Will Jan Brewer Sign Anti-Gay Bill and More

2dfd2d44-b56f-4bf8-977e-30d42e36470e-460x276A good article in The Guardian on Arizona’s anti-gay bill that’s up for signature or veto by Republican Gov. Jan Brewer. It also includes information on the battles between gays and conservatives across the nation.

Read Here.

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Highlights of Fortune’s Fast and Furious Detailed Report

Fortune Magazine published its very in-depth report on the Fast and Furious scandal and the details put a very different complexion on the program and how it has been played out in the media.  The article is long and deserves the time of anyone interested in the debate but there are some noteworthy things that certainly should be brought to the attention of all.

The first factor that should be addressed about this debate is the political party attacking the Obama administration at the moment over this program is the same party that would be attacking the administration if they had taken a different strategy on guns and began calling for stricter laws or taking guns away from any law-abiding citizen.  This is, in reality, one of the only other ways to attack this problem and if that path had been chosen, the NRA would have posited a war had begun on guns and everyone was going to lose their weapons no matter who they were.  The author sums this point up nicely:

But the ultimate irony is this: Republicans who support the National Rifle Association and its attempts to weaken gun laws are lambasting ATF agents for not seizing enough weapons—ones that, in this case, prosecutors deemed to be legal.

So a choice was made considering the environment the ATF had to deal with, part of which is, in Arizona:

Customers can legally buy as many weapons as they want in Arizona as long as they’re 18 or older and pass a criminal background check. There are no waiting periods and no need for permits, and buyers are allowed to resell the guns.

So first off, anyone can buy as many weapons as they have the funds for and then legally resell them with no repercussions.  Clearly, if you are law enforcement trying to stop guns from getting into the hands of the drug cartels of Mexico, this is a colossal problem.  And asking the federal government, with lawmakers so loyal to the NRA and ardent fighters for no restrictions on weapons purchases, to change the law is out of the question.

Another important point is the misconception of how big this program was and how the people at the top of the government should have known better.  We love to believe every one of these types of decisions could be tracked straight back to a certain politician’s signature or comments but clearly that is not the situation here.  The reality of the operation in Arizona:

They were seven agents pursuing more than a dozen cases, of which Fast and Furious was just one.

The key problem pointed out in this article was not the ATF or necessarily their tactics but the wall these agents hit when they tried to go up the food chain of law enforcement to prosecute.  They had plenty of evidence but were blocked because of the reaction attorney’s had toward the lax gun laws in Arizona.

“[P]urchasing multiple long guns in Arizona is lawful,” Patrick Cunningham, the U.S. Attorney’s then–criminal chief in Arizona would later write. “Transferring them to another is lawful and even sale or barter of the guns to another is lawful unless the United States can prove by clear and convincing evidence that the firearm is intended to be used to commit a crime.”

Good luck with that.  I’m pretty sure simply stating “I didn’t know what the guy I sold the guns to was going to do with them” will get anyone off from any charges.  Any gun store owner can make the same claim.  I typically stay away from using single examples to draw a picture of a problem or solution but one given in this article is worth noting to show how tough it was for the ATF to go about prosecuting this gun trade:

After examining one suspect’s garbage, agents learned he was on food stamps yet had plunked down more than $300,000 for 476 firearms in six months. Voth asked if the ATF could arrest him for fraudulently accepting public assistance when he was spending such huge sums. Prosecutor Hurley said no.

The picture that the media has painted surrounding the Fast and Furious scandal is certainly not the reality of the situation.  There are some aspects of this debate we will just have to accept.  Was the result of this program awful?  Certainly.  Was it the fault of the ATF for not prosecuting the people they were tracking?  Doesn’t appear to be true.  Is this program and the problems associated with it more an effect of little to no gun laws and prosecutors unwilling to bring those cases because of the repercussions?  Absolutely.

More information regarding this situation will slowly make its way out with time but one thing is for sure now: this scandal has been much more political than what it seems and has been driven against a Democratic administration by an alleged “liberal” media.  I fail to see why such a friendly media would do that to a supposed friend and, of course, this politically driven scandal over Fast and Furious ignores the bigger story of this whole situation.

