Take That to the Bank… Or at Least Open Your Account to Us, Mr. President.

“The Reptile”

 

President Barack Obama is a joke. To put it in terms that the younger generation would understand, President Obama’s second term closely parallels the lyrics to Lupe Fiasco’s [B-rated] hit “Kick Push.” Obama kicked through the competition, pushed his way into the presidency and is now coasting through his presidential term. I have to admit, President Obama is a lot like myself. He was an attorney after all, so most of his controversial statements lately are on-point to his previous educational experiences. Albeit I would assume the President did not relish in so many vacations back then, but law school was definitely a win-win for the President’s public speaking agenda. I believe a few examples are necessary in order to understand what I mean. “Kick it!” (sorry, I had to continue with the music theme.. plus, I really like the Beastie Boys).

“Three Sides to A(n Attorney) Story”

 

(1) The Uncompromiser

 

My days in law school were filled with definite answers. These answers were based on a rule of law or case law that was directly on point to the educational topic at hand. Just like law school, a presidential campaign is filled with definite answers to questions that are predetermined. It is obvious what questions are going to be asked and how each candidate (Democrat or Republican) will answer those questions. The difference lies in the manner and tone as to which the candidate answers. If you sound confident in your answer, the general public will believe you. Case in point: the “Change” campaign by President Obama. The campaign in and of itself was brilliant. Who doesn’t want change? And who didn’t want change back then? Change sounded wonderful, as did President Obama’s pledge to remove troops within 16 months of taking the presidential office.  Removing troops during a time of war and bringing them back to a land of peace. This statement was uncompromising, unbending, and (dare I say it?) unyielding.

 

(2) The Backtracker

 

Although definite answers in law school were great, some answers were not good enough… or were they? Law school professors are to students as the media is to the President. Law school professors always try to trip up students into choosing the wrong answer when they were correct in the beginning – or at least allowing for an uncompromising answer to sound a little more compromising. One professor comes to mind – Professor Matt Reiber at Florida Coastal School of Law. He is an extremely educated and talented professor that knows how to twist your mind into a Rubik’s cube (then twist it back again in an ever-so swift fashion). In an essence, he wanted you to think of every scenario no matter if it was different from the answer you provided in the beginning. He made you think (much as I want my readers to do). Either way, the media is like this for the President. At this point, the President is being kept in check by the media (eh, go with me here). Because the media is finally catching him on every lie, it has to publish something whether it wants to do so or not. In this case, let’s continue with the removal of troops situation. According to President Obama as of the latest he did not want to pull the troops out of Iraq. Let me repeat: the guy who wanted the troops removed from Iraq during his presidential campaign now states he had nothing to do with pulling the troops out of Iraq.  This was apparently not his decision. So… whose decision was it exactly? Maybe the President took a lesson from his law school professors, or maybe he failed to understand that backtracking only leads you to look like a fool in front of your peers.

 

(3) The Concealer

 

Masking things that occur was a highlight of my law school career. After all of the definitiveness and backtracking, you just want to cover up your mistakes (or your correct answers that after backtracking ended up as mistakes) and run and hide.  I would normally retreat to my apartment, drown myself in a bottle of Lucky Duck wine and watch a few episodes of Gossip Girl.  However, if I could have afforded it, I would have concealed my mishaps like our dear President. Running around Martha’s Vineyard or playing golf (barf!) on a beach in Hawaii sound like great ways to not only make myself feel better but also conceal every pain I had of being called on in a law school class.  President Obama seems to take vacations at the most inopportune times – most recently during the ISIS terrorist situation. If you have been living under a rock and haven’t heard of this, you have some reading to do. There is nothing like a good “terrorists behead U.S. journalist on videotape” story to get your blood boiling. That doesn’t working for you? How about the headline “terrorists beheading Christian mothers and children?” Yeah, now I have your attention. Either way, concealment of the fact that the President took troops out of Iraq (or did he?) only to watch his plan blow up in smoke has landed the President in hot water. Time to go take a cold bath filled with regret, Mr. President.

“Closing Time”

I know I haven’t written in awhile… I have been pretty busy with work. However, this article is not the end. This article is just the precursor to my next article all about the endearing presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton.  If you thought my previous articles were bad, you will want to mark your calendars for the next one. Remember friends – do your research and read The Constitution.

Drop the mic.

 

Song References: “Take That To The Bank” – Shalamar; “The Reptile” – The Church; “Fight for Your Right (To Party)” – Beastie Boys; “The Sides to a Story” – Joe Budden; “Closing Time” – Semisonic.

