Month: September 2011

Privacy lost…never regained

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It was several years ago in 1999 when Scott McNealy, then CEO of Sun Microsystems, said: “You have zero privacyanyway.  Get over it.”  His comments were picked up by the media worldwide and drew gasps from privacy advocates in the U.S.  I was one of them, concentrating in those days on our loss of control over our names and personal data.  I had been a junk mail data broker. 
Appalled, I wrote several posts on my blog, The Dunning Letter, about how wrong he was and how individuals must work to protect their private information.  You can read some of them here. 
In the meantime, I haven’t given up my belief that people should be able to maintain their privacy.  What I have lost is my belief that we will ever be able to attain the necessary level of privacy needed to keep us safe.  And, much of the problem can be attributed to the apathy of the American public toward privacy.  They just don’t care so why should lawmakers who could pass federal legislation protecting these individuals.
Two of the largest warehouses of personal data are mortgage companies and medical offices.  Everything an ID thief needs to take everything you have is in those files, many of which have minimum security.  I was in a doctor’s office recently and my Social Security number appeared on three pages they asked me to check for accuracy.  To ask them to remove it is useless since it can still be found in other records in the same office and others.

So McNealy was right and Americans have once again proved the saying that, “Oh that’s a terrible thing that happened but it could never happen to me.”

Enough is enough. It’s time to challenge the 2nd Amendment-Part 3

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See Part 1 here, Part 2 here.
With overall crime rates still declining, shooting deaths continue to go on unabated.  Yes, this is true on both counts.  During 2009, the latest year available, violent crime declined an estimated 5.3 percent from 2008.  This was the third year in a row.  So why do we see so many daily reports of shootings, many of which result in death?  The answer is lax gun laws, and it is time to confront the National Rifle Assn. and its membership to relax their stronghold on Congress.  I can hear you now, “Yeah, that will be the day.”
The NRA might be wise to start cooperating with the gun control advocates since members of congress are already talking new legislation, and President Obama has said he will explore executive orders to get around certain gun laws.  But gun owners are so sure of their 2nd Amendment rights that this complacency might be just what is needed to develop the momentum for new gun control. 
It is time to challenge the 2nd amendment, not to repeal it, but to enact more reasonable federal legislation that would overrule the lunacy of states like Arizona where firearms can be had at the drop of a hat.  Things like banning AK47 weapons, closing the gun show loophole, limit concealed carrying to those in need, and establish a national registry for handguns.  We need to know where these “weapons of mass destruction” are going.
I did some analysis of handgun murders in the U.S. based on FBI data and came up with the following.  The density of a state (number of people per square mile) seems to have some effect on handgun murders per 100,000 populations.  They are raised for states with a higher density.  California, New York and Illinois, where gun laws are tighter, have above average per 100-thousand handgun murders; 3.70, 4.47 and 2.99 respectively.  But density levels for the three are 239, 411.2 and 231.
Now compare that with states like Arizona with a population density of only 56.3 but per 100-thousand handgun murders of 3.04.  Likewise Texas density is 96.3 with murders at 3.49 and Louisiana is 104.9 and a whopping 10.46.  All three states have loose gun laws.  Alabama leads the nation in per 100,000 pop. Deaths for all kinds of firearms, Alaska is second and Arizona is third. 
There is one bright spot on the horizon, due to the efforts of the Brady Campaign and other gun control advocates; legislation has been defeated 51 times in 27 states following the Virginia Tech massacre.  Arizona was inches away from allowing guns on campus recently when legislation by State Sen. Russell Pearce was stopped due to an uproar from local business leaders and state university and college heads.
Marc Victor, an Arizona State Bar certified specialist in criminal law, says “Don’t cherish the 2nd Amendment.”  He goes on to say, “Like everything else in the Constitution, the 2nd Amendment is subject to interpretation.”  Now Victor is a 2nd Amendment proponent so gun control advocates have nothing to shout about.  His statement is a reflection of later dialogue that ponders over the possibility of Supreme Court decisions which, of late, have been all in favor of the 2nd Amendment.  Or how this group of nine might interpret the 9th Amendment.
To end on a laugh, Presidential candidate and Texas Governor Rick Perry, was recently asked how he felt about gun control.  His answer: “I am actually for gun control.”  Pause.  “Use both hands.”  That ranks up there with this wacko’s statement on evolution.  “It’s a theory that’s out there.  It’s got some gaps in it.”  Pathetic.

