Archive for January, 2011

AMERICA FIXATES ON GUNS…

January 27, 2011

…otherwise known as penis envy! I thought this would be a good time to comment on the state of guns in the most violent “civilized” country in the world.

Today in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, a front page story, above the fold, is about a representative, Tony Cornish(R-Good Thunder), in the state legislature who is a committee chairman, who brought forth a bill to repeal portions of Minnesota’s gun control laws. The two major police and peace officers associations both testified vehemently against these repeals. The Police and Peace Officers Association and the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association testified against weakening gun laws! D’ah! It should stand to reason cops do not want more guns floating around the state. Common sense, right?

Cornish was offended when queried by Heather Martens, executive director of Protect Minnesota, is he in favor of protecting the criminals or are you on the side of the peace officers who must take care of the results of the criminals with guns? Cornish stated that she was “rude” to ask that question!

Having heard enough of this testimony, representative Steve Drazkowski(R-Mazzeppa), added a new bill in the one Cornish had. Drazkowski’s proposed bill would simply repeal all the state gun control laws! The proponents of such an appeal claim that Minnesota is only one of twelve states that has its own gun control laws. All others abide by the federal laws. In their minds, that makes repeal proper, despite the fact that expert testimony revealed that the federal law has holes and missing data that might allow people banned from gun ownership in Minnesota to buy one anyway. Minnesota’s laws are also a little more strict, like if a person was ever convicted of a crime related to gang activity or high level gross misdemeanors they would be disallowed from gun purchase and ownership in Minnesota. So, what’s so wrong with that? The NRA can’t give a straight commonsense intelligent answer.

Nationwide, guns have become out of control. The NRA battle cry of I’m protected by the 2nd Amendment no longer applies to these modern times. It was fine in the colonial period of America. The 2nd Amendment was written to protect the citizens of this new country from over-reach by the federal government and to form state militias to protect individuals and states from such an over-reach or from invasion by a foreign power. First, individuals nor states need to defend themselves from federal government over-reach any longer because of the restrictive controls placed on the government by various laws, and secondly, the federal government now spends hundreds of billions of dollars a year to protect our country from invasion. Also, research the colonial period of America’s history, was there rampant crime, gang warfare on city streets, thugs wielding automatic weapons, and the existence of 31 bullet clips for Glocks? I thought you’d find the answer to that. The 2nd amendment must be evaluated as a fluid instrument. It must change with the times for obvious reasons, otherwise you get an all for themselves mentality with everyone packing heat in the name of self-defense. Common sense tells you that is just not workable. And yet, there are thousands of citizens walking around armed because lax “conceal and carry” laws. There are millions of people going into Wal-Marts to make their 17 cents per bullet clip purchases. There is one reason and one reason only for people to buy these types of ammunition, Glocks, AK-47’s, M-16’s, etc. IT’S TO KILL PEOPLE! There is no other reason under the sun for people to own and have this type of armament!

Congress in 1994 passed the anti-automatic weapon bill included was the ban on high-capacity ammo clips. That bill passage, under great protest from the NRA and the pro-gun members of Congress seemed to be a common sense piece of legislation. The opposition to its passage had no ground to stand on. Their tired old argument of “2nd Amendment rights” didn’t fly that time, nor should it ever again. That law was sunsetted in 2004. Apparently that was a concession by the writers to the fence-sitting members of Congress that weren’t quite sure on which way to vote. There is a tremendous amount of kowtowing in the halls of Congress to the NRA. Isn’t amazing? It’s all about campaign funding and nothing to do with gun rights and a civilized society!

In the United States today there are approximately 308 million people. There are an estimated 275 million guns in the hands of citizens. That’s about a 90% gun to person ratio! By far and away the highest in the world!!! Second place is the country of Yemen, coming in at a paltry 63%! “Why hell, we’d blow them suckers away like nothing, us gun-toting imperialists from America!” Think about it, do Americans really need this obscenely high number of guns. Are American men that insecure about the size of their penis’? This is a sick and very sad situation for a supposedly “civilized” country to be in. America is number one in the world in murders and gun related deaths. America has had more heads of state and influential people of power assassinated than any other country. Other than politically motivated acts of terrorism, how many countries can claim the number of mass shootings, school-house shootings, shopping center shootings, serial killers, etc, that America has? NONE! You tell me, what do these stories and statistics tell you about the society we live in? What does it tell you about the ease of access to guns, armament, and ammunition? Does it say anywhere that Americans need this? Hell no! Does it say that because of the NRA, the misrepresentation of the spirit of the 2nd Amendment, and the thirst for human blood spillage that America has become a blood-thirsty society?

