The More You Know The Safer You Are

The NRA put out this YouTube video that was designed to start a conversation, “What if we wrote national gun policy to protect access to guns?” Billy Johnson, the commentator in this video, presents an interesting idea.

Gun control activists, of course, want no part of this conversation that Billy is trying to start so they are starting their own meme about this video.

NRA Nanny State Poster

In fact, there has been a good bit of noise on Twitter stirred up by this video. I say noise because no one wants to talk about how requiring gun education in schools is one of the best ways of reducing gun violence, especially injuries and death to children caused by the accidental discharge of a firearm.

There is an estimated 300 million firearms in private hands in the U.S. Regardless of how successful gun control advocates become in restricting those numbers it will be a very long time before the exposure that kids have to firearms is reduced in any significant amount. If our goal is to reduce gun violence then education has to play part.

So, is your main interest in preventing children from being injured by guns or is your main interest fighting the NRA over removing guns from society? These are not the same thing. You can be an advocate for limiting the availability of guns in society and an advocate for gun safety education in our schools without contradicting yourself or becoming a hypocrite.

Posted in Education, Gun Control | Leave a comment

Our Highways are Built To Be Deathtraps

WL003466An ocelot died on a South Texas highway a couple of weeks ago. Apparently the cat got caught on the highway and couldn’t escape across the concrete barrier meant to keep cars and trucks in the roadway. This is the fourth ocelot killed since the barrier was erected. Less than fifty ocelots remain in the wild in the U.S.

“We believe the concrete barrier is contributing to the increase in ocelot deaths by vehicles in this area” stated Laguna Atascosa Refuge Manager Boyd Blihovde. “Many animals will not, or cannot, jump them, get trapped on the road and pose a danger to drivers and themselves. We have been working with the Texas Department of Transportation on constructing wildlife crossings, but clearly more needs to be done”

via Fourth endangered Ocelot killed on State Highway 100 | KVEO News Center 23 | The Rio Grande Valley’s News and Weather.

Yes, clearly more does need to be done and not just to protect the ocelots but to also protect other animals and also humans from the trap that modern highway design creates. As a cyclists the delineation created by concrete curbs and barriers, so desired by highway designers, has often put me in a position where I couldn’t escape cars and other vehicles I thought were coming too close to me.

I can understand wanting to restrain cars and trucks from leaving a roadway but what about pedestrians, cyclists and wildlife? Design of these highways need to consider all eventualities. Give us a way to escape.

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This is yet another reason why proofreading is essential.

When a law is written it has to be specific and it has to be administered as written. If it isn’t you have people making things up about what the law really meant which eventually turns us into a nation of men (and women) and not a nation of laws.

A federal appeals court brought home the importance of proofreading those laws today by ruling 2-1 in Halbig v. Burwell that the premium subsidies given in the form of tax credits by the IRS are illegal in the thirty-six exchanges run by the Federal Government. Why is that? It’s because as the law is written “Section 36B of the Internal Revenue Code, enacted as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA or the Act), makes tax credits available as a form of subsidy to individuals who purchase health insurance through marketplaces—known as “American Health Benefit Exchanges,” or “Exchanges” for short—that are “established by the State under section 1311” of the Act. 26 U.S.C. § 36B(c)(2)(A)(i). On its face, this provision authorizes tax credits for insurance purchased on an Exchange established by one of the fifty states or the District of Columbia. See 42 U.S.C. § 18024(d). But the Internal Revenue Service has interpreted section 36B broadly to authorize the subsidy also for insurance purchased on an Exchange established by the federal government under section 1321 of the Act. See 26 C.F.R. § 1.36B-2(a)(1) (hereinafter “IRS Rule”).”

This decision will be appealed to the full 12 judge court and there is a good chance the full court will see things differently. ThinkProgress.com has taken exception to the ruling, as would be expected but the law as written does not specifically allow any exchange but those set up by the states to offer these tax credit subsidies.

The two Republicans’ decision rests on a glorified typo in the Affordable Care Act itself. Obamacare gives states a choice. They can either run their own health insurance exchange where their residents may buy health insurance, and receive subsidies to help them pay for that insurance if they qualify, or they can allow the federal government to run that exchange for them. Yet the plaintiffs’ in this case uncovered a drafting error in the statute where it appears to limit the subsidies to individuals who obtain insurance through “an Exchange established by the State.” Randolph and Griffith’s opinion concludes that this drafting error is the only thing that matters. In their words, “a federal Exchange is not an ‘Exchange established by the State,’” and that’s it. The upshot of this opinion is that 6.5 million Americans will lose their ability to afford health insurance, according to one estimate.

via BREAKING: Two Republican Judges Order Obamacare Defunded | ThinkProgress.

