Sunday, April 21, 2013

Obama's Right-Hand Man Votes Against Obama

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) is my U.S. Senator, who barely beat the Tea Party radical Sharron Angle in the last election. And thank you for that, as Angle would have been a total disaster for Nevada.

By all accounts, Harry Reid should have lost. He was a dead politician walking. His approval had ratings dropped as low as the Las Vegas housing market, and he polled below 40 percent in some polls. The unemployment, poverty, homeless, suicide and foreclosure rates were (and still are) some of the highest in the nation. But in 2010 Republicans had a weak field of candidates challenging Reid, and Sharron Angle was their eventual choice.

Harry Reid won re-election only because, in Nevada, we can select “none of these candidates” --- which split the anti-Harry Reid vote. Reid was only the better of two evils, but that's all. I don't think Harry can count on that again in another election...not after his latest episodes.

As Obama's right-hand man, Harry Reid voted with the Republicans AGAINST background checks for gun purchases. The vote would have needed all Democrats and just one Republican to meet the 60-vote threshold to break a filibuster. (Harry Reid also never reformed the filibuster, deciding not to after he vehemently vowed that he would --- just one day before.)

Harry Reid had called the weapons bill ‘anti-gun legislation’. Harry Reid voted against President Obama AND John McCain (R-AZ), who was one of only four Republicans to vote FOR gun background checks. (It was also Harry Reid and John McCain who co-sponsored the filibuster reform bill.).

Summary of the bill: "To protect Second Amendment rights, ensure that all individuals who should be prohibited from buying a firearm are listed in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, and provide a responsible and consistent background check process."

That's all. This bill did not even include a ban on assault-styled rifles or 30-round magazines; nor did it require gun registrations or the elimination of the "gun show loophole" for private sells. The Manchin-Toomey amendment was JUST for background checks. (e.g. Are you a convicted felon? Are you wanted on bench warrants? Have you recently been released from a mental facility? Are you addicted to meth? Have you recently sent threatening letters to the President? Do you take prescribed medications that make you hallucinate?)

But Harry Reid caved in to the NRA, making similar excuses for changing his vote on background checks as he made excuses for not reforming the filibuster. He "talks the talk" but he doesn't "walk the walk". But talk is cheap. If you ask my Uncle Harry, he might tell you, "Money talks, bullshit walks." (So why isn't Harry walking when he's full of it?)

The Manchin-Toomey background check proposal that died in the Senate this week had everything going for it: Bipartisan sponsorship by two centrist senators, the support of 90 percent of Americans, President Obama's full-throated support, and sadly, the momentum for reform created by the tragedy in Newtown. But still the bill failed to pass.

The bill had won a 54-vote majority, but fell short of the Senate's 60-vote threshold to pass. The bill had needed every single Democrat and just one Republican to pass --- but 5 Democrats voted "nay" while 4 Republicans actually voted with the Democrats.

Just as it is with the 2nd Amendment, under the 5th Amendment the "RIGHT" to travel is also a liberty of which the Citizen "cannot be deprived" without due process of the law. But when someone buys a car, all States require that they must have a title (or loan agreement to purchase); they must register it with the DMV; they must buy auto liability insurance; and they must have a license to operate it (and pass an eye examine).

But the Manchin-Toomey amendment (for background checks) required none of those things - - - it was JUST for background checks. Yet, still the bill failed because the NRA (the gun lobby) has unrivaled political power. Neither Mayor Bloomberg's money nor Obama's political machine could beat the NRA (and neither does public opinion ever equal political power).

At $200 million, the NRA's budget is massive and is one of the biggest among major lobbying groups. And for decades it has deployed its money and manpower to defeat its "enemies" in Congress and replace them with "allies" like Harry Reid. Today, all 10 leaders of both the Republican House and the Senate are A-rated by the NRA.

Harry Reid is well known for his close ties with the NRA. Reid has twice opposed the assault weapons ban back in 1992 and 2004. And Reid even slipped in a provision into the 2010 ObamaCare® plan that restricts the government from collecting data on gun ownership (which by me, is ok). Reid has received many "donations" from the NRA all throughout his long career.

