One American Citizen

The View Of An American Citizen
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Friday, January 31, 2020

Red Flag Laws are Unconstitutional, But Can They Be Constitutional?

     Red Flag laws are the newest form of legislation aimed at curbing gun violence. They are intended to stop someone before they commit the act. It sounds great on the surface but they are unconstitutional in their current form. Right now, police, a family member, or an acquaintance can petition the courts to issue a Extreme Risk Protection Order to execute a search warrant and remove any firearms from the person. The judge in the case has ultimate authority to issue or deny the petition. Once the firearms are removed, the person then has the right to a hearing in front of that same judge, generally within 10 days. On the surface it seems like a good thing, and it can be at times, but is it legal to do that? Let's look at the 4th and 5th amendment of the Constitution.

The 4th amendment says:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
  
     The Fourth Amendment is pretty self explanatory. We have the right to have security from unjust intrusion by the government with out probable cause. Probable cause is a widely debated phrase on what is considered probable cause. For this law to be constitutional, the fear of another person would need to be considered probable cause. The legal definition of probable cause in regards to search warrants is:

"Sufficient reason based upon known facts to believe a crime has been committed or that certain property is connected with a crime."
-www.dictionary.law.com 
      I have highlighted words in this definition because they are important to this case. Nealy every legal definition of "probable cause" will include the word "crime". It is safe to say that for someone to have probable cause, they must first think their was a crime committed. So if these Red Flag laws are put in place to prevent crime, how can a search warrant be issued before a crime has been committed? They legally can't. Their is no provision in the fourth Amendment for the assumption a crime is imminent. Does this mean the intent of these laws are bad? No. It just means they need to find a constitutional way to do it

The 5th amendment says:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

      The Fifth Amendment contains some key language as highlighted above. The critical phrase here is "without due process". Due process is one of the most important right we the people have. It is derived from the Magna Carta which reads

“No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.”

     Without due process, the state could imprison you without a trial and arbitrarily say you are guilty of a crime. In the US, we are innocent until proven guilty, and without probable cause they cannot legally come in and take your guns. The proponents of these laws claim that due process is not violate because you have the right to plead your case before the judge. They seem to forget that they have already deprived you of your property without legal probable cause because no laws are broken. It is not illegal to own firearms unless you are a felon or have been deemed unfit. A crime must have occurred for a search warrant to be legal. 
     These laws are meant to protect the public from a potentially dangerous person. I personally like the idea, especially with the epidemic of mental illness spreading across this country. I feel that I have come up with a reasonable solution that fits within the bounds of the constitution. Instead of issuing warrants for the guns, let the police do the work. When someone comes forward with valid concerns and evidence to support those claims, the police make contact with that person. Since police can legally detain someone for a short amount of time for evaluation of mental illness, give the person the option to go with them for a psych evaluation, or they can temporarily surrender their firearms voluntarily. If the person decides to go with the police, they are immediately given an evaluation by a licensed psychiatrist. If the psych evaluation comes back clean the person is free to go like nothing happened. If the person surrenders their firearms voluntarily, they then have the right to a psych evaluation and a hearing before a judge to get their firearms back. If the person is deemed unfit by the psychiatrist, then a hearing is held so the person can plead their case and protection order can be ordered by a judge and the firearms seized by the state if its warranted by the evidence. This would require the state make clear and detailed criteria for what conditions would deem a person unfit. Evidence of threats or harassment would be paramount in the decision making process.
     This strategy satisfies the Constitution because there is no warrant without probable cause, there is no involuntary seizure of property, and it satisfies due process because a person has the right to a hearing before their property is seized. This way guns are only taken against a persons will if the state has legally admissible evidence that the person is deemed unfit. 
     The reasoning behind Red Flag laws is good, and they can be legally enforced. These laws have the potential of stopping would be shooters before they happen, and they can be done without violating a persons rights. In their current form, I fear that this will eventually turn into Swatting 2.0 where people petition courts just to get back at people and that will lead to people dying on both sides of the door.


-American Citizen

PS: This is my opinion, I am not a lawyer and am completely open to debate over this if you think I am wrong.
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Thursday, January 30, 2020

Toll Lanes to Help Traffic or Create Revenue.

     Nearly every state has them, toll lanes. For those that have not seen them, they are lanes on a highway that you must pay to use if you are a single occupancy vehicle. Pricing is generally dependent on the traffic meaning if traffic is light, you pay less, if traffic is heavy, you pay more. These lanes are put in under the guise to help traffic by allowing those who want to pay a way out of it. For this post, I am going to focus on what is going on in my home state of Washington.
     In Washington, we have two major corridors that include toll lanes, Highway 167 and Interstate 405. The tolls on these roads range from $0.50 to $10. Traffic in the Seattle area has been continuously getting worse because of the growing tech industry and the lack of affordable housing. Home prices have gone up so much because of this boom that people are moving 30 miles away or more from their job to find a home they can afford. To put it in perspective, I had to drive 32 miles to my job and it would take me two and a half hours each way. The State decided the remedy for it was to add HOT lanes, or High Occupancy Toll lanes. If you have two or more people they are free to use but if you are by yourself, you better break out your wallet and it can cost up to $20 dollars a day.
     I couldn't understand why they would put a lane in that would only be used by a few vehicles and not just add another lane. It makes more sense to let more cars in to this lane for free than to charge people and have less cars in the lane. I decided to look into the reasoning and came to a disturbing conclusion. The newest lanes, the I-405 toll lanes, generated nearly $100 million dollars in revenue with $66.8 million of that being profit. Now, as it is right now, that profit must be used for improvements or debt repayment on the I-405 corridor but I smell something fishy going on.
    These lanes are obviously a cash cow for the state and that poses a problem. What is the incentive to make traffic better if you get more money when traffic is bad? There isn't. The state now has a financial incentive to keep the traffic as bad as possible to keep the price at $10 for as long as possible. Whats worse is they want to put these lanes on many more miles of roadway in the Seattle area and are even talking about raising the maximum toll price under the guise of reducing traffic.
     So here is my prediction. As of now the profit must remain in the I-405 project, but who is to say that lawmakers don't change the rules in 5 or 10 years. They could easily change the rules to divert that money into other highway projects because the federal government only requires that the profit be used on Title 23 projects. If the numbers stay consistent, by 2025, the lanes will have produced $150 million in profit and that's just one set of toll lanes. What if they toll the entire stretch of I-5 and put revenue in the same account? Its a scary thought that the state is using our suffering to fund their projects.
     So why do I assume the worst? There is one specific reason and its appalling and damning. When these lanes were authorize by the legislature, it was codified that these I-405 toll lanes must meet two specific goals. they are as follow (pulled directly from the original house bill):