The decline and fall of the American empire

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It could happen but it won’t.  In comparison to the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, the U.S. has several factors on its side that weren’t in place then.  As an example, a democracy that works and a constitution that was written by statesmen, not politicians.  Anyway, there are many scholars who are of the belief that there was no “fall” at all, rather a very intricate conversion that took place over several years.
Edward Gibbon, author of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, written in 1776, is the basis for any discussion on this subject.  Most scholars agree his facts are extremely accurate but many do not agree with his interpretations.  And it is in Gibbon’s findings that we can see comparisons between the Roman era and the United States today. 
He blamed Christianity for its promise of the after-life that made the problems of the Roman people irrelevant, much like the religious rights’ hold today on many conservatives.  Further, the conquests of the Roman Emperors that has a direct relationship to the Bush/Cheney invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.  And then there are the theories about the general apathy of the Roman population that can be compared to the low voting turnout in American elections and a general disinterest in politics.
More hypotheses include a decline in moral values, public health problems, political corruption and unemployment.  Sound familiar?  You’re surrounded by all four every day.  Although it is probably a stretch, the Romans experienced urban decay which today’s homeowner foreclosures could mirror.  Rome was almost completely abandoned in the 6th century in the wars between the East and West Roman Empires.  And then in the 7th century the East was invaded by Persia (now Iran) followed by Muslim conquests in Egypt.  An invasion by Iran not likely, but Islam is becoming more popular throughout the world
Historians Arnold J. Toynbee and James Burke believe that the Roman Empire was a “rotten system from its inception” and that because of the decay that ensued, Rome could not have lasted any longer because the people in power (the Emperors) were powerless to do anything about it.  This is not a reflection on the United States as a country but rather an image of a Congress and White House that is operating in complete confusion.
But the collapse of the Roman Empire wasn’t a catastrophe for everyone according to anthropologist Joseph Tainter, author of The Collapse of Complex Societies, published in 1988.  Archaeological evidence indicates that nutrition actually improved after the collapse of Rome.  And he points out that the average individual may have benefited because he or she no longer had to invest in the “burdensome complex of the empire.”
And the transformation or intricate conversion mentioned initially that occurred over several years includes all the advanced stages the United States has gone through in its development as a nation.  Although most of our progress has been attained through technology, this article is primarily concerned with political growth.  Is it possible that, with the current state of chaos between liberals and conservatives, and the total dysfunction between the White House and Congress, the benefits of a Social Democracy might just fix what is wrong?

You can read more here and here.

Tea Party can’t seem to shake racist image

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Last May Brendan Steinhauser, campaign dir. for FreedomWorks, an organization that coordinates Tea Party activists, said: “We don’t want the worst elements to take this over,” referring to racist that have popped up regularly throughout the Tea Party.  But without a central organization, there isn’t much to control this conglomeration of crackpots. There have been incidents of derision against Barack Obama with observers who say the president’s skin color is a powerful reason behind the movement’s existence.  Pathetic.

 

And then John White reared his ugly head in Arizona.  DA Morales did an excellent expose in the Tucson Citizen titled: “Profiles of the Tucsonright-wing: fearful Christian men with guns who are ready to kill.”  This is a must-read for any person who thinks these Tea Party nuts are just harmless political fanatics.  This is posted on Facebook for all to see but Morales has capsuled the most bigoted and erratic statements in his articles.

