Sunday, December 30, 2012

My Final Word on Guns for 2012

Going into 2013, its interesting to reflect back at this past year. A year in which the theme was curiosity, exploration, and advancement, a glaring tarnish must be discussed. With all of the good things that happened in 2012, what cannot be overlooked is how guns and gun violence have left their permanent stamp on this year. From the shootings in an Oregon, Aurora, and Sandy Hook, it seemed as though each month or at least every other month there was a major shooting which rejuvenated the “gun” conversation. It is an issue that seems to divide the country so emotionally and definitively, that no solution is ever achieved. No one ever seems to empathize, or consider each others arguments and while we argue people keep dying, guns sales increase, and the problem just gets worse. In our arrogance as a society we refuse to listen to each other, we become so emboldened by our positions, we forget that words meant to inspire one group could be painful to another. 

Wayne LaPierre (Executive Vice President of the NRA
No one was exactly surprised by the reaction of the NRA to the shooting in Sandy Hook. Did any one honestly think that Wayne LaPierre was going come out and say anything that wasn’t a full throated defense of firearms? No. LaPierre said “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,”. The problem I have is this, he has people he needs to represent. The NRA, represents an idea, a right, and an American way of life. There are a lot of people out there good, bad, and indifferent who believe in everything the NRA has come to represent. Just like the president and vice president must represent their side by creating new, stronger, and more aggressive gun  control laws. The problem with both responses is that they are knee jerk reactions, one side is digging their heels in deeper, and the other is only reacting to an horrific massacre that could make anyone question their stance on the second amendment. 

Although it maybe self serving for me to say common sense is the solution, common sense is something that we all need to use when discussing gun control. To pass and make legislation now would only be a reaction to the situation at hand. Never in the history of the world has that been a good idea. It is also not a good idea to blindly defend something that is one of the main reasons why twenty children are dead. I am not taking credit away from the shooter, but the sheer amount of ammunition and weaponry owned and purchased by the shooters mother is certainly a key factor as to why the massacre committed by Adam Lanza was so brutally effective. 

The first question that needs to be asked, what role should guns play within our society?  A gun is a tool, like any tool it serves a specific purpose. Ultimately the purpose of a gun is to kill. Now the times in which you use this tool can be different every time, but when you use it, you are using it to kill. A gun is useful for hunting, which not only can be used for food and supplies, but as a tool for population control, for animals whose numbers can spiral out of control. An excess amount of certain animals can damage livestock, land, and threaten the lives of people. For this guns play an essential role. 

In terms of personal protections, guns can and do protect people everyday from home invasions, burglaries, rape, kidnapping, and murder. The idea of calling the police and having them be at your home very quickly is a luxury that is only had by people in highly populated city areas. Once you get to areas of the state and country that are open and less populated the appeal of having personal protection greatly increases. Areas of the country where the average police response time could be upwards of eighteen minutes and your nearest neighbor could be miles away, protecting yourself, your family, and way of life can only be achieved with a firearm. So in this case, guns play an essential role.

The next and most important question is this, what types of guns should be legal or illegal? For some this question is easy to answer, others it is much more complicated. To me, it is complicated. Many people think that no matter what, the second amendment and the constitution entitles any american the right to purchase any firearm, because the constitution doesn’t say "specific arms", it just says "arms", meaning guns. In this day and age that right can be, but is not limited to, cannons, grenade launchers, high capacity magazines, high caliber long range sniper rifles, and specialty grenades. To me it all comes back to common sense. For personal protection I feel you should be able to purchase whatever firearm you feel is necessary to protect yourself or your family, as long as that guns intention is to do that, and is not modified beyond its purpose to do so. For example, I have no problem, with a person purchasing a standard AR-15, with a fifteen round magazine, that fires a semi automatic .223 round. However I do have a problem with someone purchasing a fully automatic AR-15 that fires a .223 round. Furthermore I don’t think that person should be allowed to purchase that same weapon with a fifty to two hundred round magazine, and a grenade launcher. Is that an extreme concept? Yes. With proper licensing can a person attain such a firearm in the United States? Absolutely. If you are going to preach that personal protection is the reason to keep assault rifles, then consider using common sense because, you aren’t going hunting with a rifle that fires two hundred rounds, and the day you can logically and realistically justify the use of a grenade launcher in a non-war scenario, is the day I change my position on outlawing the legal purchase of grenade launchers. 

Getting rid of guns completely is not the answer. It just doesn’t make sense, because all you do is take the guns away from the people who would actually use them to protect themselves, and the people who would commit a crime with a gun will ultimately find a way to get them anyway. So all you effectively do is disarm and make vulnerable the innocent who would only use their guns for “good”. For every situation that you can make in which a gun can hurt people, there is another situation that can be created or cited, in which the gun has saved people. So for that reason guns serve a purpose in society, and you cannot get rid of them. The reasons why some people are so passionate about threats against their guns are not because they are stupid, or uneducated, or ignorant, stubborn, etc. Those are not the reasons at all. They are not threatened because you are taking their toy away, they are threatened because you are taking their security away, their way of life. For that reason and that reason alone they deserve to be heard from and not dismissed as arrogant because their reasons to have guns are just as important as your reasons to outlaw them. 

All I really have to say is that we need to talk to each other. We need to listen to each others arguments and not feel self righteous about our positions because of written words or use an unspeakable atrocity as propaganda for a cause. Again, as self serving as it maybe, common sense needs to win the day, and all that requires us to do is listen to each other, overlook political and personal ideology, and just look at the facts. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Should Hate Speech Be Free Speech?

Let me answer that question right now, there is no reason for the freedom of speech to be infringed upon. I don’t care what it is, I will never disagree, that the rights outlined in the first Amendment of the Constitution be infringed upon.

I bring this up though, because over the course of the last week I have been seeing a lot of people posting and talking about the Westboro Baptist Church. If you don’t know who or what the Westboro Baptist Church is by now, they are a fringe, radical group of religious protestors who picket the funerals of dead soldiers, AIDS victims, celebrities, and other high profile funerals. They have been known, and gained a lot of notoriety by picketing the funerals of dead soldiers holding up signs that say “God Hates Fags”, “Thank God for Dead Soldiers”, “Thank God You Are Dead”, “Thank God For 9/11”, and a whole bunch of other signs that get your blood boiling. Though recently they seem to have stepped up their hate game and brought it to a whole new level by protesting the funerals of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims. Holding up signs that say “God Sent The Shooter”. This is undoubtedly the most heinous thing I have ever heard or seen in my life. What bothers me more, is that now I have to defend them.

