Monthly Archives: April 2013

To Friends in a Virtural World

Dearest Facebook friends,

It never fails that, after I post up something controversial or opinionated [as seldom as that happens] folks will respond with comments. Some benign, some…well, a bit more caustic. And somebody will send me a little note asking how I could possibly be friends with someone “like that”.

So for those who are new to my sandbox, here is an expanded version of my set response.

You will find all flavors of folks here, from the far left to the far right [and apparently the Far Side].

When the discussion turns to religion you will see the mix includes believers and non-believers, Christian ministers and evangelists, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Taoists, Agnostics and Atheists. And many of their positions will surprise you. And all of their beliefs are respected – though when they might want to foist their beliefs on others…that’s a different story.

When talk turns to guns and gun control, there are gun control folks, gun rights folks, gun hobbyists, collectors and some that until very recently didn’t care one way or another. There are a couple of folks who work in the gun industry, there are folks who work in law enforcement, there are folks who work full time on gun control issues, there are folks who stitch up those who are victims of gun violence, and there are victims of gun violence.

When it comes to the environment…there are lawyers on every side of the debate, there are folks who actively protest actions against our environment and there are folks who truly believe that global climate change is a hoax [and they have the youtube videos to prove it]. There are folks who focus on protecting animals, those who fight to protect our natural infrastructure, those who make their living in coal and oil industries. So when you chime in, and please do you might find that you are talking with an attorney – either for the industry or the government or one of the environmental interest groups. You might be talking to a geologist or a real climatologist [not weather guy]. So be prepared.

And every once in a while we will talk politics…There are Republicans, Democrats, Libertarian, libertarian, Tea Party and I believe Anarchists. They cover the political spectrum from “just voters” to political analysts and consultants. And they cover the newly exuberant young folks who see problems and demand change and they cover more seasoned folks who see problems and demand change…with a boatload more experience demanding it.

Friends here cover five continents [and Harlan] and professions that range from students to doctors, lawyers, systems folks, IT folks, engineers of several flavors, economists, professors, teachers, managers, small business owners, big business owners, disc jockeys, librarians, photographers, writers, government workers, politicians, career military, retired military, and some folks who work now or used to work for three letter government agencies. There are folks who stay home and raise their kids; there are folks who have been retired longer than some others have been alive.

And those friends include folks I have known since I was three years old to those who I have never once met except on the pages of Facebook or one of a couple dozen fora.

So, come and play, you will learn something if you keep your mind open and every opinion [no matter how bone-headed it will seem to some] is welcome…even encouraged.

And as I always remind those that are new…enjoy the sandbox and please, wear a cup.

___________________________________________________

McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

Advertisements

Week From Hell Ends On High Note

Here is what I know about the last seven days. They sucked. Let’s run it down.

Last Saturday Night the big controversy was that the NRA had taken sponsorship of the Texas 500 NASCAR race down in Texas. The controversy was multi-faceted in that there was controversy that NRA did it, that people complained of insensitivity that they did it and that Fox Sports did everything they could to avoid saying the name NRA500, showing the race logo – or empty seats – or discussing the controversy. All in all a normal race with the cars going in circles to the left and buzz going in circles to the right.

Sunday…Masters and it looks like Tiger is in the news again. ’nuff said.
Tiger

Monday…we as a country looked forward to a bumpy week of “anniversaries”, from students shooting up Columbine High School to a conflagration at Waco’s Branch Davidian Compound to domestic terrorism in Oklahoma City to a crazed lone gunman at Virginia Tech, all anniversaries that coincided with a vote on background checks for gun purchases.

On the other hand, the week was starting good as the DOW began the week at 14,850, just a couple of points down from its all time high the week before and over 8,200 points higher than its bottom due to the Bush Recession.

Then there was Boston…At 2:50PM two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. It was an event that showed the worst of humanity and the best of humanity, juxtaposed and interwoven as terror is supplanted by acts of selflessness in helping those maimed and injured.

boston-marathon-explosions42

Tuesday seemed like a hangover of Monday…a news overload as updates of the Boston Bombings continued non-stop. Then came breaking news to break into breaking news. Ricin is found in letters addressed to both Republican Senator Mississippi Roger Wicker and President Obama at the White House. Field tests proved inconclusive so they went to another lab in the area…I somehow envision Abby Sciuto and Major Mass Spec on the job. Turns out – yep Ricin. Time for a Caf-Pow reward.

Abby-Sciuto-abby-sciuto-15759878-360-291

On Wednesday, in West, Texas an explosion rocked the West Fertilizer Company storage and distribution facility. A facility that had 540,000 pounds of Ammonium Nitrate shook central Texas, felt 50 miles away. The death toll, now at 14 is expected to continue to rise. Had the company followed rules it would have either had no more than 400 pounds of the highly explosive material or would have been scrutiny by the Department of Homeland Security. Turns out DHS had no idea they existed…no idea that they had explosives less than a mile from an elementary school.

texasexplosion2

One official described the damage as like a tornado which makes us believe that it must have sounded like a freight train OR, the new metaphor for describing tornados [or tarnaders as they are often known] will be “It sounded like a big assed ammonium nitrate bomb.” I’ve heard it both ways.