 

Things like, “Democrats are a cancer and you do not cure cancer you cut it out and kill it.”  In another post he says the Gabby Giffords shooting was only a training exercise put on by the Dept. of Homeland Security.  Another, “…If you vote Democrat, then you voted for hell.”  And then there is his neo-Nazi friend Harry Hughes who also hangs out with J.T. Ready who is of the same ilk.  John White is a dedicated Tea Party member who not only is a racist and neo-Nazi, but who also condones killing democrats.

 

There are more quotes from White.  “A civil war is near, a cleansing…perhaps an ethnic cleansing?  You are not taking a life…you are saving a nation.”  This is pretty heavy stuff when you consider that these maniacs can arm themselves to the hilt in the state of Arizona with some of the loosest gun laws in the nation.  There is a picture of Harry Hughes with his neo-Nazi friends, all of which look like they are holding AK47-like weapons.

 
According to Gallup and Pew Research Cos., Americans’ views of the TeaParty are at the “lowest ever.”  Gallup notes that in a drop from a support level of 30% to 25% in recent months, more Americans hold intensely negative feelings toward the movement.  Based on this one must assume that the U.S. public must be light years smarter than the morons in Congress that constantly cow tow to TPers.  More pathetic.

Are members of Congress descended from the caterpillar?

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Science has discovered that caterpillars essentially talk with their butts.  That would certainly be an exact DNA match with Congress.  Apparently these creatures—the caterpillars, not Congress—scrape their rear ends on leaf surfaces to establish their territory.  Sort of like when the republicans took over the House in the last election.
It seems there’s a difference by age.  The old farts don’t scrape, they just push their opponents around.  Does that remind you of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell?  But here’s a surprise.  The young upstarts aren’t aggressive.  Looks like even the caterpillar doesn’t want to be associated with the Tea Party.  These little critters are also pests which fits the profile of most Republicans. 
A caterpillar is also on its way to being a beautiful thing…a butterfly.  You couldn’t attach that conversion to either side of the congressional aisle.  They also turn into moths that are naturally attracted to flame which would remind one of the suicidal tendencies of the GOP House that places partisan ideology over the good of the country and the American people.  These slinky insects also have poor vision, another perfect match with the Republican conservatives. 

I could go on forever.  Some caterpillars are targets of animal predators, but have learned to defend themselves with devious means.  The point is that we have a dysfunctional Congress, including Democrats and Republicans, that would rather argue between themselves rather than putting the U.S. on the road to recovery.  The GOP has been out to get President Obama from the day he took office, and they may very well succeed if he doesn’t stand firm on progressive issues.

Gun rights activists on the defense. Now is the time to strike

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The National Assn. for Gun Rights says, “…the gun control lobbyists have their tentacles wrapped around scores of Congressional offices right now.”  It’s about time since President Obama has decided to soft-pedal the issue, even after a strong statement in favor after the Tucson, AZ, massacre by Jared Loughner.  Dudley Brown, exec. dir. of NAGR, is petitioning to stop Magazine Ban Bill H.R. 308, sponsored by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D, N.Y., that would ban gun magazines of more than 10 rounds, retroactively.
 It completely escapes me how the gun nuts can rationalize that infringing on their rights with this kind of regulation is more important than taking away the ability from mental cases like Loughner to commit mass killings.  Gun rights advocates are the epitome of the “Me” generation, but it looks like cracks are occurring in the NRA armor.  Brown says that many House Republicans with “pro-gun” credentials are talking a deal on H.R. 308. 
 In this editorial that appears in AmmoLand Shooting Sports News, the author anguishes over prominent Republicans like U.S. Sen. Richard Luger and former V.P. Dick Cheney, as well as Homeland Security Chairman Peter King who believe more gun control is needed.  I am not a Cheney fan but here is a man who was immovable on the direction of the Iraq war, a professed gun enthusiast, who believes the lax gun issue is out of hand.
And here’s the best part, Dudley Brown’s sources tell him that once the bill passes the House and goes to the Senate, Amendments will be added like mandatory waiting periods, closing of gun-show loophole, new assault weapons ban and a national concealed carry standard.  How could anyone argue with these regulations other than a bunch of gun bubbas who constantly bemoan over the fact that we are trying to take away all of their gun rights.  Not so, just some. 

