Thursday, January 17, 2013

Why American gun laws are failing the American people.

1. The second amendment is the root of all evil when it comes to gun control in America and anyone that tells you the second amendment unwaveringly protects the rights of all Americans to keep and bear arms is stretching the truth. There is one qualifier in the second amendment that is often overlooked by gun nuts and the NRA, and that qualifier is "well-regulated." Even 200 years ago when the amendment was adopted into the constitution, someone had the sense to know that guns must be controlled.

I won't delve into statistics, a simple Google search will help prove my point, but in countries like Canada, Britain, Japan, and Australia, where there is stricter, more "well-regulated" gun control, there are drastically fewer gun-related deaths.

In the 2008-2009 period, there were 39 gun-related deaths in Britain and 11 in Japan. There were 12,000 in the United States.

As a nation, people should speak up for that qualifier that is saving lives in other countries. Those two words are the difference between simple gun registration and control, and an unregulated militia run amok.

2. Here's another constitutional issue. Yes, maybe the second amendment is confusing. Maybe the wording: "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed," overpowers the "well-regulated" part. But when something is confusing, it should be clarified.

Amending the constitution is not unheard of. Yes, it will have rednecks everywhere outraged and ready to riot. But these are the same rednecks whose ancestors are likely the ones that wrote in the constitution:

Representatives and direct taxes . . . shall be determined by adding to the whole number of Free Persons . . . excluding Indians not taxed, and three fifths of all other Persons.

And if you can't figure out what that means, I'll spell it out for you. It means that black people, slaves, were only counted as three fifths of a person.

Guess what? That part of the constitution is long gone. It was changed because people got smarter and evolved and made the adjustments necessary for a civilized nation.

3. The NRA thinks more guns is the answer, saying that having armed guards on school grounds could prevent tragedies like the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Well, both Columbine High School and Virginia Tech had armed guards stationed on their campuses at the time of their tragic shootings. Even Fort Hood, an entire army base full of armed personnel, couldn't prevent the tragic shooting that occurred there only recently.

4. I could go on forever but I'll make this my last point. The movie Bully was forcibly rated R in the United States because it was effectively declared "too much" for viewers under the age of 18. KinderSurprise chocolate eggs are banned due to dangers posed to children.

The gun used to kill 20 children last month was a Bushmaster XM-15 rifle. It is one of the guns that was used in the war in Iraq and is still being used in the war in Afghanistan. It has a rate of fire of 700-950 rounds PER MINUTE in its fully automatic version. This is not a weapon intended for hunting or protection. This is a weapon intended for war, intended to kill mass amounts of people, and to kill them quickly. This weapon was legally owned by Adam Lanza's mother. This is a weapon legally owned by many in the United States.

But KinderSurprises are too dangerous for your children?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Vacation's over (for two of us)

I'm baaaaack! I'd like to say a quick thank you to all those who have been visiting during my hiatus. With the spike in hits I've so strangely had in the past few weeks (despite a lack of updates for months), I've been guilt-ridden for not keeping up with my posts. Toss in a side of presidential election and a dash of senate candidates differentiating 'legitimate' rape (from, well, I don't know, illegitimate rape?) and you've got the recipe for getting me back to where I belong - right here.

So let's get started.

You may be surprised to hear me say that Obama versus Romney is not the matchup I'm most looking forward to in the coming months but, rather, the head-to-head that will be Biden versus Ryan.

Because, let's admit it, Biden got a free pass last time. Debating against Sarah Palin was like a vacation for Biden. All he had to do was sit back, relax, soak up the sun, and try not to spill any piƱa colada on himself.

Well, vacation's over ol' Joe. You're likely on the ticket this time around, which will be confirmed at the DNC next week, and now is the time to let the country see what you're really made of. Paul Ryan is some stiff competition (and I'm not talking about his abs, although he certainly beats Biden in that area).

