While it is patently obvious that both Bob McDonnell and Ken Cuccinelli can be had rather cheaply, there are other matters that concern your family more than the people of the Commonwealth. Ken is a horrible judge of character. He's an even worse investor. We're talking your children's futures here.
I am afraid you may not comprehend that for a time Ken's entire investment portfolio consisted of a single position in a rather murky business venture that was certainly high risk. That's not the kind of investment philosophy a more business savvy person with seven children would employ. It is certainly not the kind of philosophy a Governor should operationalize, say with investments made by the Virginia Retirement System (VRS). It's probably not a coincidence that at almost the same time Bob's pals were risking the future of the VRS investing in high risk derivatives (we should demand a report on specific outcomes from those investments. It is quite possible they did very well; but we usually hear about such things). Ken may just have wanted to have some of that action too. But you really want someone in charge of the family treasure who knows something about business and investments.
You see, with Star Scientific, Ken was disqualified on two fronts when he let emotion rule his decision to invest. First, Ken has a history of misjudging people. Maybe you remember Bobby Thompson who gave your husband a lot of money stolen from veterans. Ken bought the whole scheme, hook, line, and sinker. This also speaks to his ability to critically think, something a lawyer should be able to demonstrate; worrisome. But that's not the second issue. No, the second is Ken's casual approach to science. When investing in a company with the word "scientific" in its name, it might pay to actually be able to discern how science works. We already know that Ken would rather deny something he does not want to believe rather than analyze the evidence. Of course, he's burned his bridges with a significant portion of the scientific community, so the people from whom he is likely get advice are probably only those who are "like-minded." Not being a good judge of character, maybe he shouldn't be allowed to choose an investment advisor either. He might reach out to his pal Bob Purkey, who, self-proclaimed investment genius that he is, let that whole VRS derivatives position blow right by him.
Shad Planking was a disappointment yesterday for any of a number of reasons. Leading up to the event, the sponsors failed to stem years of cumulative attendee alienation. Responding to criticism of extremism among participants, the Ruritans alienated the other half. Ken Cuccinelli's keynote was as flat as the shad.
What was clear was that the bluster of Tea Party insurgents and in-your-face Confederate flag-waving misfits in recent years put off a large portion of the politically motivated who came for a more civil kind of camaraderie. The Ruritan Club's charitable efforts to raise money for local causes was wounded by this turn of events. Make no mistake, this was a self-inflicted wound.
Ruritan officials took issue with Mo Elleithee's assessment that the event has outlived its relevance, claiming it will live on another 65 years. Apparently the fact that the proceeds go to charity is supposed to excuse the inhospitable behavior that has been tolerated too long.
As anyone who has attended regularly knows, when the dinner bell rings there is always a rush to get in line for the featured meal. But a crowd that was less than 60% of last year's was underwhelming. As a measure of success, the meal became a no wait, all you can eat event, there was so much remaining to be consumed.
Last month, passing through Memphis, I read Sunday morning's The Commercial Appeal. Striking was how well in a single issue it gave a sense of the city and its people, something uncommon in a Virginia newspaper. And one column caught my particular attention; it reminded me about Shad Planking.
I really don't care if anyone takes this personally. In fact, if they do, then maybe there is reason. In that Memphis paper, Wendi Thomas wrote of a coming storm: the Ku Klux Klan's Easter weekend appearance in Shelby County. Like a lot of single issue voting blocs, this group had seized upon an insult to a founding father, Nathan Bedford Forrest, whose name had been removed by the city council from a Memphis park (where he rests today).
"Because nothing says Valentine's like venom toward people of color, gays, Jews, immigrants and Catholics, on February 14, the Loyal White Knights of the KKK applied for a permit to rally outside the county courthouse." - Wendi Thomas in The Commercial Appeal
The position that I found relevant to the Shad Planking was Thomas's common sense appeal to ignore the fools; enjoy the weekend with friends and family instead. And it is pleasing to see that the same spirit has caused Democrats to blow off this year's version of the once relevant event that has completely lost its gravitas, becoming a carnival side show appealing only the gullible. Its effects are contained by its isolation and I don't mean geographical. Turns out that like the rally in Memphis this event is a tempest in a teapot.
In what amounts to a brilliant frontal assault on Virginia's biggest greenhouse gas polluter, Dominion Virginia Power, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) proved yet again that Virginia's energy Goliath won't be able to stomp over Virginia's future forever.
