Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Human Factor

Another killing spree, this time in Orlando.  49 dead, scores wounded.  It was among the worst our nation has ever seen.  The predictable calls for gun control began almost instantly.

It boggles my mind that after a tragedy like this, the very first knee-jerk reaction is to demonize inanimate objects and call for further restrictions on the rights of Americans that had nothing to do with the attack.

This latest act of depravity happened in a gun-free zone, perpetrated by a man known to be unstable and angry. A man inspired by radical Islamic terrorism. A man who had been investigated by the FBI on more than one occasion.

Why isn't the focus on the man?  The human factor is glossed over, while guns and our gun rights are immediately thrust under the microscope once again.

The people that loudly claim that these tragedies wouldn't happen if only we could ban certain guns and make it harder for Americans to buy guns are the very same people holding the gate open as wide as possible for "refugees" we know nothing about from ISIS-infested Syria.  They're the same people working hard to ensure our border remains porous and immigration law remains unenforced so that anyone can waltz illegally across our border at any time and face no repercussions for doing so.

Ignoring or enabling the human factors while fighting to further restrict the individual rights enshrined in our nation's Constitution is completely irrational and wholly incompatible with logic and reason, especially in the context of our country's history, and bedrock principles of freedom, liberty, and the rule of law.

Now, that's not to say we don't have opportunities to do better with keeping guns out of the wrong hands.  We absolutely do.  But I haven't heard any proposals that will accomplish that without compromising due process.  More on that later.

The point is, logic and reason dictates that if you want to fix a problem, you address its root cause.  The root cause of murder isn't guns.  It's not certain kinds of guns, it's not how many rounds a gun's magazine can hold, and it's not one's ability to buy a gun.  And it sure isn't the NRA.

The root cause is people.  People do the killing.  People whose cultures, beliefs, upbringing or mental states prevent a harmonious relationship with civilized society.  People commit these acts, whether they use airplanes, fertilizer, guns, bombs, pressure cookers, cars or knives.  We need to focus on mitigating the human factors.

A basic and fundamental responsibility of our federal government is ensuring our borders are secured against illegal entry.  It needs to ensure that we thoroughly vet every single person that we allow into the country for even one day, and close the loop on visas, ensuring each and every visa holder leaves when they are supposed to and track them down if they don't.

We need to monitor what is being taught and preached in mosques, and we need to do better identifying those with potentially dangerous mental health issues and taking appropriate action to ensure they don't put themselves or others in danger.

We will never make meaningful progress toward solving the problem of mass killing and murder without a committed focus on the people and human factors involved.  Trying to address murder and killing by blaming guns is like trying to solve Hillary Clinton's criminally lackadaisical attitude toward classified information by blaming her keyboard.

Can we do better keeping guns out of the hands of people that shouldn't have them?  Yes. Solutions to this end, however, must be built around due process.  Giving unelected bureaucrats discretion to deny someone's Constitutional rights is not the way to do it.  If the government or anyone else believes someone should be prevented from buying firearms, a case should be brought in a court of law, the defendant should have a clear, expedient path to challenge the decision, and the ban should be lifted in a timely manner when an appeal is decided in the subject's favor.

Furthermore, the states and federal government need to collaborate and find a way for states to lawfully share information about people with potentially dangerous mental health conditions with the federal government.  A clinical diagnosis must be made before the patient in question can be banned from buying or owning guns.  Again, there should be a clear path to reverse this action if and when it's warranted.

These are people's rights we're talking about.  Our government's priority needs to be protecting our rights, not infringing upon them.  Anything less is anti-American.  It's "not who we are."

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Yes, There is Hope for America

"A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.
The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

  • From bondage to spiritual faith;
  • From spiritual faith to great courage;
  • From courage to liberty;
  • From liberty to abundance;
  • From abundance to complacency;
  • From complacency to apathy;
  • From apathy to dependence;
  • From dependence back into bondage."
There is some debate as to where the above quote originated, but in any case the United States seems to be in the seventh step of the sequence.  Without a significant change in direction, we will regress to the eighth step.  Is there any hope for us?
“We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” — Barack Obama, October 30, 2008

Few could predict just how prescient his words would be.  Leading up to the presidential election in 2008, most Americans had "Bush fatigue".  The people were tired of war and lost trust in the president.  Voters were wary of the massive bailouts and huge amnesty that Bush was proposing, and yearned for new leadership.  Sure enough the Democrats' rock-star candidate, Barack Obama, was elected five days later with a comfortable majority over the flaccid Republican candidate, John McCain. 

Fast-forward seven years and the American mood isn't much different than it was leading up to Obama's election.  Both our politicians and the electorate are more politically and ideologically polarized than anytime in memory.  Race relations have regressed by decades.  Trust in government remains at a cringe-worthy low.  The national debt has ballooned to nearly $19 trillion, over 56% of which was accrued during Barack Obama's presidencyWorkforce participation is at the lowest level in 38 years, and most people continue to believe that America is heading in the wrong direction.  
We've endured a spate of mass shootings and terrorist attacks, both at home and abroad.  Marriage was redefined and the rights of gays effectively trump religious freedom, while Christianity is marginalized and attacked like never before.  Government took over 11% of our economy -- the health insurance industry -- which helped the poorest among us afford healthcare, but continues to cause even more financial hardship for many working and middle class families.  Before Obamacare, they couldn't afford insurance.  After Obamacare, they still can't afford it, but get fined as a result.  Meanwhile, actual healthcare costs continue to rise.

The administration doesn't hesitate to involve itself in local issues, vilifying police for "acting stupidly" while giving tacit support to violent criminals that attack others. Obama insists that "climate change" - not terrorism - is the biggest threat facing America.
Our nation's institutions of higher learning have devolved into daycare centers.  Speech that could possibly offend delicate sensibilities is quickly squelched, with the offender subjected to punishment.  Distinguished graduation commencement speakers have been rejected, and even comedians steer clear of today's campuses.  Professors are forced to issue "trigger warnings" in advance of any assignment that may expose students to potentially uncomfortable ideas, and administrators are forced out whenever a screechy, petulant but small minority of students suddenly decide that their school isn't a "safe space”. 

