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Getting the facts straight in gun violence discussion

We cannot pretend the solution to gun violence in this country is easy, but we should likewise come to the understanding that just because the problem is complex doesn’t mean we ought to do nothing.

I’m not sure what stricter gun laws would have done to prevent the killings in Newtown or Aurora. They wouldn’t have stopped Jovan Belcher from killing the mother of his children before taking his own life.

When the Aurora movie theater shooting happened, I wondered aloud what people thought the solution should be. I implored people to be deliberate in their thinking and to not jump to the obvious strawmen of movies, music and violent video games.

Connecticut had created a law that mirrored the 1994 assault rifle ban that had lapsed in Congress. The deranged shooter had a .223 caliber rifle, a massive and powerful weapon that is 100% legal. The headline of the article linked above says it all, “How do we know an ‘assault rifle’ ban would not have stopped Ryan Lanza? Because it didn’t.”

The term “assault rifle” was actually coined by anti-gun groups and as such is defined by them. Any gun can assault someone, not just rifles. The difference between what the average person might consider a “normal” rifle and an “assault” rifle is completely arbitrary. It looks scary, or its really easy to fire or its really accurate or it has a powerful shot. Those are all reasons a hunter might buy the same rifle.

‘Tough luck’ critics will say. It’s to dangerous. But hundreds of thousands of people in America own guns, more than any other place in the world in fact. Yet these mass shootings happen relatively infrequently.

In fact, they were more frequent in the 1990’s by about double and for four of those years in the 1990’s we had the assault rifle ban.

That being said, a chart like this one, showing the United States standing head and shoulders above the world in gun-homicide rate while likewise having by far the most guns seems to be a pretty convincing argument that there’s a problem.

On the other hand, the second two charts (also from Business Insider) here paint a different picture. Yes, the United States has the highest number of guns-per-person by an enormous margin, our murder rate per 100,000 people is only slightly higher than other civilized nations.

It’s easy to skew the axis to make the numbers look much worse, but the first chart and the third are literally identical, only the first chart leaves off a host of non-industrialized nations. It also skews the bottom axis.

The United States has just less than 90 guns for every 100,000 people. It  has about three homicides for every 100,000 people. That’s about one homicide for every 30 guns.

Italy has about 10 guns for every 100,000 people and about .8 homicides per 100,000 people. Just round the homicide number slightly and that’s about three as many homicides per gun than the United States and we hardly think of Italy as a violent nation. Just lowering the number of guns in the U.S. isn’t the solution.

In fact, violent crime has steadily declined for more than a generation.

All that not withstanding, there are things we could be doing differently. As Chris Rock famously joked, we don’t need gun control, we need bullet control.

The comedian was talking about making bullets extremely expensive, but a real solution could be found in tightening laws on expended clips. No civilian, for any reason, needs a gun magazine with 30 rounds in it. You’re not going hunting for dinosaurs.

Even the NRA is in favor of some tighter background checks and the gun show loophole needs to be changed as a considerable number of guns sold in this country are done so without checks and registrations at legal gun shows.

Gun-advocates need to be heard on issues like gun bans. There’s no question these violent killers target areas where other people can’t defend themselves. Nearly every major instance of mass gun violence in the last 20 years has taken place in areas where it’s illegal to carry guns. In other words, where it’s impossible for anyone to shoot back.

It’s as cowardly an act as can be imagined, but it’s true. The Aurora shooter had his pick of movie theaters all about equidistant from his house. He choose the one movie theater that had posted signs banning guns. Is that a coincidence? Hardly.

On the other hand, it’s ludicrous to suggest we ought to just arm teachers, although many schools, in the wake of Columbine, went to a locked door system where visitors have to be buzzed into the building. A simple glance at the security camera in a case like Newtown and it would have been easy to see the intentions of the deranged shooter.

There are actions we can take, new laws to implement. There are also cultural changes we absolutely must make and cannot ignore, from the way we deal with mental illness to the way we parent our children. Those cannot be ignored.

The media also must realize it has a responsibility. As conservative radio host Charlie Sykes noted on Twitter yesterday, Fox and CBS won’t show streakers on the field at a football game, but shoot up a school and you get wall to wall coverage with your picture all over the world.

