Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

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Political Monday – Guns, Driving and Our Rights

January 28, 2013

freecopyofusconstitutionI posted a couple of years ago something regarding gun ownership and the Second Amendment(click here to read). Here are some follow on thoughts:

OK, I admit it, the NRA is right, guns do not kill people, people kill people. Of course, you might at well say cars do not cause road fatalities, people cause road fatalities and accept that as true too. Let’s do that, let’s accept they are equally true and treat them as equals. Here are some of the points being considered recently on just how we make them equal:

You want to drive a car, you have to pass a written test. 
    How about passing a written test to own a gun? 
You want to drive a car, you have to pass a driving proficiency 
road test. 
    How about passing a shooting proficiency shooting range test?
You want to drive a car, you have to carry liability insurance.
    How about carrying liability insurance to use a gun?
You want to drive a car, you follow the rules of the road.
    How about setting the same sort of rule structure for responsible 
    gun ownership?
You want to drive anything other than a basic car, you must have 
a special license, CDL & motorcycle, for example.
    How about having special licenses for specialized weapons 
    like assault rifles?

We all know driving and gun ownership are not the same thing. Cars and guns serve very different purposes in our lives, but both carry risks and both enjoy some level of legal protection. Wile the right to drive is one of our unenumerated rights, gun ownership is written directly into our Constitution.

In fact, the Supreme Court decided gun ownership is a fundamental right, but that does not mean there are no rules regarding guns. After all, we do not treat

1920s Machinegun Ad

1920s machine-gun Ad

owning a Thomson sub-machine gun the same as owning a Remington Model 870 Wingmaster. There was a time when they were treated the same. Hell, back then you could buy the Thompson as easy as you could a BB-gun. It was decided that allowing automatic weapons in the general population was simply too dangerous, so we modified our fundamental right to own a gun with some rules.

That is not to say you cannot own machine gun now, you can. All you have to do is obtain the pertinent federal license and follow the special rules that come with owning a weapon like a machine gun. In other words, to exorcise the fundamental right to own a machine gun, you must exorcise the fundamental responsibilities that come with it.

Regulating driving a car aids in safe driving and promotes another fundamental right – to live. Regulating gun ownership is no different on that point. We recognize the differences between driving an 18-wheel semi tractor-trailer and a Toyota Prius by having regulations for each. All I ask is for gun ownership to be treated the same way. Does anyone really think owning weapons capable of killing dozens of fellow citizens in a minute is any less dangerous than a Tommy-gun?

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7th Grader mimics Nature

April 30, 2012

Came across this today, it is simply amazing and just goes to show the importance of making sure science  programs keep a predominant place in schools.  The more we interest students in science, the better off we all will be.

7th Grader mimics Nature.

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Political Monday – Rep. West: McCarthy 2.0

April 16, 2012

Rep. Allan West

Last week, Florida Representative Allen West, a Republican, stated the Democratic Party has as many as 81 card-carrying communists among its ranks.  It is not hard to believe Joseph McCarthy must be his personal idol and hero.  Rather than simply berate the good Representative for such an ignorant remark, it better serves us to look into his statement and its underlying attempt to instill hysteria in the Florida electorate.  Then, we can berate him.

Normally, I do not give a damn about politics in Florida.  I mean, after all, no one from Florida represents me in government.  In this case, an exception is made as the repugnant message Rep. West puts forward is toxic and proves him to be one of the bad apples threatening the whole bunch.

First, for the particulars of the comment, Rep. West attended a “Town Hall” meeting in Palm City, Florida on April 10, 2012.[i] Rep. West was asked this direct question:

Moderator: “What percentage of the American legislature do you think are card-carrying Marxists or International Socialist?”

