criticizing, and not being very presidential. But, that’s just me.


Texas & Florida

My family is incredibly fortunate. My dad drove down to Seminole, Florida, to be with his dad, my 91-year-old Grandpa, prior to Hurricane Irma’s arrival. They lost power, but Dad brought a generator and plenty of supplies. Grandpa’s main power was restored within 24 hours. Cable, Internet, and the landline phone followed soon after. The Publix grocery store down the street was open the day after the storm. Dad came home safely just days after the storm passed, not two weeks like everyone was thinking / fearing.

My Uncle Richard (Mom’s brother) waited out the storm in Miami. He lost power, and endured four hours of 100-mph+ winds, but no significant damage.

A few friends and acquaintances suffered devastating floods in Texas, but most remained high and dry. John and Jackie, days away from their first child’s expected arrival, were pleased to report that their son smartly decided to “shelter in place” during the storm.

I’m still in awe at the heroes and heroines during Harvey and Irma. The first responders and the military presence were outstanding. If you haven’t seen the stories about the “Cajun Navy,” look them up online. These men and women, with their boats, are real heroes!

I know certain areas of these states still face months, possibly years, of recovery, but many have amazing survival stories to tell the future generations.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and others, have not been so fortunate. Hurricane Maria literally swallowed the entire island of Puerto Rico. It’s been absolutely decimated. At last check of various news sources, roughly five percent of the island has power now, and roughly 11 percent of the cell service has been restored.

The death toll stands at 34, for now. I fear that this number will rise.

The island was already struggling, with a crumbling infrastructure, debt-laden, declaring bankruptcy, and other issues. Add a massive hurricane to the mix? It’s a disaster zone.

It’s deplorable that the governor and many mayors have gone on national TV, live, begging for help. Everyone on the island is an American citizen, for heaven’s sake.

Ugh. I’m getting madder and madder with every word I type.

Las Vegas

Along with the rest of the world, I was horrified to learn of the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival on Monday morning. I almost fell off the treadmill at the gym, in disbelief.

My first thought: “Oh, no. Not again.”

But, it happened. Nearly sixty innocent people lost their lives. Over 500 were injured.

However, in spite of the tragedy, there were so many heroes and heroines. My spirits have been lifted, gradually, throughout this week, as I read stories of courage, bravery, and sacrifice. Countless people literally took bullets to save others. Complete strangers protected each other. The outpouring of support has been overwhelming.

A GoFundMe page that was started by the Clark County Commission Chair earlier this week has set and re-set its goal several times. As of this writing, 77,232 people have raised an impressive $9.52 million dollars for the victims and their families. That’s awesome!

On Tuesday morning, I wrote the following on Facebook:

As a blood recipient, blood drive co-coordinator, and regular blood donor, I’m so happy to see the reports of people waiting 6-8+ hours to give blood in the wake of the tragedy in Las Vegas.

In Chesapeake, New Creation UMC is hosting their next blood drive this coming Saturday, October 7th. If you’re able and willing, your blood is very much appreciated. Every two seconds, someone needs blood. One whole blood donation can save up to three lives.

Give the Gift of Life. Give Blood.

I hope I can give blood on Saturday, and I hope we will have a good turnout. The need is constant.

Our President

I have so many thoughts about our President right now. It makes me want to scream.

The only thing I’ve been impressed with, so far, was his speech about the tragedy in Las Vegas. For once, he actually showed sympathy and compassion.

I don’t know who wrote it, but it was a good one.

With that said, it’s been tough to swallow his response to the hurricane relief efforts, especially in Puerto Rico. In addition to those issues, he’s angling for nuclear war with North Korea. Antagonizing someone like Kim Jon Un is not a good idea.

I wish Secretary Tillerson would admit that he called our President a moron. I wish people would stop trying to cover for our President, and admit the truth.

But, the truth is, I think most people in and around the White House are walking on eggshells every minute of every day, hoping and praying they don’t say or do something to piss him off.

For once in my life, I’m actually looking forward to voting in November’s elections. I’m so sick and tired of the attack ads for Governor, Attorney General, and the list goes on. There are so many things I wish I could change, but I know my vote can make a difference.

