Monday, June 28, 2010

Your 2nd Amendment Rights Reaffirmed

Today is a RED LETTER DAY! The U.S. Supreme Court just issued its opinion on McDonald v. City of Chicago. And common sense prevailed. Finally.

The 2nd Amendment reads:

"A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

Seldom has 27 little words caused so much angst and anxiety, confusion, heated debate and outright torturing of meaning by those unable or unwilling to understand the written word. Those unaware of the controversy need to step back a bit and review history. To wit:

The 1st Amendment to our Constitution gives us all the right of free speech (plus other related rights). The 2nd gives us the right to keep and bear arms, no doubt to help us defend the Amendment just before it. It is no accident they were written in this order. But ever since the ink was drying on this hallowed document, those on the left have been trying to eliminate it, minimize it or simply change its straightforward pronouncement into something never intended by the framers. And they had a lot of sympathizers, including Stalin, Marx, Hitler, Pol Pot, Chavez and Castro, to name but a few. And because of this, those who love liberty and want to protect it have been working tirelessly to reaffirm it. That reaffirmation happened today.

For purposes of background, The Roberts Court passed down its landmark ruling on Heller v. Washington, D.C. in July, 2008. Heller, as you may remember, was a retired soldier, a D.C. cop, a private eye and a bodyguard. In these capacities he had the right to carry a weapon concealed. But due to D.C.'s arcane gun laws, he couldn't keep his handgun at home. He had to stop by Union Station and lock up his pistol in a train station locker each evening and then pick it up on his way to work the next morning. As stupid as this may sound, that was their law, and its been their law for the last 40 years. During that 40 years, I might add, their murder rate has increased more than 340%. So Heller sued, and with the help of the NRA, he prevailed. D.C.'s gun ban was overthrown.

By the way, you might be interested to note that two rather well-known people signed amicus (friend-of-the-court) briefs on behalf of D.C.; that would be then Illinois State Senator. B. H. Obama and then Chicago lawyer Eric Holder. That tells you all you need to know about their motivations and all you need to know about the regard they hold for our Bill of Rights.

So was the fight over? Not by a long shot (pun intended). A then little-known judge turned down an appeal on gun rights brought because of this ruling, stating emphatically that Heller v. D.C. applied only to "Federal enclaves." D.C., of course, is just such an enclave. All other cities, counties and states were not affected by this ruling, the judge stated. That judge was one Sonja Sotomayor, now a Supreme put there by B. H. Obama. You should know also that during her confirmation hearings, Sotomayor was asked if she'd gotten religion since the Heller decision. She stated emphatically that the right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental American right. We'll see...

Oh, don't let me forget to mention that as this is written, Elena Kagen is undergoing confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill. This lady is no doubt very smart. But having never been a judge, she's woefully short of real-world judicial experience against which we can evaluate her prospective performance as a Justice. But one thing we do know. In the 1990's she worked with the Clinton Administration in its effort to eviscerate the 2nd Amendment. These efforts included banning so-called "assault weapons" (semi-auto deer rifles, as an example) and limiting the importation of certain guns they thought looked scary. In one of her more famous pronouncements, she stated that the National Rifle Association and the KKK were pretty much equal in terms of being a threat to the nation. "Bad guy orginizations," she called them.

Enter a retired black Chicago janitor named Otis McDonald. He lives in a downtrodden, inner-city project and feared for his life. He wanted to buy a gun to protect himself and his family. Due to Chicago's onerous gun laws (Chicago and its forty suburban cities outlawed handguns more than 30 years ago), McDonald was refused in his efforts to take advantage of his Constitutionally-protected rights. Youshould know that since this ban went into effect, Chicago's murder rate has increased 340%. 52 were shot just this past weekend, eight fatally. So much for outlawing handguns. With the assistance of the NRA, once again, McDonald sued. Now President Obama and Attorney General Holder, ever predictably, once again signed on backing Chicago. McDonald lost. They appealed. They won. Chicago appealed. It went all the way to the Supreme Court. The case was heard this past February. The decision was handed down today; McDonald prevailed on a 5-4 decision. Sotomayor, by the way, voted with the minority despite her earlier proclamations concerning the 2nd Amendment and the fundamental rights to our citizens it conveys. Can you say disingenuous?

And don't let anyone try to tell you that the words preceding "...the right of the people..." define or refine or limit or reduce the breadth of the 2nd Amendment. The words preceding the second comma is termed a "preamble." Remember that when the Bill of Rights was crafted there was no TV, or radio, or telegraph, or Pony Express, or telephone, or internet to inform the people. There were only a very few newspapers and only the people in the bigger cities and towns got the chance to read them. So our framers chose to give us "reasons" before the "rights" we were granted so we'd know out in the hinterlands what they were doing and why they were doing it. There are preambles before many of the Rights in the Bill, including the 4th, the 10th and the 14th. So, simply disregard everything before the stated right, including the whole militia thing, and you'll know what was intended. And that's not my take on the subject. That's the opinion of the majority of the Justices of the Supreme Court.

