One of the topics in Monday night’s presidential debate was, naturally, crime, law and order. For some implausible reason, Hillary claimed that crime is down from it’s peak in 1991 and continues to decline. This flies in the face of yesterday’s report by the FBI that violent crime is up over 10% from 2015.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

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By Nancy Thorner and Ed Ingold –  

Radical Islamic terrorism raised its ugly head again this weekend when 49 individuals were killed in Orlando, Florida, by a gunman’s rampage that represents the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. According to a Rasmussen Report, most Americans saw the horror in Orlando coming nearly three months ago.

What if the gunman would have had a pint of gasoline?  Instead of killing 49 people out of 300, he could have killed them all.  There was one exit, which would have been quickly blocked in the resulting stampede. Such a situation is not without precedent. 87 people were killed in a single exit social club by a disgruntled customer at the Bronx Happy Land social club fire in 1990.

Listening to various talking heads on Fox News (and others) regarding the atrocity committed in Orlando, FL on Sunday morning, June 12, it took a surprisingly short time to discern the political background of the speakers. Democrats invariably returned to the themes of LGBT hatred and “gun control,” disregarding all other aspects of the incident. It would save a lot of time if there were a more concise way to reveal their outlook on events.

A shibboleth is an example of a linguistic password: used to identify another person as a member, or a non-member, of a particular group.

Shibboleth refers to a story in the Old Testament, the Book of Judges. Two Semitic tribes, the Ephraimites and the Gileadites, have a great battle. The Gileadites defeat the Ephraimites, and set up a blockade across the Jordan River to catch the fleeing Ephraimites who were trying to get back to their territory. The sentries asked each person who wanted to cross the river to say the word shibboleth. The Ephraimites, who had no sh sound in their language, pronounced the word with an s and were thereby unmasked as the enemy and slaughtered.

As applied to the talking heads on television concerning Orlando’s shooting, the shibboleth would be “Islamic Terrorism.” That term has yet to cross the lips of President Obama, his heir-apparent, Hillary, nor any of their acolytes. President Obama, in his televised speech to the nation, called the gay jihad mass murder an “act of hate” and an “act of terror”, carefully avoiding the more concise term. This notwithstanding the fact that the shooter, Omar Mateen, screamed “Allahu Akbar!” during the shooting and his 911 call pledging allegiance to ISIS.  This was ignored by Barack Obama as he went after guns.

If the so-called “experts” can’t or won’t pronounce that phrase, they should be instantly dismissed as having nothing to contribute. It would be educational to ask Obama, in public, what the letters in “ISIS” (or “ISIL”, which includes the state of Israel) stand for, and watch him stand tongue-tied or walk off the stage in disgust.

The Pulse Club atrocity was not a tragedy. A puppy falling into a drainpipe is a tragedy. The happening was deliberate and cruel to the extreme, having nothing to do about the availability of guns.  It is about:

  • A target of opportunity with many potential victims
  • A soft target, unlikely to present an armed defense
  • All exits and entrances except one were chained and locked.
  • A target which would get the immediate attention of the Administration, since it involved the LGBT community
  • Easily and widely publicized, to the benefit of Islamic Terrorists everywhere

There were no “red flags” raised when the shooter purchased two guns shortly before the assault. The FBI admits they had questioned Omar Mateen twice in the last three years, but purged their records of those encounters out of political correctness, mandated by Obama and the DOJ. The same policy allowed Ft. Hood, Boston Marathon, the North Charleston church and San Bernardino to develop unnoticed.

The “Terror Watch List” should not be a prohibition against exercising a constitutional right since it derives from a faceless bureaucratic decision, but it could sound a wake-up call to Homeland Security. Not all smoke means a fire, but it’s a pretty good idea when to start looking. If the President were to get his way and establish a new prohibited class, it would not be long before everyone who criticized the administration would find themselves on the list.

Although long guns figured prominently in San Bernardino, CA and Aurora, CO, long guns of any sort account for only 1% of homicides. Most are committed with hand guns of various sorts, and 10 percent using hands, fists and feet. In fact, Obama and Hillary don’t want guns of any sort in the hands of ordinary citizens. They decry so-called “assault rifles” simply for starters as low-hanging fruit, despite their enormous popularity. Real military “assault” rifles are fully automatic, and only a handful are in the possession of civilians. By “automatic”, progressives mean “semi-automatic”, which require a separate trigger pull for each round. Semi-automatic firearms, long or short, constitute over 85% of all civilian firearms. Progressives in New York and California include pump and lever action guns in the “assault” category. Where does it end?