There is no argument of intelligence and common sense for not enacting very tough and strict gun laws. There is no intelligent and common sense argument against the enactment of what should be the most severe punishments in the world for weapon abuse on our society. America needs to be the shining beacon to the world for civility and domestic peace, but with the lax gun control laws and the thirst for human blood, we aren’t nor will we be until it is stopped.

Canada, our civilized neighbor to the north, is a nation of hunters. In fact, more people hunt in Canada than play hockey. It is, Canada’s favorite pastime. There are approximately 36 million people in Canada. There are about 7 million guns in Canada. Annually, there are less than 200 people killed from guns. In the United States, with our 308 million people and over 270 million guns, there are over 100,000 gun related deaths a year. Quite a difference, wouldn’t you say? Here’s the difference between Canada and the U.S. In Canada, in order to purchase a gun, most being for hunting, shotguns, etc. and a small percentage sport shooting pistols, you sign up for the gun, then you are subject to complete criminal, sociological, and psychological background check. This process takes about 28 to 30 days to complete. There are no exceptions. Canada, for obvious reasons disallows the purchase of guns on the spot at gun shows, so popular in the U.S. Is there any rational intelligent reason to believe there is something wrong with Canada’s system? No, unless you’re an idiot!

The gun violence has to stop in this country. Nitwit politicians supported by NRA dollars need to grow a back bone and stand the violent blood thirsty gun lobbyists up, or they need to be voted out. Gun play is way too serious and way too harmful to quality of life we try to enjoy as Americans. It’s time to clamp down on and ban any weapons that only have one use, to kill people, aka, automatic guns and multiple bullet ammo magazines. This is not a lawless Somalia we live in, it’s the United States. We are better than that and we need to start showing it and living it.

Thanks for today’s read, and as always, I look forward to your comments.
Cam Obert

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FEDERAL GUN CONTROL THAT MAKES SENSE…

January 17, 2011

…because it is well past the time. There needs to be some sanity brought to this issue on a nationwide basis.

On this national holiday celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., let’s take a brief moment about the end of his life, his cold-blooded murder by James Earl Ray. Fast forward this situation to today in America. While Dr. King and his entourage were moving along the balcony of that motel in Memphis, if this were today, Ray would have used an automatic assault weapon and easily taken out not only Dr. King, but the Reverend Ralph Abernathy, the Reverend Jesse Jackson and the rest of the group. The difference between a single shot rifle and an automatic assault gun. Does this little example open any eyes at all? I don’t know but I can only hope.

On that horrible day in November of 1963 when President Kennedy was assassinated at the shooting hand of Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald used a high-powered single-shot rifle and got off a few shots, one being the fatal hit on the President and some that wounded Governor Connally. What would the difference be in that situation had Oswald used one of today’s popular automatic assault weapons? The shooter only needs to open up in the area of the target and then simply spray bullets around until the intended job is completed. How many other people would have been killed and injured?

Remember the University of Texas clock tower shooter? Charles Whitman used high-powered sniper rifles to kill 16 people and injure another 32. If you remember the video tape from the incident, the shots were separate and distinct, sometimes with several minutes between shots. Can you even imagine that same scenario in America today? Using automatic weapons with large magazines and ammo clips, Whitman probably could have easily killed many more people.

Again in 1968, Sirhan Sirhan was able to enter the hotel in Los Angeles armed with a simple single shot pistol. At close range, he was able to murder Senator Robert Kennedy with one head shot. If you remember how crowded the room was, if this were in today’s America, Sirhan would have been armed with a Glock type assault semi-automatic or automatic hand gun, and the result would have been many people murdered on site rather than just the Senator.

