March 27, 2017

John Paul Stevens writes an Op-Ed for the NY Times: Repeal the Second Amendment.

“In 2008, the Supreme Court overturned Chief Justice Burger’s and others’ long-settled understanding of the Second Amendment’s limited reach by ruling, in District of Columbia v. Heller, that there was an individual right to bear arms. I was among the four dissenters.

That decision — which I remain convinced was wrong and certainly was debatable — has provided the N.R.A. with a propaganda weapon of immense power. Overturning that decision via a constitutional amendment to get rid of the Second Amendment would be simple and would do more to weaken the N.R.A.’s ability to stymie legislative debate and block constructive gun control legislation than any other available option.”

I agree with all of this but, “would be simple…”  Even though it is potentially possible to get to a 2/3 of Congress voting to amend the constitution somewhere in the future, there is no foreseeable time where 3/4 of the states, or state ratifying conventions would vote positively for any such change to the constitution.  Doesn’t mean this should not be a goal.

I do believe that Democrats should start flooding the zone with candidates proposing anything from altering the second amendment to abolishment of the second amendment.  I would prefer those people to be primaried out, but who knows, maybe someone like that could get elected and be a voice in Congress.  I do believe liberal donors, superpacs, thinktanks, etc.,  should start selecting active cases to attempt to push any case to the Supreme Court that might force a revisiting of that awful decision in the 2008 District of Columbia v Heller.  The case in which the NRA won it’s long fought battle of semantics to have “a well regulated militia,” and, “the people,” come to mean “any single person, with little if any regulation.”

All of this is good and reasonable but it entirely misses the crux of the problem.

The problem is money.  It’s always been money.  It will always be money.

Citizens United v the FEC, granted that corporations are, in effect, people…and thereby may spend all the money they like to support candidates or political causes.

“The reason for this exponential leap in political spending, if you talk to most Democrats or read most news reports, comes down to two words: Citizens United. The term is shorthand for a Supreme Court decision that gave corporations much of the same right to political speech as individuals have, thus removing virtually any restriction on corporate money in politics. The oft-repeated narrative of 2012 goes like this: Citizens United unleashed a torrent of money from businesses and the multimillionaires who run them, and as a result we are now seeing the corporate takeover of American politics.”

I noted in my short review of the 2018 Omnibus spending package, the GOP has stealthily written into law more ways by which they can get their hands on some righteous corporate cash, and also less ways the government can do anything to stop them.  Until we stop this flow of money into politics, we will continue to have potential candidates who will say anything to get the money, and do anything to keep their seat to get more money.

This has to be stopped.  Nothing will change until this is stopped.  Our Congressional representatives are only going to become more despicable until this is stopped.  Corporations will only have greater power over our government until this is stopped.  The legislation our government produces shall increasingly reflect and represent the desires and needs of corporations until this is stopped.

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If the Supreme Court is incapable of reason, Congress needs to be self-policing in Campaign finance regulations and continual donor-class access to both them and the legislative process.  There is nothing more important than Democratic hopefuls running on this issue.  No one is talking about it and honestly it’s the only thing that matters.

Corporate money run amok is how we wind up with the useful idiot Trump.  It’s why we have Congresspeople that more closely resemble deranged Fox News talking heads than a politician.  It’s how an insider/operator like Nancy Pelosi becomes indispensable.

From this time forward, all hopeful Democratic candidates must have this as a basic pillar of political ideology and the keystone of their platform.  Nothing will change until this happens.  Nothing.

THEN, we can get back to a greatly diminished NRA.

IF we can’t abolish the Second Amendment, alter the damn thing to be highly regulated.  I would rather abolish it and send it to the states to do as they please within reason:

  1. 21.  Yes 21.
  2. All firearms must be licensed, registered biannually, and insured.
  3. proof of education for proper storage, handling, and maintenance of weapons.
  4. Universal background check.
  5. Federal laws for the continual ownership and legal responsibility of gun owners and resellers.
  6. No fucking weapons of war.

March 14, 2018

The US House of Representatives, in response to recent mass shootings, passes the “STOP school violence act of 2018.”  It was passed overwhelmingly in the House 407-10 and was applauded by the NRA as a great step…a great step to not reducing the ready availability of guns and it potentially sets-up the groundwork for new acts to arming school staff, thereby increasing gun sales.

