Wordless Wednesdays . . .
Wednesday afternoon, cloudy and cooler, but humid, 80 degrees.
Wednesday afternoon, cloudy and cooler, but humid, 80 degrees.
Monday afternoon, cloudy and very humid, 86 degrees.
So I decided that I should try to finish my companion post on the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, and NRATV (here is link to Saturday’s post). Honestly, I feel that writing about it is one of the best things that I can do in response to the most recent gun violence massacres. I don’t know how effective my forum actually is as regards getting some kind of message out there, but if I don’t try, then I shouldn’t complain. I mean, I’m pretty much removed from access to marches until I have a working vehicle, but I have to at least try to participate however I can.
I realize that Mitch McConnell, in not forcing Congress back into session, is probably hoping things will die down before Congress resumes, that the recent violence will not be so fresh in people’s minds, which means that calls for reform can be glossed over with more important things, like continuing to benefit from an influx of Russian cash into his home state of Kentucky. But I’m hoping that the American people will not be lulled back into complacency so easily this time, that the three mass killings in less than two weeks will continue to be a raw wound that gnaws at us so that the momentum for reform doesn’t stall.
And so I will continue to write and to post.
I have to say that I, for one, am incredibly glad that there were no weapons in schools when I was teaching middle school. Having been personally involved in three (yes, three) altercations, I can only imagine what would have happened if one of those kids had been able to grab someone’s gun. It actually gives me chills to contemplate it.
Most of the outrageous things that Wayne LaPierre predicts never come to fruition, like when he declared that there was a “massive Obama conspiracy to deceive voters and hide his true intentions to destroy the Second Amendment during his second term.” Or when LaPierre stated that in a 1995 fundraising letter that a ban on semi-automatic weapons would give “jack-booted government thugs more power to take away our constitutional rights, break in our doors, seize our guns, destroy our property, and even injure or kill us.”
I’ll give him this: The man loves his rhetoric.
But we don’t need any more rhetoric. We may not even need an assault-weapons ban as it’s so easy for manufacturers to work around it as they did in the 90’s. But could we at least discuss seriously universal background checks and restrictions on large capacity magazines? Poll after poll show that the majority of Americans are behind these reforms. I mean, come on—when you hunt, do you need a magazine that holds 30 rounds? There won’t be much of that quail left if you unload your magazine into it.
I also think that places like Wal-Mart and others should have limits on how much ammunition can be purchased at one time. Now before all of you survivalists out there scream at me (not that I think there are actually any in my audience), I know that you stockpile ammo for the zombie apocalypse. I also know that you buy your supplies gradually over time. It’s the people intent on doing harm who go in and buy 1,000 rounds, like the Las Vegas shooter in 2017. He purchased 720 rounds from just one dealer. It needs to be harder to get so much ammunition because right now, there are no limits, and the NRA fights any time a state tries to impose such limits.
Admittedly, the irony is that the Las Vegas shooter passed his background check for his weapons, which included 23 guns, including a handgun in his hotel room and 19 firearms at his home in Mesquite, Nevada. But he didn’t have to pass any kind of check for the ammunition that he had, which allowed him to commit the largest mass shooting in the country’s history.
Anyway, enough of my stream of consciousness on all of this. I had wanted to feature info on the NRA’s now defunct TV station, which was yet another vehicle by which millions of dollars of the organization’s money were spent, but the last post was so darned long that I had to break things up—and they’re both still too long . . .
During the NRA’s 2019 annual meeting Oliver North was forced out as president amid reports of infighting and budget deficits and accusations of financial improprieties, including money the organization spent on NRATV, which aired a particularly embarrassing segment in September of the previous year (see image above). In addition to his role as NRA president, North was hired by Ackerman-McQueen in a seven-figure contract to produce content for NRATV.
In June, the group’s chief lobbyist and head of political operations, Chris Cox, was suspended and then later resigned following allegations that he and North attempted to extort LaPierre. In legal filings, the NRA contends that North conspired with Ackerman and McQueen, Cox, and board member Dan Boren “to unseat the NRA’s executive leadership and give Ackerman lucrative, de facto control over its largest client.” The NRA contends that North called LaPierre’s assistant in April and allegedly threatened that Ackerman McQueen would reveal information about the CEO and the organization’s finances that would “cause maximum reputational harm,” according to the NRA complaint.
The following timeline of the fight between NRA and its advertising agency comes from Media Matters:
Saturday evening, sunny, and warm, 83 degrees.
I’ve been working on this post since this morning, and it’s now after 8 p.m., so I’m dog tired and hurt all over. Just thought I’d share that tidbit.