Ryan is a member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Wisconsin's 1st congressional district. He's smart, young, charismatic, well-spoken, and well, like I said already, wonderful to look at. But that's about where it ends. The problem is, with the society we're living in today, that seems to be all you need.

And now, with the risque convention speech he gave last night, he's about to either sink or swim the Republican presidential campaign.

Focusing on Medicare was a bad choice. It doesn't need to be an issue for the Republicans, but once it is (which he seems to want), it may not help the Romney/Ryan ticket out too much. Thankfully, fact-checkers all over the United States were busy bees after Ryan's rant and they came out on top. In regards to Medicare, Ryan's claim that Obama is taking from Medicare and giving to Obamacare just isn't true. Obamacare will save Medicare billions of dollars in reimbursement rates.

The other issue Ryan may have to tackle is one that was unfortunately and unintentionally passed off to him by Missouri Congressman Todd Akin.

The pigskin in question is, of course, Akin's "legitimate" rape comment made some weeks ago, bringing abortion and women's rights to the forefront of the debate. Something that Ryan just may not want to talk about if he's hoping not to upset 75 per cent of American voters.

The thing is, on this issue, Ryan is an extremist. He believes that all abortions should be banned with no exception for rape or incest, a view that is opposite to that of three quarters of American voters.

So how will it all play out? Sure, the Ryan vs. Biden matchup seems like the headline event right now, but of course, it will all die down and come back to what it should be.

Romney, a middling conservative, with centric views on most things, and certainly out-of-touch with middle America versus Obama, a man left with a difficult task that hasn't proved himself up for the job. Yet.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

I'll be back!

Hello people of the blogosphere. My Google Analytics have made me aware that I'm actually getting quite a few visitors here despite the fact that I haven't blogged since December 5, 2011 (yes I know that's sad). Just wanted to let my readers know (so weird - I have readers), that I've embarked on a pretty awesome new job that has been taking up quite a bit of my time. Once I get more settled in, I really do plan on starting up again, so check back every once in awhile and maybe there'll be something new to read!!! In the mean time, go do something fun and social. Like tumblr.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hard time for drug crime

I'm sure many of you have heard the term "omnibus crime bill" thrown around in the last few months. I'm also sure many of you have no idea what that is.
Basically, it is what the Conservative government so trickily named "The Safe Streets and Communities Act." It is a sweeping crime bill (Bill C-10) that assembles nine previous crime bills that failed to pass through Canada's House of Representatives.

Today, this piece of legislation successfully passed the House and will now be assessed in the Senate after (hopefully) thorough review.

Now I haven't hidden the fact that I'm fairly left-leaning in my previous posts so here's a shocker: I don't hate the crime bill. I really don't. To be honest, nobody is going to say they hate the crime bill - you'll immediately be classified as a supporter of pedophiles if you do. But I seriously don't mind the crime bill. The more criminals behind bars, the better for me. It is one of the few areas where I don't mind spending extra tax dollars if I have to.

And now to lessen the surprise - the Safe Streets and Communities Act has some major flaws that are making me (and many other online bloggers) think what the heck is Stephen Harper thinking?

Last week, in passing, I saw one of those photos that gets posted around on Facebook that said "Stephen Harper likes child rapists better than pot smokers." I usually pay no mind to those things as they are often far-fetched or even completely untrue. So when I started this post on the crime bill, I thought I would do some hardcore research (so you wouldn't have to, you're welcome) to find the truth.

It comes as no surprise that the legislation includes toughening up sentences on violent and repeat young offenders, tightening up the pardon system and instituting and raising mandatory minimums on a number of crimes across the board.

The shocker though? While I am sure that Stephen Harper does not like child rapists nor does he like pot smokers - the new legislation does indeed impose harsher punishments on some pot-related crimes than it does on sexual assault crimes against children.

