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.

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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.


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.

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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

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Twitter and Facebook Spank Cable News Coverage Of Late Night Battle In Boston

boston

At 11:08 FARK broke news that shots were fired at MIT…a cop was down. At that time CNN, Fox and MSNBC were working the West, Texas explosion. In the past, most folks would turn to Cable News for the quickest updates. But not tonight. Twitter lit up with multiple feeds. The information was coming faster than could be read. Remote police scanners, online allowed second by second calls from the police. Facebook lit up with recasts of the tweets and scanner. Cable News was AWOL.

By 11:45 twitter was reporting a stolen Mercedes SUV that belonged to the Mass State Police. Within another 15 minutes police spotted the fleeing SUV in Watertown, two miles west of Cambridge. Suspects, described as two Middle Eastern men began firing at police during the chase.

By Midnight, 238 years to the day after the Battle of Concord and Lexington a new battle was unfolding. The suspects began throwing grenades and firing automatic weapons at police. At some point in the rolling battle unexploded bombs were thrown from the vehicles. By about 12:30 the Boston Police had stopped the Mercedes SUV and a pitched battle ensued at a range of 75 yards. During this battle another officer was reported wounded as was one suspect who was taken to Beth Israel Hospital.

Besides grenades the two suspects lit and threw an unwieldy bomb which went off 50 yards from the police. While one suspect was down, the other got back into the Mercedes SUV and plowed through the police line heading west.

By 12:45, nearly two hours after the rolling battle began…Cable News broke their previous breaking news and began covering the story. CNN was first, Fox and MSNBC followed by 1:30 in the morning.

Hundreds of more updates can be found on this Twitter link.

The contrast between the responses of social media like Facebook and Twitter, using resources like radio reference’s Boston Police scanner link provided real time updates of official information, without the distillation of talking heads, without time lags. The contrast to the extremely lagging cable news coverage of what will be one of the most important stories of the year is striking. Members of social media were well informed nearly two hours before the cable news machines could respond. It resembles the sea change that occurred when cable news first distanced itself from newspapers and network news.

Welcome to the 21st Century. While we have seen newspapers try to redefine themselves for nearly 20 years in an effort to keep up with the 24/7 cable news…social media just upped the bet. 24/7 is now “so 20th Century”.

The story will continue to unfold and Addicting Info will follow it in detail. Or you could wait and watch it later this evening on Anderson Cooper.

I’ll leave you with this.

2:15am Cops doing house to house search in Watertown neighborhood. Cops advised single remaining suspect likely armed with long gun. At 2:25.

2:42 APB on While Male, 20s, gray hoody armed with an assault rifle. Suspect Two is in the wind.

2:48 Suspect outstanding is Suspect Two – the one with the white hat in FBI Photos.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.


Loaded, Unsecure Gun + 4 Year Old. What Could Go Wrong…AGAIN

Boy with Gun

Monday evening brought yet another gun “accident” with a child finding and using a loaded, unsecured firearm. This time the tragedy is in New Jersey, where six-year-old Brandon Holt was shot and killed by a four-year-old with his father’s 22 rifle. 48 hours earlier the scene was in Lebanon Tennessee in a Deputy Sheriff’s bedroom.

Writing about a child being killed with a gun that was “just laying around”, or a child shooting and killing another person should not be a daily exercise. But, this is America, and a large, loud minority of this country’s population has said, unequivocally that the 600 accidental deaths per year by gun violence, that the 16,000 injuries from gun accidents are “a price for freedom”. Since January 1 of this year over 50 children have paid that price for freedom that they will never enjoy, another 140 teens have died as well. Another 5,000 families have had their lives turned upside down by injuries from accidental gunfire.

Since Sandy Hook I have written about this subject for three of the 60 plus children killed since December 14. [here], [here], and [here]

It is past time for the gun rights folks to go door to door and ask those 5,200 families whose lives have been turned upside down this year if unfettered gun access and lack of regulations to enforce responsibility are really worth it. It is easy for the gun rights folks to talk a good game of “price of freedom” when they don’t have to personally pay the price.

Monday evening, in Tom’s River, New Jersey a four year old boy went into his home, and retrieved a 22 rifle from inside the house and took it outside and shot his six year old friend. Toms River Police Chief Michael Mastronardy said “it was his understanding that the 4-year-old got the rifle from inside his house, and that was when he went outside and one shot was fired in the side yard.”

The parents of the four year old were home at the time…and the child simply picked up the rifle and took it out to play with his friend.

Two families are in total disarray, the family of the child who was shot watched by his hospital bed as he died from a fatal gunshot wound to the head. The family of the child who shot his friend is in limbo as they await the police investigation; await litigation from the injured boy’s family. Neither family will be the same.

Society will, as is usual, rally around the two families, telling us just how sorry the gun owner was and how he didn’t, in a thousand years, think this would ever happen. Prosecutors will call it a “tragic accident” and, yet again, nobody will be held responsible for a child with a bullet in his head.

