THIS IS A GUEST POST BY LAWRENCE LAFERLA, BROTHER OF 1st CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE, DR. JOHN LAFERLA, REPONDING TO CONSERVATIVE EASTERN SHORE BLOGGER, MIKE SWARTZ, WRITING ON “MONOBLOGUE.”
Right-wing blog supports so-called “patriot” groups
Blogger Michael Swartz appears to deny that Andy Harris has in fact endorsed gun extremists who advocate the violent overthrow of the U.S. government. But the second-term, “tea” congressman actually has endorsed gun extremists who do advocate the violent overthrow of our freely elected government. In an open society such as ours, that’s close to treason. It’s simply a fact that Andy Harris supports gun extremists who can be fairly characterized as part of the “Timothy McVeigh wing of the Republican party.” It’s a fact that Andy addressed their right-wing gun rally. They talked of praying with guns in their hands and described our twice-elected president as a “dictator.” Andy gave them his blessing. It’s not unfair to point out that Andy Harris pals around with anti-government extremists.
It’s funny how right-wingers project. Who’s more “despotic,” the president or Congressman Harris? Evidence points toward the latter. Here you see Andy Harris preventing cameras from recording his fracking hearing (as if Andy’s big energy owners actually owned not just the congressman but our entire House of Representatives). Talk about despotism!
Okay, back to the topic of sensible gun policy. I can’t claim to know exactly (as of this writing) what my brother John LaFerla’s position is on gun ownership. (It’s too late in the evening to phone him, and it isn’t stated anywhere on the campaign site.) But we can safely presume that it’s in line with the mainstream. Protect property? Yes. Hunting? Yes. Fight despotic Royal Army? Sure. Overthrow our freely-elected U.S. government? Hell no — are you insane?
That was not in any way part of the intent of the drafters of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights that were adopted in 1789, nor is any right of domestic insurrection to be found in the literal wording of the Amendment. Furthermore, the “militia” that were referred to in the Amendment were supposed to be like juries, with participation from all citizens, not just gun enthusiasts. How do we know? If you have any doubts about this, read the entirety of this excellent exposition on the Second Amendment. And the “well regulated” part means public oversight. You don’t get to proclaim yourself a militia any more than you can proclaim yourself a general or a judge. True citizens militia would have rolling public conscription, like with juries, and would follow state and federal regulations enacted by duly elected public servants. You don’t just form your own little army and make your own rules. When our big army crushes your little army you’re going to cry about “tyranny.” But most Americans won’t call that tyranny. We’ll call it justice.
If you form a right-wing militia, who are you protecting? All of us? Akhil Reed Amar gets it right. Your militia doesn’t necessarily represent my interests as a citizen. You’re just a gun club. Nothing intrinsically patriotic about your gun collection. Nothing at all. And having a gun doesn’t put you in charge of the populace. It doesn’t make you more of an authority than any unarmed citizen. Might doesn’t make right. We have democratic processes in our government of, for and by the people.
Our current President, that thoughtful, decent, moderate, public servant, whom we elected twice with strong national majorities, speaks the truth when he notes that “the government’s us!”
This is an article from Frank Miller, in Talbot County. Frank is a retired school psychologist, activist and supporter of John LaFerla for Congress:
Last December after hearing about the tragic loss of life at Sandy Hook Elementary, my wife Coletta decided we had to do something to show support. She came up with the idea to send a Christmas wreath with 26 angels. We purchased 20 small Serenity Angels and 6 larger ones, and the staff at her elementary school, in Ridgely, Maryland, tied them all on the wreath with white and green ribbons, and signed a card with the wording, “From one elementary school to another.” I made a cardboard box and sent it off to Newtown.
Fearing it might end up in a snow bank, somewhere, I sent it to the Newtown General Store, in the heart of town, a meeting place for kids and adults with colorful candy in clear glass jars, wood floors and a delicatessen as the main draw. The owner called Coletta when it arrived – Brian Williams of NBC News was there when it did we later found out – and displayed it in the store during the holidays. When one of the teachers from Sandy Hook stopped by and saw it, she asked if she could take it to their new building, and that is where it ended up.