Read my earlier articles on challenging the 2nd Amendment here and here.

The epitome of no gun control

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Joshua Seto, 27, from Chandler, AZ, a suburb of Phoenix, apparently lost control of his girlfriend’s pink handgun as he shoved it into the waistband of his pants.  The gun fired a bullet into Seto’s penis, and then meandered through his left thigh.  His girlfriend, Cara Christopher, reported “a lot of blood,” as she talked to the 911 operator.  Her comment after looking at the wound was that it was “pretty bad.”
Since it wasn’t Seto’s gun, the next question is why it was in his possession?  If Seto is a gun owner, and he took the education course on the safe handling of firearms, the man is simply a dope.  Chandler police commented that you should always use a holster for the weapon, not your waistband.  If Seto is a gun owner and didn’t take the education course, it is yet another example of the reckless way firearms are available and unregulated in Arizona.
This kind of irresponsible handling of a handgun is why gun control advocates are screaming that more regulation is necessary.  The owner, Cara Christopher, has responsibility in this also.  Why did she give up the gun, particularly if Seto was not an owner and familiar with firearms?  Was the gun registered at all? 
From Arizona State Sen. Lori Klein pointing a handgun at a reporter in the State Senate building, to some guy shooting his privates at the super market, these are the continuing examples of why Arizona is the butt of jokes that makes them the laughing stock of the country.

I would give anything to hear Wayne LaPierre, exec. vice president of the National Rifle Assoc., explain this.  He might say, “Guns don’t hurt people, people hurt people.”  Pathetic.

If GWB caused the current economic problems, Obama still must fix them

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Pres. Barack Obama
President Barack Obama inherited a $1.2 trillion budget deficit.  George W. Bush inherited a $300 billion budget surplus.  In the former President’s two terms, well-known economist Nouriel Roubini, a New York University professor, lists five components that tanked the fiscal condition of the U.S.
  •  A cut in taxes
  • GWB spent $2 trillion on Iraq and Afghan wars
  • Discretionary spending was doubled
  • Addition of entitlements like Medicare drug benefit
  • The bailing out of banks and financial institutions
Roubini said, “We destroyed our fiscal sustainability before President Obama came to power.”  He added, “We’re lucky that this Great Recession is not turning into another Great Depression.”  Roubini also talks of more recession in the next year or two.  The professor is distinguished for his warning in 2005 that the housing bubble would cause an economic crisis, which it did.
All this said, Barack Obama needs to start being a President.  Agreed, he has many accomplishments we can be thankful for, the most important of which is Health Care Reform.  You can see a list of 90 of his efforts since entering office here.  But the President must change the course of a spiraling-down economy, and that would be best served by standing up to a Republican House and holding his ground on issues he truly believes in.  Let the public decide who is wrong.
Things are not going well for Obama.  His approval rating now is the lowest of his presidency.  Many voters are tired of speeches that promise; they want results.  Some Democrats are even distancing themselves from him.  A rare positive sign is that Blacks are encouraged by his jobs plan, but some economists say it isn’t enough. 
But the one thread running through all this is a GOP battalion that is committed to making President Obama fail.  One major impetus behind this is the fanatical group, the Tea Party, which is loathed by most Americans but has some supernatural hold over Republican conservatives.  Bungling presidential candidates like Bachmann and Perry cater to these pathetic people who seem bent on bringing down the U.S.

All’s well that ends well, and the real hope of this progressive is that 2012 will see radical changes in Washington, maybe even the throwing out of some old hands on the left, but still with significant moves away from the right.

Procter & Gamble top former executive spreads bigotry

Lou Pritchett was VP Sales and Customer Development for soap giant, Procter & Gamble, and it was during his recent retirement that he wrote the ultra-conservative, extremist “You scare me” letter to President Obama.  It was confirmed by Snopes.com, if you have confidence in their judgment.  It was also panned by bloggers, which I will cover later.  It is notable that Pritchett sent the letter to the New York Times but it was neither acknowledged nor published.

