NRA Solution: Armed Guards at Schools

The NRA’s solution to prevent tragedies like those at Sandy Hook Elementary and Columbine is to have armed guards in every school. Leaving aside the fact that there was an armed guard at Columbine, and assuming that armed guards is a viable solution, consider the costs of such a policy.
The area where I live has relatively small school districts. Even so, the costs of an adequate number of guards would probably be in excess of one and a half million dollars a year. Multiply that by the number of schools throughout the country, add in the colleges and universities, and the annual costs would run into many billions.
Both safety and freedom have their costs. Since guns are the reason for the guards, the costs should be met through taxes on guns and ammunition. They would probably end up being substantial, but, hey, that would be the cost of “freedom” of ownership.

Is 2012 the End of the World?

Now that we are past the 2011 winter solstice and entering into the year 2012, according to some we in the last year before the world comes to an end on the next winter solstice. Their evidence is based on their interpretation of a Mayan prophecy, unearthed in the 1960s. The date supposedly marks the end of the Mayan calendar.

Associated with this now modern prediction of Doomsday on December 2012, is the prediction of the return of a rogue planet Nibiru after a close encounter with Earth 3,600 years ago. This planet is large, maybe four times the size of earth. This time, they say, it is coming to finish us off for good.

We can squash this last prediction very easily. If this planet were going to hit us in 2012, it would be already in the solar system within telescopic sight. Some web sites claimed it would be visible to the naked eye by spring 2009. Why hasn’t anyone mentioned seeing it yet? The answer from the alarmist is the hoary old “government conspiracy” theory. “They” aren’t telling us, so we won’t panic. This is so ridiculous that it’s laughable. The United States government could hardly keep every astronomer in the world quiet, let alone the thousands of amateur astronomers around the world.

The idea that the Mayan calendar predicts this dire event is also nonsensical. To the Maya, the end of a cycle and the start of a new one was the cause of celebration – a far cry from the doomsday idea. Besides, archaeology shows that the Mayans also recorded dates for after the supposed apocalypse.

Our Mayan “doomsday” was originally predicted for May 2003, but since that date passed without astronomical incidence, the date has now been recalculated to the winter solstice of 2012. Doesn’t this remind you of religious predictions of the “rapture”, such as those recent misfires by Harold Camping of Christian radio? When it doesn’t happen on one day, “recalculate” and set another date. (Camping got some sense after his last failure because he is not going to make anymore predictions.)

Nibiru is a name that appears in the Babylonian poem Enuma Elish. It is associated with the god Marduk. Scholars are not sure what Nibiru is or what it may refer to. Marduk is the god that corresponds to Zeus or Jupiter. In planetary terms, Marduk is the planet Jupiter. I for one am prepared to accept the planetary nature of Nibiru, but it is not an unknown planet. Nibiru is the planet Venus, whom the Greeks associated with Athena (not Aphrodite, who was the goddess of the moon). Recall that in Greek mythology, Athena sprang from the forehead of Zeus. The planets Venus and Jupiter are therefore closely linked. We have the same association with Nibiru and Marduk. If Nibiru is a planet, it is the planet Venus, now safe in its inner orbit around the sun.

(Some parts of this post originally appeared in November 2009, under “2012: A Space Idiocy (but a Movie to See”).)


Gingrich on Covert Operations in Iran

In the South Carolina GOP debate, candidates talked about the need for covert operations in Iran and criticized Obama on the lack of such operations. At issue is not whether there should be such operations. What is at issue is that the candidates do not know what they are talking about. Precisely because such operations are covert, none of the candidates know whether they exist or not. As far as the debate is concerned, all their talk is just that, hot empty air.

Now Newt Gingrich, riding on a wave of don’t-want-Romney-and-cooling-on-Cain, is taking the matter further. Of course, he still doesn’t know what is going on. Now he advocates taking out Iran’s scientists and hitting Iran’s oil and gasoline infrastructure.