As the world warms, Dominion Virginia Power seems as committed as ever to continue down its usual path of greenhouse gas intensive energy production. On Monday, Dominion took the steps necessary to "move forward" with its Dominion Cove Point Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) liquefaction project. The price tag on this global warming nightmare is anywhere between $3.4 billion and $3.8 billion, according to an application submitted on Monday to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
In their kind-heartedness, Dominion has chosen to build a 'relatively environmentally friendly' energy plant by selecting LNG. The fact remains, however, that LNG adds a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions, from the cradle to the grave, to the planet's atmosphere. **Cough, cough**
CCAN's latest ad reminds Virginians how ludicrous it is for Dominion Virginia Power to publicly present itself as 'environmentally friendly' or in touch with the demands of Virginians for clean energy. If Dominion spent half as much money actually investing in clean energy research and development and construction as it does with public relations activities to give itself an environmentally friendly pat on the back, Virginia would already be well on its way to averting a climate change induced environmental disaster.
Although widely unpopular, the idea that Americans should pay MORE for energy to reduce overall usage is indeed an option that requires serious consideration by Federal, state, and local governments.
At present, the U.S. participates in one of the world's most egregious market distortions by keeping the costs of energy down in the country. By looking at both government supports and what "policymakers are refusing to do," a recent report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded that governments across the planet held energy costs down by $2 trillion in 2011. The U.S. was, of course, one of the worst offenders.
While increasing the costs of energy in the U.S. may be a bitter pill to swallow at first, it's nothing that U.S. citizens cannot cope with and it may also have the indirect effect of making Americans more aware of climate change itself, not just how much energy their using or not using.
And herein lies the biggest challenge that any government, private or nonprofit group faces in raising climate change awareness: how do you make what appears to many Americans as an abstract "thing" that has no apparent, immediate, or direct impact on their lives into a tangible phenomenon that has real-world effects everyday in each of our lives? The pictures and stories of wild fires in the West, droughts in the Midwest, and chaotic weather in the Northeast haven't had the desired effect on most Americans (however, there are a number of conflicting polls on this and related issues; no duh, right?!).
While some of Virginia's elected officials have 'evolved' their thinking on same-sex marriage, the same cannot be said about the dangers posed by construction projects like the Keystone XL Pipeline, a project that has become the ultimate symbol of the Northern Hemisphere's rush to exploit any and all forms of energy, regardless of the short or long-term consequences.
Environmentally conscientious Virginian's recently confronted one those elected officials from Virginia who has failed to see the negative climate as well as human and environmental health effects of the Keystone XL Pipeline, Sen. Mark Warner. One of those conscientious Virginians summed up her frustration with Warner the best:
"It wasn't his telling the TV reporters, "I'm very concerned about climate change" that disturbed me, but rather his citing the State Department's recently issued Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as evidence that Keystone would have no major environmental impact. Didn't he know it has been revealed that the EIS had been prepared by individuals with close ties to TransCanada, the company pushing to build the pipeline?"
It's the story that hits the media's radar like a tidal wave and then ebbs quickly thereafter, never to be seen from or heard again. But the recent shooting at Marine Corps Base, Quantico (MCBQ) reveals a deeper story that has rarely been told, at least in the past few years: the real stories of active duty (and reserve) military personnel coping with life on the battlefield and life off the battlefield.
Most of us know or understand that war is hell, but the times spent outside and away from the battlefield can be just as trying for our country's men and women in the armed services. But for some reason, or reasons, America has not focused much time or energy on the lives of these individuals, how they cope with the constant stress of war and how they transition back into a world that sometimes forgets there is even a war, or wars, being fought.
The details behind the shooting at MCBQ are unclear for now and for all we know, they may remain something of a mystery for some time to come. But the shooting reminds us as Americans that those in the armed services are just as human as we are, just as desiring of connections, of understanding, of care, and the like.
Frankly, the fact that GreenTech didn't "finish" the application for incentives from Virginia was fallout from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) skepticism. Incentives are not stand alone traps for private sector prey. They are bait in the economic tackle box at the ready when the Commonwealth goes courting.
Last December, James Bacon trod gingerly when discussing the report by Ryan Nobles implying some kind of chicanery in Terry McAuliffe's description of the dealings with the Commonwealth. Instead of jumping on the disparaging McAuliffe inference in Nobles' report ala National Review Online, Bacon analyzed the statements by McAuliffe less literally and the prospects with more balance.