Please don’t get me wrong. I despise these people, I would like nothing else but to see these people wiped off the face of the planet, but as American citizens they are entitled to the same rights as everyone else in this country and that first Amendment in my opinion is and should always be uncompromising. I have signed petitions and other futile things like that, but the bottom line is, it is their right to do this. Like I said, I have seen and heard comments coming from everywhere including government officials, saying that, “they should be arrested”, “they shouldn’t be allowed to protest at funerals”, “the government needs to be stop them”. As unfortunate as it is there is nothing that can be done by the government, or should be done. Just because something may be hard to hear, or disgusting to hear it does not mean that voice should be silenced. It is the cornerstone of what makes this a democratic and free nation.

What can be done? Well just because the government can’t do anything about it, that doesn’t mean actions can’t be taken and it doesn’t mean as Americans we can’t exercise our own first amendment rights. For example the day the Westboro Baptist Church was set to protest the Sandy Hook Funerals, a group of off duty firefighters and police officers that I know personally went to Connecticut to shield the families of the victims from the WBC. From what I understand the amount of first responders and civilians that showed up to counter protest and shield the families of victims out numbered the WBC members that where there to protest, significantly. Which means although the WBC was there, the families where able to mourn in peace without having to worry about seeing a sign that said “Thank God Your Child Is Dead”.

You can hate the people, you can hate their message, but you cannot doubt their resolve. Their ambition and persistence is unceasing. They don’t care about what people think about them and all they care about is attention. People talking about them is exactly what they want. So the second thing that can be done is just ignore them. They are exactly like children in the sense, that if they are not the center of attention they will scream and yell and do stupid things until they get heard. We just need to keep ignoring them. By talking about them, all we do is give them legitimacy. Which is why I rarely write about them or even talk about them. If their threats went unacknowledged maybe they wouldn’t follow through.

Finally, people say that allowing a group like this to exist makes us as a country look bad, Christian groups don’t like the WBC, because they fear the people will group actual churches of peace into the same category. Just because it may not be right, people have tried taking official action against them. In 2010 Snyder v. Phelps, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 8-1 that the WBC absolutely has the right to protest the funerals of dead soldiers and that just because their speech may be defined as hate, it is still nonetheless, speech.

My final point is this. We as a people need to learn to care about each other more and learn from each other. Groups like the WBC exist and are completely self serving. What we need to do is not rely on the government we need to help ourselves. Take action like the civilians and first responders who shielded the mourners. Create groups whose sole purpose is to counter the WBC. Fight their hate with love and peace. Groups that go around to protect mourners from the protests, groups that are designed to counter the WBC protests. We don’t need take people’s rights away, we need to take advantage of the first amendment just like they do and be better then them in every way possible.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

2013 The Year of Opportunity for the Unemployed?

As the year 2012 comes to an end, many Americans, about seven millions Americans are reflecting back at a lost year. There are seven million Americans currently in this country who do not have regular employment. Which leaves millions of Americans asking and wondering “Will 2013 be a better year to look for work?”. 

The unemployment rate in this country is currently at 7.9%. Many economists and political analysts feel that the number speculated by the department of labor is much higher. Many reputable and legitimate economists feel that many Americans have simply stopped looking for jobs. Many say around fifteen million unemployed Americans have stopped looking for work, simply because there aren’t jobs out there. Basically, because the labor department bases the unemployment rate on the number of people searching for jobs through their networks, and not other commercial and private search sites such as or, the number could be closer to 15%-20%. That combined with the people who have stopped looking for work entirely you are looking at an unemployment rate close to if not over 30%. 

Those numbers are of course speculation and can be inflated as a scare tactic, for example some members on the right would like you to believe that with some fancy math the unemployment rate is over 50%. Now obviously that number is extreme and even over 30% seems to be a little inflated but just ask around? It doesn’t take a thirty year political analyst to know that the unemployment rate is over 7.9%. Everyone knows at least two people who are unemployed, or underemployed, many of whom lost their job this year. So it is my opinion that the actual unemployment rate is closer to 15%-20%, with all of the above factors considered. 

What’s causing the unemployment rate to be so high? Well there are a lot of answers ranging from very complicated to very simple. One of the first reasons is kind of common sense, and that is businesses just don’t have the money to employ people. Company’s are downsizing and laying off divisions of people just to maintain a bottom line and stay in the black. There just aren’t as many well paying jobs out there because company’s are very afraid of the unstable economy.

The next reason is directly related to the the previous one, because there aren’t a lot of jobs, there is a flooded job market. With the classes of 2011 and 2012 searching, the market has become completely flooded with people searching. There are young adults from the class of 2011 who are still looking for a job, and the ones who where lucky enough to find jobs have most likely been laid off. Then the class of 2012 graduates expecting an open job market and there is quite literally nothing out there for them. So now you have recent college graduates searching for jobs and taking menial labor jobs, a millennial unemployment rate at nearly 40%, 48% of the classes of 2011 and 2012 combined are unemployed, and of the supposed 7.9 percent unemployed nearly 42% are under 25 years old. This is the first generation in American history that is not doing better and may not do better then the previous generation. What all of this means, is that this is an employers market. Employers can be very selective about who they hire and they can choose people whose resumes’ are exactly matching the job description. 

Another large contributor to the unemployment rate, is that 2012 saw the lowest retirement numbers in American history. Millions of Americans decided that they weren’t going to, afraid to, or absolutely couldn’t retire because of the economy. This has left millions of jobs that should have been vacant and filled by someone younger or eager to work, occupied. So because people aren’t retiring, now the people who can’t find jobs have to look elsewhere. 