Advertisements

Obamacare Pt. 1: The Individual Mandate – Steal from the Rich, Give to the Poor

OBAMACARE: THE DIRTIEST WORD IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE?

Today I embark on a journey into the unknown (and sometimes unseen) land of Obamacare. Do not worry if you have not yet read this policy – Nancy Pelosi is probably still in the same boat. Let’s start with the basics of Obamacare.

Basics of Obamacare

Actual Title: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Aliases: Obamacare (note: this is my personal reference to the law, as Obama himself uses the term), Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), Taxcare

Creation: Signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010; upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States in a 5-4 vote on June 28, 2012

Initial Goal: “To give more Americans access to affordable, quality health insurance & reduce growth in health spending in United States.” [note: this was not supposed to override or replace private insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare]

Rollout of Law: Enacted in 2010; starts rollout in 2013-2014 and continues throughout the year of 2022

Actual Document: Obamacare has ten titles spanning over 1,000 pages with most key provisions under Title 1, which is around 140 pages.  Most of the bill encompasses the problems associated with Medicare.  Prior versions of Obamacare as a bill were 2,400 pages. The final document as produced, however, is actually around 1,000 pages (depending on the website or PDF document).

Favorite Lines from Obamacare Deliberations: (1) “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” – then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D); (2) “If Obamacare had been fully implemented when I caught cancer, I’d be dead.” – GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain (R); (3) “I have no problem with folks saying, ‘Obama cares.’ I do care. If the other side wants to be the folks that don’t care, that’s fine with me.” – President Obama (D), responding to Republican use of the term “Obamacare”; (4) “He’s the baby daddy of Obamacare.” – Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) referring to GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney; (5) “If I’m the godfather of this thing, then it gives me the right to kill it.” – GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney (R); (6) “I just see a huge train wreck coming down.” – Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.); (7) “I’m a physician. I’m quite worried about the privacy of medical records…I’m quite worried that your medical records now will be evaluated by the IRS.” – Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) after IRS scandal

Obamacare: A Big Effing Deal

In the words of Joe Biden, Obamacare is a big effing deal. From additional taxes to unnecessary burdens, you or someone you know will be affected by this law. The next few years of this law’s rollout will not be pretty.  I’m not sure it was the appropriate time to rollout a massive tax on the American people during an economic slump. No matter what statistics the government alleges, everyone is experiencing some sort of decrease in funding or income at this time.  This tax burden hits the younger generation harder than any other generation – as we are left to save the baby boomer generation from themselves. This will be tough considering the job market is tougher to break into than the healthcare market. All in all, I have already come to an educated conclusion that Obamacare is a failure.

During the next four weeks, I will set forth the facts of Obamacare in four different segments. I will not provide my opinion on each of these segments until the end of each. Whether you agree or not, I could care less. I do, however, care that you are educated as to what this law will provide and what it fails to provide.  I care that you understand what we as a country are getting into with Obamacare. Finally, I care that our generation is knowledgeable of this law as it will affect us more than any other generation.

I do not have a list of each of the four segments that I will cover in Obamacare. The available information is never-ending and I am sure that I will not be able to cover everything in these four parts. At this time, however, I am confident in my knowledge of the Individual Mandate (which starts on or around page 143 of Obamacare). I covered this topic somewhat in depth within my tax LL.M. program at University of Denver. Because my background is in tax law, you will have to bear with me if I use terminology that is hard to comprehend. I will try my best to put it in plain English, but if I fail to do so on some of it you will have to give me a break.  If you do not recognize the term, look it up.  It might do you some good to do your own research anyway considering this is a confusing topic as is. I do not want to waste anymore time or space on this blog post with senseless information – let’s begin.

Individual Mandate: A (Large) Tax on American Citizens

The Basics

Starting in 2014, individuals are required under Obamacare to either obtain health insurance, get an exemption from obtaining health insurance, or pay a “per-month fee.”  The health insurance obtained must be the “minimum essential coverage” that complies with the rules set forth under Obamacare.  “Minimum essential coverage” includes most employer-based coverage, Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP program funds, private insurance (unless your insurance does not comply with Obamacare rules, hence all of the talk of rejection letters from private insurance companies), and all insurance within your State’s healthcare marketplace.

If an individual fails to meet the requirements of obtaining health insurance or an exemption the individual is then hit with a “shared responsibility fee,” also called the Individual Mandate (or “IM” as I will refer to it from now on to save space).  The IM is just one of around 20 new taxes created under Obamacare and goes toward funding Obamacare and subsidizing hospitals that will have unpaid hospital emergency room costs.  The IM also provides as a “downpayment” into the healthcare system that you will eventually have to pay into in the future.