(4)
(a) Whether the express toll lanes maintain speeds of forty-five miles per hour at least ninety percent of the time during peak periods
(e) Whether the express toll lanes generated sufficient revenue to pay for all Interstate 405 express toll lane-related operating costs

(5) If after two years of operation of the express toll lanes on Interstate 405 performance measures listed in subsection (4)(a) and (e) of this section are not being met, the express toll lanes project must be terminated as soon as practicable. 

     These lanes easily beat the revenue requirement by a long shot but they failed to meet the speed requirement. Here is where is gets appalling, when ask to terminate the toll lanes, the legislature went to the Attorney General to get legal advice to see if they could keep them. The Attorney General's opinion was that the "and" between (a) and (e) meant both OR either meaning the lanes could stay open because it met the financial requirement. We all know "and" means both. So why make that obviously bias and wrong opinion? The state doesn't want to lose the revenue from the lanes. In this decision, they have openly admitted that they know its not improving traffic as promised but since it making the state money, they stay. This is corruption at it's best and I would put money that if the metrics were reversed, they would have scrapped them.

     I'm sick of this state putting money over it's people's well being. It's time for a change

-American Citizen
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Wednesday, January 29, 2020

2nd Amendment, Individual Right or Well Regulated Militia.

     Firearm ownership has been the biggest and one of the most debated topics for the last decade. One side believes that law abiding citizens should have unlimited access to firearms, the other latches on to the "well regulated" part of the text as the basis of there argument for gun control. First lets read the actual text from the constitution:

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed"

     So what does it actual mean when it pertains to the individual right to ownership. Most will go back to the federalist papers and the historical meaning and use of militias. I tend to focus more on the text in the constitution itself. We must remember when discussing this that the use of the term "well regulated" meant something different than it means today. In today's terms, we would take that to mean laws and rules by the government, but it actually means something else as well. At the time of the writing of the constitution, and in this context, it meant for something to be working in proper order. If you apply this to to the second amendment it would be read to mean that the militia must be ready to be called into action. Many will disagree, but given the state of the nation at that time, I believe this to mean that everyone eligible to be in the militia should be armed and practiced in order to defend the nation, essentially, every legal adult should own a firearm and take it upon themselves to make sure they are proficient in shooting.
     One of the major arguments by the anti-gun lobby is that, per the second amendment, you must be in the militia to own a firearm. They go even further to claim that the National Guard is considered the militia and civilians do not have the right to own firearms. This is actually not correct and the role of militias has changed throughout history. Under the Militia Act of 1792, it authorized the states to have organized militias that the President could call into action in cases of invasion and insurrection. At the time of the Act, the United States did not have a large standing army and relied on the militias as the defense force should they be needed. In fact, even today, it is unconstitutional for the government to appropriate funds for a standing army for more than two years, meaning, every two years, the budget for the military must be passed by the legislature. So fast forward to the National Guard. Because the United States had some unfortunate defeats on the battle field, the National Guard was created to standardize training for the militias and make it easier for the federal government to call them into federal service.  For the most part the militias were replaced by the National Guard, but, the federal government still recognizes state defense forces in 32 U.S. code § 109 C. The text reads:

"In addition to its National Guard, if any, a State, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, Guam, or the Virgin Islands may, as provided by its laws, organize and maintain defense forces. A defense force established under this section may be used within the jurisdiction concerned, as its chief executive (or commanding general in the case of the District of Columbia) considers necessary, but it may not be called, ordered, or drafted into the armed forces."

    Most people do not realize that nearly every state still has laws authorizing State Defense Forces, and twenty-two states, plus Puerto Rico, still have an active SDF, otherwise known as state militias. The rules are a little different now as these forces can never be federalized by the federal government. They only serve at the direction of the states governor. I have looked into my home state of Washington's state militia and have found that there primary function is to take the place of the National Guard whenever they are not available. They are an unpaid, volunteer force that trains and serves with the National Guard when called upon by the Governor. 
    What I have described to you is the "Organized Militia". The constitution, specifically talks about the powers of the federal government regarding the use of militias. In Article 1 Section 8, it reads:

To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

    This is one of the biggest tools used in arguments by people with anti-gun agendas because it talks about the militia as if it only exist if the government organizes a militia, but there is one word in that section that says otherwise.