Let’s focus on the victims and the heroes of tragedies like this one, the teachers who barricaded their classrooms and died protecting their kids. The horrifying details must be reported, but we need to rethink the way we report it.

I remember NBC facing an internal battle over whether or not to release the tape the Virginia Tech shooter sent to the network. I would have much preferred an anchor read paraphrasing what the tape said than the eventual decision to play the tape.

We are all part of the problem, but as such, can all be part of the solution. We just have to get the facts straight and that, as much as anything, has been a problem.


Leftist arguments against right-to-work laws are emblematic of flawed liberal logic

Liberal ideology becomes more incoherent by the day.

Their latest crowing about right-to-work laws in Michigan are part and parcel of the degradation of the arguments in our political landscape.

Why, they’ll ask, should a worker be allowed to be a member of the union and reap all the benefits of membership without having to pay dues? That’s unfair!

You mean like the 50% of Americans who reap the benefits of being a citizen without paying taxes? That kind of unfair?

There is no argument being given by pro-union lefties as to why these laws are so painfully awful. According to Richard Hurd, a Cornell professor of labor studies, only about two-thirds of employees join a union in a right-to-work situation.

Oh the humanity.

You mean giving people the option to join a union means some people won’t do it? Remind me again how letting someone make a choice is infringing on their liberty.

When you get hired by an employer, you aren’t being hired by the union bosses, yet those bosses can force you to join a union and pay dues.

What are those dues for? Salaries of the union bosses, pensions for the union bosses and money to lobby legislators or even help fund campaigns.

Without those dues, you have fewer union bosses, smaller pensions and much less money to use for political gain. You can understand why the unionistas don’t like these laws.

According to State Budget Solutions, employment grew 8.2% from 2001 to 2010 in right-to-work states, while union states saw a .5% decrease.

Unemployment in the 23 states who have right-to-work laws is under 7%, while union states are facing nearly 9% unemployment.

Unions are part of the European model. Germany, for instance, is fine with contact unemployment in the 8% range or higher because those who are employed are getting higher wages and benefits. That’s not the way our system works, nor is it the way our system was set up to work.

But the left can’t come up with a good reason not to have right-to-work laws. They don’t want them because they think unions are the only thing preventing workers from working 20-hour days, shackled up in damp, dark, dungeons.

It’s not much different than their arguments for higher taxes on the rich. Ask a liberal to defend higher taxes on the rich and they’ll inevitably cite historical models to show how low taxes are right now. “Well under Clinton blah blah blah.”

That’s it. That’s all they’ve got.

Obama’s plan for higher taxes on the top 2% doesn’t do anything to reduce the deficit. In fact, 75% of Obama’s tax increases will go to new spending. These new revenues won’t pay down the debt and won’t spark economic growth. So what will they do? Make everyone feel better? Not when they lose their jobs.

If Obama’s economic model of massive deficits and debts amid gargantuan government spending worked, we’d have a booming economy. We don’t.

But the left is in charge and they like to wave their (rhymes with) stick around and punish those who have been successful.

Unless those people are teachers, or union heads, or actors, singers…well basically any liberal.

Liberals will fight at all costs to keep teachers’ unions in power, even while they’re bankrupting local communities, and state governments. Obama’s own right-hand man, Rahm Emmanuel, saw the destructive power of unions and their inability to stand for anything other than the greed of their own union members.

You can be in favor of right-to-work laws without being anti-union. If anything, people voluntarily joining unions actually strengthens the positioning power of that union because everyone in the union wants to be there and is more likely to be engaged as a result.

Conservatives are often portrayed as the party of tradition, of people who do things just because that’s the way it’s always been.

But liberals have lately been victims of their own ideological traditionalism. We should raise taxes because we always want to raise taxes. We should have unions because we’ve always had them and they always give us money.

Why should we give money to people who don’t serve us? Unions don’t serve union workers, they serve union heads. Taxes don’t serve the people who pay them, they serve the people who don’t.

As part of the social contract, we agree to be governed in order to gain additional liberty that the state of nature deprives us. Defense and the mediation of resources that we could not otherwise handle are the main functions of government. Anything behind that must be justified, but the left has no concept of its role as a governing party, nor any concept of what a government’s relationship ought to be with its people.

