Monthly Archives: December, 2011

2011 – It’s almost over

January -Rob and I spent New Year’s together at my then-apartment in Alexandria. At that point we’d been dating for maybe three months, but we were having a great time together.

A schizoid shitbag shot and killed a bunch of people in Tucson, and maimed US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. I got into a huge debate with some leftard on my friend Bill’s Facebook page. Bill and I agree on little politically – he’s a Democrat and a member of the Baltimore City Council – I’m, well… not any of those things. But Bill and I have known one another since college, and I respect him and consider him a good buddy, who cares more about the city than anyone I know.  Proof positive you can be close to someone, and disagree about politics without vitriol or hatred. Too bad some of his friends and followers don’t get that.

February – I gained a new account at work. It was challenging, and I felt like I knew next to nothing. I spent much time at home perusing documents… and drinking wine. The wine didn’t help me understand the documents any better. Just saying.

Rob and I attended CPAC and drank with the inimitable Stephen Gordon and his wife Deb.  Rob also got to meet my friend Bonnie, whom I met at Oleg’s house a couple of years ago, but haven’t seen since. We started spending a hell of a lot of time together.

By the end of the month, we started talking about moving in together. Just talking, mind you.

On the last day of the month, I applied for a promotion.

March – I began massive repairs to my house. A few months prior to this, the kids informed me that they wanted to move away from Stephens City and to a place that was a bit more… cosmopolitan… advanced… not in the middle of nowhere…

I installed new carpets, cleaned the place up, fixed doors, scrubbed the place down, and got rid of stuff… a lot of stuff to get it ready to sell.

I met Ken and Julie Vaughn. Great folks. Ken is running for US Congress, and Julie and her sister Cindy are a riot.  It’s always nice to meet new friends.

Rob and I moved in together part time.  Well, there wasn’t anything really different about our arrangement, actually. We’d been spending a lot of time together anyway – we were together every day I spent in Alexandria – so the only thing that really changed was that he was taking out the trash a lot more.  We eased ourselves into our new arrangement, which was smart. We learned one another’s quirks and had time to see if we could actually get along under one roof. We did.

April – I celebrated my 40th birthday. Yes, I’m 40. Rob took me out to one of my favorite Italian restaurants – Murali at Pentagon Row.

I continued working on the house, and put it up for sale. Selling it turned out to be a nightmare.  I own a five-bedroom, two and a half bath house in Stephens City – a corner lot on a third of an acre of land with a beautiful fenced backyard.   Yeah. Couldn’t sell it to save my life. Dropped the price to less than what I owed for the damn thing. Still couldn’t sell it. My final option, other than a shortsale was to rent the thing, so I put that option out there. It took an additional three months.

Oleg came to visit. The visit was too short, but he got to meet the kids and hang out, and we had a wonderful dinner together.

May – Rob and I went to Vegas. No, we didn’t get married. But it was a much-needed vacation – the first one I’d had in several years.  We spent a week eating great food, going to clubs, seeing shows and movies, and generally just loving life.

I came back – the house was still not rented or sold, and it was time to start looking at places to live. I had made a commitment that the kids would start at their new school in September. That meant that I only had a couple of months to sell my house and find a new place to live in Arlington.

At the end of the month, Rob and I were intensively looking for places to live, which proved to be more difficult than I anticipated. Most places here were incredibly expensive, and we couldn’t find too many that would allow us to keep our pets.

I was stressing. If I didn’t sell my house, I’d be paying rent and mortgage at the same time – not an amount I could afford.  Those who wanted to buy my house, made ridiculously low offers for it. The neighborhood stagnated so badly, that I couldn’t sell that home for half of what it was actually worth. Meanwhile, my mortgage remained the same, and I knew I would have to pay not only rent on a new place, but also a security deposit.  Things were not looking good.

June – I didn’t blog much, and I worked a lot. We found a house, and I had to arrange to have the movers come and pack up my old house, move into the new one, and arrange it all for the following month, when I had a two-week class I had to attend, and a week-long trip to Greece shortly afterward.