"To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia..."

      I have gotten into many debates over the importance of this word, but I stand firm that the word "the" gives us the individual right to firearm ownership. This word implies that the militia exist prior to the government organizing it, hence the "Unorganized Militia".  It is an implied force of the People as a whole regardless of whether you were in a state militia or not. Had the founding fathers not intended the People to be part of an unorganized militia, the phrase would have been written as follows: "To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, a militia...". Its literally that simple and often an oversight in arguments. When interpreting the Constitution, we must rely on the fine details in the text to come to the correct conclusions. Fortunately, we now we have a law on the books laying out who is part of the unorganized militia in 10 U.S. Code § 246 which reads as: 
  1. The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard. 
  2. The classes of the militia are—
    1. the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
    2. the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia. 
     Now, the age requirement section is up for debate and could be updated to reflect every able bodied person over the age of 17, and remove the requirement for women to be in the National Guard, but the point remains the same that there is no requirement to be in an organized militia in order to be considered part of the militia. 
     
     So here is the bottom line. We are all part of the Unorganized Militia of the United State. It is up to us to be "Well Regulated" on our own by having the right equipment and being proficient with it. The government does not have the right to enact laws to force us to meet requirements to be part of the unorganized militia, such as mandatory training, restrictions on firearm purchases, licenses, etc. because all of that is reserved for the organized militia. 

    Just remember, it is your right, as a member of the People of the United States, to keep and bear arms. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise and stand up to those that do

-American Citizen

PS. If you don't agree or have things to add, please contact me as I thoroughly enjoy debating this topic!
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Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Why the Fair Tax is the Best Tax

     Everyone hates taxes. Shoot, our country was partially founded because of high taxes. There are many complaints about tax inequality floating around and there is a solution to those claiming a grievance about taxes. Its called the FAIR Tax Act and has been floating around for awhile. It calls for scrapping the bracketed tax scheme we have now and implementing a standard point of sale tax on material goods and services. No more inequality, everyone pays the same percentage of taxes without loopholes or deductions. It would replace the all the federal income tax, payroll taxes (such as social security and medicare taxes), gift tax, and estate taxes with a single tax.
     This legislation was first introduced in 1999 and has had movements form behind it throughout the years without success. The most recent bill introduced called for a 23% point of sales tax, meaning everyone pays the same. It also calls for a monthly advance "prebate" for taxes up to the federal poverty line, which in 2019 for a family of four, is $25,750. This means that you basically get the first $25 thousand you make, completely tax free. You only pay taxes on what you buy, that means any money you stash into a savings is all yours prior to the government taking their piece of the pie.
     There are a few valid complaints. The biggest one is on seniors, especially those who are retired shortly after this is implemented. Seniors that are retired right now, paid income tax their entire career. If this tax gets enacted, not only would they have paid years worth of income tax, they would now be forced to pay a new sales tax that would greatly reduce their income which is already fixed. I feel that this could be easily remedied by giving seniors exemptions for awhile with a sunset clause in the legislation as over time the burden would be reduced until the first group of seniors that have never payed an income tax come along.
     Another complaint is the taxing of essentials such as food, utilities, mortgage, etc. At first glance that sounds bad because those items generally don't fall under a sales tax. But look at it this way, right now a married couple with two dependents making $80,000 is paying 22% of their income to federal tax regardless of what they do with that money. With the FAIR tax, the government is not going to tax the first $25,750 of sales and the government is going to give you $493 a month as a prebate. With those figures the MAXIMUM net tax rate would be %13.66. For every dollar you save, your effective tax rate for the year goes down because that un-taxed dollar is not being spent. Under the current tax structure, with the standard deduction and child tax credit, your effective tax rate would be %14.19.
     The other thing that would change under the FAIR tax is that money you pay for taxes is also tax free. Right now, since every dollar you make is already taxed, any other state and local tax that you are required to pay is essentially double taxed. Using the same figure as earlier of $80,000 a year, if you have a 10% sales tax in your state, your item that cost $100 dollars will ring up at $110 dollar. That $110 has already been taxed at 22% and you have really paid $134.20 for it. Under the FAIR tax, assuming your state will not tax the federal tax, you will pay a total of $133 dollars. If you spend $40,000 of your income on goods that would equate to $480 dollars more under the current tax scheme simply because you are paying tax, on tax.
     Other complaints such as the line "it will be tax cut for the rich" ring untrue. It's simple, wealthy people have more money to spend. Right now, most wealthy people use loopholes to avoid paying taxes, such as investing capital gains immediately, as most of their wealth comes from investments rather than wages, or donating to charities for a tax right off. With the FAIR tax, they would be subject to a 23% tax with no loopholes or workarounds for them. So if you make $50 thousand, your taxable income is $25 thousand and if you make $1 million, your taxable income is $975,000. That means that the effective tax rate for the extremely wealthy is 23%, while for the middle class, it's substantially lower.
     Under a flat sales tax, you decide what your tax burden is. If you are good with money and don't spend recklessly, you can lower you tax burden. Right now, nearly 100% of your income is taxed and you have zero say in it. You would have the option to plan for your tax bill on a major purchase such as a car rather than pay it before you even decide to buy a car. Another big advantage is that you could now put your money into an interest bearing savings account that is pretax. If you know you are going to need a car in five years, you can save for it and actually pay for the tax in part off the interest gained.
    Under this tax plan, it would give the power back to the people. I personally have a problem with paying taxes to the government and then having to figure out if I've paid too much or too little. This is a much fairer tax plan because everyone pays and the lower you income, the lower your tax burden. And the best part, No more IRS!

