Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

How we think-- or not

My blogs keep getting rearranged by life. Several that I wrote ahead of time simply didn't fit when their Saturday came along. Part of this one still fits, but more has been added. It's about why we think as we do and why it's so hard for us to understand and sometimes even communicate with others.

This one began when as we drove south and all we could get for talk radio was Rush Limbaugh. I am sure I have mentioned before that, as you drive through the heart of this country, right wing political talk is all there is-- which was before Portland, Oregon found itself in that situation other than public radio or one that talks about things/world/life but not political and not my favorite leftie commentators. 

Farm Boss was not thrilled when I looked at the radio dial contemplatively and asked-- how long can you stand Limbaugh? He made a face. I promised I'd turn it off as soon as it irked him; he reluctantly agreed.

When I began laughing at what Limbaugh was saying (it wasn't the times he intended to be funny) Farm Boss also saw the humor and stood it longer than I expected. I suppose some of my laughter came because Limbaugh had lost big time and he was taking it poorly. Although I must admit he did appear to understand what losing means which is more than I can say for other righties. What he said though, in sticking to his schtick, was so funny I laughed out loud more than once. To his listeners, he called Democrats the under informed voters which is funny all in itself given what his callers appear to know-- which is not much that Fox didn't hand them.

The funny part is during the GW Bush years and Obama's first term, I would be enraged by Limbaugh and how he left out facts or twisted them, but maybe November made the difference. He makes his money not by solving the problems of the country but by rhetoric that enrages and makes a percentage of people feel victimized, superior and furious.

You know it's possible Limbaugh thinks this way, but he also might well know that he's twisting it when he claims Obama is deliberately plotting to teach people that raising taxes is how we succeed as a culture. Does Rush live in a bubble, as Romney did and not actually know that this is a president who for two years has tried to keep the middle class from paying the payroll tax as a way to give them a tax cut he couldn't give them any other way. Obama didn't do it out of the sweetness of his soul (his offering to use a chained cost of living for Social Security proves he doesn't have sweetness of soul) but because he felt it would boost the economy.  The battle now is about trying to keep the tax cut for the middle and raise it on the higher income levels-- and frankly Obama is not pleasing us much on the left for his method.

When I really snorted with disbelief was when he tried to paint a Dana Milbank column as indicating Milbank was enraged that Romney was going back to work for a big hotel chain. He claimed Milbank said Romney should work for the poor. I have listened to Milbank in discussions. He's not the kind of man I can imagine being enraged at the least over Romney-- before or after the election. So when we got to a motel that night, I found the article Milbank had written.

As I read [Milbank's article] out loud to Farm Boss, he and I both agreed. In my view, Milbank was wishing Romney would work to shore up the Republican party. He wanted to see him involved in the negotiations on the so-called fiscal cliff but doing it as the moderate he believed Romney always had been. He wanted moderates and even the actually conservative wing of that party to take it back and said Romney, as the most famous name in his party, could use that to bring his party back from the brink of total control by the wackos (like the judge who took 10 years off a convicted rapist's sentence because he said a woman can't really be raped-- her body won't let it happen).

Limbaugh goes so far as to suggest Obama is some kind of tax dictator who will soon take over all our schools with a tax nirvana agenda. Future generations of children will be taught that high taxes are required for a good life-- or so he said. Recently Farm Boss, on his way to get parts to replace the kitchen faucet here, heard some of Sean Hannity (who I can't stand for even as long as it takes for him to get out the first syllable) hitting on the same spiel. It's probably rampant on all these rightie shows.

Where it comes to Limbaugh, I don't know what he actually believes. His callers are where this gets really weird and my bet is the most rabid never get past his screener. They are the same ones who think Obama is a Muslim, that he wants to destroy our country, that he's a socialist, that he and his ilk want to destroy Christmas. They are the ones who think every school should now make teachers go armed as obviously the answer to what happened in Connecticut was not too many guns of the wrong sort. It was not enough guns.

Since the shooting, one of that bunch said it's Jon Stewart's fault as he's attacking Jesus and Christmas. Excuse me, idiot boy, but Stewart is a Jew. Do you know what that means? Likely not. Someone must be blamed to keep the spotlight off guns and mental illness. Atheists are next as some on the right claim they are trying to destroy belief in any god.

