Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, January 19, 2013

MVNews this week:  Page 15



 Mountain Views News Saturday, January 19, 2013 

HOWARD Hays As I See It


GREG Welborn

“The problem with Republicans is - they just can’t handle money.”

 - Former Gov. Howard Dean (D-VT)

 I’m always up for a challenge, and when I read in Greg’s column, “This president, 
and no other before him, has spent more money that he didn’t have - $3 trillion over 
the last three years . . . “, the “no other before him” part piqued my interest. I figured 
there were only 43 presidents before him (Grover Cleveland counted twice - as the 
only president to have served non-consecutive terms), so going back to determine 
whether the statement was true couldn’t be that hard. (Grover Cleveland was also 
the only president to be married in the White House, and his daughter inspired the 
naming of the candy bar “Baby Ruth” – the type of information more often found in 
Rich’s column.)

 Turns out I didn’t have to go farther back than George W. Bush. I also went back to a New York 
Times column from last year by Bruce Bartlett, historian and economist who served on the staffs of 
former Reps. Ron Paul (R-TX) and Jack Kemp (R-NY), as a policy advisor to President Reagan and in 
the Treasury Dept. under President George H.W. Bush.

 Bartlett cites a Congressional Budget Office report from 2001, the beginning of the Bush 
presidency, which projected total budget surpluses of $3.5 trillion through 2008 if policies set under 
President Clinton were maintained. Those policies included the 1993 tax increases which failed to 
garner a single Republican vote (Vice President Al Gore cast the deciding vote in the Senate), which 
Republicans warned would wreck the economy, but which instead led to over 4% annual growth, the 
longest economic expansion in our history, and a $236 billion budget surplus for his successor to start 
off with.

 Policies under President Clinton also included “paygo” (pay-as-you-go), which mandated that 
spending increases be matched with tax increases, and tax cuts with spending cuts.

 Candidate Bush used projected surpluses as a reason to cut taxes. Then, when the economy slowed, 
that was a reason to cut taxes. Whatever the situation, it was a reason to cut taxes. Republicans did 
away with paygo in 2002, and that $3.5 trillion projected surplus for 2008 became a deficit of $5.5 

 The C.B.O., according to Bartlett, blames those tax cuts for adding $1.6 trillion to the national debt 
under President Bush, and $375 billion more in the first two years of the Obama Administration. 
There were also legislated increases of $2.74 trillion in spending under President Bush, including $121 
billion for the Medicare Part D program, which explicitly bars the U.S. Government from negotiating 
with drug companies for lower prices (as the Veterans Administration does). Medicare Part D added 
another $150 billion to the debt in the first two years under President Obama.

 Bartlett cites the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ $795 billion figure for the cost of the 
wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through 2008, along with an additional $488 billion from 2009 through 
2011 under President Obama – who has ended one of those wars and is winding down the other.

 All told, Bartlett takes the Bush tax cuts and slower-than-expected growth to come up with a $6.1 
trillion decrease in revenue, and combines that with $5.6 trillion in spending increases to show a net 
loss of $11.7 trillion from the Bush years. 

 In comparison, budget agreements worked out between President Obama and Congress in 2011 
provide for $1.5 trillion in spending cuts over the next ten years. Another $930 billion in cuts was 
added in the “fiscal cliff” talks last month, bringing total spending cuts to $2.4 trillion. When 
combined with the $1.3 trillion in additional tax revenue agreed to as part of the deal, this makes for 
a net gain of $3.7 trillion. Plus, there’s the $500 billion estimated savings in interest payments as the 
debt goes down – bringing the figure up to $4.2 trillion.

 That $4.2 trillion in gains doesn’t take care of the $11.7 trillion in losses suffered under President 
Bush – but it’s a good start, and that red ink should disappear faster as the economy continues its 
steady recovery; a recovery uninterrupted since the president’s Recovery and Reinvestment Act took 
hold in January of 2010. 

 A big “if”, though, is the $500 billion in interest savings. There’s serious concern over how interest 
rates might be affected should those wacky tea-baggers continue playing games with the full faith 
and credit of the United States by threatening our ability to pay our debts. International corporate 
and financial interests, though, the masters of the Republican Party, understand the havoc this could 
inflict on not just our, but the world economy. It’s assumed the grown-ups will eventually step in and 
take control – assuming the grown-ups can still control the Republican Party.