As in the great Australian confiscation of guns, John Wayne would twirl his ubiquitous Winchester 1902 by the lever and say “Let’s dance!” or something like that.

Australia’s 1996 gun confiscation didn’t work – and it wouldn’t work in America.

It’s time we started looking for solutions, not just a way to transfer blame to others as a way to promote a failed Liberal ideology.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016 at 08:21 AM | Permalink

 

 

By Nancy Thorner and Edward Ingold – 

As reported by Fox News on November 22, President Obama postponed the 2014 sign-up date for Obamacare until two weeks after the mid-term elections: Obamacare enrollment for 2015 to reportedly be delayed until after midterms.

On the same day, November 22, David Martosko, U.S. Political Editor at the Daily Mail, United Kingdom, reported Obama’s arbitrary change of the Obamacare sign-up date in far more strident and honest terms with this headline than were found in U.S. media account with this headline:  ‘How nakedly political can you get?’:  Obamacare year-two signups delayed until after 2014 election .

Following were these statements made by Martosko:

1. Voters in the insurance exchanges won’t know 11 days after the 2014 election just how much they’ll pay for coverage in 2015.

2. The Treasury department has already delayed implementation of the employer mandate, and its fines, until Election Day has come and gone.

3. Millions of Americans are receiving private-insurance cancellation letters, with many experiencing sticker shock when they learn their options.

4.  One poll released Wednesday [November 20] shows that 48 per cent of taxpayers now want the Obamacare law repealed.

As was conveyed in the UK Mail headline, there was no plausible reason to postpone the 2014 sign-up date for Obamacare other than to keep bad news from reaching voters until after the General Election in November. What could they be?

As set forth in terms that put the cheese on the cracker:

  • Insurance mandates for employee benefit plans were previously deferred until 2014. At that time, all insurance plans must include the ten mandates specified in the Affordable Care Act of 2010. These same mandates resulted in the cancellation of about 6 million private insurance policies, and doubled the cost of insurance of policies offered in their place. Most of the added cost comes from two popular mandates – coverage for pre-existing conditions, and the elimination of lifetime benefit limits.
  • The huge price increase is concealed in two ways. Nearly half of those affected will receive subsidized health care, and the maximum out-of-pocket expense (deductible) have been doubled or tripled for most policies. Cost of these subsidies are supposed to come from higher premiums for those can afford it, resulting in a charges of up to 4 times the pre-Obamacare costs. In other words, income will be redistributed from those who have to those to do not. It is such a politically toxic term, that the term “redistribution” has been banned from the White House lexicon.
  • Many insurance companies wishing to participate in state and federal insurance exchanges were required to cancel all non-conforming policies as a condition of doing business with the government

But the other shoe is yet to drop.

  • Pricing for insurance offered through the exchanges is based on young, healthy participants in the insurance pool. The strategy behind the millions of cancellations this fall was to force those people into participation. However, the unemployment among this age group is very high, as much as 25% for college graduates. They simply can’t afford health insurance, and will probably either pay the fines do nothing at all. The “fines” for failing to secure health insurance are imposed on income tax refunds (the Democrats were not willing to impose them directly, or call them a “tax.”) If you aren’t working, or working at minimum wage, you probably don’t owe taxes, hence no refund, hence no Obamafines.
  • The early adopters of Obamacare fall mainly in two categories – those who couldn’t get insurance due to pre-existing conditions, and those who couldn’t afford insurance without subsidies. The majority of early adopters were, in fact, seeking Medicaid at no cost to themselves. The Affordable Care Act doubled  the maximum allowed income to qualify for Medicaid to $32,000, which is twice the presumed poverty level. Subsidies will be granted to those making up to $62,000, four times the “poverty level,” and nearly twice the median wage ($35,000) for working citizens. Somebody has to pay for those shortfalls and subsidies.
  • Finally, the deeply flawed www.healthcare.com software has greatly delayed applications through the exchanges, and unresolved security questions will keep many from even trying. This further skews the risk pool and increases the deficit.

The facts so far presented offer a grim picture.  It is little wonder why so many Americans are duped, confused and running scared?  With such a scenario present, Steven Hayward who writes for Forbes, made this prediction on Monday, November 11th: 

Even if HealthCare.gov is fixed by the end of the month (unlikely), Obamacare is going to be repealed well in advance of next year’s election.  And if the website continues to fail, the push for repeal — from endangered Democrats — will occur very rapidly.  The website is a sideshow:  the real action is the number of people and businesses who are losing their health plans or having to pay a lot more.  Fixing the website will only delay the inevitable.