Limbaugh praised the NRA which I think gave one of the most self-serving press conferences that I can imagine. According to the NRA, we don't need more control over war weapons-- we need more of them. Armed guards at every school is their idea-- profit for them not a factor. They and their ilk say it's the fault of those who didn't want teachers armed for why this last shooting happened. The NRA is berserk and I only hope more of their members drop them.

You'd think after all of that, I'd feel relief to listen to lefties. Not so fast. Since I don't toe the liberal line, I am also not thinking as they do. It's hard for me to grasp how the left wing has gone after fear of all guns instead of the actual guns that were used in this massacre. Right now they are providing evidence of their real goals to those righties, who fear any reasonable gun regulations. Attacking all gun owners for what a few do is not going to get legislation that many gun owners also support. Can any of these sides look at what actually happened and what might've stopped it?

Okay looking at facts, I look at the issues of guns this way. Yes, guns can be misused. Yes, some kill people. In 2011, our country had 12,664 murders with 8,583 with a gun. Of those most were gang/ drug related shootouts or domestic violence.

The big problem with the drug and gang related shootings in our cities is this: collateral damage. The bullets fly and innocents are killed. Are these guns legally purchased? Probably not since a lot already involve illegal, reckless and violent activities.

Will taking away assault rifles and high capacity magazines stop deaths? Maybe or maybe not as in this country the guns are there. IF, and this isn't going to happen, the gun haters got through a law to ban all guns, who will turn in theirs? It won't be the ones in inner cities using them so carelessly that walking to school can mean death. It's why I didn't laugh when in the film, One for the Money, the grandmother shot the cooked turkey sitting in the middle of the table with the family all there. I don't find guns funny.

As for the many deaths from domestic violence, those could happen as easily with a knife, fist or baseball bat if it didn't with a gun; so it's not going away based on no gun.

One place I read an article intended to scare people into getting rid of all guns, not just the extended magazines and assault and semi-assault rifles. When I got through it validated what I thought before I began-- women need to be darned careful what kind of men they date, live with or marry. Some men are very scary. Whether the woman in the article had been at risk of being shot in the head by a Glock, with a boyfriend violently out of control, a knife would have done the same thing. It has worried me for sometime as to who my granddaughter will start to date when that time comes as a woman's greatest risk is trying to end an abusive relationship that she didn't realize she was in until it was too late.

That's what I thought but not what the other commenters said, who were absolutely convinced that guns were the problem. Get rid of guns, and boyfriends will cease killing woman trying to leave them not to mention half her family when he can reach them.

I see it that once you get in such a dangerous relationship, you probably have to move somewhere that person cannot find you when you finally decide you want out. Women sometimes find restraining orders hard to get but like one is going to stop a man already set on murder? Maybe threats of violence should land someone in jail for long enough to cool of at the least.

To me, the nutty stuff coming out of the right is even worse for what they want as a solution to someone shooting up a school-- arm the teachers too. Wait until a child gets hold of one of those guns (they do all the time in homes where parents were careless with the weapons) and starts shooting. End of that idea along with more deaths. I don't know if they could find someone to train on the faculty but it seems some states are determined to try. The armed guards the NRA suggested are equally asinine. That is the most self-serving, disgusting bunch. Oh wait, did I already say that!

The question I got from all of this was how can humans look at the same facts and come up with such totally divergent opinions on what they mean? Is that brain wiring? How we grew up? Do we get fed what we think even if subtly? I find I can't really talk to the extreme right or left on a lot of sensitive issues. Try having a rational discussion on abortion with a rightie or leftie when your position is not total freedom of abortion and also not total elimination of it. Emotions run high over murder on the one side and total freedom on the other. For me it's a lost cause because I see nuance.

Years ago I did one of those personality tests where it determines where we fit in the human spectrum. My results came out in the less than 5% of the population which may explain some of my problem in all of this at least.

So as I have said here and wherever I've commented on this, I saw what happened in the shooting this time as multi-pronged and in no order of what should be done first.

One--better access to mental health, identifying dangerous people before they get to the mall or school, giving families and authorities the power to do something when the problem is identified (the power is NOT there now). As you read the stories of families and school authorities dealing with mental illness, it's clear that they are on their own, helpless with a problem that they can see has every chance of escalating to deadly violence.