July – I went to Athens. I learned that I got my promotion upon my return. The move went as well as could be expected. Rob and I worked on consolidating the vast amount of crap we had accumulated in a relatively short time.  Goodwill loved me. I gave away half my clothes, sold a lot of furniture and trinkets, and threw away even more.

Teeny enrolled in Commonwealth ChalleNGe – a program for at risk youth that provides values, skills, education, and self-discipline to kids who desperately need structure and challenge. It would be nearly six months before she came home.

My friend Pam was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. She’s in her 30s.

I had to say “goodbye” to my beautiful black lab. The ex – despite having raised that beautiful dog from puppyhood – wouldn’t keep him, and I was forced to give him to a friend from work. I still miss him.

August – The new tenant moved into my old house. He claimed to have been a former Marine. He promised he’d take care of my home and treat it like his own.

The Redhead and I bid adieu to the Winchester area and set out on our new adventure in Arlington along with our cats and Prickles the Hedgehog.

We found a tenant who went from being a nice, sane guy at the walk-through to a demanding psycho prick, who threatened to walk away from his lease obligation if I didn’t pay for an $1100 cleaning of the house, the vents and the ducts three days later. I consented to one cleaning, because I wanted to keep my tenant happy. I’d hoped that was the end of it.

Pam went through surgery. It was rough.

There were three of us: Me, Rob and the Redhead in a new house, adjusting to one another all at the same time. The ginger cat fell in love with Rob, and Rob – who had never liked cats before – found himself actually enjoying the cat’s company.

We established a routine.

We ate dinner together.

We tried to give each other space.

It took a few weeks.

We had an earthquake. I was at work when it happened. My computer started to shake. I stood up. A big wave of something rocked my balance. That was it. We evacuated the building, and it took me more than three hours to get home, where my son informed me that one of the cats lost bowel control from fear when the quake hit.

September: After a sustained spam attack that had me deleting thousands of spam comments daily, I moved my blog to WordPress.

The GOP debates were in full swing, and Rob and I were annoyed by the Klown Kar of Kookery that was the field of candidates.

The Redhead started at his new school.  The first few days were a bit rough. He didn’t know anyone. He was a small-ish redheaded kid in a school of more than 2000. People seemed to overlook a short ginger kid, and he told me he felt overwhelmed by the size of the school and everyone in it. It didn’t take him long to make new friends, though, and he’s now a happy, well-adjusted kid whose sweetness and wit have charmed others into making him their friend.

My friend Emily and I drove to Philadelphia and visited Pam in the hospital. We spent the majority of the weekend with her and her wonderful family. She will kick cancer’s ass.

October: I learned I would be going to Ottawa in December for a conference. Who holds a conference in Ottawa in December, right? Rob agreed to hang with the Redhead. Two boys. One house. Me gone.

The batshit crazy, lying tenant skipped out on his lease with two days’ notice, because he apparently “unintentionally” quit his job. He caused more than $1000 worth of damage and lied to me about having a dog in the house. He then took a lot of trouble to avoid giving me his forwarding address, and I had to pay an attorney to help me demand what he owed.  He’s still paying it off.

I took the Redhead shooting. He got to shoot his little 9mm Glock, my Glock and our friend Anna’s rifle. Then I blogged about it.

I had a cancer scare.

We found new tenants for the house.

November: November was filled with family, Thanksgiving, a lot of good food, and good news. I don’t have cancer. Some new medication cured the issues I was having.

I found out I lost a friend. She didn’t die. She just left my life. I don’t know the reason. I spent weeks wondering about it. And then I bid her “Goodbye.” You can’t force someone to talk to you. You can’t force them to respect you. You can’t force them to be your friend. You just have to accept their decision and move on. I have.

Rob and I always liked to talk. In November, we stayed up cuddling and talking late into the night. A lot. We spent Thanksgiving with Rob’s dad and stepmother. Food was great. We played board games. And they have doggies. Wonderful, sweet, cuddly doggies. Doggies that make me miss my lab.

December: Business trip to Ottawa. My beautiful girl graduated from Commonwealth ChalleNGe, with a Leadership Award, one of the highest scores on her GED exam, and Distinguished Cadet. I couldn’t be more proud and happier to have her home.