Previously, there were no mandatory minimums for drug related crimes. Bill C-10 is looking to introduce a number of mandatory minimums for drug crimes (the stupidity of which I will get into later). One of these mandatory minimums includes a minimum one-year sentence for marijuana growers caught growing between 201 and 500 pot plants. Over 500 plants results in a two-year minimum sentence. Importing and exporting marijuana also requires a one-year minimum sentence.

Child-related sexual interference, sexual touching and sexual exploitation used to carry a 45 DAY mandatory minimum. Harper is attempting to raise this to a mere year.

If he can go from a zero-day mandatory minimum for drug offences to one year, why can't he make a 45 day mandatory minimum on child sexual offences much more than one year?

The question here is inevitable... why is Stephen Harper tougher on drug dealers than he is on child molesters? If we are going to pass a historic piece of legislation, shouldn't our focus be in the right place? Shouldn't our priorities be in order? Yes, drugs are bad, blah blah, but aren't child predators worse? Much, much, much worse?

Harper and the Conservatives say that mandatory minimums discourage crimes. If that's true, why not make any child-related sexual or violent crime carry a mandatory minimum of 10 years? Because it's not true.

Which brings me to the subject of mandatory minimums. I don't hate mandatory minimums - especially for violent crimes and sexually-related crimes. But Stephen Harper wants to abolish conditional sentences across the board, forcing judges to completely relinquish their ability to make decisions based on the facts of each individual case.

And when it comes to drugs, we know beyond a reasonable doubt that mandatory minimums just don't work.

When the United States implemented what they called a "War on Drugs," it was because the illegal drug trade had become a terrible epidemic there. Mandatory minimums was one of the drastic methods used in their war. In Canada, we have no such problem and for Harper to insinuate that we do in order for him to turn our country into a more USA-like state is reprehensible. Of course we have an illegal drug industry here but it is no greater a problem than any other criminal area and it is far less monstrous than violent crimes and sexual crimes.

In the United States, mandatory minimums for drug offences have proven to be disturbingly expensive, unlimitedly taxing on the prison system and sometimes downright racist (although to be fair, in the States the mandatory minimums were inequitable between drugs like crack that were more popular amongst lower-income populations and drugs like cocaine that were more popular amongst middle/high-income populations).

But beyond those reasons, it has been simply concluded by the likes of former Secretary General of the UN Kofi Annan, former Secretary of State of the United States George P. Shultz, former Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve Paul Volcker and former Presidents of both Mexico and Columbia that the War on Drugs was undoubtedly and inarguably a failure and that a great part of that failure was mandatory minimums for drug crimes. You can download the full report that was compiled by the above mentioned people and a number of others here. It's actually fairly interesting if you have the extra time.

The report says that:
"Political leaders and public figures should have the courage to articulate publicly what many of them acknowledge privately: that the evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that repressive strategies will not solve the drug problem, and that the war on drugs has not, and cannot, be won."
Ultimately, it appears almost as though Harper and the Conservatives are pandering to their base of right-wingers whose ears perk up at the mention of hard time for drug crime rather than actually trying to institute a crime bill that is beneficial across the board.

Unfortunately, the bill cannot be opposed strongly for fear of a Conservative accusing the opposition of being pro-crime. And we all know that there are tons of people out there who will hear "pro-crime" on the news or in the flyer they get for being a card-carrying member of the Conservative party who will yell bloody murder at the idea that someone would possibly oppose a bill against crime.

Like I said before, I support the legislation, I just wish it was legislation worthy of Canada because we deserve better.

And I leave you with this:

PS. Comments are not only welcome but requested. Here or on Facebook would be great!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Commerce, Education, and... Oops?

'Tis the season for many things - Christmas, exams, family and friends. The other great thing about this season? The race for the GOP nomination. To be fair, it isn't a 'season' so much as a whole year-and-a-half considering that potential candidates started coming out of the woodwork in early 2011 and the Iowa caucus isn't until January 3, 2012 (with the New Hampshire primary following soon after on the 10th). The primaries continue right through to June 2012 and end with the nominating convention on August 27, making for a very lengthy nominating season.