That’s why we get leaders like Barack Obama who, when the chips are down, has no coherent ideology to fall back on when trying to make decisions. That’s liberalism.

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Election Day: VOTE

Instead of reading my blog today, go vote. Then call 10 of your friends and tell them to vote. Call your elderly neighbors and see if they need help getting to the polls.

Vote and make sure others do too. This country’s future, your future and mine, depend on it.

Liberal attacks on conservative policies just don’t add up

It’s all the conservatives’ fault, that’s what MSNBC wants you to believe. Not just the last four years, but the last forty are to be blamed on conservatives policies.

That means no Democratic policy or other Republican policy could possibly make up for the ‘low minimum wage and anti-union policies’ of the last two generations.

In the above linked piece, the liberal columnist actually uses the following line,

A study of three cities by the Center for Economic Policy Research found evidence to “support the view that a citywide minimum wages can raise the earnings of low-wage workers,”

In other words, we needed a study to tell us that raising the minimum wage would raise earnings for low wage workers. Now, the rest of the line goes on to explain that the study finds it wouldn’t affect anyone’s employment status. In other words, companies wouldn’t be less apt to hire people just because you raised the minimum wage.

But the author goes on to argue that a spillover effect would drive up wages for everyone.

Well, duh. If you pay a laborer minimum wage and his supervisor a few dollars more, then raise the day laborer’s salary, you have to then also raise his supervisor’s pay or there’s a problem.

This is a completely incoherent argument for a plethora of reasons, not the least of which that it brings nothing new to the actual discussion, which is a federal minimum wage. States adjust minimum wage as they see fit, it simply can’t be lower than the federal minimum wage.

Of course, no comment from this columnist on how state’s own policies have affected the economic standing of its citizens.

There was a secondary argument about how unionizing is down, although he presents no evidence that such a trend is based on anti-union conservative policies. Someone should explain the difference between correlation and causation.

In fact, the ‘anti-union’ policies of conservatives like Scott Walker actually saved thousands of public employee jobs including teachers, something the unions themselves were unwilling to do in favor of holding the line on salaries and benefits.

It’s been the union movements own petulance and lack of foresight which has contributed to its demise, but I suppose MSNBC is right to point out how fewer unions could mean lower wages. It also means more people employed.

Ask workers in Spain where if you can’t get into one of the big labor unions, you simply can’t get a job. Period.

Furthermore, there’s a strong economic argument to be made that lowering the minimum wage for young workers doing menial jobs would considerably increase overall employment levels of young people and increase productivity.

For every study the left can site, I can site six more that say raising the minimum wage would hurt businesses. In fact, it’s an issue in San Jose right now, where a recent study found just a 25% hike could cost as many as 3,100 people their jobs.

And you know what the real irony is? That big 4.5 million jobs number Obama loves to throw out about his job creation record includes 1.6 million minimum wage jobs.

The total number of jobs fell almost 3 million, so the total number of people employed has fallen under Obama and 35% of the people who did find a new job are getting minimum wage.

It would be impossible to blame conservative labor policies for that, considering Democrats controlled Congress following the 2008 election.

The latest Pew Poll showing Romney’s debate outing shifting the election 12 points into a 4 point Romney lead, it’s understandable the left would be scratching and clawing to put together a cogent argument.

But, just like these latest numbers, they don’t look good for liberals.

Media accountability double standard as stark as ever

When I took journalism classes in college (at one of the most prestigious j-schools in the country for what it’s worth), we were told how important the media was to the democratic process.

And it’s true, the media is vital.

ABC’s Jake Tapper recently admitted that the media tipped the scales in favor of Obama in 2008, re-enforcing what was pretty clear to anyone paying even a modicum of attention (and confirming what the documentary Media Malpractice had covered extensively).

Recently, the New York Times (!) had an article about how media companies, including News Corp., had tilted their money heavily in favor of our president, putting to rest some of the “Republicans are the party of business” talk as well as underscoring the liberal media bias

So when Mediaite comes out with a list of promises on which the Democrat party failed to follow-through, it’s a surprising moment of accountability.

