Monday, May 25, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
You know the kind of guy who does nothing but bad things and then wonders
why his life sucks? Well, that was me: every time something good happened to me,
something bad was always waitin' around the corner. Karma. That's when I
realized I had to change. So, I made a list of everything bad I've ever done,
and one by one I'm gonna make up for all my mistakes. I'm just tryin' to be a
better person. My name is Earl.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
The Department of Justice's FY 2010 budget, released today by the White House,
removes the restriction that limits access to federal crime gun trace data to
state and local police investigations of individual crimes. That restriction
prevents them from investigating the broader criminal networks that may be
behind those crimes. The new language would enable state and local law
enforcement to have full access to ATF's gun trace database to analyze gun
trafficking patterns. The White House budget leaves unchanged the Tiahrt
Amendment restrictions that prevent ATF from requiring gun dealers to conduct
inventory inspections to detect lost and stolen guns and a requirement that the
FBI destroy gun background check records within 24 hours. Both
restrictions inhibit law enforcement's ability to detect illegal straw purchases
and guns lost and stolen from gun stores - two of the major methods criminals
use to get guns, according to the ATF.
Obama had promised to repeal the Tiahrt amendment but this compromise seems to be the best he was able to accomplish this year. Striking down the full amendment would have brought the wrath of the NRA lobby down on congress and given fodder to those individuals who think Obama wants to restrict gun ownership. This deal allows him some movement on the issue with tacit approval from the NRA:
Christopher Cox, an NRA spokesman, stopped shy of endorsing the reform but did
not oppose it: “While we do not believe any change is necessary, we appreciate
the President’s decision to support law enforcement and not gun control
This small step allows local governments to begin identifying dealers who are selling a large number of guns that wind up in the hands of criminals. They can then investigate those dealers and determine why so many firearms bought by their clients wind up in the hands of crininals.
The mayors of Youngstown, Warren and other local cities should establish a regional investigative task force to use the trace data from the BATF database to determine where guns used in local crimes are coming from and investigate those firearms dealers. They could also determine if the guns are being imported from out of state or if local dealers are contributing to the violence which is threatening the area as well as seeing if the reverse is true; i.e. are we the source of guns used in crimes in other parts of the country?
There have been eight murders in Youngstown so far this year. Warren was rocked by the unconsionable murder of an 11 year old boy on April 13th. Yesterday afternoon someone shot at a house on Crandall Ave. and narrowly avoided killing a 12 year old boy who was sitting in a car parked outside. With summer around the corner and an upswing in violence sure to follow, local governments should agressively use this newly available trace data to see how guns are being trafficked and in where they are coming from.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
My basic premise is that the gun ownership debate is locked in this paradigm of "All guns should be banned" and "There shouldn't be any ownership laws". I think the common ground is allowing gun ownership to qualified individuals who can pass a criminal and mental health background check. This could be accomplished by:
- Restrictive laws mandating that anyone purchasing a firearm, even in a private sale, be subject to the background check requirement.
- Making the reporting of stolen guns to police by their owners a law.
- Allowing cities access to trace data so they can fiugure out which licensed firearms dealers are selling to strawman buyers. Remember, every gun starts its life as a legal gun.
My original post:
Are we safer? Not really. NRA members like to say things like, "criminals are deterred because they have to think if the house they are going to break into has an armed owner". The reality is that Americans have never owned so many guns and crime is still rampant.
Restrictive firearm laws help reduce crime but the NRA will never admit it. States like New York have gun crime because the guns are imported from states like West Virginia and Texas. Their ridiculous laws allow people to buy firearms without a background check from "gun enthusiats" at gun shows. If every state had the same restrictive laws guns less weapons would be available for criminals.
I have never, ever understood why the NRA doesn't help clean up the image of gun owners by supporting common sense laws that would allow the sale of guns to qualified owners but make it incredibly hard for criminals to buy one. This whole "They want your guns" mentality is why so many weapons are available for unqualified owners and criminals to misuse every year.
A reply from Rick Bin:
Cite some research Mike. Cite some hard data. Anybody can OPINE based on
pie-in-the-sky. How about some DATA about how gun ownership in society affects
Anybody can make up anecdotal data and extrapolate and make claims like that you make regarding New York. For every instance you can show, I can rebut you with two similarly constructed.
For instance: Tell me why Washington DC, with the tightest gun control restrictions in America, has the highest murder rate, and has seen a marked increase in criminal violence corresponding with each and every significant piece of anti-gun
Nobody could look at Washington DC's numbers with an objective eye and fail to see a distinct correlation between anti-gun legislation and an increase in violence.
Oh yeah, those pesky FACTS again. Always getting in the way of otherwise perfectly good opinions and arguments.