So folks, 219 years after the Bill of Rights was consecrated, you finally have the right to buy a gun anywhere in the 50 states, and keep it handy to protect yourself and your family. And not just from bad guys. The 2nd Amendment wasn't written solely to enable you to protect yourself from robbers and thieves and rapists and murderers. Rather, it was written for you to be able to protect yourself from those in the government who might engage in tyranny. And remember, this right of yours which was reaffirmed today was voted through by the thinnest of majorities, 5 to 4. What we were told today is that four sitting, left-wing ideologue Supreme Court Justices voted to strip you of your rights under the 2nd Amendment. They either cannot read, or cannot understand what was written, or, far more likely, they chose not to interpret what was written in a way that benefits us Americans as was intended. They want to pick and choose what parts and pieces of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights they believe have merit and worth, according to their political philosophies, and which should just be eliminated altogether. Elections have consequences, people. When you go to the polls in 2012, you're not just voting for a president. Because Presidents select Justices, you're voting to retain or lose the rights given you under our Constitution. Pick the wrong candidate and we could be France or even Venezuela by the time the dust settles. Think about it...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Murphy's Airline

My wife and I just returned from a much-needed vacation to Michigan. Why Michigan, you ask? Perhaps because it's quite possibly the one state in America worse off than California. It would be tough to be worse, but God knows they're trying. But that's not it.

Some of you might know that my youngest daughter, Jennifer, just made a mid-course career correction. She decided she wanted to become a professional photographer and give up her Dilbert-style cubicle at Universal Music Group here in Hollywood. So, she dedicated most of a year to UCLA extension courses, bought a really cool camera and laptop with all the requisite PhotoShop software, practiced like crazy and made her way off to Mackinac Island, MI, where she's been hired for the season as Lead Photographer for the Grand Hotel. Never heard of the Grand?

According to Conde-Naste, the Grand is one of the 100 top hotels in the world. It's situated on an island 4 miles off the coast of the very tip of the northern Michigan peninsula on the straits between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. It's so far north they enjoy enviable views of the Northern Lights late in the summer. Think of a straight line between Minneapolis and Ottawa and you've got it. But this island is special for a number of important reasons.

Mackinac (pronounced Mackinaw) Island was first occupied by local Indian tribes (Huron, Chippewa, etc.). Then the French built a fort there to protect their fur trappers and traders in the late 1700s. The British then kicked out the Frogs following the French and Indian War. The Indians, it seemed liked the French a lot a whole lot better then they did the Limeys. So they played a little kick ball out front of the Fort as a diversion while most of their happy band of warriors stormed the battlements from the rear. Not a single Brit drew air following that encounter. Nasty fellows, those natives, especially when forced to give up French cuisine in favor of fish and chips.

Then came the Americans. After we made toast out of the English in the Revolutionary War, we took over. We ran the Fort and the Island until the 1840s, when the French came back for Round Two. They took back the Island without a shot being fired. Seems like they took a page from the Indian playbook and came in through the back side of the Island. All the American cannons were aimed toward the harbor, and the French sneaked up from behind. Sneaky bastards, the French.

Eventually we retook the fort when the French decided they weren't very good at this whole "war thing" and went on home to make wine, smoke cigarettes and eschew bathing. By the way, they're still not. Do you know how many Frenchmen it takes to defend Paris? Neither do they. They never tried...

Anyway, things pretty well just idled along on the Island from then on. The Grand Hotel was built in the 1870s. From a fairly inauspicious beginning, it was to become the largest wooden structure east of the Mississippi. Some of you may know that the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego has the honor of being the largest wooden structure west of the Big Muddy, so this gives you some idea of the Grand's size and import. And since there's no roads our bridges to the Island, a thriving ferry business developed. Both the Hotel and the ferries are still humming along. And then they decided to outlaw motorized vehicles from the Island in the early 1900s. They worried that those loud, smelly cars might scare the horses. And they have horses aplenty. About 600 saddle, pack and draft horses, consisting mostly of Percherons, pull freight wagons and tourist taxis throughout the season. No cars, no motorcycles, no lawnmowers. Lots of clip-clop, clip-clop, however. By the way, do you know what goes, "clip clop, clip clop, bang bang, clip clop, clip clop?" An Amish drive-by shooting. And as to Percherons, these fellas are BI - II - II - GG! They tip the scales around 2,000 pounds and are about half again taller than your average quarter horse. And they have lots of Percheron Poo also. Check out Mike Rowe's "Dirty Jobs" Mackinac segment on YouTube if you'd like an up-close and personal report on horsey exhaust. Enlightening.