Mediaite looked specifically at policies of national security, noting that the Obama administration essentially extended all of the Bush-era dogmas, despite insisting they would do the exact opposite.

Imagine if this had been President Bush or any Republican. The media would probably have **gasp** done its job and asked why the hell the GOP lied to our faces.

This is where you’d want the media to demand someone answer a question about this. You’d want a reporter to stick a microphone in the president’s face and say, “Mr. President, your party said you’d make these changes in the name of civil liberties, but essentially you’ve doubled down on President Bush’s policies. What happened?”

Part of the problem is the president hasn’t had a press conference in months, apparently being too busy with Entertainment Tonight fluff interviews and visits to The View.

This president has constantly and habitually shirked the accountability of his administration, choosing instead only to laud his own accomplishments, to the point that ex-military started a PAC to decry the president’s over the top masturbatory praise of the Osama bin Laden killing. Or more specifically, Obama’s roll in the operation (minimal at best).

On the other hand, when the White House press corp. has had a chance with the President, they have failed to gain any traction with their questions, while in other cases, simply been derelict in their duty as journalists to hold the left accountable for their failures.

We all know the narrative around ObamaCare and the contraceptive mandate. They’re simple and relatively easy.

Most of the American people have forgotten we’re at war, that we still have thousands of young men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan despite the president throwing his own “Mission Accomplished” party.

When President Bush had his version, it was met with universal media scrutiny and chastising. This president declares the war in Iraq over (the only essential difference being the number of troops still in Iraq, the active war had long been over in both cases), and he’s a damn hero.

It’s hard to understand just why the media continually gives the president a pass, but they have. Lately, some journalists have become a little testy with this administrations failure to answer tough questions, highlighted by the tap dance Robert Gates did around Harry Reid’s tax return allegations.

No, the war is not a winner in the ratings anymore. But accountability is and people both want and demand it.

Unfortunately, the profession that I choose has failed to live up to that standard and furthermore failed to live up to its own democratic responsibilities.

GOP fighting uphill battle against Obama, Left on Entitlements

President Obama and the left are in the enviable position of having the proverbial high ground in this presidential race.

They’re already sitting on the mountain top and it’s up to Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan to knock them off.

For this campaign, that means the Obama administration doesn’t have to come up with better ideas with the Romney/Ryan ticket, just show that the ideas the GOP have are scary and bad (even if it means lying their ass off).

Grace Marie-Turner, a contributor to the National Review Online and a member of the Galen Institute, doesn’t see this as a satisfactory outcome for an election.

The headline of her article says it all: “Stop demonizing Ryan and get something done.”

This is, of course, an oversimplification of the facts because the Obama administration doesn’t have to get anything done.

Medicare is solvent until after Obama leaves office (although not by much), and the left insists that ObamaCare “fixes” Medicare anyway.

Actually what they claim is that he added years to the life of Medicare, which is like saying “Well, this bridge is definitely going to crumble soon, but we re-enforced the steel beams so it won’t be for a few more years.”

There is no substantive plan from Obama or the left to actually deal with Medicare, but Paul Ryan’s plan (which WOULD save Medicare) is the worst piece of legislation in the history of the world apparently.

In fact, the Obama plan under the ACA, is actually potentially devastating to the medical industry, particularly given the number of people set to enter the system.

Under ObamaCare, the president’s plan to “save” Medicare relies primarily on paying doctors and hospitals less and less to the point that 40% of providers will either go bankrupt or stop seeing Medicare patients, according to Medicare actuaries.

– Grace Marie-Turner

Marie-Turner also points out, there is a $200,000 difference between what the average person pays into Medicare and what they consume.

That difference is eaten up by deficit spending and higher taxes on the next generation.

I wonder if, at the Democratic National Convention, they’ll vote on “kicking the can down the road,” as an official platform.

Yet Paul Ryan, who has insisted on means testing for entitlements and has even altered his plan to allow costs to rise more quickly to meet inflationary needs (inflation that was caused by the impending yolk of ObamaCare), is an evil Republican because he believes people should pay their fair share of this program.

Hmmm….where have I heard that phrase before?