I met my wonderful friend Cara Ellison in person, when she decided to visit DC.

Christmas. The kids were with their dad in Stephens City. Rob and I exchanged presents in the morning and cuddled in bed for a while. We had lunch at Johnny Rocket’s, saw the new Sherlock Holmes movie and drove to his dad’s for Christmas dinner.

Teeny and I joined a gym together.  It’s a mom-daughter thing.  The Redhead claims he’ll join us.

The year is almost over. We’re having a few friends over for the countdown.

This year was odd. Rob and I became so much closer. The kids are happier and better adjusted. I’m no longer spending 4-5 hours on the road to and from work. We now live 15 minutes away from the office. Twenty minutes in traffic. I have a big portion of my life back.

There were stresses and adjustments and money problems.

But I think overall, the year’s good outweighed the year’s bad.

But I also think 2012 will be amazing! Compared to it, 2011 will be a pit of despair and ugliness.

I’m an optimist overall.


New York arrests hardened, dangerous criminal with gun

Just a few days ago, the New York times hyperventilated about the ease with which Americans can now carry guns in public.

Now we see a story about how dangerous, violent thugs with guns can easily penetrate the city’s secure sites while armed, ask New York cops to check their weapons…

Um… What?

A tourist from Tennessee waltzed into one of the most secure sites in the city — and politely asked a cop if she could check her weapon.

Instead, she was dragged out in cuffs.

Now, Meredith Graves, 39, is facing at least three years in prison for thinking New York’s gun laws are anything like those in the Bible Belt.

Graves, a fourth-year medical student, showed up at the memorial on Dec. 22 to pay her respects during a trip north for a job interview.

She didn’t realize that the loaded .32-caliber pistol in her purse would be a problem until she saw a sign at the site that read, “No guns allowed,” sources said.

So she did what any law-abiding citizen (who didn’t check the gun laws of her destination) would do in her situation. She didn’t want to violate the law, so she asked the police to check her weapon.  And for that, she now faces jail time and Bloomberg’s tyrannical crusade against gun owners.

Graves, who has a full legal carry permit in Tennessee, was locked up on a weapons-possession charge and held on $2,000 bond that she posted yesterday. She is due in court on March 19.

She’ll soon find out exactly how serious New York City is about illegal guns. The Manhattan DA’s Office is pursuing a conviction on felony gun possession — carrying a minimum sentence of 3 1/2 years

This woman made a mistake by not researching NYC’s gun laws first. It was a stupid, irresponsible mistake, but an honest one nonetheless. She has a permit to carry concealed in her home state, and has been obviously deemed no danger to others.  But because NYC ostensibly has some of the most draconian gun control laws on the books, and couldn’t possibly recognize her right to carry from another state, this woman’s life could now be ruined. Her gun wasn’t “illegal,” and I doubt she’d be a contributor to NYC’s “illegal” gun problem.

Is this the type of person we want to lock up? An honest woman who didn’t want to violate the law?

Would a violent thug intent on breaking the law have naively approached the police and asked them to keep his weapon for him?

No. He would have walked in there, intent on doing what he was doing, and no law would have stopped him.

Ergo, NYC is prosecuting Meredith Graves for her honesty, which will do nothing to reduce crime, but will certainly ensure NYC’s place in the Asshat Hall of Fame.

Your move, Iranian fuckwads!

We impose sanctions on Iran for using its civilian nuclear program as a cover for its nuclear weapons research.

Iran works diligently to circumvent them.

We threaten sanctions on Iran’s oil shipments.

Iran threatens closing off the Strait of Hormuz, through which flows 1/6th of the world’s oil.

Iran, meet the US 5th Fleet.

Go ahead. Just give us an excuse, assholes.


Another day…

another New York Times attempt at anti-gun histrionics.

The NYT continues its hyperventilation about the supposed prevalence of gun violence by publishing this non-story. Please note, the story admits that in the cited “case study” of North Carolina, the percentage of concealed carry permit holders who commit crimes with firearms is actually very small.  The story also grudgingly admits that data is “inconclusive” about the effect of lax gun laws on crime. It also admits that even researchers who attempted to negate John Lott’s “More Guns, Less Crime” data came up with inconclusive evidence that at most showed no appreciable effect of laxer gun control laws on crime.