Which leads me to the final reason. There are no jobs out there. Yea simple and obvious I know, but the bottom line is that there are no more American jobs. There is no such thing as American industry anymore. Now I have spoken about college graduates, and people with years of business experience but the unemployment problem is not just confined to the city. The heartland is the hardest hit. The areas of the country where higher education isn’t easily accessible and typically the youth turns to farming and industry, but now those jobs aren’t even there. The farming jobs that generations of families have had are becoming nonexistent and industries such as steel, auto, oil, and coal are being shipped over seas. Our country imports more then it exports and corporations make there money on what they can buy and sell for the highest profit instead of what they can make and sell for the highest profit. Nearly 80% of the United States wealth is concentrated within seven banks. The rest is spread throughout various industries the main one being agriculture. So the jobs, just don’t exist.

With the fiscal cliff looming, unemployment benefits are apart of the items to be slashed on December 30th. That means nearly two million Americans will be completely without any source of income come January 1st along with three million more set to lose there benefits from February to April. This combined with no job prospects, and more people beginning to search for work, the outlook for 2013 is not good for those who are currently unemployed. Bottom line, 2013 doesn’t exactly look, like the year of opportunity.

Monday, December 17, 2012

We Don’t Live in an Ordered Universe

By: Jack Sorensen

What transpired in Newtown, Connecticut this past Friday was mind-numbingly horrifying. I can only describe my reaction as resigned to disbelief. I acknowledged the reality of what happened, but I could not fully accept it. After turning off the news, I felt an emptiness. The only question I can ask is, “Why?”. There is not an answer, at least not so soon after the tragedy.

Try as I might, I could not avoid slices of the 24-hour news cycle. It was on everyone’s lips, both on and off screen. Commentators prattled on about a possible motive. Journalists interviewed friends and family of the deceased. A shadow hung over a town as every camera focused on its grief-stricken citizens. The journalists were only doing their jobs, but it felt too soon.

It is safe to say that nearly everyone who heard about this searched for an answer. Many of them looked up. A friend sent me a text asking, “Where was God in Newtown?” He was expressing anger at those who tried to fit this massacre into the framework of some divine plan. Both he and I are agnostics. We are searching for the truth, but we are wary of those who claim they have it.

Of all the explanations offered for this shooting, two stand out most prominently. One will only receive a passing glance in this piece because of their status as a fringe group, but it warrants mentioning. The Westboro Baptist Church blamed, as they blamed most things, on what they call “fag marriage”. They reason that God caused the death of 28 people because gay folk can get married. That is absolute nonsense, and I will not try to reason with extremists.

The second response came from Mike Huckabee, the former Governor of Arkansas and contender for the Republican nomination for President in 2008. On Fox News, he argued that the tragedy was caused because “we have systematically removed God from our schools”. He left mental health and guns out of his equation.

Mike, schools minus God does not equal the death of 20 children, 6 women, the mother of the shooter, and the shooter himself.

It seems safe to say that Mike and many others believe in a benevolent God. One to whom people can pray. One who will reward the pious. One who protects his flock. If that is the case, why would a just and loving God take away the lives of 20 children before their lives barely began? I do not mean to lessen the importance of the other deaths, but this tragedy is compounded by the deaths of those children. All of those futures are gone.

I cannot reconcile a belief in a benevolent God with a plan with the actions of a disturbed 20-year-old who had access to some terrifyingly powerful weaponry. How can that be? How can a massacre of that scale be divinely warranted?

The world is too chaotic to warrant that kind of belief. Just across the pond in China, a crazed 36-year-old man stabbed 22 students and an elderly woman. Where was God there? What about the shopping mall in Oregon? The theater in Aurora? Columbine? Oklahoma City? Why would all of these needless deaths happen on His watch? And how would a godless education be the catalyst for such carnage?

My understanding of thermodynamics is rudimentary, but the second law holds that entropy increases or stays constant. Put differently, as time progresses, things gradually slip into disorder. I do not ascribe to the notion of an ordered universe in which a gun-toting 20-year-old kid kills his mother and then breaks into a school to kill 26 women and children before turning the barrel on himself. Some speculate the death toll might have been higher had the police not arrived.

I am making no statement on God’s existence. I honestly do not know whether or not God exists. I do think that a creation presupposes a creator, but how that creator interacts with his or her creation is up for debate. At least, it needs to be debated now that the Sandy Hook massacre is an unfortunate part of our reality.

It is both terrifying and liberating to think that we do not live in an ordered universe. We are responsible for our actions. A 20-year-old kid is responsible for 28 deaths. The reason cannot be shifted to the divine because that is too easy.

We have to deal with this reality.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Blame the Shooter Not the Gun

Well I am sure everyone knows by now that there was an horrific massacre in Connecticut yesterday. Twenty children where killed, as young as kindergarten and no older then fourth grade, along with six adults, and the murderer himself. This is an unspeakable tragedy only made worse because of the ages of the victims. A total of twenty seven people where killed for as far as I am concerned, no reason at all. As of now, know one knows why the killer went on a rampage at an elementary school, he killed his mother first and then headed towards the school, so as of now the massacre is completely unexplainable. 

I am sure in the weeks to come, if not already there will be an outcry for gun control and gun law lobbyists will take complete advantage of this situation for their cause. Not that they don’t have a valid point but I have to quote a friend of mine who said it perfectly. “People are so very quick to blame an inanimate weapon for tragedy instead of the human being wielding it. Stop absolving these monsters of their guilt by blaming it on the guns they carried. It makes me ill.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. I am not anti-gun and I am not a card carrying NRA member. I am ambivalent when it comes to guns. I have fired guns before, its fun to go to the range and shoot some targets, I understand the hunting and personal protection issues but this is certainly not a cause that I am constantly thinking about. 

“But Sal you should be?! Its your Constitutional right?!”

Absolutely, it is my constitutional right to bear arms. That is why I am not anti-gun. I believe that people should be able to purchase weapons for personal protection, hunting, and recreation, but I believe that legislation needs to be made based on where you live. Not even at just state level, but gun laws based on local legislation. It just makes sense especially for states like New York or any state (all 50) that has densely populated areas. My favorite example is New York, I am for strict gun control in New York City, but upstate New York and Long Island, reasonable gun control is completely sufficient. Having to commute to work everyday, if I was allowed to buy and carry a gun on me I would have killed someone on the seven train or on the platform, its just that simple, and I like to think I am a normal and sane person.