Many of us have been extremely frustrated and angry, worrying that we're witnessing the end of America as we once knew it.  Hell, I've even gone so far as looking into the expat life in case the unthinkable (Hillary) happens.  But, there are emerging signs of hope.
Despite withering attacks from leftist politicians and well-funded anti-gun organizations, our right and ability to keep and bear arms has not only survived, but strengthened.  State restrictions have been struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional, and legislatures have expanded "castle doctrine" and right-to-carry laws.  Even though the president angrily calls for more gun control over and over again, claiming that "commonsense" restrictions would result in fewer mass shootings, people reject this view because they understand that no laws restricting the ability of law-abiding citizens to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights will stop criminals and terrorists who are determined to shoot up schools or movie theaters.  All is not lost when it comes to the Bill of Rights. 

As more time passes without a single catastrophic prediction coming true (according to Al Gore, the poles should be completely ice-free today, for example), global warming has continued its steep slide down the list of things people are concerned about, to the point it rarely even appears anymore.  Its hustlers and pimps, determined to keep the narrative alive, rename it from "global warming" to "climate change" to "climate disruption", so that any anomalies in the climate -- no matter how benign or temporary, regardless of direction -- can be blamed on the climate change narrative.  The warmists frantically issue even more dire predictions borne of fiddled and diddled, faked and baked "data".  But people are tired of hearing about it, and don't consider it an imminent problem.  Thankfully this shows that we're not beyond the point of no return when it comes to critical thinking.

As the 2016 election season started heating up, Donald Trump went from familiar sideshow clown to overwhelming favorite in the Republican polls almost overnight after his fiery announcement speech sharply critical of amnesty and illegal aliens.  Devoid of any political correctness whatsoever, he has clearly tapped in to deep-seated anger among voters whose vehement opposition to another amnesty has been utterly ignored by establishment politicians on both sides of the political aisle.  His messages continue to resonate with the electorate and despite daily media predictions of his demise, Trump continues to reign supreme in the polls -- and it's not even close.  Meanwhile, pale-pastel establishment candidate Jeb Bush has fallen to 3% support after being seen as the inevitable Republican nominee early on.  This may be one of the most encouraging signs that we can turn the country around.

I don't want to live in an America where the majority of people are either apathetic, ignorant, or who reject our founding principles...and act (or don't act) accordingly at the polls.  We can't just stand by and watch the country swirl down the drain…we must actively work to bring about a better future.  There are a lot of things seriously wrong right now, but thankfully there are some signs of hope for America.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Restoring Fiscal Prudence in Government

President Obama and congressional Democrats have already let it be known that they will refuse to negotiate when it comes to raising the debt ceiling as, yet again, we're about to run out of borrowing authority.  Their position is that Congress must ensure the full faith and credit of the United States by doing whatever is necessary to ensure we pay our bills...and, after all, it's Congress that voted to spend the money in the first place.

I can see their point.

The way to stop the perpetual borrowing and spending of our federal government is not for politicians to fight debt ceiling increases.  Instead, politicians need to fight against new and increased spending that results in the need for debt ceiling increases.  If we quit spending irresponsibly, we'll get to the point we don't need to borrow and can actually start paying down our debt while still "investing in America" (gag).

We've got to start prioritizing where our money goes, just like any other person, family, business or entity that is out of money and has maxed out the credit cards.  This isn't a hard concept for most people to understand.  Many people, especially over the last several years, deal with this problem every single day.  They can't just shit money when they run out.  They can't just go demand a raise from their employer "or else".  They can't walk into their bank and approve their own credit limit increases.  They have to cut back on some things, eliminate others, and determine priorities for what's left.

And that's what our federal government needs to do.

The problem is to the point where absolutely everything in the budget needs to be looked at and right-sized in terms of funding.  We are pouring way too much money into things that should be a low priority - if even a priority at all - and we're not spending enough on things that are critically important.

This is an excellent website that tries to consolidate a lot of information about our finances into easy-to-understand graphics, charts, and explanations.  The biggest takeaway for me is that the U.S. Treasury is our third-largest budget item behind defense and HHS.  The lion's share of that item is interest payments.  It's money we're flushing down the toilet for which we get NOTHING in return.  It's not unlike making a credit card payment of $200, with only $35 of that going towards the outstanding balance.  The other $165 is interest.  Many of us do what we have to do in order to not be in a situation where we're paying $165 in interest for every $200 we pay on our debt, so why should the government think that's OK to do with our tax money?

The 2014 budget assumes revenues (taxes) of $3.03T, spending of $3.77T, with a big fat deficit of $744B to add to the total debt of $17.3T. 

To put this in terms most people can wrap their heads around, it's like making $30,300 a year, but spending $37,700...adding $7,400 per year to your total debt of $173,000.

No bank in its right mind would lend you money if that's how you roll.  Ever.  And we, as the "bank" for the federal government, should demand an end to this kind of irresponsible, imprudent, and UNACCEPTABLE spending.

Here is Sen. Tom Coburn's "Wastebook", which contains a yearly sampling of idiotic spending by our federal government.  While the amounts look small against a multi-trillion dollar budget, it adds up quickly.  I personally work for a company who, several years ago, literally removed every third light bulb in all of its offices.  I don't remember the exact amount saved, but it was in the millions of dollars.  It goes to show that cutting out even little tiny bits of fat across the board can go a long way.

Besides unscrewing lightbulbs, here are a few suggestions on how we can get our fiscal house back in order:

First, eliminate all spending that even remotely resembles anything in Coburn's Wastebook.  Not a sampling of it, ALL of it.  Close the unoccupied buildings and sell them.  Bring back the equipment from the sandbox and either sell it, or replace the old, tired crap that our military units have to train with.  No more studies concluding that wives need to calm down.  Let Africa study the penis-washing habits of Africans, with African money.

