Saturday, June 18, 2016

Last Call For Locked And Loaded

I've seen a number of stories about this phenomenon, invariably after a mass shooting, people feel the need to protect themselves in this country and gun sales spike.  It's no different after Orlando, where LGBTQ groups are getting armed in the wake of the worst mass shooting in decades.

The Pink Pistols, a national gun club for gays and lesbians, wants their community to take up arms in self defense in the wake of a deadly shooting massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando.

Spokesperson Gwendolyn Patton, who argues that the LGBT community needs to exercise their Second Amendment rights in order to defend themselves, says the group saw membership soar from about 1,500 members before the Orlando shooting on Sunday to 3,500 on Monday.

The spike in interest comes after at least 49 people were killed and at least 53 were wounded when gunman, Omar Mateen opened fire and took hostages at a LGBT-friendly nightclub in Orlando last weekend. The massacre was the worst mass shooting in American history and Patton says the interest in LGBT gun rights is at an all-time high.

The Pink Pistols says they have gained 1,000 more members over the course of the week, putting their total membership at approximately 4,500. The group continues to see dozens of new chapters pop up across the country.

"We've had the greatest response in three areas, our Facebook page, which has tripled in size, our chapters, we have so many requests for information on starting new chapters I've lost count, and the sheer number of people offering services such as training to our members," Patton said.

The group claims 45 active chapters across 33 states in the U.S. and three more in other countries. Patton says that in addition to that there are many inactive chapters that may be reopening soon.

The Pink Pistols describes itself as "an international LGBT self-defense organization" that advocates for gay people to acquire concealed carry permits. Group activities include bringing in NRA-certified instructors to help train members at shooting ranges and engaging in political activism. Pink Pistols is generally made up of gun-loving LGBT individuals, but also includes straight ally members.

This isn't new in America or in history, people forget that the Black Panthers were very much advocates of black men arming themselves under the Second Amendment, and that thought certainly did not sit well with white America in the sixties.  California became one of the first states in the nation to pass gun control legislation specifically to stop them, as Huey Newton and Bobby Seale wanted an armed community watch in Oakland in order to stand as a counter racist police officers.

Fifty years later and frankly, that idea hasn't changed very much, so no, I don't begrudge people going through background checks and getting armed for protection.  I grew up in western NC, I understand people do that for a reason.

But let's be honest, the reason background checks for guns exist is because it was seen as a way to keep guns out of the hands of black men, like many regulations in US history, they were based on race.

You can't separate the two.

Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'

Republicans continue to want to exploit any division they can find between Team Bernie and Team Hillary, and frankly I can't blame them for trying to take the spotlight off Donald Trump's awful candidacy. Plus, Bernie and his supporters are making it awfully easy to do so.

The Republican National Committee is promoting a report that accuses the Democratic Party of conspiring to nominate Hillary Clinton in the early days of the presidential primary.In an email, the RNC sent to reporters a story published by the New York Post about a document that purportedly shows the Democratic National Committee was strategizing to make Hillary Clinton president — and not a generic Democratic candidate — in the spring of 2015.

The story is based on a document posted on the blog of a user named “Guccifer 2.0,” and appears to be part of a trove of documents stolen from the DNC by Russian government hackers.

The alleged memo to the DNC, dated May 26, 2015, says that the party should work to “provide a contrast between the GOP field and HRC.”

HRC is a common abbreviation for Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Sanders launched his campaign nearly a month prior to the date of the memo — though according to RealClearPolitics, he was still trailing Clinton by nearly 57 points in the polls.

It’s unclear whether the document that the hacker claims is from the DNC is a real one.

On Thursday night a senior DNC official did tell The Hill that documents were stolen in a breach and suggested they were part of a Russian “disinformation campaign.”

“Our experts are confident in their assessment that the Russian government hackers were the actors responsible for the breach detected in April, and we believe that today’s release and the claims around it may be a part of a disinformation campaign by the Russians,” the official said. “We’ve deployed the recommended technology so that today our systems are secure thanks to a swift response to that attack and we will continue to monitor our systems closely.”

Look, guys, the fact that the DNC wanted to go with Hillary Clinton as early as 2015 may have been the worst-kept secret in politics, and I mean that quite literally, the secret was kept so badly that hackers like Guccifer and Russian intelligent services easily stole the information.

I understand the Bernie guys are looking for whatever indignation they can find at this point in order to banish Sanders's inevitable loss, but the fact that DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a good friend of Hillary Clinton, wanted to lead her organization to help Clinton win isn't exactly news, guys,  The  folks on the far left have been complaining about her "coronation" for years now.

This is dragging up an argument from 2015, guys.  Do try harder.

Bevin Breaks A Cardinal Rule

So the official story is that on Friday, University of Louisville President James Ramsey resigned at the request of Kentucky GOP Gov. Matt Bevin.

Gov. Matt Bevin announced Friday that University of Louisville President James Ramsey is stepping down and that he is reorganizing the Board of Trustees. 
Bevin said he is appointing an interim board that will serve for the next two weeks. Ramsey is willing to step down immediately, Bevin said, but he could remain as president for as long as two weeks. 
Bevin said it has been evident that changes in the oversight at U of L has been needed for some time. He said his intent is to "give a fresh start" to the university. 
The Council on Postsecondary Education will nominate new trustees for Bevin to consider for appointment. He said the new board will have 13 members, 10 of which he will appoint. He said he wants board members who look out for the university's best interests and understand their fiduciary responsibility. 
Bevin said his action is motivated by academic concerns, not athletics.

As also noted, Bevin canned the entire U of L Board of Trustees to boot.  Bevin's stated issue with Ramsey and the U of L Board is that there are "academic problems" with the university and Ramsey was at the heart of them: Men's basketball coach Rick Pitino's issues with obtaining "gifts" for students, possible embezzlement by the university's top health care official, and more.

The unofficial story of why Ramsey and the board had to go: they stood in the way of Bevin's across the board education austerity cuts.

"Tuition will go up. The question is how much," University of Louisville President James Ramsey said on Fox in the Morning on Friday. That's just one of the consequences he says continued state budget cuts will have on the university and its students. 
"We've been through nine cuts in nine years," Ramsey says. The university has made plenty of big cuts in how it manages energy and buys health insurance, he says. Now it's looking for lots of little ways to save money. "It challenges our ability to move forward," he says. 
Ramsey says underfunding education also has consequences for the state. "We do have an undereducated population," he says. Ramsey says more people need to get through high school and into college. A lack of educated workers, he says, holds back economic development in the state.

Ramsey also says the cuts hinder the university's ability to recruit the best faculty members and research teams. He points to U of L's James Graham Brown Cancer Center being granted a full three-year accreditation by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers. That accreditation is given to centers with the a high level of care and which rigorously review their performance. But such achievements take money to attract the top people, Ramsey says.

Ramsey was more than happy to lay the blame on Bevin.  You see how Bevin responded.  He wants state employees and educators terrified of his wrath.  No wonder he continues to be one of the nation's least popular governors.
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