Anderson Cooper and his tight sweaters hopped a plane from Boston and headed to West, Texas. This week’s Breaking News now has frequent flier points and Anderson needed to do something to clean up after John King’s error in announcing a suspect had been caught based on “three credible sources.” Maybe not so much.

anderson-cooper-v_19447_001_5690-635x360

In other news on Wednesday, the Senate failed to pass even the most watered down background check amendment to address gun violence. Republicans can take comfort in the fact that the story was buried deep behind Boston, Texas, and Ricin Boy.

Thursday was not particularly better…everyone feeling like they had been on a cross country road trip in the back of a VW microbus for what seemed like days [not that there is anything wrong with that]. It was honestly difficult to remember what day what tragedy happened.  But a bit of good news surfaced as Elvis impersonator Paul Kevin Curtis was arrested in Corinth, Mississippi for the Ricin attacks. This was good in that the poison terrorist was now arrested and there is one less Elvis impersonator on the loose. Thank you very much.

elvis_0

And at 5:00 on Thursday, just 74 hours and change after the first bomb rocked Boston the FBI released photos of the two bomber suspects. While both looked like just about anyone, the younger one bore a resemblance to a young Christopher Moltisanti. Tony would be pissed. After combing through what had to be terabytes of digital content, from videos of security cameras to media to the thousands of photos that folks emailed in at the FBI’s request, they narrowed the subjects down…had pictures of them, their backpacks and them placing them at the bomb sites. Elliot Ness would be proud. It was a day of successes. Ricin Boy in cuffs and two terrorist suspects IDed…

As Thursday ended everyone was just begging for the week to end. But neither the week nor even Thursday were over yet. At 11:08 the social media and internet lit up with news that a campus cop had been shot on the campus of MIT. By itself, not a big national story but, with the car jacking of a Mercedes SUV a few minutes later, along with a description by the driver and video of the 7/11 where the crime occurred the two common events [a shooting and a car-jacking] took on extra importance. These were the bombers. And it seemed that every cop in Boston dropped onto the streets of Cambridge within minutes. The police scanner was non-stop for three hours as the car chase included gunfire while driving and grenades lobbed out of the stolen Mercedes at the cops.

By 12:30AM, Friday Boston police had stopped the fleeing Mercedes and a vicious gun battle erupted in a sleepy neighborhood in Watertown, three miles west of Cambridge and about five miles from the Boston Marathon finish line. Hundreds of shots were fired and bombs lobbed by the two Marathon bombing suspects. As Suspect One, now know at “older brother” stood up and charged cops with guns blazing and suicide vest on he was taken down as he ran out of ammo. Suspect Two, now known as “little brother” hopped into the Mercedes and plowed through the police line, including those who were handcuffing his brother. He all-terrain’ed his brother as he fled the scene.

boston

By 1:00AM the world knew that one of the two Boston Marathon suspects was down and the other in the wind. Oh, yeah, the three cable news channels and the networks decided to join in the party, nearly two hours after social media, tweeterworld and on-line scanners had informed the nation. Anderson Cooper was on another plane, back from Texas, heading to Boston, likely with a mission to refocus CNN. Time for bed.

Friday was still in full swing as the Boston police, Mass State Police, FBI, ATF, DHS, DoD and likely many more federal alphabet agencies were in full dragnet to the point of closing down the city of Boston on Friday including cancelling baseball and hockey in the city. At 6:00PM the lockdown for Boston is lifted as it is thought that the suspect may have slipped through the net and was in the wind.

Not an hour later a citizen spotted a boat with a torn tarp. As any guy would do in a city where an armed terrorist was on the loose with an assault rifle, pistols and likely bombs – he went over and took a peek in the boat. Suspect Two was there. He called 911. Police swarmed the area. It got noisy.

At 8:43, 101 HOURS after the first bomb went off Suspect Two was in custody and on his way to the hospital.

We saw the absolute best of America as our often maligned police, FBI and other federal agencies did an awesome job of solving a major terrorist event in less than five days. Those who bitch and whine about taxes or the oppressive government or public sector unions need to go sit in the back of the room for a while and just STFU.

Boston-Strong-380x309

So, we end the week with Saturday…a day to rest, for Bostonians to get back to baseball, for calm to be restored after the week from Hell. It is 4/20…and that means a national focus on pot but today at 5:00PM in Denver, Colorado at a pro-pot rally shots rang out…two were shot and thankfully no one died.

This week…Just. This. Week. we end up with three killed in terrorist bombings in Boston, another dozen or so still critical, 14 [so far] killed and 200 injured in a chemical plant explosion in Texas, Ricin sent to politicians, two cops shot, one of them killed in Boston in the manhunt for the two terrorist bombers, one boat riddled with bullets, one terrorist dead, another in the hospital under arrest and a large harshed buzz in Denver.

Kids, it’s time to chill. We can’t take too many weeks like this.

______________________________________________

McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip

//


NRA Goes Racin’ And Forgets To Check Rear View Mirror

Kyle Busch

NASCAR racing is a pretty closed sport…you either love it or hate it, follow it or not. This weekend at the Texas Motor Speedway it was different. In early March, the NRA, following two months of being pummeled by the press and public for a tone-deaf response to the massacre at Sandy Hook decided to sponsor itself a race. So, this weekend we had the NRA 500.

