31 December 2012

Let's Go Over the Cliff

I don't generally get aggravated by politics, but it seems that I am. We're about 8 hours away from the so-called "fiscal cliff" and they're still talking about tax rates, but not at all discussing spending cuts. Amazingly stupid. The whole point of the fiscal cliff was to force Congress to deal with our terrible 16 TRILLION dollar deficit - to give the US some financial stability. But we'd rather spend all our time discussing taxes and tax rates. Where are the spending cuts? Where are they?

I say we go over the fiscal cliff. It's time to put that deficit on the front burner. If it means that we cut everything - let's cut everything. Defense, social programs - everything.

The game the Democrats are playing is incredible. Last Sunday President Obama announced that the two main goals for his second term are immigration and gun violence.  That's incredible. Unemployment is still sky high, people are dropping out of the work force - and he's focusing on immigration and gun violence. Where are his priorities? But we know where his priorities are - there hasn't been a budget in Washington for 3 years - and the one that Obama proposed didn't even get one Democratic vote.

But those that voted for him don't care. For four years, they bought the line that the economy was President Bush's fault. Stimulus spending was the way to go - and did nothing to create jobs. So here we are - President Obama has his second term, we have a 16 TRILLION dollar debt - and the Democrats still don't believe in spending cuts. Incredible.

I can't imagine why I'd be aggravated.

26 December 2012

Random News Wrap-up

It's been a busy few weeks - so I want to take a moment to welcome a new contributing writer to the blog, my sister Talya. She's a great asset and I'm happy to have her aboard.

Some old news. As a former Michigander I am absolutely thrilled that we passed "right to work" laws a while back. I finally have hope that Michigan will become a magnet for business - and as a result, more people will have an opportunity to find a job. Michigan is a wonderful state, it's time for us to get back on our feet. We can do it.

Michigan's Modest Labor Reform
Let's embrace Michigan's 'right to work' law
Unions: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

An article about gun ownership worth reading.

In a free society, people have the right to own guns

Another article worth reading as well.

Lessons from Newtown

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and successful upcoming year.

20 December 2012

Proper Focus is Key

Let me introduce myself... My name is Talya Drissman Woolf, and I have been invited to be a contributing writer to this blog.

I'm a practicing attorney, newly married, and a writer and runner. I enjoy exercising, meeting new people, learning new things (including languages), and have my own company where I teach people how to shoot handguns (mainly women-only classes though I do have plenty of male students). I am a huge fan of the USA and Israel, and host a blog of my own, which discusses military, politics, Israel and related issues.

I'm honored to be writing for Shira's blog. I hope you enjoy my articles.

-Talya W.

It’s been a rough week for Americans.

Unfortunately, when a tragedy occurs (especially one that involves children), we want to do something to prevent it from happening again. Americans are fixers. This time is no different, but we have wrongly identified the problem that needs to be solved. It doesn’t help that the media sensationalizes the murderer, and it doesn’t help that we haven’t been focusing on the victims, or on the mental health aspect of these instances.

All states have laws in place that make it unlawful for certain individuals to acquire and possess guns. The laws in Connecticut, for example, state that a person must be twenty-one years of age to possess a handgun; that it is unlawful to possess a handgun by a person who has been convicted of a felony; convicted as a delinquent of a serious juvenile offense which includes illegal possession of a controlled substance, negligent homicide, third degree assault, first degree reckless endangerment, second degree unlawful restraint, rioting, or second degree stalking; discharged from custody within the preceding 20 years after acquittal by reason of mental disease or defect; confined by court order for mental illness within the preceding 12 months; subject to a restraining or protective order involving physical force; or an illegal alien. It is unlawful to possess any other firearm by a person who has been convicted of a felony.

Each state has comparable laws in place, but they do not affect how criminals and bad guys obtain their weapons, and never will. Perhaps those laws have to be harsher, but punishing law-abiding citizens and preventing them from obtaining guns so that they may defend themselves and loved ones is simply not the solution.

Instead of arguing about our country’s problems, debating what they might be, and using the deaths of small innocent children to push through restrictive laws, we should be focusing on finding a solution, both for schools and other public areas.

Teachers have always had a challenging job. Not only do they have to educate our children, but they are also responsible for keeping them safe. Principals and superintendants have the most pressure and the most children to watch over. One small town in Texas, Harrold, has found a solution.

Since it’s so small, the nearest sheriff’s office is thirty minutes away, much too long if something evil happens. They don’t have the money for a security guard either.