It remains to be seen, as predicted by Haywood, whether endangered Senate Democrat up for re-election will lead the charge for repeal perhaps as soon as this January after getting an earful over the Christmas break  Unclear also is whether the delay to sign-up for Obamacare until after the November election will mask the bad news the American people will receive regarding sticker price, etc., that will follow in the election’s aftermath.

If Obamacare should remain in place and limping along, Insurance rates for 2015 will be based on a more realistic risk pool, which is weighted to those who will use a lot of health care. As a result, as many as 160 million people, including those now covered by employee benefit plans, will see those plans greatly increased in cost or cancelled altogether. This will drive up the cost of both private policies and of employer benefit plans.

If these plans exceed $10,200 for individuals or $27,500 for a family, they will be deemed a “Cadillac” plan, and subjected to a 40% tax on the difference. Unless the quality of coverage is reduced, for example, by greatly increasing the out-of-pocket deductions, nearly all of these plans will fall victim to this surcharge. The more likely outcome is that the benefit plans will be dropped, and employees sent involuntarily to the government exchanges.

By 2016, Obama will have applied a wrecking ball to the health care industry, our lives and our fortunes. The only way out is for Republicans to gain a majority in both houses of Congress in 2014, and the White House in 2016.

Friday, November 29, 2013 at 07:00 AM | Permalink

Technorati Tags: Edward Ingold, Illinois Review, Nancy Thorner, ObamaCare, repeal

 

 

Obama-budget-battle

By Nancy Thorner and Ed Ingold –

The concept of “grandfathered” insurance plans has always been a complete myth, touted for strictly political reasons. The plans to overturn the current insurance system and create a single-payer plan were formulated by HHS (and Sebelius) in 2010, within a month of the ACA (Affordable Care Act) passage.

In a stunning report by Andrew McCarthy on November 18th, he cites evidence that between 50% and 80% of Americans will lose their current health care plans in 2014, including employer provided benefits. This is based on the Administration’s own estimates, documented in a court brief filed by the DOJ in Federal court in opposition to a suit to preserve religious freedom of choice.

With such facts available to the public, how does President Obama have the audacity to continue to repeat that the current rash of insurance cancellations apply to only 5% of the population?  In fact, nearly 8% of the population has individual insurance plans which are being systematically canceled (“trasitioned” in Obama-speak).  The same standards, however, will apply immediately to small business and group plans and to major corporations by the end of 2014 after Obama arbitrarily changed the healthcare law to grant businesses a year’s extension.

In a spirit of generosity, might it be that Obama doesn’t want to know the details (or pretends he doesn’t know?), for reasons of “plausible deniability?”  Even Obama’s mea culpa lasted no longer than a day or so until before he started to blame the start up problems on Republicans and their lack of cooperation.

The official line is that once the software is fixed all will be well.  But the same talking points will continue to be used by Democrats, even though Republicans had nothing to do with the implementation of Healthcare.com nor any other facet of the policy or the website.

Republicans would rather not have the American people endure this dystopian program.  As the past has taught us to expect from the Obama administration, it is the messenger, not the message, that is to blame.

Consistent with President Obama’s standards, he sets the general goals and rewards those who put out the most punitive regulations consistent with those goals. If anything hits the fan, Obama “heard about it in the news, just like everyone else.” If anyone brings forth bad news, or contradicts the official line in any way, that person is summarily fired or publicly disgraced, as was the insurance official for the District of Columbia just a day after he questioned a decision by President Obama to reverse a provision of the Affordable Care Act.   This way of doing business permeates the Democrat’s establishment at all levels.  

The insurance debacle is a prime example of the Obama business plan which President Obama was able to sell to many Americans because they were asleep at the switch with only one thought in mind, what’s in it for me.  Destruction of 80% of existing insurance plans while doubling the cost is not exactly a ‘”glitch” in the startup!