But it was different in two ways. First, an argument broke out in the infield of the race and a man decided to kill himself with a handgun. Second, and more significant [except to the family and friends of the dead man] was that Fox Sports seemed to bend over backwards to NOT use the name of the race. In every instance of the pre-race show and the race they referred to it as the Texas 500 or the Texas Motor Speedway 500.

First, to the death in the infield. At this time there are not many details but the basics are that Kirk Franklin, 42, of Saginaw, Texas got in to an altercation at the speedway during the race. He ended the altercation by shooting himself to death. Alcohol may have been involved.

Normally, and by that I mean over the past 30 years or so a hallmark of NASCAR races is the way that announcers and drivers do everything they can to repeat the names of the sponsors as many times as possible. It is not “fill up with gas”, rather “fill up with Sunoco Racing Fuel”. It is not “I want to thank my team”, rather “I want to thank the crew for setting up the awesome Dupont, Pepsi MAX, Quaker State, AARP Drive to End Hunger, Rick Hendricks Motorsport Chevrolet SS today for the Subway 500.”

The announcers have been particularly guilty as they work in any and all references to race sponsors, from the Sharpie 500 to the Kobalt 400 to the Budweiser Shootout. But it didn’t happen that way this weekend. This weekend the title – NRA 500 was not mentioned a single time. That extended to the pre-race, showing of logos and photo-ops.

At least two of the drivers were told not to mention the sponsor and to not be shown by the logos.

NRA 500 - Practice

To be fair, they also did not mention, or show up close video of the [takes a deep breath] Michael Waltrip Racing Number Fifteen Clint Bowyer Gander Mountain With Rights Comes Responsibility Secure Your Firearms Camry; and Michael Waltrip and his NASCAR champion brother Daryl were both part of the Fox Sports announcing team. This change in sponsor name dropping seems to have started with the broadcasters last week, when they didn’t readily promote the STP Gas Booster 500 by name, though they did promote the STP 500 next week in Kansas by name.

NASCAR itself has spent a month distancing itself from the NRA500 and the controversy that it created. Facing backlash in the sponsorship agreement NASCAR spokesman David Higdon spoke to ESPN where he said “in light of this weeks race, NASCAR will be examining its rules moving forward as to who can be allowed to sponsor races.”

The controversy took a national turn when Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy asking that Fox network not broadcast Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race sponsored by the National Rifle Association. If the broadcast was any indication, it seems that Fox Sports did make a conscious decision to minimize NRA promotion.

In early December, 2012 Bob Costas jumped into the politics of gun violence with an extended comment during halftime of Sunday night football in the wake of the murder/suicide of Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend and other shootings that had occurred. Conservatives jumped all over Costas and NBC for his introduction of the politics of gun violence into the world of sports…Four months later those same conservatives are jumping all over Fox Sports because they did not introduce politics into the world of sports.

That insular world of NASCAR opened up a bit this week, the outside world spilled into their lives as the bigger middle of America, that large group that is neither pro-gun nor anti-gun violence found their actions…well, tacky. The outside world questioned that they should have known better, that they should have been more sensitive to the zeitgeist of the nation rather than bring partisanship into the NASCAR world. But most of the outside world would be even more appalled to know that it was as late as 2004 when the Southern 500 finally caved to end its Rebel Flag waving showcase race.

Darlington-Southern-500-Confederate-Program

In the end, the controversy is on what was not said, what was not shown rather than what was. Oh, and Kyle Busch in the Number 18 Interstate Battery, M&Ms, Joe Gibbs Racing Camry took a bow with the Sunoco Checkered Flag™ for the first, umm NRA 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway.

Kyle Busch

______________________________________________

McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.


Taped Meeting Reveals McConnell Sleaze and Use Of Senate Staff [and Mystery Presenter]

Mitch 1

It is 20 months before the 2014 Kentucky Senate race. Now is the time of the year where folks on either side should be getting their ducks in a row, determining if they have support and begin their fundraising. We shouldn’t be hearing a peep out of Mitch McConnell or any opponents regarding the election…it is just too early. But this is Kentucky, home of Henry Clay. And since Clay entered the national stage in 1806 as a US Senator at the tender age of 29, Kentucky has been just a bit different. Just one year later, while serving as Speaker of the House, he and another Congressman got into a “misunderstanding” which resulted in a duel being fought in January 1806 between Henry Clay and Humphrey Marshall. It was over requiring members to wear homespun suits rather than those made of imported British broadcloth.

On April 9th Mother Jones broke a story that followed the quickly developing news that someone had secretly recorded a campaign strategy session at Mitch McConnell’s Louisville headquarters back in February. At the time the Internet and media were abuzz about the possible candidacy of Ashley Judd to go after McConnell’s seat…one he has held since 1985.

The transcript of the meeting is here. It opens with the “presenter” laying out their opposition research on Ashley Judd.

