Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Did I Call It?

A few posts ago, I opined that Mitt Romney wasn't trying to hide any illegalities in refusing to release more than two years worth of tax returns.  I thought he was trying to hide the fact that he hadn't paid any taxes at all.  Well, according to Senator Harry Reid, an investor from inside Bain called up his office and told him that Mittens hadn't paid any taxes for a decade.  Now, I admit it.  Without any names, without a verifiable source, it's nothing but rumor.  But, it makes sense.  Reid also said that Romney couldn't be confirmed for a cabinet post because of his refusal to provide tax records for more than two years.

Monday, July 30, 2012

America's Ongoing War On the Poor

The city of Costa Mesa, California has banned bicycle parking on public property except at city provided bike racks.  As an example of just how few city owned bike racks there are, drum roll please, there are a grand total of 38 legal, approved spots in the city's 30 public parks.   As a cyclist, my first reaction on hearing this bit of insane news was that some bike hating city councilman was having his own against an imaginary spandex clad, two wheeled communist threat.  But, it's a bit more than that.  The ordinance has come out of Costa Mesa's Homeless Task Force.  It seems that many of the homeless have traded their shopping carts for old bikes; loaded down with all their possessions, more often pushed than ridden.  Why deal with poverty and homelessness when it's so much easier to harass the down and out.  With any luck, they'll head over the city line and become another town's  problem.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Boy and His Gun

Every so often, circumstances require us to ask a very simple question about our judicial system:  Is it about vengeance or is it about justice?

There is not doubt that James Holmes opened fire in a crowded movie theater, and that he did kill twelve people.  There is no doubt that he booby trapped his apartment to kill the first person to enter.  If our system is about vengeance, then why even the pretense of a trial.  Pass the necessary amendments, and take him out behind the building and put a bullet in his head.

If our system is about justice, however, then like it or not, we have to accept the possibility that he is not guilty by reason of insanity.  It is a long established concept in both English and American law that a person has to be sane to be responsible for his or her actions.  We know that Holmes has been under the care of a psychiatrist and that Dr. Lynne Fenton has done research on schizophrenia.  She has also been part of a team that analyzes students at the University of Colorado who might be a danger to others because of mental illness.  Dr. Fenton may have been off the mark in regard to Holmes, but that doesn't mean he wasn't insane.

I'm writing this because the chorus of those who say Holmes is trying to get away with murder by pretending to be crazy is getting louder.  And not just among law and order types on the right.  There are lots of liberals who are saying the same thing.  I admit my prejudice.  I believe Holmes is mentally incompetent.  I don't want him to walk free  with a  prescription and best wishes, although I also think that one day in the future that could and should happen.  What I want is a fair trail where his possible insanity is taken seriously.

But what about the families of the victims?  Shouldn't they have closure?  Shouldn't they feel the relief of knowing that the killer of their loved ones is punished?  No, they shouldn't.  The justice system should not be about the feelings of victims and their families.  The justice system should be about the arrival at an objective  truth, (Or at least as close as we can get.) followed by an appropriate action by the courts system.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Quick Note on Blogger Ads

Like a lot of people, I'm trying everything I can to make a little, much needed, extra money.  One of the ways I do that is by  allowing ads on my various blogs.  The way it works, Bloggger does data mining, picking out key words, and placing an advertisement that seems to go with an individual blog.  Because I write about how bad Mitt Romney and conservatives are, ads for Willard and conservative causes have a tendency to end up on The New Common Sense.  Let me make this crystal clear.  I DO NOT IN ANY WAY SUPPORT MITTENS OR ANY OTHER CONSERVATIVE CAUSE.   THE REPUGS WILL BE THE DESTRUCTION OF OUR NATION!  VOTE OBAMA, VOTE DEMOCRATIC, VOTE LIBERAL!

Please Sir, Some More Info With That Food

KABC, Channel 7, Los Angeles, is spearheading a food drive for the hungry.  Very admirable, and I'm glad they're doing it.  But, I'd be more impressed if they'd also do some stories on why there are people going without food in the richest nation on earth.  Perhaps because of the upward migration of national wealth?  Who says wealth redistribution is a bad thing?

Please Sir, Some More Info

Why won't Mitt Romney release more of his tax returns?  Irregularities, financial malfeasance, deductions for strange bizarre habits,  child support for fourteen illegitimate kids, that his real first name is Willard?  I think it's because one of the richer men in America had a number of years where he paid no taxes at all.  And I'll bet he did it legally.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

All Sports! All The Time!

