Socialist Anti-Gun Vultures Swoop!

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We’ve all heard about the tragic and horrible killings at an elementary school in Connecticut carried out by a nutjob who also killed his mother, all the killings carried out using guns he stole from her. It turns out he’d actually tried to legally buy at least one gun prior to the event and was turned down by the appropriate authorities.

As predictably as the sun rising in the east, the “usual suspects” in the gun-banning crowd swoopno guns onto the still-warm corpses with opportunistic shrieks of glee at their good fortune in finding another excuse to try to somehow stop madmen from carrying out their deranged acts, evidently under the illusion that curtailing gun rights is a magic panacea for insanity.

Democrat Senators Joe Lieberman, Diane Feinstein, Chuckie Schumer (of course) and Dick Durbin, as well as New York Mayor Michael “Big Gulp” Bloomberg, have already taken the lead in exploiting this mess to advance their leftist/socialist agenda of banning guns, Feinstein vowing to introduce her same old, tired “assault weapon ban” yet again when the Senate reconvenes next year.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the fact-checker. It turns out that “mass shootings” aren’t exactly the rising phenomenon those zealots claim they are. In fact, according to criminologist James Allen Fox of Boston’s Northeastern University, who has been studying the subject since the 1980s, and Grant Duwe, a criminologist with the Minnesota Department of Corrections who has written a history of mass murders in America, there has been no increase in these incidents, and in fact “while mass shootings rose between the 1960s and the 1990s, they actually dropped in the 2000s.” ( Link )

Democrats have avoided gun control like the plague in recent years because they know it’s a political loser for them. I won’t go into all the stats; suffice it to say that the anti-gun sentiment in the country that peaked in about the 1970s has completely reversed itself in the last couple of decades. I think the only reasons these socialists are trying again now are twofold:thCA1J3QJR first, this is an especially terrible event, as it involved little kids. They’re hoping for an emotional backlash. And secondly, it’s a couple of years until the next election, and they’re banking on the electorate having a short memory. Of course, they’ve made that particular miscalculation with great regularity in the past. But then, the socialists definitely aren’t the brightest bulbs in the chandelier.

Another thing to bear in mind: the killer tried to buy a gun, and the current system worked. He was prevented from doing so, and had to steal the guns he used. So… what law, exactly, do the gun-haters think is going to “solve” this problem? Logically, the only thing that could work would be for all the guns in the country to magically vanish. How would that be accomplished?

ripcon 2Any law banning gun ownership is already deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in the Heller and McDonald cases. Further, just a week ago 7th District Court Justice Posner held that Illinois’s total ban on public gun carry was also unconstitutional.

We’ve also had quite a bit of experience on the efficacy of bans in general. If “bans” were effective, we wouldn’t have a drug problem in this country, nor would there be any illegal aliens. How’s that been working out?

Let’s also not forget the mass murderer in Norway, Anders Breivik, who last year killed 77 people during his rampage, using a bomb to kill 8 and guns to kill 69 more, most of them young teens. Compared to this country Norway has very strict gun laws, and yet…

I think it’s funny – as in “hypocritical” – how so many on the Left are using this event as a vehicle to advance their gun control agenda while at the same time they’ve remained absolutely mute on Obama’s and Holder’s Operation Fast & Furious, the gun-running scheme which resulted in the deaths of over 300 Mexican citizens and one US Border Patrol agent named Brian Terry. That operation was very possibly conceived to gin up a case for arguing that our domestic gun laws were too lax, a political exercise in every way, and it backfired when they lost control of it. Where was the outrage then?

I guess “outrage” is very selective in nature.

© Brian Baker 2012

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Obama: “Bin Laden is dead”… Me: “So What?”

In light of everything that’s been going on in the Middle East and North Africa over the last week, I have to comment.

First of all, as those who know me or have read my scribbling over the years are aware, I’ve long maintained that the idea of a Western-style democracy successfully taking hold in the Muslim/Arab world is a pipe dream. There are no cultural underpinnings to support such an enterprise, and in fact their cultural and religious foundations are antithetical to the concept.

Over the years I’ve written several essays on the subject, and you can read them here, here,  here, and here.

Our country suffers from two deadly weaknesses in our approach to the problems in the region. The first is that, with the exception of Reagan, no one inside the Beltway in post-Vietnam history has had Clue One about how the Arab/Muslim mind works. They think, in spite of all the historical evidence to the contrary, that the prevailing mindset is no different from our own. I think you actually have to have lived in the region to realize how wrong that idea really is. I spent my high school years in Iran, and I can’t imagine a more foolish concept.

