Meet Second Amendment Hero Keith Belajonas. On March 16 his Facebook page supposedly sported this:


Last week he shot his wife to death in front of their their two small children. He grabbed the kids and took off for New York, prompting an Amber alert. He then held up his brother at gunpoint, then ditched the kids, took off, and committed suicide.

I guess he officially “unfriended” the world.

I love how everyone agrees we need to take guns away from the mentally ill, yet time and again we find the very gun loonz demanding we ditch common-sense gun control laws are the same people who wouldn’t be deemed mentally competent to own firearms.


Filed under gun control, gun violence, Guns

A Losing Message

Here’s a picture of a campaign sign in front of a polling place near my house:

We Said No To Saying No

We Said No To Saying No

This is an anti-immigrant, bigoted message. And it is the message that lost, big-time, state-wide on Thursday. It’s the same message that was rejected by Tennesseans four years ago when they said no to Ron Ramsey for governor. This is the same message that lost, big-time, in Nashville five years ago when Eric Crafton’s English Only effort went down in flames. It’s a message that begins with racist whackjob John Tanton and filters down into his various front groups like NumbersUSA and the Center For Immigration Studies and FAIR.

I wonder when far-right Republicans will give up on this message? Probably never. Because the constant drumbeat of immigrant-bashing on Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity has given the far-right fringe the mistaken idea that this idea works. They think, “People agree with this message. This is the message I need to repeat. This needs to be my position.”

What they forget is that the Rush Limbaugh Show, Sean Hannity and Fox News are trying to win a ratings game, not an election. It is in their interests to be outrageous, inflammatory, even controversial. What we learned this week, what we learn every election, is that politicians playing to the Rush/Fox crowd by aping their messaging are going to lose. Even in Tennessee.


Filed under immigration, Republican Party, Tea Party, Tennessee

Guns-In-Cars FAIL, Exploding Ammo Edition

Well, now. I don’t suppose this is a scenario our gun-humping legislators considered when they passed guns-in-cars last year:

Emergency workers at a car crash on Interstate 95 Thursday had to contend with exploding bullets as fire ignited 40 rounds of ammunition in one car.


“The car was fully engulfed and it had exploded already,” Vanadestine said. “While I’m there trying to give first aid and help them I hear this popping.” The driver of the Honda told him he had two loaded handguns, a .40-caliber and a .380, and ammunition in the car.

“All that ammo started to explode and go all over that place. I could see it. The car was absolutely destroyed,” Vanadestine said.

Vanadestine ran to his cruiser and positioned it in front of the people who had been in the car.

“I couldn’t move them. I thought we were going to get hit with rounds,” he said. “For five to 10 minutes those rounds were popping off in that car.” None of the rounds hit the cruiser.

Firefighters had to stay back until the rounds stopped going off.

The 20-year-old driver of the car had a concealed-carry permit, so no charges were filed related to the guns and ammo.

Great, just what first responders need to deal with.


Filed under gun control

Charlie Brown, He’s A Clown


Welcome, Wonketteers!


Pith reports that state Dem leaders saw this debacle coming but were powerless to stop it (why I have no clue. How about a campaign that says “DON’T JUST VOTE FOR THE FIRST NAME ON THE LIST THEY’RE PROBABLY DUMBASSES. THINK BEFORE YOU VOTE.” Whatever). Anyway, Mary Mancini’s name is being floated to replace Roy Herron, and I think it’s a damn good idea. She’s probably tuckered out from the state senate race though.

Unless this is some kind of scam, this is the guy who won the Democratic nomination for the Governor’s race in yesterday’s primary. His “maine intention” is to bring the Bible back to schools, he wants to raise the state speed limit to 80, tells everyone to join the NRA, and wants to “buy hugh deers for our Wild Life areas.”

His was the first name on the ballot; as we’ve seen in the past (*cough*cough*Mark Clayton*cough*cough), the first name on the ballot is usually the craziest mo-fo hoping to scam state Democrats into the nomination. Looks like it’s working. (No, I did not vote for him. I would not be scammed.)