-American Citizen

PS: I understand there are many factors when calculating tax and this is just a generalization. If you don't like my math let me know.
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Why Free Speech Isn't Free Anymore

     The freedom of speech is one of the staples in our country. We have the right to basically say and do whatever we want as long as it doesn't infringe on the rights of others. In fact, it was so important to our founders, that they made it the first amendment in the bill of rights. Lets define free speech. The basic definition is that people have the right to freely speak their mind without getting in some sort of punitive trouble as long as it doesn't effect others rights. But what does it really protect? popular speech? No actually. If the freedom of speech only protected popular speech, it wouldn't be necessary to have the right enumerated in the constitution as no one would object to it. The First Amendment protects unpopular speech. It protects those who say or do things that may be controversial. It protects those who express dissenting opinions from the majority. It protects those who may offend others.
     This day in age we have forgotten that. With the advent of "Hate Speech" free speech is dying. Now, there are many types of speech that could be considered "Hate Speech" such as using derogatory terms or wearing clothes with derogatory or disparaging markings. The problem with "Hate Speech" is that it is undefined. There have been many instances recently where a person with an opposing view has been accused of "Hate Speech" and being a racist with no merit to those claims. In order for something to be considered "Hate Speech", and be unprotected by the constitution, it must be able to be demonstrated that it infringed on others rights. An example of unprotected speech would be the case of defamation.
     Nick Sandman, the Covington Catholic student, was swept into controversy when he was videoed at the Lincoln Memorial during the indigenous peoples march. The video appeared to portray the MAGA hat wearing young man to be laughing at a native American man who was beating a drum in front of him. It was even said that he and his fellow students were making derogatory remarks and chanting build the wall at him. The media instantly went into character assassination mode on this highschooler, calling him a racist and a bigot among other things. He and his classmates got doxxed, his parents getting death threats at work, even one celebrity said he had the "most punchable" face. Well as we all know, that's not what happened.  In fact, he and his classmates were doing nothing disrespectful to the man. As is turns out, CNN has settled a defamation lawsuit brought on by sandman for $200 million dollars because of the things that were put on the airwaves by them. Point being, in order for speech, like CNN and the rest of the mainstream media's, to be unprotected by the First Amendment, it must cause actual harm other that offense, as it did in this situation.
     I bring all this up because of the story that hit the news in the UK (although this event is in the UK, it is not isolated to there as it happens all the time in the US). Franklin Graham, was set to appear there but now one of his stops has been canceled because a group for the LGBTQ+ community has labeled his preaching as "Hate Speech" and the venue does not want to take part in it. Now, it is the venue's right to cancel any show they want, but is it okay for his preaching to be labeled as "Hate Speech". I think not and here is why. Franklin Graham is a Christian preacher who preaches the Bible. Whether you like it or not, the Bible does explicitly say the homosexuality is a sin. Some Churches are more open to homosexuals than others, but for those that are not open to it, it's their right. What churches preach is protected by the first amendment. For me personally, the line of protected and unprotected speech is crossed when a church bars LGBTQ members from attending as some churches do. I feel this way because there can be actual damage done to a person who is barred from attending because the choice of whether they want to attend is made for them. It protected speech to simply quote the Bible because everyone has a choice of whether they want to listen to the sermon or not. If you don't like it, you simply tune it out or leave. So, had Franklin Graham, told the LGBT community that they were not welcome, they may have a case. He did the opposite and invited them all to come.
     So what about pastors, churches, florist, cake decorators refusing to participate in weddings for the LGBT community. It is their right to choose not to participate because, by doing so, that could be spiritually damaging for the person providing the service. Just as a church or business can't deny service based on sexual orientation. A person from the LGBT community cannot force them to provide them services if it will have a negative impact on the person. Let's take the christian florist from Washington who has been sued on the grounds of discrimination for refusing to provide flowers to a gay couples wedding. What she did was absolutely protected and the Washington State Supreme Court has got the decision wrong. These two men were long time customers of this woman's business. She never refused to provide them with flowers at any time up until they asked her to provide flowers for their wedding. As a business owner, she cannot refuse her services based on sexual orientation, but she also cannot be forced to be somewhere that may induce spiritual harm  to here. In her mind, homosexuality is a sin and by participating in the wedding, she herself would be sinning. Now, again, had she refused them services for the entire time, the gay couple may have a case but when it comes to violating someones religious beliefs, that's where the speech becomes protected because her rights would have been violated by being forced to participate in the wedding.

     I can come up with examples all day about how free speech isn't free anymore, and I'm sure I will post again about it but we as a society need to take a step back and take a hard long look at life. Is it really that wrong for someone to have different opinions on what is right or wrong, moral or immoral? No it's not. The fact that we have different opinions is what makes life interesting. It is what makes us better. If it were me in these situation, and I am a Christian, I would absolutely provide flowers or a cake to a gay couple for their wedding. It is their choice about who they love. It is not up to me to judge others, that task is left to God on judgment day. But I'm not everyone and others in the christian community have different opinions on that, and again, that is their right. I'll leave you with this thought, What would this world look like if we all had the same opinions about everything?

