Thursday, May 28, 2009


"Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks, no form of government, can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea. If there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these men..." -- James Madison (June 20, 1788)

The statements you are about to read will be considered highly unpopular by many who dare to read it. The truth of the matter is that I am not currently concerned with winning popularity contests. When one sees the truth, and sees that others are either unaware of it or refuse to acknowledge it, then that person feels compelled to shout it from every podium, porch, and personal computer made available until all ears can hear and all eyes can see. You may agree wholeheartedly or disagree and shrug it off as nonsense, but I have no choice other than to say it.

Part I: The Problem

We are speeding down a dangerous path in this country which, though many still refuse to acknowledge this fact, will end in tyranny. Over a century ago, our government began usurping our liberties and instituting upon us legislation that chipped away at everything that made this country the destination for every oppressed and overburdened individual in the world. Now we are in a downward spiral in which with every passing day our freedoms are greatly diminished. Further gun restrictions, reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine, full body imaging scans in airports, the Patriot Act, government takeovers of private businesses and corporations, and increased taxes passed against the will of the people are all current examples. The United States of America is a republic and a capitalist society. But Cap and Trade and National Health Care legislation would transform this country into a socialist state in which the citizens are no longer free peoples, but beggars standing in line for inferior and penurious rations. Our country is quickly returning to exactly what our Founding Fathers fought against.

Part II: The Cause

America, we are corrupt. We, through the course of the last 200 years, have degraded and demoralized ourselves to the point that we have become selfish, unprincipled, spoiled, depraved, and dishonest as a society. We have renounced our concern for the good of the community as a whole. Our interest lies only in the self: we are self-centered and self-obsessed. And as a society, we tend to display disinterest in anything that does not personally affect our own lives, regardless of what effect it will have on our country and our fellow citizens. What we lack is public and private virtue.

We have allowed ourselves to become distracted by wants: want of fame, want of wealth, want of entertainment, and want of personal security. And we have done so at the cost of our liberties and our very souls. We have spent far too much time distracted by all the splendiferous benefits granted to us by our free society to the point that we are now wholly at risk of letting these benefits slip right through our fingers. We have neglected to preserve the perfect union established by our Founding Fathers, who through the painful sacrifice of their own wealth and blood made available to us and all future generations. And this, my fellow Americans, is a sin not only against our forefathers but against our descendants as well.

Benjamin Franklin once stated that only a people of morals and virtue are capable of freedom, and that as societies become more corrupt, they will have greater need of masters. And so we have. Over the course of only two centuries we have permitted our taxes to increase and our liberties to decrease, and all while enjoying enchanting music, delightful food and drink, the romantic affections of partners, the accumulation of prized objects, and other certain animal comforts.

How did we get where we are (e.g. on the very brink of the socialist progressive overtaking of America)? Because no one kept their eyes on the road for all the signs along the way that pointed to exactly where we were heading. We didn't want to be bothered with the time-consuming challenges of politics, liberty, and reason, as they so interfered with the enjoyment of our beloved vices. And even now, as we stand at the edge of a revolution, still there are far too many who will not depart from their social engagements, accumulation, and love of gossip long enough to contact legislators about pending bills or to organize grassroots movements to restore our liberties.

Part III: The Solution

So here we stand at a critical juncture where we must determine how best to take back our nation and restore it to the state of grandeur that our Founders established. As I see it, we are confronted with three roads:

The first road is the road of public interest and action. Along this road we are required to become politically active and educated. We must speak out against that which is contrary to our Constitution and collectively vote in ways that preserve justice and liberty. We must organize at both local and national levels to raise awareness. We must move people to action and send a clear, united message to Washington DC indicating that if they do not reform their ways, their days in office are numbered. This road involves gathering in large numbers and speaking out. This road was embarked upon by hundreds of thousands of Americans on April 15, 2009. This is the road of the voters.

A second road that lay before us, and a road that nearly all of us hope we never need tread upon, is the road of social uprising. This road mandates that we must stand up and fight with force against an oppressive and tyrannical government that has refused to hear the voice of the people. This road is violent. And it has long been washed in the blood of the victor and the defeated. This road is (historically) a last resort to be used when all other roads have been barricaded or destroyed. Americans in the thirteen colonies had hoped to avoid this path until the abuses of government determined they had no alternative. Our Founding Fathers foresaw that a day may come in which their descendants would be required to again take up arms and fight for their rights to justice, liberty, and freedom from tyranny. That train of thought gave birth to our second amendment: the right to bear arms. This, therefore, would be the road of revolution and reclamation of the birthright of every American citizen. This is the road of rebels.

