Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Washington Navy Yard shooting highlights many serious problems

Before the gun smoke had dispersed at the Washington Navy Yard, the agenda media reacted with a kind of grim glee that an “assault weapon” – an AR-15 – had been used yet again in a mass shooting.

The New York Daily News devoted its entire front page to the story with the headline, “Same Gun Different Slay,” in letters so big they took up two-thirds of the page. Inside the publication was an anti-gun column by Mike Lupica titled, “AR-15 is the rifle for the ‘sport’ of hunting humans.”

MSNBC even used an animation of the shooting, featuring an AR-15, while CNN's Piers Morgan said, "He was carrying an AR-15 assault rifle, another rifle, and a handgun.”

The Washington Post asked how the suspected shooter, Aaron Alexis, acquired “his weapons (an AR-15 assault rifle, a shotgun and a semiautomatic pistol were reportedly found on him).”

Some of this results from the drive to get news out first. But hardly all of it.

And then, of course, the politicians got into the act.

“A gunman appeared with an assault rifle, and several other weapons,” said Illinois Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin on the Senate floor.

California Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein released a statement which read, “This is one more event to add to the litany of massacres that occur when a deranged person or grievance killer is able to obtain multiple weapons — including a military-style assault rifle — and kill many people in a short amount of time.”

Even the hallowed halls of academia were not immune to the ranting of the unhinged. (surprise, surprise, surprise!!)

“#NavyYardShooting The blood is on the hands of the #NRA,” tweeted David Guth, an associate professor of Journalism at the University of Kansas William Allen White School of Journalism. “Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters,” he continued. “Shame on you. May God damn you.”

To its credit, the University suspended Guth. With such as this in journalism classrooms, it’s no wonder there is bias in the news media.

“The contents of Guth’s tweet were repugnant and in no way represent the views or opinions of the University of Kansas,” an official statement said. Whether UK works like the federal government, and keeps suspended misbehavers on the payroll, it didn’t say.

Well, Sen. Feinstein, Sen. Durbin, Prof. Guth, et al, we certainly have had enough of these incidents. But we’ve also had enough of you folks and your mis-informing cronies in the media allowing your emotions and your prejudices to commandeer your thought process and produce automatic responses that are so grossly wrong.

The shooter had only his own recently and legally acquired shotgun when he started the rampage, and is thought to have taken a handgun from one of his security officer victims along the way. No “assault rifle” was involved.

Moving from the thoughtless responses of these demagogues to the somber realities and serious issues that exist, we need to recognize that the most serious of these is clearly not a need for more gun control.

Washington, DC has some of the strictest gun laws in the country and the Navy Yard prohibits weapons being carried by anyone except for military police and other law enforcement and security personnel; not even trained military personnel who may carry weapons when they are deployed can carry a weapon on the Yard.

Alexis, who worked for a civilian contractor at the Navy Yard, had a history of arrests for weapons violations and mental health issues. Except for him, the military and civilian personnel assigned to and working at the Navy Yard obeyed the rules and didn’t bring guns to the Yard. Stronger gun laws would have made no difference at all.

Like gun-free schools without armed security, gun-free military bases have become shooting galleries for people who do not obey gun control laws and want to do bad things.

All kinds of screw-ups took place here, among which are:
**Lousy security checks – Given his criminal and mental health past, how was Alexis able to legally obtain the shotgun and a security clearance?
**Dumb rules about weapons on military facilities – On both Ft. Hood and the Navy Yard, had military personnel carried weapons, the shooters might never have planned those attacks, but they almost certainly would have done far less damage.
**The base security staff was undermanned when the shooting started, and had to close the gates to the base so they could respond to the emergency, and that interfered with civilian police trying to get on the base to help.
**Media knee-jerk misinformation appears to have emanated from an anti-gun mentality that leads to a shoot first, get details later process.

At least the media didn’t try to associate Alexis with TEA Party organizations or the Republican Party, as has often occurred in the past; they would have been wrong about that, too. A friend of Aaron Alexis, Michael Ritrovato, told CNN’s Jake Tapper that he was “more of a liberal type, not conservative like I am.”