“I refer to [Judd] as sort of the oppo research situation where there’s a haystack of needles, just because truly, there’s such a wealth of material.” [presenter of the meeting]

The main things to come out of this secret campaign meeting was that they fully intended to use past health issues of Judd in a smear campaign that also includes her personal views on children, mountaintop removal, supporter of gay marriage, her religion, and of course her “liberal Hollywood” image. But the focus was on crushing her, not comparing her to McConnell’s positions…so the target is her mental health…

“Ah, and again. She’s clearly, this sounds extreme, but she is emotionally unbalanced. I mean it’s been documented. Jesse can go in chapter and verse from her autobiography about, you know, she’s suffered some suicidal tendencies. She was hospitalized for 42 days when she had a mental breakdown in the ’90s.” [presenter of the meeting]

Two questions arose regarding the meeting – did McConnell used Legislative Assistants, who are paid for by taxpayers during the campaign planning session and just who was the [Presenter] at the meeting presenting opposition research? Was it a member of McConnell’s Senate staff or, as some suggest that it was someone from Karl Rove’s American Crossroads superPAC, the group that put out the hit-piece on Ashley Judd – just FIVE DAYS LATER. Neither would be legal under Federal Law.

Following the release of the transcripts the story took on a life of its own, being reported throughout the blogosphere and through national media. It became a tale of “your dirty tricks caught our dirty tricks”, though by the time McConnell held his second or third press conference on the subject, he was heralding that his headquarters was professionally bugged, never once thinking that it might have been one of his staff that thought that the actions of the campaign crossed an ethical line.

And, like Kentucky weather, going from the mid 80s back to the 40s over the next few days, politics in Kentucky do not stand still. This afternoon the good folks at WFPL FM reported the source of the leak of information that was given to Mother Jones. Jacob Conway, on the executive committee of the Jefferson County [Louisville] Democratic Party told WFPL that Shawn Reilly and Curtis Morrison of Progress Kentucky bragged to him about recording the meeting, which was held Feb. 2 at a newly opened McConnell campaign office in Louisville, Ky.

“They [Reilly and Morrison of Progress Kentucky] were in the hallway after the, I guess after the celebration and hoopla ended, apparently these people broke for lunch and had a strategy meeting, which is, in every campaign I’ve been affiliated with, makes perfect sense,” says Conway. “One of them held the elevator, the other one did the recording and they left. That was what they told to me from them directly.” – Jacob Conway

Conway later told FoxNews that he outed the leak because he “didn’t want the actions by Reilly and Morrison to inflict damage on Democrats in Kentucky.”

In speaking with Jacob Conway this evening he reiterated to me “I meant no malice toward Progress Kentucky nor Reilly/Morrison that my intent was to speak to what the reporter already knew and to insure no damage was inflicted to the Kentucky Democratic Party by Progess Kentucky’s actions.

This is not the first instance of the democratic SuperPAC stepping to the edge [or over] the line. On February 14th, Progress Kentucky tweeted “This woman has the ear of (Sen. McConnell)—she’s his wife. May explain why your job moved to China!” The tweets and their implications were resoundingly rejected by Kentucky politicos and bloggers as over the line, a fuzzy oft times invisible line.

But not to leave well enough alone, today McConnell approached the FBI to complain that his office had been bugged and his campaign spokesman compared the recording to Nazi Germany “This is Gestapo kind of scare tactics and we’re not going to stand for it,” Jesse Benton told radio host Mike Huckabee on Wednesday.

Was it wrong? Sure. But to compare it to the actions of Nazi Germany is indicative of McConnell’s inability to understand equivalence or history…I would have gone with Nixonian rather than Gestapo. But that would have brought up Nixon, and McConnell, at the time of Watergate was well into National Republican politics. It might have been a touch too close.

Today the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has asked the FBI and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics to investigate whether McConnell violated federal law and Senate rules by misusing Senate staff or resources to conduct opposition research on potential campaign opponents.

So, let’s summarize the last 48 or so hours.

  • Recording of McConnell campaign strategy meeting released by Mother Jones.
  • Recording indicates McConnell campaign [TeamMitch] plan on using old mental health issues and religion against Ashley Judd [who had not even declared that she would run for McConnell’s seat].
  • McConnell complains to the FBI that his office had been “bugged.”
  • McConnell aide compares bugging of conference room to actions of Gestapo in Nazi Germany.
  • Jefferson Democratic Party leader outs Progress Kentucky for the recording.
  • Recording was an iPhone drive-by from the hall, not a “bugging of the office”.
  • CREW files ethics violation complaint against McConnell

And it is still April…20 months before the General Election. Stay tuned.

Mountains tower proudest, thunder peals the loudest, The landscape is the grandest,

And Politics – the damnedest. In Kentucky — Judge James Mulligan, 1902

______________________________________________________________

McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.


Campaign To Make NRA VP LaPierre Look Sane: Release the Nugent

Ted Nugent CV2

In mid-April, 2012, Ted Nugent summarized his thoughts on the re-election of President Obama when, in front of an NRA Convention crowd he “promised to be “dead or in jail” by the Spring of 2013 if Obama was re-elected.” OK then…

Ted Nugent, an NRA board member fancies himself a spokesman for gun owners; a celebrity talking head for gun rights, a celebrity political activist to bring out the base with his rhetoric and music.