And the third road that stands before us is perhaps the most painstaking and effort-filled road of all. This particular path requires sacrifice, duty, courage, and conviction--perhaps even more so than the other two roads mentioned above. This road dictates that we must reinstate both public and personal virtue, establish morality both within the home and surrounding society, and that we must ourselves be just. This is not the course of the Puritan, where all physical and social comforts must be sacrificed under the banner of holy doctrine. This is the road of balance: comforts balanced with duty, entertainment balanced with knowledge and education, wealth balanced with responsibility. This is the road of virtue.

Samuel Adams once wrote: "The sum of it all is, if we would most truly enjoy the gift of Heaven, let us become a virtuous people; then shall we both deserve and enjoy it. While, on the other hand, if we are universally vicious and debauched in our manners, though the form of our Constitution carries the face of the most exalted freedom, we shall in reality be the most abject slaves."

Now, if virtue is critical to ensure that our republican government is maintained, then pursuing either of the other two roads without it would be vain. Under that line of thought, we would only be running in circles without ever truly achieving our goals. We can organize and unify as a body of voters, but without a moral foundation to guide us, we will only succeed in electing more corrupt leaders who will continue the work of breaking promises and usurping freedoms. Or we can take up arms and physically fight to regain our independence from our oppressors, but it is most likely that we will only achieve a bloody and violent end in which we are crushed and dismissed. Neither option appeals much to me.

However, were we all as a nation of free citizens to take up the banner of moral reform, beginning first and foremost with ourselves, then likely we would be as equally guided by Divine Providence as our Founding Fathers believed they were. Virtue, though seeming small and insignificant, can change everything for the betterment of our society.

Therefore, ere we put out a call to arms or a call to the polls, I would issue a call to virtue.

"It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom. No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles." -- Patrick Henry

Let Liberty be our Goal and Virtue be our Guide. And Divine Providence shall defend us even in the face of great opposition.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Progressive Agenda

(Part II of the Beyond Thunderdome series)

I spent quite a bit of time in a local Barnes & Nobles today, searching for more fodder to fuel my political savvy as well as to greater enhance my understanding of our history, our government, and where we may all be headed. (Down the toilet came to mind, though I have hope that there are enough people out there like myself who will fight to keep America free from socialist tyranny and downfall.) I'm not a big fan of Barnes & Nobles, mainly because they are one of the few retailers I know that actually charges customers for their illustrious "discount" club cards. ( Borders Books the discount cards are free.) Nevertheless, I set aside my personal dislikes for B&N mainly because a particular audio book I wanted was advertised by the author as "...available at Barnes & Nobles and" and sometimes I'm just a bit too impatient to wait for ground shipping. Fortunately for B&N they had ONE remaining copy of the much-desired audio book (God help them if they hadn't had it).

After snatching the last copy from the shelf, I decided to take a look around and see if there was anything else of interest while I was there. I had a mental list of things, much of which I found. I was shocked, honestly, because I figured a chain as large as B&N wouldn't bother carrying books on...oh...the US Constitution or Thomas Jefferson, or rhetoric supporting radical views like upholding the vision of our founding fathers and the like. But their selection was decent enough and now I have plenty of reading materials to ensure that I have absolutely NO free time for the next three months.

However, I came across a few things that peaked my interest -- not because I felt they would make entertaining reading, but because they openly promoted the Progressive agenda in this country. Now, I consider myself to be one of those "radical" people who believe that this country is unquestionably the greatest country in the world. Sure it has its social and economic challenges, but they are minor in comparison to the rest of the world. Here we have the freedom (for now, at least) to speak openly about our political, religious, and personal beliefs without having to worry about our government attacking our freedoms. We have the freedom to better ourselves and move up the economic ladder so that though we may have spent our childhoods picking cotton and dreaming of indoor plumbing, that doesn't mean we can't some day be senior managers of a major telecommunications company and playing golf with the big-whigs. And we have the right to vote our government out of office when we determine they are no longer useful in maintaining our free society. There's a reason people immigrate here from all over the world: even they believe in the "American Dream".

But progressives don't think America is so great. In fact, they want to completely change it from the free society we currently know into something in which the government has complete authority over every single aspect of our lives. From how much money we are allowed to earn (no matter how hard we may have worked for it) to whether or not we will be considered viable enough to keep alive in our old age or should we be diagnosed with a deadly illness.

One of the books I came across today was titled The Constitution in 2020, and it describes itself as a progressive agenda intended to implement an entirely new interpretation of the U.S. Constitution over the next couple of decades. I didn't buy it today, though I do intend to read it. I just refuse to pay full cover price for a book that at some point in the very near future may be useful for nothing more than to balance the wobbly table I have on my front porch. But I took note of the book, and when I got home, began to research it.