The nominating process can be cringeworthy and it has been quite some time since Democrats could sit back and watch the Republicans' infighting without having to worry about their own. Democrats can enjoy the show until after the DNC in September when the 'real' election starts. 
So let's take a look at all the incredibly entertaining candidates that are still in the race and keep in mind that mere months from now the horizon could look vastly different (just ask Tim Pawlenty).

Well, with the mention of Pawlenty, let's just say it's unfortunate that he couldn't stick around longer considering Michele Bachmann (the reason he withdrew) is currently polling at only 4% (according to the most recent Gallup poll). Both candidates were trying to win over Minnesota (a decidedly blue state that, if flipped, could decide the election), and both candidates are Evangelical Christians, trying to appeal to Tea Partyers and others on the far right. After Bachmann unexpectedly beat Pawlenty in Iowa's infamous Ames straw poll, the well went dry for Pawlenty and he had to withdraw. At the time, Bachmann had only been in the race for just over a month and hadn't had to open her mouth much, therefore having great support behind her from the conservative base. Now, Bachmann has had more than plenty of chances to answer questions and put her foot in her mouth. And boy has she taken advantage of those chances. The New Jersey Star-Ledger's opinion board writes it up best in this piece, which I strongly recommend that you read as they have compiled all of Bachmann's disturbing untruths (with videos for proof), but I'll just touch on the most glaring untruth that is said to be the reason Bachmann has taken a downturn in the polls and will not recover: Bachmann said in one of the GOP debates that the HPV vaccination is a "very dangerous drug" that can have "very dangerous side effects" and that she met a woman who told her that the HPV vaccination caused her daughter "mental retardation."
Unfortunately for her, there is not a single shred of evidence, a test, a scientist or a doctor who agrees with Bachmann. Furthermore, two scientists have offered financial rewards if the woman who Bachmann claims to have spoken to can be produced to confirm that she isn't just making everything up. In case you don't have the chance to click on the link above, Bachmann also believes carbon dioxide is not harmful to the environment and that there are thousands of Nobel Prize winning scientists who believe in intelligent design (and don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Bachmann shouldn't believe in intelligent design, I'm saying she shouldn't tell people that there are Nobel Prize winning scientists that believe in intelligent design. There aren't).
So anyways, in my opinion, the HPV debacle (also known as the Michele-Bachmann-makes-things-up revelation), was the nail in the coffin of the "Bachmann for President" campaign, especially considering that there are rumours that she is running on the fumes of pre-HPV campaign donations. 

Speaking of HPV (strange lead-in, I know), the ever-affable Rick Perry is the reason it all started. In one of the GOP debates, Bachmann brought attention to the fact that in 2007, Perry (as Governor of Texas), issued an executive order mandating that young girls be required to have the HPV vaccination. Moreover, it was later discovered that Perry had strong financial ties with Merck, the pharmaceutical manufacturer of Gardasil (a brand of HPV vaccination). The order was eventually overturned. Bachmann had every right to bring this up in the debate as a lot of people don't want federal or state mandated vaccinations. Similarly, it is important to know what corporations are donating to candidates to see what motivates them, and Perry was wrong to try to use his position as governor to benefit one of his largest financial donors (if that is indeed what he did), but Bachmann really dug her own grave on this issue and it didn't end up affecting Perry that badly.
While Perry was able to skirt the HPV issue quite nicely, he is still only polling at eight per cent. Why, you ask? Well if the title of this blog post doesn't ring a bell then you have sorely missed out on some of the most hilarious election fodder of ALL time. After the GOP debate on November 9th, late night talk-show hosts got down on their knees and thanked God for Rick Perry (I mean, it's November 28th and they're still making the jokes - and I'm still laughing).