Two-- get the guns that did the killings out of the hands of everybody/anybody. That means assault and semi-assault rifle ban, no extended magazines, no resales and a program to get the ones out there turned in. More controls over the big gun shows that are everywhere. How about the government putting out some money to help with meaningful background checks which means waiting periods no matter where someone buys a gun. And if you sell your own to a private party, you have responsibility for who they are.

On the assault rifles already out there, even if they could make them illegal to own (it'll take a Democratic majority in the House and Senate) survivalists won't turn theirs in, that's a fact, but there could be a big fine if they are found with them. They are the ones who think they need those weapons to defend themselves when the UN comes knocking-- which is no more likely to happen than Santa Claus will come down their chimney-- and in the meantime these guns are designed to look cool to the youths, they are what they see in the video games and movies, and intended for only one thing-- killing humans.

Three-- look at our culture of violence where kids grow up pretending to shoot people in video games and watch films where mass murder is common and part of the excitement.

Yes, I have said all of the above before-- and after each of these mass killings. My posts on violence through the years.  Nothing happens. Nothing is done and the reasons are manifold. Some because Americans are eager for the next cause which is instantly provided. It takes concentration and a reasonable set of goals to get anything-- if we could even agree what anything is.

Four-- replace all school doors with bulletproof glass and solid enough doors that a machine gun can't open them. This should be done before school starts up after Christmas. Can't do it? Why didn't we already do it?

Five-- I've suggested this other places but bear spray in the administrator's offices with them knowing how to use it. Bear spray works better than pepper for an insane, maybe out of control druggie or someone like last one who couldn't feel pain. It works at 30' and although he might not feel pain from it, his eyes would close long enough for the police to arrive.

Six-- quit calling each other names over this. It is NOT the fault of  me and the millions of other gun owners. It is not the fault of atheists. It is not the fault of Jon Stewart because he's Jewish. It is not because we don't have prayer in schools. It is the fault of all those who have been ignoring all of this, which might include us, and letting weapons of war become toys in homes for people who didn't grow up.

Guns are tools. They are used by ranchers to quickly and mercifully kill suffering livestock when what is wrong cannot be treated. They are used to kill predators that threaten or have killed their stock. Where I live they are used by some who hunt for the meat which they very much need as they are marginal for incomes. They can be used if the person is attacked by a predator. Most country folk are wise enough to realize when a bear in the bush wolfed at you, the solution is quietly turn around not shoot into the brush, but if the bear does more than warn you off, then it's good to have more than a shrill yell to hope will stop his charge.

Yes, I've shot my rifle at living creatures-- coyotes. I have also, when I cannot get hold of one fast enough, run screaming at a coyote with a lamb down and scaring it off by my voice. Actually I've done that twice with no weapon, but it only works when I am there to do it. I've seen the animals torn apart by the predator and I guarantee you, it's not a pretty sight.

Because of my experiences with livestock and the need to protect them, because I live a LONG way from any police protection, a gun is a tool for me. I don't love it. I do understand how to safely use it which means I don't keep my finger on a trigger when I am not ready to fire. I also don't point it at anything I don't intend to shoot. (our class for a concealed carry permit said don't point it at anybody as a threat but only if you are willing to shoot-- the other way is apt to see your gun taken away and used on you).

Although I do have a concealed carry permit, I don't carry because I see the risks of having one where my purse might be stolen as greater than not-- besides my purse is too heavy now. I've had friends though who always carry a gun in a shoulder holster, and I feel no fear of them because they know how to use the gun wisely. For those who worry about concealed weapon permits-- how many holders have ever used their gun for a crime?

For those scared of guns. Wise choice. Don't get one. But don't you dare try to put the blame for Connecticut on me or those like me. I won't take it, and you are shooting at the wrong target with the likelihood the real one will escape as it's counting on this kind of hysteria.

Worse though than the possibility the country won't really get rid of assault rifles, for me is that we might not change policies regarding mental illnesses; so that parents and schools have better options than to have to wait until a crime has been committed. Isn't that too late? It was in Connecticut.

If I am talking to a rightie or leftie on this, I lost them both a long time ago. My only hope is enough moderates are thinking and ready to put real pressure onto government, thoughtful, nuanced pressure that we might as a nation make changes that would stop a new tragedy at least using extended magazines, assault or semi-assault rifles. I also hope the changes don't end with the guns.

