Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Free Speech

The 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

A few months back Congress passed (and Obama signed into law) H.R. 347. On the surface this bill seems to be just a tweaking of previous bills. When we look a little closer, it just might be more than a little tweak. H.R. 347 makes it a Federal felony to protest anywhere the Secret Service might be protecting anyone. This includes things like Olympic events, the World Series and the Super Bowl. Of course it also includes places members of Congress are visiting, anywhere the President or Vice President are and the Supreme Court. This bill makes it far easier for the government to criminalize protest.

The people who believe they warrant protest, can now shield themselves from protestors because instead of a designated area for protestors, the exclusion zones have no natural or spatial boundaries, they can be as large as law enforcement chooses, and they can move based on the whim of those in charge.

While this bill isn't the death of Free Speech, it is most certainly an infringement by Congress. The Free Speech clause was never meant to insulate government officials from protest, in fact the exact opposite is true. The Free Speech clause was meant to protect the speech of those who would protest in front of our government officials.

There have been slow, incremental encroachments on this right since Title 18 was passed in 1971. This country has a history of protecting political protests, but that protection is slowly being eroded. this type of encroachment on our rights will never end until We The People stand up and use the power of our vote to put people in office that are dedicated to protecting and upholding our rights.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Are you better off?

When Ronald Reagen ran for President against Jimmy Carter in 1980 he asked Americans, "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"

Today, as I look back to the election of 2008 and the years since, I see an economy that is still sluggish and it can be argued that it is still in recession.

I look back at the Federal debt in November of 2008 and I am sickened at the spending that resulted in a national debt of nearly 10.6 Trillion dollars but I am absolutely horrified at the nearly $16 trillion in debt we have now. We have racked up nearly $1.4 trillion in debt each year since our last Presidential election.

In November 2008 the average price for a gallon of gasoline was $2.40. Today the average gasoline price is $3.702, $1.30 more than it was before our last Presidential election.

In November 2008 the unemployment rate was 6.5%, the highest rate in 14 years. The unemployment rate for last month was 8.3% but the story is even worse when you count those folks who have simply given up looking for work or who are underemployed.

Food is more expensive than it was nearly four years ago, I know, I work in retail and I see the price changes every single day.

When Reagen ran for reelection in 1984 he ran TV ads that asked, and answered the question he asked in 1980. The ads listed the ways we were better off than we were 4 years previous. Can Obama do the same? The answer to that  is no.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Gridlock? Or just irresponsible?

Congress has effectively stopped working on any meaningful legislation until after the November elections. There are looming deadlines ahead of Congress, decade old tax cuts that are about to expire, massive entitlement program crisis, budget and deficit issues including the fact that Congress has not passed a budget since the Obama administration took office.

Part of the job of government is to set budgets on a yearly basis. So why can't Congress do its job? The House has sent budget after budget to the Senate for approval and the Senate has not acted on any of them. The GOP and Democratic leadership blame each other for what they call gridlock.

Is it really gridlock that is stopping Congress from acting on important issues? Congress has passed legislation in the last few months including reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank program, extended sharply reduced rates for government-subsidized student loans, re-upped the Essential Air Service program that subsidizes airline service to rural communities; and voted against ending the 1705 loan-guarantee program that gave rise to green-tech boondoggles such as Solyndra and Abound. None of these were party-line votes—all enjoyed hearty support from both Democrats and Republicans.

We aren't seeing gridlock in Congress, we are seeing the abdication of responsibility, both sides blame the other instead of stepping up and leading. Washington knows we cannot continue to spend the way we are without serious repercussions in the near future and yet they continue to not address our runaway spending.

It's past time to start voting the incumbents out of Washington and give some new faces a chance to address the serious issues facing this country. In November, I won't be voting for any incumbents and our vote is the only thing that matters to those in Washington.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Another innocent dies in a no knock raid.

A Florida man has become the latest victim of a botched no knock raid by police. An innocent man was shot and killed in Lake County, Florida by police looking for a murder suspect. Awakened in the middle of the night by an unknown presence on his property, Andrew Scott answered his door while carrying a gun, police immediately and without warning, gunned him down.

This is far from the first incident of this type. Far to often the police show up at the wrong home in the middle of the night and break down doors looking for criminals that aren't there. Many times innocent people pay with their lives, sometimes police are injured or killed. This map shows incidents all over America where this has happened.

How many times do innocent people need to be injured or killed and property damaged before we stop this no knock nonsense? In this case, the police said they didn't announce their presence because they didn't want the suspect to escape. Simply surrounding the home wouldn't have prevented the suspects escape?

In cases of drug raids police contend that no knock raids are a necessity to prevent drug dealers from flushing the evidence down the toilet. Is the no knock raid worth it when you get the wrong address and shoot/kill an innocent person? What do you tell their families when that happens? Oops?

In nearly every case the victims and their families are not even awarded the decency of an apology. What happened to accepting responsibility for your mistakes and apologizing for them? Far to often our public officials think that kind of decency doesn't apply to them. Far to often the police use the excuse, "We were just doing our jobs." Well you damn sure weren't doing them good enough if you just shot/killed an innocent.

