Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Gun Control Debate: Two sides protecting their interests

Trends and talking points
The anti-gun population will have you believe that gun control is the answer. They rail against automatic weapons, which were not used in Connecticut, Virginia Tech, Arizona, or Colorado. Automatic weapons are highly regulated and not available to the general public. There are only 250,000 allowed in the country for non-police and non-military collectors. It is expensive in order to buy the permit and the application process takes six months to one year.

Those that don't understand firearms are lumping the weapons in with those described above. True, the look like assault weapons, but mechanically they are the same as popular hunting rifles made by Remington and Browning.

There's a reverse trend in America. The amount of crime is trending downward while the number of gun sales is trending upward. The anti-gun people would have you believe the opposite is true, that we're living in the Wild West, and that it's harder to buy Sudafed than a gun. None of which are true.

NRA response
I completely understand how the media and the left have said that Wayne LaPierre's statement about having armed guards are crazy, unfounded and dangerous. But understand that his function is to protect the 2nd Amendment rights of Americans; it is not the purpose of the NRA to keep idiots from walking in and shooting up schools.

That falls to the politicians and school administrators, does it not?

There are many school districts that employ uniformed police officers. Their superintendents and mayors have not been dragged through the media painted as an ideologue.

We must find compromise in the gun control debate.

The Gun Control Debate: Logic, facts and data are on our side

The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary has pushed the gun control debate into the national spotlight. President Obama and his administration are taking this opportunity to politicize this tragedy and push their anti-gun agenda.

By the numbers
I'll make this quick. Here's some data from the FBI concerning guns used in the commission of crimes. The rates are per population of 100,000.

Murders       2.75
Robberies  39.25
Assaults     43.77
Total           85.77

The population as of the last census is 311,592,000. Divide by 100,000 and that's 3115.92. Then multiply that by 85.77 to get the total number of gun crimes in America - 267,252.

At last estimate, there are 300 million  guns in America. Let's figure the percentage of guns used in the commission of a crime. 267,252 divided by 300,000,000. We get 0.00089084. Round it up and we've got .09% of guns used in crimes.

Said another way:
99.91% of firearms in the U.S. are owned by law-abiding citizens. 

I'm not OK with taking away their rights because less than 1% are mentally unstable psychopaths or criminals. President Obama has said he'd use any means necessary to solve the problem. Obama's opinion on gun control shouldn't matter: he's motivated to take away rights and he's already shown his hypocrisy on the issue.

The Gun Control Debate: Why Obama's opinion shouldn't matter

The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary has pushed the gun control debate into the national spotlight. President Obama and his administration are taking this opportunity to politicize this tragedy and push their anti-gun agenda.

He said "Any means necessary"
Obama has made it no secret that he hates guns. He railed against gun owners during the 2008 campaign when he described rural people as bitter clingers, holding tight to their religion and guns. (It's only the first two of the Bill of Rights; no big deal.)

They've even gone so far as to manufacture a crisis called Fast and Furious in order to push for new policy to regulate gun store owners. It backfired when one of the 2,000 guns they provided to Mexican drug cartels was used to kill a U.S. border agent, and probably more than 300. The story has been pooh-poohed by the media.

Attorney General Eric Holder was subpoenaed to testify. President Obama claimed executive privilege on many documents that the Oversight Committee requested as evidence in order to save himself and his friend from testifying as to the level of their involvement.

Until he rescinds executive privilege and speaks about his involvement in Fast and Furious, for Obama to speak about gun control is hypocritical. His opinion does not matter until he accepts blame for the operation, and lets the AG go down for perjury.

The Gun Control Debate: Compromise is necessary

What do most of the mass killings in the U.S. have in common? There are a few things, actually.
  • They were carried out in gun-free zones
  • The weapons were purchased legally
  • The weapons were not assault weapons
  • The assailants had a history of mental issues
To me, the last seems to be the one that both sides are mentioning as a problem, but it seems that neither side is trying to find a solution. Why?

Because hardcore 2nd Amendment believers don't want to give up their rights. And I don't blame them at all, because I know that the hardcore anti-gun advocates are trying to get as much as they can in the wake of the tragedy.

By addressing this issue, I think we can satisfy both sides of the debate and make our country safer, while violating the rights of fewer Americans. I'm sacrificing a little of my personal beliefs, but not giving up the farm. I don't expect you to, either. But I expect you to give a little ground to help me feel at ease. So here is my opening salvo.

Prohibiting purchase
Anyone who is undergoing counseling for depression or any mental disorder must be registered in a database. The therapist should be required to report it. For those of you who argue that this violates doctor-patient privilege, I don't care. The anti-gun people say they want to limit access, so let's get serious about doing it. Name a better way to prohibit those with mental issues access to firearms.