Let’s hold our breath to see how the media distort the coming debate over raising the debt ceiling yet again and a possible government shutdown.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Obamacare has been successful only in its ability to create chaos

Many people who have influence with President Barack Obama have gotten relief from the terrors of the Affordable Care Act we now know as Obamacare, but the great majority of the American people are still expected to follow the dictates of the healthcare “reform” law next month. 

The administration’s announcement July 2 delaying the employer mandate was the first in a series of goodies provided to favored constituencies. And, about 20 percent of waivers went to gourmet restaurants, nightclubs, and fancy hotels in Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Cal.) district. 

But as maddening as this discrimination is to us common folk, exempting Members of Congress and their staffs is far worse. 

Under heavy pressure from Democrat leaders, Mr. Obama agreed to ignore the terms of the law that he pushed so hard for and now requires taxpayers to subsidize coverage for representatives, senators, and their employees to lessen the financial burden of Obamacare.

What a hardship these taxpayer-supported elected officials and employees suffer: The Office of Personnel Management reported that as of September 2012, the average salary for a full-time, permanent, non-seasonal government position was $78,467, and rank and file members of Congress make $174,000. The average American in the private sector makes less than $50,000.

It is possible for others to receive subsidies, too, and the key is income level. But, typical of this law’s rampant failures, there is no mandate to verify eligibility for a subsidy, virtually guaranteeing extensive fraud, and an additional expense burden on taxpayers. 

Only about 36 percent of Americans have a positive opinion of the law, and now even Mr. Obama’s strong union supporters are calling for repeal or major repair of this debacle because it is decimating the 40-hour workweek that is the backbone of unionized labor.

Throughout the debate over Obamacare, a major claim was that it would cover the 30 million people that at the time did not have some sort of health insurance, ignoring the fact that a significant number chose not to have insurance. However, the Congressional Budget Office says that over the next decade there will never be a point where the number of Americans who remain uninsured will drop below 30 million. In other words, the main reason for ramming Obamacare down the throats of 270 million people who were happy with their health insurance is a falsehood.

Other of the President’s promises also have been broken:

Promise: “If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period."

Truth: As many as 30 percent of employers will stop providing their existing health care coverage, while many are reducing employee hours below the 30-hour/week full-time level, or are trimming total employees to fewer than 50 to escape the crushing costs imposed by Obamacare.

Promise: “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits — either now or in the future."

Truth: We now know that health care “reform” will cost a trillion dollars.

Promise: “I will protect Medicare.”

Truth: Obamacare ends Medicare as we know it by imposing, among other things, severe reimbursement cuts that threaten access to care for seniors.

Promise: “I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term as president that will cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family’s premium by up to $2,500 a year.”

Truth: There are at least 12 ways that Obamacare will increase premiums instead of reducing health care costs.

Promise: “Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase.”

Truth: Obamacare includes tons of new taxes and tax hikes. One that began this year is the 2.3 percent excise tax on manufacturers and importers of certain medical devices that will raise $20 billion by 2019.

It’s not that Barack Obama deliberately misleads; it’s just that so much of what he says isn’t true.

Few people now defend Obamacare besides the Congressional Democrats who participated in the dishonorable process of throwing it together, voting for a 2,700-page bill they had never read, and which had zero bi-partisan support.

Many believe that Barack Obama never really cared what was in the Affordable Care Act or if it ever makes it to implementation, and in fact wants it to fail miserably. And that’s because once it becomes law, replaces the prior system, and causes mass chaos, the stage would be set to move to a single payer, government healthcare system as the only way to fix the resulting mess.

In his worldview, socialistic/communistic systems are the solution to all the country’s problems, and that is how he wants to “fundamentally transform the United States of America.”

The best thing for the country is to repeal Obamacare and begin again to make the several relatively minor adjustments to the current system that should have been done several years ago. Short of that, delay implementation for everyone until the numerous problems can be addressed and repaired.