The second weakness is our dependence on oil from the region. Unquestionably, that limits our options, and forces us into “alliances” that are contrary to our own national self-interests. A perfect example is our relationship with Saudi Arabia. Though that country is perhaps less anti-Western than others, they’re certainly not our friends in the way that a country like the UK is, for example. We’re simply a market for their product: oil. They’re still the source for international Wahabiism, and terrorists such as bin Laden draw much of their financial support from sources within that country. Don’t fool yourselves; they’re not our allies in the real sense of the word.

Which brings us to Obama. Obama is the “perfect storm” of ignorance of the region coupled with stupidly utopian idealism coupled with a refusal to take any realistic actions to lessen our dependence on oil from the region. A disastrous trifecta of insane policy.

As I’ve said before (here, here and here) we’re sitting on an ocean of oil we’re just letting sit in the ground purely for political reasons. We have more known and recoverable oil than any other nation on the planet; three times as much as Saudi Arabia. The solution to our “energy dependence” problem is very simple: Drill, baby, drill!

But we can’t do that because the amateur in the Oval Office won’t allow it. The pump price of gasoline has doubled since Obama took office, but he’s stuck on stupid when it comes to oil, and would rather hitch his wagon to fantasies about “alternative energies” that don’t even exist at this point in time, rather than actually address the problem with the obvious and easy solutions that already do exist.

All we have to do is drill our own oil to free us from having to worry about the actions being taken by Muslim extremists who seem to spend their whole lives being “offended” by everything under the sun. We could simply flip them off and have done with it.

And just exactly what are the policies being implemented by Obama in the Muslim/Arab world? They’re a repeat of the exact same policies that worked so well under “Peanut Jimmy” Carter! Remember those good old days?

Carter proved how “tough” he was by engineering the downfall of the Shah of Iran, and his replacement by Ayatollah Khomeini, and look how well that turned out. Obama proved how tough he was by “killing bin Laden” and facilitating the “Arab Spring”, and look how well that’s turning out. Obama is Carter Redux. Worse, actually, because he’s refused to learn the lessons of history, and is repeating the same stupid actions that have already proven to be disastrous in the past.

If we insist on remaining engaged with the Arab/Muslim world, we have to do so from a position of unyielding strength and pragmatism that isn’t filtered through rose-colored lenses that project a vision of Western values that doesn’t exist in the region. We have to use our aid dollars as both a carrot and a stick. We have to find some pro-Western strongmen, and back them. Maybe over time a foundation can be laid that will allow Western-style democracies to develop there, but the key words are “over time”. A long time, probably generations at least.

At this time, we’re viewed in the Muslim/Arab world as being paper tigers; easy and impotent targets that never respond to provocation. In that world, that’s fatal. Until we learn that lesson and act accordingly, attacks against our interests and outposts will continue. It’s just that simple.

These are all lessons that are clear to see. Obama has proven to be an epic failure in this arena. His response has been to thrash around impotently, throwing blame hither and yon, then promptly getting back to the only activity he’s reliably pursued throughout his presidency (other than playing golf), campaigning for re-election. The current debacle in the region doesn’t seem to interest him as anything more important than just a minor campaign delay.

Good. Grief.

© Brian Baker 2012

Indicting Obama

“The Buck Sure Doesn’t Stop HERE!

The Truman presidency has been mythologized in many ways. Time and faulty human memory have worked to make the man somewhat of a legend, and as one of the characters in the movie “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” noted, “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend”.

But one thing you have to hand to the man: he took responsibility for everything that took place under his administration. As the sign on his desk said, “The buck stops here”, and he meant it.

Contrast that to the current occupant of the Oval Office, the amateur who refuses to take responsibility for anything that’s happened during his utterly incompetent administration.

As I noted in my last essay, very shortly after his inauguration, in an interview with Matt Lauer, Obama stated, “… I will be held accountable. You know, I’ve got four years. A year from now, I think people are going to see that we’re starting to make some progress. But there’s still going to be some pain out there. If I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s going to be a one-term proposition.”

Big words. How do they stack up to reality, you ask? Well… let’s take a quick look, shall we?

The Economy: Four years ago, one of the very few issues Obama actually took any kind of definable stand on was the economy; how bad it was and how he’d “fix” it. That was actually what the Lauer interview was all about.

But what have we heard for the last three years (at least)? “Blame Bush”. It’s all “Bush’s fault” or the fault of “my predecessor”. It’s not my fault. The buck doesn’t stop here. The dog ate my homework. Where’s that accountability he bragged about to Lauer?

