How’s that new gun law working in Georgia?

April 30, 2014

As Sarah Palin might say if she were a lefty: “how’s that everyone tote a gun everywhere law working for you in Georgia?”  Of course I’m sure she would not be sarcastic about it because she most likely supports the new Georgia law.

But ironies of ironies, about a  week after the state enacted a sweeping liberalization of gun toting, a guy went on a rampage at a Fed-Ex facility critically wounding several people in a spray of gun fire before killing himself. And the Atlanta suburb in which this took place Tuesday is Kennesaw, a town that back in 1982 mandated that every house have at least one gun. The law is not enforced.

Now I imagine supreme gun enthusiasts will argue that if everyone there in that facility was toting a gun that guy, an employee there, would not have done what he did. I’m not sure that is true. Crazy people, of which he had to be one, don’t think things through — they can’t.

It was said that the gunman was dressed like Rambo and was wearing ammunition belts around his neck and I think decked out in camouflage or some such attire. It has also been reported that he had been disciplined for pointing a laser at someone in the plant.

There certainly is some constitutional right to keep and bear arms, but I think it has something to do with self-defense of the nation as well as not restricting the right to carry guns to a king’s army or the government. The Second Amendment is ambiguous at best — read it. The right to carry is tied to a “well-regulated militia”. I don’t think that means or I hope that does not mean those often crazy yahoos that dress in camouflage and run out in the woods and talk or act like vigilantes. I mean who elected them? And which group is in charge?

Even with all of that, I have always generally supported the Second Amendment. Despite its ambiguity, it seems that the prevailing mood or feeling is that it does indeed bestow the right of a free people to possess guns — but courts have ruled that there can be restrictions.

I think there are people who own guns for hunting and sport and there are people who own them for self-defense, and there are collectors. But there is also a strange gun culture that sees every man (and woman?) as his own Rambo who takes it upon himself to right all of what he sees wrong by the threat of gunfire.

Then there are the crazies or people who get so mad at something that they latch onto this Rambo fantasy and decide to get their 15 minutes of fame in a deadly manner.

Yeah, and what if everyone was packing in the Fed-Ex plant? What a shooting spree that might have been.

I hope everyone who was wounded survives.

I continue to support the right of individuals to own guns, but I don’t think carrying them everywhere like in the old westerns is the way to go for society.

















Sterling the bigot needs to be brought down, but do we have any privacy left?

April 29, 2014

While I could not care less about professional basketball and I realize from reading that LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling is a bigot, to say the least, and a quite distasteful person who sees his and other black basketball players as high-paid slaves on the plantation of the NBA (blacks make up 75 percent of the players I read), it is unnerving that private phone conversations can get a person into so much hot water.

He has been banned (or soon is to be) from the NBA, fined $2.5 million by the league, and a forced sale of his team is in the offing, all over words in an apparently secretly taped phone conversation in which he criticized his girlfriend (mistress) for and admonished her against hanging around with blacks. Ironically, she herself is half black. And as I read it, the old guy is married and the woman in question is much younger than him.

Sterling has a history of racism and is said to have forced black families out of housing he owned and I think may have been a slum lord.

So, whatever, Sterling seems to be  horrid person. And I have no sympathy for him.

I also realize that people in the public spotlight have to work and live under different conditions than the normal citizen. But one wonders whether there is anything such as privacy and the right to hold your own opinions anymore.

This incident does prove, though, that one does not have to have good judgment to be rich.

It is said that even if he is forced to sell the team he could make upwards of a billion dollars on the transaction, after buying the Clippers at a much lower price. There is some talk of somehow keeping him from profiting from the sale, but it would seem that there would be significant legal barriers to that and that Sterling would have the wherewithal to fight that.

In this case the NBA governing body has little choice but to do something decisive due to public uproar.

But probably the biggest and most effective pressure is from the commercial part of it all. Sponsors are fleeing the team not wanting to be associated with racism and thus putting them into a bad light with their potential customers.