I’m also beyond ready to fast-forward to the 2020 presidential election.

For now, I will continue to educate myself with a variety of news sources, try to stay positive, donate blood, and sharing my thoughts with all of you wonderful readers on my blog. Thank you for being so supportive of my posts – I appreciate each and every one of you.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #10: “American Gun Control Rant”

Disclaimer: This post contains strong language.


Thanks to my friends Justin and Steph, I watched this video earlier this week:

After watching it, I shared it on Facebook. My tagline with the post read:

“Take eight minutes out of your day and watch this. It’s almost embarrassing that the British get this and know it better.”


“The Last Leg”

Steph, who is British, was the one who originally posted the video. Her tagline was:

“To my American friends … surely this makes sense???”

The show, called “The Last Leg,” airs every Friday live. They have a popular YouTube channel as well.

According to Steph, the show started a few years ago, focusing on the Paralympics. Adam Hill, the guy ranting, is an Australian comedian with one leg. Alex Brooker, sitting on the right side of the sofa, also has a missing leg. Josh Widdicombe is another comedian, who happens to hail from an area close to where Steph is from.

She loves the show and highly recommends it. They also do other topics. Example – They mock ISIS in a weekly feature called the “Ghadi Spot.” They always mention someone who’s been a dick. They also did a bit with Greece on their economy through Jeremy Kyle, sort of like Jerry Springer, which Steph thought was “brilliant.”

She posted links to the Greece situation sketch, and another titled “Following Donald Trump With A Tuba.”


Key Points

Watching the “American Gun Control Rant,” several key points stuck out to me:

  • “Between 1966 and 2012, the U.S.A., which has 5 percent of the world’s population, has had 31 percent of the world’s mass public shootings.”
  • “The United States of Ammunition … Turns Out Guns Do Kill People”
  • “You can’t change the Constitution … If only there was some way of amending the Constitution … I don’t know, some kind of amendment … Like the 33 amendments that have been made … Even the right to bear arms is an amendment …”
  • (Discussing the fact that the shooter of the Virginia reporter and cameraman filmed and uploaded the shooting) ” … Do you go for the sensational angle, or the tasteful one?”
  • There are no age restrictions on news websites. One of the guys gave an example if that you were 11-years-old, you could go on a news website and automatically watch the footage of the man shooting the reporter and cameraman, but that same 11-year-old can’t buy a ticket to a PG-13 movie like Pitch Perfect 2. Then the guy added, “which is a shame, because it was a delightful movie …”
  • Journalism is actually contributing to the problem.
  • Adam amended the national anthem on our behalf, which was painful to hear, yet hilarious at the same time!

The entire video was a good laugh. They are a funny group, for sure. However, they also gave me a healthy dose of reality.


Comments

On Steph’s post, Justin wrote, almost immediately:

“When our recent President got elected, every fucking paranoid asshole got scared he would take their guns and gun sales shot through the roof, no pun intended. America is a paranoid nation and our major news media only makes it worse, specifically Fox News. This makes total sense Steph. People are always scared of a bad man with a gun coming to get them and that the way to stop them is with a gun. Yeah except a gunman won’t be all ‘I’m going to come here at this time and kill people. You have 10 seconds to prep for it.’ He just will show unexpectedly and kill people. Sure people carrying can kill him back but the fact is I don’t want my Saturday at the mall ruined by some nut who decided to shoot the place up. Even if he fired off 1 bullet and then got killed, it still makes it a terrifying experience that could have been avoided. I say keep the guns for the military and law enforcement. Civilians shouldn’t have them, or at least they can with strict ass laws but I’m doubtful of that. What is it like in Britain over there? I heard your country really cracked down on them. Now yes crime will always find a way, but laws can make it a bit easier to sleep at night without worrying of a gunshot in the dark. And about the TV reporters who got shot, there are conspiracy people already saying it’s a hoax to de-arm America. I am not shitting you.”

To me, Justin hit the nail on the head. We are paranoid, and the media just stirs the pot. I majored in Communication Studies with a concentration in Mass Media in college. I’m glad I did, because I am far more suspicious of any media now. To quote Professor Halliday, I always have my bullshit meter out and aimed.


Britain vs. The U.S.