Neither is likely to happen, of course, because too many people can’t admit they made a mistake, or they truly want government controlled health care.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Mr. Slick and Dummy encourage us to ignore the negatives of ethanol

There’s a TV commercial featuring a ventriloquist named Mr. Slick and his dummy, named “Dummy,” promoting the wondrous benefits of ethanol, not by actually listing those specific benefits – as one ought to do if one has real benefits to tout – but by implying that the evil oil companies don’t want you to know about them. Dummy answers questions that make the oil companies look bad, and Mr. Slick, portraying an evil oil baron, is horrified at Dummy’s responses and eventually puts his hand over Dummy’s mouth to shut him up. The announcer then asks the question, “Why don’t the oil companies want you to know the truth about ethanol?”

Ethanol has some useful qualities, like reducing the amount of petroleum-based fuels that are burned and the pollution they produce, but it has many disadvantages.

The all-knowing central planners at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have decreed that gasoline must currently have 10 percent ethanol (E10) mixed in, and the EPA is raising that requirement by 50 percent (E15), thus increasing by a half the negatives of ethanol in gasoline.

Putting ethanol in fuel means currently that approximately 40 percent of the corn from which ethanol is made is used for ethanol instead of food and animal feed. The amount of corn we burn could feed an estimated 570 million people annually. Shifting that much food corn to ethanol production raises the cost of food corn for human and animal consumption, as well as other food crops, such as wheat and hops, because farmers stop growing those crops and start growing corn to get the federal subsidies, and that creates shortages and higher prices for those crops, too. A PricewaterhouseCoopers study prepared for the National Council of Chain Restaurants said the federal ethanol mandate cost each restaurant $18,000 a year in higher food prices. Guess who pays that additional cost?

Every gallon of ethanol produced requires 5 gallons of water, and that affects the dry western states where ethanol is produced by shifting more of the sometimes-scarce liquid to farmers and away from urban areas, and could easily lead to water shortages and/or higher urban water prices.

Worse, however, is the great potential for damage to gas storage tanks, pumping equipment, other equipment involved in the delivery chain and engines that are the end user of ethanol in fuels. This point is supported by a December 2010 study commissioned by the Department of Energy that found 40 percent of new dispensing equipment designed for use with E10 fuels had failed tests, and 70 percent of previously used E10 equipment failed tests.

Ethanol fuels are deadly to small gasoline engines, such as lawnmowers, string trimmers, chain saws, boat motors, motorcycles and ATVs to the extent that manufacturers may void warranties when these fuels are used in their products.

Gasoline stabilizers must be added to ethanol infused gasoline to protect these smaller engines, at a cost, of course. But, however, owners of these machines have an option that car and truck owners don’t have: they can buy pure gasoline that has no added ethanol for only $20 to $32 a gallon.

If you get decent miles per gallon from your car or truck, you’d be getting even better mileage without ethanol in your gas. E10 and E15 mixtures routinely get fewer miles per gallon because ethanol contains less energy than pure gasoline. Estimates of lost miles per gallon range from 3-to-5 percent, to as high as 20 percent.

The Renewable Fuel Standard mandates the use of corn-based ethanol and other biofuels for transportation fuel. It promised less dependence on foreign oil and lower fuel prices and greenhouse gas emissions; however, many view the mandate as an economic and environmental boondoggle.

The benefits of infusing gasoline with ethanol to improve emissions from gas burning vehicles and tools are unclear. There has been some reduction in the use of petroleum in fuels, but the price we have paid for it has been comparatively high when the costs of producing ethanol and blending it with gasoline are considered, along with the increased prices of food for humans and animal feed. The House Energy and Commerce Committee has launched a bipartisan review of the Renewable Fuel Standard to determine its level of success.

Government efforts to make our lives better nearly always fail, or at least unleash new problems on the American people. The feds thought incandescent light bulbs that have served us so well for so long used too much energy, so they have mandated that we use the new CFL bulbs, which do use less electricity, but cost more and contain mercury, and create a haz-mat emergency when one of them breaks. Efforts to clean up emissions from electricity production have produced job losses in the coal and power industries and forced the sale of more domestic coal to foreign countries that do not make any effort to clean up their emissions.

Government mandates cost us billions of dollars a year for compliance, plus the cost of the bureaucracy to create and monitor compliance with regulations. Given the poor record of success the government has amassed, we’d be much better off with less government interference.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Death to Nidal Hasan and the better food in schools movement?

