Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Let's be honest?

At a Tuesday afternoon press conference, the Buckeye State lawmaker  John Boehner extended his sympathy to the families of the victims before stating, "let's be honest, there are about 250 million guns in America, so they are out there, but people should use them responsibly."
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) agreed that the deadly shooting was not likely to lead to tougher gun laws.
Hoyer said the tragic shooting at Chardon High School near Cleveland — which left three teenage students dead and two others hospitalized with serious injuries — "brings attention" to the issue of gun reform, but entrenched opposition on Capitol Hill means no changes to the nation's gun laws are likely forthcoming.
Even when Gabby Giffords, as US House Congressperson was shot point blank to the head, gun reform was still not on the table. 

Last week, in Bremerton WA an 8 year old was shot when a 9 year old classmate had a cocked & loaded gun in his backpack (got it at his Moms house). Amina Bowerman is still in the hospital, having multiple surgeries.

The bullet from the .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol that shot the little girl remains
 lodged in the muscles around her spine. Amina was shot in the arm, shattering those bones and

 the bullet continued through her stomach, causing serious damage to her internal organs.

The tragic shooting in Ohio where three students have died, is yet another reason for lawmakers to address
the rampant, out of control gun situation in this country. These three students lost their lives this week, 
while attending school.

Daniel Parmentor, age 16

 Russell King, age 17

Demetrius Hewln, age 16

Demetrius's parents have chosen to donate his organs, to
help save other's lives. 

Schools should not be crime scenes.
 I will always remember hearing a Mom. saying someone said to her at her daughter's funeral

"so sorry your daughter was in the wrong place & was killed".

The more she thought about it, the Mom was incensed. 
The child was NOT in the wrong place. She was in school, learning, doing what she should be dong.
That is the tragedy, that these kids lives and their trust of the environment of education have been violated.


While it may be simplistic to assume a straightforward "profile", the study did find certain similarities among the perpetrators.
 "The researchers found that killers do not 'snap'. They plan. They acquire weapons. These children take a long, considered, public
 path toward violence." Princeton's Katherine Newman has found that, far from being "loners", the perpetrators are "joiners" whose
 attempts at social integration fail, and that they let their thinking and even their plans be known, sometimes frequently over long
periods of time. 
Another reported similarity is that most of the perpetrators had been taking antidepressant drugs, which have a
 documented history of producing violence and aggression as a side effect.
The obvious answer is guns on the loose. When a 3rd grade student can simply find a gun at Mom's house
and toss it in his backpack, and so many other students, the majority males, wind up with guns to act out
their anger and issues.
Extremely violent video games.
Macho, tough guy toys & accessories for boys. 

Who are these politicians representing, when they shrug their shoulders, give obligatory condolences & add there's nothing that can be done about America's out of control gun problem?
I realize there is no way to guarantee guns or violence will never happen, 
but right now, nothing is being done, so we can't hardly expect different results if we are not doing something different. 
At the very minimum, some training info on gun safety- certainly not leaving loaded guns laying around so a 3rd grader can just walk off with it. 
Also encouraging parents/adults, perhaps to the point of legal liability-- locking guns up.  Because leaving guns accessible is irresponsible. Ask any parent who had their child killed or injured or emotionally traumatized in a school shooting incident. 

If we are going to be honest, we need to both admit there is a problem, and do something about it. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

If you thought unemployment was pissy before...

The seismic impact of political folly. More "less government" BS.  Now drug testing for the unemployed. This HuffPo article is what rattled my cage:

WASHINGTON -- The maximum duration of unemployment insurance would gradually fall from 99 weeks to 73 weeks over the course of the year under the payroll tax deal sought by congressional negotiators, according to an outline of the proposal. And the deal would allow states to drug test those applying for unemployment benefits, according to Democratic and Republican congressional sources.
With no deal at all, the longest time people could claim benefits would abruptly drop to 26 weeks at the end of February when federal unemployment programs are set to expire. One million jobless who have been out of work six months or longer would miss out on benefits in March, according to worker advocacy group the National Employment Law Project.
Excuse me while I get my jaw to close & clear the exclamation points & expletives deleted from the thought bubble above my head. Really? Unemployment benefits might just shift from almost 2 years of payments, to 6 months? So much for safety nets! And while you are in the free fall, pass a cup of piss for Uncle Sam too, because now in America, when you lose your job, you lose your 4th Amendment rights, freedom from unreasonable search & seizure, invasion of privacy, and what the hell- may as well throw in your dignity too. 
* Note: Florida requires Welfare recipients to pay for their own drug test $30, but will reimburse IF you pass.  Another issue: What if you live in a Medical Marijuana state & possess a legal card that permits you to use MJ?

The GOP aide said the deal would overturn a federal law that prevents states from screening and then drug testing people who apply for unemployment insurance. 
Blah blah blah....
The aide said the bill would also allow 10 states to use unemployment insurance funds to create programs whereby businesses train unemployment recipients without having to pay them. The programs, based on a scheme called "Georgia Works," had been proposed by the White House last year. 
When Congress reauthorized federal unemployment insurance in December, it did so in a way that set in motion a gradual reduction to 79 weeks over the course of the year. The shortening has already taken effect in Maine and Michigan, which this month lost eligibility for federal Extended Benefits. Projections show the Extended Benefits program, which provides the final 13 or 20 weeks of benefits for long-term jobless individuals, will already "trigger off" in the remaining 32 states where it is in effect.
The reauthorization of unemployment insurance is part of a broader piece of legislation that includes a continuation of a 2 percentage point Social Security payroll tax cut and a provision to prevent a sharp drop in Medicare reimbursement rates.
Is your head spinning too? Pee in a cup because you are jobless, maybe get sent to a mandatory work training program without pay, maybe get 73 weeks of unemployment pay, but only if your State unemployment rate is at 9%. 8.9% would disqualify your state.

In the end, they worked out a deal...
Last week, Congress passed a law that allows states to drug-test people seeking unemployment benefits, if they were fired from their last job for drugs, and anyone seeking jobs that would ordinarily require a drug test. (That pretty much includes all jobs these days. )
It’s not clear how many states will start testing under the new compromise law, or what percentage of the unemployed will end up having to pee in cups, who will pay for it, or how often you would have to piss off for them.
Who benefits from forced drug tests?
 No one but the companies that make drug tests.

There are a host of problems with such a requirement, starting with its questionable constitutionality. The Fourth Amendment is supposed to severely limit the government's ability to carry out searches - and a drug test is a particularly invasive one.

If you are working, don't be so smug!
That " Social Security payroll tax cut " is just fancy jargon for taking out too little money to keep the Social Security fund, afloat. They really should just call it what it is-- the "Screw you later" plan. Social Security monies are already at risk for paying "cents on the dollar" by the time we retire. Cutting back funding it now, will only make it worse later.

 To put it in more blunt terms-- your retirement "fixed income" will be "broke".

In the end, while the GOP plays roulette with our lives & lifelines, maybe the presidential election year I dread, has a silver lining. The GOP is looking to keep unemployment benefits flowing, because it would otherwise look bad in an election year. I suppose that means they will revisit this whole mess if they have saved their own asses jobs, and got themselves reelected.
I'm still not onboard with this Social Security payroll tax cut holiday scheme, they act like they are doing us a favor, when in reality they are just messing w the retirement fund, that is already on shaky ground.