And that is as it should be.



I have not yet read up on the deal with his, I guess mistress. I guess it is her who taped the conversations. Maybe she was trying to blackmail him. It’s all very sordid.













Girl murdered over turning down date to prom? A violent society…

April 26, 2014

Is society just becoming more violent than in the past?

I write this in reaction to yet again a report of violence at a school.

As I write this the story is new with few details. But the line so far is that a female high school student in Connecticut was stabbed to death Friday by a boy she turned down for a prom invitation. It seems she had just taken a new boyfriend.

So this makes the young man so mad that he decides to murder her. Of course deranged people do things that make no sense. But one has to wonder if there is not something going around in society that gives individuals the idea that they are entitled to all the things they want and that if they do not get them then it is right, in fact it is required, that they react with supreme indignation. In this case the only way to save his honor the young man seems to have thought was to do away with the offending person.

Actually I have no idea why this happened or at this time whether the story about the jilted prom invitation is accurate.

And then sometimes we read that things are not so different these days it’s just that we hear about them more because of the mass media and updated up-to-the-minute news dissemination technology, including the social media.

But no, at 64, darn near 65, I think society is much, much more impatient and super violent.

The mob versus elected government out in Nevada

April 19, 2014

Like I always say, I am no more afraid of big government than I am of vigilantes, who might go under the name of or carry the banner of militias or the Tea Party. To be clear, I realize government can get so big and powerful that it can destroy our personal freedoms (spying on our every move via cell phones and the internet, and drones?).

Out in the wilds of Nevada an outlaw rancher who seems to think he can graze his cattle of federal lands without paying the required fees has gained the support of that vigilante-type fringe. And some opportunist politicians and ratings-driven right-wing talk show hosts have joined the cause and elements of the amorphous Tea Party have given him their backing — I mean if it’s against the government, they’re all in.

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, though, has come out against the rancher’s actions, calling his supporters “domestic terrorists”. And if he is referring to the extreme element I would agree.

One fairly reasonable right-wing talk show host (I know a kind of oxymoron) said that some of the protestors in the rancher’s favor seemed to be every-day people. And that may be true. It also may be true that they are the kind of every-day people who are swayed by propaganda. That host conceded that the rancher was breaking the law.

I mean isn’t the right-wing all for law and order?

This rancher, and sorry, I should write his name, Cliven Bundy, is breaking the law and has been all through the courts and continually lost. He has wild claims that the land does not belong to the federal government, that it belongs to the state (is he paying the state?), and that he has special rights, well because his family has been there for a long time.

Now to be fair, as I understand it, part of the beef (intentional play on words) he has is that the feds keep reducing the number of cattle allowed on federal lands, sometimes using the excuse, among other things, that the desert tortoise habitat needs to be preserved. And I wouldn’t know, maybe it does. I mean killing off a species just so we can have more hamburgers does not seem wise to me.

Things change. The world has moved on. Bundy is said to be the only cattle rancher left in his area.

I could probably work up some sympathy for him. But it seems to me, he, as everyone else, is obligated to work within the law.

Things got ugly the other day when federal officers tried to round up his cattle trespassing on federal land. A group of supporters stood in the way and reportedly assaulted some of the feds, and there were reports of Tasers used on Bundy and the citizens. In the end the feds backed off and have reportedly resolved to try to work things out peacefully.

And one story going around is that Sen. Reid, remember? who called the mob “domestic terrorists”, actually wants federal land used for solar projects, which his son in involved in, or at least that his son is involved in some solar project and there is some kind of connection, and furthermore, the question is asked: don’t solar projects endanger the desert tortoise? So the solar thing about the Reid father and son may or may not have any validity, but time does march on and we change our ways of doing things. It may or may not be that in the long run solar poses more advantages for the people as a whole than allowing cattle ranchers to graze on public lands — I don’t know.