Talk like that may solidify his new approval rating, though that is doubtful. What we have to realize is what some of the consequences are, especially of hitting oil production. For someone who wants to be president of this country, Gingrich is showing an amazing lack of awareness. Which is more likely? Will such action bring about a regime change, or will it cause gas prices in the country to sky rocket and send our economy tumbling into a recession far deeper than the one we are crawling out of? The regime change is unlikely to change, done the Gingrich way, but irresponsible action will certainly bring about the other consequence.

Reagan to Fix Economy?

In a recent survey, people were asked who among recent presidents they would most trust to fix the American economy. The two leading answers were Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. FDR makes sense as he was the president who brought the country out of the Depression, but perhaps he was not “recent” enough, because most of the respondents opted for Reagan.

Reagan inherited a relatively small deficit (compared to more recent deficits) when he took over from Jimmy Carter. In fact, in his campaign he hammered Carter over it. Instead of fixing the deficit, however, the Reagan administration blew it out, and it stayed out of control until it was reigned in under the Clinton administration. Then under George W. Bush it blew out again, and it is now no longer economically viable to bring it under control until the economy improves considerably.

Be that as it may, this does not negate the idea that Reagan might be the one to do something here. But today, despite the reverence the conservatives hold for him, Reagan would not even win his party’s nomination. This is why: Towards the end of his administration, there was a realization that a fix was needed, and Reagan took the hard choice and began raising taxes. These days, the GOP is so blindly obsessed about taxes that anyone suggesting taxes is automatically out, not matter how reasonable and economically sensible such a move might be. And that must include Ronald Reagan.

Is Cain Still Able to Win?

As the sexual harassment accusations continue, Herman Cain and his camp continue to deny the allegations as “baseless” and “bogus” and to brand his accusers as liars. At his press conference on November 8, 2011, he claimed that the “Democratic machine” is out to get him. This is a change of direction; originally, Cain blamed the Perry organization for raising the issue of sexual harassment.

It is not easy to believe that these accusations are the machinations of the Democratic party. That party is focused on Romney getting the nomination. It would be very much to the Democrats’ advantage to have Cain run for president. He is inexperienced, he will appeal less to the swinging center because he is more conservative than Romney, and being black, he will turn off some of the Republican vote.

Actually, Cain’s troubles will have little effect on his race for the GOP nomination. Conservatives are quite prepared to put the accusations down to the “liberals” and the “liberal media.” For a precedent, we have only to look to the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, the most unqualified appointee in modern times. The accusations of sexual harassment against him only strengthened the Republican resolve to appoint him. (See my post “Virginia Doubts”, dated October 10, 2010.)

What this means is that Cain can still win the Republican nomination, but it is even more clear now that he cannot win the presidency.

Sarah Palin Should Run!

When Sarah Palin announced that she was not running for the Republican presidential nomination, she said she thought she would be more of an influence from outside the race. This, however, has not proven to be true. Once she dropped out, media interest shifted away from her, and without the media attention that she has been able to garner in the past, she is rapidly becoming irrelevant.

Look at the field. Romney is a virtual liberal pretending he’s conservative. Perry keeps faltering. Cain is about to head south. Palin’s main rival, Michelle Bachmann, is losing her former supporters, as they realize that she is in it for herself rather than for the greater cause. So the time ripe for Sarah Palin to come back in and revitalize the conservative movement.

California’s Marijuana Crackdown

The Feds have been cracking down on California’s medical marijuana dispensaries to stop a national marijuana trade by people with criminal backgrounds. Naturally, marijuana users are up in arms about what they see as an incursion into their ”right” to have access to the drug. While federal law prohibits the use of marijuana, conflict with state law is not the issue here. It is the corruption of the industry by criminal elements.

When voters approved the medical marijuana proposition, there was no guide as to how the drug would be distributed. Medical marijuana should have only been available through pharmacies, just like other prescription medications. There are no shops set up to distribute other specific prescribed meds. Likewise, there should not be any for medical marijuana. It is this failure in the original proposition that has brought about the current problem.

Significantly, U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte acknowledged that in Sacramento recently. He said, “While California law permits collective cultivation of marijuana in limited circumstances, it does not allow commercial distribution through the store-front model we see across California.” The state can still remedy the problem and require that medical marijuana be sold only through pharmacies.