Although the IM goes into effect on January 1, 2014, a 3-month continuous grace period provides relief to most Americans searching for health insurance on the marketplace.  Thus, if you fail to obtain health insurance by March 31, 2014, you will have a penalty applied to your taxable income for each month that you do not have health insurance. This is considered the “per-month fee” paid into the system.  However, there is a catch: you must obtain this health insurance by March 15, 2014.  If you obtain this insurance by that date you will be covered starting April 1, 2014. If you obtain your insurance after March 15, 2014, your coverage actually begins on May 1, 2014, and you will be susceptible to the “per-month fee” as you are not covered by April 1, 2014. Instead of a 3-month continuous grace period, this should have been labeled a 2.5-month grace period to avoid confusion.  Let me inform you again – make sure to get covered by March 15, 2014. If you do not, you will be charged for a portion of the IM. I guarantee this will cause confusion, and I guarantee the IRS will collect a ton of penalties during this time.

In order to collect this fee, the IRS will withhold the money from your income tax return refund. There is no other way for the IRS to enforce this provision.  The IRS cannot enforce jail time, liens or any other means of collection.  You must have a refund in order for the IRS to collect the IM.

The IM was meant to be a “trade-off” between the American people and government. The requirement to obtain healthcare is considered the people’s trade-off for the new benefits, rights, and protections including the requirement for those to obtain insurance that could not afford it otherwise.  Proponents of the IM were met with backlash from 26 different states, several individuals and the National Federal of Independent Business.  All combined sued over the unconstitutionality of Obamacare and more specifically the IM. On one side the government claimed that the law was regulating an area that everyone was already in (as purchasing healthcare was already inevitable).  On the other side those against the law claimed that the law forced Americans to enter a market and purchase something against one’s own will. Both sides clashed in the Supreme Court case of National Federation of Independent Business Et. Al. v. Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Et. Al., 567 U.S. ___ (2012).

The Court Case of the Century

National Federation hinges on two key parts of Obamacare – Medicaid expansion and the IM. I do not wish to talk about Medicaid right now as I’m sure that will be a topic for a later post. I will be focusing on the IM. This case is around 200 pages long and includes opinions from each of the Supreme Court Justices. I actually read this opinion after it was produced for the American public to read. I will not go into too much detail about this case so as to not bore you.  I will, however, give you a brief synopsis of why the Supreme Court voted to uphold the IM and thereby uphold Obamacare.

The first holding in the case involved the Anti-Injunction Act. The Anti-Injunction Act provides that “no suit for purpose of retaining the assessment or collection of any tax shall be maintained in any court by any person.” 26 U.S.C. § 7421(a). The government used a tactic to reply to the suit basically implying that those suing must pay for the alleged tax before suing for a refund. The government lost on this notion.  Chief Justice John Roberts, writing the majority opinion for the Court, stated that the government never intended this law to be a tax but instead labeled it a “penalty.” Thus, the Anti-Injunction Act did not apply to the instant case.  However, for purposes of the Constitution, the labeling of “penalty” does not control the Court’s ruling as to whether this is a “tax” from a constitutional standpoint.

Moving forward, the second holding in the case involved whether the IM was a valid use of Congress’s powers under the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause. The Constitution grants Congress the power to “regulate commerce.” Art. I, §8, cl. 3. In order to regulate commerce, there must be something actually in commerce to regulate. According to the Court, most cases involve the regulation of commerce to reach an “activity.” E.g., United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549, 560. The IM does not regulate an activity.  Instead, the IM creates an activity by requiring Americans to purchase into a marketplace for healthcare.  Congress already has a pass to regulate what people do; Congress should not have a pass to also regulate what people do not do. If the Court were to uphold the IM under the Commerce Clause, it would give powers to Congress to regulate and compel commerce. That is too far outreaching and the Court could not foresee that being in and of itself constitutional.

Furthermore, the Necessary and Proper Clause argument does not hold muster in this case. Each of the prior cases decided by the Court upholding laws under this Clause involved “exercise of authority derivative of, and in service to, a granted power.” The IM allows Congress to step outside of its bounds and create the power to regulate the healthcare marketplace. According to the Court, even if the IM is a “necessary” means to carry out the healthcare plan, such expansion of Congress’s power is not “proper” way to go about doing so.