-American Citizen
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Monday, January 27, 2020

China's New Hospital and Coronavirus

      I just had to comment on the amazing project that China is undertaking in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak. They are building a one thousand bed, fully functioning hospital from the ground up in SIX DAYS. This is similar to what they did when they had the SARS outbreak in 2003. It has already been started and is expected to start taking patients on February 3, 2020. Four state run construction companies are tasked with the project. More than one hundred excavators could be seen in the time-lapse video, posted on the internet, working to prepare the former parking lot for the structure. As they learned with the SARS outbreak, it is imperative to isolate the effected patients until symptoms have subsided.
     Although this may be a temporary structure, it will have X-ray/CT scan capability and an ICU. It will be able to treat up to 1/7th of the infected population at any given time, keeping the patients out of the main hospitals to prevent the spread of the deadly virus. As could be seen in videos taken from around the quarantine zone, people are taking the lock-down seriously. Almost nobody was on the streets in the province.
     There are some serious concerns about this particular virus because the incubation period seems to be much longer than first thought. That means that you could be contagious for up to two weeks before showing any symptoms. With the amount of travel to and from China, it's a pretty safe bet that there could be many more infected people in the US than first thought. That is two weeks worth of airplanes coming from the Wuhan province that could possibly be infected with the virus. It appears the CDC is on top of it. The first case was caught in my region of Seattle. Luckily, that patient was smart and recognized the symptoms right away and went to the hospital. He was immediately put under quarantine and they have reached out to all known contacts that could have been infected. 
     Ive been thinking about this a lot the last few days, especially since there are a few confirmed cases in the United States. Could the US pull off such a task in that amount of time if it were necessary? Although unlikely, if the virus starts spreading like it is in China, our current hospital system would not be able to properly quarantine the infected. I am always reminded about how slow government projects move in the States. Just last year, our local government shuttered a main arterial road to rebuild it. The project replaced a 3/4 mile stretch and it took NINE MONTHS. That was nine months of having to find a different way home, nine months of fighting traffic that was already bad, made worse by the closure, and in my opinion, the road was better before.

Unfortunately I am not optimistic that our government could do what China is doing

-American Citizen
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How Social Media has Changed Us

     Social media is one of the most normal things in life these days. Most people don't go a day, let alone an hour, without checking in to Facebook or Instagram. But has it really helped us, or has it done more harm than good. Obviously there are many different issues with it, but I am going  to focus on one that may be overlooked completely. And yes, I completely understand that this post is a type of social media.  I'm going to be talking about how social media has changed us into a fear driven society.
     20 years ago, if you wanted to let your neighbor know about a suspicious car or person walking by, you had to either pick up the landline or physically go over there to tell them. Now days, you can join countless neighborhood watch groups on Facebook. I am part of them, not because I actually get any useful information, but because it intrigues me to watch the fear that a single post can stoke in a community. For instance, a post about a car circling the neighborhood can turn into a frenzy of speculation and almost always ends with it being something like a delivery driver that is lost, or a family member trying to find a house. Now, there have been great uses of this tool. Many missing persons have been located because of social media. You can literally post about a missing person and within hours, that post has made it to different states. There have been many success stories on Facebook, but those are few and far between. Most post are an example of the fear that people live in daily.
     The one that always gets me is the loud noise post. Almost every year throughout June and July, there are countless post asking if people heard the gunshots that went off. Now, on first read that sounds pretty scary. Guns going off in the neighborhood are never good. But remember It's June and July 4th is right around the corner. Most likely that loud noise was the teens down the street lighting some fireworks off a little early. The point being, with all the negative post on social media along with the constant coverage of gun violence, that posters mind immediately went to gunshots. 
     I'm going to switch gears to a different example that has directly impacted my region and people I know. The Boeing 737 MAX crisis. Being from the Seattle area and having many family and friends that have worked or continue to work for this company, I understand the stress that this has put the employees under. But what make these crashes so special? There have been many other tragic crashes before. Two big things. One being that these were nearly brand new aircraft just off the assembly line and the other, social media.
     Prior to the MAX crashes, people generally just heard about crashes in foreign countries through the news. There was relatively little talk on social media about them. Nobody ever said they weren't gonna fly on a particular plane because of a crash. Lets take an earlier model of the 737, the classic. During the 90's there were two fatal crashes caused by a malfunctioning rudder. The two crashes happened in similar fashion and were quickly linked to a similar problem. It took 11 years for the FAA to issue a definitive cause and suggested fix. Not only that, there were 6 other incidents and accidents that have been linked to a failing rudder unit. Now I would bet that most readers have never heard of these crashes because social media wasn't around in the 90's. Had these crashes happened today, there would be a panic about flying on any 737. Most people don't even realize that they have flown on they same model aircraft in these accidents.
     So is it rational, that through the media and social media, people are swearing off ever flying on a MAX? Probably not. There has been so much technical information put out on the news that it has overwhelmed people without aviation experience. Boeing has admittedly made mistakes and is working hard to correct them, but they are not the only ones to blame. The pilot training and maintenance standards by the airlines involved were sub-standard to US training requirements. These were tragic accidents that could have been handled better, but that doesn't mean that the airplane isn't safe. The only thing that has portrayed it as an unsafe airplane is social media. These planes are not all that different from the 737's that are still flying today and have been flying since the 60's. The 737 has a great safety record that has been completely overlooked by the media and those on social media.
     The bottom line is, social media has stoked fear in the flying public that is irrational. Self proclaimed experts putting misinformation out there for the public to read. People need to take a step back and look at the big picture. We just had the safest decade for commercial aviation ever, even including the two MAX accidents. I have no doubt that once these planes are cleared to fly again, these will be the safest airplane Boeing has ever built. So lets wait to pass judgement on these airplanes. Lets let the manufacturer and regulators come to a conclusion and then assess the data. And let's keep fear from spreading.