So President Obama plan of operation took hold and evolved. Let us construct a timeline for the Obamacare debacle:

  • Announce at every opportunity that “If you like your …, you can keep it. Period!’  Pass this script to every Democrat in public office, to be repeated without variation. By inference, the Republicans would deny this right.
  • Behind the scenes, conspire with HHS to establish regulations that keep nearly all existing policies from being “grandfathered” as promised.
  • Count on the web service to work on time, or reasonably close to schedule (More important to be on schedule than functional), without assuming constructive leadership, nor monitoring the actual progress.
  • As a result of this policy, millions of policies are canceled, forcing their owners to the exchanges to purchase Cadillac insurance plans which meet the mandated standards.
  • Postpone the same regulations by executive fiat as they apply to company benefit plans until after the 2014 elections. Then repeat the cancellation debacle twenty or thirty fold.
  • When the web service fails, unilaterally announce that the rules are temporarily suspended, and old policies can be sold (Thank you, Valerie Jarrett, for this strategy.).
  • Do so knowing that this is impossible without months of planning, but shifting blame to insurance companies rather than the Administration. If the state regulatory agencies don’t cooperate, they will share the blame. (In breaking news, the President invited state insurance regulators to the White House, and issued a thinly veiled threat that if they impede his latest fiat, they will be pushed aside in the national interest.)
  • Continue to blame the web service rather than a defective policy, until it is no longer newsworthy to the main stream media, hence falls out of the public view. This is commonly known as “bunkering.”
  • Refuse to allow Congress to codify the same actions (in case Obama changes his mind later).

Obamacare Exchange facts:

1.  The mandated benefits under the Obamacare Exchange roughly double the cost of insurance, primarily through the high risk of covering pre-existing conditions and unlimited benefit ceilings. These same mandates are touted as the reason “the majority of people like” Obamacare.

2.  Obamacare also provides substantial discounts for those with incomes up to $62M. To pay for those discounts, those making more than $62M are expected to pay three to four times as much for the same insurance. Those enrolled in  Medicaid continue to pay nothing, while income limits for qualification were doubled in 2014 to roughly $32M. As a result, roughly half of the population will receive subsidies, ingratiating them to the party which delivers this largess.

3.  Insurance companies are required to cancel non-conforming policies in order to participate in the exchanges. In return, Obamacare indemnifies insurance companies for risk losses for a two year transition period, if those losses exceed 3% of revenue.  Losses over 8% are fully indemnified for that period.  In return, insurance executives are warned to remain silent about any problems, nor to blame the policy or Administration for any SNAFUs.

The next shoe to drop will be backlash over another Obamacare broken promise,  “You can keep your own doctor.”  How will President Obama deal with this broken promise?  In his usual and predictable way, he will blame the doctors for sabotaging Obamacare, and not on the over reaching and unaffordable healthcare act itself which will have a negative impact on every American.

Obamacare has always been about control and not about healthcare, in keeping with the progressive redistribution of wealth mantra.

It is a given that the longer Obama is allowed to skirt Congress to get polices he deems necessary without congressional approval, the easier it will be for him to claim executive privilege and get away with it. The constitutionality of these actions will never be successfully challenged as long as Democrats control the Senate. It will take citizen involvement all over this nation to let our elected officials know that we have had enough.  The status quo is no longer acceptable, and that includes re-electing the same individuals who have participated in the screw up of this nation.

Saturday, November 23, 2013 at 12:01 PM | Permalink

The Bloody Shirt

January 16, 2013

By Nancy Thorner and Ed Ingold –

When reports of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut reached the public on Dec. 14, many Americans broke down and wept at the thought of a monster shooting helpless children like they were rats in a garbage dump. Even after a month it is still seems unthinkable. We are want to reflect that hideous act whenever children are seen with their parents, or we interact with our own children and grandchildren, many of whom are old enough to understand that tragedy, wondering how it might affect them?

As time progressed, we observed how others wasted no time weeping, but rushed to take advantage of the grief that swept the nation for their own political ends. “Let’s take away the guns that caused this tragedy,” became the battle cry of the Left. Like spiders ready to pounce at the first vibration in their web, these zealots had their bloody shirts in hand, waiting for the next crisis as an excuse to wave them in front of the public.

The phrase comes from the elections of 1872 and 1876, when reconstruction politicians literally waved bloody relics from the Civil War in their assault on Southern leaders. “Waving the bloody shirt’ has been used to define someone who brings up a past injustice or mistreatment in history to justify or cover up an injustice being committed in the present. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waving_the_bloody_shirt

The similar refrain was heard after each gun-related tragedy as in 1968 (Kennedy and King); 1986 (Reagan and Brady) and in1994 (Westfield High School Massacre). http://americanhorrowstory.wikia.com/wiki/Westfield_High/Massacre Sometimes we’ve listened, but over time the mantra lost its effectiveness because the “solutions” had no effect on the problem. Weapons were in the hands of madmen who were unopposed when they chose to act.