Yes, this includes anyone on medication. Here's why: I think those medications dull perceptions and emotions. I've watched people on anti-depressants who couldn't grieve when there was a death in the family. For others, it could make smudge the line between right and wrong because they are not completely in tune with the fact that there are consequences. I think removing their ability to purchase weapons is a good idea. Would it have stopped the Virginia Tech shootings? Maybe. Maybe not.

Restricting access
Anyone who is undergoing treatment cannot live in a house with guns. If they live with parents, their parents must remove their firearms from their home. Have a relative store them so they can still be used. But there is no exception to this rule. Not even one for self-defense. If the child is in treatment, there are no guns in the house.

Furthermore, if they visit a house with firearms, all must be locked in a gun safe with trigger locks. (Seriously... this is a good idea anyway.) Could this have prevented Columbine and Sandy Hook? We'll never know. But I think it's a wise move.

Restoring rights
I would not say that those who have addressed their issues should be forever ineligible. Just as in other areas, rights can be restored. In order to buy a gun, they have to be cleared by their therapist and one other, along with their local police department.  I would also suggest instituting a six-month waiting period. Yes, it's a pain in the ass, but I think it's warranted.

Confiscating weapons
Anyone who has been convicted of a violent crime, including domestic violence, becomes ineligible to purchase a gun. At the time of arrest, it will be determined if they own firearms. They must be turned in. If they are not convicted, the firearms will be returned. If convicted, they will be sold through police auction and applied to their fines. Any sold will at auction will, of course, have background checks, which could has the added bonus of putting more firearms in the system. If they are not sold, they will be destroyed, which has the added bonus of taking more firearms out of the system.

Expanding what's in place
Criminals are already prohibited from buying firearms. Adding the names of people undergoing treatment expands on that. Because their names will be entered into the database, background checks will immediately flag them as ineligible in the future.

Debating the issue
I wrote this to open a serious debate. Don't play "what if" with me. I'm sure you can think of scenarios where something bad happens. So can I.

I believe in the 2nd Amendment. I also believe people need to feel and be safe. If you have a better solution, where both sides can be happy, where both give a little ground, let's hear it. Let's find a solution that doesn't violate the rights of 99.91% of the population. One that can take a step in the right direction toward helping to prevent these tragedies.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Open letter to a friend

This is kind of like when we drove out to see Haley's Comet at 4:00 in the morning. Remember?

As we drove to Lake Afton Observatory, we passed a car on the side of the road. We didn't think much of it.

It was so cloudy that we couldn't see the comet through the telescope. The car was still there when we drove by again an hour later. We thought the guy had a heart attack or something and we stopped to check on him. Turns out, he was just sleeping (or something) and jerked awake when we went to check on him. We scared the crap out of him and he scared the crap out of us when he roared out onto the highway. He probably thought we were going to carjack him. We laughed the whole way home. I still tell that story.

We missed the comet, and much like that, I missed the opportunity to see you one last time. You'd probably tell me, laced with realism, something like "I want you to remember me when I was strong and we had fun."

You're probably right.

I'm so sorry I didn't get to tell you all of this in person. I couldn't come for the candlelight ceremony. I drove down to Wichita hoping to see you either Sunday or Monday.  My rotten luck... I missed getting to see you. Your Mom said you were wiped out Sunday after the candlelight vigil and they were getting you ready to go home.  I missed the serenade Monday because I had to get the boys back home to Kansas City.

So here goes with the stuff that I wanted to say.
First of all, some of the Sig Ep alums were trying to come up with a way to honor you, and we decided to steal the DG anchor and take it to your Mom's. For several of us it would be a second offense, we decided to go a different route.

Instead, we're going to have a memorial placed at the Pavilion of Heroines at the Center for Women's Studies on the WSU campus. Probably more mature. I'm writing the bio, so your legacy is kind of at my mercy. (Insert maniacal laugh and villain-y mustache twirl here.)

Of course, I'm kidding. Don't worry. I'm going to tell people how great you are, because I know you would never do that. But I will, because in addition to the legacy you've created with your students, I want other people to see what you meant to us every day. I'll let someone else choose the photo, though. 

Something you probably don't know.
I still have the copy of "The World According to Garp" that you gave me for Christmas when we were freshmen. It's one of my faves, along with "To Kill a Mockingbird," "Catcher in the Rye" and "On the Road." I'm going to finally write the book you always said I should write, and I'm going to dedicate it to you. You've been as much a part of my career choice as anyone, and you are definitely the inspiration for wanting to get this done now. You chose to change careers and now, I will also. So, if it gets published, you get the dedication.

