Monday, April 16, 2018

IN MEMORIAM




IN MEMORY OF THE 32 WHO LOST THEIR 
LIVES AT VIRGINIA TECH 11 YEARS AGO
AND
WITH RESPECT AND CARING THOUGHTS FOR
THE 17 WOUNDED
AND
ALL THE FAMILIES AND FRIENDS OF THE VICTIMS
WHOSE LIVES WERE CHANGED ON THAT TERRIBLE DAY

         Today is a day to reflect on what might have been and what we lost on April 16, 2007. And, to honor the family and friends of those lost and wounded at Virginia Tech. 

         Today is also a day to honor the victims of Cho’s rampage by vowing to redouble the fight to keep guns out of the hands of those who are willing to kill or maim innocent human beings for no reason other than to satisfy their sick and distorted view of the world around them.

Friday, April 13, 2018

LETTERS: ARROGANT AND SELECTIVE STATISTICS


Letters to newspapers in eastern Virginia following the March 24th March For Our Lives claimed that gun violence in this country is not the result of gun ownership. That is simply not true.

One author selectively cited statistics on gun violence, while another cited his credentials, as a psychologist, to claim the marchers didn’t know history, suffered from naiveté, and had a sense of moral superiority.

It is a standard debate rule to never argue using flawed or selective statistics. It most certainly is not a good idea to try and win an argument with arrogance. The two letters critical of the march probably did more to strengthen the marchers’ case than anything else in the paper.

There are facts that people such as the two letter writers never address. For example, every day 90 Americans are killed by guns, 31 of those are murder victims and another 151 Americans are treated for gunshot wounds, according to the Brady Foundation. (Unlike the letter writers, I give my sources.) As for suicides, every day an average of 55 people kill themselves with guns and another 46 people are shot or killed by accident with guns. Those figures are shocking—and they do not represent naiveté.

Perhaps the most disappointing letter was from the psychologist. He, more than anyone, should know that after the mass carnage at Virginia Tech, politicians of all stripes vowed more money for mental health care. Yet today, Virginia spends less on mental health than it did on the eve of the Blacksburg killings. And, psychologists remain silent on the subject. Improved mental health is most definitely part of preventing gun violence, and for anyone in the psychology profession to remain silent on what has happened to mental health care in Virginia is stunningly callus and unprofessional. (To be continued)


Thursday, April 12, 2018

TED NUGENT--MORON


I used to be offended by the bumper sticker, “Fight Incest, Stop Listening to Country Music.” I like country music and play it frequently. In fact, my job has me traveling a lot and I frequently put on my favorite country music CD in order to relieve the boredom of driving.

Now, after Ted Nugent’s nearly incoherent criticism of a seventeen-year-old boy (David Hogg) who survived a horrific school shooting, maybe I owe the drivers of the bumper-sticker-laden cars an apology. Inbreeding produces morons and it appears Ted Nugent is walking proof of that.

How else, but stupid and moronic, can anyone describe Nugent’s criticism of the Parkland High School shooting survivors calling them “liars” and “poor, mushy-brained children?” Nugent, whose brain is something akin to a 40-watt light bulb, apparently has no moral compass. For a nationally known artist to use the power of his stardom to attack young school shooting survivors goes beyond jaw dropping, it is immoral.

Indeed for adults anywhere to viciously attack the students at Parkland is disgusting.

Every time there is a school shooting or mass shooting of any kind, all sorts of things crawl out from under rocks. Take for example, Mike Adams, a conspiracy theorist who heads up the Web site Natural News which is best known for challenging scientific and conventional medicine. Adams has formed something called Hoggwatch, and refers to David Hogg as an “anti-gun punk,” a “sociopath” and a “bully.” 

Adams, when asked to appear on national television to explain his criticism of the young school-shooting survivor, was unavailable. Apparently, for Adams to come out from under his rock for prolonged periods of time would cause him some health problems. (To be continued)


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

THE VIRGINIA TECH CANARD


Following the slaughter at Virginia Tech, the Governor set up a blue ribbon panel to analyze the rampage. The net result was a badly flawed report that does not address the problems central to the causes behind the shooting. The third and final version of the report, known as The Addendum, shies away from making the tough recommendations needed to get at the heart of the problem and prevent future shootings on school grounds.

Unlike Colorado’s Columbine report, which was written by the panel members who analyzed that shooting, Virginia Tech hired a firm that had done business with the state (Arlington-based TriData) to do the drafting; a conflict of interest. TriData was paid around $700,000. Virginia Tech bought and paid for the report it wanted; a report analyzing the tragedy in such a way to gloss over incompetence and call no one’s actions or inactions into question.

I have read the report several times and each time I come away scratching my head. The sheer size of the report is noteworthy, but its failure to face up to what needs to be done—hold people accountable for their actions and inactions—makes The Addendum an exercise in futility.

The report did not address issues such as identifying mistakes in judgment and the individuals who should be held accountable for their actions or inactions. Indeed, the report is an amazing exercise in avoiding accountability and legal liability.