According to a spokeswoman from VEDP, the agency never officially was given the opportunity to bid or not bid on his project.
"We did not receive enough information to respond to GreenTech's business proposal that was received in 2009," said Suzane West, the Communications Manager for VEDP. - Ryan Nobles, Richmond's NBC 12
In the context of the usual opportunities to court industry, this one demanded immediate attention from the VEDP. That is just not the way government operates unless the skids are greased. Well before McAuliffe was a player in GreenTech Automotive, Mississippi was in contention; maybe already had stolen the march. GreenTech extended Virginia a courtesy that was not returned. While Mississippi was paving the highway to Tunica, Virginia built roadblocks. There was no compelling reason or really any way for GreenTech to build a case that could overcome VEDP's criticisms of its plan. The skepticism and risk analysis were not unwarranted. But Bacon's own bottom line was appropriate:
"Let's hope that the business prospects for GreenTech will be sufficiently clear by next year that we can make an informed judgment of McAuliffe's gubernatorial timber." - James A. Bacon
Try as he might, Governor McDonnell has been unable to stem a rising tide of debt despite claiming budget surpluses each year he has been in office. Gimmicks like underfunding the Virginia Retirement System and the attempted liquidation of the ABC stores were smokescreens. This will be the McDonnell legacy.
The sorry fact is that Governor McDonnell has added billions to the debt of the Commonwealth. Holding him responsible only for the two full fiscal years that he owns completely (2011 and 2012), debt has risen $ 4.29 billion from $ 31.8 to $36.1 billion. That is a whopping 13.5% increase in only 2 years. And his budgetary genius will continue to daunt the Commonwealth for the next two fiscal years. That could mean that McDonnell would leave office with the legacy of a full one-quarter of all Virginia debt obligated during his single term. Who is a burden on our children's future?
The next Governor faces a situation that was a red herring in the last gubernatorial race: increased costs of elevated debt rising from a reduced bond-rating. While there is no reliable metric for determining the risk threshold for bond ratings, the ratio the state has used to mitigate that risk is sounding a warning that that threshold is about 2 years out. As Republicans like to say, the market will be the final arbiter. And as Democrats in Virginia have learned, the consequences of Republican policy always occur on the Democrats' watch (See Mark Warner).
What that means is that despite a victory of sorts for the transportation funding, other areas of government spending will remain tight until the economy improves dramatically unless we continue to borrow or we raise taxes. Increased taxes are probably not going to happen before any calamity. Of course, borrowing will lead directly to breaching the bond rating threshold, increasing the cost of debt and threatening the funding for already underfunded programs; a vicious cycle.
With the threshold two years away and limited influence over the budgets for the intervening fiscal years, Terry McAuliffe wants to deal with this mess? And what exactly would Cuccinelli do? The prospects are onerous.
State Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26th) is proud to be on board with his former seatmate, Ken Cuccinelli. Carrying on a tradition of pursuing a personal social agenda rather than the people's business is his objective. Something old, something new, something borrowed could make Virginia's next Attorney General blue.
Politicians take license with the truth. They all do. Generally they pick an audience that is receptive and unwitting. Take George Romney's son and the 47% remark. So it really is as much a comment about Obenshain's disregard for the truth as it is a revelation about whom he appeals that he warmed up Virginia Beach Republicans with an adaptation of story told years ago by Paul Trible about his 5 ½ year old daughter. Obenshain's embellished version cast his own then 5 year old daughter, but moved the punch line venue to a children's sermon at his church. Nothing like "crafting" a story to embed the common experience of religious affiliation with your audience. Let them assume whatever they will.
"You're my friends. I share that embarrassing moment with you with the knowledge that you will keep that to yourselves and not share it any further." - Mark Obenshain.
Obenshain effectively reads and connects with a receptive (nee gullible) crowd. He told this audience that he recognized some of them from his visits to the local Victory office. He knew, he said, that all of them did everything they possibly could to make sure they won that election back in the fall. But election day came and the morning after it felt like they'd gotten a kick in the gut. He rallied them by telling them that they'd all made a choice to get back in the saddle afterwards instead of packing it in. That, he claimed, was evidence they were ready to continue the fight across Virginia.
"I had to think about what I had been engaged in the past couple of years and the wisdom and the importance of it. And it did not take me long to figure out that running for Attorney General in Virginia is more important now than it ever has been."