The Hotel is something special. 375 rooms. The longest covered porch in America (990 feet long). Enormous dining room that can seat more than a thousand at a time for Five Star gourmet meals. Dress for dinner? Please! The Esther Williams Pool is so large (more than 120 yards long!) it costs $20,000 per month to heat it up to 84 degrees during the season. Some of you may recall "Somewhere in Time," the Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour movie, that was filmed there in the 1970s. No? Rent it. You'll get a great overview of the Hotel and the Island. It's situated on 50 acres of prime view property, overlooking the harbor. It's expensive. But hey, when your daughter works there, friends and family discounts apply. So, we took advantage. We're retired, okay?

To get to Mackinac Island takes commitment. We boarded a red eye from LAX to Chicago. Then a commuter jet for the hour long trip to Traverse City, MI. Then we rented a car and drove the 100-plus miles to Mackinaw City, MI. Then took the ferry across the Straits of Huron and we were finally there after more than 14 hours of travel. But one thing we noticed upon first arriving. Elaine had her luggage. I didn't have mine.

Apparently United Airlines couldn't be bothered to honor Item # 3 on their website-listed Customer Commitments: To get your luggage to you intact and on time. And since dressing for dinner requires a coat and tie, and since my coat and tie were were still in my luggage in Chicago, we weren't able to partake in the formal dining experience we'd paid for that evening.

My luggage and I were finally reunited about 10:00 p.m. that evening when a guy named "Mark" finally delivered it. I wondered then and I wonder now how much it must have cost United to pay a guy to drive two-plus hours to bring me my luggage. I'm reminded of the old saying, "There's never time to do it right, but there's always time to do it over." Oh well, misplaced luggage happens, even when you pay your carrier $25.00 per bag to make sure it doesn't.

Following a fun and relaxing vacation, we departed Mac Island last Saturday morning. We reversed the travel schedule. Drive back to Traverse City, turn in the car, board the commuter plane, return to O'Hare, hop on a 757 and return to LAX. There we discovered that - lo and behold - we once again had no luggage. Somehow United managed (or mismanaged) not to transfer our bags from the commuter to the big jet. So we drove home that night sans bags. At least, we thought, we'd get them early the next day, Father's Day, in time to celebrate the occasion with our family. We were wrong...

We got a call that Sunday morning that our bags had indeed been located (Whew!). And that they would be delivered to us sometime day. When, we asked? We were given a "window" of somewhere between 7:00 a.m. and 2;00 p.m. A seven hour window to drive two pieces of luggage from LAX to our home, a scant 35 miles? You could walk that distance, pulling our luggage behind you and make it quicker than that. We were, to put it mildly, not at all pleased.

A non-English speaker finally delivered our bags at 2:00 p.m. sharp. And I promptly wrote a letter to Mr. Glenn Tilton, CEO of United Airlines. I commented to Mr. Tilton that, if United persists in charging its customers $25.00 for each bag they check, they should at least pay rent of the same $25.00 for each bag they misplace or fail to deliver. Thus, I told Mr. Tilton, that he owes us $75.00. And until or unless we get the check, I told Tilton, we'll decline to darken United's door. If United is the only way to get somewhere from here on, I told Mr. Tilton, I'll just stay home. A fella' can only take so much abuse, right?

I'm here to report that a visit to Mackinac Island is a real hoot. You truly go back in time. And if you go there this summer, you just might be able to take advantage of the friends and family discount while my daughter is there. Call me. And that stepping over and around horse poo gives one considerable exercise. And also that the Grand is truly grand, just as the Great Lakes are truly great. The land is pretty flat, the people are very nice, there's fudge shops galore on the Island, the state government sucks and the food is marginal. But, all in all, it's a great horse-filled experience. If you choose to go, however, you might want to choose a carrier to you there other than United...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sounds like...

Has anybody else noticed that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sounds just like Marge Simpson?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Let's Compare Immigration Laws

President Obama recently invited Felipe Calderon, Mexico's El Jefe de Oro, to address a joint session of our Congress. During this speech he lambasted Arizona's recently enacted anti-illegal immigration law as being racist and unfair.

