Daily Archives: December 28, 2012

Bernie Giusto: Blaming Guns is the Easy Way Out

In 1927 when so called assault weapons and high capacity magazines were not even a glimmer in the eye of Smith and Wesson, Colt or Bushmaster, Andrew Kehoe needed only a single rifle shot to kill 38 elementary students, six adults and injure 58 others. 


He also needed a little dynamite mixed with a heavy dose of mental illness to lay claim to our nation’s still most deadly school massacre.  It wasn’t about guns, it wasn’t about explosives it was about the mental illness of one individual determined to act.



But the sorrows of the parents, friends and families that made up the greater Bath, Michigan Consolidated School District community at the time didn’t know the difference and didn’t care. 


While the weapons of such evil may my vary from terrifying event to wholesale senseless tragedy our focus never does. When the shooting stops blaming guns is the easy out for those who are either afraid or unwilling to do the heavy lifting of refocusing a nation on real policy and solutions with a sustained and unwavering funding commitment to keep our kids safe .


Addressing guns in specific proposals may be unavoidable.  It may also be well advised.  But in a vacuum, in this void where we are deprived of why someone takes a weapon and kills people, a fearful nation reminds one of the definition of insanity. Politically expedient in sound bites but public policy lite in results.


Addressing the mental health delivery system in our states is not a point of debate it is clearly a public policy travesty to a moral certainty.  The discussion begins and ends with the abandonment of our mentally ill on the streets of our communities.  


And those who blame guns for our national tragedies are the same great thinkers that deconstructed the very centralized system that often gave those troubled by life a safe place to find structure and a safe place find inner peace. 


When the money got tough they ran out of ideas; worse yet they ran out commitment to protect our mentally ill and, as a result, the rest of us.  All in the name of a kinder, gentler way to put guns in hands of those whose mental health slowly dissolves and their ability to make rational choices disappear. They have made the police often the final arbiter in deciding who goes to jail to get what help there is and–worse– whose mental illness ends in that life and death moment.


Over the last two decades the slowly evolving evil associated lack of a real mental health system in this country has reached into our juvenile and adolescent population with a vengeance in measurable ways.It’s told in anecdotal tales from NewTown, Columbine, and Clackamas Town Center.  Not old enough to be poisoned by life experience, but mentally ill enough to have a new deadly surreal reality take control in a mind’s eye out of balance.


If we are really serious about protecting our kids, then in a broad sense let’s start here :

1)  If reconstructing a real mental health system across the entire spectrum is too heavy to lift , then fund a centralized juvenile mental health referral, diagnosis and treatment as the top public safety health priority at both the state and federal level. This does not mean just more money thrown at of the same ineffective public policy that has brought us to this crisis.


2) Make the purchase of high capacity semi-automatic long guns, associated supplemental and magazines (with careful definition such as muzzle velocity) subject to the same purchase and possession federal requirements as is currently part of the purchasing,possessing, securing and transporting of automatic weapons and supplemental.  Implement a gun/identity check process for sale of any weapon between individuals. 


3) Funds ATF accordingly at the federal level.  Make associated funding for local law enforcement assistance a no cut funding priority and back it with legislation that provides clear enforcement connection between the two levels of enforcement.


4)  Enact legislation that forces the individual to accept criminal responsibility for a weapon which if otherwise secured would not have been associated with another criminal act.  Let’s start with parental/ statutory language.


5)  Enact federal code and state statutory language that creates a no exception irrevocable “No Buy List” that is backed up by clearly defined criminal act and mental health criteria which gives courts clear guidance for uniform application including a restricted due process for appeals.  The list should be initially distributed to federally licensed dealers and eventually extended to an all gun(s) check prior to sale/transfer.


And by the way Oregon does not have to wait to implement most of the above on the state level.  So instead of again chasing the ghosts of gun violence let’s try to show a real intellect in attacking the most lethal systemic problem in our society, not guns but mental illness. Beginning now.


Over the last two decades the creators of our nations worst moments in our schools did not resemble a Andrew Kehoe 53 year old disgruntled School Board Treasurer who believed he was overtaxed, lost a local election for County Clerk and was facing foreclosure. He killed his dog, his horse and his wife, none with an “assault weapon”.


What they do have in common with Andrew Kehoe is that they deployed their mental illness in the hallways and classrooms of our schools destroying the lives of countless families.   


There is no easy answer here but along the way we are making too many excuses for our lack of policy insight and our ability to make law and fund programs that really work. 


Still in all that there is one a indisputable fact with or without a gun, evil will always find a way, always, nearly a century later just ask Bath Michigan.


Bernie Giusto is the former Multnomah County Sheriff, former Gresham Police Chief and City Council member, former Oregon State Patrol Trooper and is a member of the Victoria Taft Blogforce.



Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com

Pete the Banker: Obama Moves to Nationalize Residential Mortgage Industry

It is the latest iteration of the President’s attempt to nationalize the residential mortgage industry and spend the taxpayers money.  
 
From this report:

The U.S. government is considering expanding its mortgage refinancing program to include borrowers whose mortgages are not backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the discussions.

The refinancing program now being considered also seeks to include “underwater” borrowers who owe more than their homes are worth, the Journal said.
 
The proposal would also transfer potentially riskier loans held by private investors to the government-sponsored mortgage entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the paper said.
 
Such a move would require congressional authorization to temporarily change the charters of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, according to the Journal.
 
About 22 percent of all homes with a mortgage, or around 10.8 million homes, down from 12.1 million last year, were worth less than the outstanding balance at the end of June, the Journal said, citing data from CoreLogic. 

It appears to me that the Administration’s continued lack of action on residential mortgage lending and delay in reform of Fannie and Freddie is intentional and strategic attempt to preserve the GSE’s dominance in the mortgage market.

Given the endless delays by Senate and Administration in adopting the reform measures passed by the Republican controlled House, which by the way conform to the expressed intent to “privatize” the residential capital markets proposed under the Treasury Departments 2011 White Paper on GSE reform, the only logical explanation seems to be that in reality the Administration opposes privatization.

I suspect the longer they can preserve the present residential industry dependence upon Fannie, Freddie and the FHA (still well over 85% of all mortgages originated), the greater the likelihood that these dependent special interest groups will insist on preserving them.  The National Association of Realtors has already lobbied for the preservation of the GSE’s. The Mortgage Bankers Association is re-reviewing their earlier recommendation to move toward greater privatization.

“Pete the Banker” is a long time Portland area banker. He is a member of the Victoria Taft Blogforce.

Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com

ILWU Sends Workers to Docks. No Violence Planned?

Longshore stevedores returned to work at local docks where they now work under the contract they overwhelmingly rejected. The question now becomes whether the dock workers here in Vancouver, Portland, Tacoma and Seattle will walk out in sympathy with the workers on the east coast whose deadline for a contract deal is Monday.
Stay tuned. 

Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com

General Schwartzkopf, RIP

General “Stormin’ Norman” Schwartzkopf died yesterday. He was the General overseeing coalition troops in Operation Desert Storm in 1990-91. He commanded US warriors along with French, British, Egyptian and Saudi troops to turn back Saddam Hussein’s 500,000 man army and elite Republican Guard which had invaded Kuwait.
Saddam’s troops set Kuwait’s oil wells on fire, sabotaged a desalination plant and committed atrocities against the Kuwaiti people, among a list of horribles.

General Schwartzkopf at “The Briefing” See it below.

What endeared Schwartzkopf to the American people, however, was his frequent briefings on the progress of the war to the American people and to the press. He was the first to embed reporters within combat units in the Armed Forces in a hot war in order to avoid the “Vietnamization” of (inaccurate) reportage that undermined the Vietnam War effort.

The following videos show Schwartzkopf’s ultimate briefing on the success of the Coalition Campaign against Saddam. We’ll be highlighting the real nuggets of this briefing on the program today. Some of Schwartzkopf’s decision came back to haunt the US–such as the decision to leave Saddam with some of his air force assets in tact and the decision NOT to overrun Baghdad and depose Saddam Hussein.

Scwartzkopf’s bio is impressive. Read it here. He was fluent in three languages, studied abroad as a child, received a Masters degree later in life (in mechanical engineering) and graduated from West Point.

Note this part of the bio. He received THREE Silver Stars in Vietnam. I want you to note how he got the first one and where it was. When you get to the part of the briefing (below) where a reporter asks him about how easy Operation Desert Storm was, note the question Schwartzkopf asks him, “Have you ever been in a mine field?”

Here’s why:

When Colonel Schwarzkopf received word that men under his command had encountered a minefield, he rushed to the scene in his helicopter. He found several soldiers still trapped in the minefield. Schwarzkopf urged them to retrace their steps slowly. Still, one man tripped a mine and was severely injured but remained conscious. As the wounded man flailed in agony, the soldiers around him feared that he would set off another mine. Schwarzkopf, also injured by the explosion, crawled across the minefield to the wounded man and held him down so another could splint his shattered leg. One soldier stepped away to break a branch from a nearby tree to make the splint. In doing so, he too hit a mine, killing himself and the two men closest to him, and blowing the leg off of Schwarzkopf’s liaison officer. Eventually, Colonel Schwarzkopf led his surviving men to safety. He was awarded the Silver Star for his bravery but, more importantly to Norman Schwarzkopf, he cemented his reputation as an officer who would risk anything for the soldiers under his command.
Norman Schwarzkopf Biography Photo

Before the tour was up, Colonel Schwarzkopf would earn three Silver Stars and be wounded again

Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com

Bernie Giusto: Blaming Guns is the Easy Way Out

In 1927 when so called assault weapons and high capacity magazines were not even a glimmer in the eye of Smith and Wesson, Colt or Bushmaster, Andrew Kehoe needed only a single rifle shot to kill 38 elementary students, six adults and injure 58 others. 


