Politics Archive

Thursday, January 17, 2013

NRA President Unwittingly Supports Gun Ban

Gun ControlI've written previously about gun control in the entry, Thoughts on Gun Control. I looked at the stats I could find of people killed by gun violence, and concluded that there's just not enough evidence to support outright gun bans, but that I wasn't opposed to gun control laws. Since then, I've come across some articles that have given me reason to think more about the issue, but I still can't call myself informed enough to have a strong opinion. However, I do recognize that there's a problem with gun violence in this country. The gun homicide rate in the U.S. is 10-20 times higher than other industrialized nations, depending on how you define them (source - Politifact). Something needs to be done.

So the other day, I was listening to NPR, and Melissa Block was interviewing David Keene, president of the National Rifle Association. The interview can be found online at NRA Head: Registry Of Gun Owners Would Be Very Dangerous. She brought up several methods of gun control, and Keene dismissed them all as ineffective. Regarding restrictions on high capacity magazines, Keene said the following.

It sounds like a good idea. The fact is that it doesn't make very much difference. It takes anybody who's familiar with any of these firearms maybe a second to change the magazine. They're also very difficult to restrict. There are millions of them out there. They cost virtually nothing to produce. There are no serial numbers on them.

Here was Keene's response to background checks on ammunition sales.

So you know, when you talk about regulations, and when you talk about laws to get citizens to do one thing or the other, you have to ask yourself, what would that accomplish? Would that prevent this kind of shooting? And there's no reason to believe that it would, so why would you do it?

About 2/3 of the way through the interview, Keen said this.

Well, the fact of the matter is that unless you're talking about the confiscation and elimination of firearms, none of these things are going to make much difference. They haven't made much of a difference elsewhere, and they aren't going to make much difference here.

We live in a country that is so far out of line with the rest of the industrialized world in terms of gun violence, and the head of the premier gun organization in the country says that the only thing that can be done to reduce that violence is to eliminate all firearms in the country. What message does he want me to take away from that?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

War on Christmas 2012

Santa in the CrosshairsThe Christmas season is upon us, which means it's time for us Scrooges to ramp up the war. To tell the truth, after skimming through some of my older entries, I don't have anything new to add. The 'War on Christmas' is a bit silly, considering how Christmas has been treated in this country in the past. The Puritans even outlawed it's celebration (see the first link below). Personally, I'm going to decorate the house, put up a tree, give presents, and just about every other tradition associated with this time of year other than go to church.

Some of the Christmas entries I've written in the past are pretty good. I especially recommend the first three below for information content, and the fourth if you want to support a good cause.

My previous War on Christmas posts:

And of course, other people have created very interesting content in regards to Christmas and the 'war' upon it. Most of the links below are humorous, but the first is a serious look at the Salvation Army, and one more reason why I have trouble supporting that organization despite the good they do in other areas. Though as I wrote previously, if the only way you'd donate at all is by dropping pocket change into the Salvation Army's kettles, then do it. I don't donate to them personally, but I compensate by donating more to other charities.

Related Links to Other Sites:

And to continue with what is now a tradition on this blog, here is a YouTube video of Tim Minchin singing his Christmas song, White Wine in the Sun. And if you missed my previous entry, Buy White Wine in the Sun, Support Autism Society, then let me repeat that if you go and buy the song this month, the proceeds will go to supporting the National Autistic Society.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Good Commentary on the Fiscal Cliff

MoneyA while back, I wrote a blog entry, Debt Ceiling - Frustration With Politics, detailing my frustration with the way Democrats and Republicans were approaching the debt ceiling debate. Of course, the solution they reached then was to punt on the problem until the end of the year, which is now fast approaching. Last night on NPR, I heard a commentary from Robert Reich on this issue that made a lot of sense , 'Cliff' fix should include triggers. To quote Reich:

We've got two big economic challenges ahead: getting the economy back on track, and getting the budget deficit under control.

The problem is, the two require opposite strategies. We get the economy back on track by boosting demand through low taxes and continued government spending. We get the budget deficit under control by raising taxes and reducing government spending.

He went on to discuss the problems of a large deficit, but also the dangers of austerity and plunging back into another recession. He had a proposed solution, that if not quite realistic, wasn't bad. Go read the article to see what he had to say.

Updated 2012-11-15: Rewrote introductory paragraph.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Response to Article on U.N. Arms Trade Treaty

UN Flag LogoOnce again, I got an e-mail forward that I couldn't help but respond to. This one simply copy-and-pasted an article from Conservative Daily, RE: Election Is Over And The U.N. No Longer Quiet - correction. For those interested, my response is below. I've edited the links a bit to make them more blog friendly (i.e. giving descriptions instead of just the URL).

To give a flavor of the article, here are the two opening paragraphs.

Obama is back in business with the U.N. as they work on implementing the Small Arms Treaty that will eliminate our Second Amendment rights.