This is all completely insignificant. Regardless of your opinions about guns, regulations, and laws, the bottom line is, twenty innocent children are dead, six adults, and the murderer, in spite of his actions is a victim. When people discuss gun control laws after events like this, it always infuriates me, because it takes the conversation and spotlight away from the victims and turns it on “an inanimate weapon”. On a certain level it takes the blame away from the person who wielded the weapon that took the lives away from people who had so much left in life to experience. 

A gun is a tool, like any tool it needs to be respected. Like any tool it has a purpose, and it might not have any other use but to kill or maim, but if and when you need to use a gun, it might just save your life. My final point is this, blame the murderer, who killed twenty children and six innocent adults, for no reason at all. As far as I am concerned any future explanation is insufficient. It is a slap in the face to all of the people who died to blame the weapon instead of blaming the person, blame the shooter not the gun.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

It’s Time to Change the Conversation

"The democratic party, which is party of no ideas, and the Republican Party which is party of bad ideas." -Lewis Black

Well as I am sure everyone knows by now President Barrack Obama was elected to a second term. It wasn't as decisive as his electoral win in 2008 but any electoral count over 300 is pretty decisive. It certainly was not a surprise to me that Mitt Romney lost, I have been writing since July about what I thought Mitt Romney was doing wrong and that I thought he was going to lose. It really shouldn’t surprise anyone. Fox News and the Tea Party seemed to have people convinced that this country was moving towards the right and that this country is getting more conservative. Now, hopefully they realize that this country is not moving to the right. If anything this country is speeding towards the center. 

The important things to consider from last nights election are not just that America choose a president, who lets be honest, isn’t exactly for small government. This country also decided that in two states that smoking marijuana for recreational use is perfectly legal, and two more states were added to the gay marriage equality list. This country is clearly, growing past the ideas of Iron Age ideologies and finally grasping the concept that was put forth at the beginning of this republic, that everyone is entitled to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. 

If you can indulge me one more time before I get to my main point. I have said it before and I will say it again. Most Americans can easily consider themselves fiscal conservatives and social liberals. The foundation of this country is that we don’t like big government. So why is it that, we just elected a president that has arguably expanded the government more then any president since Roosevelt? The answer is simple; the American people care a lot more about our founding principles of liberty and civil rights for all, then the economy. That is extremely noble and wonderful to think of but in the grand scheme of things its more like cutting off our nose to spite our face.

What does this election mean for the Republican Party? 

I think that this election means that the Republicans finally need to come back to earth in more ways then one, and reevaluate the party platform. The worst mistake they made was backing the tea party. It made the entire Republican Party look like a bunch of radical bible thumpers and racists. The first thing that needs to be done is, the republicans need to distance themselves from the tea party and disenfranchise a lot of the party radicals and talking heads i.e Michelle Bachman, Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, and anyone else who thinks that gay marriage is the cause for all of the hurricanes and natural disasters that are happening. I never understood why the Republicans where against gay marriage. Obviously there is the whole religion thing but it always seemed very hypocritical to me, that the party of small government is the party that wants to take away and limit the rights of individuals. Supporting gay marriage and the rights of individuals fits perfectly into the Republican platform. If they completely turn around on gay rights they gain a huge amount of voters. I don’t mean, gays will all of a sudden vote republican, what I mean is that a lot of moderates who might vote republican because of fiscal issues but don’t because of social issues, might consider voting republican again

Now Gay rights seem to be a no brainer when it comes to changing the platform, but when it comes to other hot button social issues such as abortion, well that’s an entirely different ball of wax. Far be it from to dictate or say what a woman does to or with her body. There is a way though for the Republicans to maintain there dignity when it comes to the message and still be different from the Democrats. The fist thing that needs to be done when it comes to abortion is God needs to be dropped from the issue. You can be morally against it, but if it’s because you deity doesn't like it well then you lose a lot of moderate voters. Also when you add God to the issue, you create idiots like Murdock and Akin who think that rape needs to be legitimate for a woman to get pregnant, and that rape babies are a gift from God. Rape and incest are always a reason to have an abortion, period. Get rid of these people or shut them the hell up. The republicans need to breakdown when they are against abortion. For example I am opposed to abortion during late second term, third term, and partial birth abortions. I am for abortions anytime in the first term. Many people still don’t like that but to me it is a common sense stance on abortion. I am not for abortions any time during the pregnancy but I am certainly for it if a woman decides early on that she doesn't want a child. I am not saying the republicans should adopt my stance on abortion but, if you take God out of the argument and make it a moral stance, agree that during incest, rape, and the health and welfare of the mother its ok, and decide a “timeline” of when you think abortion is ok then I think you will attract a lot more moderate voters. 

No matter what happens, what this election has done is change the conversation. Instead of digging there heels into party rhetoric, both parties are going to have to talk to each other now. This election has changed the conversation because the Republicans are finally realizing that they have to change there message. Now I heard not long after they declared Obama president, some Fox News correspondents saying that Republicans need to move further to the right. I really hope that isn't the case. All that will succeed in doing is further polarizing the country to the point where nothing will ever get done again. My final point is this, if the Republicans change there tune to keep up with the wants and needs of the people, then real issues can be discussed, like the economy, the debt, the deficit, student loans, actual healthcare reform, gun control. Right now, nothing is getting done and nothing being discussed, that needs to change. The classic conversation can be bought back the front of American politics. Do you want a party of small government or big government? Hopefully the next election will be about the message of each party and not the issues covering the messages. It is now the perfect time to change the conversation and actually talk to each other.

Lewis Black on republicans and democrats working together:

Saturday, November 3, 2012

How will Hurricane Sandy Affect the Outcome of the Election

Hurricane Sandy has left most of the east coast completely devastated. Nearly 65% of New Jersey is still without power. West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, and some parts of Ohio got two to three feet of snow. There are still hundreds of thousands if not millions of people without power in the five boroughs of New York, and Staten Island was nearly wiped off the map. The east coast was in no way prepared to withstand a hurricane such as Sandy. Everything is either damaged or destroyed. While everyone is waiting to get power back, searching for gasoline, cleaning out fridges, and in many unfortunate cases trying to decide how to rebuild homes and businesses, the election is still going to happen on November 6th. 

