I Have a Gripe

February 17, 2018

The Continued Gun Debate

Here we are again. Another horrible mass shooting. It kicks up all kinds of feelings; sadness, anger, confusion, and more. It also, brings up the gun debate to the front of the news headlines again. People debate and argue and try to come up with solutions. Some make sense. Some are extreme. I did a blog post about the gun debate back in 2016 after the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando. Like many, I’ve continued to think about this issue and I’d like to add a few more items to my original list.

  1. Armed guards at schools: Announcing to the world that places like schools are “gun free zones” just make them easy targets. Some think arming teachers might be a good idea. I have an even better one. Schools should hire retired police or military personnel as armed guards. These individuals have already received specialized training in how to handle active shooter situations. We use armed guards at banks, federal buildings, and even to protect celebrities. Our children deserve no less.
  2. Threat assessment team: Maybe this is already in place and the public isn’t aware, but there should be “threat assessment teams” at the state and federal levels that focus on just school threats. This requires knowledge sharing across multiple agencies at the local, state, and national levels. The FBI really botched this one, as someone did contact them about this nutcase and they didn’t follow up. That’s why I feel there needs to be a more formal process in place to specifically handle just threats to schools.
  3. Raise the age to purchase a firearm to 21: In New Jersey you need to be 21 to purchase cigarettes. Nationally, you need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. I think purchasing a firearm is a far more serious purchase than either of those items. The age to purchase any type of firearm should be raised nationally to 21.
  4. Education – for everyone: In my last blog post, I said in order to make a weapon purchase I feel someone should need to show proof of completion of a gun safety course. I also feel the public needs to understand exactly what the different types of weapons are in order to have an intelligent debate. For example, “AR” doesn’t stand for “assault rifle” or “automatic rifle.” It stands for the ArmaLite rifle, named after the company that developed the weapon. AR-15-style rifles may look like military rifles, such as the M-16, however, they function like other semi-automatic civilian firearms. A semi-automatic firearm means it fires only one round with each pull of the trigger. An assault rifle is fully automatic, meaning multiple rounds are fired with each pull of the trigger. Automatic firearms have been severely restricted from civilian ownership since 1934. If we are going to have an intelligent discussion about how to handle gun ownership in this country, we all need to understand the terminology, what is legally available, what is illegal, and then we can know where to begin.
  5. Go after “auto kit” sellers: I also mentioned this in my last blog post, but I want to repeat it. The individuals who create kits and directions to change a semi-auto weapon to a full-auto weapon should be prosecuted and loopholes in current laws should be closed.

I know there are people who would like to eliminate the second amendment. It isn’t going to happen. I’m not a gun owner, but I believe in the right to bear arms – responsibly. For example, the mother of the Sandy Hook shooter was NOT a responsible gun owner. She knew she had a child with a severe mental disorder. She did not keep her weapons secure. She encouraged his weapon use. In my opinion, that entire tragedy should fall squarely on her shoulders. If you have someone in your home that has a severe mental problem, maybe you shouldn’t own a weapon.

I am sure some will agree with me and there are others who will disagree with me. What’s important is that we finally come up with a serious plan. Otherwise, time will fade, people will move on. And then it will happen again. Don’t let it.

June 18, 2016

My Take on the Gun Debate

An Orlando club was attacked this week by another radical Islamic terrorist. He gunned down 49 patrons at a gay club before the police shot and killed him. It was a terrible tragedy that has brought the country together to grieve and pray for the victims and their families.

It has also kicked up the gun debate and what should be done to curb violent acts in this country. Everyone seems to have an opinion on what should be done and they vary widely. Well, of course I felt the need to add my two cents. Here is my solution for federal gun legislation.