So you are a proud member of the NRA. Fine, truly. It’s your right as an American citizen to belong to anything you choose. I may not agree with you, but that’s my right as an American citizen. We get to disagree about things. Again, a free and open society allows for that. Here’s hoping we continue to be a free and open society for many years to come, a society that endorses freedom of the press and your right to be a safe gun owner.
But allow me to elucidate for you a few NRA facts about which you may be unfamiliar, a few facts about exactly how the NRA spends your membership dues. You may be surprised . . . or maybe not. But first, a few background facts about the organization.
NRA Background Information:
Facts of which you may be unaware regarding questionable NRA membership totals and expenditures by the upper echelon of the organization:
On NRA membership, real and not-so-real:
A Newsweek review of the tax exempt records, known as 990 filings (full text of 990 from 2015 here, and 2017 here), shows wild fluctuation in membership numbers from year to year, but also an overall decline in membership revenue between 2007 and 2016.
On the big, big costs associated with keeping the EVP/CEO:
CEO Wayne LaPierre, gets paid very well. In 2015, the last year for which the group’s tax return is available, LaPierre earned $5.1 million in total compensation. That’s more than the CEOs of Alaska Air, CME Group, Church & Dwight, Dish Network or Garmin earned that year.
A Pro Publica article contends that in July 2018, a half-dozen of the organization’s accountants produced a document detailing the most egregious issues that needed to be addressed by the audit committee tasked with conducting NRA fiscal oversight. The audit committee document was part of an effort by NRA accountants last year to address a broad array of questionable transactions and business arrangements that they believed could threaten the organization’s tax-exempt status.
The “List of Top Concerns for the Audit Committee” details a range of questionable transactions and business arrangements involving several top NRA vendors and executives. Violations of the organizations procedures and policies included hiring staff without HR knowledge, reimbursement of living expenses beyond HR policies.
The transactions involved top NRA executives, favored vendors, and consultants, including Josh Powell, LaPierre’s former chief of staff. The organization’s 2017 tax filings revealed that Powell had racked up more than a hundred thousand dollars in personal expenses—including a housing allowance—paid by the NRA.
That being said, it appears that the biggest infractions came from the very top.
On LaPierre’s Questionable Expenses:
About that nine-bathroom house on the golf course:
And finally, did you want that coffee with or without the retirement option:
Remember that insignificant sum of $3,767,345 the NRA paid into LaPierre’s retirement fund in 2015?
So that’s just a capsule of how the NRA gets and spends some of its money, and granted, this post ended up being much longer than I had anticipated. What I take away from this is perhaps three things: Bloating at the top of organizations seems to be universal, and those in charge tend to forget all of the people they stepped on to get there. Second, the original mission of the NRA has been lost (advancing rifle marksmanship). Gun education and safety falls somewhere in the bottom of priorities.
And finally, and this is good news for those of us who really are against the organization’s upper echelon and the out-of-touch messaging, their belt tightening has affected their political spending: The group shelled out just under $10 million on House and Senate candidates in 2018—less than half of what it spent on congressional races in 2014 and 2016 (emphasis mine).
Friday afternoon, sunny (finally) and cooler, 69 degrees.
We’re trying to wean Roland from the bottle as he’ll be two months old tomorrow, but it’s hard as anytime he sees Zeke getting a bottle, he wants one. I just called Roland to try to get him away from Corey, who was feeding Zeke (a lot of names here, huh?), and Roland actually slid across the coffee table to get to me. I think that one of these goats is getting too big for the house . . .
Today’s collection is brought to you by Benadryl, what I’ve been slathering on my body for weeks now to try to calm the itch. Benadryl. It’s good for what ails you.
Seriously though, I may never venture outside again. Anyway, enjoy.
File under: Amazing but True—People have always been this way . . .
I like to think that this was written just for me:
Celebrating the summer solstice:
I never knew this:
Didn’t know this either:
Cant tell if I’m more bothered by the pigeons or more in tune with the captions:
We take the freshness of our biscuits very seriously, indeed:
My immediate first thought was how can he possibly afford this:
This is kind of arrogant. I mean, what if Mars already has a calendar system?
And finally . . . I shouldn’t be surprised by anything, any more:
*From an article in the Guardian about a Christian group petitioning the wrong company to cancel Good Omens . . .
Thursday evening, cloudy again, 48 degrees.
Abraham Lincoln’s opinions on the internet notwithstanding, a little something different for today . . .
So you wouldn’t believe the number of websites, books, videos, and pamphlets that I found from supposed health gurus, truth tellers, and conspiracy theorists who want you to introduce food-grade hydrogen peroxide into your life, you know, for all of the health benefits, because it can cure gingivitis and cancer, simultaneously, and, well, just because.
According to a 2017 article in The Washington Post, “Hundreds of people have become severely ill and at least five have died after consuming high-concentration hydrogen peroxide that some people take as an additive to their diets, according to a new study.”
