Thursday, November 24, 2011

Why spend $300,000 for insurance if we can simply choose to never need it?

A couple of weeks ago the Guadalupe County Commissioners Court voted to spend $300,000 of taxpayer money wastefully. Guadalupe County hasn’t had a death penalty case in over 30 years yet they approved an inter-local agreement with Lubbock County to provide public defenders in death penalty cases, essentially an insurance policy.

Guadalupe County need never have a death penalty case as the District Attorney can simply choose to ask for life in prison without the possibility of parole and save the people of this county the $300,000 insurance premium.

Whatever you think about the justifiability of the death penalty you should remember two things. It costs about four times as much to execute someone as it does to put them in prison for life due to the appeals and other legal fees. There’s every reason to believe that not only did Texas kill an innocent man when Cameron Todd Willingham was executed by lethal injection but as we now know there was no crime committed at all because the fire that killed his children was accidental and not arson.

Guadalupe County should never have a death penalty case and if we don’t then we have no reason to spend $300,000 of the citizen’s money. Call your County Commissioner and Judge Mike Wiggins and tell them how you feel.

Stopping online piracy or stifling the internet, you decide.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) recently introduced of the Stop Online Piracy Act in the US House of Representatives. It sounds great, at least it does until you actually read some of the provisions in it.

 Without ever appearing before a judge or setting foot in a courtroom the owner of copyrighted material could shut down any website's online advertising programs and block access to credit card payments. The police can’t search your house without a warrant from a judge but a company can stop you from earning a living just by filing a document with the Clerk of Court.

Under this ridiculously broad bill, you can be found in violation if the core functionality of your site "enables or facilitates" infringement. Bye bye YouTube, so long Flickr and Shutterfly or any website that allows users to post text, photos or video. That means this newspaper’s website too my friends. Heck the entire internet enables or facilitates infringement.

Is this really the road we want to be on, do we really want just anyone to be able to shutdown nearly any website on a whim?

Failure of the Super-Committee is an opportunity

The Super-Committee has failed in its duty to find $1 trillion in budget cuts over the next decade but that doesn’t mean we don’t still need to make those cuts. Congressman Cuellar has been open to cutting many areas of the budget but not the Pentagon budget which is perhaps the most bloated of all. Did you know that we spend more on our military than the next 17 nations combined? That’s China, France, the UK, Germany, Russia and a dozen others. The U.S. spends 43% of all the money spent on the military in the entire world.

Now I’m not talking about cutting military healthcare budgets and raising co-pays on our military retirees as has been proposed by some, I’m talking about real cuts in our weapons budgets for things like the troubled V22 Osprey that has failed to meet design goals over and over again. I’m talking about closing half of the over 800 overseas military bases we staff. If we bring those troops home where they will spend their paychecks in American stores and restaurants employing American people who pay American taxes we get twice the bang for the buck.

Guadalupe County and Bexar County are the home of many active duty and retired members of our military as well as their families. If the Pentagon budget isn’t cut those who have given the most to our country will be forced to give more and that isn’t right.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bi-partishanship that's just nuts

In one of the most disgusting displays of bi-partisanship I’ve ever seen both Congressman Henry Cuellar and Senator John Cornyn are advocating for a balanced budget amendment. Both these highly educated gentlemen are lawyers and experienced legislators but obviously not economists.

Enshrining a balanced budget in our constitution would shackle our nation in times of disaster or war by preventing the federal government from spending on emergency needs without either immediately cutting spending elsewhere by the same amount thus cutting government services and putting government employees out of work or raising taxes precipitously to immediately offset that spending rather then spreading the payments out over time.

According to a blistering analysis of a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) by Macroeconomic Advisers, one of the nation’s preeminent private and non-partisan economic forecasting firms, if a constitutional balanced budget amendment had already been ratified and were now being enforced for fiscal year 2012, “the effect on the economy would be catastrophic,” Macroeconomic Advisers also concludes that under a balanced budget amendment, “recessions would be deeper and longer,” and uncertainty would be cast over the economy that could slow economic growth even in normal economic times.

In short Congressman Cuellar and Senator Cornyn should bone up on their economics before bring up this silly amendment ever again.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mitt Romney would have IUD users charged as murderers

When asked by Fox News whether he would have supported a "personhood" constitutional amendment, Mitt Romney replied, "Absolutely."

Now I realize that many readers are pro-life but this is by far the most radical stand of any of the Republican contenders. "Personhood" amendments are now being considered in states like Mississippi, Florida, and Ohio, and if passed would elevate a fertilized human egg to the status of a legal person. That means no more IUDs or the morning-after pill and if a woman used them she could be charged with murder. In-vitro fertilization would be illegal because is creates fertilized eggs that would have to be disposed of at some point. Abortions would be considered murder and there would be no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest and if a woman’s pregnancy endangers a her life doctors would have to just let her die.

Would a class action suit be filed on behalf of all those eggs in refrigeration at fertility clinics around the country to force their mothers to carry them to term? Would anyone disposing of those fertilized eggs be prosecuted for murder?

So we now have a leading contender for the Republican party’s presidential nomination on the record in favor of radically changing that status quo regarding fertility clinics and  classifying some forms of birth control as murder. Is Mitt Romney really the man you want to be next President of the United States?