Next, yank all "aid" to foreign countries.  Most of them hate America anyway.  We have plenty of Americans on welfare here, we don't need foreigners hanging off our teat too.  Let the great and wonderful United Nations handle all that nonsense.  And while we're at it, dial back our funding of that anti-American organization and kick its ass off American soil.  That alone would free up about a billion dollars worth of New York real estate.

Now, quit footing the bill for illegal aliens.  If they aren't subsidized, many will leave.  If they have anchor babies/wives/family members that are citizens or enjoy legal status, those people can choose to stay, or they can choose to leave with the illegal alien.  It's not our fault your beloved illegal broke our laws.  It's his.  Take it up with him and don't come whining to us about his criminal stupidity.  And for crying out loud, don't reward illegals with amnesty.  We would end up spending trillions more if we legalize these foreign lawbreakers.

By now we're making some progress.  But not enough, fast enough.  Here are a few more suggestions to rapidly get the balance sheet where it needs to be:

Get rid of bloat.  The IRS is unnecessary; there are numerous credible proposals for tax system reform floating around out there (such as the Fair Tax), and many of them don't include the need for a bloated, weaponized bureaucracy like the IRS.  Goodbye, Department of Education.  Adios, Department of Agriculture.  See ya, Department of Labor.  This stuff, if even necessary, belongs in the states.

After all of that, we should be in pretty good shape.  But if not, we'll yank funding of nice-to-have items like arts and research for a year or two, and use that money towards our debt.  The arts are nice to have, but when it comes to adequately funding the VA or subsidizing Les Miserables performances all over the country, the former comes first.  As for funding research, Susan G. Komen and the March of Dimes will have to suffice for awhile.  It won't be the end of the world.

Now, we get our house in order.  First, pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.  Every state is bound by law to balance its budget, and so should the federal government.  Eliminate earmarks by forcing lawmakers to keep bills specific in scope with all spending directly related to the bill's specific purpose - and each bill must include specific Constitutional justification to be considered.  Take the keys to Social Security away from the federal government and hand them over to an independent organization overseen and audited by a rotating group of five states' attorneys general. 

Narrow the mission of our military forces to focus solely on foreign threats to the United States and our allies that we're obligated by treaty to defend, draw down accordingly, and shift 50% of the saved money to the VA while using the other 50% to increase pay and benefits to our remaining troops and their families so none of them, down to the lowest-ranking private, are on food stamps.

Audit the Federal Reserve at random intervals, and do the same with each remaining cabinet department.  The DoD alone lost $2.3 trillion dollars, along with several billion more in equipment.

Last but not least, install real accountability, with the states providing oversight of the federal government, as it should be.

Will all (or any) of this work?  Who knows.  I think there's a not-insignificant amount of corruption and cronyism in government, and I think that's where a lot of money disappears to.  With the government as large as it is, with so many moving parts and overlapping jurisdictions and responsibilities, the scale of imprudence is less disturbing than the utter lack of interest in meaningful reform.  Just shrinking the behemoth by doing away with nonessential cabinet departments would go a long way towards getting things turned around.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right

When citizens of a foreign country enter the United States, they do so in one of two ways: the right way or the wrong way.

The right way is the way that millions upon millions of Americans and their forefathers got here.  They arrived legally, understanding that the American dream they sought could not be realized until they weaved themselves into the fabric of America.  Working hard.  Learning the language, the customs and the traditions.  Integrating themselves into their neighborhoods and society at large.  Embracing their new country.  They want to be here, they want to be Americans, and they want to assimilate and contribute not just in the workforce, but to society as a whole.

The wrong way is to sneak into the country illegally.

When people run across the desert in the dark of night, swim across a river, or overstay a visa, their very first action here is one of utter hostility towards our nation.  Contempt for the rule of law.  This is not a nation of men, but a nation of laws.  (President Obama may not agree, but I digress...)

The vast majority of people that come here, both legally and otherwise, do so because America has so much to offer.  Even now with a slow economy and tough job market, America is still a land of opportunity for all.  "Poor" in America would be considered rich beyond comprehension to a vast number of people outside of our borders.  Make no mistake...America is far from perfect, but we didn't go from nothing in the 1700s to the sole world power 300 years later because we weren't doing things right.

The difference between those that come here legally and those who don't is fairly simple.  Illegal aliens want to take advantage of all America has to offer, but have no desire to reciprocate.  They have no use for things like learning the language.  They don't give a damn about weaving themselves into the fabric of America.  They don't care about the country or its society.  A study cited by the New York Times found that only 40% of illegal aliens pursued citizenship after being granted amnesty in 1986.  In short, most have no use for anything but a way to make money to send home to their families in the countries to which they remain loyal.  They want amnesty so that it's easier to do so.

This doesn't necessarily mean getting a real job, either.  Many illegals came here with heavy loads of narcotics on their backs from the drug cartels south of the border.  Others joined Latino-oriented street gangs such as MS-13 and are part of the cartels' distribution network.

The only group of illegal aliens that I have any sympathy for are those that were young children when their parents brought them here illegally.  They didn't have a choice in coming here, and as they get older they are being told they can't fully participate in the only country they have ever known.  The parents of these children deserve special punishment for subjecting their kids to the challenges they are facing today.

Since what was to be the "last amnesty" passed into law in 1986, granting a mere 3 million people legal status in this country, we have been besieged by 10 million more illegal aliens.  This is because the border was utterly ignored in 1986.  However, today our politicians boast that the border is as "secure as it's ever been", but he presence of these additional 10 million illegal aliens prove that "secure as it's ever been" is wholly unacceptable.  We're right back where we left off in 1986, but with four times the number of illegal aliens for taxpayers to support and our government to deal with.