For my part, I wanted to organize a project to memorialize the children and their brave teachers. As a graduate of Virginia Tech, suffering a tragedy themselves, I reached out to the editor who put together their memorial issues for the students and faculty who died. He suggested for me to find out what Newtown wanted first, and I later contacted the person in charge of gathering and organizing the tens of thousands of items that arrived in Newtown, in the wake of the tragedy. She was the Human Resources Administrator for Newtown, and despite being buried under an avalanche of cards and letters and paintings and sculptures and quilts and stuffed animals, she was kind enough to return my calls and emails.
On Friday, April 12, my wife and I drove to Newtown to meet with these two wonderful people. We spent over an hour with the HR Administrator in her office. When the mail arrived for the day, it was on a cart, in overflowing plastic USPS boxes. “There’s today’s mail,” she pointed. When we were genuinely surprised, she said, “Follow me,” and took us into the basement of the building, to a secure area filled with cartons of mail, paintings of the children, handmade quilts with their faces, and many other items people had sent to the families of the children. An incredible outpouring of love and support. She allowed us to take photos under the promise not to post them, since the families had not yet seen the offerings. For some it was still too close, too painful.
When we returned upstairs, she picked up her phone and called an associate who was in the process of documenting and cataloging every piece of mail, every piece of artwork, every item sent to Newtown in support of the families. She then directed us to a storefront, across town, where the work was being done, and we headed over there, in awe of the enormity of the project, but even more impressed with the love and dedication of this young woman and her staff of volunteers. Look up “Healing Through the Arts Newtown” (http://www.healingnewtown.org/) to get a small idea of what this work entails.
It was only noon, so we next headed over to the General Store, where we met with the owner and spent the next three hours talking about the immediate aftermath of the shooting, the days that followed, and the months of healing that are now in play. He opened his arms to us, and we felt like we were old friends, coming together again.
What struck us the most, was the kindness and trust everyone showed us, and the prevailing attitude in Newtown that because this act was so horrific, they were determined to make every effort to make sure that everything that followed was driven by love and support for the families, for the children and teachers who died that day, and for anyone else who cried for them and their tremendous loss.
To those pro-gun advocates who think that more concealed weapons will reduce crime, please stop embarrassing yourselves and do some research. I’m going to help you along, by providing some studies by very prestigious researchers in the US. I found these while debating a gentleman who thought that John Lott, Jr’s book, More Guns, Less Crime, was so correct and unimpeachable. Interestingly, John Lott, Jr. has a PhD in economics, not social science or other research specialty, and was employed by the American Enterprise Institute, a far-right, conservative think-tank.
Mr. Lott and his methodologies have been highly ridiculed and debunked by prestigious researchers around the country, including the following studies:
- Most of these studies contend that there seems to be little or no effect on crime from the passage of license-to-carry laws. Some, such as Donohue’s 2003 study, find a temporary increase in aggravated assaults.
- Rutgers sociology professor Ted Goertzel stated that “Lott’s massive data set was simply unsuitable for his task”, and that he “compar[ed] trends in Idaho and West Virginia and Mississippi with trends in Washington, D.C. and New York City” without proper statistical controls.
- Goertzel also points out that econometric methods (such as the Lott & Mustard RTC study or the Levitt & Donohue abortion study) are susceptible to misuse and can even become junk science.
- Ian Ayres, Yale Law School, and John Donohue, Stanford Law School, “Shooting Down the More Guns, Less Crime Hypothesis,” Stanford Law Review, 2003. This study found a temporary increase in aggravated assaults.
- Jens Ludwig, Georgetown University, “Concealed-Gun-Carrying Laws and Violent Crime: Evidence from State Panel Data”, International Review of Law and Economics, 1998.
- Dan Black and Daniel Nagin, “Do ‘Right-to-Carry’ Laws Deter Violent Crime?” Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 27, No. 1, pp. 209–213 (January 1998).
- Mark Duggan, University of Chicago, “More Guns, More Crime,” National Bureau of Economic Research, NBER Working Paper No. W7967, October 2000, later published in Journal of Political Economy.