As an aside (since I'm on the subject of good-ole Uncle Harry): Harry Reid pals around with the big casino bosses in Nevada. He has even been seen (below) attending prize fights with MGM owner Kirk Kerkorian. Why? Does someone pal around with people they're suppose to regulate?

It's no wonder Nevada has the lowest gaming taxes in the world. So people like Sheldon Adelson can rake in billions to give millions to Republican super PACs. Billionaire casino owners such as Kirk Kerkorian, Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn only pay a minuscule 6.75% gaming tax on gross winnings in Las Vegas, but they pay a whopping 39% tax on gaming revenues from their Chinese casinos. And these same Las Vegas casino owners also earn most of their revenues from China. The low taxes on these "job creators" didn't save any casino jobs (not mine at least).

The Kerkorian and Adelson also have ties to the Chinese mafia. But yet people like them complain about the "effective" corporate tax rate they pay. Uncle Harry won't eliminate their tax loopholes or tax their capital gains as regular wages.

And Obama repeatedly railed against subsidies for gas and oil companies, but Harry Reid wanted to give them $72 billion. Harry, like most in Congress, are bought and paid for. Harry Reid is proof that $$$ corrupts democracy.

But I digress: My main beef with this whole thing on the "gun control" aka "gun safety" debate is... I'm just personally against all corporate lobbying to influence public policy. Get money out of politics. The NRA or any lobbying group shouldn't have a strangle-hold over the voice of the majority of The People and control (what's left) of our democracy. Congress is already corrupt, so why corrupt them more? The only thing the NRA hasn't done yet is, pass out envelopes stuffed with cash on the floor of Congress (or have they?)

I wouldn't propose a ban on a Bushmaster® anymore than I would ban a pressure cooker or an automobile. But a simple background check wouldn't have violated anybody's rights. Shame on Harry Reid.

Miscellaneous Gun Statistics

A 2010 report from the Violence Policy Center finds that 2.7 percent (230) of gun-related homicides were committed in self-defense and 97.3 percent (8,275) were criminal homicides.

The FBI website says (for that same year in 2010) that private citizens justifiably killed 278 people during the commission of a crime and they list 12,996* murder victims in 2010. Of the homicides for which the FBI received weapons data, most of them (67.5 percent) involved the use of firearms and most of those were hand guns. (*67.5 percent of 12,996 is 8,902).

The gun lobby (NRA) claims that firearms are used for self-defense approximately 2.5 million times a year. But according to the Department of Justice's National Crime Victimization Survey, the actual number from 2007 to 2011 was only 338,500 (or 67,700 times a year).

Other notes from the study --- Guns are used for self defense (both successfully and unsuccessfully) by less than 1 percent of all violent crime victims --- and the typical gun is more likely to be stolen than to be used in an attempt to stop a crime.

Nobody is coming for your guns. (Read 6 gun myths). The National Firearms Act of 1934 requires the owners of machine guns and sawed-off shotguns to register with the federal government (and that did not lead to any government round up of guns). When the bill passed, the law was endorsed by the NRA. When the Brady Bill was still in force, nobody took your guns away. Why is this issue still being raised?

Does anyone really need an assault-styled rifle with a 30-round magazine to defend their home? Rifles, with the longer barrels, are primarily designed for distance, not for close up self-defense. How may women carry a Bushmaster® in their purses to keep from being raped? The NRA's Wayne LaPierre is implying that all women should have one for self defense.

And a hand gun, such as a .357 magnum revolver, is much more reliable for home or personal defense (it won't jam) and the rounds have much more stopping power than a Bushmaster®.

The "revisionist view" of Second Amendment rights gained momentum in 1982 when a Senate judiciary subcommittee issued a report about the discovery of "long lost proof" of an individual's constitutional right to bear arms. The chair of the subcommittee was Utah Senator Orrin Hatch. The "proof" has never surfaced.

But the recent Manchin-Toomey amendment that was recently voted down wasn't about BANNING ANY guns --- it was just to require background checks for people like Ted Nuget (who has a huge compound with plenty of open space to conduct paramilitary drills and play "Rambo". But for most of us, who live in a crowed city, the situation is much different.)

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