 One more thing from Greg’s column: he criticizes President Obama’s reluctance to enthusiastically 
embrace House Speaker John Boehner’s “good faith” offer to “close loop holes and phase out 
deductions”. Speaker Boehner’s offer was basically in two parts. I think the president was fine with 
the “close loop holes and phase out deductions” part; it was the “But I’m not going to tell you which 
ones I have in mind” part he had problems with.

 Greg mentions “the difference between political success and moral clarity” as if the two were 
mutually exclusive. For the latter, President Obama has been clear that the nation’s problems must be 
addressed with serious commitment, concrete proposals and refusal to play games with our economy. 
And, there has been political success in that approach. According to a recent Pew survey, President 
Obama received 48% approval for his handling of the “fiscal cliff” negotiations last month, while the 
Republican leadership got 18%.

 For those who can’t accept that fact or that Republicans “can’t handle money”, I wish I could respond 
with the voice of Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men”: “You can’t handle the truth!” 

For those who saw it, there is wide agreement that Ben Shapiro calling out 
Piers Morgan for “dancing on the graves” of the dead children from the Sandy 
Hook killings was both necessary and affective. Sadly, it seems a similar 
message is needed at The White House.

President Obama’s press conference this week – following Joe Biden’s hastily 
called and even more hastily conducted gun violence task force was a farce. 
The form and substance of the speech and the executive orders announced 
were manipulative, egregiously wrong and beneath the stature of a man of 
intelligence – and yes, I firmly believe President Obama to be a very intelligent 

The President’s argument rested on two primary assertions which have no 
factual basis or even philosophical merit. First was his claim of facing an 
epidemic and that the number of gun deaths is rising. He cited 900 gun deaths in just the last month 
since Sandy Hook. This is nonsense bordering on pathological falsehood. The President, being a 
smart guy, knows that the incidence of gun deaths has been decreasing over the long term as the 
incidence of gun ownership has been increasing. He knows that just in his first term in office (4 
measly years) gun deaths have decreased. He also knows – as cited by Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, Criminal 
Prosecutor for Washington D.C. – murder rates have come down dramatically in D.C. since the 
Supreme Court overturned the gun ban in that city and the ownership of guns has increased. The 
President also knows that of the 900 gun deaths he cited, roughly 500 of them were suicides. I doubt 
that taking away a gun would have prevented these poor souls from taking their own lives in some 
other fashion. 

The President knows that more guns in the hands of law abiding citizens means less crime, and 
specifically fewer gun deaths!! This statistic has been documented beyond debate. 

The President’s second assertion was that conservatives have once again stood in the way of science 
and progress by “de-funding scientific or medical research into the causes of gun violence.” This, 
too, is empty and devoid of any connection to the truth. As Michael Medved has pointed out in 
conducting research for his own book, he found no fewer than 1,000 scientific studies on the causes 
of gun violence. The conclusions were amazingly uniform in drawing connections between the 
glorification of violence in movies and video games to the incidence of violence from those who are 
mentally unstable. There is no group of conservatives standing in the way of science and research.

All of which begs the question, why does a smart guy use the bully pulpit, at a time when we should 
still be mourning the loss of such innocent lives, and tell us what he knows to not be true? Pure 
politics is the inescapable conclusion. Elevating a problem which doesn’t exist helps to deflect and 
mask media coverage of a national epidemic which does exist: out-of-control government spending. 
If left unchecked, the deficits this president is incurring will hurt millions of Americans. Jobs will be 
lost, saving accounts plundered, and living standards lowered if we don’t control our spending and 
entitlement commitments.

I’ve reserved the best (or worst, depending on your perspective) for last. This week, we were also 
treated to an emotionally laden You Tube video from A-List Hollywood celebrities demanding a 
plan from President Obama to end gun violence. Jamie Foxx pleads to the camera that there be “No 
more lists!…we can do better than this! It’s time for our leaders to act.” He does this while his violent 
movie, Django Unchained, takes the #2 spot for gross movie revenues. Similarly, Jennifer Anniston, 
Cameron Diaz, and Chris Rock ask “for the children of Sandy Hook, we demand a plan!” Each and 
every one of them fresh off a movie release in which they use weapons or glorify violence. Chris Rock 
was especially hypocritical given his recent interview in which he expressed how “cool” it was to be 
in a movie where he gets “to kill all the white people”. Of course, we can also point to the hypocrisy 
inherent in the Motion Picture Academy’s Oscar nominations, in which a majority of best picture 
nominees feature scenes of graphic violence.