Now it seems like an extremely obvious statement, to say that the hurricane is going to affect the election, but when the history books look back at this election, the turning point highlights are going to speak about the debates and the significance of hurricane Sandy. 

How is the election going to be affected? 

First thing we need to talk about are disenfranchised voters. These are voters who will not be able to vote or people who will be physically incapable of voting. Now many people in the conservative media are saying that the east coast is already decidedly blue. I would agree historically most east coast districts go towards democrats. The problem is that they are also historically close. If the districts in New York that got hit the hardest by the hurricane have a low turn out it really could change the outcome of the election. If Romney wins New York there is no chance the president can win the election. Now don’t get me wrong. There is still a very strong chance that the president will win New York. All I am saying is that because of this hurricane the president is going to have to sweat out New York and most of the North East coast. 

Second, the gas shortage, the disenfranchised voters, now increases due to the gas shortage. Polling stations can be difficult to get to. Public transportation is still out or not running in many cases. If those people want to use their cars, they might not have gas or are really trying to conserve gas. So they can’t drive to the polls. So now you have a significant group of people who are going to decide not to vote because they physically can’t get to the places they need to vote. Also in many cases the decision is, do I use the gas for my generator to heat my home and keep my food cold, or do I use it in my car to go vote. 

Finally you have the unfortunate people who were devastated by the hurricane. These are people who either lost their homes, businesses, cars, or in some cases all three. At this point, those people could really care less about a presidential election. Many people would say, “Well it is more important now for them to care then ever”. When you are trying think about rebuilding your home, or trying to think about where your children are going to sleep or get there next meal, are you really going to care about voting? It’s unfortunate because the outcome of the election will answer those questions, but still there will undoubtedly be a lot of people who could care less about politics when they don’t know where there next paycheck, meal, or bed is coming from. The one thing you can be sure of on Tuesday is that the voter turn out will be very low for the east coast, we won’t know badly until Tuesday.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Why I Still Think Mitt Romney is Going to Lose This Election

Way back in July ( I came to the conclusion that Mitt Romney was going to lose this election. When I came to that conclusion he still had not picked a vice presidential candidate and he was still pretty far behind in the polls. At the end of August I published a repost that included Paul Ryan’s selection which only reinforced my main point.

So what has changed since my original publication? I originally said “it shouldn't come as any surprise that the Republicans would pick a candidate as "Vanilla" as Mitt Romney. He doesn't step on anyone's toes and everything he says seems to be written perfectly for the crowd he is addressing….it just seems to me, however, that Romney takes it to a whole new level of pandering. He changes so much from state to state, town to town that there is no way of getting a real read on where he stands on anything.” So as you can see some stuff has changed. Romney has definitely shed his “Vanilla” image particularly with his performance in the debates especially the first one. Now I am not saying Romney has become a charismatic savant, I am simply saying that he has proven to be more charismatic then he did four months ago. The charisma has swung many undecided voters. Voters who weren’t quite sure of Romney’s leadership ability, and people who might have been afraid he was going to be an “empty suit” business man type candidate. Although the “flip-flopping” has become even more apparent with his performance in the debate, only highlighting the point that he will play to the crowd to be appealing to as many people as he can.

This week we have seen some very interesting electoral map projection includeing one that has the results of the election being 269 to 269. Now not only does that poll obviously have the president and governor Romney in a dead heat. But there is a very interesting result that could happen if it ends up being a tie like that. According the United States Constitution in an electoral tie for the presidency of the United States, a winner will be determined by the House of Representatives. That means that if the election is a tie, most likely the House of Representatives will select Mitt Romney to be the president of the United States. However the United States senate chooses the Vice President. If the choice goes to the United States senate which is controlled by the democrats then there is a good chance that Vice President Biden could be selected, which would mean Romney would be president and Biden would continue as Vice President. Now obviously this is uncommon and rare but it has certainly happened in American history three times. Also this electoral projection just highlights how close this election could end up being.

So why did I think Mitt Romney was going to lose? I said four months ago “The answer is simple; Romney is forgetting that in order to win the election, he will have to win over independent and moderate voters. Romney has spent so much of his time trying to convince his own party that he is a true conservative that he has actually alienated the base needed to win the election. What made Mitt Romney an ideal candidate in the beginning was his ability to appeal to moderates…..Mitt is going to lose because of a fragmented party. He feels he has to walk a tight rope between the ultra conservative and the moderates….now, theoretically Romney is going to get the Republican vote. No matter what, Obama is "hated" by the ultra conservative republicans so they are voting for "anything but Obama"….for this election, the Republicans so desperately want Obama out, their minds were made up about who they were going to vote for before Obama even took the oath of office.” This point is more true now then it was four months ago. By picking Paul Ryan he may have excited the Republican base but he has alienated even more of the moderates by enforcing that he is not in anyway a social moderate. This means that he has forgotten that he needs the moderate vote to win this election. Now that the electoral maps and polls are so close between the candidates, those moderate votes are now going to be the key in determining how this election is going to turn out; and it is my opinion that those moderate votes will go to Obama not Romney.

How I ended my post four months ago is exactly how I am ending it now. What I said was true four months ago and it is just as true today as it was then. “Romney won the nomination, so why say stupid stuff like "I've changed my opinion on abortion" or choose Paul Ryan? He has the incredible opportunity to take every single moderate vote away from Obama if he came out in support of abortion and other social issues such as contraception and gay marriage. He could have won a lot more moderate votes if choose a more progressive or moderate VP. Now instead of having a person that balances the ticket. It seems the Republicans are more interested at making a point about not having to compromise there values instead of actually trying to appeal to the moderate Americans who will undoubtedly help them win the election. I think I can take the liberty in saying that most moderates consider themselves "fiscal conservative" and "social liberals". Romney could be the perfect moderate candidate if he would just stop trying to please the GOP. It's not the GOP that he needs to please anymore. He needs to start campaigning for the country, and unless he starts to become more moderate like he really is, then Mitt Romney will undoubtedly lose in November.”

