Sunday Roast: Death, Mayhem & Gun Violence


Moscow, Idaho — May, 2007New York Times

The police said Mr. Hamilton had been drinking at a bar with another man until about 10 p.m. Saturday. Then, they believe, he went home and fatally shot his wife in the head before setting off for the courthouse carrying two semiautomatic rifles. Around 11:30 p.m., he opened fire at the building, eventually firing some 125 shots at the courthouse and at the people who responded to the scene.

Mr. Hamilton killed one responder, Officer Lee C. Newbill of the Moscow police. Officer Bill Shields was hit in the leg by bullet fragments as he went to Officer Newbill’s aid. A sheriff’s deputy, Sgt. Brannon Jordan, was shot several times but was not seriously wounded and was expected to leave the hospital on Monday.

Peter Husmann, a 20-year-old mechanical engineering major at the University of Idaho, in Moscow, heard the shootings and rode his bicycle to the scene armed with a .45-caliber pistol, said his father, Sam Husmann. Peter Husmann was shot in the back, fell to the ground, and was then shot in the calf, neck and shoulder, his father said. He was in stable condition on Monday.

After the shootings at the courthouse, Mr. Hamilton entered the First Presbyterian Church, directly across the street. He had worked there as a custodian for American Building Maintenance, which had a contract with the church, and he knew the church’s sexton, Paul Bauer, Chief Duke said.

Moscow, Idaho — August, 2011,

July 14, 2011: UI requested Moscow Police participate in a threat assessment concerning the threatening behavior of Ernesto Bustamante. University investigators met with Benoit to review Bustamante’s response and notify her that they would be interviewing him on July 19. She was asked to stay somewhere other than her apartment. The Moscow Police tried to call Benoit several times, leaving messages. Benoit did not return the phone calls. Police told the university that she wasn’t calling back. The university indicated that Benoit had been referred to Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse and a safety plan had been discussed. The Moscow Police informed the UI that Benoit did not want police involved.

July 22, 2011: University called Benoit to ask her where she would be staying until the start of school. She said she would be in Moscow. They encouraged her to take safety precautions and contact Moscow Police Department if she felt the need.

August 19. She was warned to be vigilant and call police if she had any safety concerns.

August 22, 2011: Katy was shot outside her home at 8:40 p.m.

August 23, 2011: Moscow Police find Ernesto Bustamante dead in a hotel room at the University Inn-Best Western.

Moscow, Idaho — January 10, 2015,

Police say they first responded to a call of a shooting at around 2:30 p.m. at the Northwest Mutual on E. Third Street. Police say the two victims at the first reported shooting were 76-year-old David Trail and 39-year-old Michael Chin of Seattle. Trail, a Moscow businessman, was taken to Pullman Regional Hospital where he was declared dead. Chin was taken to Gritman Medical Center and is currently in critical condition.

Minutes after the first incident, police say a second shooting was reported at an Arby’s restaurant on Peterson Drive. Police say Lee entered the restaurant and asked for the manager. When the manager, 47-year-old Belinda Niebuhr, came forward Lee reportedly opened fire. Niebuhr was declared dead at Gritman Medical Center.

About a mile and a half away from the Arby’s, police say a fourth victim was found dead at a residence in the 400 block of Veatch Street. The fourth victim, 61-year-old Terri Grzebielski, is reportedly the suspect’s adoptive mother. Police say Grzebielski was a physician’s assistant at Moscow Family Medicine.

You may be asking yourself what is the significance of posting these three items about gun violence in one small town in America, so I’ll tell you:  These are stories of suicidal rage, mental illness, murder, blood, obsession, fear, and a gun sickness in this country, the “cure” for which seems to be more and more guns — and, consequently, more and more gun violence.

The significance to me is the fact that, in each of the above stories, I knew one of the dead:

Crystal Hamilton died a bloody death by gun violence by the hand of her husband.  She was the head custodian at the Latah County Courthouse, and was a lovely young woman.  She always had a smile for everyone.

Ernesto Bustamante died a bloody death by gun violence by his own hand, after having become a murderer.  He was my psych research professor — my favorite professor — and he was gorgeous, with his long, shiny black hair, devastating smile, and ironic sense of humor.  He was an occasional chatting partner in my peer advising office in the psych department, and he murdered a promising young grad student, Katy Benoit.

Yesterday, Terri Grzebielski died a bloody death by gun violence by the hand of her adopted son.  She was a physician’s assistant in the University of Idaho Student Health Department, and was my PA for the four years I attended the U of I.  She was an amazing woman:  Very tall, very thin, full of energy, ready smile, and she truly cared about her patients.

