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We the People

of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, promote the general welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do establish and ordain this Constitution of the United States of America.

Yesterday was the Fourth of July, and I went with my husband, dog and granddaughter to watch fireworks.  We had a traditional chicken dinner, and ice cream, and a good time was had by all, except the dog, who’s scared of fireworks.

And then I woke up this morning to see that Congress is not renewing unemployment benefits, and I thought how tired I am of the millionaires who “represent” us forcing the neediest in the country to tighten their belts.  Almost half the members of Congress are millionaires, many times over, and those whose net worth looks small on paper are actually hiding their assets, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.  They get rich from investment opportunities, in companies like Goldman Sachs.

I’m also tired of the 2nd Amendment being the tail that wags the nation’s dog.  The Fourth Amendment, which is supposed to let us be secure in our persons against unreasonable search and seizure has been so decimated that it almost doesn’t exist.  The current Supreme Court has ruled that it’s okay for the cops to break down doors of people’s homes without checking to see that they’re at the right home because when they do make a mistake–as happens several hundred times a year–Tony Scalia explained that people have the right to sue the police.  We have warrantless wiretaps on our phones and Internet accounts.  We have warrantless entry into the homes of people on welfare, because they don’t count.  But all this doesn’t even merit a yawn from the public.  And the First Amendment is in tatters, too, with the wall between church and state sandpapered down so it’s about a micron wide these days.

I am tired of public figures ranting about God or Jesus or both, and ignoring Isaiah, who tells us that our duty is to “to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house and to cover the naked.”

I’m tired of ignoring the reality of handguns.  States that allow everyone to carry weapons have five times the homicide rate of those that don’t.  Now that the Supremes have ruled that states can’t control people’s access to them, let’s watch the murder rate rise.

And while I’m ranting about stuff I’m tired of, I’m tired of women not counting as people in the eyes of church and state.  When Sister Margaret McBride was excommunicated recently for her role in agreeing to an abortion for a woman whose life was endangered by her pregnancy, the sister was instantly excommunicated, and the church explained that “innocent life,” meaning fetal life, always trumps the mother’s life.  Congress triumphantly excluded abortion coverage from the health care reform act.  Women are messy, complicated creatures, it’s true, but why do we give men in the legislatures, the courts, and the church the right to choose life or death for us?

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  • genny from jersey

    Sara, I totally share your anguish.

  • Geri

    Yeah so much for “states” rights when is comes to making decisions about gun control. Pretty soon it will be ok for me to carry an AK-47 into a public library but what I read in that library could be subject to search without my knowledge.

  • Thanks, Genny, and Geri, for your comments. Geri, I think since Ashcroft wrote the Patriot Act, which allows the government to view bookstore sales and library circulation records without notifying us, our motto has been, “Guns don’t kill people, books do.”

  • Penny Thornton

    In the UK the new “coalition” Government (an unlikely combination of Liberal Democrats & Conservatives)is busy making cuts in expenditure, funding, pensions, welfare payments, schools building programmes, jobs, etc etc. And of course this damaging programme of cuts will impact most on women, children and those less well off. They are even looking for savings with welfare payments to the sick and disabled.

    Yes, there is a need to deal with the financial deficit but why not heap some penalties on the Bankers who created the mess and who were propped up with taxpayers money? They carry on as usual with massive bonuses etc. Why not tax the super rich at a higher rate? The clue is probably in the fact that the old-style Thatcherite Tories are in Government now. The tragedy is that the LibDems are supporting them. And they call themselves a Progressive Government!

  • Shirley

    After 8 yrs. of oppression by Bush/Cheney, we think the crumbs of fairness we get from the current administration are wonderful.

    As for women and the church, there’s not much hope for that. Younger women sadly now don’t seem to be aware or care that they are being treated like second class citizens by the male dominated legislatures and the church.

    Like you Sara, I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s when women recognized sexual discrimination and worked hard for more gender equality. Strides have been made, but we HAVEN’T come a long way, baby!

  • fd

    AMEN to all that! (and all the comments above too).

    Sara when you write about these themes your words come through strongly and they ring so true. One of my main attractions to reading VI is that I get to simultaneously satisfy crime novel cravings and read something with strong currents of a call for more freedom, equality, peace and justice.

  • Great post. Concur, concur, concur.

  • Thanks to all of you for your comments. Penny, I heard on the news yesterday morning that the austerity campaign in the UK has seriously slowed the economic recovery–which had been going faster in the UK than in the US or Europe. Very worrying times. By the way, Glenn Beck has been denouncing the World Cup on his Fox TV show. He and other right-wingers are crying that European football is socialist, and that Obama is trying to force it on the US as part of his socialist agenda. Gordon Liddy says that soccer was invented by indigenous South Americans who are using it to undermine the United States. There are days when I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

  • genny from jersey

    Sara, so all our soccer moms are Socialists trying to bring down the country?

  • Idzan Ismail. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    Hi MsParetsky

    You wouldn’t believe me that I watched all the soccer World Cup matches. If I missed it, I will watch the replay which is on this whole one-month in my country. Malaysians love to watch soccer. Ypu know what, when US was playing I was shouting myself hoarse for the team. Now I want Spain to win. I was hoping it was Spain vs Brazil which are two of my favorite teams. I was also rooting for Ghana because I want to see an African nation at least in the semi-finals.
    i eat, live and breathe football. I dont how when the game is over this week-end.