And that is why proofreading is a necessity when it comes to writing legislation. The law may imply that Exchanges set up by the Federal Government rather than a state government are eligible for the subsidies but it says that only exchanges set up by state governments may offer these subsidies. We will have to wait and see whether or not the full court believes the implications are stronger than the literal reading of the law.

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Mickey D’s and Coke Are Both Slowing Their Pace

Two items in Forbes caught my eye this morning:

  1. The Golden Arches Lose Their Shine: McDonald’s Profit Falls As U.S. Sales Struggle.
  2. Coca-Cola Profits Slip As Too Few ‘Share A Coke’.

Now you would think that with those headlines it was all doom and gloom for both companies. The kicker, though, is that both companies are still growing, just not as fast as in the past. Coca Cola’s revenues are slightly down from last year but case sales are up.

Businesswise this is actually all good news. Healthwise, I’m not too sure.

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Michael Bloomberg Challenges NRA, Wants His Own Report Card

“We’re going to be very, very data-driven, metrics-driven, making sure that we identify the people who care about this issue,” Everytown’s political consultant Mitch Stewart told the Washington Post.

via Michael Bloomberg gun control group to counter NRA report cards – CBS News.

And will you use this data to push for laws the data shows that people actually want or will you just use the data to target donors? Polls have shown that people are actually pretty confused on what and how much gun control they want.

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Getting Back on My Bike

My shoulder is healed and summer’s half over. It’s time I get back on my bike before something takes my time or my health. A few minutes ago I drove up the road a bit to Bethlehem to map out a course for me to start riding that will be challenging enough for my level of fitness but not so challenging that I give up.

The course is 15 miles long with no more than 100′ change in elevation over the entire course. The reason I chose to ride in Bethlehem is due to the flatter terrain than I have around my house and the roads are generally not busy at all. I really need to make sure my bike handling abilities are where they need be before I venture back out in traffic around home.

I’ll prepare my road bike tonight and ride the course in the morning before church. Hopefully I can find someone to ride it again with me Tuesday night. I need to make sure I have a couple of usable water bottles to take with me also.

 

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Stop the cycle: If the pros can’t cycle safely on mountain roads, how can we? | Times Free Press

A week ago this past Monday, Memorial Day, Chattanooga hosted the 2014 Volkswagen USA Cycling Professional Championship Road Race. During the first descent down Lookout Mountain Taylor Phinney, Saturday’s Time Trials winner, and Lucas Euser were involved in an accident with the race marshall’s motorcycle resulting in Phinney breaking his leg and most likely ending his season. Euser ended up with a little road rash and a destroyed bicycle putting him out of the race. 

An anonymous editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press wasted no time in turning this unfortunate event for these two professional cyclist into fodder for his or her campaign to ban bicycles from Chattanooga’s streets. As always this call for banning bicycles is cast as being out of concern for the cyclist.

It’s just not safe to bicycle on steep mountain roads. It’s one thing for professional cyclists to do it while the roads are closed to traffic. And even then, the pros wreck. It’s an entirely different thing for amateur cyclists and the workaday people who have to drive those mountain roads to get to work and home.

via Stop the cycle: If the pros can’t cycle safely on mountain roads, how can we? | Times Free Press.

The actual motivation for banning bicycles is the inconvenience some motorists may have to endure of paying closer attention to their driving and possibly arriving at their destination five minutes later. I honestly don’t think that it’s asking motorist too much to drive as though their might be a hazard around every blind curve. I also don’t think that a five minute delay in their commute is a big enough inconvenience to ban all cyclist from the road, many of whom have only a bicycle for their transportation needs.

I was driving my car along a very rural section of road in Marion County many years ago when after negotiating an uphill turn in the road there is a toddler with a wagon in the middle of my lane. I was driving as I should have been and was able to avoid hitting the child. That taught me that I need to always approach a hilly, curvy road exactly as though that child might be playing right over the next hill or around the next corner.