I don't now about you, but this is the first time in my memory that another country's leader had the temerity to trash one of our state in public, and the first time the majority Democrats in Congress gave somebody a standing "O" for so doing. Figuring that Senor Calderon wouldn't have the cajones to complain about our immigration laws unless Mexico's were above reproach, I did a little research on the subject. Here's what I came up with:

If you enter Mexico illegally you get two years' hard labor and are then deported. No passing "Go," no collecting 200 pesos. And if you break in again, it's ten years.

Of course, if you try to come in from countries along Mexico's southern border, such as Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, you'll face its army and a bevy of machine guns pointed in your direction. And they're known to use them. With extreme prejudice.

Assuming you come across legally, you'll then face a daunting list of conditions and requirements. You may not participate in any political action. You have no freedom of speech. You may not march, protest, wave signs and placards, or attempt to influence public opinion.

Mexican citizens are given preference in hiring over foreign nationals, even those with visas and proper documentation. Only citizens may serve in Mexico's armed forces, on airline crews, or at seaports and airports.

Members of both houses of congress and the Supreme Court must all be natural-born Mexicans. Immigrants - even legal ones - may not serve in the clergy. Foreigners, legal or illegal, may not own land. Any Mexican citizen may arrest illegals and their accomplices and turn them over the authorities. Foreigners may be expelled at any time, for any reason or for no reason.

According to their immigration laws, and these are direct quotes, you will be barred from entry if your presence "...upsets the equilibrium of the national demographics." You will not be granted legal residency unless you can prove that you and your dependents will be "...a useful element for the Country," that you will "...contribute to the national progress," and that you have "...the necessary funds for sustenance."

And once you finally get you visa, if you violate it, you're guilty of a felony, which gets you six years in the slammer, and it's not a nice slammer. There's more, but hey, space is limited.

Well now. Calderon must believe Mexico's immigration laws are far superior to our own. Otherwise he wouldn't have shot off his mouth. It makes sense then for us to start the process by adopting his. Then, with our most excellent friend and neighbor to the south, we can work toward a mutually beneficial compromise.

And while we're doing that, GO ARIZONA!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Proposition 14

Soon our Governator will take that long walk down the Capitol hallway, shut the front door behind him, take a motorcade to the airport and fly his little Gulfstream back home to the Pacific Palisades. His stint as leader of the 8th (used to be 5th before he came to Sacramento) largest economy on Earth will finally (and THANKFULLY!) be over. Since he arrived on Caleeforneea's scene like a pudgy ex-body builder, our once Golden State has spent more than $80 Billion Dollars it didn't have, borrowing it as he did from our grandchildren and overtaxing it from the productive among our once-proud society. Can we all say in unison, GOOD RIDDANCE!

But Ahhnoolllddd leaves a legacy worth noting upon his overdue departure. He championed Proposition 14, which passed yesterday, June 8, 2010. It appears P.T Barnum was right; you can never go broke underestimating the intellect of the American people.

Simply stated, Prop. 14 changes the primary election process for congressional, statewide and legislative races, allowing voters to choose a candidate regardless of the candidate's or voter's political party. The two with the highest number of votes would appear on the general election ballot regardless of party. Sounds innocuous enough, doesn't it? Upon first blush, I would agree. But look a little bit below the surface with me, okay?

California is a red state with four or five blue counties. Unfortunately, those blue counties contain the majority of our 35,000,000 population. And those counties also contain most of unemployed, illegal, unproductive users among us who contribute little and take everything. They will vote their pocketbook. Or rather, they will vote OUR pocketbook. That means that about 40% of our registered voters are Democrats, vs. 28% Republicans. That means that going into an election, the conservative among us are up to 15% upside down before the first vote is cast. That's why Sacramento is dominated by Democrats. With exception of our Governor, who is a RINO (Republican in Name Only - how could it be otherwise, considering he's sleeping with Teddy Kennedy's niece), every other statewide office holder is a Democrat. Been that way for more than two decades. But we conservatives are an optomistic bunch. We pick our preferred candidate and suport them with gusto, just as the Democrats do. And then we have an election, and the Democrats always win. Well, at least we gave it the old college try. But that was then, this is now...

Startng next year, the top two vote getters will head off to the November elections. My expectation is that the top two vote getters will be Democrats. We'll have a choice between the really horrible Democrat who's running for his 13th term, promising to raise taxes on all those mean and nasty successful people to pay for more stuff for all the poor and downtrodden, and the less objectionable Democrat, who promises not to raise taxes quite that much, but raise them nonetheless. Can you say choice between negatives? Whoever crafted this piece of crap should be congratulated. He (or her) finally came up with an end to gridlock. With the death of the California Republican Party there will be no gridlock, because there will be but one party in Sacto. My guess is we can look back to the USSR if we want a peek at California's future. And just like the USSR, it will surely fail.

Hopefully I won't be around to witness it.