“The measure would not allow any of the funding to be used for arming teachers or other school personnel. The White House said the bill would be improved by lifting that restriction.”

It is not clear if and when the Senate will look at the House’s legislation as they are currently working on their own version.

If you were expecting the House of Reps to roll up their sleeves and get down to some serious legislating, you’re going to be terribly disappointed.  They didn’t actually even write any legislation.  the “STOP school violence act of 2018” isn’t new legislation at all.  It’s four thin pages of incredibly tiny amendments of the 1968 “Crime Control and Safe Streets Act,” a real piece of legislation that is 193 pages long.

All this legislation does is change the name of 1968 act and amend verbiage in like 10 places to include really crucial shit like this:

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The one single substantive change was amending the portion where the government would set aside matching funds for all states up to $50 million per year total, instead of the original $30 million written into the 1968 bill.  That portion appeared to have expired in 2009 after many other amendments had been made to this bill through the years.

In other words, the House of Representatives did nothing.  Nothing.  Nothing except encourage the NRA that there is space for further legislation that will really sweeten the pot for them.

******************************************************

My submission for a Newsweek headline:

March Comes in Like a Lying Trump, and Goes Out Like a Lamb!

Conor Lamb Wins in Congressional District PA 18!

Pretty good, huh?

What did I learn?

  1. Don’t send Trump to do his cult pep-rally shtick.  He’s not going to help Republican hopefuls.  The only relevant thing he said in over an hour of babbling, was a couple lines purposefully inserted to cover his own ass later on:
    “I won this district by 20 points.””Look at all of those red hats Rick.””This guy should win easily.”
  2. Republicans would do well to tout the make-believe, positive economic effects of Republican tax reform and hammer home that improved wages are right around the corner.  In the same fashion, stay on economics and the whole “fighting for the blue collar worker” narrative.  Stay away from toxic Trump issues and highlight working with Congress and any reasonable policies that might come out of the White House.
  3. There ain’t nothing wrong with running a first-timer with no political record to argue against.  Lamb was often noncommittal and wishy-washy and that worked great.
  4. There’s no reason to be on the anti-Pelosi train unless you actually mean it.  Personally, I’d like all of the old times out of Congress.  ALL OF ‘EM.  That being said, if no one is going to actually deal with the real problem, which they won’t, it really doesn’t do Democrats any good to shit on their best inside operative.  Until big money and lobbyists are removed from the process, the interests of congresspeople are always going to be at odds with the populace they are supposedly representing.
  5. Let’s call the anti-Pelosi narrative what it actually is, “The new bitch to replace the old bitch- Hillary Clinton,” narrative.  It’s ridiculous to me how easily the Democrats have ceded the right to Republicans to place that moniker on Pelosi.

 

February 28, 2018

Trump once again attacks Jeffrey Beauregard “Southern Belle” Sessions III on twitter:

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Why Trump, whom is supposedly the “President,” takes his grievances to twitter instead of acting like the “President,” is clearly because he still has no idea how to be a “President.”  He doesn’t understand that the Inspector General has the authority to investigate and recommend charges, he doesn’t understand that the DOJ is not a firing line acting as judge and jury, and, as always, he would rather create a public narrative than actually do anything a “President” might be inclined to do.

Sessions responded in the court of public opinion:

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While he may be a detestable human being, Sessions isn’t an idiot:  “So fire me.”  Trump isn’t going to fire Sessions.  The only action we can certainly count on in this administration is doing nothing.  Sometimes, less than nothing.

The public continues to be wound up over the goings on in the White House.  A couple weeks ago it was the abusers; this week it’s the security clearance issues.  The administration is going to do nothing about it.  Nothing.  They’ll just coast to the next scandal and we’ll forget all about it.  We’re all keen on making this a John Kelly soap opera.  Dude’s not going to do anything.  Kushner isn’t going to do anything.  Trump isn’t going to do anything.   Once the drama is on the back burner, the administration will keep acting in exactly the way they are.

What few things have been done by this administration, lies in what they have un-done.  How we are not safer.  How we are not united.  How we are not world leaders.  How we are no longer taken seriously.  We are made into the buffoons of Trump’s creation.  Hopeless, hapless, and incredibly stupid.