A ten-year study by the U.S. National Poison Data System and the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) was published in Annals of Emergency Medicine; the study encompassed the years 2001-2011. During that time, “nearly 300 cases of high-concentration peroxide poisoning were identified.”
Dr. Benjamin Hatten, the lead study author, told CBS News that
The poisoning resulted in significant physical injuries, ranging from respiratory distress to seizures, strokes and heart attacks. About 14 percent of the patients experienced heart embolisms, while 7 percent died or had long-term disability after drinking hydrogen peroxide.
According to the NCBI of the NIH:
Hydrogen peroxide is relatively unstable and will rapidly decompose, through an exothermic reaction, into water and oxygen in the presence of alkali, metals and the enzyme catalase, which is found in mucous membranes, liver, kidney, red blood cells and bone marrow (1). There are three main mechanisms of toxicity from hydrogen peroxide: caustic injury, oxygen gas formation and lipid peroxidation (1).
The brown bottles of hydrogen peroxide that most of us have in our homes are 3 percent solutions. That’s a big difference from food-grade, which is usually a 35 percent solution, and often these food-grade jugs are clear or milky, resembling bottled water or milk products, and that’s a big problem if you have kids in your home, especially if they cannot read. The average amount of hydrogen peroxide in things like toothpaste and mouthwash is .1 percent. For more related facts, go here.
Go here for a good article explaining why food-grade hydrogen peroxide is not good for your health.
I know that it might seem odd coming from me that I’m so adamantly against ingesting so-called food-grade hydrogen peroxide, but the supposed health benefits of using this dangerous 35 percent concentration, even diluted have never been studied by any reputable lab.
Look, in recent years I’ve been trying to find natural and/or homeopathic and/or cruelty-free products in all areas of my life, but, and this is a BIG but, I research every supplement and/or vitamin that I add to my regimen; I monitor side effects and any possible benefits before deciding whether to continue or discontinue. And I in no way claim to be an authority on any of this.
I can tell you that Manuka honey has natural antibacterial properties that can do wonderful things for minor skin wounds. And rosehip oil is a wonderful moisturizer for your face. And snail slime, yep, even that, has beneficial properties. But a solution of diluted 35 percent hydrogen peroxide will not cure cancer, nor will it help with diabetes, nor will it help to oxygenate your cells.
I wrote this post because I had been sucked in by an article on the whole food-grade benefits about a month or two ago (who remembers time, so ephemeral…), so much so that I even priced a bottle on Amazon at that time (which has supposedly since banned 35 percent solutions, but a few can still be found). But then I began to dig deeper, and I realized that what was being touted was snake oil—pure and simple. And that’s the case with many, many supplements, health rinses and tonics (like turpentine), etcetera that are on the market today.
All that I am saying is please, please do your due diligence. Be an informed consumer, not a ill-informed victim.
More later. Peace.
A mashup for today. Enjoy!
Butterfly on his bottom:
A throwback: the Lucasfilm 1980 Star Wars Christmas Card by Ralph McQuarrie:
For anyone dismayed by the December 17 tumblr inquisition:
Also from ultrafacts.com:
I love that Brian Kemp declared himself the victor in a race that is almost certain to go to a runoff. I guess we all need to dream (nice way of saying that he’s deluded). At least he finally resigned his Georgia Secretary of State position, something he should have done before he started his suppression tactics.
Anyway, as of today, votes are still being tallied in many races, including that bastion of questionable close races: Florida. Of course we can count on 45 to make another stupid Twitter comment about it: “Law Enforcement is looking into another big corruption scandal having to do with Election Fraud in #Broward and Palm Beach.”
Republican Senatorial candidate Gov. Rick Scott started yelling fraud as soon as the margin began to close between him and Florida’s incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson. David Becker, a former Justice Department voting-rights lawyer, commented that “these counties haven’t even finished counting ballots. This is all about winning and nothing about fraud, but it comes at the cost of delegitimizing our own democracy.”
Nevertheless, Democratic gains as of today are 30 seats in the House, with about 12 races still too close to call. This year’s midterms were significant for so many reasons, not the least of which was the incredibly diverse slate of candidates. According to an article in Market Watch, “At least 244 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender candidates ran for office on all levels of government this year, including 21 candidates for Congress and four for governor.”
More importantly, with a record number of women voting, running, and winning, this race saw an historic number of firsts for women: first Muslims, youngest, first Latinas, first women of color, first Native Americans. In January, women will comprise 22 percent on Congressional makeup (up from 20 percent); still not enough, but definitely better than before. This article lists details.
More later. Peace.
Music by Janelle Monáe, “Q.U.E.E.N., featuring Erykah Badu (sorry, accidentally put the John Lennon song here first)