One of two things happened: Either he was truly ignorant of what his prediction entailed – in which case he was just plain unqualified for the job – or he lied.

Gas Prices: When he took office a gallon of gas was about $1.87; now it’s over $4.00 out here in Greeceifornia. And, of course, the constant refrain is that the President doesn’t “control” gas prices. While semantically true, the President does control key policies that have a direct effect on gas prices, primarily policies which affect availability, which – according to the irrefutable law of supply and demand – directly determine what oil, and therefore gasoline, are going to cost.

Quite simply, the more there is of something, the less it’s going to cost. Scarcity is what drives up price.

This President has done everything in his power to block domestic access to the absolute ocean of oil upon which we sit, plain and simple. But he won’t acknowledge that; oh, no! It’s always someone else’s fault: Iran, the Saudis, world oil markets, speculators, the e-e-e-e-vil oil companies … everyone under the sun except him. But the reality is that he’s the one person standing in the way of allowing this country to do the one thing that would entirely solve the problem: letting us drill, baby, drill!

Solyndra:  Of course, one of the big reasons Obama continues to block domestic oil extraction is his worship at the altar to the myth of “alternate energy”, from which we got the boondoggle funding of solar manufacturer Solyndra to the tune of over $500 million, after which they promptly went bankrupt.

Naturally, it was simply another “blame Bush” moment. It seems the Bush people had considered that same funding… but what Obama had failed to mention was that they also had decided Solyndra wasn’t a sound company in which to make that investment, so this one ended up being another egg-on-the-face moment for the ObaMessiah. But ya gotta give him props for trying, right? After all, “the buck doesn’t stop here!”, at least if he can help it.

He didn’t even learn from that debacle, repeating it with SunPower and even doubling down, wasting over $1.2 Billion and “creating” all of 15 jobs from a company over $820 Million in debt.

Obamacare:  His “signature” (and just about only) piece of legislation, which is hugely unpopular with the people and on the verge of being ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Of course, that’s not his fault. That will be due to the “partisan” nature of those Justices who decide against it. I guess the ones who find for it aren’t “partisan” somehow. “Partisanship” only seems to be a feature of those who don’t agree with Obama (and liberals in general, apparently. Evidently, leftists are never “partisan”. They must be “principled”).

Bottom line: “The buck doesn’t stop here! It’s the ‘partisan’ Justices.”

Gridlock:  Always the fault of the other party and their obstructive “partisanship”, of course. The buck doesn’t stop with Obama. It’s the fault of the GOP. Naturally.

It doesn’t matter that his own party had complete control of Congress for the first two years of his presidency and could pass absolutely anything they wanted. Somehow or another, the GOP was still at fault. Now, of course, the GOP has control of the House, and so it’s their fault that his proposals go nowhere. Not that anything’s really changed; even when his own party controlled everything, they didn’t bother to pass a budget, even though they didn’t need one single GOP vote to do so. And it doesn’t matter that ObaMessiah’s own budget proposals have been killed in the Democrat-controlled Senate by his own party.

The buck doesn’t stop here. It’s the GOP’s fault.

Rancorous political tone:  Which, of course, only refers to things said by his opponents. When he calls his political opponents “enemies”, that’s not rancorous, of course. Because the buck doesn’t stop here. When Bill Maher calls Sarah Palin a “c***”, that’s not “rancor”, and Maher’s $1 Million political donation is happily accepted.

Operation Fast And Furious:  Early in his presidency Obama tried to gin up a case that gun laws were too lax, allowing thousands of guns to “leak” across the border into the murderous hands of the Mexican drug cartels, leading to thousands of deaths. Hence Operation Fast And Furious was born.

It turned out that those guns were being “walked” across the border through straw purchases as part of a Bureau of Alcohol, Tax and Firearms (BATF) operation purportedly in place to trace and apprehend the end users of those very guns. Only problem was, the BATF lost track of those guns, the Mexican authorities were never informed of this operation, lots of people died – including at least one US Border Patrol agent named Brian Terry – and thousands of guns (enough to arm an Army battalion, literally) ended up in the hands of Very Bad Guys.

When this whole debacle came to light, we saw Operation The Buck Doesn’t Stop Here come into being in a major way. It seems that no one of any authority ever had any knowledge of any such program. It must have been devised and implemented by gremlins. Maybe Santa’s Helpers decided to gift the drug cartels or something, because this whole operation seems to have appeared out of thin air, with no one in charge, or knowledgeable, or having given authorization, or overseeing it, or answerable for it.