  1. No fly, no buy: If someone is on the terror watch list (no fly list), then you shouldn’t be allowed to purchase a gun of any kind. If someone is on the no fly list and it is incorrect, they need to follow up with the FBI to resolve the issue.
  2. Required training: When applying for a permit to purchase a weapon, the applicant should be required to complete a safety course. Gun ownership is serious and should be treated as such.
  3. Safety lock with every weapon purchase: When a weapon is purchased, the purchaser also needs to buy an appropriate gun lock at the same time. Before they leave the store, the gun lock must be in place.
  4. Waiting period: Some people want to make a gun purchase out of fear or anger. Maybe they were attacked and are scared. Maybe they are angry and want revenge. Whatever the reason, there should be a three-day waiting period between the time that a purchase is made and when the weapon is picked up.
  5. Background check: This point goes hand-in-hand with my previous suggestion. During the three-day waiting period, the gun shop can complete a background check on the person. This gives them enough time to collect any necessary information to make an informed decision as to whether or not an individual should own a gun.
  6. Mental-health assessment: This is a touchy one. Everything else so far has been based on “hard data.” This definitely falls under “soft data.”  I would never want a government bureaucrat to make a decision about someone’s mental health and if they are able to understand the seriousness of owning a gun and how to properly store and use it. I believe there should be some kind of check as to mental competence, but it needs to be in line with HIPPA law and not further stigmatizing “mental illness.”
  7. Ban the sale of “auto” kits: Many Americans are not aware that it is already illegal to ar-15own an automatic (“full auto”) weapon. In 1934 Congress passed the National Firearms Act, making it illegal for Americans to manufacture fully automatic weapons for personal use. In 1986, it became illegal for civilians to own newly made machine guns. When the media shows a weapon, such as an AR-15, after one of these horrible events there is an insinuation that it is an automatic weapon. It isn’t. And I think it is inflammatory for the media to do so. What needs to be outlawed are kits that allow someone to make their weapon an automatic weapon.
  8. Knowledge sharing: Every time one of these horrific acts takes place, I always hear from at least one professional, “if I had seen xyz information from such-and-such organization (FBI, local police, etc.), I wouldn’t have sold him the gun.” There needs to be better sharing of information between businesses and the government.

Obviously this is just the beginning of a larger issue, but when it comes to complex issues with high-charged emotions, it is easy to muddy the waters. My suggestion to politicians has always the same: take big issues bit-by-bit. Don’t handle a huge issue all at once. Let your constituents see you working and gain their trust. As you continue to move forward, cooperation will continue as long as everyone checks their ego at the door. By taking a common-sense approach to big issues, we can start to move forward.

April 24, 2016

The Absurdity of Eminent Domain

I hate eminent domain.

There, I said it. In my opinion, eminent domain is the exact opposite of what this country means. Shockingly, this is part of the Fifth Amendment which gives the state of federal government or by delegation to third parties to take control of private property, who will devote it to public or civic use with “just” compensation. While Thomas Jefferson rejected its inclusion completely, James Madison included a compromise of the idea.

The concept of eminent domain is actually a “carry over” from Jolly old England. Eminent domain is a younger ancestor of English property law. As a result, Madison chose instead to require compensation explicitly, and he used the term public use rather than public purpose, interest, benefit, or some other term in an effort to establish a narrower and more objective requirement than such alternative terms might require (Jones 2000, 290). This is a very different approach from the original English concept.

Still, I think it is, to use a generally English term, bloody rubbish.

I understand the importance of sacrificing for “the greater good.” However, the concept that a government can take someone’s property just makes my blood boil.

This affects people – individuals who have no way to fight the government.

Years ago I saw a film “Greetings from Asbury Park,” highlighting Angie Hampilos’ fight to keep her home of 50 years safe from waterfront re-developer Asbury Partners. She should’ve been living out her final years enjoying her life tending to her garden. Instead she and her niece fought against her home being bulldozed. Due to health reasons, Mrs. Hampilos sold her  beloved home to the city of Asbury Park in 2014. She passed away in June of 2015. This is not how her life should’ve ended. She should’ve been able to live out her years in the home she loved and leave that house to her family.

