Monday, April 8, 2013

The First Thing We Have to Do BEFORE We Solve Our Problems - Job One

It sure does seem that it is near impossible for our dear country, the US, to address and solve its many problems; the deficit, unemployment, immigration, gun violence, the cost of health care, and so on, seem unsolvable when politics enters the picture.  The gridlock is worse than ever and seems to get only worse with time.

How do we get out of this cycle of governing from crisis to crisis, most of our own making?  The central problem is the system; our broken down democracy is barely democratic anymore.  Laws end up not being made based on the well being of the citizenry.

Many elections are decided by the money one candidate or another can attract, usually by "selling" their legislative votes to the wealthiest special interest donors, such as health care businesses, defense contractors, unions and so on.  Other elections are basically rigged by gerrymandered electoral districts; the election is over after the primary votes are counted - the victimized political party has no chance in the general election because of the gerrymandering.  Voter suppression is even making a comeback, typically targeting certain classes of voters and the net result of all these undemocratic practices is dysfunction.  What a shock!

We will NOT solve our deficit problem when legislators are beholding to large donors who may have not care about what is best for the country but instead what is best for themselves and have a disproportionate share of the wealth with which to pursue their selfish interests.  Exactly how does one determine the point when a donation is no different than a bribe?
The solutions are simple and cheap.  There should be very low limits for campaign contributions, such as $100 or $200, depending on the level of the election, and it must apply to people and corporations.  Furthermore, if a candidate obtains a certain level of low donation support, they can qualify for public campaign financing, and be able to compete with the Romneys, Bloomburgs, Bushes, Obamas and Clintons of the world financially.

Furthermore, Political Action Committees must no longer have a free ride; if they cannot be constitutionally eradicated then they must be held accountable for falsehoods, frauds and outright lies told in order to affect elections via fines, lawsuits and prison.  It is outrageous that almost any amount can be raised, anything can then be said, affecting any election, all without the slightest consequence for the most blatant lies and misleading statements that, after all, could change our nation's history for the worse!  Yes we have free speech, but fraud and libel are illegal; why is fraudulent political speech by non-candidates an exception?

Gerrymandering must be outlawed; it truly is no problem to devise objective methods of creating voting districts.  Computers could do it without regard to ethnicity, political affiliation, age or anything other than population and geography.  What is the problem?;

The Electoral College?  It must be amended so that the President is elected by popular vote.  Politicians are currently plotting to institute different electoral college schemes in different states that would favor one party over the other.  How could subverting true democracy be good for us?  The President must be elected by popular vote.

Filibuster? It has devolved into the Senate needing 60% in favor in order to pass a law; this is nowhere in the Constitution.  It must be ended.

Finally, term limits must be instituted at all levels of government; 8 years for executives, 12 years for lawmakers and 20 years for judges.  Public office must return to being a service, not a career.

Until we create a system that is truly democratic and makes political office a service and not a job to be bought and sold, we will solve nothing.  It is Job One.

Sunday, April 7, 2013


Ever since the massacre of children in Newton, Ct., the debate about what to do to limit future carnage has been raging.  It is truly amazing that even though there is wide consensus in some areas among Americans about what to do, there is almost no chance of anything being done.

Exactly what is the problem with background checks?  Some polls have indicated that up to 90% of Americans agree that all buyers of guns should undergo a background check.  Exactly how would we get a handle on preventing criminals, the mentally unstable or those who have orders of protection against them from obtaining guns without a background check?  Just because background checks are not yet perfected or instantaneous, it does not mean it should not be instituted.   Just because there will continue to be illegal guns sales does not mean that selling a gun to a person with a criminal record should be legal.  We cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good.  Those politicians who argue that background checks are too "onerous" to buyers are obviously not responding to their constituents but they are responding to gun lobbyists.

Besides, we can limit illegal gun sales with tougher laws against such illegal sales; if a person sells a gun illegally to someone else, and that buyer commits a crime with that gun, the seller should be held as an accomplice. If the buyer commits murder, the illegal gun seller should be charged as an accomplice to murder.

Other actions that could be taken include outlawing certain assault type weapons and large capacity magazines.  These are NOT weapons that are used by hunters and sportsman; there is little or no evidence of their successful use in real-life self-defense situations.  

In testimony before Congress "Independent" Women's Forum's Gayle Trotter testified that assault weapons should not be outlawed because they were the "weapon of choice" for young mothers who need a "scary-looking gun."  She later appeared on MSNBC, and when asked, she was unable to supply even one instance where an assault weapon was used to deter a crime by a woman or any other person.

Here is a video of that appearance:

Did an assault weapons ban work to reduce crime the first time it was instituted?  The answer here is difficult to quantify, though the evidence seems clear it was reducing gun crime somewhat. The problem with the original ban is that there were exemptions and the fact that large capacity magazines (LCMs) were then becoming popular offsetting some of the gains made by outlawing assault weapons.  If both assault weapons and LCMs were regulated, perhaps the effect would be profound.  Here is a link to three well known studies on the subject: and also .

The Second  Amendment is no defense against regulating guns; regulating guns has long been considered constitutional.  But does anyone seriously argue that no weapon is too dangerous for your neighbor to own?  The arguments against prohibiting criminals and the mentally unstable from legally purchasing guns are ludicrous and there is little or no evidence that assault weapons or large capacity magazines are a factor in personal self-defense or in sporting or hunting.  What is left to argue for are the profits of gun manufacturers and their paid lobbyists.

For this we must let the carnage continue?