The U.N. laid low until after the presidential election because any news about Obama supporting an international gun treaty would have hurt his re-election chances. So, just as he tried to sweep Benghazi under the rug, and just like he asked contractors to ignore the WARN Act and hold off on giving layoff notices until after November 6th, he supposedly pressured United Nations committee members to keep quiet about the Small Arms Treaty until voting was over.

The article went on to discuss all of the dangers of the treaty, and how horrible Obama and the U.N. are. Here's one more paragraph as an example of the language used.

When Obama took office, he reversed the policy of the United States and began treaty negotiations with the U.N. Now that he doesn't have to worry about re-election, he is going to ram through his agenda. Taking away the rights of American gun owners and weakening America is part of that agenda. Governments will become more powerful and well armed, and citizens will see their right to own firearms disappear. It is Barack Obama's dream; the dream of a large state to take care of weakened masses

This article's a little over the top (well, more than a little after skimming through it again). Whether or not you agree with Obama's policies, I think everybody but the conspiracy nuts can agree that his intentions are good. He doesn't want to destroy America or hurt our citizens. He just has policy ideas that conservatives don't think will reach the goals he wants (for example, that the Affordable Care Act might not lower health care costs like he would like), or that conservatives don't necessarily agree with (e.g. that it's the government's responsibility to provide a strong social safety net for the less fortunate). But to claim that "weakening America is part of that [Obama's] agenda" or that "It is Barack Obama's dream; the dream of a large state to take care of weakened masses" is ludicrous.

Second, I couldn't find any mention of a U.N. Small Arms Treaty except on far right websites with articles similar to this one. I could only find an Arms Trade Treaty. That may seem like a small point, but it's indicative of sloppy research. It makes you wonder how well informed their opinions are when they can't even get the name of the treaty right. And seeing as how all the mentions I could find of a U.N. Small Arms Treaty come from far right groups, it makes you wonder if there's an echo chamber effect in what they're writing. i.e. Did the writers of this article ever go outside of far right groups to do research on the treaty, or are they merely repeating claims without looking into their veracity?

Assuming this is referring to the Arms Trade Treaty, there do appear to be legitimate concerns. The treaty is intended primarily to regulate international trade of firearms and help ensure that they don't get into the hands of human rights abusers, but the devil's in the details and we have to be sure that it's final implementation doesn't violate U.S. law. The Obama administration has already demanded provisions to keep this treaty from infringing on American's Second Amendment rights. Here are two relevant statements from the resolution:

  • Reaffirming the inherent right of all States to individual or collective self defence in accordance with Article 51 of the Charter...
  • Acknowledging also the right of States to regulate internal transfers of arms and national ownership, including through national constitutional protections on private ownership, exclusively within their territory...

And even assuming that the State Department allowed the final version of the treaty to somehow infringe upon our rights, and further that it ever managed to get passed by the Senate, there's still the Supreme Court to protect our rights. The Reid v. Covert case set the precedent that the Constitution supersedes any international agreements.

Here are a few sources for more information on the treaty and the U.S. position on it, as well as a link to information about the Reid v. Covert case.


Image Source: United Nations

Updated 2012-12-06 - Added excerpts from article to give examples of the type of language used.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

2012 Texas SBOE Election Results

TEA LogoWell, it's been a week since election day. I meant to get to this post sooner, but real life got in the way.

As I've said before, it's really no secret which political direction this part of Texas leans. If you're interested, here are the 2012 Election Results for Wichita County, Texas. In every race but one where a Republican ran, the Republican got the majority of the votes. The sole exception was Democratic incumbent, Barry Mahler, winning reelection for County Commissioner Precinct 3.

I wasn't particularly surprised by these results, but I was especially disappointed in the school board race. I wrote about the school board race before the election in the entry, 2012 Texas SBOE Elections, so you can see exactly why I'm so disappointed that Marty Rowley won. But what about the rest of the state? What does the makeup of the board look like now? Are we in for more shenanigans?

You can follow links from that previous entry to get more information on each of the new school board members, but here's a quick summary.

District Board Member Position
1 Martha Dominguez, D-El Paso Reasonable
2 Ruben Cortez, D-Brownsville Reasonable
3 Marisa Perez, D-San Antonio Reasonable
4 Lawrence Allen, D-Fresno Reasonable
5 Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio Extremist
6 Donna Bahorich, R-Houston Probably Extremist
7 David Bradley, R-Beaumont Extremist
8 Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands Extremist
9 Thomas Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant Reasonable
10 Tom Maynard, R-Florence Probably Extremist
11 Pat Hardy, R-Fort Worth Reasonable
12 Geraldine "Tincy" Miller, R-Dallas Reasonable
13 Mavis Knight, D-Dallas Reasonable
14 Sue Melton, R-Waco Reasonable
15 Marty Rowley, R-Amarillo Extremist

So, we have 9 reasonable members out of 15. That's enough to keep the extremist bloc from pulling the types of stunts they've pulled before. It's better than what it was a few years ago, but still disheartening that so many extremists can get elected.

More info: TFN Insider - Another Big Setback for the Far Right on Texas State Board of Education

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