But what I do know is that I prefer a government run by democratically elected officials to be in charge, not the mob.


Down Mexico way local vigilantes have taken on the drug cartels with some success that the Mexican government has not had — problem is in some cases the local vigilantes have turned out to be as lawless and as dangerous to the safety of the people as the drug cartels.



It’s hard to get someone to make the conventional milk shake (at least for me)…

April 14, 2014

I love chocolate milk shakes. I just have a hard time getting anyone to make one for me. I mean I can make my own at home and do occasionally, but out on the road I have difficulty.

Now I’m not talking those instant faux milk shakes they offer at modern fast food outlets — no problem getting them. But they do not taste like real milk shakes.

I’m talking the kind the kind they typically serve (or did) at lunch counters, the kind they make with that weird mixer with the slim blade (not the egg beater mixer one might have at home — well everyone uses blenders now). The kind they serve you in a tall glass with the metal canister that it was made in on the mixer sitting beside your glass so when you finish the glass you have a whole additional glass of milk shake waiting for you.

I’m a long distance truck driver and in this kind of work one thinks about two things a lot: when do I get to hit the bunk and where is my next meal? At some point I got this craving for milk shakes. I mean I have always liked them, but one day out on the road years ago it occurred to me that, hey, I’m an adult, I can just stop and have one anytime (time permitting of course).

But I have encountered a strange phenomenon: a lot of people at restaurants or lunch counters don’t like making them, even though they are offered on the menu. Now this is not always the case, but then again it is often the case, at least in my own individual experience.

This is what I have encountered over the past several years:

I went into one well-known restaurant chain location and ordered a milk shake. The waitress looked kind of peeved at me and warned me it would be a while. I thought, oh, she must be pretty busy. Well I had time. I’d wait. But she went about doing all kinds of things, some of which did not seem all that important to me (such as stopping to gab with co-workers). And after some time it became apparent to me that she had no intention of ever making that milk shake. I just walked out. By that time I had no more time.

At another place, I ordered a milk shake and I could see by the expression on the waitress’ face that she was not delighted with the order. And I should add that in these cases a milk shake is an order that your waitress or waiter makes up, not someone in the kitchen (I mean you knew that, but it’s an added chore for the wait person I am emphasizing).

The waitress asked a co-worker to make the milkshake. An argument ensued over who would make it. I got up and said: “that’s okay, I’ll just skip it.” The whole situation was ludicrous, annoying, and somewhat embarrassing to me.

And here’s one: for years I would pass this ice cream parlor near a truck stop. There would be some trucks parked in front. Finally one day when I was having one of those milk shake cravings I chose to stop there. I forget the name of the place but it was a woman’s first name. From the conversation inside and observation I took it that the older lady who waited on me was the owner. I sat down at a lunch counter stool and ordered a milk shake. She told me it would be a while. And it was. She took her time waiting on and gabbing with other people. But I waited it out. The milk shake as I recall was nothing special — I thought maybe at a place specializing in ice cream, but anyway…

And then there was the time not long ago that I ordered a milk shake in a newly refurbished truck stop restaurant. The waitress turned up her nose and said they did not serve milk shakes, they specialized in “fine dining”. Hey, I’ve eaten the food there and there is nothing “fine” about it, mediocre at best. She said that they sometimes had them made up in an adjacent deli counter but their machine was broken. But she did serve me a milk shake. She did it the way I have done it sometimes. She simply stuffed some ice cream into a glass and added some milk and stirred it all together with a spoon — in that “fine dining” restaurant.

And my most recent experience was at still another truck stop restaurant. I ordered a milk shake and the waitress got that now quite familiar expression on her face that seemed to ask “why me?”