Written by: Salvatore Pezzino Jr.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Debate Preview: Round Two

So needless to say since the last debate there has been a lot of speculation as to who won the first debate between the President and Governor Romney, as well as the debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan. Most of if not all people can agree that the last two debates where some of the most exciting debates we have seen in about twenty years.

I have already concluded that the first debate was a decisive victory for Governor Romney. He came out strong and didn't back down on any issue. He presented his message better then the president, regardless of some inconsistencies and stretched truths. The President was very weak and was not as aggressive as many democrats hoped he would be.

Moving forward to the Vice Presidential debate between Paul Ryan and Joe Biden, it seems Joe Biden decided act completely opposite from the President and be extremely aggressive in getting his message out. So much so that it was perceived to be rude, arrogant, and unhinged. This may have cost him some support as well as being declared the all out victor. Regardless of all that, I believe it is fair to declare the Vice President the victor of that debate. Although he was loud and didn't allow Paul Ryan to talk, the bottom line is that the message was presented better. I have mentioned this to many people and they have told me “of course he sounded better he wouldn't let Paul Ryan speak” or “how was Ryan supposed to get a word in edge wise when Joe was just rambling on”. The point still remains that he didn't let Ryan get his message out. Vice President Biden performed perfectly because he didn't give Ryan a chance to present anything to the American people. So even if you call the debate a draw Biden wins because the expectations for him going into the debate where so low and he didn't let people see a distinction that would help them consider who they are going to vote for. This is American politics, it’s not about how worthy your message is or if it’s right or wrong its how you sell it to the American people. If you look strong people are going to think you are strong and in turn they will believe whatever you have to say.

Tonight’s debate is going to be very interesting. Hopefully tonight’s debate will be just as if not more exciting then the last two debates. It is certainly more anticipated then the first one and should prove to be very informative because the focus tonight will be foreign policy. With the recent attacks and turmoil in the Middle East it will be interesting to see where each candidate stands on the issues.

What you should be looking for first is how the President will react to his performance last debate. Certainly he will be coming out of the gate much more aggressively then he did last time. I believe that they told Biden to be overly aggressive to see how hard they could push without seeming to arrogant. Obviously Joe over did it, but I feel that you will see the President finding common ground between how he performed in the first debate and how Joe Biden performed in the VP debate.

Second thing to look for is how Romney is going to react to his victory in the first debate. Will he maintain the confidence he had in the first debate or will he get too cocky and open himself up to attack from the President? I don’t think you will see Governor Romney being more aggressive then he was last debate. I feel that he caught the President off guard last debate and you know damn sure that the President has dedicated the last week and a half to preparing for this one.

The issues are going to be a key factor during this debate, since the attacks on September 11th in Libya, the competence of this administration to handle foreign policy have been called into question. The on again off again status about the attack being related to terrorism has left the administration looking very weak.

Do not be surprised to hear a question directed towards the president about the attacks and his administrations response. Also don’t be surprised to hear Romney using the attacks to prove that president is weak on terrorism and responding to terrorism. You will also hear Romney talking about the President’s apologist platform, and that “he will never apologize for the United States or our Freedom”.

The president has the unfortunate problem of having to defend his foreign policy tonight when he has a pretty strong record of acting when he needs to. Two key examples would be taking out Gaddafi and Bin Laden. When action needed to be taken, he did it. One of the most frustrating GOP talking points I have been hearing is the downplaying of the President taking out Bin Laden. Of course the President wasn't there but he gave the order. An order that Clinton was incapable of giving in the nineties when he had the chance and an order that Bush couldn't give because he couldn't find Bin Laden. To downplay the president not being the one to take down Osama Bin Laden is the most childish pieces of rhetoric that the GOP has produced in a long time. The president has also been very strong on the sanctions against Iran when it comes to the development of nuclear weapons. He has also come through on his promise to start removing troops from Iraq.

The biggest issue facing our country in terms of foreign policy is a nuclear Iran and I believe it will be one of the biggest things debated tonight. It’s an issue that both sides basically agree on but will fight to see who can make themselves sound better. Biden and Ryan debated the issue rather quickly during the VP debate, basically setting an outline for what each of the Presidential candidates will say tonight. Romney wants prove or will attempt to prove that it was the Republicans who fought for the sanctions against Iran and that the nuclear threat is an imminent one. Obama wants to prove or attempt to prove that he fought for the sanctions against Iran and that it was in spite of the Republicans in congress not because of the Republicans in congress. Finally Obama will try and downplay the threat of Iran getting a nuclear weapon and that it is because of his sanctions they are further away from getting one.

Needless to say, tonight will at least be more interesting because foreign policy is so relevant right now. All of the items that will be discussed tonight are fresh in everyone’s heads. People are ready to hear what they are looking to hear and when it comes to foreign policy in this day and age people want the strongest leader they can get. Tonight is very important to both candidates, because how they are perceived tonight is how the world is going to perceive them tomorrow.

Live tweeting debate opinions and analysis (Mostly just funny comments)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

It Doesn’t Take Common Sense to Know….That Mitt Romney Won the First Debate

So I went into the debate with an open mind. Not knowing really what to expect, but after watching the debate, I must say that it was a decisive victory for Mitt Romney. The mainstream news and media will undoubtedly take sides but coming from a person in the middle I can say that Romney clearly won.

You can disagree with Mitt Romney, his platform, and policies but you cannot disagree that he presented his message much better then the president. He came forward and hammered away at the president, his polices, and his actions over the past four years. Mitt Romney called the president out on many topics and often left the president stunned and rambling. For example there was a moment when Romney was going after the president rather aggressively and he turned to the moderator and said “Jim you may want to move on to a different topic”. I would say that the president might have underestimated Romney and didn’t prepare as much as he should have.

In my lifetime or at least the time in which I have been politically aware, I have never seen a Republican have such a strong performance in a debate. You have to remember that the 18-25 age groups have only experienced Bush and McCain debates. So I believe that the undecided 18-25 and even the misinformed 18-25 might have been swayed by Mitt Romney’s performance. Watching the president in 2008 might have been very appealing to people who were voting for the first time. This time around Romney made the Republican platform sound appealing. He just might get the bump on the polling and electoral maps that he needs to either make it an even matchup again or possibly edge out a lead.

