Monday, July 30, 2012

The latest "third rail" of politics - Gun Control

Gun control. A taboo subject, apparently on both sides of the political spectrum. Republicans won't hear of it. And Democrats are afraid to mention it. Let me get this out of the way right off the bat... I'm for it.

That's right folks; I'm one of those lily-livered pinko commies who want to take your guns away. And guess what? I still believe in the second amendment. Problem is, nobody every seems to take the time to READ the second amendment:

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Republicans conveniently ignore the first four words. Democrats simply ignore the issue because of the baggage & political risk that comes with it. Yet it hangs like an albatross around the neck of our "supposedly" civil society.

Yes, of course I'm bringing this issue up in light of the tragedy in Aurora, CO. And I recognize that a very disturbed individual pulled the trigger, more than 70 times. The guns didn't fire all by themselves. And while nothing we say or do regarding access to guns will bring back those who were lost on that tragic day, or heal the wounds, both mental and physical; of the survivors.

But we desperately need to have a conversation in this country about gun control. Smart gun control. Effective gun control. Gun control that still maintains the rights guaranteed by the second amendment.

So why don't we start there - Let's take a closer look at the second amendment...

Our founding fathers, the architects of our Constitution were very wise wordsmiths. The wording of our Constitution was very specific, as was the wording of the bill of rights. And I find it quite telling that they chose "A well regulated militia" as the first four words of the second amendment. I don't think this placement was by chance. They felt those words were important to the meaning of the amendment.

They weren't indicating that citizens could own as many guns as they wanted, with whatever destructive power that entailed. Why would they have qualified it if this was the case? No, they were indicating, in my opinion, that such possession of arms were to be in the context of a citizen's militia, much like the militias that came together to defeat the British in the Revolutionary War. That context is really the only way the wording makes sense.

Likewise, the words "being necessary to the security of a free State" were chosen very specifically. Many have postulated that this was an indication that the founding fathers wanted us to be able to defend ourselves, not only against civilian threats to our safety; but against our own government, if preserving our freedom necessitated such action. And personally, I'm in agreement with that interpretation.

So if those of you who want to defend gun ownership at all costs are arguing for that aspect of this freedom, hey, I'm right there with you - Let's storm the Bastille. Preferably starting with Congress. But that's not really what the "don't take my damn guns away" fringe is all about, is it? No, I'm afraid those folks just like the idea of owning any damn gun they want, the more the firepower, the better.

And that I just can't get behind. I simply can't interpret the second amendment to say "I should be able to have enough firepower to slaughter an entire village." I just can't get there.

And it certainly can't be about hunting. I mean really, do you seriously need a clip that holds 100 rounds to kill Bambi. Are you really that bad of a shot? Maybe you should try another hobby. Just sayin'.

For me, the bottom line is this... We need to put measures in place so that a tragedy such as the one that occurred in Aurora is much less likely to happen. And like it or not, gun control has to be part of that equation. Sensible gun control. And we need it right now.

There are 88 guns per every 100 people in America today. Our closest competition, when it comes to civilian arsenals, is Yemen at 54 per 100 citizens. The likes of Serbia and Iraq are in the top 10 as well on this statistic. We're not keeping very good company, if you ask me.

Something needs to change. And it needs to start now, before more innocent Americans pay the price for our nation's inaction on this important issue.

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About Damn Time!

I've been on the sidelines for WAY too long. And there's nobody to blame but me. Laziness, other priorities, simply not making the time... Whatever the reason, it's time I got back in the game again.

I have plenty to say, and I'm gonna take the time to say it.

We face serious problems in this country, and the upcoming elections this fall will have a huge impact on whether this country that I love will successfully weather the storm that is on our very doorstep.

But those elections are just the tip of the iceberg. The long-term future of America as we know it hangs in the balance. Politically, Financially, Socially, Diplomatically, Militarily, you name it. Every aspect of what makes America the country that it is, and has been; are in serious jeopardy right now. And the solutions to our problems involve more than just who we pick to walk the halls of power in November.

Time to step up to the plate...

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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Gerald R. Ford: A good man steering our nation through some truly bad times.