Rep. West:    “It’s a good question. I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party who are members of the Communist Party. It’s called the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “

Let that sink in a minute.  A member of the House of Representative called a good number of his colleagues communists.  Specifically, his statement implies that any member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus is a communist.  While we may be able to overlook the incorrect subject-verb selection and miss-naming the Democratic Party within his reply, we cannot overlook his declaration that any member of the CPC is a communist.  It smacks of McCarthyism.  In other words, the good Representative is all too willing to make stupid remarks and prove himself to be little more than a dotter-headed jackass.

OK, it was one remark made off the cuff; all that needs to be done is to clarify it someway, then move on.  That seems straight-forward enough, but Rep. West is incapable of admitting a mistake so his spokeswoman, Angela Melvin, followed with this nice little jewel:

“The Congressman was referring to the 76 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC). The Communist Party has publicly referred to the Progressive Caucus as its allies. The Progressive Caucus speaks for itself. These individuals certainly aren’t proponents of free markets or individual economic freedom[ii].”

Using the same logic, everyone must accept Rep. West (who happens to be African-American) is a white-supremacist.  I mean, he supports the Tea Party while Stormfront.org, a white-supremacist group, claims the Tea Party is their ally[iii].  The same logic Rep. West applies to the CPC means he, as well as every other Tea Party supporter, are white-supremacists.

That sort of corrupt logic is why I think Representative Allen West of Florida is a jackass of the first order.  For instance, one day he calls Democrats fascists[iv], a few days later he calls Democratic caucus members communists[v].  He should at least make up his mind on which way he wants to go as the two ideologies are far from the same thing. It is just another example of Rep. West making inflammatory remarks he must know are not true.  It illustrates that Rep. West is what is worst in politics.

It is all political theater designed to inflame the passions of his constituents.  That is the very action he attributes to Democrats. This is ironic as it shows his tactics are akin to the Big Lie theory he wrongly attributes to Democrats[vi].  It shows Rep. West, just like Senator McCarthy in the 1950s, will go to any length to get his way.  He will lie, distort, and mislead.  It seems in his mind, the end does justify the means.  Sadly, both his conclusions, as well as the tactics he employs, do not hold with the ideals of liberty and justice the United States of America was founded upon.  In his mind, it is “better think like me, lock-step, or pay the price.”

Then there is the issue with him equating progressivism with communism.  I guess it is the social conscience and desire for change that is the basis for doing that.  Of course, it ignores the history and positive changes members of the Progressive Movement have achieved.  Some of their more noteworthy supporters include Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, Woodrow Wilson, Howard Taft, Thomas Edison, the Mayo Brothers (of Mayo Clinic fame), John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford, Booker T. Washington, Louis Brandies and many more.  Not bad company to say the least.  If you start a caucus, you could do a lot worse than modeling it after the thoughts of such great thinkers.

I guess the best thing to remember is politicians talk about and name-call their opponents when they lack ideas of their own to put forward.  They (Rep. West in this case) hope the public will not notice their lack of ideas by creating a dust storm to surround others in the race.  It is like they want you to vote against their challenger rather than for them.  The question becomes just how much longer the good people of Florida’s 22nd District are willing to put up with this buffoon.


[i] Doherty, Daniel. “Allen West: 78-81 Democrats in Congress Are Communists.” Townhall.com. 11 Apr. 2012. Web. 15 Apr. 2012.  <http://townhall.com/tipsheet/danieldoherty/2012/04/11/allen_west_7881_democrats_in_the_american_legislature_are_secret_communists>.

[ii] Bendery, Jennifer. “Allen West: I’ve ‘Heard’ 80 House Democrats Are Communist Party Members.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 04 Nov. 2012. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/11/allen-west-democrats-communist-party_n_1417279.html>.

[iii] Burghart, Devin, and Leonard Zeskind. “Tea Parties – Racism, Anti-Semitism and the Militia Impulse.” Irehr.org. The Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights, 19 Oct. 2010. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. <http://www.irehr.org/issue-areas/tea-party-nationalism/the-report/tea-parties-racism-anti-semitism-and-the-militia-impulse>.