Anyone with a lick of sense should be able to connect the dots and see what kind of impact 12 million newly legal workers would do to the job market not only for American citizens, but also those immigrants that respect the rule of law and endured the process to come here legally.  You think it's tough finding a job today?  It will be twice as hard if another amnesty bill is passed.

There is already a "pathway to citizenship" available to those here illegally.  It's called applying for citizenship and waiting your turn just like millions of legal immigrants have already done.  Meanwhile, as far as I'm concerned, illegals in this country today can "live in the shadows" (seriously?) and deal with the challenges that are inherent in choosing to be here illegally.  Why should they get special consideration?  

The pro-amnesty idiots love to talk about "fairness".  I think it would be amusing to watch them peddle their amnesty nonsense to a family that waded through tons of red tape and waited years to get here about what's "fair" and what's not.

It is wrong to cross our border illegally.  It is even more wrong to reward those who did with legal status.  Two wrongs don't make a right.  Any immigration reform bill absolutely MUST deal with border security first; anything short of that is 100% unacceptable.  It's colossally stupid to bail the water before plugging the hole.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

An Open Letter to A&E

Dear A&E:

It has been widely reported that you 'suspended' Phil Robertson, a star of Duck Dynasty, for discussing his religious beliefs.

Tell me, would you suspend a homosexual for bashing people that believe in traditional marriage?  Of course not.

Would you suspend a Muslim for talking about HIS religious beliefs?  Of course not.

Would you suspend a non-religious person for expressing anti-Christian views?  Of course not.

I'm curious, what kind of mental illness would lead someone to scuttle his network's - indeed, all of cable's - top rated show of all time, simply because one of its stars talked about his Christian faith and beliefs?

I'm "disappointed" that you chose to take this action.  Surely, you've discovered over the last 24 hours that the VAST majority of people interested in what's going on here disagree with your action.  Know that we are demonstrating our disagreement by boycotting your channel, and undertaking a massive effort to ensure that companies that advertise on your network are painfully aware of our displeasure.

I'm "disappointed" in your lack of tolerance - I thought diversity was supposed to be a GOOD thing.  I guess only when it's diversity of ideas that conform to the trendy, politically correct ideas of the day.  Homosexuality is en vogue, while Christianity is not.

No matter what anyone says, the fact is that this IS a majority Christian nation, born of Judeo-Christian principles, and that will never change.  By the way, I'm agnostic, and have no use for religion of any flavor.  I simply don't deny our nation's history, and will not abide your hostility towards people who don't get in line with the celebration of homosexuality.

If you believe Phil Robertson is a bigot, then you must also believe a majority of Americans are bigots.  As demonstrated by your intolerance, hostility - and most of all, your actions - A&E has proven to be the real bigot here.
With contempt,
A "disappointed" former viewer

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Necessary Civil War

"[They are] lemmings with suicide vests…They have to be more than just a lemming. Because jumping to your death is not enough."

"I was correct in my analysis, and I'd say a lot of those folks were not correct in theirs."

"Barack Obama set the trap. Some congressional Republicans walked into it. As a result, the president is stronger, the GOP is weaker, and Obamacare is marginally more popular. ...  It's time Republicans remembered that bad tactics produce bad outcomes."

"If anybody should be kicked out, it's probably those Republicans—and not Speaker Boehner—who are unwilling to keep the promises they made to American people."

As you've probably figured out, these are recent quotes by politicians.  All of them are Republicans talking about...other Republicans.

No matter your political views, if you've been paying any attention at all you know that there have been some epic battles in Washington lately. While some have been between Republicans and Democrats, the worst have been within the Republican party between the establishment politicians who shy away from rocking the boat and the rabble-rousers known as the Tea Party caucus.

The emergence of the Tea Party movement began during Bush's final years in office, as voters and pundits began to frown on his push for taxpayer bailouts of big banks and the auto industry, a nearly trillion-dollar stimulus package in the form of government spending, and encouraging lawmakers to pass yet another amnesty for another 12 million illegal aliens.

The movement gained momentum during the run-up to the 2008 general election, fueled by a segment of the Republican electorate furious that the party could find no better representative than John McCain to run against the Democrats' rock-star candidate, Senator Barack Obama.  Predictably, McCain was handily beaten on Election Day despite an inexperienced but conservative Sarah Palin balancing out the ticket.

Facing at least two years of one-party Democrat rule, conservative voters had reached the end of their rope.  They were sick of watching both parties spend our tax dollars like drunken sailors and growing the scope and reach of the federal government while ignoring fundamental Constitutional responsibilities to ensure the rule of law and to keep our borders secure.

Stories of angry conservative voters venting their anger at their representatives at town hall meetings started emerging.  New faces began to appear on the political landscape.  Men and women that shared the sentiment that the Republican party had lost its way and needed an overhaul.  America was introduced to Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, Michelle Bachmann, Mike Lee, Chris Christie, and others.

The successes started piling up immediately.  In a nasty Wisconsin fight, newly-elected Gov. Scott Walker beat back the powerful teachers' union in order to restore some fiscal sanity to his state's public education programs and prevailed in a subsequent recall election.  Chris Christie was elected to govern liberal New Jersey, where he also claimed victory against unions there.  In Texas, former Solicitor General Ted Cruz faced the state's not-unpopular David Dewhurst in a primary election to the U.S. Senate and rode his message to victory, easily beating his Democrat opponent and running on Tea Party principles of smaller, Constitutional federal government, less spending, and a strong free market (note the lack of anything even remotely related to race or ethnicity).

The establishmentarians took notice.  Some Republicans cautiously began shifting their positions to align with the Tea Party while others bet that the status quo and going-along-to-get-along would look better to voters...many of whom had been disgusted with Congress for many years for its ineptitude in moving the country in the right direction.