President Ford had been labeled "exceptional" and "extraordinary" for many reasons. The shortest tenure of any President in the twentieth century. The only man to assume both the Vice Presidency and Presidency without being elected. The only President ever to pardon the man who put him into office. The list goes on. And yet in my book, these are not the most important reasons that this humble, unassuming man was so exceptional. These are merely the circumstances that helped to bring out the greatness in our 38th President.

Three decades ago, after being sworn in as President after the resignation of President Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford made what I’m sure was an excruciatingly difficult decision, issuing a full pardon to his predecessor. This single act would forever define Mr. Ford’s Presidency, for good or for ill (depending on who you ask). Ford’s critics have suggested that this was not only a mistake, but was part of a deal that was made when Ford was chosen to replace Agnew as V.P. Ford’s defenders have stated that the pardon was necessary to help heal the rift in our nation, and allow us to ""move on".

I’m glad that this was the act that defined Ford’s Presidency. Because this one decision showed Mr. Ford for the good man and great leader that he was. This single act showed not only his compassion, but his courage as well. At the time he made this decision, Ford stood truly alone, making a choice he knew would be terribly unpopular, yet still the right thing to do. He showed us that the measure of a man goes well beyond what he can accomplish in good times, but what fortitude and integrity he can show when faced with overwhelming challenges.

As our nation mourns the passing of this former President, I hope that we will take to heart the lessons of his leadership.

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas, one and all.

It occurs to me, as we approach this Holiday, that much of what Christmas means to most Americans revolves around children. Whether that be the enduring symbolism of the Christ child, or the countless parents being reunited with their grown children and young grandchildren during the holidays, or all the things that we all do to make this season special for the children in our lives. It’s all about the children. As it ever was, I'm glad to say, so it remains.

And it got me to thinking about my own children, as well as the children and grandchildren of my loved ones, near and far. I pondered the legacy, as well as the world we will leave to them and their descendants.

It seems to me that I’ve spent a great deal of time on my blog talking about the ills of the world that we live in, and the evils that we endure. In the context of the future that we bequeath to the next generations, it’s apparent to me that thus far, we as a society have not done such a good job of securing the future for our posterity.

So my hope for this blessed season, and the coming years ahead, is that we as a nation, and as a world, pursue a path that ensures peace and prosperity for generations to come. That perhaps, just perhaps, we can mold a future worthy of those that will continue long after we pass beyond the fragile limits of this physical world. And that our children, and our children’s children, will continue to pass that torch to future generations, and strive to make the world even better for the generations yet to come.

And to those that I love, past, present, and future... I wish for you nothing less than a very peaceful and blessed Christmas, and a bright, prosperous, and healthy New Year.

God Bless.


Thursday, December 21, 2006

It appears that bigotry is back in vogue these days.

In one of my previous posts, I discussed the all-too-typical response by the holier-than-thou righties regarding the first Muslim member of Congress using the Koran in his swearing-in ceremony. The likes of Dennis Prager warned of the evils of "multiculturalist activism", and the fact that the act "undermines American civilization."

Now we have a member of Congress spewing his version of good old red-blooded American bigotry regarding the same subject.

Rep. Virgil Goode mass mailed a letter stating HE was going to have a Bible in HIS hand when he took the oath of office. The Republican from Virginia (how did I know he was from the south?) further suggested that unless everyone adopts HIS position on immigration, there would be "many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran.". Oh my GOD!!!!! What will we do??? How dare these Muslims presume to have the same rights as every other American!! What is this world coming to??

Mr. Goode further warned that we need to limit legal immigration of Muslims if we want to "preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped." A Native American with the ID "Bearpaw" had a great comment on a discussion board regarding Rep. Goode's comment:

"Clearly things would've been so much simpler if my ancestors hadn't set a bad precedent when they helped the Pilgrims live through the winter. If we'd only known that our resources would've been swamped ..."

Darn that multiculturalism! It's downright un-American!

I remember that we used to have another term for that evil "multiculturalism" in our country. We called it "the great melting pot", and time was, it wasn't such a bad thing. Apparently though, we've since de-evolved into a less tolerant, more bigoted nation. Sad.