- Tomislav V. Kovandzic and Thomas B. Marvell, “Right-To-Carry Concealed Firearms and Violent Crime: Crime Control Through Gun Decontrol?” Criminology and Public Policy 2, (2003) pp. 363–396.
- John J. Donahue III, Stanford Law School, ‘The Final Bullet in the Body of the More Guns, Less Crime Hypothesis’, Criminology and Public Policy, 2003.
- John Donohue and Ian Ayres. “More Guns, Less Crime Fails Again: The Latest Evidence from 1977–2006″ Econ Journal Watch 6.2 (2009): 218-238.
These are just a few of the many studies that oppose the Lott junk science approach to research.
In response to the dispute surrounding missing data that Lott referred to, in regard to a study he said he had performed in 1996, Lott created and used “Mary Rosh” as a sock puppet, to defend his own works on Usenet and elsewhere. After investigative work by blogger Julian Sanchez, Lott admitted to use of the “Mary Rosh” persona. Sanchez also pointed out that Lott, posing as “Mary Rosh”, not only praised his own academic writing, but also called himself “the best professor I ever had”.
Many commentators and academics accused Lott of violating academic integrity, noting that he praised himself while posing as one of his former students, and that “Mary Rosh” was used to post a favorable review of More Guns, Less Crime on Amazon.com. Lott has claimed that the “Mary Rosh” review was written by his son and wife. ”I probably shouldn’t have done it—I know I shouldn’t have done it—but it’s hard to think of any big advantage I got except to be able to comment fictitiously,” Lott told the Washington Post in 2003.
Rep. Andy Harris (see http://harris.house.gov/) loves to state a position (usually involving the word “NO”, and then stick to it, no matter what the ramifications. As a Tea Party and wealthy corporatist Favorite Son, he merely does what he is told by the puppet masters who control his campaign contribution purse-strings. The health care issue is no different for him today, than it was three years ago, when he promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), come hell or high water.
Even after decrying the required wait for his own health coverage to take effect in Congress, he turned a blind eye to the plight of those who have no health coverage at all…not just for 30 days, but for their entire lives. Back then, he was upset because there was a standard waiting period from the time he was sworn in, until the effective date of the Congressional health plan. Meanwhile, this is an ordinary course of events for Americans, on a daily basis. If you move from one company to another, you might have to wait 30, 60 or 90 days before coverage takes effect.
While looking out for his own health coverage, Harris’ ongoing repeal efforts would deny the following benefits to families and businesses in the 1st district:
- Improving coverage for 498,000 residents with health insurance, by ending the worst of insurance company abuses such as eliminating pre-existing condition exclusions and annual and lifetime coverage limits.
- Allowing 50,000 young adults to obtain coverage on their parents’ insurance plans.
- Strengthening Medicare for 119,000 beneficiaries, including reducing the cost of prescription drugs and eliminating waste fraud and abuse.
- Giving tax credits and other help to up to 126,000 families and 17,900 small businesses to help them afford coverage.
- Guaranteeing that 8,500 residents with pre-existing conditions can obtain coverage.
- Extending coverage to 19,000 uninsured residents.
- Protecting 1,100 families from bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs.
- Providing millions of dollars in new funding for 47 community health centers.
- Saving hospitals and other health care providers by $29 million annually, by reducing the cost of uncompensated care.
It’s about time Harris stops playing politics with the health and welfare of the residents of the 1st district. It’s time, as a doctor who supposedly subscribes to the Hippocratic Oath and promise to “First, do no harm”, to start acting like it. People’s lives hang in the balance and they should not be considered fodder for his political rallies, soundbites and distorted charts that he is famous for. It’s time to put PEOPLE OVER POLITICS!
We have all heard Rep. Andy Harris recite how much he cares about the people on the Eastern Shore. Harris is from Baltimore County, but a large part of his Congressional District is on this side of “the Bridge.” (See http://harris.house.gov/)
With huge out-of-state support, by right-wing extremists, Harris was able to defeat Frank Kratovil and Wayne Gilchrest, representatives who lived and worked here on the Delmarva Peninsula, and who represented our best interests. On the other hand, we now have a representative who is from Baltimore and contrary to his rhetoric, cares little for Eastern Shore people or the Bay.