The BATF is part of the Justice Department, of which Attorney-General Eric Holder is in charge… except it seems that the guy “in charge” isn’t informed of critical operations, at least according to Holder. The buck doesn’t stop with Holder, the man in charge of his department.

And, of course, Holder reports to Obama, who doesn’t even seem to acknowledge that there’s an investigation by Congress going on about this issue. Utter silence. Because, of course, the buck can’t stop at Obama’s desk if he closes his eyes and refuses to even acknowledge it. His silence is deafening.

The last time I saw this kind of stonewalling was during the Watergate era. A lot of people lost their jobs – including a sitting President – and several went to prison.

White House leaks:  Over the last couple of weeks secrets concerning highly-classified military and intelligence operations have been leaked to the press. The only perceptible beneficiary of those leaks would be Obama himself, as the leaked material seems to be of a nature that would enhance his being perceived as a decisive and tough “war leader”, beneficial during an election year, particularly for an incumbent with big problems to overcome on other issues (maybe like those outlined above? Just sayin’…).

The only way secrets of that nature could be accessible would be if someone very high up – at White House level – leaked them.

Of course… “the buck doesn’t stop here!”, according to the White House.

Of course it doesn’t. No responsible President or his minions would purposefully leak information that could lead to the deaths of agents working on our nation’s behalf in foreign and hostile countries, simply to enhance his political prospects. The idea’s unthinkable… right?

I even had to laugh at that one myself, and I knew it was coming…

“The Buck Does Stop HERE”… Except It Really Doesn’t:  In his desperation to try to cobble together a winning coalition and secure a second term, Obama came out in favor of same-sex marriage a few weeks ago. For his die-hard supporters, that seems to be a little too late on the issue, easily pegged as a cynical ploy to try to regain the LGBT vote that supported him so enthusiastically last time and has been so disappointed by his performance to this point.

More importantly… who cares what a presidential candidate thinks about what is essentially a state issue: the definition of marriage? That varies from state to state, as is proper. So he’s grabbing the buck where it’s irrelevant.

And doing the same thing with his announcement this past week that he’s going to grant work permits to illegal aliens who meet certain criteria. Sorry, Obama, you don’t have the power or authority to do that. You’re sworn to uphold the law as passed and enacted by Congress. Nowhere in the current law is there any authority to take it upon yourself to determine who is and who is not allowed to get work permits as an alien. You have to abide by the law as written and properly passed and enacted. And lawsuits have already been filed against you to address your actions.

Which is particularly ironic in that he had his Justice Department minion Holder file a lawsuit against the State of Arizona over its SB1070 law, which allowed its own police forces to help enforce federal immigration law. Their law was enacted on the premise that the feds weren’t effectively enforcing the extant laws. And here he is, proving their point.

The problem for the ObaMessiah is that he’s not Emperor; he doesn’t get to pick and choose what laws he’s going to have his administration enforce. He’s sworn to enforce the laws on the books as written and lawfully enacted.

So, in this case grabbing that buck he tries the rest of the time to avoid simply doesn’t wash. It’s easily and accurately perceived as nothing more than an attempt at cheap populism aimed at a very specific voter demographic.

Bottom Line:  Except when he gets it wrong, as in the amnesty and same-sex marriage issues, not only is Obama’s slogan “The Buck Doesn’t Stop Here!”, it’s “Buck?… What Buck?”

I indict Obama for dodging responsibility for his actions and the actions of those who work for him; of world-class hypocrisy; for speaking out of both sides of his mouth; for illegal arrogation of power to himself in violation of the US Constitution; and for just basically being the lousiest President since… ever.

The only guy who ever made Jimmy Carter look good by comparison.

© Brian Baker 2012

Greeceifornia

If the states are, as Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis described them, “laboratories of democracy”, then California is the preeminent example in this country of the pitfalls and perils of socialism run amok.

It’s no secret that this state has been swirling the financial drain for many years now, spinning in a maelstrom of red ink. Massive deficits, accompanied by soaring taxes and Draconian regulatory burdens, have joined to drive out productive people and the companies that employ them. This state has about 14% (about 1/7th) of the nation’s population, and about 1/3rd of its welfare recipients. About 25% of the country’s illegal aliens live here (LINK).