According to Steph, apparently only one specific section of the police carry arms. In general, though, “coppers” don’t carry guns, but they do have tasers, although that issue was debated heavily. Gun crimes do happen in Britain, just not nearly as often. It’s also a crime to “use/carry imitation guns.” Apparently, in Britain, the biggest issue is knife crimes.

Steph wrote:

” … Like you Justin I think it should be the right for military or police to carry weapons. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a teacher in the US having to lock down because some nutter has decided to go on a killing spree.”

Steph’s reply made me think of this: Teacher credited with calming West Virginia teen hostage taker


Treating Guns Like Cars

I also jumped in, writing:

“This was amazing, Steph. Thanks for sharing with Justin, who shared it with me. I have shot several types of guns in the past, and I have learned about gun safety and how to handle a weapon properly. I agree with Justin – Guns belong with the military and law enforcement. If you want a gun, you should have to go through a process like you would to drive a car. I saw that comparison online today. So many people stand behind ‘the right to bear arms.’ I’m all for patriotism, but I’m definitely not okay with the amount of violence that guns are used for. I live the Hampton Roads area, and it makes me sick to see a new shooting on the news almost every single night.”

This is the comparison I was referencing:

I thought this idea was brilliant.

I personally don’t think that this will ever happen in the U.S., due to the National Rifle Association and people standing by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution …

HOWEVER, it’s certainly nice to think about.

Imagine a world …


Self-Defense

The comments briefly shifted to self-defense with a comment that Steph made. I brought up the Trayvon Martin case that came out of Florida in 2012.

But, that’s a whole other conversation, with “stand your ground” laws, and self-defense in general.


Desensitized

Steph wrote:

“Do you think your country is becoming desensitised (sic) with the regularity of shootings? It’s awful and a wonder that there has been no stop to it. I would feel shit scared to fall asleep at night. Could start cycle of am scared so have gun to protect myself from someone with a gun?

Justin and I both agreed, immediately.

I wrote:

“Oh absolutely. I fully believe we are desensitized. As they said in the post we have had so many mass shootings since Columbine in 1999. I know people who have guns for protection. And I’ve heard of cases where people have guns for “protection,” and then either they get killed or someone in their family gets killed because one of their young children gets a hold of and it’s loaded.”

Steph replied:

“Sheer madness!”

Justin wrote:

“YES!!! We totally are desensitized with it. You live your whole life in a nation that shoots people every day and you will start to see it, sadly, as a part of every day life. I hear you on the knife crimes. I have a friend who was in Britain and was mugged by a guy with one. Scary thought. The case about the Uzi was something I remember. There was no fucking reason that girl should have been using it or trying to fire it. That gun kicks like a horse and without a good tight grip it would have gone everywhere. Sadly she didn’t have that and now that man is dead. I love this video that you shared Steph, just a bit disappointed as well, that people from other countries look at us and go ‘Wow you guys really need to get your shit together.'”

The Uzi case we referenced: Child firing Uzi at Arizona shooting range accidentally kills instructor 


Celebrating Zero Deaths

Justin also recalled the day that New York City celebrated no violent crime for 24 hours.

It was Monday, November 26, 2012.

Ironically, the only credible source that I could find with a link to this story was the BBC …

Either way, that article also referenced a graph of global murder rates (per 100,000). The U.S., based on a 2011 study, ranked 8th out of 11 measured global areas. New York was slightly higher than the overall U.S. murder rate. However, at the time of the study, Caracas, Guatemala City, San Salvador, Port-au-Prince, Bogotá, and Sao Paulo were all higher than New York and the U.S. Beneath the U.S. were the cities of Moscow, Paris, and London.


Mental Illness

Then Will chimed in, writing:

” … The main problem that needs to be looked at is mental illness. That’s the root of the problem. Sure, guns end up in the wrong hands of people. Maybe it is too easy. And I think Justin already pointed out that even with gun control, bad people can still get guns. Or use a knife. Or use a bomb. But that’s just it. Gun control is not going to eliminate guns from bad people’s hands. Only law-abiding citizens are going to abide by the law! You don’t take care of a wart by picking at it. You get to the root of the problem. I’m not saying that’s an easy solution but it’s something our govt (sic) needs to address. Unfortunately we stand to make more money on pharmaceuticals. And of course, Hitler, Stalin, Mao forced people to turn over their guns in our past. Millions upon millions killed. Not saying that’s going to happen again but as they say, if you don’t know your history you’re doomed to repeat it.