Yes indeed, "Bring us your poor, your tired, your huddled masses..." Just as long as they're white, Christian, English-speaking sheeple of European descent.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The trolls ruined it for everyone.

Due to a sudden surge in hit-and-run, unsolicited, unrelated comment entries to the blog, I have turned "Moderate comments" on in the blog settings.

I apologize to the non-trolls out there for any inconvenience. As I said, they ruined it for everyone.

I'll try to get your comments posted on a timely basis.

Thanks for your patience, and thanks for reading the blog.



Monday, December 04, 2006

Shall we change the Constitution to read: “We the Christians”?

I don’t think so. And neither did the founding fathers.

Yet now we have the all-too-typical hypocritical “conservative Christians” (an oxymoron) coming out of the woodwork, foaming at the mouth, full of fake outrage, all over a Muslim Congressman-elect, who has the audacity to NOT be a hypocrite regarding his own faith.

Keith Ellison, the Democrat Congressman-to-be from Minnesota, and a Muslim, has stated that he plans on placing his hand on the Koran, rather than the Christian Bible, when he takes his oath of office. Being that he’s a Muslim, I certainly wouldn’t expect anything different. As a matter of fact, I’d be quite surprised if he chose to use the Bible instead. This is a man who apparently is trying to be true to his faith – a commendable trait amongst our leaders, don’t you think?

Yet there are some who claim the moniker “Christian”, who can’t seem to grasp the integrity behind this simple act. Last week, a friend forwarded an email to me from a group called the “American Family Association” (spare me), calling for Congress to make it the law of the land that elected officials must take their oath of office swearing on the Christian Bible. Here’s an excerpt from the email, quoting the infamous Dennis Prager:

“Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to the United States Congress, has announced that he will not take his oath of office on the Bible, but on the bible of Islam, the Koran.

He should not be allowed to do so -- not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization.

First, it is an act of hubris that perfectly exemplifies multiculturalist activism -- my culture trumps America's culture. What Ellison and his Muslim and leftist supporters are saying is that it is of no consequence what America holds as its holiest book; all that matters is what any individual holds to be his holiest book.

Forgive me, but America should not give a hoot what Keith Ellison's favorite book is. Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, America is interested in only one book, the Bible. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don't serve in Congress. In your personal life, we will fight for your right to prefer any other book. We will even fight for your right to publish cartoons mocking our Bible. But, Mr. Ellison, America, not you, decides on what book its public servants take their oath.”

I pointed out to my religious friend that as much as some on the Christian right would like it to be otherwise, we have a separation of church & state in our country, and rightly so. I also noted that orthodox Islam considered Christ on the same spiritual level as their own prophet, Muhammad; while those in the “conservative Christian” movement are not nearly as tolerant of the Islamic faith, even though Christ always preached tolerance. I further pointed out that the radical wing of Islam has given the rest of that faith a bad name, but that doesn’t mean that the radical wing of Christianity should do the same to our faith.

She responded that this issue wasn’t about tolerance. Huh?? Then what the hell is it about? She also argued that we were founded on “Judeo-Christian morals and law”. Yes, with a specific separation of church and state – um, what’s your point? She then made the comment that this was about “truth”. Nope your argument is about faith. And that Christ “would want us to stand up for truth in love. But love doesn't mean allowing others to create their own truth and forcing it upon others and that is what is happening.” Bingo! That is exactly what is happening. Problem is, she didn’t realize that this is exactly what the “conservative Christians” are doing – forcing their “truth” upon others.

I responded that bottom line, this is constitutional issue, not a religious one, and that constitutionally speaking, Mr. Ellison is in the right. As a matter of fact, the issue of the separation of church and state is more clearly delineated in the section regarding taking an oath of office than probably any other section of the constitution.

From Article VI:

“The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

That pretty much puts the nails in the coffin of the "conservative Christians' " ridiculous argument. There is little ambiguity here. If this issue were ever brought up before the U.S. Supreme Court, Mr. Ellison would win the case. Period. I’ll go even further… It would be a unanimous decision, even with the current conservative-leaning court.

