Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Guns and Responsibility

An email that is making the rounds get me annoyed. Another one of my pet peeves:
The topic was gun ownership which is certainly a constitutional right but.
The email was off the cahrts to defend the right to bear arms. One reason given was that an armed citizenry prevented the Japanese from invading the US in WWII. Another staement was that the murders committed by Stalin, Hitler and Mao and their armies would have been prevented if it wasn't for gun control lawsthat they passed. Pretty funny and pathetic stuff. Good arguments can and should be made but saying stupid things to fill space just turns people off.
The main problem is – like other social issues – everyone involved is extreme. One side wants complete unilateral disarmament and the other wants the right to have any kind of weapon and an unencumbered sales market.

If only bad guys having them that is obviously not good but neither is arming every meatball who has a few bucks. A middle ground would be that you can have any kind of non-automatic weapon you want. The But: It has to be registered and traceable. The owner is completely responsible for it. Forever. If it is used to commit any crime, the owner is guilty. No excuse; not “I lost it”; not “it was stolen”. Responsible people can have them but they have to be responsible.

The NRA has the worst press office since McCain. They should be including things that people can agree with. They should be campaigning for really tough penalties for the bad guys. Much tougher than they want now. Even in a “tough” state like NY, the dopey football player who shot himself while carrying an unregistered gun in a public place is only liable for 2 years max and he might skate anyway. Armed Robbery doesn’t get much more and it gets dealt away in plea deals.
Their argument against background checks, waiting periods and keeping records is really weak. Known wackos shouldn’t have them, nobody needs one immediately, and records are part of the cost.
There are also reasonable limits. No one needs an assault weapon, a bazooka or like military ordinance.


The 100 day mark was an opportunity for the media to grade President Obama. Not surprisingly, they continued in their cheerleader roles and gave him universally good grades. The interesting part of the grades was that many of them were admittedly commenting on his media presence rather than on his policies. The ability to use the Presidential office as a pulpit is certainly an important part of the job. There is also no doubt that President Obama is good at it - even using Joe Biden’s minimalist criteria of being “clean and well spoken”.
Unfortunately for the future of the United States , it is the policies that count. President Obama is doing exactly what he said he would during the campaign. No one listened to him in the anti-Bush mania but Obama is re-distributing wealth and nationalizing industry. After firing the CEO of a GM and turning over Chrysler to the UAW, he is forcing the banks to nationalize. His administration is refusing to allow them to even begin to pay back the bailout money. They have established the “Stress Test” which will force the banks to convert the preferred stock the Gov’t now owns to voting common stock. The result will be that Congress will be in charge of the Banks. These are the same people who ran Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into the ground and caused this situation in the first place. The only question now is which well run government agency (?) will form the model for how the banks should be operated.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Political crimes

Whether their specific opinions were correct or not, the idea of an administration determining that the policies of a prior administration are subject to criminal penalties is a major issue. Such action will have a significant impact on the actions of any future administration. All politicians have their own view of the best course of action. Elected officials should not have to worry that their opinions will become crimes because of a shift of a few votes in the next election.

The specific legal basis of whether these prisoners were covered by the Geneva Convention is open to discussion. The prior Administration solicited legal opinions and acted upon them. People from all points of the political spectrum can cite policies and legal opinions that they believe should be declared “illegal”. In the past, Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus and Roosevelt’s interment policies were directed at US citizens as so were much more significant to the national principles. They took these actions (right or wrong) based upon their determination of the best interests of the Country.

Subjecting prior policies to prosecution is something that happens in the third world when there is a coup. The proper judgment of an administration’s policies is the next election.

Monday, April 13, 2009


A recent editorial about Energy policy manages to get the facts right and miss the point. It quotes President Obama as “determined to force utilities to reduce carbon emissions by making fossil fuels more efficient”. It misses the part about this being a tax. When the government purposely makes a commodity cost more, that is a tax. It is a tax on everyone and everything: the middle class, those earning over $250,000, people out of work, anyone that uses any electricity, anyone that buys anything that is made using electricity, or drives a car. The editorial looks to LIPA to make a choice as to how to keep costs down in the face of this energy tax and complains that there is no plan. The point is to oppose this tax. The proper response is to identify that this is a tax and inform people of the results of this ill considered energy initiative.
This would be a little less onerous if there were an immediately available alternative. But there is not. When will every power plant in the country be powered by a renewable source? When will everyone have a hybrid car or a windmill in every back yard except if it blocks Ted Kennedy’s view? With no viable alternative, Congress and the President are purposely raising the price of everything. Prices will rise, job creation will be adversely impacted and businesses will pass any increase on to their customers. The untaxed price of oil will come down as our demand lessens, so products from India and China (the world’s largest sources of pollution) will benefit. China and India will pollute even more, while all Americans get to pay more for everything. And how long will this situation last? The answer is that President Obama and this Congress do not care. They have an agenda and push it forward regardless of who is in the way. The reality is that the American public is in the way but they don’t care. If they are going to do this, it might be a better fit with economic conditions to reward those who meet standards rather than raising costs for everyone.