The 2012 general election proved to be another disaster.  The Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, lost the election in spectacular fashion.  It would be another four years of Obama, with Republicans holding on to a slim majority in the House.  It seems the lessons of 2008 and 2010 had not yet been learned.

In September of this year, the government was running out of money to operate and was quickly approaching the limit of its authority to borrow money.  This was the fight that the Tea Party had been salivating over for years.  It would use these two critical items to extract concessions on Obamacare from the Democrats during negotiations.  Since Republicans controlled the House, from which spending bills originate, they would craft bills that granted the necessary continuing budget resolution and a temporary increase to the debt limit while removing any funding for Obamacare.

The president would have none of it.  He indicated that there would be no negotiations on the continuing resolution or the debt ceiling.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared the House bill dead on arrival in the Senate, as he would do with every single bill floated by Republicans.

As days went by, Democrats stuck to thier guns and refused negotiations with Republicans and cracks began to appear in the Republican resolve.  Ted Cruz stood before the Senate pleading his case for 21 hours straight in a futile attempt to garner enough support to force negotiations.  The Democrats held firm as more and more Republicans waved white flags, ready to acquiesce to all of Obama's demands. 

The deadline for the continuing resolution came and went, and the government "shut down" (about 13% of it, anyway).  As barricades went up at national parks and monuments across the country, the Democrats kept pounding away by ensuring the mainstream media carried the narrative that Republicans were responsible.  The ignorant public bought it just like Dems counted on them doing.

More Republicans folded like dollar store card tables.  Hoping to be seen as trying to restore normalcy, they, too, scrambled for every camera and microphone they could find in order to blast the Tea Party strategy.  More bills were floated with fewer and fewer Republican demands, until more than two weeks after the shutdown, the Democrats claimed victory while the Republicans walked away with their asses in their hands, and without a single concession.

The Great Republican Implosion of 2013 will go down in history as one of the greatest political embarrassments of all time.

I was disgusted.  How could this happen?  How could Republicans have pissed away such a golden opportunity?  How could they have allowed the narrative that it was their fault to go unchallenged?  After all, it was Obama and the Democrats that steadfastly refused to negotiate.  13 separate proposals to end the standoff were drawn up by Republicans that were all shot down by Democrats.  The president refused to have his signature legislation, which is still unpopular with the majority of Americans, impeded in any way.  And Republicans caved.  The battle was senselessly lost.

But, the war goes on.  It's a war for the future of our nation.  Republicans MUST be the party of  Constitutional governance, fiscal responsibility and the Rule of Law...nobody else is going to do it!  Our country simply cannot continue on its current path.  Every taxpayer in America owes nearly $150,000 for his share of the national debt.  That's absolutely insane, and with recent census data showing that there are more people dependent on welfare than are in the workforce, the trajectory is only getting worse, and in a hurry.

Make no mistake, this Republican civil war is an absolute necessity.  We can only hope that it is over soon and the party emerges with strong Tea Party principles as its platform.  I think the only way that can happen is to reverse the trend of ignorance and apathy among the electorate.  Democrats desperately need people to be ignorant in order to advance their agenda, and they use their friends in the media to make sure they control what people hear. 

In addition to Tea Party principles, the Republican civil war absolutely must produce a better messaging strategy, and it needs to identify someone that can deliver that message in a way that resonates with voters.

Without a Republican party makeover that changes hearts and minds of voters, the next American Civil War will be fought not with rhetoric, bills and political capital, but with guns, tanks, and bombs.  I hope that isn't necessary, but if you think we needed hope and change before, we REALLY need it now.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Thoughts on Obama Gun Control Speech

Earlier today, President Obama announced 23 executive actions he is taking, and additional steps he is pressing Congress to take, in response to the Sandy Hook tragedy.  Not surprisingly, they are all largely focused on guns.

Below is a transcript of his speech (in italics), with my thoughts.

Good afternoon, everybody.  Let me begin by thanking our vice president, Joe Biden, for your dedication, Joe, to this issue, for bringing so many different voices to the table, because while reducing gun violence is a complicated challenge, protecting our children from harm shouldn't be a divisive one.

Now, over the month since the tragedy in Newtown, we've heard from so many.  And obviously, none have affected us more than the families of those gorgeous children and their teachers and guardians who were lost.  And so we're grateful to all of you for taking the time to be here and recognizing that we honor their memories in part by doing everything we can to prevent this from happening again.

But we also heard from some unexpected people, in particular I started getting a lot of letters from kids. Four of them are here today, Grant Fritz, Julia Stokes, Hinna Zeha, and Taejah Goode.  They're pretty representative of some of the messages I got.  These are some pretty smart letters from some pretty smart young people.  Hinna, a third-grader -- you can go ahead and wave Hinna, that's you.  Hinna wrote, ``I feel terrible for the parents who lost their children.  I love my country, and I want everybody to be happy, and safe.''
Mr. President, do you really believe that these 3rd graders decided to write you letters all on their own, with opinions they crafted of their own free will, without any prodding or coaching by their teachers and/or parents?  Or are you shamelessly using these children as props to further your political agenda?
And then Grant, go ahead and wave Grant, Grant said, ``I think there should be some changes.  We should learn from what happened at Sandy Hook.  I feel really bad.''  And then Julia said -- Julia, where are you?  There you go.  ``I'm not scared for my safety, I'm scared for others.  I have four brothers and sisters, and I know I would not be able to bear the thought of losing any of them.''  And these are our kids.  This is what they're thinking about. 