[iv] Sohn, Darren S. “Allen West: Goebbels Would Be Proud of Democrats Read More: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1211/70521.html#ixzz1s7AvDL37.&#8221; politio.com. POLITICO, LLC, 15 Dec. 2011. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. <http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1211/70521.html>.

[v] Ibid. i.

[vi] Ibid. iii.

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Illegal immigration – It is a Question of Why

April 9, 2012

Steel barrier wall near Mariposa by Mtamez

Nationally, we (the citizens of the United States) have a short attention span.  We get worked up over an issue, pick the side, beat the drum for a while, only to have our attention switch to a new subject and start all over again.  Such is the case with illegal immigration.

Every few years, the issue of what to do about unauthorized people being in the United States becomes a hot-button issue that generates all sorts of activity, on both sides.  The problem is nothing is ever resolved.  It is as if both side (for and against) set up their armor, charge each other like the devil was on them, take their best shot, then retreat until the dust settles.  It is as if they are two knights staged for a joust.  They make their run, absorb the blow, then re-stage and wait for another lance.  They fell like something has been done but rarely do they unseat the opponent, leaving it for the audience to decide who won in subtle shades of grey.

While the issue is waning, it is a good time to look at the particular issues that make up the topic and see if we can work on a solution rather than shout rhetoric.  A logical place to start is what to call it.  Do we define people is the United States without permission as illegal immigrants, illegal aliens, people here illegally, undocumented workers, or any other of the terms used.  It makes a difference, as each side of the argument wants to use terms that promote their particular view.  Basically, they are people who are here and should not be.  If you want to define it with greater precision, you have to answer the question of why they are here in the first place.

We, the citizens of the United States, tend to lump all people this topic covers in one group, having one mindset.  This is a mistake.  We need to get to the root of why people choose to come here and not follow the rules of how to come here legally.  To that end, we need to ask people not following the rules, why they are here.   Even without a formal study, the more obvious reasons are pretty well understood:

  • To earn money for their family, then return home.
  • To move to the United States permanently.
  • To escape persecution of some sort.
  • To have children is the United States, making the children citizens.

While the list is not definitive or based on a study, it covers the basic reasons we hear as the jousting opponents bandy back and forth.  In the end, it really just shows that people have many reasons for coming here.  If we wish to end the problems, of both sides of the argument, we need to understand the motivations of people coming here without following the rules and address each one.

Take for instance, the issue of coming here to send money home.   This is sort of the classic model of the “illegal immigrant.”  I’m not sure how accurate it is, but it is an issue so let’s deal with it.  What are the issues regarding this sort of person.  On the “it’s OK for them to do this” side” it is said:

  • They do work no one else will do, unskilled labor and such.
  • They add to the local economy through paying sales tax.
  • It is the humane thing to do.
  • They are not hurting anyone.

Like with any subject, there is the other side, in this case the “it’s not OK for them to do this” side.  Their points include:

  • They take jobs away from citizens.
  • They are a drain on local and federal economies but using services without paying for them.
  • It is inhumane to allow them to be abused and underpaid.
  • They bring crime with them.

Rather than add to the endless debate on each point on both sides, it better serves us to analyze solutions that solve the issues.  Of course, each side wishes to reduce the issue to its simplest terms but that tends to place people in extreme camps that have no common ground.  The truth is there is much ground that is common. For instance:

  • Neither side wants crime.
  • Neither side wants to he inhumane.
  • Neither side wants to hurt the economy.
  • Both sides want jobs to be filled.

Ok, so if there is so much both sides can agree on, why is this so hard to fix?  The answer is special interest groups.  Special interest groups have a narrow field of view so their solution to problems is all or nothing, leaving no room for compromise.   We hare statements like “We do not need new laws, we need to enforce the laws we have,” or “We need to protect the border and keep them out,” or even, “it is a human right to live and work where you want to.”   While these saying get the attention of the media, they do nothing to address the issues at hand.  More puzzling is why special interest groups seem to be trying to hold things at the status quo.