The Westfield High School massacre of 1994 did prompt the passage, spear-headed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), of a federal assault-weapons ban in 1994 that lasted 10 years. But the decade-long gun ban didn’t stop the Columbine High School massacre from occurring on April 20,1999 in Colorado, where two senior students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, murdered a total of 12 students and one teachers, after which the pair committed suicide. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbine_High_School_massacre.

Experts who have studied the law tend to agree that it was rife with loopholes and generally ineffective at curbing gun violence. The primary “loophole” being that not all of the guns were banned and collected, which is impossible on practical and Constitutional grounds. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/12/17/every

Just as well, too. Consider Great Britain, which was successful collecting nearly all guns from citizens by 2008, with a history of repression long before the American Revolution, before even the Tudors and Plantagenet. Their first response was always to disarm the populace. Gun crimes, never common, decreased for a while, but are now beginning to rise. Violent crimes of other sorts have skyrocketed, mainly because citizens cannot defend themselves. The answer is not stronger laws and fewer guns in the hands of good citizens, but fewer guns in the hands of criminals and the realization that defense against crime begins at home.

Nonplussed by history, anti-gun zealots realize that to be effective, a campaign against guns has to take place quickly before passions cool. They best take place in the dark of night, out of public view, as in the the legislatures of New York and Illinois.

Yesterday Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and New York lawmakers, in an attempt to set the tone for the nation, agreed to a broad package of changes to gun laws that would expand the state’s ban on “assault” weapons and include new measures to keep gun away from people with mental illnesses. A legislative trick was employed to forego normal readings, debate and public comment, enabling the legislation to pass a bill in the middle of the night for a final vote the next day in the Assembly. What is so strange is that the NY Senate is controlled by Republicans! http://nraila.org/legislation/state-legislation/2013/1/urgent!-new-york-second-amendment-and-legislative-process-assaulted-in-albany-late-last-night.aspx

According to Gov. Cuomo, the legislative package will be “the most comprehensive package in the nation,” would ban any gun magazine that can hold over 7 rounds of ammunition — comprising most of the firearms used by citizens for self defense — and would require background checks of ammunition buyers and automated alerts to law enforcement of high-volume purchases. Although part of the 1968 Federal gun law, the controls on ammunition purchases were abandoned after a few years due to cost and ineffectiveness.

Rather than intercept the few, they trample on millions, in the vain attempt to disarm a relatively few bad guys. That may have worked for Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot, who smashed their opposition in pursuit of a few traitors, but it will not work in this nation where many Americans value their freedom and hold sacred the Second Amendment.

Illinois inherited Chicago police commissioner Garry McCarthy from New York, who shares most of the views of the state he left. In a radio interview, he stated that Chicago police are prepared to shoot any citizen observed holding a firearm, as a warning in the event that Illinois allows private citizens to carry concealed weapons. New York loses an off-duty policeman from time to time in just this way – shot by police while holding their weapon in an act of self defense. http://www.libertynews.com/2013/01/chicago-top-cop-expects-people-lawfully-carrying-guns-will-be-shot-by-mistake-prone-police/

Today at 11:45 a.m., President Obama will stand before television cameras, attended by Mayors Against Illegal Guns and members of Congress active in efforts to impose new restrictions on guns, to offer his “comprehensive” proposal for unilateral action to combat gun violence? Obama will be surrounded by children used as pawns who supposedly wrote letters decrying gun violence (at the urging of their teachers?), perhaps symbolic of the bloody shirts of the last century, in order to make the point. http://www.bgreithart.com/Big-Journalism/2013/01/15/Obbama-to-announce-gun-ban-surrounded-by-children

What was done at Sandy Hook School is history. Now it’s time to weep for the Republic, and for the Constitution on which it was built. For if our leaders continue to dismantle the foundation of our Republic, who needs to worry about enemies from abroad?

Initially published at Illinois Review on Wednesday, January 16.

By Edward Ingold – I have collaborated with Edward Ingold on several article in the past. This is a solo article by Ingold that merited posting. Ed Ingold is a chemical engineer by profession, a gun enthusiast, a conservative Republican, and a fellow musician who plays oboe and English Horn.

The automobile and aerospace industries use so-called 3-D printers to make prototypes of complex parts. In simple terms, the “printer” is a pot of liquid polymer which uses two converging beams from a laser to harden the plastic where the beams intersect. The polymer is transparent to the laser, but enough heat is generated where the beams cross to trigger the chemical bonding process. The solid part is made from the bottom up, much like an inkjet printer applies dots of ink to make a photograph. The plastic is similar to that used for plexiglass windows.