This is a ginormous embarassment for the TNDP. Another illiterate clown running on the TNDP ticket. I don’t understand why we can’t find a decent Democrat for these races. Yes, Bill Haslam will most likely win but for crying out loud, a campaign now lays the groundwork for future races.

I just don’t get it. Why does the TNDP want to be associated with illiterates and buffoons?


Filed under Tennessee, Tennessee government, TNDP

Good News Friday

This week’s round-up of good news awaits. Enjoy!

• Some good election news from around Tennessee: wackaloon Victoria Jackson lost her bid for the Williamson County Commission, a move by Koch Bros.-funded groups like Americans For Prosperity to oust the state’s Supreme Court justices failed, and homophobic ignoramus Stacy Campfield got stomped by his primary challenger.

Meanwhile, skeevy “abortion-for-me-but-not-for-thee” Congressvarmint Scott DesJarlais holds a narrow lead over primary challenger Jim Tracy in the race for the TN-04 Republican nomination. DesJarlais is the “pro-life” doctor who famously slept with patients and pressured both his wife and mistress to have abortions. Jim Tracy is a far-right wackadoodle, too; I guess the voters would rather stay with the wackadoodle they know, not the wackadoodle they don’t know. Maybe everyone in TN-04 is whacked out on meth.

• FICO is changing how it calculates credit scores, with things like medical debt no longer given so much weight:

“This underscores that medical obligations are very different than any other kind of obligations because consumers don’t choose to incur hospital debt — it’s a very different type of risk posed by a consumer when they default on that type of debt,” said John Ulzheimer, expert at CreditSesame.com.

• The owner of an Ohio drilling company who ordered employees to dump tens of thousands of gallons of toxic fracking waste into a local river was sentenced to 28 months in prison.

• Astronomers have made some cool discoveries sifting through the Hubble telescope’s sofa cushions.

• Theodore Wafer was found guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Renisha McBride last November. An intoxicated McBride had crashed her car and was possibly seeking help when she knocked on Wafer’s door.

• Congratulations, Becky Hammon, new Assistant Coach of the San Antonio Spurs! You are the first female coach in NBA history!

• Self-folding robots! I think we’ve seen this movie ….

• After growing attention in the media to the practice of “corporate inversion” resulted in some negative publicity (and possible legislative action), Walgreen’s decided it would stay in the USA.

• Someone invented a cheap, easy to use water filter that attaches to ordinary plastic water bottles.

• A growing number of evangelical Christians are turned off by the misogynistic spew coming from Mars Hill megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll. A large group described as “several dozen” protested Driscoll’s Bellevue, WA church last weekend.

• Alabama’s abortion clinic law requiring doctors performing abortions have hospital admitting privileges has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge.

• Amid the issues raised in the “Blackfish” documentary, Southwest Airlines has ended its long corporate sponsorship of the Sea World theme parks.

Good News, Tennessee Edition:

• The largest solar parking structure in Tennessee is under construction at Hendersonville’s City Square Shopping Center.

• This East Tennessee ER nurse performed CPR on a drowned puppy and brought him back to life.

• TVA continues to move away from coal for its power production.

• Get a load of this adorable baby giraffe born at Bright’s Zoo in Limestone, TN. Please do not feed it to the lions or smack its head on a bridge during transport in an open-top truck.

I love giraffes. They’ve had a hard time of it lately, too.

And here’s this week’s cool video: watch an entire train station full of people in Perth, Australia free a man trapped by a train. Amazing what we can do when we all pull together, eh?


Filed under Good News

Shiny-Sparkly Internet Thingie

Apparently our brilliant overlords think chucking social studies textbooks for, I dunno, Jetpunk geography quizzes and Wikipedia’d history is a great idea:

In a first for MNPS, the district opted not to purchase social studies textbooks this year when the time came to replace outdated versions every six years.

Instead, Metro administrators have asked teachers to use websites, interactive videos and primary resources as the main way to teach history, geography and other social studies topics. Though older textbooks will still be in classrooms, and teachers can use them as resources, they are no longer the central focus.

It’s a “digital classroom” these days, officials say, and teachers need flexibility to use curriculum not offered in the old-fashioned print textbook.