The last example brings us to the tragedy in Tuscon last week. This deranged person, Jared Loughner, was able to simply waltz into the area of Congresswoman Gifford’s Congress on the Corner meeting, pull a Glock out from his pocket, hit the Representative with a clean head shot at close range, and then sprayed bullets around, killing 6 people and wounding several others. Thankfully, the Congresswoman survived.

In the gang and drug wars being waged on the streets of so many of American cities, assault weapon gun play has become so commonplace, that in many cities, the news stories are on back pages of the local section of their major newspapers. These rotten people can perform drive-by shootings while squeezing one time and firing up to 31 bullets at a time! The result of any assault weapon violence is the “collateral damage”. In other words, the innocent bystanders who just happen to be in the area. Right here in Minneapolis, in the past couple years, there have been so many heart wrenching stories of youngsters being hit by random gun fire and killed. This is what the lack of serious gun control laws results in. Would the bad guys still get automatic weapons? Sure. Would the access to these assault weapons and multi-bullet clips be as easy with strict gun control measures? Of course not.

In 2004, the federal assault weapon ban for private citizen use expired. From that point, the sale of assault weapons, AK-47’s etc, automatic hand guns, Glocks etc, has skyrocketed. For whatever reasons, Americans in general, have a love affair with guns. The population of the United States in about 308 million people. Estimates are there are over 275 million guns in the hands of Americans. That’s about 90%! Not only is this insanity, but it makes for living as peaceful life in America a tad more difficult. There are actually many states that have “conceal and carry” laws! That’s comforting, isn’t it? Some states even allow persons to enter public buildings, places of worship, and even bars while “packing heat”! Is this insane or what? What possible reasons would a law-abiding person have for carrying a gun to church? The state of Arizona has become the American poster child for weapons insanity. The gun laws there are so lax, it literally has an environment of the old “Wild West”. Fortunately in Arizona, there is a bastion of some kind of sanity in Tuscon. It probably has to do with the academic environment driven by the University’s presence there. I have to believe most common sense driven educated people see the insanity of private gun ownership, except for hunters and gun sportsmen. Other than former Governor Janet Napolitano, it seems from the outside looking in, most Arizona politicians very much favor gun lawlessness in their state. I believe it’s a state driven by the wacked out fringe on the right that hide behind the 2nd Amendment to support weapon insanity. This nut job that performed the multiple murder in Tuscon, simple goes into Wal-Mart and buys 31 bullet clips for his Glock along with his toothpaste, deodorant, and other personal items and then proceeds to the killing site. That is so wrong in so many ways. I have to say, Loughner is not the only nut job with blood on his hands, I indict the whole state government for allowing the ease of this whole action that ended with horrible results.

The new Governor of Minnesota, Mark Dayton, had an interesting give and take on the campaign last summer. In a debate with his opponents, both of which resist tight gun control, cornered a questioner about “cop killer” bullets. Dayton questioned the need for them because they serve only ONE purpose, to kill people. Tom Emmer, his republican opponent apparently believes conceal and carry, assault weapon ownership, hollow tip and cop killer bullets, and automatic hand guns are fine for personal private citizen ownership. The standing belief of the extreme right being “gun control laws only give the government more control over the citizenry” and therefore are bad for the liberty and freedom of Americans.

Over 100,000 thousand Americans die each year as a result of guns. Granted, a minor portion of that includes gun fired suicides. It has become too easy in this country for gun ownership. This country has more gun crimes committed annually than the next ten countries combined. The United States has more political or government leaders killed by gun than any other developed country in the world since it’s inception. The gun lovers will say it’s because of the freedom we enjoy as Americans. We enjoy the right to kill people freely? I have noticed you can’t debate the issue with NRA members or their leadership. To them, it’s all about the 2nd Amendment. That amendment was written to protect the central government from internal overthrow. “Arm yourselves and form state militias to fight the take-over of the government”. The amendment was written in Colonial times of early America. Can that really be equated with today’s society? No, at least not rationally. You see, in Colonial America, there were no armed and dangerous gangs marauding around urban areas killing people with automatic weapon fire.