Currently, residents of Clifton and Little Falls, New jersey are fighting against an expansion of Rt. 46. The Genardi Family is losing part of their yard and pool to eminent domain. These life-long residents of Clifton have invested thousands to improve their home. Now, the second phase of the highway improvement project includes plans for a 12-foot sound wall that will cut out 21 feet of their property line and run straight through the center of their pool.

According to the plans, about 1,900 square feet of yard will be taken from the property’s 7,800-square-foot lot.

An independent appraisal of homes on Normandy Road that are being affected determined that none of the property owners would experience enough “damage” following the project’s completion to warrant the purchase of the homes themselves. NJDOT officials confirmed the majority of the Genardi’s back yard was acquired in 2012 and that the homeowner was compensated $175,000 for land required for construction purposes.

Not enough “damage?” Really?

So living 11 feet from a sound wall isn’t damaging? Forget that they had no choice about losing their property. The property they have invested in and have been raising their children. Yes, they were “compensated,” but who will ever want to buy a house that close to a sound barrier? Given the choice, I am sure they would prefer to have their home in tact than offered money for part of their property.

The Great Notch Inn of Little Falls, NJ has been affected by this project as well. A Jersey landmark, the business has lost approximately one-third of its property under eminent domain.

Is this America?

How can people fight this level of government control?

There are organizations that support those in the eminent domain fight. But it will take a thorough understanding of the law and lots of support.

If you are fighting against eminent domain, God’s speed.

June 17, 2011

Christie and Sweeney: Shame on You Both

As Governor Christie and NJ State Senator Sweeney made a deal with the Devil, I submitted yet another letter to both of them. I wanted to share it with my readers…

June 16, 2011

In regards to: Subject: Teacher’s Pension & Health Benefit Legislation

Governor Chris Christie

State Senate President Sweeney


I have contacted your office via email and phone several times in the past to express my frustration regarding this constant assault on teachers and their pension and health benefits. I am writing again to voice my outrage.

I am the proud wife of a 24-year band director. He became a teacher for all the right reasons – to give back, to influence the lives of youngsters, and to share his love of music with others. He has successfully taught thousands of students not just how to play an instrument and appreciate music, but what it takes to be a good citizen and adult. It is also worth noting he is not one of those “80K a year teachers” you hear about on the news.

This constant barrage “on union leadership” as I often hear you say Governor, has certainly trickled down and has turned into an “us vs. them” argument. Many people already have a negative opinion of teachers. You have certainly added to that negativity. And for the record, I voted for you. I believed you when I thought you were going to make positive changes on the state’s school system. In my opinion, your changes are far from positive. You should really try reading the bully legislation you signed into law, because that is exactly what you have become.

Today, teachers are much more than teachers. They are counselors, pastors, and sadly, all too often, parents. Add to that list since Columbine, police, hostage negotiators, and body guards. When I was a child, I was told the three safest places I could be were home, school and church. Now, that is far from reality.

You want the best and brightest to be teachers in order to continue the high performance of New Jersey’s students. With your constant barrage, why would anyone want to become a teacher? Being a teacher is not the easy job many believe it is. The teachers I know spend a sizable amount of their own money on school supplies, endless hours preparing lessons, tutoring students and being active participants in their communities. This battle of yours has put neighbor against neighbor.

What I would like to see is the state government acknowledge that the reason the pension system is having financial trouble is because politicians have been using that system as their own personal piggy bank. That would be a good place to start. Next, I would like to see those politicians fix this without hurting those who had nothing to do with the problem being affected.

I would also like to know why there is such outrage about limiting healthcare options on the federal level through “Obamacare” by the GOP (my party, by the way), when you, Governor Christie, are trying to do the exact same thing to teachers? According to what I have read, there is even a limitation in the proposed legislation that you will limit the ability to seek medical treatment outside New Jersey. We live across the river from some of the finest medical institutions in the world and we wouldn’t be able to do whatever would be necessary if my husband or I was ill? I wonder how Senator Lautenberg would feel about that, given his insistence on going to New York for his cancer treatment.