The data says you're wrong. That's reality. Your accepting it or not doesn't make it more or less true.
Owner and President
And the reply that wouldn't post:
My opinion was informed by the recent report conducted by the group "Mayors Against Illegal Guns". They used the most recent trace data available from the BATF to study where the guns originated from in areas plagued by crime where gun ownership laws are restrictive. The results proved that while gun crime is high in places like new York City and Washington DC, the guns used in the commission of those crimes were imported from states that had less restrictive laws governing the purchase of firearms.
To set the record very clear, I have no problem with gun ownership and I believe the LA riots and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina both prove why citizens should have the right to own firearms. However, I think the sheer number of weapons currently in the hands of criminals demonstrates that more restrictive purchasing laws are
I've sold guns so I know whereof I speak. Absolutely no one should be allowed to purchase or own a firearm without passing the mandatory background check that is conducted when purchasing from a dealer. Enthusiasts at gun shows and private purchases allow guns to go to people who would fail the check. Crooked dealers who sell to strawman purchasers could have their licenses revoked if the Tiahrt amendment allowed mayors to see trace data.
Yes, the laws we have now are ineffective but they are not the only option. I think the NRA is failing its membership by endorsing less restrictive laws and the continuation of the Tiahrt amendment. On my blog I have maps detailing the murders committed in Youngstown, OH and the vast majority involve firearms in the hands of someone who possesses them illegally.
Every person who can pass a background check and wants to own a gun should and
those who can't should find it as difficult as possible to do so.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Federal regulators filed suits Thursday against several companies they say are
behind a national wave of spam "robo-calls" that warn people their auto
warranties are expiring and offer new service plans.
I guess all of the complaints to the FTC were actually worth the time it took to fill out the form. They've identified two companies who have been making these recorded calls and plan on taking them to court over it.
The FTC named Voice Touch Inc. and Transcontinental Warranty Inc. in the
suits. It is seeking injunctions forcing them to return allegedly ill-gotten
Oh, I hope they drain these scam artists dry. I can only imagine how many people have been inconvenienced because of these calls and how many have been suckered into giving these frauds money. It warms the cockles of my heart to see these people dragged into the light and identified after they hid behind their annoying number spoofing for so long.
"I'm not sure which is worse, the abusive telemarketing tactics of these
companies, or the way they try to deceive people once they get them on the
phone," Leibowitz said. "Either way, we intend to shut them down."
It took some heavy sleuthing to determine what companies were responsible since they made "extraordinary" efforts to conceal their identities by masking their true
phone numbers, he said.
If a consumer received such a call about his car warranty, "there's a very real chance that these guys did it," Leibowitz told reporters in a conference call.
Representatives from Voice Touch and Transcontinental Warranty were not immediately available to comment Thursday afternoon.
Oh, I'll bet they had no comment. The very thought of having to pay back a bunch of money probably has them quaking in their boots right now.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
The Republican National Committee wants to brand the Democratic party as "Democrat Socialists".
No, really! I know!
The out of touch, out of ideas center of the party is running the asylum and they have decided that the best way to control the discussion is to call the other side names. Great idea. I can only imagine that the DNC will respond with an equally immature "sticks and stones" refrain, if they respond at all.
I say, if they are going to call us that, we should wear the name loud and proud. Rust Belt Pop now has a full line of products that lets you do just that. Click the link, buy a shirt and make a statement.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
So anyway, now that I am the proud winner of tens of millions of Great Britain Pounds I will be using my fortune to open up a ranch that breeds unicorns. I understand there is a great demand for these animals at children's birthday parties. Don't you worry though, I won't forget where I came from. I'll do my part for the economy and put some people to work as unicorn wranglers.
Now, where can I get a decent exchange rate?
Saturday, May 09, 2009
Thanks to Trippedbreaker for doing a ton of research and providing the link.
Friday, May 08, 2009
Then, suddenly, the Vindy editorial board lost their minds and entered the conversation, defending their decision to cover the story and the content of the article. Mark Sweetwood, the Managing Editor, jumped in after only four comments to address individual comments, including one poster's confusion over the identities of Drew and Scott Peterson.
The badgering continued for another 14 or so posts when Regional Editor Tom Wills joined the fray, providing a well thought out but completely unnecessary defense of the article. Unfortunately he finished it off with a sarcastic shot at the posters, aksing them if they were "eating it up" even as they complained about the story.
There is an old saying that you shouldn't get into a war of words with someone who buys ink by the barrel. That same line of thinking could lead one to say that one shouldn't get into a war of words with a dozen people who have nothing else to do but comment on a message board.