And so what we should be thinking about, is our responsibility to care for them, and shield them from harm, and give them the tools they need to grow up, and do everything that they're capable of doing.  Not just to pursue their own dreams, but to help build this country.  This is our first task as a society, keeping our children safe.  This is how we will be judged.  And their voices should compel us to change.
If you believe our first task as a society is to keep our children safe, how exactly does cheerleading abortion while ensuring tax dollars fund the killing of children every day square with that belief?  How does robbing our children of their future - by saddling them with tens of thousands of dollars in debt before they are even born - square with your statement about our first task as a society?
And that's why last month, I asked Joe to lead an effort, along with members of my cabinet, to come up with some concrete steps we can take right now to keep our children safe, to help prevent mass shootings, to reduce the broader epidemic of gun violence in this country.
Gee whiz, Mr. President, it sure seems that these "concrete steps" your vice president came up with will only affect law-abiding citizens.  You know, those folks that pose no danger to children, and don't perpetrate mass shootings, and aren't part of this "epedemic of gun violence" you are speaking of.  I know you want to be clear, so please help us understand how they will prevent mass shootings and reduce gun violence.
And we can't put this off any longer. 
Of course we can't.  We can't let this "crisis" go to waste, can we, Mr. President?  That was the advice from your former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who ironically now presides over the city with the most gun violence in the country.
Just last Thursday, as TV networks were covering one of  Joe's meetings on this topic, news broke of another school shooting, this one in California. In the month since 20 precious children and six brave adults were violently taken from us at Sandy Hook Elementary, more than 900 of our fellow Americans have reportedly died at the end of a gun -- 900 in the past month.  And every day we wait the number will keep growing.
So, Mr. President, how many of those 900 shooters would have been stopped if this package of gun restrictions had already been in place? (Zero.)  How many of those 900 shooters are law-abiding citizens...the only ones affected by your proposals? (Whoops! None.)  How many of these 900 shootings occurred in Chicago, where you were a rockstar community organizer and where they have some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, but the highest murder rate?  (Most of them.)
So I'm putting forward a specific set of proposals based on the work of Joe's task force.  And in the days ahead I intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality. 

Because while there is no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence completely, no piece of legislation that will prevent every tragedy, every act of evil, if there's even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there's even one life that can be saved, then we've got an obligation to try.
Freedom and liberty for innocent, law-abiding citizens be damned, right Mr. President?  There are countless, more effective ways to go about "reducing the violence", but those things don't jibe with your political, anti-gun agenda, do they?
 And I'm gonna do my part.  As soon as I'm finished speaking here I will sit at that desk and I will sign a directive giving law enforcement, schools, mental health professionals and the public health community some of the tools they need to help reduce gun violence.

We will make it easier to keep guns out of the hands of criminals by strengthening the background check system.  We will help schools hire more resource officers if they want them, and develop emergency preparedness plans.  
What if some schools don't want more resource officers, Mr. President?  Wouldn't they be putting children in danger by rejecting your "wisdom"?  Will they be punished if they don't accept this "help"?  After all, you are punishing every single American today by urging Congress to infringe on our right to keep and bear arms. 
We will make sure mental health professionals know their options for reporting threats of violence, even as we acknowledge that someone with a mental illness is far more likely to be a victim of violent crime than the perpetrator.
Mr. President, everyone that has ever gone on a killing spree is mentally ill.  Sane people don't shoot up schools.  Most Americans are beginning to think you are suffering from mental illness as well, because that last statement of yours was effectively excusing the actions of the mentally defective young man that killed all those kids.
 And while year after year, those who oppose even modest gun safety measures have threatened to de-fund scientific or medical research into the causes of gun violence, I will direct the Centers for Disease Control to go ahead and study the best ways to reduce it. And Congress should fund research into the effects that violent video games have on young minds.

We don't benefit from ignorance.  We don't benefit from not knowing the science of this epidemic of violence. 
Frankly, Mr. President, it doesn't take a scientist or a million-dollar study to understand that law-abiding gun owners don't massacre children.  It doesn't take a doctor to know that criminals and psychos don't care about laws, don't think twice about murdering others, and will not be fazed by all of this silliness you are announcing today.  Furthermore, it seems that you DO benefit from ignorance, seeing as how you were recently re-elected by hordes of ignorant Americans.
These are a few of the 23 executive actions that I'm announcing today, but as important as these steps are, they are in no way a substitute for action from members of Congress.  To make a real and lasting difference, Congress, too, must act, and Congress must act soon.  And I'm calling on Congress to pass some very specific proposals right away. First, it's time for Congress to require a universal background check for anyone trying to buy a gun.

The law already requires licensed gun dealers to run background checks, and over the last 14 years that's kept 1.5 million of the wrong people from getting their hands on a gun.