In addition to these people, a childhood friend’s sister was killed with a gun, and her murder was never solved; my former mother-in-law’s boss was murdered by his crazed daughter-in-law; and the husband of a dear friend died as a result of a gun accident.

This is fucking excessive, people!  Does everyone know this many people who’ve died by gun violence?

I don’t know the solution to the gun sickness in this country, other than collecting all the guns and melting them into plowshares, but we all know that will never happen.  One feasible solution is strict regulations placed on guns and gun owners, but that would take political integrity and honor, and that exists in very small amounts in this country.

I’m sick to death of gun violence in this country, and I’m SO fucking done with “gun rights” being more important than human lives.

This is our daily open thread — Fuck you, trolls.

Sunday Roast: Until we could

Poem by Richard Blanco

I knew it then, in that room where we found for the first time our eyes, and everything— even the din and smoke of the city around us— disappeared, leaving us alone as if we stood the last two in the world left capable of love, or as if two mirrors face-to-face with no end to the light our eyes could bend into infinity.

I knew since I knew you—but we couldn’t…

I caught the sunlight pining through the shears, traveling millions of dark miles simply to graze your skin as I did that first dawn I studied you sleeping beside me: Yes, I counted your eyelashes, read your dreams like butterflies flitting underneath your eyelids, ready to flutter into the room. Yes, I praised you like a majestic creature my god forgot to create, till that morning of you suddenly tamed in my arms, first for me to see, name you mine. Yes to the rise and fall of your body breathing, your every exhale a breath I took in as my own wanting to keep even the air between us as one.

Yes to all of you. Yes I knew, but still we couldn’t…

I taught you how to dance Salsa by looking into my Caribbean eyes, you learned to speak in my tongue, while teaching me how to catch a snowflake in my palms and love the grey clouds of your grey hometown. Our years began collecting in glossy photos time-lining our lives across shelves and walls glancing back at us: Us embracing in some sunset, more captivated by each other than the sky brushed plum and rose. Us claiming some mountain that didn’t matter as much our climbing it, together. Us leaning against columns of ruins as ancient as our love was new, or leaning into our dreams at a table flickering candlelight in our full-mooned eyes.

I knew me as much as us, and yet we couldn’t….

Though I forgave your blue eyes turning green each time you lied, but kept believing you, though we learned to say good morning after long nights of silence in the same bed, though every door slam taught me to hold on by letting us go, and saying you’re right became as true as saying I’m right, till there was nothing a long walk couldn’t resolve: holding hands and hope under the street lights lustering like a string of pearls guiding us home, or a stroll along the beach with our dog, the sea washed out by our smiles, our laughter roaring louder than the waves, though we understood our love was the same as our parents, though we dared to tell them so, and they understood.

Though we knew, we couldn’t—no one could.

When the fiery kick lines and fires were set for us by our founding mother-fathers at Stonewall, we first spoke defiance. When we paraded glitter, leather, and rainbows made human, our word became pride down every city street, saying: Just let us be. But that wasn’t enough. Parades became rallies—bold words on signs and mouths until a man claimed freedom as another word for marriage and he said: Let us in, we said: love is love, proclaimed it into all eyes that would listen at every door that would open, until noes and maybes turned into yeses, town by town, city by city, state by state, understanding us and the woman who dared say enough until the gravel struck into law what we always knew:

Love is the right to say: I do and I do and I do…

and I do want us to see every tulip we’ve planted come up spring after spring, a hundred more years of dinners cooked over a shared glass of wine, and a thousand more movies in bed. I do until our eyes become voices speaking without speaking, until like a cloud meshed into a cloud, there’s no more you, me—our names useless. I do want you to be the last face I see—your breath my last breath,

I do, I do and will and will for those who still can’t vow it yet, but know love’s exact reason as much as they know how a sail keeps the wind without breaking, or how roots dig a way into the earth, or how the stars open their eyes to the night, or how a vine becomes one with the wall it loves, or how, when I hold you, you are rain in my hands.


If I’d loved like this, I wouldn’t have done my part in the destruction of the “sanctity of marriage.”  Although, I guess it’s okay to inflict all manner of destruction on the institution of marriage, as long as you’re in a marriage with someone of the opposite sex — which is really idiotic, if you think about it.

This is our daily open threadMarriage equality now!

This is My Body, Not Yours


This is my body.
I do what I want with it.
This is my body.
I make my own choices.
This is my body.
I use it as a canvas, tattoo it, decorate it, and pierce it.
I take medicine if I want to and only undergo medical procedures I choose.
I eat what I want, exercise for my health, and wear what I like.
I fall in love with whomever, fuck/sleep with whomever and marry whomever I choose.
I decide when and how to become a mother.
This is my body, not yours

These decisions have nothing to do with you. If I’m not hurting you or stopping you from pursuing your inherent right to happiness, it’s none of your business. This is my body, not yours.