The folks who threw this book together have a website which I found (thank you, google) and started reading through. It's more like a blog site on which many of the writers and contributors to the book posted some of their thoughts about creating a clear and useful agenda to bring about this "progressive" change. Here are a few things I found of interest among the blog posts:

By Robert W. Gordon: " egalitarian distribution of initial property and skill endowments (e.g. through homesteads, estate taxes breaking up inherited concentrated wealth, universal public education etc.), which would both help to equalize opportunity and give free citizens a base of security and self-sufficiency to resist domination..."

Oh, so you're saying that inherited wealth is a bad thing. Ooh, those nasty rich people working all their lives so that they can leave behind a better life for their offspring. The horror! The nerve of some people! It's probably their fault that the poor and uneducated were never motivated enough to raise themselves up out of poverty through education and hard work. Certainly welfare couldn't have had anything to do with it. Oh no, that just couldn't be.

By Bruce Ackerman: "The second aim is to create a new institution of civic inheritance to complement the existing institution of family inheritance. Each American citizen should receive a substantial stake (Alstott and I argue for $80,000) when starting out in life as a young adult. Each citizen should be free to use his stake for any project he thinks best. Stakeholding will give renewed meaning to the Declaration's promise of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" by giving young adults the wherewithall to shape their lives at a moment when most of them are living from paycheck to paycheck."

You know, call me crazy, but I seem to recall a financial fiasco about three and a half years ago with moneys given to people to use however they wanted. Something having to do with FEMA and the little debit card disaster in which Katrina victims were observed using their $2000 emergency assistance cards to buy diamond jewelry and expensive handbags? (This was confirmed on, by the way.) So, instead of $2,000, we're going to just hand over $80,000 to every "young adult" to use in any manner he or she wishes? Yeah, that sounds like a GREAT idea, because I'm certain that young people will have the foresight to apply that money directly to a college education, savings accounts, and reasonable expenses that would last until they get that first big paycheck from work. Oh yeah, the progressives won't let these young adults make too much money...whoops. And for the record, our constitution provides for each person the right to the "pursuit of happiness", not a guarantee that you will obtain it.

By Willy Forbath: "Rather than redistribution of income after the fact, market-based social citizenship ideas emphasize redistributing opportunities and life chances, incentives and rewards to effort, and redistributing the security necessary to take risks. This blurs the categories and jumbles the values that conventionally distinguish liberal and conservative social policy. It puts progressives on the side of economic growth, and it puts the moral basis of a progressive program on the bedrock promises of liberal capitalism: work for the willing, a decent income for those who work, opportunity to rise above a bare minimum by making full use of one’s talents and abilities."

Um, don't we already have a system in 21st century America where those who are willing to work will earn a decent income and those who apply themselves can earn a degree or useful skills to rise above that bare minimum? This isn't a liberal's an American ideal. Just ask Chris Gardner. And not all countries have it. In some European countries (Germany, for example) higher education is provided to those who demonstrate through skills tests that they are worthy of the extra expense. For those who score poorly on assessment tests, there's a fine future for them in basic, low-paying manual labor jobs...and it's likely they'll be there for the rest of their lives. In America, there are many of what we call "returning students" on nearly every college campus. They're people who reached a point in their lives and decided either to switch career paths and earn a second or third degree, or people who were tired of working low paying jobs for ten to twenty years and decided to go earn their FIRST degree. I knew several during my many years spent obtaining my undergrad degree. And I respected and admired them greatly. We already have opportunity here -- some people just don't want to make use of it. And throwing them an $80,000 freebie as soon as they reach 18 really isn't going to motivate them to do what it takes to get the jobs that would provide them that much and more on an annual basis.

The next question would be: Just where the heck is all the money for these "ideals" going to come from? Uh, I think they told us somewhere up there in a previous paragraph that they would strip the inherited rich of their family fortunes...and something or other about estates. But will raping the rich pay for such policies? According to a writer for the Wall Street Journal, if you tax all income over $500,000 at a rate of 100% (which means no soup for you, richy rich guy) then you would only have brought in $1.3 trillion dollars. Whoo-hoo, that sounds like a lot, doesn't it? It's not. That's less than half of the 2006 federal budget. And that's without the $80,000 per young adult moneys that our progressive friends want to dish out. (And, by the way, our current proposed FY2010 federal budget is at $3.6 trillion.)

Yep, boys and girls, we could soon be heading toward an era in which we sit our grandchildren on our knees and tell them, "You know, kids, I remember a time when $3.6 trillion dollars was a lot of money." Then those same grandchildren laughing gleefully at you and saying, "Oh, [insert favorite nickname for grandparent here], you're just so silly!"

So here it is, folks...a little brief insight into the progressive agenda and just a few fiscal ideas they have to "make this country better", although better for whom, I have yet to determine.