Some intrepid experimenters used the “printer” to make parts patterned after an the receiver of an AR-15 rifle, which were then assembled and used to fire several rounds before falling apart. The news media picked up on this immediately, and raised an alarm that plastic guns made in this fashion would be undetectable by security magnetometers used in airports and government buildings, without background checks and waiting periods. If that were not scary enough, it was the same type of rifle used by the shooters in Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut.

You can file story this along with cold fusion, perpetual motion machines and winning strategies for Tic-Tac-Toe. There is no plastic capable of withstanding the pressure generated by even low power ammunition, much less the 60,000 pounds per square inch or more generated by an AR-15 round. The key working parts, such as the barrel and bolt, must be made from steel, which is easily
detectible.

There are many firearms which have non-critical parts, like the grip and trigger, made from plastic. A notable example is the Glock pistol, used by more police and civilians than any other single brand. This was described as “undetectable” when it first appeared, by such excitable people as The New York Times and Mayor Daley of Chicago. A Glock pistol, of course, has over a pound of steel in the barrel, slide and working parts, which is easily detected. Enormous pressure was brought to bear against the distribution of Glock pistols in the United States, much of which was fomented by domestic manufacturers whose products would be overshadowed by the inexpensive and extremely reliable Austrian imports. Needless to say, the sky didn’t fall, and all domestic firearm manufacturers followed suit.

Media people are so gullible when it comes to technology, as are politicians eager to step up in order to protect humanity from evil scientists, with all the publicity that would generate.

Published initially at Illinois Review on Wednesday, December 27.

By Edward Ingold and Nancy Thorner –

President Obama promised to make tackling gun violence a top priority of his second-term agenda, despite strong opposition to gun control. A group led by Vice President Joe Biden was asked to come up with specific proposals in January.

The strategy of President Obama and the Democrats is to hurry, hurry, hurry to make a decision, whether on gun control or the economy. We don’t have time for debate. Let’s take action while emotions are running high. Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!

It’s like trying to have a conversation while someone is beating drums in the same room. Sometime those drums are real, as we see in the news clips of the debates in Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan over right-to-work legislation, or in the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrations.

Part of this strategy is to gather apparently diverse groups to make it appear as though you have a consensus. We see Joe Biden meeting with police organizations for photo ops in which he told several law enforcement leaders, “The President is absolutely committed to keeping his promise that we will act. And we will act in a way that…if we can only save one life, we have to take action.” That statement implies than the ends justify the means, no matter how draconian.

Don’t be fooled by the collection of badges and blue surrounding the Vice President. The Fraternal Order of Police is a union with a liberal agenda not shared by the majority of officers. Police chiefs work at the pleasure of the mayor of their city, and are unlikely to publicly disagree with their boss in any fashion. The underlying strategy is to push something through Congress before cooler heads can prevail.

Politicians on the fence about gun control are interviewed under conditions which any comment against a rush to judgment will make them seem insensitive. Senator Joe Manchin is a particular example, a Democrat from West Virginia who has otherwise consistently voted in favor of responsible gun owners. Pro-gun-rights Joe Manchin drew attention in 2010 after running a commercial that showed him firing a rifle at an environmental bill harmful to his state. Now he is saying that “everything should be on the table” when gun control comes up for debate in the coming weeks and months.

The other strategy is to pass on misinformation, often unwittingly, by talking heads and pundits on cable news (yes, even Fox News). “We have to clamp down on internet sales,” is one theme, even though internet sales are subject to the same rules and procedures as sales in a gun shop.

Another is: “These guns are used to kill and maim humans, not for hunting.” In fact, any firearm or ammunition will kill and maim humans, as will a knife or pointed stick. When you hunt with a firearm, animals are killed by trauma, not from fear at the sight of an hunter or rifle. Most important, self-defense is a Constitutionally protected right, but hunting is a privilege granted by the state.

Scare words are likewise used. Semi-automatic rifles and pistols are called “Assault Weapons,” although only a vanishingly small number are ever used to assault someone. Revolvers become “Saturday Night Specials” in the lexicon of gun-haters. “Semi-automatic” (one trigger pull, one shot) becomes synonymous with “automatic” (one trigger pull, many shots).

The strategy also seeks to dismiss any views to the contrary as being politically motivated, partisan or biased. The favorite bugaboo is the National Rifle Association (NRA) , a “powerful lobbying organization.” The NRA is powerful only to the extent that it has 4.3 million members (growing by leaps and bounds), and a much wider association of sympathizers, who care deeply and write their legislators. As a lobbying organization, it is not in the top ten, nor even in the top 100 of those groups attempting to influence Congress. It is powerful due to the commitment of its members, not the depth of its pockets, for the ideas which it represents, not for financial gain or special treatment. Since the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the NRA has registered an average of 8,000 new members a day.