Almost one in eight women in the United States will have breast cancer, the most invasive cancer for women worldwide. If I am black or white, rich or poor, married or single, gay or straight, formally educated or not, I have the right to be screened for this killer of women, whether I go to my doctor or rely on the services of clinics like those run by Planned Parenthood. Your desire to stop the funding of abortions has nothing to do with my right to defend myself against cancer. This is my body, not yours.

If I choose to have sex, I have the right to birth control and to be spared your demeaning insults you’d never want leveled against your daughter or mother. My pursuit of orgasm is neither unnatural nor dangerous nor scary nor an infringement of your religious liberty. My sexual activity is for my benefit, not your pleasure. And it’s never my fault if you rape me. I am done being excluded from decisions about my sexual and reproductive health. This is my body, not yours.

I determine who or what goes inside of my vagina and when. I make all decisions regarding my pregnancy. I will access prenatal care whether or not you agree with the choices made resulting from that care. I have the right to an abortion without facing intimidation, harassment, burdensome parental consent laws, or prejudicial taxes. If I decide to have an abortion, I will not undergo unnecessary, invasive medical procedures for the purposes of your moralizing and personal edification. I’m entitled to all health information from my doctor. And allowing myself to be penetrated once doesn’t assume your right to do it again on your own prerogative, for your own reasons. This is my body, not yours.

It is time for you to accept that I am fully aware, capable, and accountable for myself. I don’t need a hero or saving because I’m not in distress. I’m not defined by my need of a man or partner, but I have the right to be made happy by one, in a safe and supportive relationship. I’m not defined by my weight, hair, make up, skin color, or breast size. I do not exist to be your play toy. I won’t wait my turn nor be quiet nor heed you. I know my physical and mental strength and I do not fear you. I’m beautiful, despite what you think, with or without your approval. This is my body, not yours.

This is my body.
I’m through with legislators telling me what to do with it.
This is my body.
Keep your salacious, aggressive, sexist insults to yourself. I’m not listening.
This is my body.
I have the right to marry my partner, woman or man.
To equal pay
To health care
To education
To divorce
To safety
To protection of the law
To respect and dignity
To complete equality
This is my body, not yours.

Do not be afraid of a world in which women know themselves, their voice, and their power. That world has arrived.


Don’t like it?  We aren’t asking you if you like it; we’re telling you how things are.

Thanksgiving, Rockwell Style

When one thinks about Thanksgiving, what image is the first conjured up in one’s mind? Obviously, Norman Rockwell’s iconic painting, which we think of nostalgically as a representation of Americana from almost-bygone times. But in an article from this morning’s Berkshire Eagle, writer Chris Newbound says:

“Norman Rockwell characterized his own work as an idealized version of American life. He and others would often say that his images represented the way he wanted life to be, not necessarily the way life was.”

Mr. Newbound goes on to describe the “Thanksgiving” painting:

“The “Freedom of Want” painting was originally part of a quartet of works inspired by Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” speech (his State of the Union address) in January 1941. This particular painting is the Paul McCartney of the group: the sunniest, and arguably the most popular of the foursome. The other three works — “Freedom of Speech,” “Freedom of Fear” and “Freedom to Worship” — are decidedly more somber, more Lennon than McCartney.”

With the way that Republicans have talked about “taking our country back” one would think that the “Four Freedoms” as embodied in Rockwell’s paintings would be etched on a plank of the Republican’s platform. But that would require agreeing that every American has a right to “Freedom from Want” and “Freedom from Fear”, which we liberals believe in. In conservative lexicon, “Freedom” simply means “you’re on your own”, leaving those Four Freedoms “Ours To Fight For.”

Happy Thanksgiving to all Critters and Zoosters, great and small.

This is our Open Thread. What’s everyone up to today?

Sunday Roast: The Death of a Butterfly

by Chris Streich

The New York Times

There was a suicide bombing in Afghanistan the other day.  So far away…the other side of the world.  It means so little in our daily lives.  What does it have to do with us anyway…?

At 8 years old, with freckles and a penchant for frilly dresses and soccer cleats, Parwana was just as I was at that age: equal parts tomboy and little princess. In the last few weeks, she had begun to wear a head scarf, but she clearly was not willing to grow up completely just yet. She was the undisputed ringleader of the little girls, and enough of a spitfire to give the bigger boys as good as she got.

She could belong to any one of us, really.  But she doesn’t.  She doesn’t belong to anyone now…except maybe our consciences.  We hear of another suicide bombing on the other side of the world, and think “Not again,” for about 10 seconds, and then it’s gone.