Many progressives model their ideals after the works of FDR (Franklin D Roosevelt) who is responsible for many of the expensive programs we are still paying for in America today. Social Security (which my generation will NEVER EVER see), the SEC, and FNMA (currently known as Fannie Mae) to name a few. Progressives adore FDR, especially for his New Deal and "Second Bill of Rights" both of which were in large part responsible for the entitlement generations that have since grown in population. These are the people who get something for nothing and believe it is how things should be. Let's recall that FDR was the same president that, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, implemented a 100% tax rate on all income over $25,000 (which in current times would equal an income of $300,000). Imagine if our president today tried such a thing...well, that would just be crazy. But, you know, a progressive administration would be just crazy enough to try it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


(Because Waking Up is Hard to Do)

I can be a realist at times (no, really it's true), so I'm highly aware that the chances of this message actually reaching its target audience are pretty bleak. And I'm also vastly aware of the reason why: people in this audience just don't want to hear it. Most of them are snugly settled in the deepest throes of their euphoric sleep, and are either not ready to wake up and hear the unsettling messages I have to share with them, or they simply don't want to believe that something could be wrong (and therefore needs to be fixed...which means work).

I know all of this because I, too, was once a proud, card-carrying member of this non-exclusive club (we can call it the "See How Far You Can Bury Your Head in the Sand Club" or SHFYCBYHITSC for short), and to be quite honest, I never had any intention whatsoever of rescinding my lifetime membership. I was comfortable, and (at least I thought) happy. You see, it's far more comfortable to live in a fantasy world where everything is just downright peachy. Where everyone does the right thing, not out of obligation or legislation, but out of love for our country, liberty, and God. But this fantasy world is just that: a fantasy. It doesn't exist. And whether you want to or not, it's time to wake up.

Now, I will warn you that the process of waking up WILL NOT be an easy one. It can be pretty painful, or at least it was for me. I would liken it to the five stages of death:

  1. Denial: No way, man! This stuff only happens in futuristic, apocalyptic Mel Gibson movies. It could never happen in America in the 21st century! That's crazy!
  2. Anger: Quit weighing me down with your negativity, dude! You're killing my buzz!
  3. Bargaining: Okay, so if I agree with what you're telling me, will you just give it a rest and let me get back to staycation (see post titled "Silent No More" for definition of staycation)?
  4. Depression: Tina Turner looked so hot when she went beyond Thunderdome, I don't think that look would work for me in post-apocalyptic America.
  5. Acceptance: Admitting there's a problem is the first step to getting help. And the next step is working vehemently to prevent us from reaching the end of the road that we're already on.

And part of the reason why I'm reaching out to all of the lullaby innocents of the nation, is because I feel it really is that important to help you see what's happening and where we're going. The things I will be writing about now and over the course of the next couple of weeks will be highly unpopular. But it's not my goal right now to make you feel good. Let's fix the problem first, then we can all go back to holding hands around the campfire while singing Kumbayah.


We are currently living in a time of swift, volatile change. And this change is sweeping through our country like the strong wind that precedes a great storm. With every gust (legislation passed in Washington), destruction follows. It rips apart and dismantles our homes (the U.S. Constitution), it knocks over strong, sturdy trees (our individual liberties), and throws debris across our roadways (justice and due process) until we cannot pass. Yet, that is not the worst of it. The storm is still looming on the horizon, nearing slowly and ominously...and filling those who can clearly see it with absolute dread.

The storm that is coming...well, many believe it to be nothing less than a socialist revolution. And I don't mean revolution in the Paul McCartney "we all wanna change the world" sense. I mean the ugly, bloody, the end is near (!!!) kind of revolution that we've seen before in our history books. The ones that made us shudder and wonder just why no one did anything to stop them.
That kind of revolution.

Call me crazy if you want. I'm sure many people will. In fact, I believe I implied to my husband (God love him) that he had gone off the deep end when he initially tried to tell me some of this same stuff (you know...the stuff I didn't want to hear). At one point I even told him that he would have to stop -- just stop -- mid-conversation because I just couldn't handle what he was saying. And he stopped. And in the brief silence that followed, everything began to seep in and make sense. I was finally awake, too.

So, by this point you're likely wishing that I was less verbose and more skilled at jumping right to the point. Sorry. That's not how I was made. If our imperfect education system taught me anything, it was a knack for flair and long, complex sentences filled with zappy adjectives, casual chit-chat, and the occasional impressive, frilly word. I may also have a tendency to love the sound of my own voice and the eloquence of each of my carefully typed words as they grace the screen of my computer monitor. Ah, aren't they just magnificent? But I digress.

America today faces a lot of challenges, both internal and external.