But it's hard to enforce that law, when as many as 40 percent of all gun purchases are conducted without a background check.
I applaud this step, Mr. President.  But whoever told you that 40% of all gun purchases are conducted without a background check is lying to you.  Gun shows have no loopholes allowing the sale of firearms without a background check, and I'm quite certain that 40% of gun sales do not occur between private individuals.  I would recommend hiring staffers that won't make you look as foolish as you did today while regurgitating blatantly dishonest "facts" from your teleprompter.
If you want to buy a gun, whether it's from a licensed dealer, or a private seller, you should at least have to show you are not a felon or somebody legally prohibited from buying one.  This is common sense. And an overwhelming majority of Americans agree with us on the need for universal background checks, including more than 70 percent of the National Rifle Association's members according to one survey.  So there's no reason we can't do this.
Again, background checks are fine and dandy, Mr. President.  I'll be interested in hearing how your administration or Congress proposes that individual private citizens conduct background checks on people that want to buy a gun from them - or how you plan to prove that background checks have or have not been completed prior to a private individual sale.  I suspect this will require some sort of gun registration scheme, which will never become law.  But I wish you and Congress good luck trying to get that going. (LOL!)
Second, Congress should restore a ban on military-style assault weapons, and a 10 round limit for magazines.
Why should Congress do that, Mr. President?  "Military-style assault weapons" owned by law-abiding citizens will never be used to assault anyone.  They will only be used for recreational and sporting purposes, and to defend against criminals - or a tyrannical government, which is the entire purpose of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.  Did your woefully moronic staffers explain to you that "military-style assault weapons" are deemed such because of mostly cosmetic differences?  Please have them explain to you how one rifle with a pistol grip is more deadly than the very same rifle without a pistol grip, so that you can explain it to the American people. Where magazines are concerned, are you saying it's OK if 10 children are killed, but not OK if 30 are killed?  You do realize, of course, there are literally millions of 30 round (and up) magazines currently in circulation, do you not?  In fact, one company that manufactures these magazines, Magpul, has a backlog of over one million magazines ordered as of this writing.  That's just ONE company, Mr. President.
 The type of assault rifle used in Aurora, for example, when paired with high capacity magazines has one purpose:  to pump out as many bullets as possible as quickly as possible, to do as much damage using bullets often designed to inflict maximum damage. 
Actually, Mr. President, the guns to which you refer are fully automatic weapons which are already banned for everyone except law enforcement, the military, and special federal license holders.  But I digress...let's not let facts get in the way of your ideologically-driven spin.
And that's what allowed the gunman in Aurora to shoot 70 people, 70 people, killing 12.  In a matter of minutes.
Almost all handguns fire bullets at exactly the same rate as the guns that you want to ban.  One bullet with every trigger pull.  Why not ban them too, if your motives are pure?  I guess you and your buddies will get around to banning those eventually too...right, Mr. President?
Weapons designed for the theater of war have no place in a movie theater. 
Again, Mr. President, guns designed for and used in a theater of war are fully automatic, and already banned. 
A majority of Americans agree with us on this.  And, by the way, so did Ronald Reagan, one of the staunchest defenders of the Second Amendment, who wrote to Congress in 1994, urging them -- this is Ronald Reagan speaking -- urging them to listen to the American public and to the law enforcement community and support a ban on the further manufacture of military-style assault weapons.
Mr. Reagan, while the greatest president in modern times, was not infallible.  He also granted amnesty to millions of illegal aliens, which served as an incentive for even more illegal immigration as we've seen in the years since.
And, finally, Congress needs to help, rather than hinder, law enforcement as it does its job.  We should get tougher on people who buy guns with the expressed purpose of turning around and selling them to criminals.
You mean, like the ATF did during the Fast and Furious operation, where nobody of consequence was held to account after ATF agents helped hundreds of guns get across the border and into the hands of cartel criminals?  Why do you believe that your attorney general and those that report to him should be given preferential legal treatment not afforded to other Americans?  Do you believe the people in your administration are exempt from following the laws the rest of us must follow?
And we should severely punish anybody who helps them do this. 
I couldn't agree more.  When will Attorney General Eric Holder be fired? (He won't.)
Since Congress hasn't confirmed a director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in six years, they should confirm Todd Jones, who will be -- who has been acting and I will be nominating for the post. And at a time when budget cuts are forcing many communities to reduce their police force, we should put more cops back on the job and back on our streets.

Now, let me be absolutely clear:  Like most Americans, I believe the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms.  I respect our strong tradition of gun ownership and the rights of hunters and sportsmen.  There are millions of responsible, law-abiding gun owners in America who cherish their right to bear arms for hunting or sport or protection or collection.
No, Mr. President, you don't believe in the Second Amendment.  Based on your actions today, you believe that Americans have too much freedom and liberty, and Americans' right to keep and bear arms must be infringed.  What part of "shall not be infringed" do you not understand?  You believe in penalizing law-abiding Americans for the actions of mentally defective psychos.  Not only is that un-American, it's just flat stupid.
I also believe most gun owners agree that we can respect the Second Amendment while keeping an irresponsible, law-breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale.  I believe most of them agree that if America worked harder to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, there would be fewer atrocities like the one that occurred in Newtown.