Of course, my hope is not what the far right wing wants. They want more guns, even assault rifles in the hands of principals. And what I want isn't enough for the far left who want a ban and confiscation of all guns. Three ways of seeing the same incident and three different approaches. Why do we see it so differently?

I hope you didn't think I had the answer. I haven't got a clue as how I see it seems the obvious sensible way but neither extreme right nor left agree with me.

First three photos in our Tucson back yard are of a Harris's hawk. Fourth is a kestrel at Catalina State Park and the one above a Road Runner also there. 

Bird watching is very good for emotional health right now in such a tumultuous time. I know Christmas seasons can be stressful but this seems extreme and not just the mass shootings, just everywhere. It's as if our country has gone for rabid anger and it's feeding on itself. What is that about!?


Tabor said...

I am a leftie, but I think more people agree with what you have written then disagree. It is those who stand to gain who pretend we are all so far apart on this issue. I hate guns, but if I felt it was needed I could learn to use one. My husband has shot at varmints and a stray deer with a broken leg that wandered into our woods. He used to be a more active hunter decades ago when he was younger. So we also see guns as tools. Assault rifles and large magazines and cop killer bullets should require an Act of Congress to own.

Anonymous said...

I found Ronni's posting on requiring gun owners to carry liability insurance to be very thoughtful. I had not considered such an approach.
Cop Car

Rain Trueax said...

Most rancher/farmers already carry a lot of liability insurance which would cover that also if they did something stupid with their gun; so this would be a double insuring, I guess-- or them paying for what somebody else did.

It would be hard on the poorer, legal folks out my way. I can't say I'd object to it for me, but it wouldn't stop guns from the ones who did the killing in Connecticut, and the gangland/drug shootings already involve those breaking laws. The police would have a hard time checking this extra thing and would it help with where the killings actually happen? Definitely not with this recent young man.

I really want them to get the assault rifle ban and extended magazine ban in place and then debate further steps before we shoot ourselves in the foot with dividing and getting nothing.

Rain Trueax said...

You and I do agree, Tabor. I just hope we get something done and quickly but it won't be easy and the mental health thing will be hardest of all and yet the most essential. A person involved in schools was discussing how he had known two young men like this one-- couldn't feel pain either. He tried to get help for them but could not. One eventually killed himself but the other he felt was a time bomb waiting to go off.

Ingineer66 said...

I can only take Rush in limited doses and I don't even try to listen to Hannity. It seems all the national focus is on guns. We have Biden heading up a task force on getting guns away from the people. Only 2% of gun crimes are committed with rifles. During the Clinton assault weapons ban, yes rifle shootings went down but shotgun and pistol shootings went up. The largest mass murders in our country's history were done with box cutters and a truck bomb and the largest school killing was done with explosives in 1927.

The main issue is how to deal with mental health problems. Getting help for the people that need it will save more lives than any gun ban. Here a guy killed his father with a frying pan not long ago after he was turned away from county mental health.

How come we haven't seen the Surgeon General and or the Secratary of Health and Human Services on the nightly news talking about what they are doing to help with mental health?

Guns are a hot button political issue but if the administration really wanted to make a substantial impact they would be focusing on mental health instead of just making a power play.

Rain Trueax said...

As is often the case, ingineer, you and I agree. I don't really think Obama wants all guns. He has stated recently it's a Constitutional right but a lot of progressives and lefties do want them all. The sad part is they will end up getting nothing which maybe some want as they keep the cause open to get them all when they have the assault weapons out there.

My main concern is also mental health and it is behind most murders-- mass or otherwise. Not necessarily mental illness as such but a mind gone out of whack as it wants to punish others for some perceived wrong. Over and over we see it. Some is our culture and the rage that permeates it. Some though is insufficient help for those dealing with known mental illness.

Ingineer66 said...

Rain, you and I could get together and find the things that we agree on and probably do a lot more good for the country than the clowns in DC. I believe that they will do something. Not the right thing, but something that really doesn't do any good but they will all pat themselves on the back and get on TV for "saving us".

Ingineer66 said...

PS Normally I think Diane Feinstein is not too bad for a Democrat Senator, but the fact that she is leading the charge to take guns away from people is just silly. She has a concealed carry permit and uses it.
And her political career was jump started because a coworker carried a pistol through a window to get around the metal detectors as SF City Hall and killed her boss. Then he basically got off because he ate Twinkies before hand and said his high blood sugar made him do it. Again we are focused on the tool and not the person the committed the heinous crime. He should have been executed in short order.