In the world according to Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, any major legislation that smells of bipartisanship must in and of itself be erroneous. After a transportation deal with support across all political aisles was reached on Wednesday by negotiators in the Virginia House and Senate, Cuccinelli idealogued against its purported components.
Cuccinelli said, "If reports are correct, this new bill contemplates a massive tax increase. In these tough economic times, I do not believe Virginia's middle class families can afford massive tax increases..." What a "massive tax increase" is in the world of Ken Cuccinelli is open to speculation.
What isn't open for speculation is Cuccinelli's every public statement, from this moment until the final vote is cast for Virginia's next governor, will be a calculated effort to win over the supporters that he'll need to sit in the Executive Mansion next year (unfortunately for Cuccinelli, his arithmetic isn't so good).
But if the new taxes coming out of the new transportation bill are true, then Cuccinelli may have a firm ground to stand on, for once. According to one source, the deal would 'create' close to $880 million a year once fully transitioned in to address the commonwealth's new construction and roads maintenance needs. The revenue generated would come from tax increases on wholesale gasoline (don't have a problem), diesel fuel (don't have a problem) as well as increases in the state sales tax (have a problem), motor vehicle titling tax (iffy on this one), and audaciously, hybrid vehicle registration fees (I can see hybrid vehicle sales in Virginia already dipping).
The man of the people (of Virginia) Ken Cuccinelli, the commonwealth's attorney general, needed robust security for his book signing at the Barnes and Noble in Tysons Corner according to Blue Virginia's Lowell Feld.
Now imagine if Ken Cuccinelli became the next governor of Virginia. How much security would he surround himself with then?! Let me wager a guess and say enough security to fend off a lot of angry Virginians.
From all indications, Ken Cuccinelli gets a kick out of pissing Virginians off who don't stand on the same ideological razor's edge as he does. He seems to think it's a game of realpolitik, ideological zealotry, and just a dash of fun spread into the mix.
Cuccinelli's in-your-face political style is hardly what Virginia needs in their attorney general, let alone their governor. Compromise, compromise, what is compromise?!
Furthermore, Cuccinelli's hour-long book signing at Barnes and Noble on Saturday is representative of what a Cuccinelli governorship would look like: short on ideas, high on himself, surrounded by security, and readily accessible only to those individuals who stand on his political side of the fence.
Somehow, a sizable number of Virginians see Cuccinelli as 'their guy', the individual who can finally infuse government with...anti-government policies.
But the issue is not government itself. The issue that America truly needs to address is bad governance. And bad governance starts with prohibiting government from filling the spaces that the private sector will not, cannot, or should not fill itself (i.e., Veterans benefits; Medicare; Medicaid, etc.).
So, Bob McDonnell sent for a couple of his Republican buddies to sell his "plan" to improve Virginia K-12 education. First, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush joined him to tout the A-F grading system for schools, and then he appeared with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to praise for-profit take-over of what are labeled as "failing schools." (By the way, Jeb Bush has been accused of pushing state laws that benefit the companies donating to his " Foundation for Excellence in Education.")
I would be glad to tell Bob McDonnell some facts about what's wrong with the public school system in Virginia. For starters, the state has cut tens of millions of dollars in state aid to education to balance the budget during the Great Recession. Because state funding doesn't even cover, on average, half of the requirements for quality education, local governments have to fill in the financial gaps. That builds in one reason for some school to fail. Wealthy school divisions fairly easily make up for the shortfall using property taxes. Poor divisions can't. Our schools become automatically stratified by economic class.
Areas with high poverty rates and poor families that are more likely to be dysfunctional send students to public schools where teachers are expected to work miracles by somehow eliminating all the problems caused by their students' social and family situations.
We don't want to admit it, but Virginia is a highly stratified society. Property taxes, the main ingredient in local taxes, will be lowest in areas of high poverty and highest in areas of high income. While Virginia is ranked 6th in wealth among states, take out the incomes of NoVA and you will see a far different income picture. Fairfax County is one of the wealthiest counties in the nation. Check out the average income in places like Buchanan County and Lee County, and you'll see the disparity. Remember that these places have to fund school systems, too.
Here are a few Virginia (and national) news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, February 9. Also see the video of President Obama's weekly address, in which he "urges Congress to act to avoid a series of harmful and automatic cuts-called a sequester-from going into effect that would hurt our economy and the middle class and threaten thousands of American jobs."