Today Trump had a round-table with congressional leaders discussing what can be done about our mass murder epidemic.  Trump was as clueless and vacuously stupid as ever with all the same one liners that he uses regardless of situation.  We’ll create legislation that few would ever believe to be possible in such a short period of time.  It’s going to be tremendous and fabulous and….

HARDER BETTER FASTER STRONGER

 

If you were listening closely to the Congressional leaders, you would have heard what shall be done to address the situation.

Nothing.

The clear GOP position was- more guns.  “The only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”  You can write that down right now, stick it in a fucking envelope, and address it to “the next victim, Anywhere USA,” because if anything...anything, that’s all we’re getting.

You know how long the NRA has been championing the “good guy with a gun” mantra?

2012

Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president and CEO of the National Rifle Association, on Friday called on school officials to immediately come up with a plan to place armed security in every school in America.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Would you rather have your 911 call bring a good guy with a gun from a mile away or a minute away?” he asked.

One week ago, 26 people were gunned down – 20 of them children – when 20-year-old Adam Lanza went on a shooting spree inside Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Then, he took his own life.

Despite the FBI’s own report in 2014 that “the good guy” thing isn’t true at all.

“U.S. companies have manufactured more than 70 million firearms since 2008, rapidly escalating the production of pistols and the types of rifles used in recent mass shootings, government and industry data show.

In 2016, the latest year for which data is available, production spiked as firearms companies built roughly 11 million guns, in part due to a belief that Democrats would win elections that year and curb access to semiautomatic weapons such as the AR-15 rifle.

https://www.denverpost.com/2018/02/23/how-many-guns-are-there/

Despite the fact that States with more guns see more accidental deaths from firearms, and children ages 5 to 14 are 11 times more likely to be killed with a gun in the US compared to other developed countries, where gun ownership is much less common.

How is it that the NRA decides ANY of our national policies for us.  How is it possible that Congresspeople will tell you right up front, “Nah, the NRA won’t agree to that”?  WTF is this?

Who benefits from more guns being sold?

 

More guns equals greater probability of someone getting shot…even from a teacher’s gun.  Today:

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/teacher-in-custody-after-reports-of-gunfire-at-georgia-high-school/ar-BBJHGpJ?OCID=ansmsnnews11

Trump at CPAC

Trump in the loving arms of the delusional cult members of the GOP, revisits and relives all of his greatest hits from the campaign trail over a year ago as well as some of the newer hit singles developed while tweeting from the White House.

  1. Lock her up.
  2. Crooked Hillary.
  3. Lying, fake-news media.
  4. Build the wall.
  5. Beautiful, clean coal.
  6. Job-killing Paris climate accord.
  7. Companies are pouring back into this country.
  8. Proudly stand for the National Anthem (USA USA USA!)
  9. Make schools a hardened target.
  10. Arm teachers.  MORE GUNS!

 

What can you say?  What is this?  How does it even make sense to go back to the “Crooked Hillary” thing when the guy that started the whole fucking chant for the Trump campaign plead guilty to lying to the FBI…when people involved in Trump’s campaign at that time have plead guilty or are facing multiple charges?  How does that rationally even make sense?

The cult is EATING. THIS. SHIT. UP.  All of these lies, misrepresentations, and distortions are the best thing ever.  Never heard such a joyous crowd as they chant “LOCK HER UP” “BUILD THE WALL.”  WTF is going on?  What is going on.

The dude is literally standing on national television spinning the fact that an armed guard was not able or willing to defend children at a highschool, therefore “talented” teachers that love their children would be better emotionally equipped and properly invested to have a shootout with a deranged killer in the school hallways.  He really said that.  I’m not making that shit up.  That’s exactly what he said.

“And the teacher would have shot the hell out of him before he knew it.”

<CHEERS>

The reason an armed kook was able to shoot and kill multiple people on a fucking military base was because the active military couldn’t get all of their weapons quickly enough.

Ya think the NRA worked over talking points with the twitterer-in-chief?

Trump used his little snake poem once again.  Last time he used it during the campaign to malign Hillary Clinton, this time he read it again to imply immigrants are venomous, devious serpents.

 

Pathetic.  Awful.