Here are some of his comments with my retorts:
·       You scare me because after months of exposure, I know nothing about you.  (NJ) Only an idiot could say this after the last 20 months.
·       You scare me because I do not know how you paid for your expensive Ivy League education and your upscale lifestyle and housing with no Visible signs of support.  (NJ) Like most of us peons did, working our way through.  And what “upscale lifestyle?”
·       You scare me because you lack humility and ‘class’, always blaming others.  (NJ) This borders on prejudice and an anomaly in that you are obviously a right wing fanatic.
·       You scare me because you want to change America to a European style country where the government sector dominates instead of the private sector.  (NJ) Not a bad idea to consider social Democracy that could spread the wealth in America.
·       You scare me because you want to kill the American capitalist goose that lays the golden egg which provides the highest  standard of Living in the world.  (NJ) Poverty in the U.S. has hit a new high climbing to 15.1 percent or 46.2 million people.  A top economist, Nouriel Roubini, places the blame fully at the feet of George W. Bush.
·       You scare me because you falsely believe that you are both omnipotent and omniscient.  (“Another Hitler in the making,” bigoted comment by person sending email.)  (NJ) This one is tough to figure out; apparently you were struck dumb during the totalitarian governing of Geo. W. Bush and Dick Cheney.
There’s much more you can read on the above link to Snopes.com.
This man scares the hell out of me.  Let’s start with the fact that he is a Tea Party Patriot, which explains a lot of his confusion.  You can hear his rantings on the Fox News Mangrum Report where he says employers should stop hiring, and that it is perfectly OK to move U.S. jobs overseas.  So much for the American dream.
A blog by the name of Wall Street Jackass pokes fun at Pritchett’s letter.  Its comments are much more tolerant than mine but nevertheless interesting.  By the way, he has a Southern drawl, which could account for some of his statements.  I can say this having grown up in the South and more recently writing about some of its age-old issues.

What scares me even more than Pritchett is the fact that a friend of ours mass circulated this email to a number of people, many of which are probably Tea Party members.  It is this sort of thoughtless bigotry that has this country tearing itself apart.  If it isn’t stopped we may follow in the footsteps of the fall of the Roman Empire.  Peace!

ARIZONA POLITICS: Is stealth “candidate” Olivia Cortez really running for Russell Pearce’s Arizona State Senate seat?

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AZ State Sen. Russell Pearce
I’ve heard of stealth bombers, stealth helicopters, even a stealth attraction.  But it took Phoenix New Times columnist Stephen Lemons to come up with Olivia Cortes as a stealth candidate.  Stealth means secretive, clandestine, and that is just what Cortes has been; not answering her phone or a knock at the front door.  Not defining her candidacy or what she actually stands for.  In the absence of any statement, one might think she stands for…Russell Pearce.
Lemons confirmed himself that petition circulators are telling signers that getting Cortes in the race will help to split the vote in favor of Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce.  The Phoenix New Times writer actually went to the Mesa, AZ, library and was asked to sign the petition to place Cortes’ name on the ballot.  That’s when he affirmed what the petitioners were saying.  You can read more about his conversation with the petition company here.
This is also is supported by a reporterfrom the Arizona Republic, GaryNelson, who says, “A vote for Olivia Cortes is a vote for Russell Pearce.”  He had the same experience as Stephen Lemons in being asked to sign a petition that he was told would split the vote to help Pearce.  This all substantiates an earlier allegation by Randy Parraz, one of the Pearce recall organizers, who said he had heard the same thing.  Parraz’s comment when hearing the latest was, “She’s busted.”
Russell Pearce says he has nothing to do with Cortes running against him, but even a two-year-old could figure this out.  These are the same bullying tactics Pearce has been using for years and they have finally caught up with him.  Arizona politics continue to provide the nation’s media with the most laughable gang of idiots running a state in the country.

I’ll even bet there are a number of his Republican cronies who are rooting for Lewis and will be happy to see this bigot go.  They won’t be alone.  Amen.