She then proceeded to wait on other customers and do various other chores — and in no particular hurry. But finally she came back to the milk shake machine and proceeded to dish out the ice cream and put it on the mixer. But she left that thing there for what seemed an eternity and went about doing other things, such as wiping off tables and whatever else wait staff do, including waiting on customers — but the place was not real busy at the time. I of course should have reminded her about my milk shake or asked someone else. I chose to leave.

I’m getting the message. The hired help does not like to make milk shakes.

But the cravings will get to me and I will keep ordering them from time to time.

And if I want one bad enough I guess I’ll just wait and not be afraid to remind whoever of my order.


















We need safety exits for commerical buses…

April 12, 2014

The sound bite from an interview of a student in that horrendous truck into bus crash at Orland, Ca. (happened Thursday evening) said that students had to break out a window for those fortunate ones who escaped death (ten people dead and many injured).

There were something like 48 people on board the bus (exact number I do not know), including high school age students from the Los Angeles area, along with adult chaperones. Both the truck and bus driver were among those killed.

It was a commercial tour bus (not a school bus). One wonders why there was not a safety exit and an easier and more expedient and even safer way of escaping. And now we are told the National Transportation and Safety Board recommended requirements for escape doors/windows way back in 1999 — but nothing has happened.

Money/profit beats safety much of the time.

No we can’t protect our children and ourselves from everything and we have to keep things in balance. It’s a dangerous world. But I think this proves something needs to be done.

The reports I have heard and read say that there were multiple explosions and fireballs and people from miles away felt something like an earthquake. How terrible for the poor souls trapped in the inferno. And of course how tragic for those injured (and even those not injured), and for those who lost friends and children and loved ones. Among the dead were even a couple in their 20s who had planned to marry soon. They had made that decision in Paris.

We don’t know yet (and it may be some time) what caused that truck to veer over the median. That may lead to other safety concerns.

And I am a truck driver myself. The most terrible thing can happen in a split second out on that roadway (and I travel that stretch constantly).


And it occurs to me that the more safety guards they can install in medians between directions of travel the better. At the section in question I believe tall bushes are in the median. They are pleasant to look at but all they do is obscure vision and stop nothing from coming through. On some sections of freeway cable barriers have been installed. I think they can be effective (maybe not always, not sure).


Top brass base salaries on responsibility and then take none (responsibility that is) …

April 10, 2014

Why is it that CEOs justify their gargantuan salaries (millions,billions) in part by the heavy burden of responsibility and liability they shoulder but when the you-know-what hits the fan they feign ignorance as a defense and find scapegoats?

It seems like that might be what is happening at GM over the faulty ignition switch that has reportedly led to deaths and injury. GM has announced the suspension (with pay) of two engineers. The corporation has not disclosed anything specific other than that and has not even named them. It says an investigation is ongoing.

What we do know is that GM top brass (not just possibly two engineers) knew about the ignition switch problem for more than a decade but decided it would be too costly to do anything about it, that is until incriminating evidence was found by a lawyer suing them. Government safety agencies had failed to notice anything amiss. But now GM is involved in a massive recall.

As I read it, the failure of the ignition switch led to air bags not deploying in crashes. GM had not warned customers of the problem.

First of all it seems apparent that the leadership of GM knew about the problem and in fact impossible that it did not.

Second of all captains get blamed for things that happen on their ship whether they knew about them or not because it is their job to know.

The current CEO, Mary T. Barra, cannot hide behind the claim well she was not on the job when it all took place — she assumed command and now she must deal with the problem. She tried to talk around it and white wash the whole thing before a congressional hearing but then her interrogators failed to back down and she changed her tone a little.

And here is a little aside here: on one right-wing talk show I sometimes catch I found the host and some of his callers down on GM. Usually you would not hear them be against corporate America and an American car maker at that. But then I got the idea they were digging at GM because of the fact that it got such a bailout from the taxpayers. And I think I am correct in saying that the bailout was pushed by primarily Democrats trying to save union jobs. We know that the right wing detests unions (even if some or many right wing-nuts at the working man level are union members).