I would like to know if either of you have ever gone to a school and watched first-hand what teachers do everyday. No cameras, no entourage, nothing. Just you, teachers and students. I would like to see you really understand what a teacher does on a day-to-day basis. My hope is that you would have more respect for what they do and change this from an assault to a conversation.

Shame on you both.

November 3, 2010

2010 Election Wrap-Up

Well, the 2010 elections are thankfully over. Robo calls will stop invading our homes and those ridiculous commercials will finally go away. However, before everyone starts to look at the 2012 election, I thought I would do a “wrap-up” of the elections that took place yesterday…of course in my own personal opinion.

The Good…
First off, I am thrilled that Nancy Pelosi will no longer be holding the gavel. I’m sorry, when I look in her eyes, you can just hear the Loony Tunes theme. She is seriously a few fries short of a happy meal. I think Ohio Rep. John Boehner will do a good job, as it is presumed he will be the Speaker of the House, but as I am sure all those who were elected last night, he needs to proceed with caution and know that all of America will be watching.

I am personally very pleased that my Representative, Rodney Frelinghuysen defeated his two opponents to claim a ninth consecutive term in the 11th Congressional District. While he is an incumbent, I believe he has done an admirable job representing his constituents. No matter who I have ever asked about his, regardless of party affiliation, they all say the same thing about Rep. Frelinghuysen; he works incredibly hard to represent his district and makes sure he says in touch with everyone who takes the time to write, call or email.

I can’t believe this had to even be a question on the ballot, but only in NJ. New Jersey voters approved a ballot measure to prohibit the state from diverting money from its unemployment-benefits fund, after governors and lawmakers took $4.6 billion from it between 1992 and 2006 to plug budget gaps. So basically, they are now forced to follow the law. Imagine that.

In the governor’s races, I would like to congratulate Rep. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, a Republican, who has become the state’s first female governor as well as Tea Party-backed South Carolina Republican, state Rep. Nikki Haley, who was elected to replace term-limited Republican Gov. Mark Sanford, also her state’s first female governor. I am also very pleased that Republican Jon Kasich, a former chairman of the House Budget Committee, defeated Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland. I think these are great choices for their respective states that will help begin to move their states forward.

I am also very happy to see that Marco Rubio won in Florida. In my opinion, he truly represents “the American dream.” He started from meager beginnings, the son of immigrants who fled Cuba. He never forgot his roots, which to me, is incredibly important. I would definitely keep an eye on this guy. He is bound to do great things for our country.

The Bad and the Ugly…

First off, I can’t believe Senator Reid from Nevada, Representative Rangel from Harlem and Rep. Barney Frank of the fourth district of Massachusetts  won back their seats. I have to tell you, if those districts and states continue to go down in a giant ball of flames, I have absolutely no sympathy for their constituency. They get what they deserve.

I really don’t see Jerry Brown doing a lot for California to help pull them out of the rut they are in. I hope I am wrong, but I am sadly, not very hopeful. I am equally disappointed that Barbara “Call me Senator” Boxer was re-elected. This woman is incredibly smug and way too liberal for my tastes.

Speaking of California, I have to say I am sorry they voted down Prop 19. Now, for the record, I am not this major pot-head some believe, but let’s face it, one of the real reasons marijuana is illegal is because William Randolph Hearst owned major forests and wanted to make sure they were used for paper manufacturing. For those who use pot, if it is taxed and controlled like a business, it would generate funds for California, which are definitely needed, and the marijuana would be of higher quality because it would be grown in a controlled manner, thus avoiding potential purity issues. I hope they give this another try in the future.

It is About “We the People…”

Ultimately, I hope those who were elected to office last night remember one thing; it is about “we the people,” and not “we the politicians.” I am reminded of a scene in an 80’s Goldie Hawn movie “Protocol.” We will be watching you all…like a hawk.

July 28, 2010

A Local Illegal Immigration Reminder

Filed under: Laws,Manipulation,Security — alvb1227 @ 12:34 am
Tags: ,

Unless the courts interfere in the new illegal immigration law in Arizona, their legal, tax-paying citizens will begin to take back their state. While many oppose this law, I would like to use a local real-world reminder as to what is at stake.