Diane Widler Wenzel said...

I am dissapointed because I do not see much in the way of why the Right and Left cannot talk to each other. Why they cannot see what ever a fact is in the same way. Maybe I missed the point. I expected an article on tolerance and listening with an open mind looking for the basic underlining similarities of people. Something that would brign people together on hot issues.

Rain Trueax said...

Since I have no clue why we cannot communicate, there is no way I could write that. How do you listen to a Rush Limbaugh with tolerance? How do you listen to that guy representing the NRA with tolerance? Explain that to me and maybe I can come up with an answer. I don't think we should be tolerant of all viewpoints. Theoretically a liberal would say we should right up until I have read that they think gun owners are responsible for what happened in that school-- all gun owners? Now I don't have to get mad at any of these people but listening with tolerance? What would that mean?

Diane Widler Wenzel said...

A big reason we cannot talk to each other unless our views are close to the same is the information age's dynamics. There is so much information out there that all thoughts are clothed in attention getting masks. Some wonderful useful ideas are played down because they may be hurtful to the messengers.

ABC News minimized the picture of Fred Leatherwood and belittled the principles of gun ownership as being just Fred's rules. Plus ignored the criticism of the news agencies causing the unrealisic level of fear among Americans! The voice of experienced elders is not valued enough to be featured.

Diane Widler Wenzel said...


This is one link to the article about fred Leatherwood and responsible gun education.

Diane Widler Wenzel said...

Of course you can listen to the NRA spokesperson with tolerance and an open mind which of course means you need not agree. Just withhold judgement at first. It probably takes practice. It causes me to go into flipflops. My mind goes into contortions trying to find pearls of truth from their point of view. At first I have to think they love this country as I do. I always wonder where they are coming from. At first I have to think they are sincere but sometimes there are signs to the contrary and I see them as puppets.

Rain Trueax said...

I don't have to get furious but tolerance when the NRA says the answer is armed guards at every school, when principals should have assault rifles, when they keep blocking any meaningful regulations on assault rifles and extended magazines. Why would we do that? It seems to me there are some things wrong and that's plain out true. What does tolerance mean to you? Did you listen to what the NRA spokesman said on Friday, how he would keep those guns out there, how can you want to tolerate that view?

"a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one's own"

I think we need to look at things that are clearly wrong and be willing to call them out as wrong. How can we possibly agree on something like possession of semi-assault and assault rifles to every citizen who wants one? Who wants one? Who has used one? And those extended magazines. Why does anybody need 30 shots. Not to shoot a deer for sure. It's a war weapon.

We don't have to hate someone but do we really have to be permissive to someone who wants to block gay marriage? Maybe who would even put in jail someone who was gay? Someone like that judge who let the guy off 10 years of his sentence because women can't really be raped. Do you tolerate him doing that?

Rain Trueax said...

I should add that I don't feel a need to convince everyone that I am right on every issue. Sometimes people agree to disagree. But tolerance... not sure i can do that given some of what is out there right now. It's okay to say Obama is a Muslim? He's not a citizen? Where does tolerance become lack of action?

Rain Trueax said...

One thing I should add here is that this was not meant to be about how do we get along as it was about how differently we can see the same thing- and why is that? It has though interested me in writing one on the idea of not only that word I really dislike 'tolerance' but also how we can get along-- or not-- over big issues. (the reason I don't like tolerance is it suggests not that either side might be right but that you know you are right and tolerate with condescension that person who doesn't agree. That might be what we actually do but it kind of strikes me wrong as a good word to use for getting along-- which we cannot always do anyway)

Rain Trueax said...

You can listen with tolerance, Diane. I cannot. Did you see that two volunteer firefighters were killed with semi-assault rifle when they went to fight a fire. Now how good do you think that's going to end up being when firefighters say they won't go fight fires without Swat teams guarding them which means when your house catches on fire, it might take an hour to get help there. Think about the consequences then tell me how tolerant you feel? We can listen without rage but tolerance means we respect the viewpoint of a LaPierre. I do not and he threatens the rights of anybody to have guns when he defends (and his ilk like Tucker Carlson) something that only hunters of humans need. I feel zero tolerance for it and I am a gun owner and user. I think the time for tolerance about some things is long past.