The third holding involves the taxing power of Congress and whether or not the IM should be considered a tax on the American people. According to supporters of Obamacare and Obama himself, this IM has never been a tax on the American people.  However, if the Commerce Clause and Necessary and Proper Clause did not stand (which as I previously explained, both did not stand), the government would have to take the alternative stance that the IM was a tax after all. The government cites the Constitution in claiming that the IM may be upheld within Congress’s power to “lay and collect Taxes.” Art. I, §8, cl. 1. Taking this argument, the Court had to decide whether the IM was a tax on those people refusing to purchase healthcare.

The Court first comments on the labeling issue – penalty v. tax. The use of “penalty” disallowed the government’s argument under the Anti-Injunction Act. On the other hand, the use of “penalty” would not disallow the government’s further argument that the IM was in fact a tax. Next, the Court starts to delve into the main issue – whether this penalty could be an undercover tax. In order to support this stance, the Court claims that the penalty does not punish unlawful conduct. The penalty is not too high, the payment is not limited to willful violations, and the payment is collected solely by the IRS through normal means of taxation. Finally, the Court ends with explaining why the Direct Tax Clause does not apply. Basically, the tax is on health insurance and is not like the type of taxes covered under the Court’s previous cases.  Thus, the Court agreed that the IM could be construed to be a tax and the government won the battle for Obamacare on this notion.

The rest of the case involves Medicaid and I am not open for discussion on this just yet. In the end, the government both won and lost it’s case. The government won the case in court on a 5-4 vote (5 for: Roberts, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan; 4 against: Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Alito), but the government lost the case with a majority of the American people by handing the citizens the nation’s largest tax in history.

So, what does all of this actually mean?

This means that if you do not have health insurance then you will be taxed for not having health insurance. There are, however, exceptions to this rule. Here is a list of those that are exempt from the penalty enforced by the IRS:

(1) Unaffordable coverage options exemption: If you are paying more than 8% of your household income for health insurance, you are exempt from taking part in the healthcare purchase altogether.

(2) No filing requirement: If your income is below the threshold for filing taxes (i.e., $10,000 for singles in 2013 and $27,800 for married filing jointly with two children in 2013). Thus, if you are under these amounts, you will not have to “obtain minimum essential coverage” as you will technically have no income tax return to file.

(3) Hardship: If the Affordable Insurance Exchange finds you to have suffered a hardship making you unable to obtain coverage then you are exempt from coverage.

(4) Short Coverage Gap Exemption (i.e., 3-month Continuous Gap): Remember that this is actually a 2.5-month rule – not a 3-month as the government would like for you to believe.

(5) Religious Conscience: These are administered by the Social Security Administration.

(6) Healthcare Sharing Ministry

(7) Not Lawfully Present in the United States: You are an undocumented immigrant or are not a U.S. citizen, nation or alien lawfully present in the United States

(8) Incarceration

(9) Indian Tribes: Members of federally recognized Indian tribes 

The above nine exemptions are not required to get healthcare from the market exchange. If you are required to have healthcare and refuse to do so, here are the taxes that will be imposed on your income tax return refund:

2014: $95/person/year or 1% of your Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI), whichever is greater

2015: $325/person/year or 2% of your MAGI, whichever is greater

2016: $695/person/year or 2.5% of your MAGI, whichever is greater

2017: Increases by rate of inflation/person/year or 2.5% of your MAGI, whichever is greater

By 2017, the amounts should eventually level off. The government, however, could amend the percentage attributable to your MAGI.  The word “amended” is used over 100 times in the Obamacare law. It is possible that this legislation is never exempted from further amendments. Here are a few additional random facts regarding the tax:

(1) The total penalty can never exceed the national average of the annual premiums of a bronze-level insurance plan offered through the healthcare marketplace.

(2) The maximum penalty per family is no more than 300% of the minimum penalty amount (using 2016’s numbers – $695 x 300% = $2,085). [as an aside, children under the age of 18 are assessed at 50% of the minimum penalty]

(3) The penalty is also prorated for every month you do not have coverage, though there is no penalty for the 3-month continuous gap rule.  As an example, if you are not covered for six months out of the year you are responsible for half of the penalty.

(4) If you are under the age of 26 you are still allowed to piggy-back off of your parent’s insurance plan.  Remember that if your parent is over the age of 65 and receiving Medicare, you are no longer eligible to be covered under their plan.