But 2011 wouldn’t be complete without a hysterical NYT article about guns, so… let’s take a look.  It begins with an anecdote.

Alan Simons was enjoying a Sunday morning bicycle ride with his family in Asheville, N.C., two years ago when a man in a sport utility vehicle suddenly pulled alongside him and started berating him for riding on the highway.

Mr. Simons, his 4-year-old son strapped in behind him, slowed to a halt. The driver, Charles Diez, an Asheville firefighter, stopped as well. When Mr. Simons walked over, he found himself staring down the barrel of a gun.

“Go ahead, I’ll shoot you,” Mr. Diez said, according to Mr. Simons. “I’ll kill you.”

Mr. Simons turned to leave but heard a deafening bang. A bullet had passed through his bike helmet just above his left ear, barely missing him.

So what we have here is a family man with a little child being threatened by a big, bad gun. Now I’m not making light of the situation here, but what would a NYT melodrama be without a “deafening” BANG, an innocent kid and an evil gun owner?

Mr. Diez, as it turned out, was one of more than 240,000 people in North Carolina with a permit to carry a concealed handgun. If not for that gun, Mr. Simons is convinced, the confrontation would have ended harmlessly. “I bet it would have been a bunch of mouthing,” he said.

Mr. Diez, then 42, eventually pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.

Of course, never mind that Mr. Diez was in possession of an ostensibly much more deadly weapon at the time – a weapon that kills many more people in this country than firearms violence – a vehicle. And never mind that the law worked the way it was supposed to. A man committed a crime, pleaded guilty and will likely spend a good portion of his life getting violated by large men in a prison shower. It’s still an evil gun…

Across the country, it is easier than ever to carry a handgun in public. Prodded by the gun lobby, most states, including North Carolina, now require only a basic background check, and perhaps a safety class, to obtain a permit.

In state after state, guns are being allowed in places once off-limits, like bars, college campuses and houses of worship. And gun rights advocates are seeking to expand the map still further, pushing federal legislation that would require states to honor other states’ concealed weapons permits. The House approved the bill last month; the Senate is expected to take it up next year.

Oh NOEZ!!!  It’s easier than ever for law-abiding citizens to exercise their constitutionally protected rights! If it wasn’t for “gun-free” campuses, there could have been a massacre at Virginia Tech! Oh. Wait.

Well, if it wasn’t for the “no guns” rule at places of worship, an armed assailant could get in and shoot unarmed worshipers, and there would be no one there to stop him! Oh. Wait.

Well, yeah… But we need to ban guns in bars, because that will prevent thugs from victimizing both bar patrons and bartenders.  Except, of course, when those thugs are large police officers.

The bedrock argument for this movement is that permit holders are law-abiding citizens who should be able to carry guns in public to protect themselves. “These are people who have proven themselves to be among the most responsible and safe members of our community,” the federal legislation’s author, Representative Cliff Stearns, Republican of Florida, said on the House floor.

To assess that claim, The New York Times examined the permit program in North Carolina, one of a dwindling number of states where the identities of permit holders remain public. The review, encompassing the last five years, offers a rare, detailed look at how a liberalized concealed weapons law has played out in one state. And while it does not provide answers, it does raise questions.

Translation: we have found no actual evidence that concealed carry laws endanger society or that Rep. Stearns was wrong, but we have to keep the frothing zealotry going.

More than 2,400 permit holders were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors, excluding traffic-related crimes, over the five-year period, The Times found when it compared databases of recent criminal court cases and licensees. While the figure represents a small percentage of those with permits, more than 200 were convicted of felonies, including at least 10 who committed murder or manslaughter. All but two of the killers used a gun.

So… out of 240,000 concealed carry holders, 1 percent committed crimes over the last 5 year period, 8 percent of those committed felonies, and 0.4 percent of those committed murder or manslaughter. Over the last 5 years.