Tea Party Supports Higher Taxes?

Is it possible that tea partyists actually support higher taxes? If it is true that they are now supporting Herman Cain, they are in fact supporting higher taxes.

Unless you are earning more than $120,000 a year, Cain’s 9-9-9 tax solution means higher taxes. And the last 9 is a federal sales tax. That gets added on to the sales and local taxes that are already in existence. This means that Cain will raise the sales tax you pay from whatever it is now to anywhere between 14 to 17 percent or more. If you live in a state that does not have sales tax at present, you will be paying 9 percent under Cain.

Is the tea party actually supporting this? I don’t think so. Then who is giving Cain his support? Republicans too are against increased taxes, so what is going on? Are they being suckered by the glib simplicity of 9-9-9? Are they too dumb to realize that their taxes are going to go up?

Cain’s Snake Oil 9-9-9: Come and Get It

Herman Cain’s flat 9 percent tax rate may sound initially attractive, but appearances are deceptively misleading. The removal of deductions is enough to push the income tax burden of the majority of tax payers to a rate that is higher than at present, especially for families with children. Only the wealthy would benefit, so in this respect Cain is showing his Republican colors.

Worst than increases in income tax, the 9 percent sales tax would be 9 percent only in the few states that at present have no sales tax. But take California, for example. Under Cain’s scheme, sales tax would end up being around 17 percent, once you add on state and local taxes. No only would this be a burden for consumers, but it would discourage sales and ultimately stifle the economy.

Are we back in the Wild West? The 9-9-9 tax proposal is little more than snake oil hawked by a shyster.

Who is Advising Sarah Palin?

After the attempted assassination of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, a number of people and certainly the media implied that Sarah Palin’s election map, threatening Giffords’ district among others, was at least partly to blame, since the map placed gun sight crosshairs over the targeted areas.

After the attempted assassination, the map was hastily removed from Palin’s web site. A spokesman for Palin said they were not gun targets, but surveyor’s marks. This was a lie, of course, since Palin herself said they were gun targets.

During the mid-term elections, Giffords picked up on the symbolism of those crosshairs over her district and said that there are “consequences to that action.” The media replayed those remarks many times as part of their coverage of the Giffords shooting. It was as though Giffords had a premonition of what was to happen on January 8, 2011.

Other voices, including the media, blamed the harsh and often violent partisan rhetoric, spewing out of political candidates, especially those of the extreme right.

Palin evidently felt that she was being attacked by the media, and this prompted her to respond in an eight-minute video.

The video opened well. Palin sat in front of the flag and a fireplace and spoke in a manner reminiscent of a State of the Union address by a president. But what came out of her mouth was far from presidential. Rather than rise above partisanship, she chose to elevate it and attacked anyone who might have accused her as though they were the ones guilty of provoking violence. The comparison of her proclaimed innocence under attack as equivalent to the blood libel charge of Jews showed both no sense of proportion and an insensitivity to another ethnic/religious group. Her address was anything but presidential.

A genuine presidential address came later from Obama both in form, since he was the president, and in the substance of the address.

As it turns out, there is no evidence that the map and maybe even the rhetoric had anything to do with the disturbed mind of a mentally ill gunman. Palin would have been far better off to ignore the whole issue than to continue with her vitriolic attacks.

(The actions of Jesse Kelly, the tea party candidate who ran against Giffords in 2010, by taking an M 16 rifle to rallies and brandishing it like a phallus to boost his credentials, are far more likely to set the mood for a disturbed gunman than Palin’s map. What else could that action represent, since gun control was never an issue in that district?)

Has Sarah Palin now lost her chance at running for the presidency? She has not alienated the extreme faction on her side, but this is not enough for her to become a candidate. If she still has presidential ambitions, she must now work harder to convince her party of her viability. She desperately needs to get savvy political advice, listen to it and act on it. And if she can manage to achieve the now more remote candidature and be elected, she has to convince the ones who actually make the difference in elections. These are the voters in the middle, between the parties, the ones who value bipartisanship and compromise and who have a vision of government working together for them and for the common good.