The investigating panel should have written the report in order to avoid any hint of conflict of interest. It is bad enough that a state panel examined the behavior of state employees and the state’s largest university to determine if there was any malfeasance, but not one member of the victims’ families was a panel member. The state did pay for a family representative and spokesperson on the panel. But, who was paying the representative and to whom did the representative owe loyalty? The state—again, a conflict of interest that is hardly conducive to impartiality.

Several key players declined to cooperate with the review panel. I find that lack of cooperation disheartening and puzzling. Specifically, the Virginia State Police, the ATF, and the gun dealers “declined to provide the panel with copies of the applications” Seung Hui Cho completed when he bought the weapons that would eventually kill over thirty innocent people. The report notes that “the Virginia State Police … did describe the contents of Cho’s gun purchase applications to members of the panel and its staff.” The state police’s willingness to “describe” is a limp attempt to explain their failure to cooperate and provide the panel with documents. This lack of cooperation is a lethal flaw in the report—it is inexcusable.

The panel was impeded in its work by the FOIA rules that did not allow more than two members to meet together or speak by phone without it being considered a public meeting. This is bureaucracy at its worst. The report needs to be more specific in detailing the problems this bureaucratic obstacle presented.

The report sugarcoats glaring errors and problems. For example, the report on page 10, talks about the findings and recommendations in the report being two different kinds. One, “What was done well,” and two, “What could have been done better.” The report should have exposed people in positions of authority failing to do their jobs—“could have been done better” is backing away from holding individuals and institutions accountable for their actions.

In this same vein, the report says that the police may have made an error in reaching the premature conclusion that their initial lead was a good one and that the person of interest was probably not on campus. May have made an error? The Virginia Tech Police did make a very serious error by jumping to a premature conclusion and giving the wrong impression to school officials. This error should never be glossed over.

The report appears to make excuses for the failure of the university’s Policy Group to put out a campus-wide alert following the discovery of the first two bodies. The previous August, the university had put out an alert that a convict named William Morva had escaped from a nearby prison and killed a law enforcement officer and a guard. The alert indicated that the murderer was on the loose and could be on campus. The university set its own standard in August of 2006 by issuing that alert, and then violated that standard in April 2007. Lives would have been saved had that alert gone out; the report skirts around this critical point.

In sum, The Addendum fails to do its job in critical areas; it is bland, and raises no real red flags. The report is the equivalent of reading a book with no thesis. The recommendations indicate this or that “should” be done. The “shoulds” relate to such things as analyzing, training, complying with this or that act, police being members of panels, and so on and so forth. Yes, these “shoulds” need to be done. But, nowhere does the report say that individuals should be held accountable for their actions or inactions; that organizations and individuals must be held accountable when they break their own standards and over 30 lives are lost.

One member of the Panel reported that from the outset panel members felt under pressure to produce a report that would not lead to litigation.

The report may be impressive in size, but it is unimpressive in content. The report falls short of what it needed to do…make clear that everyone in a position of responsibility must be held to standards of safety and that failure to meet those standards will result in stiff penalties. Instead, readers are left wandering from page to page in an effort to tie ends together and make these conclusions for themselves.  (To be continued)  

Saturday, March 31, 2018

BRAVO: 13 COMPANIES WITHDRAW ADVERTISING FROM LAURA INGRAHAM SHOW


  
Thirteen companies have heeded Parkland survivor’s (David Hogg) call to withdraw advertising from the Laura Ingraham show after she belittled Hogg’s being turned down by colleges. You don’t get much lower than Ingraham’s decision to go on national television and ridicule a 17-year-old survivor of a school shooting. When is Fox news going to fire her?

Here are the 13 companies who have withdrawn advertising from her show:

            1.  Wayfair
            2.  Expedia
            3.  Nestlé
            4.  Atlantis
            5.  Stitch Fix
            6.  Hulu
            7.  Trip Advisor
            8.  Nutrish
            9.  Liberty Mutual
            10. Johnson and Johnson
            11. Office Max
            12. Jenny Craig

            13. Ruby Tuesday

Thursday, March 29, 2018

BOYCOTT ALL ADVERTISERS OF LAURA INGRAHAM'S SHOW


Apparently after getting a ticket for double-parking her broom, Laura Ingraham (vacuous radical right-wing extremist) took her anger out by belittled the fact that Parkland school survivor, David Hogg, was turned down by four universities. When you have limited ability to reason, no moral compass, andA  low IQ, what is left—only sarcasm as well as ridicule of a high school boy and survivor of a high school shooting. Here is her tweet:

David Hogg Rejected By Four Colleges To Which He Applied and whines about it. (Dinged by UCLA with a 4.1 GPA...totally predictable given acceptance rates.)

Please boycott all sponsors of the Laura Ingraham show who have not withdrawn their advertising:
Sleepnumber
AT&T
Nutrish—withdrew advertising
Expedia—withdrew advertising
Allstate
Bayer
Rocket Mortgage
Wayfair
Liberty Mutual
Arby’s
Nestlé—withdrew advertising
Huhu
Trip Advisor—withdrew advertising