On Aug. 4, 2007, illegal immigrant and MS-13 gang member, Rodolfo Godinez, cut short the lives of three of Newark’s promising youth and sexually assaulted a fourth. Iofemi Hightower, 20, Dashon Harvey, 20, Terrance Aeriel, 18, and of Natasha Aerie, now 22 were simply hanging out in a school yard when this animal cut them down just as they began their adult lives. Godinez was sentenced to 245 years in prison earlier this year. These young individuals represented what Newark needs as Mayor Corey Booker and his team attempts to turn this city around. I weep for them and their families.

These young adults should have never been killed because Godinez should have never been in this country. Period. He is in this country illegally and certainly wasn’t trying to “just earn a living” as many who oppose Arizona’s law claim. He was here to cause mayhem and strike fear in those who are trying to live a decent life.

So I say NO MORE. I saw it is time for we legal, tax-paying, law-abiding American citizens take back our country. Are some illegals here trying to support their families? I am sure they are. However, there are many like Godinez that are just here to commit crimes and intimidate those in their communities. I call on the federal government to not put another family through the horror Godinez put his victims and their families through. If the feds don’t like the idea of individual states protecting themselves, then they should live up to one of the actual responsibilities they have and protect their citizens.

April 27, 2010

It isn’t an Immigrant Issue…It is an Illegal Immigrant Issue

So in the last few days, the Governor of Arizona signed a new law allowing the police to check on an individual’s immigration status based on suspicious behavior. This has sparked an uproar on both sides of the issue. Well, to steal a line from the President, “let me be perfectly clear” and say I completely agree with this law one hundred percent.

What people fail to realize is that this is not an immigration issue. This is an illegal immigration issue. It is the responsibility of the states and the nation to protect its legal citizens; first and foremost.  The fact that people such as illegals, the ACLU and others feel that we owe the same rights to these illegals as legal, taxpaying citizens I find completely unacceptable. I say absolutely not. Like many others, my family were made up of immigrants at one point and do you know what they did? They assimilated! They learned English, went to work, followed the laws of the land, became legal and worked to be a contributing part of the American society.

Some say this is racial profiling. Well, let’s think about this rationally. There are major issues with drugs, kidnappings, murders and so on coming over the border from Mexico into the United States. Well, I don’t see any Ukrainians coming through the Mexican border with pot strapped to their legs or killing ranchers coming over the border illegally. Who are they? Mexicans! That isn’t a profile, that’s a fact. Others say that because I am white I don’t understand what it is to be pulled over and questioned by police. Well, wrong again. I have been pulled over and questioned in the past for absolutely no reason. One time as recently as a few weeks ago. So, that holds no water with me either.

Still others ask about violating the civil rights of these illegals. I ask back what about my civil rights as an American citizen?

The fact that we are providing these individuals with medical care, jobs, education and so-on is highly offensive to me. I am a legal, law abiding tax payer and should not have to support these people on my dime. Especially considering the current fiscal state of this nation.

This issue has been going on for decades. I didn’t agree with President Reagan when he gave amnesty during his tenure as President, I didn’t agree with the lack of action during Presidents Clinton and Bush and I am certainly concerned with what our current President may do regarding this issue. He’s stayed out of it up until this point, do the country a favor and continue to stay out of it. Respect state’s rights for once and stay out of it President Obama.

I give kudos to Jan Brewer for having the guts to put this bill into law and take into the state’s hands an issue of national security the United States government has failed to handle.

February 25, 2010

My Health Care Summit Review

Well, my eye hasn’t stopped twitching yet, but I want to get this down while my thoughts were fresh. I spent a large portion of the day watching and listening to the health care summit and wanted to provide my two cents, since Washington had their say. Last I checked, it is our opinions that count much more than the opinions of those in Washington.

I believe some type of reform is needed. However, I disagree with the direction this process is taking. So, as I give my review of today’s proceeding, I am going to provide my suggestions on what I think should be done.