The fellas who brought you war without end and the collapse of the financial sector have turned their attention to another low hanging fruit in our common yard: education. You'll recognize some of the names. You'd best understand the financial gains that drive their proposals for "innovation."
They're focusing on another public function from which they can leech vitality and life and a lot of public dollars. Make no mistake, these "reformists" see a fattened cash cow. And Virginia's agents for change, state Senator Bill Stanley (R-20th) and Delegate Tag Greason (R-32nd), have spent exactly zero days as school district employees. Their common experience surrounds real or imagined sex offenses. Quite the dynamic duo; pimping for privatization and the rape of the commons.
Expansion of charter schools, coupled with multiple charter authorizers (including private entities) and minimized charter regulation
Adoption of tuition tax credit programs providing individuals and corporations the option to forgo paying a portion of taxes by contributing that amount to ... privately governed/managed schools.
Parent trigger policies that permit a simple majority of parents ... to mandate that the local board of education displace the entire staff of the school ... turning over governance and management of school's operations (and physical/capital assets?) to a private management company ...
The bills patroned by Stanley (SB 1207) and Greason (HB 1999) facilitate the means to the death penalty envisioned by the third strategy, providing the cover to shutter public schools. It is a "grading system" for school performance. It is right out of the playbook of the Foundation for Excellence in Education and a group Jeb Bush set up called Chiefs for Change working with public officials in states to write education laws that could benefit some of its corporate funders. ...working with public officials in states: Stanley and Greason are evidently dancing to the tune of interests outside Virginia. Neither of them invented this on his own.
Shad Planking tickets are on sale. Last year the event was snubbed by Senator Kaine, leaving George Allen the featured speaker. Bill Bolling's campaign poured a lot of beer. Four years ago, T-Mac made a splash, but like Allen and Bolling, it mattered not. The event is a sideshow.
Granted, it is not as disappointing as most carnival attractions. If nothing else, you get a bony lunch. And there is something else. If you have any interest at all in the anthropology of Virginia political thought, this is an enlightening event. It bears all the authenticity of a historical re-enactment. The only way George Allen could have been more at home would have been if he'd come dolled up in the confederate uniform he wore in his movie cameo role. You find vestiges of antiquated culture here you might never observe out of the closet in more accessible public venues.
That is the evolutionary branch of this event: a program to appease a demographic yearning for the comfort of a time that they dream could exist. Their future is some choreographed replay of an imaginary past. Here, the attendees who represent diversity are most often caricatures that appease that yearning. You know...they know their place, they toe the line. Radtke and Bishop offered many who would never vote for them the opportunity to feel better about themselves. All is right with the world where diversity is only skin deep.
When Democrats crash the party, you can almost sense time folding. They really can't step through that barrier between the two perceptions of past, present, and future. So while it is an engrossing play, that is all it is. And this play is not the thing. It is long past the time when this was an event where relevant political trends could be measured or influenced.
There is every reason to attend as an observer, but no reason to take the role of respectful and acquiescing participant; particularly this year, when the program will be a Cuccinelliphant love-fest.
Last year candidate Kaine couldn't attend due to scheduling. This year, Democratic candidates should schedule not to attend.
"We've now reached the point where mankind is controlling the climate of the planet," said senior NASA scientist Bruce Wielicki at the Langley Research Center in Hamtpon, Virginia. Wielicki's quote reads like a line from a science fiction movie, one that doesn't end well for the human race.
Wielicki's comment came in response to the recently released National Climate Assessment (NCA) report outlining, among other things, some of the negative consequences for Virginia, including: disease; more soaking rains; droughts; floods; stronger hurricanes; warmer temperatures and the risk for greater mental health related incidents. If you're not depressed by now, you should be.
The NCA report also stated unequivocally what many of us already suspected: the effects of climate change are NOT distant threats, they're here now and they're effecting us now.
A quick look at the Natural Resources Defense Council's "Extreme Weather Map 2012" shows in unmistakable detail the toll that climate change has taken on America. And of course, this could be just the beginning of a beautifully horrific narrative of extreme weather event after extreme weather event ravaging America.
We're living a cartoon. One character puts up his dukes and the adversary pulls out brass knuckles, then escalation each in turn through a knife, pistol, rifle, machinegun, cannon, tank... It goes where arming and armoring schools goes: no constructive advantage. Cost without benefit other than political cover.