By responding to this criticism the editors accomplished nothing more than giving posters a legitimate target (the editorial staff) and let them know that if they push hard enough they will get under the skin of Vindy staffers. It's disingenuous for The Vindicator to provide an unmoderated forum that invites raucous behavior and then step in when their feelings are hurt. They have spent years cultivating this environment, only recently forcing posters to register and sign in. If you give people a forum, controversial topics and little accountability, you better have a thick skin and the ability to turn the other cheek.
Anyone who has strayed from the relative safety of the story comments and ventured into the heart of darkness that is the Vindy forums knows how bad things can get. The comments under this story were mild compared to what is written there. The editors have to let it roll off their back or shut down the comments.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
There is an update on the complaint front. Ohio's attorney general sent me a form letter response thanking me for the information. I wonder if he or the FTC is actually investigating these people? After all, they are burning up lots of cell phone minnutes with these calls. I really hope someone is fined when this is all said and done.
Monday, May 04, 2009
Unlce Mike lives on the East Coast, builds railroads and is retired from a long and storied radio career.
Built in the attic of the home's owner, Anton Wilson, this "environmental kinetic sculpture uses O gauge model trains as the motion medium." You may ask what makes the average basement set up a model railroad and what makes this a kinetic sculpture? I think it's the size, scope and commitment to detail. Mr. Wilson gave up a sizable finished attic, complete with full bathroom, for this project.
There are six bridges, all combining engineering with art. I can't decide if the Arch Suspension bridge is my favorite or if the Copper Arch Bridge grabs that honor. One thing is for sure, the infrastructure here is much more sound than what you drove over on the way to work today.
Nature is also well represented. Look at the detail in the red rocks of the canyon walls. There are countless hours of work involved to sculpt those shapes and paint them so accurately.
I have to tell you, I thought retirement was a time to relax but Uncle Mike has proven me wrong. This is what 80 year old Jersey guys do when they are done clocking in at the radio station.
There are a bunch of photos and videos on the site so click on over and take a look.
Sunday, May 03, 2009
No, maybe it was more of a dream. I mean, I was asleep, so does that make it a dream or does the content of the episode make it a vision?
Anyway, the message was to pack up the car and head west to Nebraska; to a little town known as Hemingford Home. The purveyor of this message, an elderly black woman named Mother Annabelle..No wait, Annabelle isn't quite right. Abigail? Yeah, that's who it was. Mother Abigail said, "Child, you got to prepare for the hard times. You've got to get yourself here before the sickness falls upon everyone."
Then a night later I had this nightmare that woke me up in a cold sweat. A long, lean fella was traveling the highways on foot, a walkin' dude, if you will, kicking up dirt and gravel on the shoulder with leather work boots. Their worn down heels bore witness to how many miles he'd covered on foot. His voice was icy and tho' he was miles distant I could hear him clear as day. "Son," he said, "perhaps you should sit this whole thing out. Just stay there in Ohio until this whole sickness thing blows over. Or, if you think you can hang, come on out to Vegas and we'll see if we can put you to work. Your choice, of course, but I'd stear clear of Nebraska and Denver if I were you."
And then I realized that maybe I'd become just a little too conditioned to seeing folks walking around wearing surgical masks as if they were the latest fashion accessory. Perhaps, in fact, I had seen too many interviews with Dr. Sanjay Gupta and other experts giving their opinion of the flu and it's potential effects. All this press coverage combined with a lifetime of reading post-apocalyptic fiction could really make a guy squirrely in a 24 hour news cycle.
I've decided to lay down with the TV off and finish a very nice Teddy Roosevelt biography I've been trying to get through for the past month. There's no swine flu in there, only TR busting trusts and hunting animals on safari. Hopefully tonight's dreams are no more exciting than riding up San Juan Hill or ranching in the Dakotas.
Friday, May 01, 2009
Today's call came from (303) 749-9642 which is out of service if you try to call it back. So I guess the freaks are using some kind of phone number spoofing service to fake the number being displayed on my caller ID. A quick Google search shows no shortage of idiot companies offering this service.
I was a good little citizen and filed my complaint with the FTC but they haven't followed up with me. I have to assume the criminals behind this scam are taking the risk and wasting their time because people are still dumb enough to give their credit card numbers to toal strangers over the phone, so if you know anyone doing that, tell them to cut it out.
At least some state's attorney's general are investigating. Here's an article from last November detailing who cis following up and listing the fines some have paid. Maybe Ohio's AG should get into this.
ETA: I have filed a complaint with the Ohio AG's office.
Edited one more time (5/5/09): Now I'm receiving calls from some security outfit that follows this same format. They called my cell phone with a recorded message wanting to set up an in-home appointment for a security system. The call was from (404) 335-7147.