At the top of President Obama’s wish list is the revival of the 1994 “Assault Weapon Ban,” only more inclusive this time. Among the proposals under consideration is to include all semi-automatic rifles and handguns in the ban, not just those with resemble military weapons. This would affect the types of weapons preferred for self-defense by police and civilians alike, which brings them under the Heller decision of the Supreme Court, yet do nothing to actually reduce crime nor the availability of these weapons to criminals. According to most estimate, there are over 200 million such firearms in private hands, including over 30 million semi-automatic “black” rifles, only a tiny fraction of which are ever used in the commission of a crime. The ban didn’t work in the past, and it won’t work in the future either. It’s just low-hanging fruit for those who wish to disarm all civilians.

On the other hand, there are issues to be addressed that would help without punishing legitimate gun owners. Among them is the inclusion of adjudicated (not merely opinions) issues regarding the mental health of applicants. Privacy laws laws tend to keep this information out of the NICS data base, if not official ineptitude. Another would be to require background checks at gun shows or face-to-face (FTF), along with a mechanism which would aid in this process. The so-called “Terror Watch List,” is not a suitable criteria in a background check, since it is a secret process akin to star chamber proceedings of the 16th century, without any mechanism of appeal. Safeguards should always include a means to challenge and correct any errors in the data base, sadly lacking at present.

Another concern is “Straw buyers,” where a qualified individual buys a weapon on behalf of an unqualified person. Detractors would seek to limit sales to an individual to one firearm per month (year, or ever). In practice, only legitimate enthusiasts are affected. Drug cartels have an endless supply of willing buyers who have never before purchased a firearm. Street gangs use new recruits without a criminal record to do the same, often as a rite of initiation. If a permit is needed prior to the purchase, these recruits can easily obtain one.

Let’s have a little quiet here! People are thinking.

Initially posted at Illinois Review on Sunday, December 23, 2012.

By Nancy Thorner and Edward Ingold –

It wasn’t too many years ago when FEMA, under President George W. Bush, was criticized for incompetence in handling of Katrina. The following statement submerged Bush in hot water for weeks: “You are doing a great job Brownie.”

FEMA has a long and somewhat tarnished history. It officially began in 1979 under President Carter as an extension of the largely obsolete Civil Defense System. It rose to a cabinet level position under Bill Clinton and as quickly submerged under various bureaucracies, ultimately in the Department of Homeland Security, in 2003, where it remains today. Envisioned as a a rapid response team to assist state emergency response teams with resources only the Federal Government could provide, that role is largely wishful thinking. We can see FEMA as the organizer of elephant rides in the Grand Canyon.

This is not entirely the fault of the Federal Government. FEMA, by law, awaits the formal request of the state governor before it can enter the scene. Politicians struggle, it would seem, to be as close as possible to the photographers, and as far as possible from reporters with embarrassing questions. Beware of “leaders” who stand up to take credit rather than give it, or assign blame rather than accept it!

Perhaps Mitt Romney was correct in stating he would end FEMA by putting it out of existence because of its incompetence, irrespective of the President. An article by Michael Tanner in the Wall Street Journal of Saturday 3, expressed how in disaster relief bigger government isn’t always better. After Hurricane Katrina FEMA spent $878 million on prefabricated homes. Thousands were left to rot.

Tanner went on to characterize FEMA as a centralized “command and control” approach to disaster relief it presumes. It presumes that only the experts in Washington, D.C., not state and local officials, and certainly not private charities — know best how to respond to local need and conditions. The bottom line is that big government is seldom the same as effective government. This applies to all areas of government.

That’s a lot to ask of President Obama, whose solution to every problem is more government, more regulations and more spending. Yet waiting in the wings is Obamacare which will take over 1/5 of this nation’s economy. What lies ahead promises to be a nightmare of bureaucracy inefficiency in which doctors, hospitals and health will suffer.

Now enters ‘Sandy’ whose fury packed a powerful and devastating punch on the state of New Jersey and in New York city where millions of Americans make their homes.

Initially all went well. President Obama staged photo ops with Chris Christie to advance his presidential image. Skipping town Obama was only too eager to continue what has been an endless campaign from the time he took office. Obama likewise declared that FEMA was ready. Governor Christie was quick to praise Obama’s storm efforts as being terrific.