-American Citizen
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Sunday, January 26, 2020

Homelessness is not a Housing Crisis

     Ive heard it so many times before "We need more affordable housing to tackle the homelessness problem". You know what I hear? I Hear "We need more of your money to throw at a problem that has only gotten worse". We don't have a homelessness problem. Being homeless is one of the symptoms of the much larger, and deadlier, problem. We have a drug problem across the country.       
     Seattle is a prime example of politicians crying about affordable housing. This year the budget for homelessness will surpass $100 million. This money will be used for shelters and other projects, but there is one thing it will not address. It will do nothing to combat the heroine use on the streets of Seattle which is the primary reason for homelessness.  In fact, there is no requirement for anyone using these shelters to stop using drugs. They can come and go as they please and shoot up on the sidewalk as soon as they walk out the door.
     I actually was completely on board with the tiny house plan. They are affordable, cheap to maintain, and you can fit a lot of them in a small area. The reason I'm against it now, once again, there is no requirement to abstain from drug use while living there. How can a problem that is caused by drug use be fixed when there is zero requirement to stop using drug? It can't. The city is trying to go even further with safe injection sites. Basically saying "we know you are living in our houses and are going to shoot up so we will help you do it safely". They are saying this all the while these people are stealing and mugging people in order to pay for their addiction.
     So...This is what actually needs to be done. The city needs to make it illegal to possess or use drugs in public and the need to make camping on public property a crime. I've said that many time and usually the response is something like "So your just gonna throw them in jail and expect them to get better". No actually I have a better plan. As I stated before, the city is planning on spending over $100 million dollars on homelessness this year. Instead of affordable housing, lets use that money to build a city owned rehab facility. There is more than enough money to get the project started. After it's complete, the Seattle police start arresting people using or possessing drugs and camping on the street. At the time of the arrest, they are given two options: A mandatory 90 day stay in this new facility where they will learn skills and have resources that will help them when they get out or they go to jail for 90 days. Regardless they get cleaned up for the time being.
     Now I'm not naive. I understand this tactic will not work for everyone. Having been around addiction, I completely understand that it can take multiple times through a rehab facility before it actually works. This plan will be the new revolving door. Instead of the revolving door at the jail where these people get caught and let out in the same day, this will be the revolving door of treatment. There will be no maximum amount of times a person can visit. If you get let out and decide to commit another crime, you get to come right back in. Not only will this actually get these people help, but it will clean up the streets.
     For those of you who haven't visited Seattle in awhile, the streets are disgusting. There is feces and urine everywhere. Walking down the street involves making sure you don't step on a needle. If you park your car in Seattle, you better make sure its completely empty or else your window will be smashed and your belongings stolen for drug money. There has also been an escalation in violent crime happening. Tourist walking down the street being mugged, joggers on trails being assaulted. This is all the direct result of the city leaders policies and its time to clean it up.
     The other important factor in all this is humanity. These are people on the streets. They may not want the help but they need it. It is completely inhumane for city leaders to let them sleep on the streets in filth. It's even more inhumane to give them a place to inject the poison in their veins and send them back out to the streets. For the sake of the city and its residents. Its time to stop talking about affordable housing and start talking about addiction.