But this time, we see a face.  We can’t un-see her.  Because sometimes in this world, heroes come in the form of an eight year old child and her friends, who, beside skateboarding, loved nothing more than standing up to a big “bad boy.”

Her name was Parwana, which means “Butterfly” in Dari.  She gave all she had to give, and it has everything to do with us.

This is our daily open thread.

The Watering Hole: September 7 — We take care of our own

Did you see the President’s speech accepting the Democratic nomination for President?  Did you, huh huh?  It was fantastic!

No going all complaisant now, we still all need to make sure we get into that voting booth and VOTE.  And we need to do all we can to help our friends and neighbors get to their polling places — no matter who they’re planning on voting for.

This is our daily open thread — Happy happy Friday!!!

The Watering Hole, Thursday, August 23rd, 2012: Roe v. Wade, “Personhood” Laws, and Colonial Times

What I started out researching for today’s thread, and what follows, bear little relation to each other. I had wanted to explore the history of Presidential nominees whose campaigns included promises to repeal Roe v. Wade, and any resulting attempts at legislation. That effort met with little success (though there was plenty of other fascinating information, too much for me to do more than a cursory scan), but luckily I got distracted by this bright shiny object: Footnote Number 6 on Wikipedia’s Roe vs Wade page:

Wilson, James, “Of the Natural Rights of Individuals” (1790–1792): “In the contemplation of law, life begins when the infant is first able to stir in the womb.” Also see Blackstone, William. Commentaries (1765): “Life … begins in contemplation of law as soon as an infant is able to stir in the mother’s womb.”

So, am I wrong in interpreting those quotes as: before the American Revolution, and continuing after the establishment of the United States of America, life in a woman’s womb did not legally begin until the fetus starts moving?

WebMD says, “You should feel your baby’s first movements, called “quickening,” between weeks 16 and 25 of your pregnancy. If this is your first pregnancy, you may not feel your baby move until closer to 25 weeks. By the second pregnancy, some women start to feel movements as early as 13 weeks.”

Even if one uses the figure of 13 weeks, or let’s say even 12 weeks, it appears that it was settled law, way back during the era of our Founding Fathers, that an embryo was not legally a living human being until three months into the pregnancy. Hmmm…if this was the generally accepted definition of ‘when “life” begins’ back in the 18th century, how can the Teapublicans in Congress reconcile this with their (false) claim that the United States was founded as a Christian nation, and should therefore be ruled by the Bible? How can they justify – or even implement – “Personhood” legislation? And just which exactly is the United States citizen, the woman or the not-legally-“life” zygote or embryo? Which comes first in the hearts of those Teapublicans, their Oath to their country, or their Old Testament god?

Footnote Number 6 led me to more fascinating reading in James Wilson’s “Of the Natural Rights of Individuals.” Here’s some excerpts:

“The opinion has been very general, that, in order to obtain the blessings of a good government, a sacrifice must be made of a part of our natural liberty. I am much inclined to believe, that, upon examination, this opinion will prove to be fallacious. It will, I think, be found, that wise and good government — I speak, at present, of no other — instead of contracting, enlarges as well as secures the exercise of the natural liberty of man: and what I say of his natural liberty, I mean to extend, and wish to be understood, through all this argument, as extended, to all his other natural rights.”

“…what [my description of] natural liberty is:
“Nature has implanted in man the desire of his own happiness; she has inspired him with many tender affections towards others, especially in the near relations of life; she has endowed him with intellectual and with active powers; she has furnished him with a natural impulse to exercise his powers for his own happiness, and the happiness of those for whom he entertains such tender affections. If all this be true, the undeniable consequence is, that he has a right to exert those powers for the accomplishment of those purposes, in such a manner, and upon such objects, as his inclination and judgment shall direct; provided he does no injury to others; and provided some publick interests do not demand his labours. This right is natural liberty.”

If this description of natural liberty is a just one, it will teach us, that selfishness and injury are as little countenanced by the law of nature as by the law of man. Positive penalties, indeed, may, by human laws, be annexed to both. But these penalties are a restraint only upon injustice and overweening self-love, not upon the exercise of natural liberty.

“Let the constitution of the United States…be examined from the beginning to the end. No right is conferred, no obligation is laid on any, which is not laid or conferred on every, citizen of the commonwealth or Union — I think I may defy the world to produce a single exception to the truth of this remark. Now…the original equality of mankind consists in an equality of their duties and rights.

Duties and rights” – note that he puts “Duties” first. An idea which the Teapublicans either have deliberately abandoned, or are too ignorant or oblivious to understand. Or perhaps both. (sigh)

This is our daily open thread — got something to say about something?