If we don’t pay more, the program dies. That’s the bottom line, but because it’s not going to die tomorrow, or next week, the urgency to get a deal done is lessened and we’re left with demagoguery and partisan bullshit nonsense.

The government’s prescription plan, implemented in 2003 is running at nearly half its original project costs and do you know why?

Because Wal-Mart came out with its generic prescription plans and suddenly everyone had to compete with Wal-Mart. Now, you can get generic drugs basically anywhere and the cost of medicine for everyone, including the government, was reduced.

Ryan’s plan is the same free market approach, while saving a plan that millions of seniors rely on, not to mention the fact that he’s not changing it for anyone entering the Medicare program in the next decade. In other words, grandma and grandpa don’t have to do a quick pivot to figure out how this new system works because it won’t affect them at all.

What Ryan and Romney need to do is attack Obama’s plan under ObamaCare, explaining that under his system, Medicare would end in our lifetime.

Show that he’s just fine with letting someone else figure it out, or just let it expire. After all, the president and his liberal Hollywood elite friends don’t need Medicare.

Paul Ryan’s plan saves Medicare, whereas Barack Obama’s plan doesn’t. It’s that simple. Trying to prove that to the American people, when the left doesn’t have much concern for the “facts” of this case, will prove quite the struggle.

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Perils of Harry Reid’s unfounded accusations apparently go unnotticed by liberal media and politicians

When typically passive media outlets begin to decry the double standards of their own industry, you know we’ve reached a tipping point in American media and politics.

A recent piece from highlights the egregious double standard of spouting completely unsubstantiated claims and how both the media and political parties respond to such things.

In fact, in the first line of the piece the author admits that there is a perspective from conservatives that such a bias exists.

RealClearPolitics does have writers and columnists, but they are, for the most part, a balanced website.

Their biggest claim to fame is as the biggest and perhaps best aggregators of polling data from around the country.

I often link their polling data on this blog.

For them to critique what has gone on lately in Congress and the media is frankly astonishing.

What the author points out is the outrage which followed Michele Bachmann’s claims of the Muslim Brotherhood’s infiltration of government, particularly Huma Abedin, an aide to Hillary Clinton.

Of course, she has no evidence to back this up, nor has she offered any.

Most of the media went into full Biblical crisis mode over this, wailing and gnashing their teeth (an ironic metaphor, given Bachmann’s strict adherence to Biblical teachings).

Even conservatives, outside of Newt Gingrich, thought this was a dangerous slope to head down.

Of course, it’s nothing new to liberals, who believe the best way to prove a point is to just put things out there, have them be reported and then recant later with the damage already done.

I can’t remember a candidate who has had more ads proven demonstrably false than Barack Obama already this campaign season.

Even the passive CNN crew has decried some of Obama’s specious claims.

The left, not surprisingly, hasn’t responded in kind to Harry Reid’s equally specious claims about Mitt Romney not having paid any taxes for 10 years.

This is a man who, not having released his own tax returns either, has failed to offer any proof and actually recently backed off the comments to some degree.

Leftist media and politicians, however, have doubled down on Reid’s comments, presented them as fact and even took the opportunity to insinuate that Romney may have committed a felony he’s hiding by not releasing his returns.

Classic liberal playbook.

Even more classic is the media’s utter disinterest in holding anyone who makes these claims accountable. No one has pushed Reid or Pelosi for proof, although Robert Gates has been questioned at length about it and almost managed to sidestep whether or not the Obama administration was the source of these claims.

What is so dangerous about this strategy and the slippery slope down which it leads us is the left draws on a base that is more prone to alarmism.

Look at the way they’ve (falsely) portrayed Paul Ryan’s budget, as if it were literally throwing elderly women off cliffs it was so dangerous.

What’s more, the rhetoric on the left has almost nothing to do with policy. By focusing on peripheral issues like a guy’s tax returns, you distract from the fact that June was the worst jobs month in two years, that the college debt bubble is the next to burst and that the recovery hasn’t been as promised.

Alarmism and red herrings is all the left has to beat Romney because if they used policy records, it would be no contest.

Don’t expect the national media to show people the hypocrisy of this either, because they’re complicit in the charade.

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