Instead, the school board voted to let teachers bring guns to school. Their teachers aren’t just anyone. They have master’s degrees, are older, have extensive training, and their guns are hidden. Normally, Texas law bans guns in school unless the school has given written authorization. In 2007, Harrold’s school board voted unanimously to allow employees to carry weapons. After obtaining their state concealed-weapons permit, each employee who wants to carry a weapon must be approved by the school board based on his or her personality and reaction to a crisis. This is a strict standard, and it continues. Employees must also undergo training in crisis intervention and hostage situations and must use bullets that minimize the risk of ricochet (similar to the ones used by air marshals on planes). 

Harrold, Texas is not alone. Superintendant David Thweatt stated that there are other Texas schools that allow teachers to carry weapons, but would not reveal their locations due to negative publicity.

The Texas solution is a smart one. It allows the teachers and administrators to protect their students and provides them with training so that they may do so. Most parents would do anything to protect their children, and want to be able to trust other adults to do the same. They want responsible and trained individuals to be watchdogs for their little loved ones.

It is important for administrators and principals to be able to protect their wards. Principals and vice-principals should be encouraged to go a step further and either carry weapons (and undergo training) or persuade interested teachers to do the same. Superintendants should be looking into similar solutions for their districts.

Rep. Mark McCullough of Oklahoma is working on a bill that would allow teachers and administrators to receive firearm training through the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training.

Richard Fairburn[1] suggested another solution, which can complement the above policy. While there simply aren’t sufficient policemen or military personnel to provide each school system with an armed guard, there is a no-cost solution available: Minutemen, defined as “an organization of citizens with limited military training who are available for emergency service, usually for local defense.” According to Fairburn, Minutemen must be exempted from every geographic restriction placed on those who currently carry concealed weapons since virtually every mass killing in recent history has occurred in a “gun-free zone.”

Fairburn lists three different categories of Minutemen: (1) former law enforcement officers; (2) retired military personnel; and (3) honest, armed citizens. This opens it up to hundreds of thousands of volunteers who would selflessly give their time (and lives) to serve and protect our next generation – and would do so at a moment’s notice.

These proposals will not deter opponents of the Second Amendment or eliminate fear. People still have doubts that more armed people, even trained ones, will equal more injuries and deaths. However, doubts can be eliminated, or at least seriously reduced, with extensive training and responsible guards. 

It’s sad that it has come to this, and nothing is guaranteed, but it’s better to be prepared and trained than it is to be ignorant and fearful. Let’s protect our little ones and our public with more than just hopes and wishes. Let’s teach them that we love them and care for their safety. Let’s find and utilize reliable solutions first, so that we can then have breathing room to address the real problems and not the guns. 

[1] Richard Fairburn has more than 30 years of law enforcement experience in both Illinois and Wyoming, working patrol, investigations and administrative assignments. Richard has also served as a Criminal Intelligence Analyst and as the Section Chief of a major academy’s Firearms Training Unit and Critical Incident training program. He has a B.S. in Law Enforcement Administration from Western Illinois University and was the Valedictorian of his recruit class at the Illinois State Police Academy. He has published more than 100 feature articles and two books: Police Rifles and Building a Better Gunfighter.

11 December 2012

Israel/Canadian Relations and the Canadian Health Care System

Recent articles that I've found important reading:

"No greater friend": The bond between Netanyahu and Harper goes beyond statecraft
An interesting point of view on why Canada's Prime Minister Harper is such a huge supporter of the State of Israel.

End-of-life battles expose the culture clash in Canada's intensive care units
The article talks about "culture clash" but anyone religious or has specific ideas about how they'd like to have control over their end-of-life issues should be concerned about the lack of control they and their families truly have. Coming to a country near you... which reminded me about this next article.

The Ugly Truth About Canadian Health Care
Another must read.

04 December 2012

Party at the United Nations!

Okay everyone, let's all give a big round of applause to welcome the new state of "Palestine" to our august body of the United Nations... that's right, this is a great moment.

As for you "Palestine", we know you have no history, no great leaders to point to, no true national identity - but we'll overlook that. We know that you hate the Jews, and what more do we need to say? We do too!

We're sure that you'll enjoy your time here at the UN. There are plenty of other countries that you have much in common with, dictatorships, rogue states, terrorist states - oh, you already know Iran? Of course, they gave you those missiles you shot off into Tel Aviv and Jerusalem a couple of weeks ago. It's always good at know at least somebody at a party.

Freedom? Democracy? Tolerance for religious minorities? Human rights? Respect for your neighboring countries? Nah, details, shmetails, those things aren't important here at the United Nations.

Get comfortable, join a few committees - maybe file charges against Israel at the International Criminal Court once you get the hang of things. We're sure that you can find something to do here at the UN to delegitimize Israel.

Again, everyone please welcome "Palestine" to the United Nations - we are so happy to have you here.

The Peace Talks to Nowhere Good