So, unfortunately, let’s go through this one more time. According to the CDC 600 people are accidentally killed each year by gunfire, another 16,000 injured by accidental gunfire. These numbers are NOT included in the 10,000 or so deaths by gun violence each year that are considered homicide and they are not included in the 20,000 or so suicides that occur in this country each year by guns.  But that is the human “price of freedom” and it is paid in blood and tears and, on the analytical side, it is paid by taxpayer dollars that provide EMS, emergency rooms, Medicaid and police; and increased insurance premiums for medical emergencies and homeowners’ policies to cover the costs of hospital bills and lawsuits.

“The price of freedom” is a terrible, unthinkable rationalization that insists that somehow Americans should give their lives, protected both under the Constitution and by every set of mores in the civilized world. To put a hobby, a paranoia of marauding hordes, a decision to fight “tyranny” [which is all too often defined as “politicians with which I don’t agree”] in front of life itself is simply Neanderthal thinking. It is time that society stands up and rejects that backward, lazy, fatalist thinking. We HAVE evolved.

And not to repeat myself but…The band played on.

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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.


Isolated Incident # 3.363^14x∞+1 Kid Finds Cop’s Loaded Gun…BANG

Guns and kids

The scene is not unique…this is not an outlier of reality. Saturday, at a picnic Wilson County, Tennessee Deputy Sheriff Daniel Fanning was in his bedroom, showing off some of his guns. Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan said “Fanning was showing his weapons to a relative in a bedroom when the toddler came in and picked up a loaded gun on the bed”. The child discharged the firearm, killing the Deputy Sheriff’s 48 year old wife.

Sheriff Bryan continued “the guns were normally stored in a safe, and the deputy had placed one on a bed to get to another gun. “Within seconds this small 4-year-old comes into the room, unbeknownst to the officer, and just picked up the gun and shot her.”

The Deputy, an eight year veteran was a trained law enforcement officer, and further he was trained as the School Resource Officer – the NRA’s favorite solution to gun violence in schools. One might imagine that a School Resource Officer would have training in how to handle weapons with children in the vicinity.

The Sheriff he “did not anticipate that the shooting would affect Fanning’s job.”

The gun enthusiast community has a few phrases to address this type of event…”it was a sad, unfortunate accident”, “it happens”, and “it is the price of freedom”. What they never say is “the gun owner should be held responsible”, “the gun owner’s negligence is responsible for the victim’s death” or “we should do a better job as gun owners enforcing gun safety, through laws and punishment if necessary.”

If only this was an isolated incident, if only it was an outlier, so far fetched to ever imagine it happening again. But it is not. Over 600 people die each year from accidental discharge of firearms according to the CDC. Another 16,000 are injured, but not killed from firearms accidents [this doesn’t include suicide attempts or homicide attempts]. Yet to the gun enthusiast community, 600 yearly deaths and 16,000 injuries are chalked up to “it happens” or “it is the price of freedom”. That is lazy thinking. It chooses to ignore the problem rather than face it.

Firearm injuries

When gun owners have to face accidental deaths and injuries, for the very largest majority…they must face themselves. And they don’t want their character, or perceived “responsible” owners shown in a bad light. That would require a reasoned response to the problem, not an obstructionist dogma that refuses to address ANY solutions to gun violence, intentional or accidental.

It is past time to address the foolish notion that gun owners are “responsible” and do not need regulations to improve their safety. Some gun owners are extremely responsible…some should not be allowed to own a stick. The first step in solving the problem is accepting that there is a problem.

And the band played on.

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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.

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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.


Gun Enthusiasts Aim Threats At Legislators…Legislators Don’t Blink

Conn protest

Cause and Effect…Pendulum Effect…Newton’s Third Law of Motion…take your pick. It is legislative reactions from states like Connecticut, Colorado, New York, and Maryland  that occur when the level of gun violence, when people fear going to restaurants, malls, churches, theaters, or even taking their kids to school reaches a threshold.
Connecticut has worked for nearly four months to present a reasoned response to the actions that tore their state apart in December. It would be nearly impossible for legislators and the Governor to look the other way and just say “It happens” or “Having guns and the violence they bring is the price of freedom.” So they didn’t turn away; they didn’t fold to lobbyist pressure from the mouthpiece of the gun industry; they didn’t let the political realities that the NRA and gun enthusiasts would exact a penalty on them in the next election cycle when they wrote and deliberated these bills. They stood up and, in a bipartisan vote decided to do what was best for society, to do what was best to quell the fears of a citizenry which had lost faith in the security of their everyday lives. Addicting Info thoroughly covered the Connecticut law yesterday, prior to it being signed by the Governor.

CT Gun Control signed

Down Interstate 95 in Maryland, legislators were looking at the same problems, the loss of confidence in a society that could not insure that their malls and theaters and restaurants and schools were safe. They came to similar conclusions and, fearless of the imposing will of the NRA, they took action to curb gun violence. The bills have been passed by the Maryland legislature and are on the way to the Governor to be signed into law. Besides reducing magazine capacity and removing several military style semi-automatic rifles, the Maryland law requires fingerprinting those who want to purchase a weapon.