And I understand liberals hate Fox news, and I’m not saying they’re perfect (I don’t even bother with the news on tv) but let’s not pretend MSNBC, CNN, etc aren’t just as bad if not worse. And though I was hoping to find credible numbers to back this up Fox News has had better ratings than MSNBC, CNN, etc. You can dice that any way you want. Personally they’re all bad as the other.”

Justin replied:

” … As far as mental illness is concerned, yeah that’s a huge issue too. The biggest one to date. Mentally insane people are dangerous enough, when they get a hold of dangerous things it makes things worse. But people in this country are way too inclined to throw them in jail or shoot them instead of addressing their illness and getting them the help they deserve. It’s an underfunded thing, and it needs to change.”


Recap – My Thoughts, Overall

  • “The Last Leg” — Thanks to Steph and Justin, I’m hooked. I look forward to watching previous episodes and enjoying newer ones. I have a greater appreciation for British humor and comedy, although this video in particular was a bit painful to watch, because everything these guys said was absolutely fucking true. Get your shit together, America!
  • Comments — It was fascinating to see the long string of comments on Steph’s post. I re-read them all to write this piece. I’m happy that a conversation, albeit small, was started on Facebook. I hope this blog post inspires more conversation. The news media has put a terrible spin on guns, gun control, and mental illness – All of them are guilty. It’s time for real conversations between the people who live in this country.
  • Britain vs. The U.S. — It’s fucking embarrassing that the U.S., once again, is behind our countries, on yet another key issue. Again, get your shit together, America!
  • Treating Guns Like Cars — This concept, to me, is fucking brilliant. We all have specific rules to follow in order to drive cars, motorcycles, boats, 18-wheelers, and other vehicles. Why can’t similar rules be applied to guns?! It makes so much damn sense. Granted, in my comments, I stated that guns should be left to the military and law enforcement. I stand by that statement. However, I think that if a non-military, non-law enforcement citizen wants to own a gun, then there should be crystal clear, upheld rules that must be followed to get one and to keep one. Across the board, federal rules. No fucking exceptions!
  • Self-Defense — This is still murky, and the Trayvon Martin case blew self-defense and “stand your ground” laws out of the shadows and into the international spotlight three years ago. This issue needs to be universal across the entire U.S. This is something that the Supreme Court should decide, not be left up to the states.
  • Desensitized — Like the comments above, this is because of the ridiculous amount of media coverage. My local news stations almost always lead their broadcasts, day in and day out, with the latest shooting or the latest death by gunshot wound. I hate it, I fucking hate it. I barely pay any attention while on the treadmill at the gym at 5:30 in the morning, and I ONLY seek out the online stories if the locations are close to me or my family. It makes me sick. It’s a fucking ratings game, that’s all it is. Hence why I studied Mass Media, but decided to not go into reporting or broadcasting.
  • Celebrating Zero Deaths — This was certainly intriguing when the story broke. However, it’s actually very sad. It only lasted one day, in one major city in the U.S. All around the country, there are countless shootings in so many cities, large and small, every single day. Sure, the major cities get covered. And more recently, we’ve learned about the losses of police officers, TV reporters, state troopers, college students, and children.
  • Mental Illness — Like the comments above, this is a HUGE issue. And it’s a damn shame that it’s an issue, because it simply shouldn’t be. However, there are so many pieces that need to be fixed. Example: There have been several reports, in Hampton Roads and in the state of Virginia, where no beds were available at mental health facilities for those in need, in times of true crisis (Virginia Senator Creigh Deeds’ son, Gus, in November 2013; and in Portsmouth, Jamycheal Mitchell, in August 2015). In the last fourteen years, I have known four people who have died by suicide, and at least two of those died due to self-inflicted gunshot wounds. The stigma needs to end. These people are simply crying out for help. They deserve that help. They deserve the very best facilities and the very best people and the very best care to help them get better.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