Our government refuses to pass immigration reform laws that would better secure our borders both to the north and south at a time when it is becoming critical to do so. Terrorists are easily able to cross our lax borders into our country where they can sit and wait for instructions from their higher ups. You think Islamist terrorists don't still want to kill us? Well, why don't you pour yourself a nice, steaming cup of get real tea and sit down with a copy of Al-Zarqawi--Al Qaeda's Second Generation (which describes a seven step, twenty year plan to establish Islamic rule right here in America). And if that isn't enough to keep you laying awake, restless in your bed at night, consider this: the Mexican economy is on the verge of collapse, which means that our loosely controlled borders could soon be flooded with the influx of hundreds of thousands (if not more)desperate illegal immigrants.

Nationalized health care is on the horizon, spearheaded by our current administration. This is just another fancy word for socialized medicine, which is what our neighbors to the north and across the Atlantic endure. Health care for everyone is great, right? Wrong. It leads to health care for no one...well except for members of a privileged elite class for whom none of the rules apply. Why is socialized medicine bad? Try this on for size: the people of Great Britain have become so hopeless in waiting for dental services under socialized dentistry that they've begun pulling out their own teeth. Don't believe me? Try googling "Britains pulling out their own teeth" and see what all pops up. And that's only the beginning...the list of problems in endless, and to do real justice to it, I will have to dedicate an upcoming blog to the topic of socialized medicine alone. (Oh, and you can rest assured that I will.)

Government takeovers of banks and national private companies have already begun, and our own Timothy Geitner seems to have no problem with doing so. What he does have trouble with is answering the questions offered by Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, who asked him several times in Congressional hearings just where in the U.S. Constitution the power to take ownership of private banks is given. His blank expression seemed to imply, "Constitution? What's that?" He provided no insight whatsoever. Oh, but our current legislators have no plans of stopping after the complete and utter takeover of our banking system. GM has already been acquired. And don't worry, drivers...your warranty is good with Uncle Sam.

Environmental policies, which are the lovechild of electrical and media giant GE, are being set in place now that could completely alter the way of life as we know it. Imagine a future where your government determines whether or not you use your air conditioner just too much when the mercury rises outside...and, if so, turns off your A/C from thousands of miles away. Think it would never happen? Think again. GE already has a "smart chip" which could be installed in every new product they manufacture which would allow two-way communication between your appliances and your government. Some electric customers in other states are already receiving letters offering "free" thermostats along with details about how they could save money by allowing their electricity providers to set the temperatures in their homes. Ah, the future is near.

Corruption. See: Acorn and Glenn Beck's current research on just what the heck is going on with that organization. He explains it all far better than I would. It's worth it...I promise. And he has facts, whistle blowers, and all the scandal you could ever dream of.

And then there's Progressivism. Which is just a nice, frilly, happy way of saying absolute government control. Here's the real meat of the on. We are heading toward Socialism, plainly and simply put. We can call it something else, like "nationalized this" and "nationalized that" or we can follow the trend a couple of decades ago and refer to it in a more inflammatory way as a "New World Order", but no matter what we call it, it's still socialism. I recall the old saying: Don't sprinkle sugar on crap and tell me it's candy. A lot of what is going on right now is a result of the Progressive movement, which isn't really a new thing at all. It's been around (as a defined movement, at least) since the late 1800's and has had a tendency to ebb and flow according to political, social, and international sentiment.

Now, I asked a good friend today at work just what she thought of the word "progressive". She told me it didn't sound like a bad thing...didn't it just mean progress? Moving forward? I told her that was exactly what I would have thought the word meant, too. But it doesn't.

I read a paper this afternoon written by Thomas G. West, a respected Political Science Professor, and he quoted John Burgess (a well known Progressive political scientist) who described the ideal of the Progressive movement in the following way:

"The most fundamental and indispensable mark of statehood [is] the original, absolute, unlimited, universal power over the individual subject, and all associations of subjects."

Feel free to read that quote a few more times and allow it to fully sink in, because it's a very important statement.

Progressives are about absolute control over each and every aspect of each and every citizen's life. Sound familiar? It should. It was why we spent so much of our time and resources fighting against the Soviet Union and the spread of communism.

(Are you awake now?)

So, over the course of the next couple of weeks, I intend to educate you further on the origins, history, and effects of the Progressive Movement in our country. For those of you who are already well versed on this topic, you are more than welcome to CLEP out of this current coursework and proceed to the next level. The rest of you: pay attention, because this matters.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

If You Want it, Come and Take it...

(But I Promise it Won't Be Easy)

"The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed" [Amendment II, Bill of Rights]

This past January, a bill was introduced in Congress that would greatly affect a large number of Americans. This was not the first time such a bill was proposed in Washington, because many passionate activists have spent their entire careers working toward such legislation. However, most Americans didn't hear a word about it. This particular piece of legislation flew way under the radar, shielded from sight by the frenzy of big government spending, earmarks, and partisan bickering.