Last April, in the middle of the Republican primaries Nugent endorsed Mitt Romney for President. In and of itself it is a fair, patriotic thing to do, a right of everyone, celebrity or not to endorse someone for office. But this deviated from an endorsement…it escalated to hate filled vitriol obviously intending to inflame rather than promote support. It is a typical, often repeated tact of the right, from Rush to Beck to Hannity to inflame with hate filled wharrgarbl, to use words free of the constraint of fact to instill fear, uncertainly and dread into the base of conservative voters. And because so many of that base only get their information from the right-wing echo chamber…few if any take the time to apply critical thinking to what has been said and why.

Nugent, addressing the milling crowd at the 2012 NRA Convention in St. Louis

“Your goal should be to get a couple of thousand people per person who’s here to vote for Mitt Romney in November.” “If you don’t know that our government is wiping its ass with the Constitution, you’re living under a rock some place. And that there’s a dead soldier, an airman, a Marine, a seaman, a hero of the military that just got his legs blown off for the U.S. Constitution, and we got a president and an attorney general who doesn’t even like the Constitution.”

Nugent continued “We got four Supreme Court justices who don’t believe in the Constitution.” “Four Supreme Court justices signed their name to a declaration that Americans have no fundamental rights to self defense. That sounds like a stoned hippy! That doesn’t sound like a Supreme Court anything. It sounds like a supremely intellectually vacuous punk.”

“And if you want more of those kinds of evil, anti-American people in the Supreme Court then don’t get involved and let Obama take office again. Because I’ll tell you this right now, if Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.”

Nugent further urged attendees to get everyone they knew to vote for Romney and against “this vile, evil, America-hating administration” or “we’ll be a suburb of Indonesia next year.” [Video Link]

That is not political speech; it is hate speech, spewed by someone who is mad because his side lost in 2008, mad because his philosophy is so opposed to many in America. Mad because he can’t believe that a majority of American believe differently than he. And, rather than work within the political process, he chose to inflame with hate, try to reduce the debate to a dystopian death-match of good vs. evil, though it is not clear to those who read his words whether he is, as he envisions a noble patriot or as many believe a raving traitor, bent on destroying an America if it can’t be like HE wants it.

Now, nearly a year after a promise to “either be dead or in jail by this time next year,” Nugent is vacillating…caught up in his own vitriolic rhetoric. His goal in saying what he said was ineffective and now he is trying to justify his comments by suggesting they were a metaphor.  A year later he says

And I know it caught a lot of my friends off guard, when I said if this America-hater, if this freedom-hater, if this enemy of America becomes the president again I’ll either be dead or in jail.” He continued “So it’s funny that I might be dead or in jail. And that is so indicative of how callous and disconnected some are, because you are talking about arbitrary, punitive, capricious draconian felonies.” [Video Link]

Really Ted…capricious, draconian felonies? In what paranoid, hate filled parallel universe?

So, why is what Ted Nugent says important? In the political sense, as an endorser for public office it is not…his fiery rhetoric did not contribute to a Romney victory.

Then we look at the current national conversation, that attempt by America to reign in gun violence because too many Americans are tired of not feeling safe in their malls, restaurants, churches, theaters and where they take their kids to learn to be adults. What does Nugent contribute to it? From seeing his comments, and from reading the comments of those who support him, he is contributing greatly to the intransigence that is overwhelming the gun rights side of the conversation. They echo Nugent’s fringe philosophy of hate for this administration; inability to compromise as normal adults are required to do; look to protect their hobby rather than to look for solutions to the gun violence problem.

TedNugent2

It is not hard to visualize many of the gun rights enthusiasts standing in the crowd, lighter held high as Uncle Ted riffs on the his paranoid doomsday vision of dystopia…and only his vision can save the day. Of course the crowd cheers for an encore. The echo chamber is just too well refined.

But, is there damage to his words? After all he has a First Amendment Constitutional right to articulate his opinions on his Second Amendment Constitutional right. And that is all well and good EXCEPT, much like the demographic of “gun owner”, while there are a large number of folks that hear him who are responsible, that understand his political rhetoric intended no harm, there is a small percentage of those who listen to him that are unable to apply critical thinking skills to his words and that they should take them figuratively rather than literally. As anger over President Obama’s second term continues and as Americans take a hard look at the 21st Century realities of gun rights, time will tell what that small percentage of enthusiasts will do. Hopefully it will be a non-issue. But if it is not, Nugent has blood on his lips.
I have a good friend of many years who tells me that “Uncle Ted” is a good guy, that, when he and his daughter see Nugent at NRA conventions and other gun show events, that Nugent treats his young daughter like a rock star [and he should]…and the photographs I have seen lead me to believe that to be true. BUT, as long as Ted Nugent spits vitriol, intentionally inflaming gun enthusiasts with fact free rhetoric and paranoid, dystopian hyperbola he will always, to me be “That draft dodging, diaper wearing, poaching, child support avoiding, underage girl dating, feckless has-been NRA board member.” And that hyperbolic opinion is fact based.