That answer depends on the special interest group; one group that wants to keep things as they are is the companies purposely hiring people not legally entitled to work in the United States.   By hiring such people, these companies increase their profits by breaking minimum wage and tax withholding laws.  Not to mention the conditions these workers endure, such as extremely long hours without overtime pay and inhumane working conditions.

What we need to solve the problem of people coming here to work and send money home is a guest worker program.  Everyone knows it but it is the last thing the companies that hire illegally want.  Such a program can easily address every point of the argument, both for and against.  For instance:

  • It will limit jobs to ones not filled by citizens and registered residents.
  • It will force employers to be fair and follow the law.
  • It will enhance the local and federal economies.
  • It will allow for screening of people entering the country.

The big surprise is such a program exists in the United States.   It just needs to be modified to address the issue of migratory workers.   In the end, such a program provides a ready workforce to fill unskilled labor jobs employers have a hard time filling.  It protects the unskilled workforce from abuse.  It allows us to protect our borders.  It takes away a primary reason people are in the country illegally.

In the interest of fairness, I am sure some people out there do not agree with this approach.  Rather than argue with me, why not gather your thoughts and present a counter proposal for consideration.  Even if you feel I am absolutely wrong, I am still betting we can find point is common and begin to address and fix some of the problems we face.   This has become an elephant of an issue, much too large to eat in one bite.  Let’s begin to nibble away at it and make some progress.  If we wait until we find the perfect solution, we will never make any progress at all.

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Right Brain – Left Brain?

March 23, 2012

Left Brain/Right Brain Test

I have been told I am a smart man.  I remember in grade-school being given some test and it being “suggested” to my parents that they put me in a school that could challenge me.  I am very grateful they did not follow this advice.  School was very boring to me and I never studied, in hindsight that may not be such a bad thing.  I received good grades even without applying myself, as was pointed out to me time and time again.  I received some bad grades too, but that was due to my lack of caring to even try.

Now that is not to say I did not study, I studied and read all the time.  It was just on things that held my interest and not what someone else thought I should be working on, of course this led to problems.  I never could take the easy path.  I use to love reading the encyclopedia.  I do miss having a large gilded-edged set at my disposal.  Something is lost not having them around.

I have been asked often if I was a right brain or left brain person.  Right-brain people tend to be dreamers and artistically creative.  Left-brainers are technically astute and able to take on monumental tasks and get them done.  Given my nature, I sought to left-brain the matter and study the issue.  To that end, I have taken many tests to answer the question.

Both!  I use both ides of my brain equally well. Of course I know a few people that would say I don’t use my brain at all but that is another essay.  I am told that people are mostly one or the other but a rare few of us have a holistic method of thought.  The question is why, why is that so?  I have my mother to thank for it.  All those years ago had I been carted off to some school, I am sure I would be a left-brained, burned-out genius that was of little use to anyone. As it is, Mom took the time make sure I was exposed to all kinds of mental stimulation.  I can see both poetry and mathematics with equal value.  If fact, I see a sort of poetry in mathematics and sure see mathematics in poetry.

The interesting thing is I have met a few other people that are “both-brained,” and we do have one thing in common for sure – exposure to science and the arts at an early age.  Think of someone like Leonardo da Vinci, he mastered both.  It is my feeling that he would have not master either without both playing an important role in his early life.

We tend to think of life in terms of right and wrong, black and white with no gray.  Or right and left to put in terms more suited to the topic.  Absolutes in life are rare, hardly anything is 100% one way or the other.  We live in the gray. God gave us a brain, not half a brain, we need to use it all – right and left!  In the end, what would art be without science?  What would science be without art?  I do not know that answer but I do know it sure would be one boring world.

Have you a right-brain or a left-brain, it matters not.  What is important is to keep in mind a whole-bran requires both artistic and scientific input.  It requires and education in both.  It is something to think about for sure when the local school board seeks to cut funding for arts programs.