(5) If you make less than $45,960 (individual) or $94,200 (family of four) [both of these are considered to be up to 400% of the federal poverty level for 2014 and you must file an income tax return to qualify] you may be eligible for free or low-cost health insurance due to cost assistance subsidies like Tax Credits. These Credits reduce premium costs and cost-sharing subsidies that lower cost-sharing on copays, coinsurance, and deductibles. Subsidies are not available to employees or their dependents if an employer offers “affordable” coverage to meet the “minimum essential coverage” standards under Obamacare. The average marketplace subsidy per subsidized enrollee is said to start at $5,290 in 2014. These subsidies offset your premium costs and lower out-of-pocket expenses. However, as a reminder, these subsidies are considered to be picked up through taxing the American people. Think about this – who is paying for these taxes?

My Thoughts on Obamacare’s Individual Mandate

I believe the smartest person during the deliberations and implementation of Obamacare was Chief Justice Roberts. This is not to say that I agree with what he put forth in the National Federation case, as I am not sure he completely agreed with his own argument. It was an extremely smart move on his part to join the four liberal Justices and justify the IM as a tax on the American people. By implementing the IM as a tax, the Court provided the fatal blow to Obama’s credibility as the leader of this country. Obama ran his campaign on a string of lies, starting and ending with Obamacare. This just shows what kind of person, and what kind of Congressional leaders, we have running our country today.

Moving forward with the case, it is apparent that the IM is unconstitutional.  Anyone who can read our Constitution knows this to be true. It forces the American people to pay into a healthcare system that was created in order for Obamacare to be carried out. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a fan of originalism and finding the original intent behind the Constitution. Another fan of this theory is Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.  In case you did not know this by now, or you could not realize this by my Second Amendment arguments in one of my previous posts, I am also one of Justice Scalia’s biggest fans. Though some of his theories might be outrageously concocted, I believe that his examples are sound and actually make good points. Let me put forth one of his arguments during deliberations in the National Federation case: “Could you define the market – everybody has to buy food sooner or later, so you define the market as food, therefore, everybody is in the market; therefore you can make people buy broccoli.” In his argument, Justice Scalia is trying to determine why the administration defines the healthcare market so broadly in Obamacare. Just because the government believes that the failure to purchase healthcare is included in the unenumerated problems the Constitution authorizes Congress to solve does not mean that this is essentially an activity that Congress can regulate. If it is determined later on down the road that broccoli provides essential vitamins and nutrients that prevent cancer, can Congress through the ruling under National Federation consider this an “unenumerated problem” that can be solved through a new law? I’m not sure I can answer that. I’m not sure I would want to answer that.

I highly recommend you either take the time to read this case or read a summary of this case. It is actually a good read and gives you the background to many of our country’s cases surrounding the Commerce Clause and Congress’s taxing power. Plus, why would you want to take anything I am saying as fact? Educate yourself and make your own decision on this matter.

So far, I am also convinced this legislation has a Robin Hood complex (“steal from the rich, give to the poor”). Or in other terms, an approach that “steals from those that do and gives to those that don’t.” I asked you to think about who will pay for those subsidies given to those that cannot afford the healthcare policies provided under Obamacare. The answer is those that can afford it – the “rich.” So, if you are receiving a tax credit from the federal government to support your healthcare you can thank those that are “well off” in our society for making that happen. As a possible preview into a future post, the IM also targets the younger generation. Young, healthy people subsidize older, sicker people. Most experts explain that younger people will eventually expect and receive the same treatment later on down the road.  I beg to disagree with those experts, but I will save that for a later segment.

I am not completely sure what next week’s post will have to do with as I am still making my way through Obamacare. You can be sure, however, that I will have an opinion and I will make you think twice about this law. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions for next week’s post. Thanks for reading!

The Second Amendment – Gun Rights vs. Gun Control: Good Luck With That

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

I briefly spoke of the Second Amendment in my last article while simultaneously criticizing the writer of another article for an oversight error in numbering the Amendments.  I do, however, want to touch on the subject of the Second Amendment because it is a hot-button issue around both campaign and election season.  The language (above in bold) is kept simple by our forefathers so as to not construe the message of an individual’s rights.

Brief History of the Second Amendment

I don’t want to spend too much time on this area (considering it is plastered on the internet for you to find elsewhere), but I do want to look at the Second Amendment to the extent that our forefathers cover it in the Constitution and other documents.  It is important to remember that the Constitution was not the only document in history that spoke of the Second Amendment’s contents.  Each forefather had a specific reason for placing this in the Constitution, and that reason was exemplified in other documents during that time.  For example, The Federalist Papers by James Madison spoke of “the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation.” Madison, Hamilton, and Jay, The Federalist Papers 299 (Arlington House ed. n.d.).  As an additional example (just to show merit), Patrick Henry argued during the Virginia ratifying convention that “the great object is, that every man be armed…. Everyone who is able may have a gun.” 3 Elliot, Debates in the Several State Conventions 386 (1836).  This (along with other framers’ thoughts not mentioned herein) shows that the framers of the Constitution meant to protect an individual’s rights to bear arms.