One week to go until the year is over…Tic-Toc.

___________________________________________________

McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.


Dear Congress, about this gun violence thing which you are ignoring

Gun-Reform-in-Congress

Dear Congress,

You have an average 15.26% approval rate according to most of the dozen polls from this month…your disapproval rating averages 79.1%, somewhat higher than sinus drainage. The reason for that, most people understand that draining sinuses are a sign that something is actually happening.

Another way of putting this…if you were in elementary school, you would have a collective grade of F – 535 children who would not be promoted to the next grade, held back until you understand and perform the most basic of societal functions. You can’t play well with others, you can’t color between the lines and your critical thinking skills seem nonexistent. You pout when your weaknesses are pointed out and you are distracted by the most inconsequential things. You skip school…only in attendance less than half the available time.

Two activities are on your exceptionally empty plate right now…budgets and gun violence. Others have pointed out your chronic ineptness in solving our budget issues…this will focus on solving gun violence in America.
In December you ran to each and every microphone, each and every camera crew, every television show from network to basic cable to express your “heartfelt sadness” about the events of Sandy Hook Elementary School, about the theater in Aurora, about the mall in Clackamus, about the Temple in Wisconsin. And you said something has to change, that something had to be done to make our malls and theaters and the schools for our children safer. And to date, 17 weeks after Sandy Hook, 120 days after 26 children and teachers were massacred, you have done NOTHING.

Well, that’s not exactly true…you have taken off 10 weeks that you have been “in session”.

In that same time period over 3,300 Americans have died from gun violence; over 220 of them under 18, over 57 of them under 10 years of age. And you have done NOTHING except posture for the cameras, except craft your rationalizations as to why you have NOT acted.

Since you never see the mail you receive, never see the outrage that is filtered by the staff of your echo chamber you are mostly clueless to the expectations of your constituents, of Americans. In fact, the only people who do have your complete and undivided attention are lobbyists with vested interests and zealots with checkbooks. That much is painfully obviously.

And that brings us to the NRA. You fear the NRA because you have seen them affect elections. You have seen the money that you can receive if you get an A on their scorecard. You have decided that an A on the NRA scorecard is more important than an F on the American people’s score card. You have let an organization whose total membership is just 1.5% of the American population define the debate…what next, letting drug dealers define drug policy, letting pimps define prostitution legislation, letting bankers define financial sector regulations? Wait you already did that last one.

If you look at the legislatures in the states of New York, Colorado, Connecticut, and Maryland you will see what happens when elected representatives care more about the safety of society, about the need to curb gun violence than supporting partisan, dogmatic abstract philosophies funded by the NRA. Those state legislatures are a shining example of their success and your failure, of their willingness to ignore bullies with checkbooks and do what the majority of Americans want.

And we hear that the fringe elements of Congress…Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) are threatening a filibuster of gun bills – without even seeing them. They are proving to be the very portrait of partisan, dogmatic philosophies that have brought Congress to a halt…but have contributed greatly to your 15% approval ratings.

Get off your asses. It is that simple. Take these bills and debate them in public, on the Senate and House floors and let each and every one of you stake your claim to either solving gun violence or supporting your lobbyist gravy-train. Let’s see you on CSPAN rationalizing how 10,000 deaths per year are “the price for freedom”, see you rationalize that the safety of schools and malls and restaurants and churches are less important than posturing for your supporters – at least those who write you checks.

Many of you incessantly refer to the Founding Fathers when trying to defend your positions. My guess those Founding Fathers wouldn’t let you in the front door after they heard your pettiness, and I am sure they wouldn’t let you stand on the floors of Congress where the adults work. Quit acting like the elementary school students that you appear to be and learn to work together, learn to compromise like adults are compelled to do every day.

Now, some of you might think I am not being respectful of the august houses of Congress and you would be right. Respect is earned. You have earned none.

Back to the subject of solving gun violence. Nobody wants to go after the Constitution, after the Bill of Rights, after the Second Amendment. America doesn’t want you to infringe on anybody’s right to KEEP arms or BEAR arms. But we do expect you to make sure that only those who are legally allowed to have weapons be able to get them. We expect you to support the far fetched notion that killing machines need some regulations, that those who own them do not have carte blanche. We expect you to protect the public safety, to insure that folks feel reasonably safe in the knowledge that they can safely go to work or take their kids to school or the mall or restaurants and not have them blown away by someone who is having a bad day.

You submitted over 40 bills to Congress in January…you have failed to bring any to debate, to vote. It’s time you did the work for which you were elected, for which you are paid. And remember, you work for America, not lobbyists like the NRA. You represent ALL of America, not just biased special interests.

Now get to work.

_____________________________________________

McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.


Three Officials Dead in Two Month Multi State Murder Spree – US Attorney Quits

Shot Glass 7

The common theme of much of the gun enthusiast community is that they want unfettered access to any and all guns to 1) protect their family/home, 2) fight tyranny [so far extremely undefined] and 3) defend against marauding hordes in a time of social unrest.

This brings us to the events of last two weeks in Colorado and Texas. On March 20th the Executive Director of Colorado Prisons, Tom Clements was gunned down at his front door. It would be expected, considering his job that he was armed, or at least had a firearm in his home.