As I've watched you go through this battle with such grace, I so admire the woman you are. Not only have you raised awareness, you have helped each of us prepare. You truly are a teacher.

I'm so glad I got to spend a few hours with you when I was home back in the spring. I'll miss our frenzied text message conversations, and those occasions when we got to see each other.

This isn't the way I wanted to let you know how I feel, but I'm fairly certain that you know anyway.

I'll never forget you. I am honored to be your friend. If it exists, I'm certain that you will have as special a place in heaven as you do in my heart.

I love you, Kelli.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What do salmon and Stevie Ray Vaughan have in common?

Not much, really. But bear with me. I saw Stevie Ray Vaughan in 1984 when he opened for Huey Lewis. Like most people, I was there to hear "I Want a New Drug." Not blues. It wasn't until later that I developed my appreciation.

I didn't really like salmon until later, either. But I now have an appreciation for it that runs deep, much like hearing SRV play after not hearing him for a while. I learn something new.

I did that tonight when I hot smoked some salmon on the grill. It was fantastic. You can probably do this in the oven on cedar planks. The smoke definitely brings something to the party.

Lemon herb smoked salmon

Usually, I think people get into trouble with salmon by overdoing it. The fish should be the star. That's the great thing about this marinade; it's simple, bright and flavorful, yet doesn't overpower the salmon.

Apple wood is great with salmon, so if you're into the smoke, soak some apple chips or chunks in water and get some charcoal ready: This just became my go-to recipe for salmon.


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 pounds salmon fillets

Directions for cooking

  1. With a whisk, combine olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, rosemary, thyme, salt, black pepper and garlic powder in a small bowl. Set aside 1/4 cup of the marinade. 
  2. Place salmon in a shallow dish and pour the remaining marinade over the top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Light the coals. 
  4. When the coals are ready move them to one side of the grill. Throw in your apple wood and replace the grate.
  5. Fold some aluminum foil and cover the cool side of the grill.
  6. Place the salmon skin side down.
  7. Open the vents on the top of the lid or put it cockeyed so the smoke hits the salmon
  8. Cook, basting occasionally with the reserved marinade, until the fish flakes easily with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Picture of Tolerance

U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens's body is dragged through the streets.


Obama's weakness and the attacks on 9/11/2012 

On the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, the US was attacked again. In Libya, American Ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed and his body dragged through the streets. All he was trying to do was help people not to get hurt. Stevens wasn't the only one killed during the attack.
In Egypt, the embassy in Cairo was stormed and the American flag taken down and ripped apart. It reminded me very much of when the Iranian students took over the American embassy in 1979.
Back home, President Obama made public remarks at the Pentagon to memorialize the attacks of September 11. I won't call it a "speech" because he didn't blather on and on as he usually does. It was actually a refreshing change to see him make the point and get out of the spotlight.
That being said, Obama made a remark that I found offputting. He asked for tolerance. Again. This is not the first time he has done so when speaking about the events of that day.
Spare me the tolerance crap
"The U.S. deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said. "Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation."
I am an agnostic who has searched for my own faith for practically all of my adult life. As a staunch defender of the First Amendment, I am all for religious freedom and acceptance, as well as freedom of speech.
The Egyptians stormed the embassy because they were offended by a movie they claim was critical of the Muslim Prophet Muhammed. If the US (predominantly Christian) got violent any time someone in a movie was critical of Christianity, not a single member of Monty Python or Saturday Night Live would still walk the Earth.
The President's world view
President Obama has done his level best to weaken the view of America in the eyes of the world by apologizing and bowing to foreign leaders. He's also stood against our only true ally in the Middle East by stating that Israel should recognize Palestinian rights to Israeli land and returning to pre-1967 borders. His policy of appeasement has allowed Iran to further develop its nuclear capabilities, North Korea to strengthen its position militarily and China threaten to surpass us as the world's superpower.
The timing of the two incidents on the anniversary of the worst attack on American soil is no accident. I think speeches made to comemmorate those lost should not include an admonishment for Americans to tolerate those who attacked us to make themselves martyrs in the name of their faith. Furthermore, I think it is reprehensible that he insults the memories of those who died on that day.
Those attacks were carried out against people people of all religions - Jews, Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans, Hindus, Buddists, Methodists and yes, even Muslims - died in those attacks. I'm sure that even some atheists and agnostics died on that day. But those people didn't die in the name of religion. They died because they were American. Or they were in America pursuing that dream we have held dear for so long. They did not die for tolerance.
President Obama would do well to understand that, stop apologizing and kick some ass when it needs kicking.