Gun Rights: No Government Should Take Away MY Guns

After reading the framers’ intentions, it is easier to transition into the argument to protect American citizens’ right to bear arms. The Second Amendment obviously covers the issue on gun rights, but what other arguments are being used as a catalyst to propel gun rights to the forefront of a political debate? Here is a list of those rights, and why it might be a reason to entertain the discussion.

(1) Criminals will find a way to obtain guns through illegal measures (like they already do today).  In my humble opinion, this is a valid point. What will stop the criminals from bypassing legislation put into place and finding (through No. 5 below) these guns on their own? Criminals already break the law by committing crimes, so what is one extra notch on their gun-toting belt?

(2) Victim gun possession will deter criminals from committing their crime. If you don’t believe this argument, you haven’t read the story of Jan Cooper of Anaheim, California – the gun-wielding grandma that shot at an intruder to protect herself and her wheelchair-bound, WWII veteran husband from potentially inflicted harm.  Here is the article if you don’t believe me (also covered on NBC and CBS if you have something against Fox News): http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/06/12/grandma-72-shoots-at-intruder-misses-in-calif/. This is one of my favorite arguments for gun rights.  There are numerous stories out there like Jan Cooper’s, and I am not sure the ending would quite be the same if Jan did not have her firearm in hand.

(3) Police are often too busy to protect citizens from (all) crimes committed. I’m going to add another mitigating factor – police officers are too damn lazy to answer all calls for crimes committed. Please see the above link re: Mrs. Cooper if you don’t believe it.  If the police do not get there in time, the police are not held responsible for the crime committed. Protect yourself.

(4) Ban my guns? You are a socialist or totalitarian. This seems to be the most used line by the Republicans (or those supporting gun rights) against the Obama administration’s legislation on gun control.  By restricting a right professed in the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution, anyone that would dare take away one of those rights either must be a socialist, a tyrannical leader, or an idiot. Taking away an Amendment requires another Amendment to rectify that situation (e.g., Prohibition and the 18th/21st Amendments).  As that is a whole other argument, I will leave our congressional leaders with four words: Good luck with that.

(5) Banning guns will create a “black market” excursion for these items (i.e., more organized crime; “War on Guns”). As I stated in No. 1 above, criminals will find other means to being criminals.  Just because a criminal cannot find or purchase a gun on the free market does not mean that the same criminal cannot turn around and purchase that gun from an underground, or “black,” market. This black market would lead to additional problems for the government (which is dealing with figuring out what ObamaCare is) and police officers (who already don’t have time to answer your calls about an intruder).  Again, four words: Good luck with that.

Gun Control: Eh… Some Regulation MIGHT Work Today

Now that I have completely blown your mind about gun rights, let’s look at the five opposite arguments for gun control.  Here is the list as to why you (and our government) should entertain the discussion for gun control.

(1) Most violent crimes are committed with guns. Take away the gun, take away the criminal.  This is a valid argument for those entertaining the thought of gun control.  If there are no more guns in this world, then there will be no more criminals.  A new utopia.

(2) Victims holding guns may be in more danger than before as the criminal could kill the victim in self-defense. I’m honestly not sure how I can defend this ill-worded argument, but I will try because I have to remain neutral for now. Scratch that… I can’t.  That’s just stupidity. But if you have an opinion on why this is a valid point, leave me a comment below.

(3) Crimes that were once less dangerous can now be more dangerous with the addition of a gun.  This argument is geared toward drug crimes. A person selling drugs is more than likely using a gun to protect himself or herself from harm in the event that the drug deal “goes bad.” The drug crime itself is a less dangerous crime.  If the drug crime goes bad and the gun is used it is a more dangerous crime.  Reducing or eliminating the gun by gun control laws will in turn keep the drug crime just that – a lesser crime. This could also correlate with No. 1 above of the gun control arguments.

(4) Suicide and crimes of passion are easier to commit with a gun on hand.  This is true. Both suicide and crimes of passion are committed in the “heat of the moment.” It seems that eliminating the gun would reduce the amount of crimes of this nature.  It is important to keep in mind though that most women attempt suicide by overdose or cutting of wrists, which would not eliminate the amount of suicides for women at all.  This is more geared toward the number of men that commit suicide by lethal weapon (which is extremely higher than women). If you want the statistics on this, visit The Community Counseling Service’s page at http://www.hsccs.org/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=13737.