Governor McDonnell legitimizing the concept of arming more personnel inside schools demonstrates his narrow experience and linear, attritionist approach to the issues raised by the violence at Sandy Hook and Virginia Tech. This is understandable. As an army intelligence officer raised and trained in the era of a set piece battlespace, he is comfortable with templates and minor tactics against local threats. His cohort, Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13th), lacks even that experience with conceptual threats. Marshall's hobbies, weight lifting, gardening, and photography, might give him time to contemplate but do nothing to qualify him to defend our children or us. But both of these fellows do demonstrate the ability to push hot buttons even if they are unconcerned about the consequences they initiate.
Nattering nabobs such as them attract attention. Some of that from Democrats who either think they must say something or are afraid of saying nothing even if they have nothing to add. At least the Republicans are expressing a core value, no matter how wrongheaded it is. The Democrats on board with this idea sound as hollow as their self-serving position. Disappointing.
Reducing the security of children to talking points about arming teachers and adding resource officers limits the debate, ignores the broader issues, and potentially places children in substantially greater danger. Look, I have the greatest respect for teachers but they are not public safety employees and many are unsuited for this responsibility. Adding a resource officer to the soup definitely secures the few square feet occupied at any given moment, but has McDonnell, Marshall, or any of them actually been inside a school lately? Those resource officers are there for and deal with a lot of student issues not related to invasion; issues that do not occur in elementary schools. Unless we go back to one room schoolhouses, these ideas are just lipstick on a pig.
Remember squandering $126 million in federal unemployment money from recovery funding? Yesterday McDonnell proposed stripping $1 billion from the 2012-14 budget adopted by the General Assembly; federal dollars earmarked to provide health insurance for 400,000 low-income Virginians during implementation of the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion.
"The Governor's removal of $1 billion for health care hurts not only uninsured Virginians, but also Virginia's hospitals and the overall economy." - Jill Hanken, Virginia Poverty Law Center
"The infusion of $1 billion into Virginia's economy was expected to support 30,000 jobs throughout the state," Hanken said. "Does the Governor truly support job creation? If so, he should support the Medicaid expansion, which would bring billions of federal dollars into Virginia's economy over many years."
The Affordable Care Act raises the national income eligibility level for Medicaid to 138 percent of the federal poverty line. Many of the people covered under the expansion are working poor, with annual incomes of about $15,000 for a single person and $32,000 for a family of four. In June, the Supreme Court decided states could not be forced to expand Medicaid, making the increase in eligibility a state option. Hanken said most states will probably expand their programs, because the ACA calls for the federal government to fund 100 percent of the cost for the first three years and then phase down to no less than 90 percent of the cost in 2020.
But McDonnell's rejection of a program that would infuse $6 billion into the economy through 2017 means Virginians' federal tax dollars will not return to the commonwealth. "Virginia's Medicaid eligibility levels for adults are nearly the worst in the country," Hanken said. "Why should our federal tax dollars go to other states when there is so much need here?"
Hanken believes the General Assembly will recognize that the Governor's rejection of billions of dollars for Virginia's citizens and the health care industry is unwise and shortsighted.
Let's begin that discussion about guns: the current application of our Second Amendment protects the proliferation of weapons. At the time it was written, it was damn difficult to kill with them, though Aaron Burr managed not long thereafter. That amendment was never meant to aid and abet carnage.
I don't remember not owning a firearm. My first was given as a Christmas present when I was young; a Savage over and under .22/.410. My father instilled the greatest respect for firearms in me. He locked them away and I did not have access unless there was a purpose. Later I learned that upon his return to college from the Pacific theater and engagements on Tarawa and Saipan, he'd kept a handgun at his bedside. One night late, a spring roller blind in the bedroom snapped open and by the time he awoke he had locked, loaded, and drawn down on my mother who'd jerked up next to him in bed. He'd nearly killed her. Weapons in their home remained secured after that.
As a college student, I carried a weapon wherever I travelled. I did not have one with me the morning in Richmond when three fellows with sawed off shotguns came into the convenience store near Carytown where I worked. Thinking back, I don't think it would have helped the situation much, even if I'd open carried. After all, they were only exercising their own open carry rights.
You'll find no one more rationally and sentimentally supportive of the second amendment than I. But all this silliness, false bravado, and acting out about what gun rights mean misses the problem it has created: we have guaranteed access and availability of firearms to every individual regardless of their capacity, intent, or history. And our own Governor McDonnell is on record as supporting "the more the merrier" approach to provision. This outcome and attitude is sinfully irresponsible and far from the intent of the framers.
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