Days later the suspect shot a Deputy Sheriff in Texas, minutes before he was fatally injured during a car chase in Northern Texas. The gun in his possession was traced back to the gun that killed Colorado prison chief Clements. That gun, a Smith & Wesson 9mm semi-automatic had been purchased through a strawman buyer two weeks before Clements was killed. The suspect was a member of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas.

chi-texas-prosecutor-killed-033113-001

On January 31, in Kaufman, Texas Assistant District Attorney Mark E. Hasse, 57, was gunned down in the employee parking lot of the Kaufman County Courthouse by two men wearing tactical vests. He was working on a major case against the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas. He was armed and expecting trouble.

On March 30, Kaufman District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife were gunned down in their home by assassins with an AR-15 rifle. The 20+ shots killed the District Attorney who had 23 years of military training, weapons in his home and, after his ADA was killed less than two months earlier was expecting trouble.

600px-JustS1_30

Three days later, April 2nd the Federal prosecutor in Dallas who had been working on the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas case walked away from the job for “security” reasons. This prosecutor had available the blanket of security of the US Marshal’s service to protect him. He did not feel safe.

The cases are being investigated by the FBI, Homeland Security, US Marshal Service, Texas Rangers, Texas State Police [DPS], Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office and other agencies. The focus at this time is on the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas but consideration is still being given to other possible groups.

And that brings us back to marauding hordes. If anything defines civil unrest by an armed group, this last few months do. A highly armed criminal enterprise that apparently is fearless to the repercussions of killing cops and district attorneys. When we realistically look at defending against a marauding horde and home invasion…it seems there is a perception that the “good guy with the gun” will, as he does in the movies stop the “bad guy with a gun”. In three very clear instances, the victims did not stand a chance. They were armed, prepared and by all indications trained to protect themselves and their family. All for naught.

Just days later the Federal Prosecutor, with a cadre of armed agents of the US Marshal’s Service and other agencies made the decision to walk away instead of face that threat.

The point…gun enthusiasts say that they need an unlimited arsenal to protect the home, the homestead and society. Yet history has shown that it just doesn’t work that way. Folks who are on alert, who are expecting danger still can’t stop it…the illusion that is given by gun enthusiasts is that somehow “they would”. It is a dangerous illusion.

_____________________________________________________

McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip


NRA “School Shield” Report…Just More Mercenary NRA Advertising

school-bus-newtown

The Friends of the NRA released their School Shield report today. If you believe it has evolved from the original post Sandy Hook tone deaf “The only way to stop a bad man with a gun is a good man with a gun” message from NRA talking head Wayne LaPierre you will be sorely disappointed.

You will also find that all twelve members of the task force are from law enforcement and security, none from education and five of those members are from RBT Solutions, a for profit security training group which would likely profit from their recommendations.

There is an old adage that says “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

To the report and its finding. The report is linked so you can read each and every word of it, but let’s summarize the 10 findings and 10 recommendations.

The Findings…

Finding No. 1: There has been insufficient attention paid to school security needs in our nation, and the greatest security gap falls within the medium- to smaller-size schools, which do not have the level of resources of the larger school districts.

In addition, another gap identified by the assessment teams sent out by the National School Shield Task Force is that older schools, constructed more than ten years ago, have greater security challenges than newer facilities. More recently designed schools have more architectural attention devoted to security features in contrast to the building design and layout of older facilities.

Finding No. 2: Many schools do not have a formal, written security plan, and even for those that do, they are often either inadequate or not properly exercised.

Finding No. 3: A properly trained armed school officer, such as a school resource officer, has proven to be an important layer of security for prevention and response in the case of an active threat on a school campus.

Finding No. 4: Local school authorities are in the best position to make a final decision on school safety procedures, specifically whether an armed security guard is necessary and supported by the education and citizen community.

Finding No. 5: Many public and non-public schools are financially unable to include armed security personnel as part of the school security plan and have resorted to school staff carrying firearms in order to provide an additional level of protection for the students and staff in the event of a violent incident on school property.

Finding No. 6: While the local school leadership should make all final decisions regarding the elements of the school security plan, the individual states, with few exceptions, have not made school security an element of adequacy in school standards.

Finding No. 7: School officials are not generally trained in security assessments or the development of comprehensive safety and security plans. Ideally, a school retains professional assistance in developing their school security plans; however, there is a compelling need for professional-quality online self-assessment tools.

Finding No. 8: Federal funding for the personnel costs of SROs has served as a pathway for increased security in our schools, but federal funding has proved unreliable as a long-term solution to the school safety and security needs of our nation.

Finding No. 9: There are numerous federal agencies and programs that provide valuable school safety resources; however, there is a lack of coordination between the federal agencies resulting in gaps, duplication and inefficiencies.

Finding No. 10: History teaches us that in most violent attacks at a school, there are multiple early warning signs, called pre-incident indicators, of a student or outside person who exhibits threatening behavior and poses a risk to the school.

To summarize…Schools haven’t paid attention to security, older schools are harder to secure, armed security is a must, there isn’t enough funding, schools can’t make their own security assessments and, did I mention armed security is a must and there isn’t enough funding.