Ah yes, the “digital classroom,” that great beacon of our future. Last time I wrote about this in 2011, I linked to this New York Times piece about the failure of Arizona’s tech-intensive classrooms to actually educate:

Since 2005, scores in reading and math have stagnated in Kyrene, even as statewide scores have risen.

To be sure, test scores can go up or down for many reasons. But to many education experts, something is not adding up — here and across the country. In a nutshell: schools are spending billions on technology, even as they cut budgets and lay off teachers, with little proof that this approach is improving basic learning.

Indeed. It bears remembering that the very people touting the “digital classroom” and education based on computer gimmicks tend to be the same people selling school districts the high-tech gadgetry in the first place. I’ve long suspected that a big part of this push is to basically advertise certain brands to kids, often at taxpayer expense — to create future customers for Microsoft and Apple, for instance, the same way tobacco companies reached kids with their Joe Camel campaign.

It’s also kinda bizarre that we’re going all-in on technology in the classroom on the one hand, while barely two weeks ago we were told how important it is to teach cursive handwriting in Tennessee’s schools. Weird.

But yes, DO remind me how the problem with Tennessee’s schools is teachers and teacher’s unions. I’m all ears.


Filed under education, Nashville, Tennessee

Tennessee Gun Report

Two accidental shootings this week. Freedumb.

• August 5, 2014:

Two men argue in a Chattanooga bar over the quality of work one had done and a gun ended up in the mix. Amazing how often that happens.

• August 4, 2014:

1- A Greeneville man fired his sawed-off shotgun at his wife’s unoccupied truck after the two got into an argument at a bar. Somehow I have a feeling a trailer park is involved.

2- Dispatches from offa my lawn: An 80 year old man in Murfreesboro attacked his teenage neighbors with a stun gun for no reason.

3- Two responsible gun owners plumb responsibly forgot all about their loaded guns when they went to the Memphis airport. So responsible.

• August 3, 2014:

A 36-year-old Memphis woman was sitting on her couch watching TV Sunday night when a stray bullet came through the window and shot her in the head.

• August 1, 2014:

1- A Chattanooga man dropped his gun on the floor while getting out of bed to take a plate of food to the kitchen. In so doing, he accidentally shot himself in the hand. Woopsies. Dude, eating in bed is gross. Eating in bed with a gun? Weird.

2- A Memphis seven-year-old was shot in the arm when some kids were playing with a gun.

• July 31, 2014:

1- Someone broke into a Nashville couple’s fenced backyard and shot and killed their 3-year-old Weimaraner:

Jeremy and his wife Julie think someone may have confused Callie for a neighbor’s dog that barks frequently.

“Who shoots someone’s dog at three in the afternoon? Why would you do that?” his wife Julie said. “This morning when I came out here with my dogs, I actually thought ‘I hope someone doesn’t shoot me in my back yard.'”

Honestly, I’ve long been afraid someone would shoot our dogs in our front yard. One of them gets her greatest joy in life running up and down the front of the yard barking at people walking past. They aren’t out there all the time but when they are, I worry.

2- Members of the 100-year-old Central Christian Church in Murfreesboro have damaged the building’s iconic golden dome with bullets in a failed attempt to remove pigeons over the years. Apparently they thought the dome was real gold. It’s not. It’s paint. Oops. The church has launched a fundraising campaign to repair the dome. They’re hoping to raise $100,000.

3- Here’s a sad sign of the times: Memphis elementary schools are handing out clear backpacks to help keep weapons out of the classroom. Elementary school, kids.

4- Related: Chattanooga firefighters have requested bullet-proof vests. Maybe we all need them.

5- A Rockvale man fired an AR-15 assault rifle at his sister, just at the Founders intended. He then barricaded himself inside his home “for hours.” A special Sheriff’s Dept. team finally used an armored vehicle to get him out.

“He was lying in bed with his AR-15,” Sgt. Chris Kauffman said in a statement. “After numerous, numerous attempts, we used the armored vehicle and he surrendered.”

Lying in bed cradling his AR-15. Sounds about right.


Filed under gun control, Tennessee