Dear Arizona Birthers, Do Something Constructive With Your Time

Some stories, no matter how ridiculous and pointless they are, just won’t die.  Arizona’s Secretary of State, Ken Bennett (R), wants to see President Obama’s birth certificate…again.  And if he doesn’t see it, the incumbent president’s name will not be on the ballot in Arizona when the November election rolls around.  (Obama lost the state in 2008 to Arizona Sen. McCain but it could be in play this election, which would be a great reason for a Republican Secretary of State to try to keep the Democrat off the ballot.)

When Obama released his birth certificate last year just days before ordering the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, the message should have been clear to all.  Here is what doesn’t really matter and is a non-issue (the birther conspiracy) and here is what does matter (finding the most wanted man on the planet.)  And yet it persists.

What is the goal of continuing to chase such an insignificant pipe dream?  I mean really, is anyone who is pushing this going to look back in twenty years and think to themselves: “I know I completely ignored what the financial institutions and lack of regulation did to the country and never pushed my elected officials to punish the people responsible for the economic crash.  But I sure am glad I took a bunch of time out of my life and pushed an irrelevant issue into the media even after being shown the conspiracy was never true.  Life well done.”

The most humorous and truly sad part of the article on USA Today’s site are the quotes from the Arizona official first admitting, “I have been on the record since 2009 that I believe the president was born in Hawaii. I am not a birther.”  Fantastic.  You are distancing yourself from a lunatic theory and seem like a rational person.

But this was not to be.  Same Arizona Secretary of State later in the article, “he believes ‘the president was born in Hawaii — at least I hope he was’ and stated he was ‘not playing to the birthers’.”  I believe this is where we would insert one of those facepalm motivational posters.  Actually sir, you are playing to birthers when you include the ‘at least I hope he was’ on your statement.  You leave some shadow of doubt for reasons I can’t understand if you truly think Obama was born in Hawaii and I’m pretty sure that was intentional to play to your lunatic base.  Nicely done.

In fact, even using the word ‘believe’ in your statement leaves something to be desired as well since it suggests a chance for doubt.  If you really want to distant yourself from the conspiracy nuts, then say you are sure the president was born in Hawaii and you are not going feed the delusions of deranged people by wasting tax payers dollars on chasing lies.

The Danger of Sheriff Joe Arpaio

We learned yesterday the controversial Arizona sheriff, Joe Arpaio, used his snubbing of the federal government as a prop in his comic routine in order to get a laugh and delight his enthralled listeners.  I’ll bet Carrot Top never thought of that one.

Clearly, the sheriff is a person who has very little appreciation for American history and is unaware of the danger of his actions.  Arpaio has done plenty to garner the wrath of people scolding him for his ways, particularly toward immigration, but this could be one of his worst actions.  A state government employee thumbing his nose at the federal government and saying he is above them is a bit reminiscent of governors during the Civil Rights Era saying they would continue to enforce segregationist policies regardless of the orders handed down from Washington.  (Amazing how racism continues to be the reason for this type of situation.)

A state government employee trying to stand up to the federal government is not an oddity and has been used often to gain a political point.  In my home state, Governor Steve Beshear (D) has often spoken out against the EPA in the interest of the well funded coal industry (ignoring the interest of the environment and the people who live in it, also know as his constituents).  It happens but is usually done in a way that appears to be reasoned debate with a knowledge of which entity still overrides the other when the smoke clears.

That, however, is not what Arpaio is doing.  He is ridiculing and doing it in a way that seems to suggest state employees should do as they please regardless of what the federal government says.  This is where the sheriff needs a history lesson because we’ve been there before.  It was called the Articles of Confederation, the original form of government taken in the United States prior to the writing of the Constitution.  It lasted eight years, was clearly failing, and was replaced with a stronger federal government by the Founding Fathers.  Even those great thinkers knew states running themselves with little to no oversight by a central government would never last and would be a disaster in the long run.

Arpaio making a joke about this relationship to the cheers of a crowd of Americans is disturbing.  That type of discourse plants the seed of the federal government coming in second to each states’ wishes which makes more people want to push legislation that breaks the hold of the federal government on the states.  This simply gets us one step closer to what the Founding Fathers themselves knew wouldn’t work.  In this case, it is clearly the sheriff who is not seeing the forest for the trees.

If Arpaio was a true patriot, he would respectfully disagree with the federal government, not ridicule it.  And since he is a state government employee, his ridicule shows just how unpatriotic the man truly is.