President Obama seeks political gain, and he’s not above using kids like Grant Fritz, Julia Stokes, 
Hinna Zeha, and Taejah Goode to make his point. Hollywood seeks money - $34 billion dollar from 
the home entertainment industry – and isn’t above compromising the moral integrity of its biggest 
stars to make its point.

To witness what passes for leadership out of this White House or concern for public interest out of 
Hollywood saddens and disgusts me. If we really want to solve our real problems, the solutions are 
simple. Let the honest citizens defend themselves with their own weapons, keep the debt ceiling 
exactly where it is, and let every Hollywood star pledge to never participate in another film which 
glorifies violence.

About the author: Gregory J. Welborn is a freelance writer and has spoken to several civic and religious 
organizations on cultural and moral issues. He lives in the Pasadena area with his wife and 3 children 
and is active in the community. He can be reached at

JOE GANDELMAN Independent’s Eye

Internet's Child Aaron Swartz 
Becomes Collateral Damage

FONTANA, Ca. -- It was April 9, 2005 when I met the young person who 
impressed me so much I'd talk about him for 7 years. I was moderating a 
panel discussion of bloggers at Stanford University on "eDemocracy: The 
Role of blogs and Online Activists in 2004" The young person: 19-year-old 
Aaron Swartz.

 I've often told people how I was blown away by Swartz's eloquence, passion, 
political ideas and ideas even though I didn't totally agree with him. Clearly, 
he was a genius, he was charismatic, he was full of joy, he was brimming with determination about the 
future -- and he was the wave of the future.

 And now, at 26, he's dead.

 He hung himself.

 I got the news Saturday January 12. By now Swartz's story is well known: a computer prodigy at 14 
whose intellect created some of what computer users take for granted and an Internet activist, Swartz 
was facing 35 years in prison and possibly a million dollars in fines for illegally downloading academic 
papers so people could read them for free.

None of the figures convicted in the Watergate scandal even faced that sentence.

 This cyberspace Robin Hood ran smack into an uncaring "system" that wanted to make him a high-
profile example for all to see. He suffered from severe depression and had written about it. But, in the 
end, his life's story, character, depression -- nothing could move inflexible institutions and prosecutors.

Haunting info on Swartz's tragic story is in a Boston Globe report by Kevin Cullen. It notes that 
Swartz and his attorney "had offered to accept a deferred prosecution or probation, so that if Swartz 
pulled a stunt like that again, he would end up in prison." The subscription service JSTOR said OK, 
but MIT nixed it. According to the Globe, prosecutors said no, insisting he plead guilty to all 35 felonies 
and serve 6 months. The Wall Street Journal says it could have been up to 7 years. 

But the most damning quote for any of us who believe in helping young promising people thrive 
and in using BALANCE when administering justice if they cross the legal line is this quote from 
the Globe: "'The thing that galls me is that I told [one of the prosecutors] the kid was a suicide risk,' 
[Swartz's first lawyer] told me. 'His reaction was a standard reaction in that office, not unique to 
[him]. He said, ‘Fine, we’ll lock him up.’ I’m not saying they made Aaron kill himself. Aaron might 
have done this anyway. I’m saying they were aware of the risk, and they were heedless.'”


You don't have to have been a fly on the wall to imagine someone in the prosecutor's office respond to 
Swartz's plea bargain offer with the phrase: "He made his bed, now he can sleep in it."

Now Swartz sleeps a deep sleep.

And I wonder: can those at MIT, the Massachusetts prosecutor's office and the Justice Department 
whose decisions helped lead to this chain of events sleep at night?

Sadly, I conclude -- after the inevitable sigh-I-feel-so-bad or the predictable cover-my-you-know-
what comments -- the answer is: they'll move on to focus solely on to their next case.


To those who knew him or knew about him, Swartz was a youthful, quintessentially idealistic, free-
spirit intellect who had already changed the Internet, had a lot more he could do -- and wouldn't hurt 
a fly.