-American Citizen
    
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My Views on Impeachment

    Impeachment. Half the country is celebrating it, the other have is shaking their head at it. Its all that has dominated the news for months now. I personally, am tired of it. It was designed to protect the country from an out of control public official that was doing harm to our nation. The democrats believe this to be true, or so they say. I also want to preface this with, I do not think President Clinton should have been impeached.
    Lets start at the beginning. Democrats in congress started calling for the impeachment of President Donald Trump THE DAY he was elected. In fact, starting in early 2017, house democrats started introducing articles of impeachment. Most of these were left behind in the news because they quickly got voted down on a bi-partisan level but the point remains the same, that some democrats have been voting to impeach the president since shortly after he took office. That is the first red flag for me. How can this be a "solemn duty", as the the house democrats are saying, if they have been wanting this from the beginning.
    Now for the current impeachment. Is President Trump innocent? I think probably not completely. Should he be Impeached and Removed from office? That's a hard no from me. Here is why. As i said previously, democrats have lost nearly all credibility when it comes to impeachment because they have been wanting to find a reason to impeach him. It started with Stormy Daniels, that failed. Then it was the firing for James Comey, that failed. Then is was Russian Collusion, that failed and actually exonerated him of that charge. Now we have the Ukraine Phone Call, and we are where we are today.
     The Ukraine phone call is far from perfect as the President claims. If it were perfect, the claim of quid pro quo would have never come up, but I also think that claiming a quid pro quo from the phone call was a stretch. The president could have chosen his words better. The President was discussing Hunter Biden and I believe rightfully so. I think that there was some shady things happening while Joe Biden was Vice President. Hunter Biden being on the board of a company in an industry he new nothing about isn't worth investigating on its own, but when his dad, the VP at the time, is caught on camera bragging about getting the prosecutor fired that was looking into that company, that's when an investigation should be made. Now, was it appropriate for the President to bring that up in a call with a foreign leader? Probably not, but that doesn't mean that it should happen. I personally think that if you are running for president, you should be under MORE scrutiny than if you weren't. I think that Joe Biden should have been looked into for corruption in Ukraine. If the former VP had a foreign official fired in order to protect his son from losing his source of income, that's worse than any of the charges brought upon the President. Just because you are running for president does not make you immune from investigation by the current administration.
     Now we get to the question, was the president holding up aide in order to get an investigation? Maybe, but their isn't any real evidence of it. The timing of everything is sketchy at best, and the appearance of it all isn't great but that doesn't mean it happened. The President has been hard on corruption from the beginning and the old Ukraine government was full of corruption. I think it is completely reasonable to hold aide, funded by American taxpayers, until it is certain that the new President of Ukraine will take a tough stance on corruption. I personally do not think the Biden investigation and the aide are linked because the aide was released without any investigation being announced. The President has every right to hold foreign aide if he thinks it will be corruptly used.
     So why are the democrats not believing the president of Ukraine when he says there was no pressure to start an investigation? I think its pretty straight forward when the one person in this world that knows the truth, says there was no quid pro quo. The democrats will say he "had a gun to his head" and was forced to say that in order to save face with the people of Ukraine. That is just not true. Had the president actually asked for an investigation in order to get the aide, it would have benefited the President of Ukraine to come forward with the truth once the impeachment started. Why? It would have certainly led to the impeachment and removal of President Trump and his problem would quite literally go away. I refuse to believe the Ukrainian leaders are so weak that they would participate in a political coverup for a different country when it would be more beneficial to take President Trump down
     Process. Process is the main complaint by the republicans, and now the democrats. Process is important. Chairman Schiff basically torpedoed this impeachment right from the get go by refusing to hold public hearings and preventing republicans from sitting in on the closed door hearings. If this was the slam dunk case as the democrats are saying they believe it is, then what is the harm in letting everybody watch and letting any witness be subpoenaed. The truth is that this is the weakest case ever used for impeachment. We have whistle-blower who is still anonymous, was barred from testifying, and had clear political bias as the basis of this impeachment. Had this been a transparent and fair process, republicans may be more willing to consider the charges brought forth.
    Obstruction. Of course the president obstructed right? Wrong, the president has every right to claim executive privilege on whatever he wants. It is up to the courts to decide what is and what isn't covered under executive privilege. All that Chairman Schiff would have had to do is go to the courts and get a decision about these claims of executive privilege. It is not the president's responsibility to go to the court, it's the Chairman's. So why not go to the courts and do it right? The answer is simple. The democrats know they do not have a candidate strong enough to beat the President in November and they need to get this president impeached as fast as possible. They need the trial to be over prior to prime campaigning season. They want the democratic nominee to use impeachment against President Trump on the campaign trail. So it all comes down to this, they didn't have time to go to the courts.
    So here we are. We have the senate trial resuming tomorrow. The outcome is predetermined and the democrats already know that. There is basically zero chance the senate will vote to convict the President. The democrats are claiming that the president is so dangerous that they must remove him to preserve the integrity of out elections, basically saying he is cheating. I see it completely opposite as that. I see this as the democrats interfering in this coming election. They are impeaching him over weak claims that have no specific charges in order to better their chances in November. They are literally using their powers to change the outcome of the 2020 election.

     So here is the bottom line, In my opinion the democrats went all in on a risky charge expecting a smoking gun to appear. Unfortunately for them the cards did not fall how they wanted so now they are stuck with this. They continue to push the same lines over and over, hoping that the public will forgive them after this is over. I don't think the President is completely innocent, but I also don't think the democrats are any less guilty. Lets do this right next time. No closed door hearings, no blocked witnesses, let the courts the decide what is and what isn't executive privilege and most importantly, LEAVE POLITICS OUT OF IT.

-American Citizen
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Saturday, January 25, 2020

Shooting in Seattle (event occured: January 22nd 2020)


    It was a Wednesday evening and I was watching my kids taking their swim lessons. My phone made a noise so as any good millennial would do, I immediately reached to see what it was. The notification from KING 5 news said there was a shooting in Seattle. This was the third shooting alert I had received in a little over 24 hours about shootings in Seattle. After I got home, I flipped on the news to gather what was actually happening. One dead, seven injured including a 9 year old child. Unfortunately, I no longer have that instinctive shocked reaction I think we all used to have when these types of events occur. The reaction I had later was one of anger and sadness because this particular shooting could have been completely avoided had our elected officials done there jobs.

   I later turned to twitter to get the initial reaction from the twitterverse. As I thought, people were blaming the guns. Tweet after tweet talking about gun control, some even using the hashtag #banassaultweapons. Of course no factual info had come out at this point. In fact, once the facts started coming out it, was absolutely apparent that not a single gun law that has ever been proposed would have stopped this shooting. What actually transpired that night was an argument between three gang members that are convicted felons turned deadly. One was injured and arrested after being treated at the hospital, the other two, as of this writing are still on the loose.

    Arrest records for the two on the loose indicate that they should have never had those firearms per the law nor should they have ever been on the street. Marquise Tolbert,  24, has been arrested 20 times and convicted of a crime 15 times for crimes including harassment, theft, robbery, possession of a stolen vehicle, discharging a firearm in a public place. Among these he was convicted of two Class B felonies that carry up to ten year prison sentences each and a Class C felony that carries up to a five year prison sentence. Do the math, if our judicial system had worked and punished him to the full extent of the law, he would have had to of be -1 years old when he was convicted of those crimes. William Tolliver, 24, has been arrested 44 times and convicted 20 times for crimes including malicious mischief, theft, assault and unlawful possession of a firearm. Among those was a conviction for a Class C felony. Bottom line, these guys have a criminal history that should have them locked up for years to come, yet they were on the streets on January 22, 2020 at around 5 pm at 3rd and Pine in downtown Seattle.