  • Idzan Ismail. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    I was thrilled when i saw Pres. Clinton, Mick Jaegger and Leonardo DiCaprio among the thousands in the stadium. VP Joe Biden was present during the first session of the games.
    There was a story carried by AFP that the Argentinian team blamed Jagger for their loss. Haha.

  • Don’t forget “Guns don’t kill people, condoms do.” Great post Sara – thank you!

  • Doug Clark

    Hello Sara,

    I enjoyed, if that’s the correct phrase, your posting. The United States has provided us with many, many blessings. However, the flaws in the system are particularly aggravating. Wealthy corporations and men seem to dominate the thrust of crucial decisions made by our government.

    The constant waving of the cross and Christianity as the be all and end all of what decisions should be made is a mistake. I have long agreed with Jefferson in that religion of any form should not be mixed into our national politics, nor our local politics for that matter. I think a religious or spiritual aspect to how we lead our own lives can be very important for each person, personally, but to then project an intolerance upon others is wrong.

    I am especially disheartened by the government’s treatment of women, minorities, the poor and underprivileged. To somehow think that this is each individual’s fault is criminal. I just finished reading a biography of famed political columnist, Molly Ivins. She was a woman I thoroughly enjoyed, both for her viewpoints and her humor. Her fight for the first amendment and the less fortunate was a long one. Even while struggling to fight breast cancer in her last years (a battle she lost on January 31, 2007) she continued to give free speeches at ACLU events, etc. Anyway, I am hopeful that if a Democrat can remain in the White House for several more terms (I’m not sure I can buy into James Carville and Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza’s 40 year plan), then the Supreme Court will turn more moderate or even left.

    As for guns, I have no use for them. The thought process that leads to the statement that “They’ll take my guns from me only when they pry them from my cold, dead fingers,” just depresses me to no end. I do not understand the gun culture.

    Well, once more, I’ve rambled on too long. I’m looking forward to your new book coming out in August. I plan to be at the St. Louis County Public Library Headquarters on the 31st to see you and get the new book. Please take care.

    Kind regards,

    Doug

  • …and don’t forget that while the “war on terror” and the danger to citizens supposedly necessitates the withholding of 4th Amendment rights, we wouldn’t of course restrict people on the no-fly list from purchasing guns. The 2nd Amendment trumps even the war on terrorism — or at least, a perfect NRA rating trumps it.

  • Thanks for all these heartening comments. It’s so good to know in tough times that we aren’t alone, and I love knowing that I’ve provided a place where people can come together. Yes, Doug, we do miss Molly Ivins. Great slogan re condoms, Rachel. And JN, yes, that was quite an extraordinary bit of lobbying, wasn’t it?

  • Shirley

    Thanks to the “Body Work” tour mention in Doug’s post, I looked at the tour schedule. Southeast VI fans want to hear from you–surely there’s an Indie bookstore in Atlanta that can host a stopover?

  • Shirley, I lobbied Putnam for visits to Miami and to the Carolinas but couldn’t sell them. I’ll see about Atlanta for the next book–I’ve been twice but never had more than eight people at either event, so they’ve been reluctant to send me back. Sorry!

  • terry helton

    Sara, like you, I am tired of the hypocrisy of politicians and the so-called Born Again elite but I am going to call you on your opposition to Second Amendment rights. I wasn’t raised in Chicago but across the state line in Northwest Indiana(Gary). Until recently I haven’t owned a gun because there were a lot of guys who’d I’d loved to have capped. Since I don’t being locked up I didn’t have a gun.Even though there were times when I could have used it.

    A friend that I used to work with,Evelyn Woodson,was murdered three months after I had come to Montana. The lst time we spoke she was considering moving up to Michigan to work for a veterinarian who our previous employer knew. Because my opportunity to come to Montana was pressing I left Crown Point in a hurry and didn’t get a chance to talk to her. When I got my phone installed I did phone her but her line was disconnected. Naturally I thought that she had gone to Michigan. It wasn’t until last year that I had found out that she had been killed. During that time three more middle aged women were killed in the same way Eve had been(strangled), one woman was killed on her way to church. And as usual the Gary PD,like Chicago,DIDN’T EVEN LOOK!!!

    After taking a NRA Concealed Weapons class I have my concealed weapons permit. Had Evelyn been able to carry a pistol she’d still be alive today because she would have been able to defend herself. No one in Montana or states where this is legal does so in order to be Billy Badass but to defend oneself and family BECAUSE THE BLASTED COPS SURE DON’T DO IT! not unless you have money. Then they will do the job the way they are supposed to.

    Sorry about my soap box rhetoric,Sara but everytime I think about Evelyn I get angry.

  • Terry, it sounds like an extremely painful memory and not one that you will ever really lose. I don’t think I will ever be comfortable with how many guns we have in our hands here–270 million, by some counts–but I can understand why the murder of your beloved friend makes you feel the way you do.

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