Let’s stop this talk about banning bicycles and start looking at out own driving habits to see how we can make sharing the road safer for all of us. It may not be a cyclist around that next corner but a toddler instead.

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We Can’t Report On That! The Public Might Not Like What We Found Out.

Dan points out this FAIR article about the New York Time’s executive editor, Jill Abramson, is being replaced by their current managing editor, Dean Baquet. There seems to be a question as to whether or not Baquet will be supportive of investigative journalism.

Dan’s pull quote was about Baquet killing a story while he was at the LA Times about government monitoring of U.S. Internet traffic. What I read below that, however, was much more disturbing to me.

“Later, working at the New York Times, Baquet justified an ‘informal arrangement among several news organizations’ to comply with a government request to withhold from readers the fact that a US drone base was located in Saudi Arabia: ‘The Saudis might shut it down because the citizenry would be very upset,’ Baquet told Times public editor Margaret Sullivan FAIR Blog, 2/6/13. ‘We have to balance that concern with reporting the news.’”

Investigative reporting must be about reporting things that will upset the citizenry. What’s the use in investigating something that isn’t upsetting and what use is the 1st Amendment if newspapers are going to comply with government requests not to upset the citizenry?

UPDATE: Looking into this some more I found a possible reason for Abramson getting canned.

UPDATE: Several news sources reported Wednesday evening that the reason for Abramson’s departure was a pay dispute. Specifically, reports claim Abramson was reportedly upset to discover that she was being paid less than her male predecessor.

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Share Our Wealth

We hear a lot about income inequality these days and we are inundated with charts showing us just how much closer to poverty than wealth the middle class is today compared to days past. This obsession with wealthy people and believing they have more than they deserve isn’t new.

Listen to what Huey Long had to say about income inequality:

Huey Long speaks passionately about income inequality and the wealthy in the United States. December 1934.

In fact Huey Long created the “Share Our Wealth Society”. This progressive party proposed the following planks in their societies platform:

  • No person would be allowed to accumulate a personal net worth of more than 300 times the average family fortune, which would limit personal assets to between $5 million and $8 million. A graduated capital levy tax would be assessed on all persons with a net worth exceeding $1 million.
  • Annual incomes would be limited to $1 million and inheritances would be capped at $5 million.
  • Every family was to be furnished with a homestead allowance of not less than one-third the average family wealth of the country. Every family was to be guaranteed an annual family income of at least $2,000 to $2,500, or not less than one-third of the average annual family income in the United States. Yearly income, however, cannot exceed more than 300 times the size of the average family income.
  • An old-age pension would be made available for all persons over 60.
  • To balance agricultural production, the government would preserve/store surplus goods, abolishing the practice of destroying surplus food and other necessities due to lack of purchasing power.
  • Veterans would be paid what they were owed (a pension and healthcare benefits).
  • Free education and training for all students to have equal opportunities in all schools, colleges, universities, and other institutions for training in the professions and vocations of life.
  • The raising of revenue and taxes for the support of this program was to come from the reduction of swollen fortunes from the top, as well as for the support of public works to give employment whenever there may be any slackening necessary in private enterprise.

Not much different than what you hear today is it?

 

 

 

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New apartment complex coming to 700 block of Market Street in Chattanooga after false start | Times Free Press

Okay, I’m all for seeing development of affordable housing downtown. With more people living close to where they work the better the traffic situation is for everyone else and the more shopping is going to open up there.

I love the idea of people being able to walk and bike to work and to shop. The whole idea being that fewer cars leads to less congestion, pollution and reliance on foreign sources of fuel.

So why are we still encouraging cars and sticking the taxpayer with the cost of doing so?

The group’s $250,000 study of Chattanooga’s downtown instead tasks the city with building the needed parking garages downtown to support the district’s growing density, though that effort has yet to make any headway.

via New apartment complex coming to 700 block of Market Street in Chattanooga after false start | Times Free Press.

Downtown Chattanooga has enough parking garages. In fact I think Republic Parking has control of most of the real estate downtown and that’s real estate that could be used for retail shops, restaurants and more housing.

Expand MARTA into Red Bank and East Ridge and don’t worry about parking downtown. Use the rail line running from Lupton City to Moccasin Bend to get people to the North Shore and bus them from there all over downtown.

Quit making it so easy on people to use a car with taxpayer money.