I'm writing, of course, of HR 45, which is titled Blair Holt's Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009. This proposed act was introduced in the House on January 6th by Congressman Bobby Rush, who (ironically) served a six month prison sentence in 1969 for illegal possession of firearms. Two of the four described purposes of this bill -- and I'm quoting directly from the text of the Act itself -- is to accomplish the following:

1) to protect the public against the unreasonable risk of injury and death associated with the unrecorded sale or transfer of qualifying firearms to criminals and youth;
3) to restrict the availability of qualifying firearms to criminals, youth, and other persons prohibited by Federal law from receiving firearms

Okay, America...did you get that last part? Go back and read it again if you need to. It's okay. I'll wait right here while you do it. Yeah. That whole part about how we need new regulations to restrict guns getting into the hands of those who are already "prohibited by Federal law" from having them.

Oh God. This could get ugly. I might have to break out the M&M's (in our home, we call them "medicine") to get through it.

Now, before I get into some of the details of these proposed regulations, I would like to provide you with a brief and serious bit of history about the person for whom this Act is named. Blair Holt was a [Chicago] Julian High School student who in May of 2007 died after using his body to shield a girl from a shooting attack on a CTA bus. Blair and several other students were on their way home from school when a former JHS student boarded the bus and opened fire, injuring Blair Holt and four other students. Holt, the son of a police officer and a city firefighter who both taught him the values of courage and leadership, put himself between the shooter and a girl named Tiarra Reed to shield her from the attack. He died that same night.

The attack was perpetrated by a juvenile who had been assigned to alternative school. Though there is little information about the shooter online, what little is said reveals that the shooter was 16 year-old Michael Pace, a young gang member who had (according to sources) been tangled in a two year long dispute with another gang member. His 15-year-old friend, Kevin Jones, gave him a gun with the knowledge that he intended to use it to attempt to kill this other gang member. Both Pace and Jones were charged with the shooting, Pace for having fired the weapon, and Jones for knowingly providing the gun for the crime.

Now, Blair Holt was not only the son of a respected policeman and a firefighter mother, but also was described as an honor student and an all-around great person. While he was not the intended target of the shooting, his heroism put him directly in the line of fire and that noble trait cost him his life. That brave and noble act should never be forgotten, because people like Holt are exactly the kind of people we need more of in America. God bless him for what he did.

However, many folks like myself feel that gun control legislation is not the answer. The gun used in that particular shooting was not a legally purchased gun, nor was it lawfully owned by the person who provided it for the crime. It was an illegal handgun. And gun control legislation doesn't really affect illegal gun possession, now does it?

The state of Illinois has some of the tightest restrictions on firearms in the country. In order to purchase either firearms or ammunition, one must have a state police issued identification card (a Firearm Owner's Identification, FOID) which will only be granted if the applicant has no criminal history (including felonies and domestic violence), is not the subject of a protection order, and has not been institutionalized in a mental facility. Furthermore, Chicago requires that all firearms be registered with the local PD, and handguns cannot currently be registered unless they were registered prior to April of 1982. This, in effect, outlaws handgun ownership. Also, Cook county has banned firearm magazines that hold more than ten rounds of ammunition. Illinois does not grant permits to carry, nor does it provide peaceable journey laws.

So, with all that legislation on the books, you might wonder just how two teenagers were able to get their hands on a gun. Well, clearly the gun was not purchased from a licensed retailer, who would have required background checks and proper identification to determine whether or not they were even old enough to purchase a firearm. It's highly unlikely that they purchased the weapon at a gun show, as gun show retailers have to follow the same laws regarding age and background checks as retail stores. And that leaves us with a few alternative answers. And none of those answers involve obeying the law.

Over a decade ago (1997 to be exact), the US Department of Justice surveyed prison inmates who had committed violent crimes with a firearm to determine how they obtained the weapon for the crime for which they were currently serving time. Only 15.3% of the survey respondents admitted that they had purchased their guns at either gun stores, pawnshops, flea markets, or gun shows. Nine percent did not know how they got their guns (yeah, right) or obtained their guns via resources not listed on the survey, and 4.4% refused to answer. That leaves us with the other 71.3% of prison inmates who admitted they got their firearms via illegal methods. Nearly 21% got their guns "off the street" or from drug dealers, 9.6% from black market or a fence, and 36.8% obtained their weapon from either a friend or family member.

So, remind me again just how restricting the legal purchase of a firearm will prevent violent crimes. According to an Americans for Gun Safety report in 2003, some 20 of the 22 national firearm and gun control laws aren't even enforced. Yet, by some remarkable act of divine providence, passing more legislation will fix this problem?