He also needed a little dynamite mixed with a heavy dose of mental illness to lay claim to our nation’s still most deadly school massacre.  It wasn’t about guns, it wasn’t about explosives it was about the mental illness of one individual determined to act.



But the sorrows of the parents, friends and families that made up the greater Bath, Michigan Consolidated School District community at the time didn’t know the difference and didn’t care. 


While the weapons of such evil may my vary from terrifying event to wholesale senseless tragedy our focus never does. When the shooting stops blaming guns is the easy out for those who are either afraid or unwilling to do the heavy lifting of refocusing a nation on real policy and solutions with a sustained and unwavering funding commitment to keep our kids safe .


Addressing guns in specific proposals may be unavoidable.  It may also be well advised.  But in a vacuum, in this void where we are deprived of why someone takes a weapon and kills people, a fearful nation reminds one of the definition of insanity. Politically expedient in sound bites but public policy lite in results.


Addressing the mental health delivery system in our states is not a point of debate it is clearly a public policy travesty to a moral certainty.  The discussion begins and ends with the abandonment of our mentally ill on the streets of our communities.  


And those who blame guns for our national tragedies are the same great thinkers that deconstructed the very centralized system that often gave those troubled by life a safe place to find structure and a safe place find inner peace. 


When the money got tough they ran out of ideas; worse yet they ran out commitment to protect our mentally ill and, as a result, the rest of us.  All in the name of a kinder, gentler way to put guns in hands of those whose mental health slowly dissolves and their ability to make rational choices disappear. They have made the police often the final arbiter in deciding who goes to jail to get what help there is and–worse– whose mental illness ends in that life and death moment.


Over the last two decades the slowly evolving evil associated lack of a real mental health system in this country has reached into our juvenile and adolescent population with a vengeance in measurable ways.It’s told in anecdotal tales from NewTown, Columbine, and Clackamas Town Center.  Not old enough to be poisoned by life experience, but mentally ill enough to have a new deadly surreal reality take control in a mind’s eye out of balance.


If we are really serious about protecting our kids, then in a broad sense let’s start here :

1)  If reconstructing a real mental health system across the entire spectrum is too heavy to lift , then fund a centralized juvenile mental health referral, diagnosis and treatment as the top public safety health priority at both the state and federal level. This does not mean just more money thrown at of the same ineffective public policy that has brought us to this crisis.


2) Make the purchase of high capacity semi-automatic long guns, associated supplemental and magazines (with careful definition such as muzzle velocity) subject to the same purchase and possession federal requirements as is currently part of the purchasing,possessing, securing and transporting of automatic weapons and supplemental.  Implement a gun/identity check process for sale of any weapon between individuals. 


3) Funds ATF accordingly at the federal level.  Make associated funding for local law enforcement assistance a no cut funding priority and back it with legislation that provides clear enforcement connection between the two levels of enforcement.


4)  Enact legislation that forces the individual to accept criminal responsibility for a weapon which if otherwise secured would not have been associated with another criminal act.  Let’s start with parental/ statutory language.


5)  Enact federal code and state statutory language that creates a no exception irrevocable “No Buy List” that is backed up by clearly defined criminal act and mental health criteria which gives courts clear guidance for uniform application including a restricted due process for appeals.  The list should be initially distributed to federally licensed dealers and eventually extended to an all gun(s) check prior to sale/transfer.


And by the way Oregon does not have to wait to implement most of the above on the state level.  So instead of again chasing the ghosts of gun violence let’s try to show a real intellect in attacking the most lethal systemic problem in our society, not guns but mental illness. Beginning now.


Over the last two decades the creators of our nations worst moments in our schools did not resemble a Andrew Kehoe 53 year old disgruntled School Board Treasurer who believed he was overtaxed, lost a local election for County Clerk and was facing foreclosure. He killed his dog, his horse and his wife, none with an “assault weapon”.


What they do have in common with Andrew Kehoe is that they deployed their mental illness in the hallways and classrooms of our schools destroying the lives of countless families.   


There is no easy answer here but along the way we are making too many excuses for our lack of policy insight and our ability to make law and fund programs that really work. 


Still in all that there is one a indisputable fact with or without a gun, evil will always find a way, always, nearly a century later just ask Bath Michigan.


Bernie Giusto is the former Multnomah County Sheriff, former Gresham Police Chief and City Council member, former Oregon State Patrol Trooper and is a member of the Victoria Taft Blogforce.



Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com

Pete the Banker: Obama Moves to Nationalize Residential Mortgage Industry

It is the latest iteration of the President’s attempt to nationalize the residential mortgage industry and spend the taxpayers money.  
 
From this report:

The U.S. government is considering expanding its mortgage refinancing program to include borrowers whose mortgages are not backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the discussions.

The refinancing program now being considered also seeks to include “underwater” borrowers who owe more than their homes are worth, the Journal said.
 
The proposal would also transfer potentially riskier loans held by private investors to the government-sponsored mortgage entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the paper said.
 
Such a move would require congressional authorization to temporarily change the charters of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, according to the Journal.
 
About 22 percent of all homes with a mortgage, or around 10.8 million homes, down from 12.1 million last year, were worth less than the outstanding balance at the end of June, the Journal said, citing data from CoreLogic. 

It appears to me that the Administration’s continued lack of action on residential mortgage lending and delay in reform of Fannie and Freddie is intentional and strategic attempt to preserve the GSE’s dominance in the mortgage market.

Given the endless delays by Senate and Administration in adopting the reform measures passed by the Republican controlled House, which by the way conform to the expressed intent to “privatize” the residential capital markets proposed under the Treasury Departments 2011 White Paper on GSE reform, the only logical explanation seems to be that in reality the Administration opposes privatization.

I suspect the longer they can preserve the present residential industry dependence upon Fannie, Freddie and the FHA (still well over 85% of all mortgages originated), the greater the likelihood that these dependent special interest groups will insist on preserving them.  The National Association of Realtors has already lobbied for the preservation of the GSE’s. The Mortgage Bankers Association is re-reviewing their earlier recommendation to move toward greater privatization.

“Pete the Banker” is a long time Portland area banker. He is a member of the Victoria Taft Blogforce.

Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com

ILWU Sends Workers to Docks. No Violence Planned?

Longshore stevedores returned to work at local docks where they now work under the contract they overwhelmingly rejected. The question now becomes whether the dock workers here in Vancouver, Portland, Tacoma and Seattle will walk out in sympathy with the workers on the east coast whose deadline for a contract deal is Monday.
Stay tuned. 

Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com

General Schwartzkopf, RIP

General “Stormin’ Norman” Schwartzkopf died yesterday. He was the General overseeing coalition troops in Operation Desert Storm in 1990-91. He commanded US warriors along with French, British, Egyptian and Saudi troops to turn back Saddam Hussein’s 500,000 man army and elite Republican Guard which had invaded Kuwait.
Saddam’s troops set Kuwait’s oil wells on fire, sabotaged a desalination plant and committed atrocities against the Kuwaiti people, among a list of horribles.

General Schwartzkopf at “The Briefing” See it below.

What endeared Schwartzkopf to the American people, however, was his frequent briefings on the progress of the war to the American people and to the press. He was the first to embed reporters within combat units in the Armed Forces in a hot war in order to avoid the “Vietnamization” of (inaccurate) reportage that undermined the Vietnam War effort.

The following videos show Schwartzkopf’s ultimate briefing on the success of the Coalition Campaign against Saddam. We’ll be highlighting the real nuggets of this briefing on the program today. Some of Schwartzkopf’s decision came back to haunt the US–such as the decision to leave Saddam with some of his air force assets in tact and the decision NOT to overrun Baghdad and depose Saddam Hussein.

Scwartzkopf’s bio is impressive. Read it here. He was fluent in three languages, studied abroad as a child, received a Masters degree later in life (in mechanical engineering) and graduated from West Point.

Note this part of the bio. He received THREE Silver Stars in Vietnam. I want you to note how he got the first one and where it was. When you get to the part of the briefing (below) where a reporter asks him about how easy Operation Desert Storm was, note the question Schwartzkopf asks him, “Have you ever been in a mine field?”

Here’s why:

When Colonel Schwarzkopf received word that men under his command had encountered a minefield, he rushed to the scene in his helicopter. He found several soldiers still trapped in the minefield. Schwarzkopf urged them to retrace their steps slowly. Still, one man tripped a mine and was severely injured but remained conscious. As the wounded man flailed in agony, the soldiers around him feared that he would set off another mine. Schwarzkopf, also injured by the explosion, crawled across the minefield to the wounded man and held him down so another could splint his shattered leg. One soldier stepped away to break a branch from a nearby tree to make the splint. In doing so, he too hit a mine, killing himself and the two men closest to him, and blowing the leg off of Schwarzkopf’s liaison officer. Eventually, Colonel Schwarzkopf led his surviving men to safety. He was awarded the Silver Star for his bravery but, more importantly to Norman Schwarzkopf, he cemented his reputation as an officer who would risk anything for the soldiers under his command.
Norman Schwarzkopf Biography Photo

Before the tour was up, Colonel Schwarzkopf would earn three Silver Stars and be wounded again

Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com