Category: Rant

fedex dc10Whenever I’m asked to describe the political landscape of Northeastern Pennsylvania, I tell people to think of Turkmenistan. Think of a place where political corruption is so common, that its accepted by the people as the norm.

Local and County politicians are usually corrupt, and almost always incompetent. The judicial branch is not immune either, and sometimes judges work in partnership with the corrupt county politicians. The classic example is where a company built a private juvenile detention facility under no contract with the government. A corrupt judge ruled that the existing county run facility was unlivable, and surprise, they had a brand new private facility ready for the county to sign a long term contract. The county pays more per person on juvenile delinquents, than it costs to get a suite at the Waldorf.

Now some may ask, where is the media in this situation? Shouldn’t the media act as a watchdog? Northeastern Pennsylvania has one of the highest per capita newspaper readership rates in the county. Simply put, there are a lot of old people, and old people tend to read the newspaper. The Wilkes-Barre area is dominated by a paper called the “Times Leader,” which is run by a political hack named Richard Conner. Need some proof? Conner’s editorial on Sunday commended president Bush for showing “leadership and loyalty” by commuting Scooter Libby’s sentence. The local media, is very selective about what they report. They will put on a big show, and go really hard on some people, while often protecting others.

The state of Pennsylvania recently had a budget fiasco, which resulted in the shutdown of non-essential government services for a day, thanks to a political hack on the democratic side, Edward Rendell. When the budget was passed in Harrisburg it included money to “study” a proposed cargo airport in Hazleton. Some of the same corrupt players who brought you the juvenile detention center, are now pushing this cargo airport.

As a pilot, I love it when new airports are built, because it doesn’t happen that often. The number of airports in this country is dropping dramatically. However; in the case of the Hazleton cargo airport, I cannot approve of such a miscarriage of government.

The strategy for the cargo airport is taken right from the Field of Dreams play book. “If you build it, they will come.” The idea is that because of operating expenses and congestion outside the NYC metro area, we can use a boatload of government funds to build an airport for cargo planes setup by private developers, with no experience. Magically, after spending a billion+ dollars in public funds, with no major contracts before ground breaking, 747’s are going to start landing in Hazleton, bringing thousands of crappy low wage jobs to work the warehouses and move the cargo.

The cargo airport is simply a pipe dream. The developers don’t have any major carrier under contract, and the numbers floating around for the potential economic benefits are simply ludicrous. I don’t know how this story will end, but given the track record for Northeastern Pennsylvania state and county government, chances are that I will have a vacant 12,000ft runway to land on five years from now.

After careful analysis of the current candidates for president of the United States, I have decided to give my meager donation of $200 to Barak Obama. It quickly became a two horse race for me between McCain and Obama. Unfortunately for McCain, he seems to be a shell of the man who ran for the office in 2000. I certainly don’t agree with everything Obama has to say, but I agree with the majority of his stances on the big issues.

For me, Obama has polish, intelligence, sincerity, and above all, execution. Those qualities are sorely missing from our current president.

Unfortunately for Obama, I have a really poor track record when it comes to campaign donations.

  • 2000: $50 John McCain (Lost in the Primaries)
  • 2004: $100 Wesley Clark (Lost in the Primaries)

The world would be a much better place today, if John McCain was elected president in 2000. Hopefully Obama wins in 2008, it would be an improvement to see my candidate get out of the primary.

One thing I will declare now. If Hillary gets the democratic nod, I will vote for any Republican who opposes her. I don’t care if its Guiliani, McCain, or one of the ultra right wing nutjobs like Brownback. I dislike Hillary Clinton almost as much as I dislike George Bush Jr.

If anyone is interested, I will be attending the Obama event at the electric factory on the 22nd. It will be my first attendance at a political event.

Anytime the subject of new firearms regulations comes up, there is one debating strategy that always seems to bubble to the surface. Any regulation, no matter how small or sensible, is always railed against with the “People will do it anyway” defense.