We have among the highest state and local tax burdens in the country. We rank #6 in state and local tax burden per capita (LINK), but bear in mind that large percentage of people on welfare and the illegal aliens. If you factor them out, we’d be even higher on that list. We rank at #48 in state business tax climate, being better than only New York and New Jersey. We have the highest sales taxes in the country; we have the second-highest gasoline taxes, bested only by New York (LINK) by a mere 1/2 cent/gallon.

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The Democrats rule this state with an iron fist; their GOP “opposition” is comprised for the most part of a bunch of, shall we say, “moderates” (to put it kindly). All you have to do is look to our former Governator to see an embodiment of the problem there.

Those same Democrats are owned by the unions of both government workers and the private sector. The government-worker unions alone have managed to burden this state with wage levels and benefit costs that are bankrupting us, and there’s absolutely no effort among the ruling elites to do anything whatsoever to address that problem.

For years we’ve had annual deficits that have been in the tens of billions of dollars. Yet somehow, in spite of that, current Governor Jerry Brown and his minions have found the money to enact the state DREAM Act to fund the educations of illegal aliens, and to proceed with a high-speed train to nowhere that’s going to cost in excess of $100 Billion, according to the best estimates.

In what shouldn’t surprise anyone, Brown released a statement on May 12th that our budget shortfall this year is $9.2 billion more than projected (LINK), for a total of about a $16 billion shortfall. It seems that “…tax collections have not come in as high as expected and the economy isn’t growing as fast as hoped for.” I guess that’s what happens when you scare all the productive people out of the state with confiscatory taxes and punitive regulations coupled with insane spending priorities.

So… what’s the latest “solution” to our problems being proposed by Brown and the rest of the socialists… er, I mean, Democrats? If you guessed “more taxes!”, you win a one-way ticket to Athens. Greece, not Georgia. (Well, not really. But you get the point.)

We have two competing ballot propositions coming up that would raise taxes. Brown’s would raise income and sales taxes (and remember, our sales taxes are already the highest in the country); the competing ballot would only raise income taxes.

Brown, as is SOP, threatens that failure to enact his proposition will “…force severe cuts to schools and public safety…”. Notice how these “failures” to pass tax increases never “force severe cuts” to funding for illegal aliens, or bullet trains to nowhere, or pay increases and outrageous benefits to government union workers, or anything like that. No, we’ve got plenty of money for those things, somehow.

The hypocrisy, ineptitude, cynicism, and downright turpitude pile up so fast you need wings to stay above it. This is government failure on a massive scale.

We are Greeceifornia.

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© Brian Baker 2012

Sneaky Leftists

 (I know… oxymoron, right?)

Over the last few years out here in Commiefornia, capitol of the enviro-whacks, there’s been a rising tide of panic about the “dangers” posed to the environment by the bags used in grocery stores, pharmacies, and convenience stores to package your purchases.

A few years ago, paper bags were the bugaboo, because trees were being “sacrificed” for such a “wasteful” purpose. There was much loud wailing and gnashing of teeth from the enviroNazis about how people should use plastic bags instead.

Then a couple of years ago those same fanatics changed their minds and decided that everyone should have to bring their own bags instead. It seems that plastic bags have also made it onto the “no-fly” list because of their durability (generally considered a good thing in other products); it seems some of them have been spotted floating around out in the middle of the ocean somewhere.

Can’t have that!

The problem is, they can’t sell their whacky ideas to the proletariat. That pesky free will at work again. So the answer was obvious: get their leftist buddies in government to do their work for them!

Of course!

So, in San Francisco (surprise!) and here in LA County, laws were passed to make the use of plastic bags illegal. They were banned, like other dangerous substances such as heroin and cocaine. The only “approved” choice is now back to those paper bags that were previously scorned … at a mandated “fee” of 10 cents per bag, of course. Fortunately for me, LA County has no regulatory power over the incorporated cities in this county, so here in Santa Clarita we still get to exercise our free choice in the matter.

But those stalwarts in the City of Los Angeles aren’t satisfied. Oh, no! Now they’re on the verge of passing a law banning paper bags, too (Link). Their goal, as they plainly admit, is to force people to bring their own reusable bags to the store, kinda like the Russian babushkas had to do in the glory days of the Soviet Union. I always have to wonder what was so appealing about the USSR that our homegrown leftists so often try to emulate it.

Of course, this stupid policy blatantly ignores the problems attached to the reusable bags: they’re unsanitary, most of them are made in China, and that little issue of people being able to make their own choices.

But then, they’re leftists. The only “free choice” they believe in is the choice to murder unborn babies. Anything else must be government-approved.

© Brian Baker 2012