The Obama Administration continues to put forth the stance to the American public that the attacks were not coordinated and that is was spontaneous outcry over this film. The problem with their stance is that the attack in Benghazi came in two waves and involved weapons such as rocket propelled grenades and machine guns; not rocks and amateur-made molotov cocktails. Foreign media have called BS on the notion that the movie is responsible. And foreign leaders have stated publicly and formally that the protests and attacks have been coordinated.

It's time for the Obama administration to do so as well. Anything else is merely covering for Obama's foreign policy failings and Hillary Clinton's responsibility for the policy of not allowing security personnel to carry live ammo.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Thinking about life and salsa

I'm domestic when I'm worried. I used to clean the house. Now, I cook or write.

There's too much going on. Work stuff. Family stuff. I'm getting ready to officiate my nephew's wedding. My cousin, Patrick, passed away last week. I'm definitely in my head lately.

I've reached the stage in my life when guys hit the midlife crisis. But sports cars don't have the head and leg room I require and Ash says "No effing way" on the motorcycle.

Screw it. Let's make salsa.

Roasted Salsa
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. You'll need a baking pan and some olive oil.
Four whole tomatoes
Yellow onion - slice in half and pull the peel
Garlic - I used one clove of elephant garlic
Jalapeno peppers -5
Red bell pepper

The process
Place the tomatoes stem side down on the pan. Put a film of olive oil on all the vegetables. Roast for about 20 minutes, or until the red bell pepper turns black. Pull them out and let cool for 15 minutes or so. Handling them while they're still warm makes what you need to do easier.

Start with the red bell bepper. Pull the blistered skin off. Lop off the top and slice in half. Scrape out the seeds and ribs. Throw it in the food processer.

Next, the jalapeno peppers. For two of them, take off the top part and stem, then slice it lengthways. Scrape out the seeds and ribs. Slice each half in quarters and put in processor. For the other three, take off the top and cut them in quarters and toss it seeds and all into the processor.

Next is the onion. Roasted onions are slippery and their structural integrity has been compromised, so please be careful when you cut them. But coarse chop them and toss it in the processor.

Lastly, the tomatoes need to be done. WARNING: Roasted tomatoes hold onto their heat for a while. The blistered skin will come off easily, so peel it. Lop off the top and cut them into quarters and put them in.

Add fresh cilantro to suit your taste, along with the juice of one lime. Run the food processor for whatever consistency you like your salsa.

That'll do it.

Roasting the vegetables makes a big difference. I'll never make salsa again without doing that. It may not make up for not buying a motorcycle, but it's close.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Gluten Free Granola Recipe

3 cups gluten free oatmeal
1 cup cashews, crushed (Use hazelnuts or brazil nuts, if you wish)
1 cup almonds, crushed (Use cashews, if you wish)
3/4 cup coconut
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 tsp salt
1 cup craisins
1 cup dried cherries or blueberries
2 oz. crystallized ginger

Preheat oven to 275.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, seeds, coconut and brown sugar.
Run crystallized ginger through a food process till it becomes a paste. Melt coconut oil in microwave, about 1 minute.
In a separate bowl, combine agave nectar, ginger paste, coconut oil and brown sugar. Give it a good mix and microwave for a minute or two. Stir. It will make a thick syrup.
Combine both mixtures and pour onto a sheet pan.
Cook for 1:15. Stir every 15 minutes. The last 15-minute segment. press the granola into the pan. It will help make nuggets.
Remove from oven. Let cool for awhile and transfer to a large bowl.
Add craisins and cherries. Mix until evenly distributed.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Jambalaya recipe

Chicken breasts - two big ones
Sausage (andouille, kielbasa, or smoked sausage) - 1 pound
Crushed tomatoes - 1 28-ounce can
Celery - 5 stalks
Onion - 1 big one
Red bell pepper
Green bell pepper
Chicken stock - 4 cups
Rice - 2-1/2 cups
Crushed garlic - 2 tbsp
Black pepper - 1/2 tsp
Crushed red pepper - 1-1/2 tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Cajun seasoning - 1 tbsp
Worcestershire sauce - 2 tsp
File powder - 1 tbsp
Bay leaves - 3

Dice onions, celery and bell peppers. Set aside.
Drizzle olive in a dutch oven or large stock pot. Warm on medium heat.
Cut chicken into cubes. Saute in olive oil.
Cut sausage into 1/8 inch disks. Or you can dice it if you wish. Add to chicken and cook for 5 minutes.
Add vegetables and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add spices and seasonings and stir for 1 minute.
Add crushed tomatoes, chicken stock, and worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil.
Stir in rice.
Add bay leaves.
Drop heat to low. Cover. Simmer for 40 minutes.
Remove bay leaves and stir before serving.