You don’t need to take my word for it; let’s look at his record. While in the Maryland State Senate, Harris had one of the worst environmental records, and his lack of interest in helping to save our greatest natural resource, the Chesapeake Bay, was well-known.
His position hasn’t changed. In fact, if Harris gets his way, instead of wind turbines off the shore of Ocean City, there will be oil rigs.
Yes, just as in the Gulf of Mexico, we will be creating an environmental disaster, just waiting to happen. Can we imagine the devastation even a small spill would cause to the beaches and resort areas along Maryland and Delaware shores? Such a catastrophe will make Hurricane Sandy seem like a non-event.
Speaking of Hurricane Sandy, which he referred to as an “historic storm”, what was Harris’ response to the record flooding and damages in Crisfield, Smith Island, Marion, Fairmount, Deal Island, Ocean Pines and Princess Anne? He, again, turned aside the interests of the Eastern Shore, and instead, voted “No” on the Sandy Relief bill. Even worse, he voted on a doomed bill that would provide $17 billion in aid, but only if it was offset by cuts elsewhere, something that had never been required in catastrophic emergencies like this. He knew it wouldn’t pass, but he and his Tea Party allies pointed to it, saying, “We tried!”
Farmers here on the Eastern Shore, also found out the truth about Harris, when he voted “No” on the extension of the Farm Bill (actually, the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012), even though it had come out of the GOP-led Agriculture Committee.
Women, too, were brushed aside by his “No” vote on the Violence Against Women Act. Even though VAWA has been proven beneficial and effective, reducing violence by 50% – 67%, since its passage in 1994. What was Harris’ excuse for his “No” vote? He released statement said, the bill didn’t contain a “conscience provision” for “religious organizations that want to help prostitutes but don’t want to tell them about abortion.“ So, instead, he is content with 1,200 women killed and 2 million injured, in domestic violence, annually. According to the CDC, 25% of all US women are subjects of some domestic abuse.
As I said, the record speaks for itself. Of course, I don’t have room to report all of Harris’ “No” votes, from education to jobs, Medicare to veteran benefits. Stay tuned, because I will be exposing Harris’ record from now until 2014, showing why he is no friend of the Eastern Shore or America. We deserve better than a puppet to out-of-state puppet masters, interested more in profits than people. Shouldn’t it be People Over Politics? That’s what I was taught, anyway!
The following is the response I gave to an Editorial in the Cecil Whig (Cecil County, MD). The editorial was written in response to Governor O’Malley’s push to repeal the death penalty in Maryland, and the passage of such legislation by the State Senate. The House is now reviewing it, but it looks as though it will easily pass. The editor believes that we need to support the death penalty. Why? Not because it is a deterrent or saves money, or any other reason that might carry with it some form of logic or reason; no, the editor believes that it is because most people polled want to retain it. So, if the majority want to kill off all seniors over 75, should it be the people’s right to vote on it? That’s what the editor seems to be saying! Here is the link to the editorial, with my response following: http://www.cecildaily.com/opinion/editorials/article_ff2aa1a0-89e9-11e2-bd75-001a4bcf887a.html
I was surprised by how limited your argument is for keeping the death penalty: “The majority wants it!” Nowhere do you present a case that it is a surefire deterrent or that it is cost effective; simply, it seems, you support it because it’s a way to get rid of murderers and the people demand it!
You refuse to even consider what professionals in the corrections field think, including criminal psychologists, corrections experts and those who have shown, study after study, that the death penalty is not an effective deterrent to murder.