So, you need armed guards and someone to tell you what to do and you don’t have reasonable  funding. Should I also point out that the authors of the report train armed guards and law enforcement and do security assessments? Win-Win for the consultants.

The Recommendations…

No. 1: Training A model-training program has been developed by the NSS Task Force for the professional training of armed personnel in the school environment.

This training will only be open to those who are designated by school officials and qualified by appropriate background investigation, testing and relevant experience.

No. 2: Adoption of Model Law for Armed School Personnel Many states prohibit anyone other than a sworn law-enforcement officer or licensed security guard to carry a firearm in a public or non-public school. In order for a selected school staff member to be designated, trained and armed on school property, the states will have to change current legal restrictions.

No. 3: School Resource Officer Each school that employs an SRO should have a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), or an “interagency agreement,” between the appropriate law-enforcement agency and the school district. This contract should define the duties and responsibilities of the SRO, as well as the applicable laws, rules and regulations.

No. 4: Online Self-Assessment Tool An internet-based self-assessment tool has been created to allow any school (whether public, private or parochial) to have secure access to comprehensively evaluate and assess the security gaps and vulnerabilities of each school.

No. 5: State Education Adequacy Requirement State standards related to school security vary from non-existent to stringent. Although state responses to school security will naturally vary, there should be a common element that requires all public schools to participate in an assessment and develop a security plan based on the unique requirements of that particular institution.

No. 6: Federal Coordination and Funding Either through legislation or executive action, a lead agency should be designated to coordinate the federal programs and funding of local school safety efforts. The Department of Homeland Security should be designated as the lead, supported by the Department of Education and Department of Justice.

No. 7: Umbrella National Organization to Advocate and Support School Safety. Because of the limitations of federal, state and local funding for school safety, there is an important role that can be filled by a private non-profit advocacy and education organization. The National School Shield is in a position with adequate funding and support from the NRA to fulfill this important national mission.

The NSS mission would: (a) provide national advocacy for school safety; (b) supply ongoing online self-assessment and other tools for public, private and parochial schools; (c) make available best practices in school safety to help guide schools in the development of school safety and security policies; (d) fund innovative pilot projects and training costs for armed school personnel; and (e) provide state-of-the-art training programs in the area of school safety and security.

No. 8: Specific Pilot Program on Threat Assessments and Mental Health. As part of its comprehensive security plan, each school should develop a threat assessment team, which will work in coordination with mental health professionals.

To summarize…The NRA funded study suggests more guns in schools, training by NRA supported businesses, security consulting by NRA supported businesses and there should be an umbrella organization that is, conveniently funded by NRA, change state laws to accommodate recommendations. In other words, this 225 page report is nothing more than a sales pitch for the NRA and its business partners.

One of the recommendations…No. 2, Adoption of Model Law for Armed School Personnel is a demand from the NRA to change state legislation to conform to the NEW NRA recommendations, erasing legislation such as the Safe School Act of 1999 that was championed by the NRA.

“First, we believe in absolutely gun-free, zero-tolerance, totally safe schools. That means no guns in America’s schools, period … with the rare exception of law enforcement officers or trained security personnel.” Wayne LaPierre, 1999

“If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”

The report makes it very clear that a guard in schools will eliminate the threats to students…but only glosses over the reality of Columbine…there was a trained security officer on site.

It also fails to address the events like the very recent kidnapping off a school bus in Alabama or the Chowchilla School Bus Hijacking in 1976 where buried in a quarry.

Further it doesn’t take into account events like the school shooting in Westside Middle School where, in 1998 five were killed and 10 wounded by students who set up a sniper position across from the school.

Put simply, this “Call for Action” from the NRA only takes into account in school events and its solution is to fortify schools.

Now, let’s look at the numbers. There are over 98,000 public schools in the United States, another 33,000 private schools and the 5,000 or so colleges.

IF a school building has just ONE security officer, and that officer is paid $35,000 per year, school boards and county sheriffs are going to have to come up with $3,400,000,000 per year in school districts and counties that are already laying off teachers and deputy sheriffs and police officers due to lack of tax revenue. Federal funds for COPS and CIS programs have been removed from the federal budget by Congress. And that $3.4Billion does not account for training, certification or school security assessments – which would have to be done every couple of years.  And it further doesn’t include the enhanced physical requirements that this report demands.

Now to a humorous, ironic part of this report. Back in December 2012 the NRA emphatically said that we should not have a knee-jerk reaction to the shootings at a elementary school, yet their entire proposal revolves around a shooting at a school…ignoring the dozen other mass shootings in 2012, from theaters to churches to malls to restaurants. And it certainly doesn’t address the other 10,000 killed by gun violence each year.

And one other thing…did you catch the part in the Recommendations that the Department of Homeland Security should be in charge?  These are the same folks who now run TSA.  And did I mention that five of the Task Force were/are part of Department of Homeland Security…

So, of the 12 members of the NRA advertisement masquerading as a “Call for Action”…five are part of the organization they want running things and five are from a private security company that recommends training and assessments.

Hammer Nail

 

______________________________________________________

McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.