Connecticut and Maryland follow contentious action in Colorado where the Colorado State House passed and has had signed comprehensive gun regulations. And New York was first to implement a new set of gun laws that address high capacity magazines, restrict sales of certain “military style” weapons and enhance background checks.

These four states join California and Massachusetts to bring tighter regulations to gun ownership. They represent 25% of the US population. In no case do they infringe on a citizens right to keep firearms or to bear firearms. None of the laws restrict the ability of citizens to protect their homes, their families, or themselves.

Cause and Effect and Cause and Effect…the Flying Pendulum

On the other side of the gun violence debate the gun enthusiast community, the gun industry and their lobbyists, and conservative legislators have taken multiple approaches to defeating common sense gun laws that they keep insisting are infringing on their Second Amendment rights, though not a single law enacted or proposed attempts to legislate confiscation of any American’s firearms. The right to keep and the right to bear have not been infringed.

In state legislatures…

Kentucky just shortened the process for obtaining licenses for concealed carry, removing the residency requirement and reducing the number of days that the State Police have to approve a license from 90 to 60. Currently, with a post election “Obama is coming for our guns” panic the Kentucky State Police are processing up to 1,000 applications per week. [link]

Tennessee passed a law which allows workers to bring guns to work and stow them in their cars, even if their employers object. [link]

Arkansas opened up the ability to concealed carry firearms to churches and on college campuses. [link]

South Dakota authorized school boards to arm teachers. [link]

Missouri filed a bill, HB70 which would allow teachers and administrators to carry concealed weapons in school. It has not had any action, other than initial readings since mid February. [link]

Ironically Michigan sent a new comprehensive concealed carry bill – which allowed the carrying of firearms in schools to be signed into law on the morning of December 14, 2012, at about the same time 26 school children and their teachers were being massacred in Newtown, Connecticut. It was vetoed.

Several states have introduced bills to override or ignore any federal laws that invoke gun regulations [Links here and here] and several sheriffs have declared that they won’t enforce any federal gun laws. [Links here, here, here, and here.] And one little Georgia town even voted to require mandatory gun ownership. [link]

Sheriff Buford T. Justice

Besides a legislative shotgun approach [sorry, I couldn’t resist] to impeding gun safety legislation, the NRA, the gun industry and gun enthusiasts have put up many threats to stop legislation from moving forward.

In Colorado, Magpul, the folks who make so many of the high capacity magazines for AR-15 type assault rifles threatened to pull out of Colorado should Colorado pass legislation against high capacity magazines. Colorado passed and signed that bill into law and Magpul is in the process of disrupting the lives of their 200 employees to move to another state.

In Connecticut the Colt Manufacturing Company, in business for 175 years in Hartford said they would consider leaving should Connecticut pass comprehensive gun safety regulations. Connecticut passed and signed those bills into law today. No word yet from Colt or the fate of their 700 employees.

Colt__s_Manufacturing_by_FNPhil

In Maryland the Beretta company, the Italian company founded in 1526 has 400 employees which manufacturers the M9 military combat pistol and its civilian counterparts. They have said they would consider leaving should Maryland pass gun safety legislation. The Maryland legislature passed comprehensive gun safety legislation and it is being signed this week.

Working down the food chain to distributors and retail outlets which sale to consumers and government law enforcement, a collection of businesses have said that, in states which pass gun safety legislation they are not going to sell to police any items that can’t be legally purchased by citizens of those states. It is unclear what impact this will have on government purchases since only some businesses made this pact and the big players have not.

At the bottom of the ladder are the gun enthusiasts. They have done everything from threaten to boycott manufacturers who stay in states with new gun laws to say they will never set foot in New York or Connecticut or Colorado or…again. They say they will move from “Socialist, Marxist, Communist, Klingon, Nanny State, Fascist” states to climes which better support their overriding enthusiasm of firearms. And they have threatened legislators and threatened President Obama because they don’t like, or don’t understand how a democracy works.

The battle lines have been drawn…on one side the public has demanded something be done to slow the level of gun violence, to look toward making the nation’s restaurants, clubs, churches, workplaces, theaters and their children’s schools more safe.

In the middle are legislators who have a responsibility to all of their constituents and have been given a mandate by the people to improve the public safety in regards to gun violence.

On the other side of the debate, conservatives, gun enthusiasts and NRA lobbying efforts have threatened economic boycotts and electoral punishment should these legislators do what they have been asked. To date legislators in New York, Colorado, Connecticut and Maryland have ignored the economic blackmail and have stood up to the threats of electoral punishment should they pass the bills.

In the meantime, the 40 bills submitted to Congress for quick action…well, out of the 14 weeks since Congress convened this year, 70 days – they have only been in session 37 days. And they have neither passed nor debated on the floor a single bill. In that same time period, from January 1st, 2,685 Americans have died from gun violence, 185 of them under 18 years old and 48 of those under 10 years old.

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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.