Now I suppose the conservatives could push to change the constitution to require that the Bible be used in swearing-in ceremonies. I doubt that they would be successful. But if they were, I’m sure it would be touted as a great day for “conservative Christianity”. Perhaps. But in my humble opinion, it would truly be a sad day in the history of our republic.

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Monday, November 27, 2006

We’re in this thing, so what the heck do we do now?

I’ll freely admit, I’ve spent entirely too much time hashing over why and how we got into this mess we find ourselves in in Iraq. I’ve laid blame, I’ve pointed fingers, and I’ve gotten personal. And the entire time, with all my ranting and raving, posturing and postulating, I’ve offered no solutions, no ideas on how to get us out of this pickle. And that’s not like me. I’ve spent my professional life coming up with innovative solutions to complex problems, being the “idea guy” when a customer needs a fix for the dilemma he finds himself in. And while peace in the region certainly can’t be equated to increasing production, or reducing costs, I’d like to think I could offer something more meaningful than what I’ve thus far put forward.

The first obvious question: Do we stay, or do we go? And this is certainly a difficult one to answer. On the one hand, you have the concern that a departure of U.S. forces would lead to a collapse of the fragile Iraqi government, MORE sectarian violence, and MORE instability in the region. On the other hand, you have the argument that the U.S. presence, in and of itself, contributes to the escalating violence; that we’ve done all we really can do to set the people of Iraq on their way, and that our personnel have become little more than live target practice for terrorist elements within the country. On this issue, I have to lean towards a withdrawal of U.S. forces from the country. I do believe we’ve done all that we can from a military point of view. Now is the time for helping to build a future for the Iraqi people. Our efforts now should focus on them developing their own security and infrastructure.

The next question: When and how? Well, I don’t believe in a sudden, massive withdrawal of our troops. This process needs to be phased, and it needs to be orderly. As for a timetable… I know many have said that if we give a fixed date, it will just allow the terrorist elements to “wait us out”. Hogwash. Not if we do it right. But for argument’s sake, fine, let’s keep the timetable internal, not for public consumption. Our government will be aware of it, and Iraqi leadership will be aware of it, everyone else can wait and see. But whether or not you publicize it, before you execute a plan, you have to have a plan. My suggestion would be a reduction of 50% of the existing U.S. forces within a year, and the balance gradually over five years. During that period we have to insist on the Iraqis building up their own security forces, cause in five years guys, you’re on your own. Want your country back? Then act like it.

Another important question: How do we end the sectarian violence? Is there a political or diplomatic solution to this, rather than a military one? These people have been fighting amongst themselves for generations. It’s foolish to believe that they will put aside their differences, religious, ethnic, and culturally, overnight. Could a divided Iraq still be a united Iraq? Is it worth considering the option of three separate, but equal Iraqi states? Setting up a two-house legislature within the country similar to the U.S. model. One house has equal representation; the other has representation based upon population. I’m tossing this one out there, as I’m sure others have already done. Could this be a way to keep the peace, and prevent Iraq from tearing itself asunder?

And finally, the overall question of stability within the region: Whatever we do in Iraq, the broader theme of peace within the region remains. Wiser men than I have said, “the road to peace in the Middle East goes through Jerusalem, not Baghdad. Truer words have never been spoken. Until we find a solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, stability within this part of the world will elude us. Let’s face it, we in the West created this problem in the first place (no, not the overall Jewish-Arab rift, the real estate problem); we ought to help come up with a solution. The Israelis are making some encouraging gestures as we speak, perhaps this will be the start of something concrete and lasting.

Stability in this region is more than just a high ideal or noble cause. It may very well mean our very survival as a species. Everyone is afraid of a nuclear Middle East. News flash folks… We HAVE a nuclear Middle East. Whether declared or not, it seems highly unlikely that both Israel and Saudi Arabia are not part of the nuclear club. And we know that Pakistan and India are members of that club, although perhaps not officially “in” the Middle East, they both play significant roles in the region. Then there’s Russia, China, and the U.S., all with vital (and competing) interests in the region. That’s quite a radioactive cocktail we’ve got there. Straight up, if you please. We can’t afford to have this one shaken or stirred.

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