When does it end? When do we as citizens stand up and say enough is enough! We can make this an issue with our State, Local and Federal representatives with phone calls, email, snail mail and with our most potent tool of all, our votes. Until thousands of us do just that, innocents will continue to die needlessly in no knock raids.

In the case of Andrew Scott it took police an hour and a half to realize their mistake. Once they did, they found the real suspect in the building next door and arrested him without incident.

RIP Mr. Scott.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Gun bans, do they work?

Not long ago Australia passed new gun control laws that banned numerous guns including airguns. Over 640,000 weapons were turned in or obtained in buyback programs. The new gun control legislation was driven by several mass shootings in Australia. (Weapons can be obtained legally but you must be able to prove a need to own.)

What has happened since that time? Have the people in Australia become safer? Gun control advocates like to tell us that is what will happen if more gun control is passed. That is rarely the case though. In Australia armed robberies have risen 69%, assault with guns is up 28%, gun murders are up 19% and home invasions are up 21%.

What is wrong with this picture? Gun control advocates such as Sarah Brady, Sen. Charles Schumer and Rep. Diane Feinstien would have you believe this kind of increase in crime won't happen here if we have more gun control. If we look at our own history of concealed carry laws, when they were passed and the crime rates before and after the legislation, we see the exact opposite of what has happened in Australia. Crime has gone down in virtually every major area, murder, assault, rape, robbery, burglary and more.

I feel for the Australians, not only are they subjected to more violent crime than ever before, but they aren't likely to ever get back their freedom to own a firearm to defend themselves and their families ever again. Once freedoms are lost they are rarely regained. If they are regained, it is only at great cost. Australians are warning us to not let this happen here, will we listen and remain vigilant?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

War on women?

The Republicans are being accused of waging a war on women by limiting access to birth control, abortion care and cancer screenings.

As far as birth control is concerned, this is not just the responsibility of the woman, it is also the responsibility of men. I don’t care how poor you are, anyone can afford condoms. Why should the taxpayer have to fund Planned Parenthood when birth control is so readily available to anyone that chooses to use it?

Why should the taxpayer have to fund abortions? Many couples can’t have children of their own and would love to adopt a baby but the waiting list can be years long. Many of those couples would adopt more than one child if the opportunity was available.

I’ve heard all the arguments for abortion. What about rape/incest? I can understand if a woman truly can’t stand the thought of carrying a child to full term in those circumstances but is it really the child that needs killing in these instances? And understand that abortions because of rape/incest account for less than 5% of all abortions done in this country. I’ve heard the argument that the unborn child doesn’t constitute life yet. If it isn’t life, then how is it growing and developing? If it isn’t human then a DNA test would prove this beyond any doubt. I’ve heard the argument that it isn’t human life until it is viable outside the womb. If it isn’t human life then it doesn’t have human DNA right?

All of these things are nothing more than excuses to kill the most innocent humans of all, the unborn child and in 95% of all abortion cases it is nothing more than a form of birth control. I know, I know, it’s all about choice right? I agree, but not in the manner you think I do. Choices are made that lead to pregnancy, including the choice to have unprotected sex. Why is it that the taxpayer must pay for other people’s poor choices? If pregnancy isn’t wanted then having unprotected sex is certainly an irresponsible and poor choice.

We can put aside all the moral issues and look at our national budget. We absolutely must make cuts to our deficit spending. If we don’t, we face potentially catastrophic economic consequences when we default on our debt. To many politicians don't want to make the tough choices on budget cuts, and the cuts don’t go nearly far enough. Planned Parenthood is just one of a number of things we can cut from our budget and it doesn't mean anyone is waging war on women if we do.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Since the beginning of time when Man first started walking this earth there have only been two methods of solving disputes, discussion and force. In civilized countries we try to resolve our disputes with discussion and come to agreements that are mutual. In every country in the world there are those that would forgo discussion and attempt to use force to coerce others to do their will.

How do we stop this use of force? We could use our fists and feet, especially if we've had martial arts training. We could resort to crude weapons such as chains, various clubs, brass knuckles or even knives. The best weapon though is a firearm.

The firearm is the great equalizer. If I am carrying a firearm you cannot force me to do anything I am not in agreement with. Only a firearm puts a 70 year old person on equal footing with a 19 year old gang banger. Only a firearm puts a 100 lb woman on equal footing with a 200 lb rapist. Only a firearm puts a lone person on equal footing with a mob of unruly people.

When folks argue for gun control or the elimination of guns entirely what they are really arguing for is putting all of us law abiding folks at a disadvantage to those who would do us harm or take the things we've worked so hard for. These folks think that once all guns are removed from society that all will be well. These same folks disregard the fact that baseball bats, fists, feet, stones etc etc can (and are) used as lethal weapons.

None of those weapons are equally effective for everyone. The strong can take a club from the weak, the quick can injure the slow and infirm before they can react.

The gun is the only weapon that is equally effective for the proverbial 90 lb weakling as it is for the strong. The gun is the force equalizer that works equally well no matter who is wielding it. The gun levels the playing field for everyone.

I intend to get my concealed carry permit in the near future and when I have done so, I will carry a gun. I will not do so because I am in fear, I will do so to ensure that I am left alone to carry on my life as I see fit. I will do so to ensure that others cannot use force to take from me or my family or to coerce us to do their will.