(5) Insane people, children who have been bullied, or other disgruntled people could use guns for the wrong reason. This argument stems from the number of mall shootings, school shootings, work shootings, and every other possible shooting of a nature in which the person was angry or upset.  Let’s take school shootings since it appears to be the most recent.  From Colorado to Connecticut, these shootings are stemming from the fact that somehow children and teenagers are getting their hands on firearms. A link to most of these situations is not the fact that the children had guns, but that these children and teenagers were suffering from psychological problems before reaching for the gun. I’m not saying that bullying or being treated unfairly is right. What I am saying, however, is that these children should stop and reach out for help before reaching for the gun. Most children and teenagers do not know there is an outlet for help at all.  If you or someone you know has been bullied and you are thinking there is no other way out, please go to http://www.stopbullying.gov for more information or to get help.  Either way, I could see how this argument would be a major focal point of the Obama administration during a time such as this.

My Thoughts on Gun Rights vs. Gun Control: My Guns ARE My Right

After going through the arguments for and against gun control, I am happily content in stating that guns are my right and my right is found under the Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights.  Gun control is a nasty subject – as it is an “all or nothing” analysis.  I do not like a government that takes away the rights of the citizens without so much as a blink of an eye.  Our forefathers would be ashamed.

If the guns are not necessary, take away Obama’s guns that are protecting him. Oh… that isn’t going to happen? Some criminals might still get to him with their illegal guns? Then there is no need for me to remain unarmed if the President refuses to disarm his Secret Service.  Is my life not as important as the President’s? Also, look at what happened in Chicago. Chicago has one of the most restrictive gun control laws in the nation and still winds up with not one but four of the “Top 25 Most Dangerous Neighborhoods.”

Our government, however, continues to believe that Chicago-like gun control laws are the answer to the gun problems we have in our country today.

Four words: Good luck with that.

First Amendment + Duck Dynasty = Gossip Column News?

A week or so ago I wrote a piece entitled “V.E.E.P. – It’s a Movement, Not a Sitcom,” where I set out a pretty easy guideline of how to evaluate and understand a piece of news or legislation in our country today. I stressed the importance of four key methods (i.e., validate, educate, extrapolate, politicate) and why you should use them in your everyday life. However, I failed to give an example of how these four methods work together and give you the correct answer you need. Thankfully I was able to experience first-hand these methods in action through a gossip column website called Crushable.com.  Crushable.com prides itself on producing “unapologetically pop culture obsessed” material that is “smart, funny and genuine, combining celebrity news, style and a wide spectrum of content that appeals to an engaged, entertainment-obsessed audience.” Additionally, this site claims to have editors that are “skeptical but never mean.”  

On Crushable.com, however, I was surprised to find a piece on politics and the Constitution within the four corners of this website. A site that prides itself on celebrity news and gossip should focus on just that and not dwell on other aspects that the website’s editors know nothing about.  Either way, I was interested in what the young woman, an editor at Crushable.com, had to say.  The piece, entitled “Here’s Your Constitutionally-Mandated Update on the Duck Dynasty Controversy,” seemed to be argumentative from the start.  This editor, who shall remain nameless until you find the link to the gossip column’s editorial piece on this blog, was in no way a peach in dealing with this controversy.  I would label this editor more “liberal” than “skeptical.” In any sense, this girl knew nothing about the Constitution, the politics surrounding the controversy with Duck Dynasty, or the information about what had actually happened within the controversy itself. So, I thought I would take what I know about my last article’s methods – V.E.E.P. – and have some fun with the editor.

Please read the following before continuing this blog entry, as it will help you to understand my arguments better: http://www.crushable.com/2013/12/20/entertainment/duck-dynasty-homophobia-official-statement-response-freedom-of-speech-second-amendment/  Finished? Okay, let’s begin. During my first of many reviews of this article, I realized she had made many mistakes that are common to those that are not familiar with the law. I labeled them out clearly for you below.

1. First (not Second) Amendment

The first, and most obvious, mistake is that she replaced the First Amendment language with the Second Amendment heading. You only missed this in the article because this was NOT her first draft – this is actually her second draft thanks to me. Here is the reading of the text that you did not see, before I informed the editor of her mistake: “Turns out that according to some of our commenters, even writing about this controversy is violating the Second [underlined emphasis added] Amendment, aka Freedom of Speech.” A simple validation of the difference between the First and Second Amendments would have helped this editor to understand the Second Amendment was incorrect.  Even her prior high school education could have told her that this was the incorrect Amendment. The editor quickly apologized after I pointed out this mental mistake to her, even though the website is supposedly “unapologetic” to its readers. If anything, this editor should apologize to the readers that are taking this garbage seriously.