But to others who'd never admit it but saw him as a way to get a notch on their legal belts, make a 
tough statement to send a message, or get a successfully prosecuted prominent name on a resume for 
future political office, Swartz is now (their) collateral damage.

Joe Gandelman is a veteran journalist who wrote for newspapers overseas and in the United States. He 
has appeared on cable news show political panels and is Editor-in-Chief of The Moderate Voice, an Internet 
hub for independents, centrists and moderates. CNN's John Avlon named him as one of the top 25 
Centrists Columnists and Commentators. He can be reached at and 
can be booked to speak at your event at 

Once again, the 
nation is divided. 
Some want a ban 
on semiautomatic 
rifles, while others 
are up in arms at the 
prospect of surrendering 
their right to 
own these nifty but 
nasty weapons.

Along these lines, 
you have to wonder 
what James Madison 
would think today. 
He introduced the Second Amendment in the Bill of 
Rights to the first U.S. Congress in 1789.

Perhaps he was really just a terrible speller, and simply 
wanted to give people the right to “bare arms”? After 
all, America was a hot and humid place during summers 
in the pre-airconditioned 18th century. 

Whatever his intention, we are left with the interpretation 
that people have the right to keep and bear arms. 
The word “gun,” however, does not appear in the Second 
Amendment: citizens only have the right to “bear 

Arms is an abbreviation for armament which, according 
to our trusted encyclopedic friend Wikipedia is “a 
tool, device, equipment, or instrument used in order 
to inflict damage or harm to enemies or other living 
beings, structures, or systems.” 

This broad definition of arms would suggest that when 
defending your person or property, you have the right 
to bear sticks and stones; spears or knives; medieval 
spiked flails and Viking battle axes; boomerangs 
and slingshots; pistols, rifles, and 30’s mobster style 
Thompson submachine guns; bazookas and Scud missile 
launches; and pretty much anything else you can 
arm yourself with for defense. 

So can you really pick up a brick and hurl it at the punk 
trying to steal your Toyota Prius; pull out a concealed 
revolver and warn off a pickpocket; toss a stick of dynamic 
at an invading force of paratroopers landing 
in your rose garden; or even whip out your 30-round 
assault rifle and turn any assailant who threatens you 
into Swiss cheese?

Well, sort of. But the Supreme Court has ruled that 
some arms are just too dangerous in the hands of ordinary 
citizens. For instance, most of us can’t own fully 
automatic weapons such as machine guns (banned 
since the 1930s), which fire continuously when the 
trigger is held down. 

Nor can we legally buy, own, or use explosives, which is 
probably a good idea. I’d hate to see this scenario play 
out in our neighbor’s home: 

Husband: “Honey, pick up a six-pack at Wal-mart, will 
ya? Oh, and a half dozen hand grenades. Gotta move 
that stump in the backyard.”

Oh yeah, beer and explosives in the hands of young 
American men!

Nor is it just the biggest and baddest arms that are prohibited. 
What about the world’s smallest gun? Surely 
that little peashooter should be legal to own, right?

The Swiss Mini Gun is a 2-inch long revolver that 
weighs an ounce, and fires 2.34 mm bullets. It’s the 
world’s smallest gun, according to the Guinness World 

First made in 2005, these little guys sell for over $6,000 
and are collectors’ items. But these “arms” are also outlawed 
in the United States because the bullets disintegrate 
on contact and could never be recovered should 
ballistics evidence be needed after a crime. 

So while in the interest of public safety, some arms will 
always remain banned, no president or Congress is going 
to take away your right to legally own most guns. 
For better or worse, it just ain’t going to happen.

As for the current debate on semiautomatic weapons, 
banning them becomes a moot point if the capacity of 
gun clips is limited instead. By outlawing the use of 
high capacity magazines you essentially emasculate an 
assault weapon. So maybe you will be able to keep your 
AR-15 and shoot it too, just not quite so rapidly.

And if you’re a hunter still up in arms because you can’t 
take down a deer with a mere 10-round clip, then maybe 
you don’t deserve to have a hunting license.

Thomas' features and columns have appeared in more 
than 270 magazines and newspapers, including the 
Washington Post, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston 
Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, and Christian Science 
Monitor. He can be reached at his blog: http://getnickt.