Like my personal view that their should be a graduated level of training, and a basic psychological test in order to posess firearms. The typical person arguing against such an idea will say, “People will do it anyway.” If someone is determined enough, they will get weapons legally or illegally.

It is a completely accurate statement, but its not a logical argument against a sensible training program and a psych screen. I’ve seen this argument from both camps of the gun debate. The NRA camp uses the “people will do it anyway” logic to say that any gun regulation is useless. The anti-gun camp uses the “people will do it anyway” to push for full complete handgun and assault weapon ban.

The “People will do it anyway,” logic is completely flawed. It could be used against anything. Why have laws against rape, people will rape anyway? Murder, people will do it anyway!

Anytime the subject of new firearms regulations comes up, there is one debating strategy that always seems to bubble to the surface. Any regulation, no matter how small or sensible, is always railed against with the “People will do it anyway” defense.

Like my personal view that their should be a graduated level of training, and a basic psychological test in order to posess firearms. The typical person arguing against such an idea will say, “People will do it anyway.” If someone is determined enough, they will get weapons legally or illegally.

It is a completely accurate statement, but its not a logical argument against a sensible training program and a psych screen. I’ve seen this argument from both camps of the gun debate. The NRA camp uses the “people will do it anyway” logic to say that any gun regulation is useless. The anti-gun camp uses the “people will do it anyway” to push for full complete handgun and assault weapon ban.

The “People will do it anyway,” logic is completely flawed. It could be used against anything. Why have laws against rape, people will rape anyway? Murder, people will do it anyway!

The Shooting

I’m at loss for words after this latest school shooting, the only emotion that comes to mind is fear. Not a fear of getting shot by a crazed madman, a fear of what draconian measures will be implemented in the name of preventing school shootings.

I can see it now, metal detectors and video cameras at every building entrance on campuses around the country. I’m sure people will blame the usual suspects as well, probably guns and video games. I’m sure someone will tie stronger ID cards in to this tragedy as well. If this kid turns out to be a foreign student, this will be tied to immigration too.

While we can’t blame guns for this incident, I’m all in favor of stronger gun regulation. I believe people should go through a psych evaluation and a 1/2 day training course before being allowed to own a firearm.

There should be basic training to own basic guns, and more advanced training to own more advanced guns, such as assault weapons, handguns, all the way up to a training level that allows someone to carry a concealed weapon.

We should look at pilot licensing for inspiration. The FAA doesn’t let a student jump in to a Cessna alone without knowing the basics, and flying with an instructor many hours beforehand. That policy prevents the student from hurting himself and others. When a private pilot gets their license, they can’t just hop in the left seat of a Gulfstream, there are several levels of certification.

Obviously shooting a gun isn’t nearly as complex as flying a plane, but the effects of doing something stupid with guns is irreversible. Basic concepts such as safe gun storage need to be drilled in to people’s heads. Now the typical NRA member will say he has “been around guns all his life, and he knows how to own guns safely.” The problem is, whatever bad habits these people picked up from the parents, they are bound to repeat themselves.

Training doesn’t just give us better gun owners, it weeds out the idiots. As as result of the training and certification required to fly a plane, there is a much lesser amount of idiots flying planes, compared to say idiots driving cars. Sadly, gun ownership in the United States is much easier than getting a license to drive, so there are lots of idiot gun owners.

I’m sure someone reading this will say, but I have the right to bear arms, well the idea that the second amendment to the constitution gives people the right to own an arsenal of weapons is a fallacy. I say this as the proud owner of an assault weapon, and someone who enjoys sporting clays and target shooting.

Finally, lets put this event in perspective. An event like 30+ innocent people being killed at once for no good reason is a great tragedy. It happens in Iraq every other day. As much as we want to find someone or something to blame for this tragedy, maybe we should have the same resolve and shock when innocent Iraqis are blown away every day as the direct result of our president’s hubris.