Translation: we admit the number of concealed carry holders who committed crimes in North Carolina is small, but we wouldn’t be the NYT if we didn’t foment panic about Teh Evil Gunz™.

And they wouldn’t be the fishwrap of record if they didn’t pound the point home with an example, no matter how rare.

Among them was Bobby Ray Bordeaux Jr., who had a concealed handgun permit despite a history of alcoholism, major depression and suicide attempts. In 2008, he shot two men with a .22-caliber revolver, killing one of them, during a fight outside a bar.

And repeated themselves just for effect.

More than 200 permit holders were also convicted of gun- or weapon-related felonies or misdemeanors, including roughly 60 who committed weapon-related assaults.

And attempted to draw a correlation to something wholly irrelevant to the story.

In addition, nearly 900 permit holders were convicted of drunken driving, a potentially volatile circumstance given the link between drinking and violence.

And yet, they were issued drivers’ licenses!

The review also raises concerns about how well government officials police the permit process. In about half of the felony convictions, the authorities failed to revoke or suspend the holder’s permit, including for cases of murder, rape and kidnapping. The apparent oversights are especially worrisome in North Carolina, one of about 20 states where anyone with a valid concealed handgun permit can buy firearms without the federally mandated criminal background check. (Under federal law, felons lose the right to own guns.)

So the “authorities” are too incompetent to do their jobs, but yet the law-abiding citizens must suffer for their screw-uppery? I guess it’s too much to assume that a mandated criminal background check for a concealed carry permit that includes the following requirements would be sufficient.

1. Complete an application, under oath, on a form provided by the sheriff’s office;
2. Pay a non-refundable fee of $80.00; and
3. Allow the sheriff’s office to take two (2) full sets of fingerprints, which may cost up to $10.00;
4. Provide an original certificate of completion of an approved handgun safety course; and
5. Provide a release authorizing disclosure to the sheriff of any record concerning the applicant’s mental health or capacity. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-415.13

Ricky Wills, 59, kept his permit after recently spending several months behind bars for terrorizing his estranged wife and their daughter with a pair of guns and then shooting at their house while they, along with a sheriff’s deputy who had responded to a 911 call, were inside. “That’s crazy, absolutely crazy,” his wife, Debra Wills, said in an interview when told that her husband could most likely still buy a gun at any store in the state.

Mr. Wills’s permit was revoked this month, after The Times informed the local sheriff’s office.

So the authorities are so incompetent, they require the media to do their job for them, and yet, we’re to trust them to grant us permission to exercise our rights? Got it.

Gun laws vary across the country, but in most states, people do not need a license to keep firearms at home. Although some states allow guns to be carried in public in plain sight, gun rights advocates have mostly focused their efforts on expanding the right to carry concealed handguns.

There’s no expanding. The right exists or it doesn’t. The challenge is getting the “authorities” to recognize it.

The national movement toward more expansive concealed handgun laws began in earnest in 1987, when Florida instituted a “shall issue” permit process, in which law enforcement officials are required to grant the permits as long as applicants satisfy certain basic legal requirements.

And crime in those states has either declined or remained unchanged. Of course, I will be the first one to admit that correlation does not equal causation, but it’s certainly clear that allowing people to freely exercise their rights does not pose a danger to society.

The authorities in shall-issue states deny permits to certain applicants, like convicted felons and people who have been involuntarily committed to a mental health institution, unless their gun rights have been restored. North Carolina, which enacted its shall-issue law in 1995, also bars applicants who have committed violent misdemeanors and has a variety of other disqualifiers; it also requires enrollment in a gun safety class.

So regulations exist, and are fairly stringent toward prohibited persons, and yet, the North Carolina authorities can’t seem to unfuck their process enough to effectively execute said laws and regulations. And somehow, this should lead to a stronger chokehold on law-abiding gun owners?

Today, 39 states either have a shall-issue permit process or do not require a permit at all to carry a concealed handgun. Ten others are “may issue,” meaning law enforcement agencies have discretion to conduct more in-depth investigations and exercise their judgment. For example, the authorities might turn down someone who has no criminal record but appears to pose a risk or does not make a convincing case about needing to carry a gun. Gun rights advocates argue, however, that such processes are rife with the potential for abuse.