Further, if you checked out the real cost of the death penalty versus life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, you would have found that it is equal to, if not more than, the cost of life without parole. According to a recent study, performed by John Roman, PhD, Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute and Executive Director of the District of Columbia Crime Policy Institute, et al., in Dec. 15, 2009, entitled “Reassessing the Cost of the Death Penalty Using Quasi-Experimental Methods: Evidence from Maryland,” published in American Law and Economics Association:
“On average, a death notice (by the State) adds about $1,000,000 in costs over the duration of a case (than a non-death penalty case).” Simply stated, the process needed to assure that a person targeted for the death penalty, must be beyond reproach, and so, there are at least three phases of the appeal process involved. This process can take anywhere from 20 to 35 years, depending upon the study looked at. During the appeals process, the victims are waiting for “finality” that rarely comes.
Let me state one other study, showing the high rate of errors at trial, found on appeal: “The rate of error found in appeals in death penalty cases, from 1976-1995, was 100 percent in three states — Kentucky, Maryland and Tennessee.” This means that in every death penalty-related case, appealed in MD, a serious error at trial level was found, allowing for the conviction to be overturned. This 2000 study was conducted at Columbia University, led by Dr. James S. Liebman.
I haven’t even talked about how DNA evidence is leading to the overturning of murder and other serious offense cases across the country, including MD.
Finally, you’re argument that the people should decide, is the raving of an uneducated and superficial advocate. There has been a history of issues in our country where “the people” have come down on the wrong side, including slavery, women’s suffrage and civil rights, especially for African-Americans, LGBTs, and others.
When the evidence is clear that the death penalty doesn’t work, people’s emotions should not be the deciding factor. There is too much at stake to allow emotions, alone, to dictate the results. There is no convincing argument for the death penalty, other than revenge and anger; the argument against the death penalty involves logic, reason, analysis and the fear of error, which appears to happen in more cases than we’d like to admit. And for those who believe in the “sanctity of life” for unborn fetuses, shouldn’t that sanctity be applied for those fetuses, once they become viable human beings?
Judy Davis, an activist from Worcester County, MD, is involved with important issues in our state. She recently participated in the Marylanders Against Gun Violence rally, in Annapolis, MD and is a participant in the Emerge program, which trains women around the country to take more active roles in leadership positions in their communities.
It would be hard to ignore the working poor, while living in a seasonal beach town, as I do. Although many unskilled jobs are filled with visiting foreign-exchange students, “locals” hold about half of those positions. These “locals”, some of who are lifelong residents, live in the area year-round and find that they’re without work when the businesses close for the season. The fortunate ones are able to receive a modest unemployment check, twice a month. Renting in our area is expensive and lodging is only available in the off-season. Those that choose to remain in a year-round room/apartment, pay much higher rent than a comparable living space, elsewhere.
During a recent conversation I had with two local business owners, I heard claims that people are living off “the system”, wanting “hand-outs”, and “those people” are not properly planning for emergencies or their retirement. When I asked how anyone, especially those of advanced years, could pay for living expenses at wages of $7.25 hour, there was no response.
Our society’s perception of the working poor has deteriorated, from one of providing an honest day’s work, to one of expecting entitlements and being shiftless. According to Charlie White (Think Reality: Wealth Inequality in America), 15.1% of the U.S. population (approximately 47 million people) lives below the Poverty Line. An average worker needs to work one month to equal one hour of income that an average CEO earns. That equates to about 160 hours to 1 hour. Some figures have shown that to be as high as 400 hours to 1 hour!
The working poor have no discretionary income. If they are lucky enough to own a vehicle and a tire goes flat, the choice is between buying groceries to feed their family or purchasing another used tire. Trying to save money for deposits on utilities, medical emergencies, gasoline, school supplies, clothes or other basic needs, is impossible, as there isn’t enough money to cover everything. Many parents go without, in order to provide the very minimum subsistence for their children.
The frustration of “just scraping by” impacts a person’s self-worth, causing a cyclical, downward spiral, which is difficult, if not impossible, to recover from. Don’t forget who also suffers, aside from the parents: Approximately 19% of children in my county live below the Poverty Line (One Maryland: The Plight of Maryland Distressed Jurisdictions).