I now blame the Democrats in Congress and since 2009, the President for not fixing the problem of the expired automatic weapons ban in 2004. In 2004, Congress and President Bush were bought and paid for by the NRA, arguably the most powerful lobby in Washington pre-Citizens United ruling. The republicans had no reason or desire to re-enact the measure. That, I understand. But, the Democrats took control of Congress in 2006, and kept control until January of this year. President Obama has been in the White House since 2009. As far as this writer is concerned, the Democrats and President share the culpability for this dangerous time Americans are living with today.

Let’s face it. There is no rational need for private citizens to own or have access to assault type weapons, rifles and hand guns. There is no rational reason for there to be access to multi-bullet clips for automatic weapons. Once these concepts of common sense bans has sunk into the minds of Americans, the government needs to ratchet up the background examinations of all people wishing to be a gun owner, including hunting guns. There needs to be complete and accurate checks for mental stability and criminal histories. If it takes weeks, even months to perform these checks, Americans simply need to plan ahead accordingly.

Denying Americans the “right” to own or possess assault weapons is not denial of their rights as a citizen of the United States. It is common sense for a world that is completely different from the world our framers of the Constitution lived in. The Constitution is a fluid instrument. It has to be or our society would cease to exist. We are not a society of hunters and gatherers anymore, and the Constitution or framework has to change to accommodate this modernization.

I don’t look at the issue of gun control as having to be partisan. Gun control laws are for the protection of all Americans and it is not right for one political faction or lobby group to hold sway over this protection. It requires a free debate free from the shackles of the NRA and others. I hope in the wake of the Tuscon tragedy, Congress can reinstate nothing less than a return to the automatic weapons ban which expired in 2004. Even tighter controls would be better but I’ll take what we can get for now. Thanks for today’s read and I look forward to your comments.

THE WISDOM OF INCREASING THE DEBT LIMIT

January 5, 2011

It looks as if for the eighth time in the past thirty some years, Congress and the White House to make the decision to increase the amount allowed of the national debt. In nearly every time the debt limit was increased, many members of Congress voted against it. This has always been a vote to make themselves appear to be fiscally responsible to the voters at home. In reality, they make the negative vote only after they are assured the legislation will pass. Heck, even President Obama in 2006 voted against it while serving in the Senate. He will also tell you he did it only after knowing it was going to pass. He cast his negative vote to “show how serious he is” to cut the debt and deficits.

This time around, there are many new members of Congress elected under the Tea-Bagger banner. These people campaigned on 30 second sound bytes and bumper sticker politics. I would say not even one of these new conservative members has any clue at all of what it takes to responsibly govern the country. Governance is not as simple as throwing out 30 second attacks or obstructing the business of the government. When Speaker Boehner takes these empty-headed idiots under his wing to try to teach them the ways of governance, hopefully, some of them will see the light.

The new members not withstanding, are also a part of a little larger group of legislators who believe taking care of this problem is as simple as their campaign sound bytes, “no taxes and smaller government”. In a brief look at contemporary American history, you will find the size of the federal government always grows under republican leadership. You will also find that in two of the three most recent republican White Houses, taxes were cut and the economy went into free-fall tanking mode. Under both Reagan and W, the middle class shrunk, unemployment sky rocketed, and the deficit exploded! The GNP shrunk precipitously under both administrations. So, as the current bunch of republican members of Congress pine for those days to return, they are in for a rude awakening!

If this bunch in Congress today wants to vote down the debt limit increase, they will not only bear the wrath of the American citizens, but they will also be responsible to the entire globe for the collapse of the world’s economy. It’s just this simple, if the debt limit is not raised, and we are about 400 billion dollars from that limit, we default on our debt, and full faith and credit in the United States will be destroyed. As the global economic leader, if our credit his ruined and our economy tanks, so does the world’s economy. This is what these members of Congress don’t understand. They can’t look past their own “nationalistic rhetoric” and see what the consequences will be. They are, in effect, “unpatriotic”. They intend to put their own agenda, once again, ahead of the health and well-being of their own country!