That brings me to my next point. I believe that Mitt put forward a really strong performance. I believe that he will get a pretty huge bump in the polls and electoral numbers for one or two news cycles, but there is still a lot of time left before Election Day. I think we will see strong numbers in favor of Mitt Romney and then it will be back to business as usual. I think that the democrats are hoping and praying that Biden slips and falls so that he can’t make things any worse. That is going to be an interesting debate and should continue the good news cycle for Romney, if Ryan can put up a performance like his running mate.

The next debate between Romney and Obama is going to be interesting. You know damn well that Obama is going to be a hell of a lot more prepped for the next one and I am positive you will see a much closer matchup, as of now its 1-0 Romney.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Mitt Romney is Going to Lose This Election (Updated 8/31/2012)

When I look at this country, I see two enormous sides and almost nothing in the middle. It's kind of like the universe in the sense that everything is just expanding away from itself leaving no resemblance of what it used to look like. It's hard to find common ground on any issue anymore and any contrary opinion is considered a personal attack. Having said that, it shouldn't come as any surprise that the Republicans would pick a candidate as "Vanilla" as Mitt Romney. He doesn't step on anyone's toes and everything he says seems to be written perfectly for the crowd he is addressing. Now, I know candidates since the beginning of politics have played to the crowds. It just seems to me, however, that Romney takes it to a whole new level of pandering. He changes so much from state to state, town to town that there is no way of getting a real read on where he stands on anything. Don't get me wrong, the president isn't any better at establishing a real stance on anything, but that is the key to the upcoming election. 
Both candidates are equally slippery when it comes to talking around important issues and avoiding the big questions. But this election is going to come down to what we know and what we don't know. President Obama has had four years and proven that he is capable of making decisions. Whether you agree with them or not is your own opinion but when we go into the voting booth in November we are all going to have to make a choice between what actually is and what might be. Now it maybe true that every election is like that. The question always is, do we stick with what we have or do we move on to something new. I say that this election is most likely the first in American history where people just simply don't know what they are going to get. This is unfortunate because I do believe it is one of the most important elections. I truly feel that unless Mitt Romney begins taking a real stance on key issues he will not win in November. Now that the convention is over lets see if he starts talking about things that matter.

When speaking about President Obama's performance in office, I would give him a 6/10. My criticism of the president does not relate to his handling of the economic crisis he inherited; he had no alternative but to support the Wall Street and subsequent auto industry bailouts. Without the economic stimulus package, things would have gotten a lot worse. On the international front, he has done a pretty good job. Where I fault the president the most is his handling of the ever growing deficit and tackling the issues of job loss and unemployment. I can make an enormous list of criticisms and praise about President Obama but once the election comes around no body remembers the good, and in the age of the twenty four hour news cycle you better believe this election is going to be a lot harder to win than the last election.

Why is Mitt going to lose? The answer is simple, Romney is forgetting that in order to win the election, he will have to win over independent and moderate voters. Romney has spent so much of his time trying to convince his own party that he is a true conservative that he has actually alienated the base needed to win the election. What made Mitt Romney an ideal candidate in the beginning was his ability to appeal to moderates. A platform that focuses on who the best man is for the job instead of how he is going to defeat Obama is probably the better strategy. Mitt is going to lose because of a fragmented party. He feels he has to walk a tight rope between the ultra conservative and the moderates. If Obama is capable (which I think he is) to be more moderate then he is going to win the extremely important moderate vote and the election.

Now, theoretically Romney is going to get the Republican vote. No matter what, Obama is "hated" by the ultra conservative republicans so they are voting for "anything but Obama". Romney has an incredible opportunity to say how he really feels. For this election, the Republicans so desperately want Obama out, that their minds were made up about who they were going to vote for before Obama even took the oath of office. 

So why does Mitt even need to pander to those voters? It's not as if they are going to vote for Obama if all of a sudden Romney tries to go a little more moderate. There is not a chance in hell that the far right is going to not vote for him, so, again, why even fight for those votes? Romney's stance on abortion and healthcare have been the focus of many attacks by the other GOP candidates. Accusations that he has "flip-flopped" on his stance on issues hurt him early in the race. Now that he will be facing Obama in November, he may have a tough time campaigning against Obamacare given his creation of Romneycare in Massachusetts. The same can be said of his stance on abortion, Romney was a pro-choice conservative which he freely admitted back in 2007. Like I said before, why even fight these issues or change your opinion? Furthermore why choose an ultra conservative person like Paul Ryan? Choosing Paul Ryan has only reinforced the idea that Romney is taking a hard turn to the right.

Romney won the nomination, so why say stupid stuff like "I've changed my opinion on abortion" or choose Paul Ryan? He has the incredible opportunity to take every single moderate vote away from Obama if he came out in support of abortion and other social issues such as contraception and gay marriage. He could have won a lot more moderate votes if choose a more progressive or moderate VP. Now instead of having a person to balance the ticket. It seems the Republicans are more interested at making a point about not having to compromise there values instead of actually trying to appeal to the moderate Americans who will undoubtedly help them win the election. I think I can take the liberty in saying that most moderates consider themselves "fiscal conservative" and "social liberals". Romney could be the perfect moderate candidate if he would just stop trying to please the GOP. It's not the GOP that he needs to please anymore. He needs to start campaigning for the country, and unless he starts to become more moderate like he really is, then Mitt Romney will undoubtedly lose in November.

Written by: Salvatore Pezzino Jr.
Edited by: Julius Motal
Updated 8/31/2012

Saturday, August 25, 2012

It Doesn't Take Common Sense to Know...Concealed Weapons Won't Prevent Shootings in NYC

It Doesn't Take Common Sense to Know...Concealed Weapons Won't Prevent Shootings in NYC

Recently it seems there has been an inordinate amount of shootings in New York City. Most of which are drug related, and committed with illegal firearms.  Most recently the shootings in front of the Empire State Building have rejuvenated the conversations and arguments about guns in New York City. Both sides have very compelling arguements, one side fighting for stronger tighter regulation of guns hoping to mitigate gun violence in the five boroughs. The other side fighting for looser gun laws and restrictions citing that if there were people carrying guns capable of responding before the police, lives can be spared and the streets will be safer because criminals will think twice before using there gun.