But time does have a way of changing what first seemed to note only positive feedback for President Obama in handling the aftermath of Sandy. Reality is beginning to sink in. As of Saturday, November 3, fuel lines were long, tempers were short, and the NYC marathon had to be called off despite the Mayor’s protestations that the Marathon should go as a symbol of resolve.

Was the Mayor unaware that the tents for the runners would have to have generators for electricity and areas that were dry for camping? And what about hotel room for out-of-town visitors that are now filled with displaced residents. It’s also not clear how the runners would have gotten to the starting line unless they walked or swim. A little recreation will take people’s minds off of their tribulations. The Romans had their Circuses, the Parisians had to eat cake, and Mayor Bloomberg craved his New York marathon!

On November 3rd the death count had risen to 200 with nearly 4 million homes and businesses still without power. It was predicted that in some areas in New York’s immediate suburbs residents would possibly be facing another week of darkness and cold. Then there was the lack of food and water and living without the basics, often with little communication from the outside world.

According to an article by Michael Patrick Leahy on November 3rd, FEMA, with its “lean forward” strategy that called for advanced staging of supplies for emergency distribution, failed to live up to its billing in the aftermath of Sandy. Instead the agency appears to have been completely unprepared to distribute bottled water to Hurricane Sandy victims when the storm hit on Monday, October 29th. In contrast to its stated policy, FEMA “failed to have any meaningful supplies of bottled water — or many other supplies, for that matter — stored in nearby facilities as it had proclaimed it would on its website.”

To make matters worse, FEMA only put a bid out for water this past Friday, November 3rd, which might arrive by early next week. Evidently no one told the brain trust to go out and buy some water or other supplies. And, by the way, FEMA did have warning that a storm was coming to New York and New Jersey. Do you suppose we will have some trailers built for the cliff dwellers in Manhattan for temporary housing.

There are reports that utility trucks from Alabama, heading to New Jersey to assist in disaster relief, were turned away because they were non-union.Three companies were involved: Decatur Utilities, Huntsville Utilities and Joe Wheeler Cooperative.

All three companies deny they were turned away, and the IBEW in New Jersey says they welcome all outside assistance. However, the IBEW required non-union workers to sign some sort of agreement with the union before they would be allowed to work. While they were not, strictly speaking, turned away, the crews were unwilling to sign the union agreements, and returned to Alabama without rendering aid.

In a similar vein, foreign-made vessel, ships with foreign registry or foreign crews are not allowed to transport materials, including fuel, between ports of the United States. Ships can’t even be refurbished nor receive major repairs outside of the United States. This is in accordance with the Maritime Act of 1920, known as the “Jones Act.” Ostensibly to protect national security, it is mainly considered protection for maritime and longshoreman unions.

It is good fortune for storm-ravished residents that Jones Act requirement has been temporarily waived by the Federal Government due to the fuel shortage in the Northeast. It only took a week. Now if we could find electricity to pump the fuel, life would be good.

Mayor Bloomberg capped his performance when he denied a request from Brooklyn Borough President Markowitz for armed National Guard troops to patrol his streets to prevent widespread looting. The reason for the denial was Mayor Bloomberg’s ideological position on guns, except in the hands of his overworked, overstressed NYPD.

At a second FEMA photo op event on Saturday, November 3rd, as a demonstration of his “johnny on the spot” commitment to aggrieved hurricane victims, Obama refused to answer a reporter’s question about the mounting frustrations. Having some concern about the cries of help issuing form the storm victims, pausing to answer a question would have spoiled Obama’s photo op before quickly heading back out to campaign.

It is perhaps “Pollyanna” to hope that a synergy would develop between enduring joblessness, questions about Benghazi, and the struggle of the storm victims to convince those in denial that this country is really in bad shape. How can we be “moving in the right direction” when there are only a few thousand more people employed than in 2008, while nearly 11.2 million more potential workers have come of age. Is it the “right direction” when 171,000 jobs are created while 369,000 people file for unemployment for the first time each week? Our great quarterback, Obama, is facing the right goal post but walking backwards.

How much more evidence do the American people need to be party to before realizing that Government is not up to any task, save the military, and how our Commander in Chief is incompetent and over his head, with disdain for the military that reared its ugly head in the still unfolding Benghazi Consulate terrorist attack on 9/11.

The tail is wagging the dog. We are left to debate which is the dog and which is the tail. For now, this is the end of the tale.

Published at Illinois Review on Sunday, November 4, 2012.