Rather than blaming the working poor for their situation, how about giving a “hand-up” to help people have their basic needs met, especially where they are desperately trying? In my county, over 25% of female-headed households make just $14,900 per year. Most of our lives would look very different if we suddenly became unemployed, developed significant health issues, needed elderly care or had another traumatic event crossing our paths. Instead of criticizing and demeaning people who are dependent on some form of assistance, in order to survive, their critics should be saying, “There, but for the grace of God, go I!”
The following is a video that clearly explains wealth distribution in America, including how Americans think it is, how they think it should be, and finally, the reality of the way it really is. It will open your eyes and may, in fact, surprise even the most conservative among you!
The following is submitted by Guest-Blogger, Burkely Hermann, from Baltimore. He is an online blogger, in his own right, and a student who writes about National, State and International issues, in order to educate the public and motivate us to act.
I just realized something horrifying. Remember the campaign I was trying to start against the bill to raise the corporate tax rate? Guess what? ALEC is involved. First I wrote about how Senator Brinkley and Delegate Schultz were funded by big business, telling people to email their state representatives in response. Then, I launched the #STOPBS campaign, creating a new petition. Finally, I wrote an article in the DelMarva Progressive about this topic, detailing specifics, including the hearing in the Ways and Means Committee, scheduled for February 26th.
Then, today, I was trying to do some research for a Twitter battle, and I stumbled across ALEC again. ALEC, or the American Legislative Exchange Council, according the Center of Media & Democracy: is not a lobby; it is not a front group. In reality, it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators changes to laws they desire, that directly benefit their bottom line or cause. Along with legislators (State and Federal), corporations have membership in ALEC. Corporations sit on all nine ALEC task forces, and vote with legislators, to approve “model” bills. They have their own corporate Governing Board, which meets jointly with the legislative board. (ALEC says that corporations do not vote on their Board.)
Corporations fund almost all of ALEC’s operations. Participating legislators, overwhelmingly, Conservative Republicans, then bring those proposals home and introduce them in Statehouses, across the land, as their own “brilliant” public policy innovations—without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills. ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 of these bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five enacted into law. ALEC describes itself as a “unique,” “unparalleled” and “unmatched” organization. We agree. It is as if a State legislature had been reconstituted, yet corporations had pushed the people out the door.
How does such an organization factor into this bill, you might ask? Consider that, of the 28 Republican sponsors in the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates (27 in the House and one in the Senate) 10 are ALEC members. That’s more than 35.7% of all sponsors!
- - Kelly Schultz, sponsor of the bill in the House, is a member of the Commerce, Insurance, and Economic Development Task Force
- - Kathy Afzali, a co-sponsor of the House bill, is on the Education Task Force
- - Susan Aumann, another co-sponsor, is on the Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force
- - Susan Krebs, another co-sponsor, who signed onto an ALEC letter against Single-Payer healthcare and another letter rallying against the Clean Air Act, along with relaxing EPA regulations on greenhouse gases
- - Adelaide Eckhardt, another co-sponsor, member of the Health and Human Services Task Force.
- - William Frank, another member of the Health and Human Services Task Force.
- - Nancy Stocksdale, another co-sponsor, was the former State Chairman for the Maryland branch of ALEC!
- - Mark Fisher, another co-sponsor, is a member of the Communications and Technology Task Force
- - Ron A. George, another co-sponsor, is a member if the Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force
- - Michael Hough, another co-sponsor, is the current State Chairman of the Maryland Chapter of ALEC!
This is a good chunk of all the ALEC legislators in the State. I have an article on the way about the other co-sponsors. As for this bill, in particular, it is in line with other ALEC ”model” bills, as the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities notes:
“The specific policies include deep cuts in income taxes, particularly for affluent households and corporations…While pushing policies that would weaken or dismantle state revenue systems that finance key public investments, ALEC promotes [things like]…Mechanisms that would reduce funds for services.”
While this bill, its current form, does not conform to any of the “models” described directly, the bill, itself, still benefits corporate power and financial goals. So, lets come together and #StopAlec from giving these corporations a tax break they don’t deserve! As a start, sign my petition. Then, contact your State Senator and Delegate, stating your position against this legislation. Afterwards, stay tuned for further information, updates and suggestions for other actions to take.