Now, the Blair Holt Act would require that anyone owning a qualifying firearm apply for and be issued a firearm license which would be provided by the US Attorney General. The application for this ID(according to what is written in the proposed legislation, Section 102) would require a passport-sized photograph, the name/address/date AND place of birth of the applicant, any aliases, a thumbprint, a statement that the individual is not prohibited from owning a firearm, a certification by the applicant the firearm will be "safely stored and out of the possession of persons who have not attained 18 years of age", completion of a written firearms examination, an authorization to release to the Attorney General any and all mental health records, and a signature.

Jeez. No DNA samples? Or will the hair follicle samples be collected some time after the application is submitted?

Oh, and there's the $25 application fee, lest I forget. You gotta love those fees. And since the license has to be renewed every five years, you better believe this is yet another way Washington would try to pay for its precious pork.

This proposed legislation goes on and on for pages and pretty much puts nothing new on the table, aside from the photo ID and applicable fees. The truth is, this will only make it more challenging for honest, law-abiding citizens to purchase and maintain their firearms. And when people who obey the law no longer have access to weapons to use for self defense, the only people left who still have guns are the criminals. Do you really think the thugs on the corner are going to get all warm and fuzzy about filling out their applications with the US Attorney General? Do you think they're going to take a written test to ensure they know how to properly store and maintain their guns? Are they really going to endure background checks and waiting periods, not to mention all the mountains of paperwork?

No. They won't.

They're going to keep on doing business the way they've always done business. Under the radar and against the law. Let's not kid ourselves any longer, okay? Gun control doesn't stop gun crimes. It may prevent a small percentage -- a very, very small percentage. And you can't legislate personal responsibility or common sense. (I know... Washington's tried and tried...and you see where it's gotten us?)

The truth is, people who legally purchase a gun are typically already educated on the safety, maintenance, and storage of that gun. They have no criminal or mental histories. They do not intend to use the gun to commit a crime -- they intend to use it to prevent a crime or to prevent becoming a crime victim. And doing what is necessary within the law to ensure your and your family's personal safety...well, that (to me) is an unalienable right.

Now, having read a considerable number of the sections in this bill (as much as I could manage without having blood shoot out of my eyes), I would be remiss not to mention a couple of points that express all of the good intentions of those up in Washington. I only briefly touched on it above, but this act really, honestly wants to ensure that the average, everyday person like you or me who runs off and buys a gun actually knows how to take care of it. For example, Section 305 clearly defines how a gun owner is expected to ensure that firearms are not made accessible to any "child", child being defined as any individual who hasn't reached the age of 18. Basically, a person cannot keep a gun if it is readily available to any child who may use it, and by using it cause death or injury to himself or anyone else. But there are some exceptions. If the gun is locked up and the child still manages to gain access to it, the gun owner cannot be blamed. If the child uses the firearm in a "lawful act of self-defense" or in defending other people, that is also considered okay (despite the fact that the child was never supposed to have access to the gun to save his own life or that of others...just seems odd to me).

Here's the thing: pretty much all of the gun owners I know -- and granted, I do know a lot of pretty intelligent people, which may somewhat skew my perceptions -- already take these precautions. Even in cases where there are no children in the home, and there would be no occasions in which children would be there (visiting, holidays, etcetera), they still keep their handguns locked up in a safe manner. I asked them once why they go through so much trouble to make sure only they can access their firearms. You wanna know what they said? Because they are just being responsible people. Because it's the right thing to do.

When will the Federal government learn that you cannot legislate responsibility or common sense? People either have it or they don't. The passing of hundreds of new acts and laws every single year (most of which are never even enforced to begin with) doesn't really seem to have done much to solve the problems that society has faced over the past century. People who do the right thing continue to suffer on behalf of those who fail to do so either out of ignorance, negligence, or outright refusal. Heck, if legislation were the answer, I would be the first one to bang on Congress' door with a five-hundred page "anti-stupidity" law proposal to put in the books. But new laws just aren't the answer. Education and responsibility are.

But there's no point in telling Washington that.

They're not listening anyhow.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

"Everybody Loves a ... Pandemic?"

Ah, there's nothing like a nationwide health panic to distract the common Dick and Jane from their everyday frustrations and dissatisfaction. Only two weeks ago we were all up in arms over Washington spending and over-paid, under-performing executives getting million dollar bonuses for driving their companies into the toilet.

Today... today we are mostly up in arms about the local Wal-Mart selling out of paper masks and face shields, or the fact that the guy sitting five feet from us won't cover his mouth during his endless coughing fits.

Sometimes I feel that the human race has the attention span of a nervous kitten -- one second we're all chasing the jingling fuzzy ball across the floor and the next we're craning our necks (ears rotating about like satellite dishes) to determine the cause of a horn honking five miles away.