    I was watching the news the next day and they had a reporter at the scene talking to people about the incident. Unsurprisingly, many of the respondents were young adults saying they wanted more gun control. Lets talk about that for a second because this is what real people said and I believe they truly think that is the solution. First, these guys were convicted felons. It is already ILLEGAL to own or possess a firearm if you have a felony on your record. Had these guys walked into a gun shop and attempted to purchase a firearm, they would have been turned away. Had they gone to a law abiding citizen selling a firearm, they would have been turned away by the background check now required for purchases at gun shows and private sales. These guys are CRIMINALS so they got these firearms ILLEGALLY. Those are two powerful and meaningful words. Our elected officials pass laws to make things ILLEGAL and people who do not follows those laws are CRIMINALS. Bottom line, theses guys wanted guns so they either stole them or bought them from someone who stole them. No gun law would prevent that.

    What angered me most was that these guys were on the street in the first place. Our criminal justice system is broken. Gang violence is escalating in the city and our elected leaders are letting it happen. More than 100 Seattle Police Officers QUIT last year. Why? Because they are not allowed to do their job. If they see someone injecting heroine, they have to walk by. If they see someone selling heroine, they have to walk by. If they arrest someone for a misdemeanor, the person is back out on the street before their shift ends. The cities policies have made it a horrible place to work. These are some of the finest men and women in law enforcement and the mayor and city council have tied their hands so they cannot effectively protect the law abiding, tax paying citizens of Seattle.

     Here is the question. Why were these guys let out so many times without serving a meaningful sentence? Some will say that the criminal justice system can't handle the caseload and our jails are over populated. That may be true, but why not fix that. Its because it doesn't fit the left's agenda. The leftist leaders in Seattle and King County can't be seen cracking down hard on crime. Take the former mayor of New York Mike Bloomberg. He took New York and made it the safest it had ever been by implementing "Stop and Frisk" (the constitutionality of that is up for debate and I am not advocating for it, but for this point we will take the assumption that is was). Stop and Frisk took more illegal guns off the street and was a reason for a sharp decline in gun violence. Now that he is running for president in 2020, he is apologizing for it because it does not fit the democratic agenda. The one thing he did to actually make a difference for the tax payers of New York, he is apologizing for. If our leaders took the $100 million budget for "homelessness" and put it toward more prosecutors, more jail space, and the most important of all,  treatment for the drug addicts, the city would be way better off. If there was a revolving door at the jail and they actually held these people accountable for the crimes they are committing, the city would be a safer place. If they made it illegal to camp on the sidewalk or other public property and forced the drug addicted homeless into a treatment center, the city would be safer and more sanitary.

    These three men didn't slip through the cracks, this incident was inevitable. When a city stops enforcing crime, the criminals run freely. These guys were carrying those firearms because they knew that there was a very low chance they would get caught, and in the event they did, the amount of time they would have to do was acceptable to them. How many more people like these three are there out there as a result of policies like the City of Seattle and King County have enacted. All of the victims blood is on our politicians hands. They let this happen, now its up to them to fix or the voters to find someone who will. We don't need any new laws. We need our current laws enforced

-American Citizen

As always feel free to share you thoughts, I am an open minded individual.
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Why do this

-To the People of the United States of America

     For my first blog post, I figured I would tell you a little about me and why I've decided to start blogging.
  
      First and foremost, I am citizen of the (once great) State of Washington living about 20 miles away from Seattle. When I was growing up, I always used to hear public officials say "The Great State of Washington", and it made me proud to be living here. Now, not so much. I am in the epicenter of what liberalism is doing to this country. It has taken a once great state, and turned into a drug and crime infested region. I am disgusted that I cannot let my children go to the park on there own out of fear they will step on a used heroine needle.
   
     Being the parent of two young boys, I am very concerned with what our children are being taught in schools and the school system itself. This is not about the teachers as most teachers are phenomenal. This is about the content that the states are mandating being taught in schools. In fact, one of the major reasons I decided to start this blog was because of the legislation that is being pushed through the Washington State legislature regarding "Comprehensive Sexual Education". This is the same type of bill passed in Maryland that is requiring their schools to teach using a curriculum created by Planned Parenthood. The last two words should set alarm bells off in everyone's head as they did for me, and i was appalled by the content in their text books for students in middle school. There will be plenty of content in the future about this as it progresses.
   
     Guns. It seems that almost everyday there is a news story involving guns. I'll be upfront with you, I am a very strong supporter of the Second Amendment. I believe in the individual right to keep and bear arms. If you are a law abiding citizen without serious and documented mental health conditions, you should have unfettered access to buying and keeping firearms. What is portrayed in the media as "right wing propaganda" is actually truth. These so-called "common sense gun laws" have no effect on stopping a criminal from getting a firearm. What we have in this country is a mental health crisis. Nearly every mass shooting, that the media sensationalizes as a tool to push the left's gun control agenda, involves a person that has some form of untreated mental illness. Firearms are just a tools the same way that knives, bats, bombs, cars, hammers...I could go on but the point is made. Stop blaming the tool and blame the user.
     
     These are just a few of the topics ill discuss. Most of my blog post will revolve around current events happening around the country and in my home state of Washington. I hope to give in depth analysis of the topic and maybe you as the readers will walk away with a little more insight to what is actually going on in this country.

Thanks for reading,
American Citizen
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Washington Democrats Taking Power From The People.

       Want proof that the democrats want as much control as possible over the People? Look no further than the Washington State House of Re...