That's what these reforms are designed to do.  They're commonsense measures.  They have the support of the majority of the American people.
Mr. President, with all due respect, please explain the brand of "common sense" you are using when your answer to wackos shooting up schools is to infringe on the rights of innocent, responsible law-abiding citizens.  Please explain how it is "commonsense" to blame inanimate objects. Please tell us how it's "commonsense" to ignore the problem of mentally deranged people receiving inadequate care and supervision.  Neither sane, law-abiding citizens nor guns are the root cause of wackos shooting up schools.  Real "commonsense measures" would focus on the root causes of these tragedies.
And yet that doesn't mean any of this is going to be easy to enact or implement.  If it were, we'd already have universal background checks.  The ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines never would have been allowed to expire.  More of our fellow Americans might still be alive, celebrating birthdays and anniversaries and graduations. 
Of course it's not easy to implement your politically-driven, tyrannical gun-grabbing schemes, Mr. President.  You see, our Founding Fathers foresaw people like you trying to do things like this.  Thankfully, they ensured America is governed in a way that helps prevent tyranny by dividing power among three branches of government. Your actions and aims are tyrannical, and will not pass muster among We the People or among the other two branches.
This will be difficult.  There will be pundits and politicians and special interest lobbyists publicly warning of a tyrannical all- out assault on liberty, not because that's true, but because they want to gin up fear or higher ratings or revenue for themselves.  And behind the scenes, they'll do everything they can to block any commonsense reform and make sure nothing changes whatsoever. 
Another reason all this is so difficult, Mr. President, is because it is obvious to reasonable people that many of the things you want to do will not help to address the problem.  Instead, your aims are misguided and go against the very foundations upon which this nation was formed.  History has shown what happens when governments disarm the people.  From Austria to Britain, from Poland to Russia, it has never turned out well. We do not want to block real commonsense reform when it is effective and necessary. However, we vehemently reject nonsensical, tyrannical political agendas cloaked as "reform" such as the steaming pile of idiocy you were peddling today.
The only way we will be able to change is if their audience, their constituents, their membership says this time must be different, that this time we must do something to protect our communities and our kids.
We agree something must be done. This misguided, ideological "solution" you are peddling will not work, Mr. President. Numerous studies done by people across the entire ideological spectrum showed the same conclusions - the previous assault weapon ban simply didn't work.  At all.  One need look no further than the FBI's Uniform Crime Report to see that crime of all types continued to decline despite gun ownership nearly doubling, after the assault weapon ban expired.
I will put everything I've got into this -- and so will Joe -- but I tell you, the only way we can change is if the American people demand it.  And by the way, that doesn't just mean from certain parts of the country.  We're going to need voices in those areas and those congressional districts where the tradition of gun ownership is strong to speak up and to say this is important.  It can't just be the usual suspects.  We have to examine ourselves in our hearts, and ask yourselves what is important?  This will not happen, unless the American people demand it.  If parents and teachers, police officers, and pastors, if hunters and sportsman, if responsible gun owners, if Americans of every background stand up and say, enough.  We've suffered too much pain, and care too much about our children to allow this to continue, then change will -- change will come.
That's what it's going to take.  You know, in the letter that Julia wrote me, she said ``I know that laws have to be passed by Congress, but I beg you to try very hard.''
I know that you believe the majority of Americans are ignorant and apathetic, Mr. President.  I don't disagree.  However, I am willing to bet that many apathetic Americans own guns, and won't be so apathetic when it comes to their gun rights.  The majority of American people will not be demanding that the federal government curtail their rights.  It simply won't happen. Incidentally, when did third-graders learn about the functions of the three branches of government, anyway?  (They don' was another coerced letter.)
Julia, I will try very hard.  But she's right.  The most important changes we can make, depend on congressional action.  They need to bring these proposals up for a vote, and the American people need to make sure that they do.  Get them on record.  Ask your member of Congress if they support universal background checks to keep guns out of the wrong hands.  Ask them if they support renewing a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
And if they say no, ask them why not?  Ask them what's more important?  Doing whatever it takes to get a -- an A grade from the gun lobby that funds their campaigns?  Or, giving parents some piece of mind when they drop their child off to first grade?
Intelligent, rational people know the difference between feeling safe and being safe.  Those who believe in American principles aren't waiting for government to provide for their safety and that of their families.  It might be a feelgood, emotional reaction to ban those scary guns, but reasonable people know that criminals and psychopaths don't give a damn about laws, Mr. President. I'm confident that many, many politicians, citizens and others will proudly stand up and go on record against your proposed usurpation of our rights, freedoms, and responsibilities to protect ourselves and our families with whatever tools we see fit.
This is the land of the free, and it always will be.  As Americans we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights that no man or government can take away from us.  But...
No, Mr. President, there is no "but" at the end of that statement.  Ever.
...we've also long recognized, as our founders recognized, that with rights come responsibilities.
Along with our freedom to live our lives as we will comes an obligation to allow others to do the same.   We don't live in isolation.  We live in a society, a government for and by the people. We are responsible for each other.
So, in other words, you don't believe the American people are responsible enough to keep and bear certain types of guns...but we are responsible enough to keep and bear others?  No matter the model or the features, Mr. President, all guns are inanimate objects and do not wreak havoc by themselves.  Law-abiding Americans could possess missiles, tanks, and fighter jets, and society would be no less safe than it is today.
We have the right to worship freely and safely; that right was denied to Sikhs in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.  The right to assemble peacefully; that right was denied shoppers in Placimus, Oregon, and moviegoers in Aurora, Colorado.
That most fundamental set of rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, fundamental rights that were denied to college students at Virginia Tech and high school students at Columbine and elementary school students in Newtown; and kids on street corners in Chicago on too frequent basis to tolerate; and all the families who never imagined they'd lose a loved one to -- to a bullet, those rights are at stake.  We're responsible.
Yes, we are responsible, Mr. President.  Not "we" as in the government, but "we" as in We the People.  We have allowed our society to degrade and decay to a point that personal responsibility is a novel concept while relying on somebody else, mainly government, to tell us what is right and wrong, what we need, and how to live has become normal.  We the People need to reverse this trend and take more responsibility for ourselves, our children, and our safety.  We cannot ignore mental illness and hope it goes away on its own.  Those of us with guns can't be lackadaisical with their security so that they fall into the wrong hands.  That is not your responsibility as is ours, and ours alone.  With all due respect, you need to study the Constitution and rethink government's role in our great nation.  It has expanded far beyond the limits our forefathers set for it, and for America to be great again, your government needs to shrink back into the shadows and let We the People manage our own affairs.
You know, when I visited Newtown last month I spent some private time with many of the families who'd lost their children that day. And one was the family of Grace McDonnell. Grace's parents are here.  Grace was seven years old when she was struck down, just a gorgeous, caring, joyful little girl. I'm told she loved pink.  She loved the beach.  She dreamed of becoming a painter.
And so just before I left, Chris, her father, gave me one of her paintings.  And I hung it in my private study just off the Oval Office.  And every time I look at that painting, I think about Grace, and I think about the life that she lived and the life that lay ahead of her.  And most of all, I think about how when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable among us, we must act now, for Grace, for the 25 other innocent children and devoted educators who had so much left to give; for the men and women in big cities and small towns who fall victims to senseless violence each and every day; for all the Americans who are counting on us to keep them safe from harm.
Let's do the right thing.  Let's do the right thing for them and for this country that we love so much.
I really want to believe that your motives are pure and you really do believe you're doing the right thing in responding to the Sandy Hook tragedy, and those tragedies that came before it.  Unfortunately, the chasm between your approach and one that makes sense to me and millions of others of the same mindset is so wide that it's impossible not to suspect darker, ulterior motives that require the squelching and oppression of American freedom and liberty.  There has been little you've done while in office to convince me that you honestly and truly want the best for America and We the People.  Show us, Mr. President, that you are not the aspiring tyrant that you appear to be.   
Meanwhile, any guns and/or accessories that I may or may not have, that may or may not be impacted by any potential ban being considered in Congress, will never be listed on any government registry, nor will they be collected by any government agents.