Of course, our bi-polar mainstream media outlets do much to perpetuate the chaos and unrest. On one hand, they tell us that over 200 people have DIED in Mexico from the H1R1 virus, affectionately known as swine flu, and that thousands are currently afflicted. On the other hand, they tell us that all we have to do is wash our hands and cover our mouths when we cough. Entire school districts are closing left and right as infected students are detected (sometimes two or three students at a time) yet we have no cause for regulating our borders more closely because health officials still have yet to determine how dangerous this particular flu strain is or how it is spreading from person to person.

And don't think our current administration isn't also demonstrating schizophrenic behavior in this state of confusion. They are.

"This is obviously a cause for concern and requires a heightened state of alert. But it is not a cause for alarm.” (No. 44, April 27th)


"I would tell members of my family, and I have, I wouldn’t go anywhere in confined places right now. It’s not that its going to Mexico, it’s that you are in a confined aircraft when one person sneezes, it goes everywhere through the aircraft.” (Biden, April 30th)

Hey, America, here's a clue: it's the FLU. It may be a different strain than what many of us get inoculated against every November, but that doesn't make it any more threatening to public health. We don't panic and close down school districts every time a few students present with traditional flu-like symptoms. Or chickenpox. Or Tuberculosis, for that matter. What do we do? We send the infected children home to share their ever-loving germs exclusively with their own family members. And that's generally (and historically) all we do.

"But swine flu has already killed hundreds in Mexico and one child in Texas!" you may protest. Yup. You're right. But the more common strains of influenza (and pneumonia) kill, what, 36,000 people in America every year, doesn't it? (Or at least according to information from the CDC, it does.) And isn't it always funny how quick the press is to throw these frightening statistics out there, while failing to explain to the honest public just how the flu virus kills all those people? They don't reveal that these fatalities are most often due to complications brought on or exacerbated by the flu. A previously healthy woman contracted swine flu in 1988 and died 8 days after being admitted to a hospital. But, before you gasp in horror, know this: she died of pneumonia. Not from the swine flu, itself (though her body tested positive for H1N1 virus), but from a secondary infection. (And you know what? Hospitals are notorious for being breeding grounds of secondary infections. They're like singles bars for cooties.)

Most of the people who die after influenza infections also suffer (prior to exposure to the flu) from chronic diseases or illnesses. Asthma, pulmonary disease, congestive heart problems, diabetes, or weakened immune systems, tend to increase the mortality rate in more common strains of flu...because the health of the victim is already compromised. It is for that very reason that flu vaccines are, in years of shortages, reserved first and foremost for people who fall into those categories. If you are more at risk for complications, then it is more highly recommended that you get a flu vaccine to prevent said complications and the potential for death.

Typically healthy individuals may catch the flu, miss a few days of work, and eventually recover as though nothing ever happened to them. It's uncomfortable -- or, more honestly, miserable -- but not deadly. And, chances are, the same is true of the swine flu.

This is not the Ebola virus, America. This is not the end of life on earth as we know it. It's the flu. Most people who contract it will be fine. I repeat: YOU WILL BE FINE. Life will go on. The human race will continue to prosper. (For now.)

Now, if you do suffer a chronic illness that compromises your immune health, by all means be extra cautious. Carry hand sanitizer with you at all times and use it obsessively, avoid being around people who are sick or coughing (especially if they have a fever), and be sanitary. Wash your hands. Clean counter tops, doorknobs, pulls, handles, and anything else you and other people tend to touch with disinfectants such as Clorox or Lysol. Avoid large social gatherings if they aren't necessary, and just use common sense.

As for the rest of you healthy individuals out there who are buying up all the face/dust masks at Wal-Mart or Home Depot while begging your doctors to write unnecessary prescriptions for Tamiflu and Relenza so that you will have your own personal stockpile just in case your throat gets scratchy... CHILL OUT! Put the masks down! Or, better yet, hand them out to the people who may actually need them: asthmatics, diabetics, heart patients, or other chronic disease sufferers. You can count it as your non-deductible charitable act for the year. Your one good deed.

Oh, and another thing. For all of you who use public restrooms and walk straight from the toilet stall to the exit door: wash your damned hands, you filthy freaks. Ugh.

However, with the nationwide hysteria over what could soon be deemed by the WHO as a level 6 pandemic, I will admit there are some advantages. With all this unwarranted panic, a lot of people are opting to board themselves up in their homes to avoid exposure or infection. And do you know how that helps me out? Traffic. This morning I actually drove the 40 plus miles from home to my monthly staff meeting for work...and I never once had to slam on my brakes or idle in bumper to bumper gridlock. I made it to the meeting on time. Nice.

America, it's looking to me like pandemics may be our environmentally friendly answer to traffic-related pollution. How do you like them apples?