After a rousing monologue about the downfalls of another Obama administration, Perry announced that if he becomes President, there are three areas of government he'll do away with: the Department of Commerce, the Department of Education and... umm... uhhh... sorry... oops? Perry's mind blanked and he never recovered (the answer was supposed to be the Department of Energy). In the moments of awkward silence while Perry was attempting to remember the third department, the sound of Perry's presidential bid being flushed down the toilet was deafening. I think Jon Stewart covered it best:

On that note, what can I say about Herman Cain? Nothing. I'm not going to get into the sexual assault scandal (nothing's been proven and as a journalism student it has been drilled into my mind not to confuse scandal with news). Moreover, earlier today Cain notified the press that an Atlanta TV station is going to do a story accusing him of an alleged long-term extramarital affair. Cain also denies this story. In my opinion, Cain will not recover from the scandal and will never come close to winning the primary, despite his current polling at 16 per cent. If we say for a moment that Cain never had any of the scandal, the question is - could he be president? Watch the first minute of this video and you'll have my answer:
In case you don't watch, the reporter asks Cain the very simple question "Did you agree with President Obama on Libya or not?" Here's an excerpt of Cain's answer: 
Okay Libya... President Obama... supported the uprising correct? President Obama called for the removal of... Ghaddafi? I just want to make sure we're talking about the same thing before I say yes I agree or no I didn't agree. I do not agree with the way he handled it for the following reason... wait, no that's a different one. Uhhhhh..... I gotta go back.... uhhh.... I got all this stuff twirling around in my head.... Specifically, what are you asking me?
 LOL! I'm sorry, I can't help but laugh at this. Don't get me wrong, I don't know my stance on every single Obama policy, the difference is, I'm not running for President (and I actually do know what Libya is and what Obama did there, so maybe I should run for President).

Moving on, let's discuss Ron Paul. The man is useless. He's a nifty dude, he should fire his tailor or gain some weight because he is consistently drowning in his fancy suits and he says things that will make you stop and say "did he really just say that?" like legalizing prostitution and heroin (as a method of reducing the crime rate). I mean, I think it's a great idea, but try saying it to an audience of right-wing Republicans.... uhhh.... oops? But the guy will never win. Yes, he is polling at nine per cent but that, in my opinion, is purely based on name-recognition (the man is over 300 years old so obviously his name has been out there longer).

And then there's Newt and Mitt. Seriously. The two candidates leading the polls are named NEWT and MITT. I'm actually quite surprised that Newt Gingrich is the frontrunner (21%) because he's my favourite of the available options. I mean obviously there are policies of his that I don't agree with but (and I absolutely HATE to use this term) the man is a maverick. And not the Sarah Palin/John McCain type of maybe-people-will-vote-for-me-if-I-call-myself-something-cool-like-"maverick" but a real maverick. Like in June, when Gingrich's entire staff resigned en masse because their "vision" for the campaign didn't align with Gingrich's and good ol' Newty said "F 'em" and marched on. I say good for him.

And that's all folks! Oh wait... there's one more? Sorry... oops. Ah yes, the ever-forgettable Mitt Romney. The poor guy is just so clean-cut and oh-so-boring that people forget about him. Should he be sorry that he doesn't have any extramarital affairs keeping him in the public eye or that he knows how to answer reporters' and moderators' questions with some sensibility and intelligence? Yes, Romney has consistently been polling around an impressive 20 per cent, but almost every other candidate has had their chance to surge in the polls, far beyond the 20 range and yet there Romney sits, consistently around 20 per cent.

Here's some drama for you - on a road trip to Canada a long time ago, Romney strapped his dog to the roof of his car for hours on end. What a $#*@!!!!! (No, I don't care what his political views are, this is all that matters). Take from it what you will.