But politics aside, it seems to me GM has made an egregious and criminal (criminal at least in scale) safety error. I certainly would pause before buying a GM product.

On the other hand, Japanese auto maker Toyota has just announced a massive recall. Seems like that company is at least trying to get ahead of the game seeing what happened to GM.

I’m all for American made products. But our American companies have to act responsibly. And we need leaders both on the political level and corporate level with morals. Why does money always seem to get in the way of all that?



And of course we know that the governmental agencies that are supposed to be a watchdog on safety and consumer interests often have an incestuous relationship with those they regulate, due to the revolving door between government and corporate jobs. You really should not even be allowed to have a government oversight job if you have worked for those of whom you are to have oversight over.


















Campaign finance laws made incumbents more secure…

April 9, 2014

Money in politics is not the problem, so says columnist David Brooks of the New York Times, and I think he makes sense. In a recent column he said that the weakening of political parties that has come partly as the result of campaign finance laws created a situation in which individual candidates raise the money themselves and essentially kowtow to special interests with that money (my wording here).

On the one had it has made life more difficult for incumbents because they have to spend so much time fundraising and kissing up to special interests and they have to hire fund-raiders and consultants and such, but on the other hand it has made their jobs much more secure. The amount of money a challenger has to raise to beat an incumbent is astronomical, and the challenger does not have as much help available from weakened political parties.

It has been noted for, well decades now I think, that the political parties are not what they used to be. At one time parties served as a vehicle where somewhat differing ideas coalesced into policy or platforms. Now it’s individual candidates chasing money and doing the bidding of special interests (I’m combining here things Brooks said and things I have read and noticed. I’ll provide a link to his column).

I had wanted to include the Brooks column (or mention of it) when I did my original post in reaction to the latest Supreme Court ruling which was seen as adding even more money influence into politics, but time did not permit me to. I actually have to work at my real job.

Brooks says the latest ruling actually will work to give back some strength to the parties.

Here’s a link to his column:

My original post follows:

Maybe it’s too bad that the conservative Supreme Court majority keeps making rulings that make it even easier for big money to decide who gets elected and then use the power of their money to buy votes for their pet projects and to make sure elected officials support their interests.

But maybe it’s too bad that the general public falls for the phony and shallow campaign ads, that is the small portion who actually vote, and maybe it’s too bad few people follow the issues.

Big money has an interest in the political process. The general public seems not to have.

Of course to some extent the established news media often play along and simply keep up the accepted narrative, pretending to show both sides.

But I don’t think campaign spending limits do the job anyway and probably are too hard and too expensive to enforce.

As far as spending money on a campaign being free speech, though, I don’t quite buy that. Just like I don’t buy burning the American flag being free speech. No I don’t see the constitutional issue in spending limits. I just think they don’t work.

(I just threw the flag thing in there. I don’t think people should burn the symbol of our nation. And I don’t think they are engaging in speech when they do so. There are plenty of ways to protest things without doing that.)

For those of us who try to follow the issues and try to find out who the different candidates really are, well we do have something to complain about. But for the mass of the electorate who choose to just read the headlines and listen to the sound bites, or just tune out altogether, they deserve what they get for their ignorance.

One big problem in all of this is that money seems to be the paramount measure of support for a candidate. You can’t even get into a primary race or a debate without being up there in the fund raising. You can’t very well have hundreds of candidates for one office, so they are weeded out based on money raised.

And then there is the age-old question of does money buy votes? Or does it just buy access (same difference to me)? Well of course it does, that is it buys access for sure, and usually or often with that it buys votes. Money talks, bull crap walks.

It would be difficult to impossible to take money out of the equation.

The only answer is an educated and engaged electorate.

I am getting the idea that both civics and the political process are not taught well in school.


That makes me think of voting registration drives. If you have to be talked into registering to vote, I’d rather you did not vote. We have too many uninformed people voting already, most likely.