Most members of Congress understand the country’s economy is in a serious mess. It is, in fact so serious, that these short-sighted “quick-fixes” won’t work. The fact of the matter is, in the eight weeks or so until Congress has to vote on increasing the debt limit, there simply is not time to implement programs to address the rising debt. We all know that the top priority for long-term repair is a complete overhaul and re-write of the tax codes. Simply stated, in my opinion, a shorter and easier book of tax codes needs to be done. I believe lower taxes for Americans can be achieved by simply writing a graduated tax scale, lower for those in the lower and middle class, then ratchet up the rate as the income levels increase. This will still result in lower taxes for the wealthy because all loop holes need to be closed, and enforcement of tax payment needs to happen. Business and corporate tax rates can also be reduced simply by closing all money and income hiding loop holes and severely penalizing entities and/or individuals who try hiding earned income in off shore banks. If a person or business earns money in this country, they must pay taxes on every cent of it! Pretty simple, right? It’s time to eliminate blanket “tax cuts” for businesses and individuals earning over a certain dollar amount of annual income or profit. It’s already been proven for many years tax cuts to spur business doesn’t work. The only result has been a few individuals adding those tax saved dollars to their own bottom line nets. They don’t expand their businesses nor do they hire additional staff. It’s joke and a sham what K Street, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Fox News, and the republican party have done to flim-flam the American public. The real incentive for businesses to help make them competitive in the global market place is tax credits for performance. In other words, do the job, and earn the tax breaks. Completely transparent and 100% accountable!

Now this group of conservatives in Congress wants to repeal the health care reform bill passed last year. Another indication that they have no regard for even their own constituency. Americans like the health care reform and do not wish to have it repealed. Try telling a cancer patient they can’t switch insurance coverage because of their “pre-existing condition”. Secondly, the Congressional Budget Office(CBO) scored the health care reform bill as a deficit reducer to the tune of 100 billion dollars the first decade and over a trillion dollars in the second decade. So, tell me again the republicans are serious about tackling the deficit!

Another indication the Congress is not serious about tackling the deficit. They just black-mailed the President into extending the Bush tax cuts. Here are the consequences of this move, the rich get richer, the middle class gets squeezed more, and almost a trillion more dollars gets added to the deficit. So, tell me again the republicans are serious about tackling the deficit!

Until the executive and legislative branches decide the idea to cut spending needs to be focussed first on the biggest most fraudulent abuser of American tax dollars, the Pentagon, serious spending cuts can’t be accomplished. The Pentagon flushes over 700 billion dollars annually for what. There is no accounting. When was the last time the Defense budget was subject to audit? I can’t remember. Don’t forget what President Eisenhower said on his leave from office; “be wary of the military-industrial complex”. What he meant was this, do not give the Pentagon a blank check, which Congress and the White House do every year, and be mindful and account for all defense ties to the private sector, i.e. the continuing non-compete contracts Haliburton gets from DOD. Because there is no accounting or auditing going on in Pentagon matters, the DOD is jammed full of fraudulent expenditures. Why not start here? Because the “flag waving” by politicians blinds them from reality.

No, it’s easier for them, particularly the conservatives, to attack the entitlement programs. Social Security, Medicare, and aid to states such as Medicaid programs are easier marks. With the conservative mood in the country today, it’s so easy for the republicans to vilify Social Security and Medicare as being “fraud-filled welfare programs”, that only serve to keep people out of the work force and pay for their own medical insurance. Social Security is a promise to Americans from Americans to take care of the aged and ailing who have no other means. It’s a social contract. Medicare was started as way to help Americans deal with rising medical care costs and the inability to afford private health insurance coverage. Ony the right-wing can vilify such noble and humane programs. Is there waste in Medicare? Certainly. Let’s got after the medical industry and insurance industry, the root cause of all of the short-coming of Medicare.

Okay, so I’ve laid out the wisdom and reason for raising the debt limit. Hopefully it makes sense to even the most conservative of my readers. I have also laid out the common sense ways to start turning the economy around while pointing out the problems with the other side of the issue. This is not going to be easy, the pressures from special interest groups, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Wall Street, K Street, labor, and even the SCOTUS will throw out road blocks as quickly as they can. It is, a “me first” society, and therefore the portions of the society which have made huge gains will stop at nothing to prevent anything from impeding their progress to more personal power and wealth. It’s going to take a great deal of courage and intestinal fortitude for this new Congress and White House to avoid these pressures and get on with the business of governing and moving the country ahead for all, not just the few. Thanks for today’s read and I look forward to your comments.
Cam Obert


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