My personal opinions change day to day. Seemingly they change from shooting to shooting but living in New York City it is very difficult to gauge what is really the best solution for ending gun violence in New York City. My personal opinion though, without being misunderstood as taking a liberal stance is that there should be strict gun laws within the five boroughs.

I am a defender of the second amendment. I think guns are cool, fun, and interesting. There is no doubt that they need to be respected and treated as a weapon that will without question severely injure or most likely kill you. But handled and treated properly firearms can be a very satisfying and fun hobby. Beyond that firearms are a tool. A very serious tool that again is to be treated with respect and can be invaluable in home defense, in many cases the last line of defense. Sometimes the police just can’t respond fast enough and when push comes to shove, no matter how fast the police can respond, I would feel much safer knowing that I can protect myself or my family if I need to.

Bringing it all back to the main issue, would the ability for civilians to carry concealed firearms prevent or mitigate loss of life in New York City. I say the answer is no. I am a commuter, I have been a commuter all my life and the people who yell and complain about anti gun legislation in New York City are not people who use public transportation for there daily commute. It is already an extremely volatile situation when you cram twelve million people into a moving underground tube, adding guns to the mix will not help anything. Now, when I say this most people come back and say “do you really believe that honest people with no criminal record or penchant for criminal activity will just start shooting people if they are allowed to carry guns?” The answer to that is undoubtedly yes. Its not that every person will start shooting up subway cars, railroad cars, or buses, but by introducing guns into the mix you increase the possibility of a person using that gun. Even if it only increases the shootings by one person, I believe that one person is one too many who has to die for the sake of making a statement about the second amendment. Everyone who has ever been stuck on the seven train, at Queensboro plaza in August, wearing a suit, has thought about how useful a gun would be. Anyone who has been stuck in grand central during a delay five hundred feet underground with people clawing at each other to be first to get on the 4,5,6, or 7 express has thought that a gun would be very useful. Is that satirical? Yes. In New York City would a few people more die a year if concealed carry permits were allowed? Yes.

That’s what people really don’t understand. New York City is a completely different animal. “Are you saying New York City is so much more different from any other major American city?” You bet your ass I am! Almost two million people live on a thirty three square mile island. On average you have six million people commuting to, through, and around Manhattan, just via subway, ferry, LIRR, Taxi, and Bus alone. Not to mention the people who commute into Manhattan with cars, bikes, and by foot. Almost no city in the world can compete with the congestion to size ratio Manhattan has. So it is my humble opinion that concealed carry laws would not help to mitigate gun violence, I believe it would make it worse. Not significantly worse, but when it comes to peoples lives, again I am not for increasing the death tally for the sake of protecting the second amendment.

How do I feel about Gun control and concealed carry laws throughout New York State? I am strong supporter of the second amendment. Throughout the rest of New York state I see no problem with people exercising there right to bear arms. I feel that concealed carry licensees are essential to maintain order in places in New York that are A) Not as populated as New York City and B) Not as well policed. I am for very loose gun control laws through out New York State. There is no doubt that when your nearest neighbor is three miles away and the average police response time can exceed a half hour personal protection is essential.

Just to be clear about my opinion, my argument for gun control in New York City is not strictly confined to concealed carry permits, but very strict gun control across the board. I know it may sound irrational, but I feel safer with just the police carrying guns on the streets of Manhattan knowing that no one can easily own a firearm in Manhattan. As opposed to everyone being able to buy guns and that someone can just whip one out at any minute. I know that can happen either way but I feel secure in knowing that, if you want to get a gun in New York it’s really freaking hard to get one. I most certainly lost a lot of people who are in favor of loosened gun control laws with that statement. The truth remains that there are just too many people in Manhattan, to say that concealed carry permits and loose gun laws are ok.

What about protection from illegal guns? Well the simple answer is, that is a fear that everyone who works, walks, lives, and visits Manhattan everyday has to live with. Many people make jokes and criticize the NYPD but the truth is that the NYPD is one of if not the best police forces in the United States, if not the world. With the exception of indiscretions in the past, racial issues, and other unfortunate public matters, the NYPD gets the job done. I always feel secure when I am in Manhattan knowing that there is a police car or officer on almost every corner, and an average response time of nearly four minutes. Anyone who has been in a car in Manhattan knows that a four minute response time is pretty damn impressive. Many people say that because of the color of my skin, lack of police record, and family ties to the NYPD I am biased. I say to hell with that, I know that if I am walking to Grand Central, Penn Station, waiting for a bus, or hailing a cab I know that because the police are so close the average criminal, will think twice before acting. So yes I trust the police not many people do, but when push comes to shove I think most people will choose a cop over your Joe Schmo, weekend pistol range shooter.
You can't deny videos and stories like this....

Fifth Ave in front of Empire State building during rush hour
A seventy one year old man thwarts a robbery or possibly worse because he was cognizant enough to know he, his wife, and others were in danger. Its videos and stories like that, which sometimes sway my opinion, but then shootings like the one in front of the Empire State building happen, I get drawn back to the fact that Manhattan is just so different, from a cyber café in Florida. The man who owned the gun, in the Empire State building shooting owned it perfectly legally, and passed all of the mental tests put forth in New York to own a gun. Still he went out and shot nine people, killing two, and caused another person to get shot because an NYPD officer missed and hit a civilian. To anyone who wishes to use the argument that the police officer shot an innocent person, please consider the fact that fifth avenue in front of the Empire State building is one of the most congested areas of Manhattan because there are so many people looking up. That sounds like a joke but traffic both street and side walk slow down around the Empire State building because everyone is looking up. The fact that the police officer didn't accidentally shoot more people is incredible considering the area and time of day.

This is an issue that will continue and an constantly evolve. No one can be absolutely right when it comes to guns and other peoples lives. This is an issue that is not cut and dry. It has nothing to do with the second amendment and nothing to do with taking away peoples rights. It has everything to do with common sense. To me, as a person who enjoys, appreciates, and understands the power of firearms, I don't understand how anyone who has common sense can think that introducing guns into an environment as volatile and congested as New York City is a good idea.