On November 5, 2009, US Army Major Nidal Hasan, a Muslim and psychiatrist at the Soldier Readiness Processing Center at Fort Hood, Texas, opened fire on his fellow soldiers inside the center, screaming “Allahu Akbar,” and killing 13 soldiers and an unborn child in her mother’s womb, and wounding 30 others.

While the victims were military personnel trained in the use of weapons, they were unarmed, forbidden from carrying on base the weapons many would use when deployed. Fortunately, Sgt. Kimberley Munley, a civilian police officer, arrived and wounded the jihadist doctor, interrupting his murderous rampage, but he shot Sgt. Munley three times, and just as the terrorist was about to finish her off, another civilian officer, Sgt. Mark Todd, shot him, and ended the killing spree.

This murderous attack left 13 dead, eight widows, one widower, 12 minor children without a father, 18 parents who lost children, 30 soldiers and one civilian police officer wounded.

There’s little positive from that event, other than that Nidal Hasan is now paralyzed from the waist down, and will likely never walk again.

Despite concerns about Hasan’s radical Islamist leanings, revealed when he was an intern at Walter Reed Medical Center, later as a physician in a PowerPoint presentation to other Army doctors, and Islamic abbreviations and phrases on his business card, the Army did not see fit to remove him from duty, or give him the punishment he so rightly deserved. In fact, an email from an Army investigator reveals the ugly politically correct nature of military service today: "Had we launched an investigation of Hasan we'd have been crucified."

Inexplicably, the charges the Department of Defense filed against Maj. Hasan ignored his Islam-based terrorist attack, but was instead labeled “workplace violence,” as if he had merely started a fight with a co-worker or thrown a chair at his boss. Such a designation deprives those soldiers killed and injured in this terrorist attack the benefits they are entitled to and would receive had accurate charges been filed.

During his opening statement at trial, in which he was convicted on all charges, Maj. Hasan apologized, not to the victims and their families, the nation or the Army, but to his fellow jihadists for not destroying more innocent life, and admitted shooting the 13 soldiers, and said he wanted the death penalty. Last week the jury sentenced him to death.

As one who believes in the death penalty for certain vicious crimes when guilt is not in question, in this case I hope that the death penalty for Nidal Hasan, a painless lethal injection, is set aside, as it has been for those in the military since 1961.

He deserves to live out his miserable life in abject misery, not in the glory of Islamic jihadist martyrdom for which he so badly hungers. Too bad that murderers, rapists, and others among the worst scum of humanity are treated so well when they are condemned to an American prison for their vicious crimes.

* * * * *

America’s First Ladies have always been advocates for important issues in our country. Rosalyn Carter championed mental health, Nancy Reagan fought against drug abuse, Barbara Bush worked to increase literacy, Hillary Clinton pushed for health reform, Laura Bush advocated for improvements in education, and Michelle Obama has worked to have a positive effect on childhood obesity.

Given the overweight nature of the US population generally, and that of the younger generation specifically, who can logically argue that a better menu in the nation’s public schools is a bad thing?

However, this particular effort has been met with resistance, and even outright rebellion, with school kids refusing to eat the better food being served in cafeterias, and school systems losing money on the deal as a result, and bailing out of the program.

One example of the growing national rebellion against the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which set new nutrition standards for school cafeterias and changed the way children are qualified for school meal programs, occurred recently at a contentious meeting of the Harlan County, Kentucky school board.

Board members were treated to a raft of complaints about school meals, which were called crappy and served in portions that critics say are too small. Someone said the meals tasted like “vomit,” and one parent said, “kids can’t learn when they’re hungry.”

Parents criticized the brown wheat bread, the skim or one-percent-fat milk, and the nonfat chocolate- and strawberry-flavored milk.

Where this effort has gone wrong is that it attempts to mandate through law the way kids eat, and even though the standards set by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act are nutritionally superior to previous standards, school kids liked the old food and they don’t like the new food, and therefore don’t eat it.

In it’s own way this is a citizen rebellion against an over-reaching state: the people are against the government trying to tell them how to eat, among other things.

Our government has no business doing this. Perhaps this mild revolution will get the point across. But probably not.