"We are Penn State!"  I suspect the fans in Happy Valley won't be chanting that one for awhile.  Do I really need to write this?  Yes, I think child sexual abuse is wrong.  Yes, I think punishment is in order.  But a 60 million dollar fine paid to the NCAA?  Come on folks, get real.  In this day and age of budget cuts, big time college sports helps pay the bills. (My old home state has fallen under the evil influence of the Tea Party, so that money is needed now more than ever.)  A fine that large is about more than punishing the football program.  It's about shorter library hours, closed labs, staff cuts and tuition increases.  Tell the biology major that it's going to take an extra year to graduate because the NCAA wanted it's pound of flesh, and to get it, there aren't enough lab hours available anymore.  Oh, and by the way, that's another year of student loans.  Jerry Sandusky has gone to prison, and I suspect others will follow.  Penn State will be paying out even more millions in law suits for the foreseeable future. This should have all been left to the courts.   File this one under, doing something without thinking it through.

And they suck me back in.  With all this Lance Armstrong stuff, I swore I'd walk away from pro cycling.  Armstrong has been out of the pro ranks for almost a decade now, he's never tested positive, but the movers and shakers of cycling have decided to go back and destroy his legacy.  There's something about that sport that wants to self destruct.  I suspect it's because it's a professional sport run by an Olympics federation, and those are run by a bunch of silly old Europeans who don't understand why the French revolution happened.  Too, to return to a point I've made before.  Cycling has become a big time, worldwide sport because of television.  The TV people want hard climbs,. fast technical descents, and crash filled bunch sprints.  Really, it's making the sport worse.  The UCI wants the major teams in every major race, and the number of those races is increasing every year.  The sponsors want their corporate logos on the podium, the team owners are desperate to get those victories, and team managers are desperate to keep their jobs.  Basically, a system where it's almost impossible to survive without some help, but it's only the riders that take the blame.  To be honest, I don't even care if Lance Armstrong doped. More than likely every rider in the top twenty was on something. Yes, I swore to give up the sport, but then the Tour de France came along and I fell into line.  Oh well.

Is it just me?  Are there others out there who hope that the London branch of the occupy movement disrupts the Olympics?  For all the fine talk about pure sport the Olympics are a rich mans vanity event.  Only the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics has turned a profit.  If London ends up another money loser, it's the lower middle classes and the poor who will pay in the form of even more cuts in services.  Too, the land for all those bright and shiny new venues had to come from somewhere.  No rich people were harmed for the London Olympics.  No, it was the homes and businesses of the lower middle classes and poor that were sacrificed.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Just a bit of history.  Twenty years ago the tobacco lobby was considered to be so powerful as to be unassailable.  Tobacco companies marketed their products to children, they targeted minorities, women and college students as the next wave of smokers.  Tobacco company executives went to capitol hill, swore an oath, and then perjured themselves by saying that cigarettes were not addictive.  All with impunity.

After the Aurora theater massacre, we're now saying that the NRA and the gun lobby are so powerful that nothing can be done.  Republican senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin has said that the possession of large ammunition magazines  is a constitutionally protected right.  And within a week, we'll probably all be hearing the tired old mantras that guns don't kill people, people kill people, that the actions of a single disturbed individual has nothing to do with the dangers of unfettered gun ownership.

Meanwhile, many of us on the left are saying the sensitive thing; that we should not politicize this tragedy.  That the families of the dead, wounded and damaged should not be drawn into a political campaign on the whole gun control debate.

This is wrong.  We politicize issues that need addressed, and the lightly regulated, absolute right to own any type of weapon is an issue that needs to be hammered in the public forge.  As long as we show sensitivity for the dead of this horrific shooting, the shootings in Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, and others, the gun lobby and the NRA will rule the debate.  Their voices will not go challenged, and it will only be a matter of time before another crazy with a credit card and a deranged sense of self will buy an arsenal and gun down more people.

Twenty years ago big tobacco had it good.  But things change.  Joe Camel is gone, smoking in the workplace has disappeared from many states, and tobacco company execs consult with lawyers, fearing what they say may come back to haunt them.  It won't be easy, but gun lobbyists can be put on the defensive with enough pressure.  The first step should be a ban on large magazines.  A one hundred round clip isn't needed for hunting or self defense.  After that, a return to the full assault weapons ban.  But it won't happen if we are sensitive.  The twelve deaths in Aurora, Colorado should be the rallying cry for a new movement, no matter how cruel it may seem.