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Bloomberg to spend $50 million to challenge NRA on gun safety

Michael Bloomberg and Shannon Watts are creating a third gun control group called Everytown for Gun Safety that will be financed  by Bloomberg and… well, let’s just see if there is any grassroots financial support.

The former New York City mayor pledged $50 million to his new group Everytown for Gun Safety, an umbrella organization for his two other gun control groups: Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. It aims to make the political climate more supportive of gun control.

via Bloomberg to spend $50 million to challenge NRA on gun safety – CNN.com.

$50 million will go a long ways toward financially supporting candidates who are friendly to pro-gun control legislation but it takes more than just cash to get a candidate elected in spite of what you might have been told, it still takes votes and the NRA has plenty of those. for Everytown for Gun Safety to be as effective as the NRA it will take just as much grassroots support as the NRA has and a good indication of that is watching how much in contributions EGS raises from its membership.

Shannon Watts is extremely good at communicating her message and even better at making every battle look like a victory, regardless of its outcome. So I’ll be real interested in seeing how she and Bloomberg work together in this crusade of theirs.

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Venting

I didn’t sleep well last night. I have a site out in the Bay Area that I support that was having problems. I got a report from our operations service center (OSC) that one of our three monitoring systems wasn’t reporting in as it should. These systems are set up to send an email once an hour to ensure us that they are still up and running. Each of the three systems does it a little different way.

I got three phone calls from one of our customer service representatives (CSR) informing me the system was down. The initial one I receivied while I was tied up replacing the pull cord on my lawn mower. This was around 7:00PM. I didn’t jump right on the job because I needed to complete the work on the lawn mower and the sytem I was told it affected doesn’t control anything, it just monitors. About an hour and a half later I got a second call asking me if I had looked into the matter. I told the CSR that no, I had just completed the work with the lawnmower and was washing up. I’d get to it soon.

I then completed putting up my tools and logged into the offending machine. I couldn’t find a problem with it. Alarms came in, emails went out. I saw in the logs that it had been sending the heartbeat emails that they were saying they weren’t getting. I emailed the CSR to inform him of that. I got the third call just before 11:00PM. They still weren’t getting the heartbeat emails.

This time I started asking him about the emails and soon figured out that he had told me the wrong system. It was one of the other systems that wasn’t reporting in. I logged into that system and found the problem very quickly and did what needed to be done to get it back online. I soon got the fourth call telling me that they got all the missing emails and was wondering if I had resolved the problem. After a couple of more checks I was satisfied that the problem was resolved at least for the moment. There is an upgrade I need to make on this system and this is going to be a recurring problem until that up grade is made. So I went to bed shortly after midnight.

At 3:00AM my phone rang.

 

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The Only Answer? Really?

The NRA is having its national convention in Indianapolis, IN this weekend. A small band of protesters gathered to protest the NRA and something they had to say caught my eye:

“Dunlop told an audience of about two dozen people that the only answer is to keep guns off the streets.”

via Gun control supporters send message to NRA – Washington Times.

If this is the case we are doomed. The NRA is visiting their city, a city with a problem with gun violence, and bringing 70,000 of their members and supporters with them while a small group of only two dozen people are all that show up to protest with their only answer being to keep the guns off the street!

How about finding out why these young people in Indianapolis are shooting each other and work to change whatever it is that is promoting this violence with in them? How about supporting the NRA in getting these youth in gun safety and marksmanship classes giving them a positive venue for using guns rather than expect you are going to keep guns off the street as your only answer. There are too many guns on the street to rely on that answer alone.

Besides, you only got two dozen people to show up for a rally in your own city for your cause while the NRA has rallied 70,000 people to come to your town in support of their cause. Where do you think the passions lie? Your approach has no chance of success so you have to change your approach and accept multiple answers to solve your problem rather than limit your answers to only one that isn’t going to work by itself.

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Reducing Gun Violence

The article is about the NRA and their lobbying efforts at their annual convention but one of the most important things to take from this article is that fact that the NRA is taking more practical steps to cut gun violence than any other group out there.

The NRA operates extensive national programs in areas such as education of youth hunters; certifying gun trainers and coaches for competitive shooting; firearms training for law enforcement officers; and teaching children what to do if they see a firearm in an unsupervised situation.

via NRA convention to feature cash, guns, politics.

I can not think of more positive steps to take to cut gun violence than educating our young people about gun safety. This is primarily what the NRA spends its money on, not lobbying, though they do lobbying quite well.

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