2. First Amendment Language & Actual Meaning

The second error in the above statement is that the First Amendment is about “Freedom of Speech.” The editor believes that the First Amendment was “initially designed to protect members of the press and individuals from persecution for sharing their opinions.” Persecution? Are we being burned at the stake like witches? No. The First Amendment has nothing to do with persecution and everything to do with legislation passed by Congress.  The First Amendment does not guard against all free speech. I repeat, the First Amendment does not guard against all free speech. Now that this is clear, the First Amendment does guard against Congressional legislation that abridges free speech (subject to certain limitations, like yelling “fire” in a crowded theater).  The First Amendment has nothing to do with persecution or lack thereof when it comes to freedom of speech. So, in the case of Phil from Duck Dynasty and the A&E network, A&E had a right to tear up Phil’s contract and pull Phil from the television show. But, Phil still has a right to speak his mind – this is after all a “free country.” Just as he is entitled to his religious-based opinion on homosexuality, the American people are entitled to not purchase A&E products or to not watch the A&E network.

3. The 2010 Video of Phil’s Remarks on Homosexuality

The third error the editor makes in this argument is providing the video of Phil preaching against homosexuality in a sermon. Duh. Of course he is going to do this. This is a religious-based belief that Phil and I am sure the rest of the congregation in that room on that day held. However, this is not merely the mistake in her argument. The main mistake is that she doesn’t put any blame on A&E’s involvement in the controversy.  All of the blame goes on Phil, and the blame is still being placed on him today by this editor.  The editor throws the video out there just to spark hate and anger toward Phil, but doesn’t exactly explain why this video matters.  I will tell you why it matters – it matters because this gives cause that A&E knew about Phil’s beliefs prior to putting Duck Dynasty on the air. Though the editor does not want to “buy into the argument” that I provide regarding A&E, I buy into it and this is my blog. So, here it goes. The A&E network and its executives knew Phil Robertson and the Robertson clan’s view on religion and The Bible. I am suggesting that A&E was not being honest with its viewers (along with others not watching the show) by terminating Phil’s contract at this point.  The network knew his views were no different from 2010 to now. It just seems odd that A&E would cave to the public turmoil now that Phil’s views are on paper, even though Phil’s views have been on video even before the airing of Duck Dynasty’s first episode.  Additionally, someone from the A&E network had to sign off on Phil’s involvement in GQ magazine. This person should be fired from his or her position – not Phil.

4. Fox News Target

The final error I want to discuss in the editor’s article is the targeted anger toward the Fox News network. By this point in her argument I am now fully aware that she is a liberal trying to spread her liberal agenda to the mass market. However, I am not buying it. Apparently this editor believes that Fox News “tells people how to act and what to say on their program, frequently even giving viewers the tools to register their own disapproval, like contact information and complaint lines to oppose the supposed War on Christmas.”  This poor girl is either clueless or brainwashed by the liberal mass media. She cannot see that EVERY news network (i.e., CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News included) pushes their political agenda on its viewers.  That is the reason why Republicans watch Fox News and Democrats watch CNN. Like I pointed out in my last argument, no one should fully take everything a media piece has to say with any merit – or at least without educating yourself and doing your own research. If someone would have done that with this editor’s piece (before edited), we would all think that the Second Amendment is about freedom of speech. This editor needs to start thinking for herself and not what CNN tells her to think.

 

I will leave you with this last line, which is actually my favorite line, from the editor’s piece:

“Look at me, I’m used to it! I know that when I write a post, people aren’t legally entitled to firebomb my house, but they are entitled to leave nasty comments completely misunderstanding the law.”

Though we are not legally entitled to firebomb your house, Ms. Editor, you have firebombed our minds into the next oblivion. Your lack of validation, education, extrapolation, and politication has definitely blown my mind. I only misunderstand the law because you have taught me to do so. Congratulations – YOU are making your readers stupid. Next time, stick to the gossip and leave the politics to the political bloggers, like myself. Now, go take a government class and firebomb your mind with knowledge.

 

 

To all of my readers, I will be writing every SUNDAY from now on about any hot topic issue that is in the news that week. Thanks for reading and I hope to hear from some of you soon.