 

November 6, 2017

“I think that Mental health is the problem here.  This was a very, based on preliminary reports, a very deranged individual, a lot of problems over a long period of time.  We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries, but this isn’t a guns situation, I mean we could go into it, but it’s a little bit soon to go into it.  Fortunately someone else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction, otherwise it wouldn’t have been as bad as it was it would have been much worse.  But this is a mental health problem at the highest level level.  It’s a very very sad event, these are great people and a very very sad event, but that’s the way I view it. Thank you.”

The twitterer-in-chief has spoken.  It’s a mental health issue, see?  Just like in other countries…you know, other countries where tons of people with mental health issues go on leisurely killing sprees.  Oh, they don’t?  Why is that?  Well…we should deal with the over-abundance of guns..by having more guns.  That’s the only thing that is effective, right?  Right?

https://www.yahoo.com/news/texas-massacre-state-apos-attorney-112422029.html

Crazy, topsy-turvy world my friends.

Trump has spoken.  That’s the way he “views it,” end of story.  It’s not the time to discuss guns and that time shall never arise.  It is a mental health problem: our nation’s mental health.

It would be easy to point to the legislation Obama pushed through in the twilight of his Presidency to make it impossible for the mentally unfit to purchase firearms.  This was struck down by Congress and Trump before it was set to go into effect in December of this year.  However, the legislation itself was not to make it impossible for those with mental issues to purchase handguns, as incorrectly presented by armchair gun right activists.  That was legislation to give to the Social Security Administration the power to strip someone’s rights to own a gun if they’ve already been declared to be receiving disability benefits for a mental impairment that keeps them from working, and “use a representative payee to help manage their benefits.”  This is a rather circuitous way to get at the matter and would have only affected a swath of people in the system.  It may have seemed pleasing in it’s logic (we giveth-we taketh away), but it was fundamentally flawed.  It oversteps a person’s constitutional right to due process.  Defenders of this repeal are quick to point out there are already laws, properly adjudicated, that remove a person’s right to own a gun.  So with them, we can agree that there are such laws that should be enforced.

This argument that removing Obama’s law isn’t the same as making it easier for crazy people to get guns, is…crazy.  Of course it makes it easier.  An entire group of people couldn’t get guns AT ALL, removing that obstacle certainly makes it easier.  I, however, agree with the premise that this law would have been unconstitutional.

Let me also say it doesn’t appear to be an issue with this Administration to trash “due process” as represented by their leader time and time again.  Whether it’s by threatening to jail his political opponents or submit his renderings to trials that haven’t even happened or demand certain investigations take place.  It has also been this administrations stance to trash “equal protection” rights very recently, by demanding an imprisoned foreigner cannot have an abortion…so, so much for principal.  That’s neither here nor there.

What we do agree on is the mentally unfit shouldn’t have firearms.

To legally drive a car, we need to:

  1. Pass a competency test.
  2. Register the car with the state.
  3. Provide ongoing insurance for the car.
  4. have the car regularly inspected.

Now, cars can possibly be used as weapons.  Weapons on the other hand, are well….weapons.  Explicitly.  The only thing they do is kill.  (target practice dudes, you get a pass).  How is it what is deemed as an arguably necessary instrument, in the form of the car, receives so much more consideration than that which is not at all necessary except in a ideological, constitutionally afforded sense?  All you need to own a gun in many instances is cash.  That’s it.

We can agree the insane shouldn’t have guns, right?  Do we agree it shouldn’t be infinitely more “relatively” costly and time consuming to own a car than a gun?  I submit the exact same standards should be employed when purchasing and maintaining a gun as those demanded of transportation ownership and usage.

To leave the competency test to whether an individual has previously shown up in court for mental issues, is laughably and woefully inadequate.  Anyone that feels the need to own a gun should have a test just the same as if they were desiring of owning and operating a car.  We don’t judge someone’s insanity after they commit a crime and deem that sufficient to halt the crime in the first place, except in only as a remedy for future action.

Right now I’m thinking of the book “Catch-22,” and it’s basic premise.  You can’t get in the army if you’re crazy, but you have to be crazy to want to kill someone. : )

Gun ownership should require at least the same standards as automobile ownership.  That’s where we should start.  Not in tiny teeny little steps that the NRA will fight all the way.  If you want a gun, you should be responsible for it.

Then, let’s revisit that second amendment and clarify what the founders intended.  They never intended this madness, the gun lobby just decided and paid to make sure it was a constitutional right to commit mass murder.