Thursday, April 4, 2013

Hillary, Equal Rights, Constitutional Hypocrisy, Guns, Race, Obama paycheck stunt...

A mixed bag today:

1) Hillary Clinton is very likely to run for President in 2016. The Democratic field she'd have to conquer isn't a very impressive or deep one at this time and I suspect it would be a short primary season for her. Her biggest obstacle is Joe Biden, and unless some controversy arises with Mrs. Clinton, (Bhengazi?) that can't be managed, I don't see him getting in her way.

2) I get the problem for congressmen and women when it comes to equal rights. In many places, their constituents don't really want equal rights. Yes, often these are the same people yammering about the destruction of the Constitution under this President and his Administration, but too often when the rubber hits the road, people don't really want equal rights for everyone. Many strong religion voices in our country get upset at the (mostly imagined) idea of the war on Christians. Ask these folks how they feel about Islam being taught in our schools and you'll see what I mean.

3) Several politicians have stepped up and proudly announced, like President Obama did before the election, that after much personal reflection they now feel all Americans deserve a fully recognized and equal right to marry the person of their choice. I didn't get too misty-eyed when Obama finally got around to it and I'm not getting too excited now. The list of those whose "evolution" had come out in favor of same sex marriage grows by the day. Almost always its a matter of political expediency. The 14th Amendment doesn't leave out certain groups, it says no person shall be denied equal protection under the law. Period.

4) Who can miss the irony that so many pro-gun folks who can recite the 2nd Amendment by memory but poo-poo any attempt to "interpret" its meaning consider those who want to apply the same standard to the 14th as some clear cut sign of lunacy? Hypocrites.

5) I wish the pro gun-reform folks who like to post pictures referring to the Newtown, CT shooting would stop. While it does play on our emotions when you do that, its not going to help the reform effort at all. Realize this. Massacres like that are almost impossible to prevent. Crazy people do crazy things. Hopefully, we get better as a society at stopping them. Any serious gun policy won't aim (sorry) at the random, insane acts that happen infrequently. Rather, it would attempt to get a better grip on controlling the manufacturing (smaller clips/magazines), better regulating all sales and creating an improved background check system. We should control all the guns in the country at least as well as we control our cars and trucks.

6) We all should be asking ourselves why it took a string of senseless shootings of mostly white people to get (hopefully meaningful) gun reform on the table again. While the murder of 20 small kids turns anyone's stomach, the overall numbers are striking:

Recent gun related shootings and # of deaths: 

April 1999: Columbine shooting - 13 dead
April 2007: Virginia Tech shooting - 32 dead
April 2009: Binghamton, NY office shooting - 13 dead

November 2009: Ft. Hood shooting - 13 dead
January 2011: Tuscon shopping ctr. shooting - 6 dead
April 2012: Oikos University - 7 dead
July 2012: Aurora Theater - 12 dead
August 2012: Wisconsin Sikh shooting - 6 dead

December 2012: Newtown school shooting - 26 dead

...Nine gun related attacks resulting in 128 deaths and even more injuries. While there was some increase in the general discussion on the need to improve gun laws in this country, it wasn't until our President wept openly before cameras the afternoon of the Newtown shootings that we collectively sat up and took notice.

...Looking at one city - Chicago, over a two year period, we see: 

2011 Chicago gun related deaths: 433
2012 Chicago gun related deaths: 535
TWO YEAR TOTAL: 968 deaths...

I'm not suggesting this is apples and apples, but my point stands. We mostly stand by quietly on the urban area shootings day after day while the body count increases well into the hundreds, but finally dub it a call to action when 20 children are wiped out in under ten minutes in the suburbs. Maybe its the sheer number we saw in Newtown or Tuscon, Ft. Hood, etc. but numbers equal to those or higher occur on average every week in Chicago.

We as a country don't seem to especially care if a group of us get gunned down from time to time. If its a group of small school children, then yes, we'll emote for a while and perhaps pass some mild changes into law. If its 6-10 blacks or latino folks losing their lives to a bullet every week in our cities, we really, as proved by our collective actions, don't give a shit...

7) President Obama continues to have a tin ear when it comes to avoiding unnecessary wrong notes. While the Country is coping with the effects of the sequestration, a by product of the inability of both Congress and the White House to avoid its across the board spending cuts, the first family is taking flak for its vacations. Never mind that Mr. Obama has taken less time off than his predecessor did, never mind that the Obama's pay for everything out of their own pocket except for security above and beyond the allocated $50,000 given to them for "expenses" and the $100,000 provided for travel. While we can dismiss the asshats like Sean Hannity for his role in this, I again wonder why this administration continues to throw these softballs right down the middle for his opponents to smack out of the park? This is not a first family that spends lavishly or excessively as some would suggest, but the appearance is damning just the same. The President's announcement this week that he will give back 5% of his salary to stand with those who have been hurt by the sequestration is a cheap stunt. Mr. Obama has a net worth of over 11 Million dollars and a fortune beyond anything I can imagine waiting for him once he steps away from public service. He's not going to miss  the 20K he'll give back. Its this sort of "out of touch-ness" that pisses people off.

I have supported this President and usually defend his actions. Perhaps he has decided he has no more elections to worry about, that no matter what he does or doesn't do he will be criticized by his detractors, etc. so damn the torpedoes, the Obama's will do what they want without regard to public perception. For all the offensive crap they've had to absorb as a family, perhaps he's entitled. But it comes at a cost.


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