First off, I hate the term “entitlement.” No one is “entitled” to anything. You work for what you get. Is life fair? Absolutely not. There are people we all know that we think, “man, they’ve got it easy,” regardless of whatever situation they may have. However, in this life, you pretty much pay your own way. For someone to think they are entitled to something is offensive and ludicrous. Despite what many parents are teaching their kids, not everyone is a winner.

Do I want everyone to have access to health care? Definitely. Should I have to pay for it? Absolutely not.  If someone is in a low-income situation, then they should be able to purchase a health care plan on a sliding scale. If someone doesn’t have a vested interest, which yes includes a financial interest, then they have no incentive to take an active role in anything, including their health care.

I believe that people should be allowed to purchase health care on their own across state lines in an effort to foster competition. Just like I can purchase car insurance from anywhere, I should be able to buy health insurance from anywhere.

I believe in tort reform. Period. There are a lot of legitimate medical malpractice occurrences and those doctors should be punished and that individual should receive financial support to help with ongoing medical costs related to the medical mistake they suffered. However, there are a lot of frivolous lawsuits which cause doctors to order more tests to make sure they are completely covered. Perhaps a rotating board of doctors, private citizens, attorneys, and insurance representatives should review “questionable” or “borderline” lawsuits to see if they warrant moving forward. Maybe if a lawsuit that goes through the legal system that is ultimately considered frivolous, the attorney should be forced to pay all related court costs in an effort to make ambulance-chasing attorneys think twice before taking a case that isn’t warranted.

I have to say I didn’t like the tone most of the time. I found it to be contemptuous, disrespectful and at times downright rude. The exchange between the President and Senator McCain was shameful. I often wonder if the President honestly knows that he got the job and isn’t campaigning anymore. By the way, you should look at whomever is speaking with you. Don’t talk “at” or “over” each other just because you don’t like what is being said. These are things we are taught in kindergarten. Some of these lawmakers need to be reminded of these simple courtesies.

As different people spoke, many channels put up graphics about who they were, the state they represent and when they were elected. I saw dates like 1950, 1970 and so on. Why are these people still there? I really think there should be term limits in Congress, but that’s a post for another day.

I agree we need more primary care physicians. They should be the coordinator of one’s health care. Due to the amount of loans many young doctors graduate with, however, many choose to go into lucrative specialties. If the federal government wants to “throw money at the problem,” how about providing loan payback assistance for doctors who become primary care physicians and serve their local communities? By developing long-term relationships with their primary care doctors, ultimately people will be healthier because they won’t wait until a serious problem occurs to seek medical assistance.

I found something Congressman Rangel said very interesting. He said “for many of us, this will be our last year here.” I found this to be very telling. Are they worried about their constituents or their political future? As I sent email messages two my two Senators and Representative, we are all watching what they do, how they vote and there will be consequences for their actions if they do not do what we voted them in to office to do instead of what is politically expedient.

I did not care for the President’s closing remarks. Personally, I often find they way he speaks to be similar to the way a mother lectures a four-year-old. When he “put it in terms people can understand” and used a credit card analogy, I took that to mean he thinks the majority of Americans are too stupid to understand this issue. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I have found the American people to be extremely well informed on this issue, very articulate regarding what they oppose and why they oppose it and (unlike most of Congress) have actually read the proposed legislation and ask intelligent questions.

I truly hope this wasn’t just political theater and something useful will come of it. Unfortunately, my cynicism tells me this was another waste of time and the backroom deals will continue. We’ll just all have to continue to watch and see.

November 18, 2009

Welcome to My Snarky World

I believe everyone should use the common sense God gave them. Unfortunately, not everyone does. This blog will document my rants and raves of those who make me crazy.

To give you some background:

  • I am a fiscal conservative
  • I am a social moderate
  • You (unfortunately) can’t legislate to prevent stupidity
  • If you can’t talk on the phone and drive at the same time, using a hands-free headset really won’t help

Stay tune on my regular rants.

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