And are they wrong?

An overzealous sheriff in Pennsylvania attempted to violate the rights of a soccer mom who chose to exercise her Second Amendment right openly – in full compliance with Pennsylvania laws.

DeLeo cited a section of state law that bars the issuance of concealed-weapons permits to people who are deemed a danger to public safety based on their character and reputation. Hain showed poor judgment by wearing her gun at the game, he said.

The woman violated no law and chose to exercise her right in public, and for that the sheriff decided she no longer deserved to have said right.

No potential for abuse?

The fuck you say!

For now, the permits are good only in the holder’s home state, as well as others that recognize them. The bill under consideration in Congress would require that permits be recognized everywhere, even in jurisdictions that might bar the holder from owning a gun in the first place.

God forbid we ensure that the right to keep and bear arms is recognized equally by all states!

In recent years, a succession of state legislatures have also struck down restrictions on carrying concealed weapons in all sorts of public places. North Carolina this year began allowing concealed handguns in local parks, and next year the legislature is expected to consider permitting guns in restaurants.

Because no one has been attacked in a state park or a restaurant, right?

Efforts to evaluate the impact of concealed carry laws on crime rates have produced contradictory results.

Researchers acknowledge that those who fit the demographic profile of a typical permit holder — middle-age white men — are not usually major drivers of violent crime. At the same time, several states have produced statistical reports showing, as in North Carolina, that a small segment does end up on the wrong side of the law. As a result, the question becomes whether allowing more people to carry guns actually deters crime, as gun rights advocates contend, and whether that outweighs the risks posed by the minority who commit crimes.

Gun rights advocates invariably point to the work of John R. Lott, an economist who concluded in the late 1990s that the laws had substantially reduced violent crime. Subsequent studies, however, have found serious flaws in his data and methodology.

A few independent researchers using different data have come to similar conclusions, but many other studies have found no net effect of concealed carry laws or have come to the opposite conclusion. Most notably, Ian Ayres and John J. Donohue, economists and law professors, concluded that the best available data and modeling showed that permissive right-to-carry laws, at a minimum, increased aggravated assaults. Their data also showed that robberies and homicides went up, but the findings were not statistically significant.

In the end, most researchers say the scattershot results are not unexpected, because the laws, in all likelihood, have not significantly increased the number of people carrying concealed weapons among those most likely to commit crimes or to be victimized.

Translation: concealed carry laws haven’t caused blood to run in the streets like the gun banners have predicted, but we hope that fact gets lost in our endless blather.

The rest of this “report” is a rehash of the dead horse already beaten to a bloody pulp by this shoddy attempt at journalism.  A few examples to point out not the overwhelming criminality of concealed carry permit holders in North Carolina, but the failure of the authorities to accurately maintain current records and prevent violent criminals from carrying firearms.

Nothing new. Nothing different. Just the same old pablum chewed up and spit out by what passes as journalism nowadays.

Dear Pakistan,

Fuck off and die.  Oh, and we’re unfriending you on Facebook too, assholes.

Some Pakistani officers talk openly about shooting down any American drones that violate Pakistani sovereignty. “Nothing is happening on counterterrorism right now,” said a senior Pakistani security official. “It will never go back to the way it was.”

Any new security framework will also require increased transit fees for the thousands of trucks that supply NATO troops in Afghanistan, a bill that allied officials say could run into the tens of millions of dollars.

Officials from Pakistan and the United States anticipate steep reductions in American security aid, including the continued suspension of more than $1 billion in military assistance and equipment, frozen since the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May.

The number of American military officers, enlisted troops and contractors in Pakistan has dropped to about 100, from about 400 more than a year ago, including scores of American trainers who have all been sent home. Pakistan is also restricting visas to dozens of other embassy personnel, from spies to aid workers.

As far as I’m concerned, we should have yanked any and all aid going to that shithole a long time ago.  Any nation that houses terrorists such as bin Laden for years and is a major source of explosives used against American troops in Afghanistan doesn’t deserve our help.

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