And there you have it (seriously this time).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Now is the time for the left to stand together

When the Reform Party of Canada came into existence, it eventually led to a vote split that many on the right blamed for the Liberal Party’s three consecutive majority governments.
But by 2003, a merger that Progressive Conservative Leader Peter MacKay swore would never happen, happened. The Reform Party of Canada and the Progressive Conservatives joined together to become what we now know as the Conservative Party of Canada. This merger unified the right and contributed to the current Conservative government’s success under Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
So, if that’s the case, why then is there so much opposition from the left to merge the New Democratic Party and Liberals? The concept of a fair and democratic government only works when there is strong opposition and currently, the disassembled left is no such thing, especially since the NDP and Liberals are currently without strong leadership – or any leadership at all, really.
The opposition stems from logic – the New Democrats and Liberals have major differences. And because of Canada’s “first-past-the-post” electoral system, a merger on the left does not guarantee a left-wing government. At most, it guarantees both parties a place at the table of the official opposition. Furthermore, getting the Liberal leadership to sit down with the NDP leadership is like getting siblings to agree on something – they’re from the same family but good luck getting them to get along.
Another problem with a merger on the left is the fear of an evolution into a polarized, American-style government with an “us” vs. “them” mentality, which exists only in moderation in Canada today.
The reality is, these are all the same arguments posited against the right-wing merger in 2003.  The Reform Party and the PCs had significantly differing ideals that those against the merger claimed could never be moulded into one. Others feared the polarization of the right wing. Ultimately, the leadership of both conservative parties played nice and the unified party has since experienced increasing levels of support.
So should the New Democrats and the Liberals consider a merger?
And sooner than later, as both parties are currently going through major overhauls of leadership and platform.  Now is the time for one leader and one party to stand up for left-wing voters.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Secret Service wins every time.

If you have been paying attention to the news, you'll see that the Republican party is giving Obama a hard time for his Canadian-made campaign bus, especially since his major campaign platform is the US economy, including supporting American businesses and jobs.

What irks me about politicians, elections and campaigning is that we, the voting public, get treated like we are stupid, and the worst part is that we buy into it. We read headlines that are completely ridiculous and we believe them without context, evidence or explanation. A good example of this is every time Republicans tell the poor and middle class that "Democrats want to raise your taxes." No, they don't. They want to raise taxes on the super rich. Republicans proceed to say "We want to lower taxes." Well, yes they do. They want to lower taxes on the super rich. Unfortunately, the poor and middle class people they are speaking to just hear what they say, without realizing the subtext of what they are saying.

Something similar is happening here with the Canadian-made-bus-gate debacle that Obama is suffering through. Yes, the buses are partly Canadian made. They were ordered through a US company, but the shell of the bus is ultimately made in Canada. You know why? Because these are the best possible buses you can get in the whole world. And with a man who literally carries around the nuclear codes in a little black suitcase at ALL times, don't you think he deserves the best?

Furthermore, Barack Obama has next to zero say in regards to the bus he travels in. You'd be surprised at how much control the Secret Service actually gets when it comes to protecting the President. It is interesting to note that the Secret Service falls under the purview of the Treasury Department, led by the Secretary of the Treasury who is currently an Independent (aka not a Democrat).  The Secret Service's job is to serve the American people by protecting their leaders, regardless of political party. What the Secret Service says, goes. (Interesting fact - the Secret Service was an investigative body until President William McKinley was assassinated, at which time the Secret Service was put in charge of protecting the President, given carte blanche in order to complete this task successfully, including complete control of modes and methods of transportation).

You will notice that I said protecting their leaders and not singular leader. This is important to note because if you do any further research into this subject at all, you will see that the Secret Service has released a statement indicating that they have purchased TWO identical buses. One is for Barack Obama to tour in the upcoming election, the other is for whichever Republican wins the nomination on August 27, 2012. That's right, in every single Presidential election, both nominees get a Secret Service detail that are 100% in charge of protecting and transporting their subject. And the Republican nominee is not going to like it too much that when he's riding around in his Canadian-made tour bus he's going to have the word "hypocrite" superimposed on pictures of his bus, much like Republicans have super imposed a Canadian flag on pictures of Obama's bus now.

So if you've learned anything from this article, it's to please, always ensure that you have all the facts before making your judgements.