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The Murder of Trayvon Martin

March 22, 2012

Some events we read about in the news are hard to understand.  Other events seem to be stupidly obvious.  While the events that lead to the death of Trayvon Martin in Florida may seem to be in the former, I assure you, they fall firmly in the latter.

To understand the sad events that lead to this young man’s death, we need look no further than personal choice.  It is not the choices of Trayvon or the Martin family we need question.  No, it is the choices made by George Zimmerman that we must examine.  Further, it is choices of a police department that continues to bury its head in the sand and a state that passes laws that stand in the way of justice.

First let me deal with the issue of not looking at Trayvon’s actions.  This young man walked to the store, then tried to walked home.  How dare him!  He did not steal, he did not accost, he simple went to the store, bought some Skittles, and was walking home.  He made no questionable choice at all.  His life ended due to the choices of others.

George Zimmerman, on the other hand, made all sorts of questionable choices.  The most obvious being:

  1. He chose to be part of a neighborhood watch program that is neither organized nor registered by the local police.  Makes me wonder if he was really part of a group at all.
  2. He chose to arm himself with a concealed weapon while on Neighborhood Watch.
  3. He chose to follow Trayvon, both in his car and on foot.  In other words, Zimmerman created the situation that lead to Trayvon’s death.
  4. He though being African-American made Trayvon “suspicious.”
  5. He ignored the police dispatcher’s instructions not to follow Trayvon.
  6. He confronted Trayvon; neighborhood watch is a “watch and report” organization.
  7. He shot and killed an unarmed teenaged young man that he outweighed by about 100 pounds.

There are many more bad choices George Zimmerman made but how many do we need to see before we understand the bigoted truth of his nature?

The state government, as well as the Stanford Police Department have choices they need to answer for too.  For the state, the choice to pass their “no retreat” law, which seems to be the basis for Zimmerman’s limp defense, needs to be questioned.   At the very least they need to explain why this young man’s death can be justified by such a law.  Of course, the truth of it is they cannot, their simply is no justification.  What is the claim, he was justified because Trayvon was armed with a dangerous pack of Skittles?  He was carried Skittles for crying out loud!  Just how dangerous could he have possibly been?

As for the Stanford police Department, it is their choices before and after the killing of Trayvon that need review.  Here are just a few of their questionable choices:

  1. They took Zimmerman’s word rather than properly investigate.  They failed to take into account prior reports by neighbors about Zimmerman’s aggressive behavior.
  2. They coerced witnesses to change their account of events.
  3. They allowed an investigator with a history of ignoring violence against African-Americans to lead the investigation.
  4. They did not test Zimmerman for drugs or alcohol after the shooting.
  5. They failed to take into account Zimmerman called 911 over 40 times since January of 2011.

There are many more for the police department too, but again, how many do we need to see before we understand they failed to properly handle this case?

This is not a pleasant topic.  It is not something I wish to write about.  Still, it must be written about.  It must be addressed.  What is my discomfort compared to the loss the Martin family is dealing with?  What is your discomfort in me forcing you to think about it?

We may not be able to lessen that loss but we can see they receive justice for a son being taken from them.  Look, let me stop all the niceties and be bunt, in my opinion Zimmerman executed this young man and he must account for it.  As sad as this is, the actions of the police department’s failure to see this for that it is, a murder, further plunges the family into despair.  It further violates them.   Florida has laws that allowed this moron to carry a concealed weapon, then claim self-defense.  He used that weapon to murder.  It was his choice to do so.  Let us choose to make him pay for it.  The police department chose not to do their jobs; they should pay for that too.

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It really is a World Wide Web

March 13, 2012

I was just checking the statistics for my website. Since the beginning of the year my blog page has been visited 2,373 time from 34 different countries from all the continents, except for Antarctica of course. It really does show the ability of the web to disseminate information around the world. No wonder governments feel the need to control it, they recognize it power, power they can’t control.

Sort of hard to think I can write something, and a hour later it is being read by people in Indonesia.

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