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5 Serious Questions For America

Written by Jon Saltzman

 

My friends are very encouraging about Political Storm and believe in our mission to bring the conversation back to politics so they often say things like: “Man, what a great time to write about politics, there’s so much material!” To which I usually think: “Be careful what you wish for…” Such was the last few days where I’m sure many Americans were overwhelmed by issues and trying to find accurate and thoughtful coverage in the media. Here are five questions that should be asked and addressed in a thoughtful way:

 

 

Where can we go for accurate and truly balanced reporting?

 

Yesterday the mainstream media, led by CNN produced two news stories about the President’s trip to Asia (first stop: Japan) that were completely false and intended to denigrate Donald Trump. But in doing so, they shamed themselves and proved Trump’s point about fake news.

 

The first news item was the reporting of Trump’s visit to a Koi pond with Japan Prime Minister Abe, where it was reported by CNN that Trump grew impatient feeding the fish and dumped his box of food in all at once. This story was then picked up by other news outlets and also tweeted by reporters.

 

Just one thing, it wasn’t true. Here’s the video:

 

 

 

Not to be outdone, Slate writer, Jordan Weissmann wrote about Trump’s meeting with Japanese auto manufacturers and said that Trump asked them to manufacture cars in the U.S. Clearly pointing out Trump’s buffoonery – after all, they do produce cars and trucks in the U.S. – everyone knows that.

 

Not to be scooped, The Hill published this:

 

 

It was finally proved false by of all things, a Washington Post reporter named Aaron Blake.

 

 

By the way, Bloomberg, ABC, and CNBC also picked up these stories. It appears that the vendetta of the mainstream media toward Donald Trump knows no limits and they have a false narrative to tell, truth be damned. There is nowhere to go to get any kind of balance, despite Fox News’ claims.

 

What is Robert Mueller actually investigating?

 

So far, we know that the famous Trump dossier, first paid for by a Republican presidential candidate and later by the Clinton campaign may have become the basis for the post-election hue and cry about Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia and the ultimate appointment of independent counsel, Robert Mueller.

 

In fact, it appears that Hillary Clinton’s campaign paid millions to Fusion GPS for continuing the investigation by former British spy Christopher Steele. His source was “Russian officials.” However, the Clinton campaign organization and the DNC wave this off as campaign opposition research, which is perfectly legal.

 

Meanwhile, Paul Manafort, the former Chairman of the Trump campaign has been charged with a host of criminal activities dating back to 2010. None of them involves Trump, so how is this within the scope of Mueller’s investigation?

 

It appears like there’s a whole lot of swamp-like things going on here. Especially when you add Donna Brazile’s claim that the DNC never gave Bernie Sanders a chance to win the nomination.

 

More to come…

 

How come Bowe Bergdahl is walking around free?

 

Confessed deserter Bowe Bergdahl was just sentenced to no jail time and a simple dishonorable discharge. Bergdahl walked off his post in Afghanistan in 2009 and was captured by the Taliban and held for 5 years. The search for Bergdahl cost at least 6 U.S. soldiers their lives. In 2014, President Obama gave him a hero’s welcome at the White House, following a prisoner exchange where the U.S. gave up 5 Taliban detainees at Gitmo.

Okay, I concede that 5 years with the Taliban is a significant punishment for his actions. However, many military people were aghast at the precedent that was set by Bergdahl’s sentencing. What does it say when the U.S. military lets someone off for desertion?

 

Can we get past the class warfare and clichés when we talk about taxes?

 

Taxes are how we feed the federal government beast. The problem we have is that many of us have a different view of what that means. This time around, no one seems to be asking the most important question, which is: Why does the beast have to get bigger? We have 50 state governments as well. Why is everything up to the federal government’s budget?

 

And why do taxes have to penalize any citizen? And why can’t all citizens pay some federal income tax? Aren’t we all in this together?

 

My point here is that we have made some kind of social engineering project out of income taxes. It affects behavior and has consequences. For instance, since state and local taxes are deductible, it shields individuals from the tax policy in their states and hometowns. It makes state and local government less accountable to us for their cost.

 

Because of home mortgage deductions, we have been pushed toward home ownership by the government and perhaps taking on larger and larger debt.

 

Recently released statistics from the OMB, led by Mick Mulvaney, show that the upper 20% of taxpayers pay 95% of all federal income tax. It was only 84% of total tax payments in 2015.

 

Let that sink in. Maybe that will change your concept of fairness? Can we stop calling it “trickle down economics?” Wealthy people consume quite a lot and many are small business owners who provide most of the new job growth in the United States.

 

 

How many gun tragedies will it take to make us realize guns are purchased far too easily and that the mental health of gun owners is a major cause of these mass shootings?

 

Please spare me the 2nd Amendment discussion. No one is talking about denying gun ownership (at least not me). But I am saying that guns in the hands of unstable people, are a real problem.

 

 

Think President Trump was wrong about mental health being a more important factor than guns in the latest mass killing at the Texas church?

 

I’ll leave you with this statistic: There were 34,000 firearms deaths in the U.S. in 2015 and 22,000 were suicides. Before you counter my argument with well, people will always find a way to kill themselves, researchers tell us that some 95% of suicides in the U.S. are from firearms. The problem with guns is that it’s quick and easy and people don’t tend to just try some other way.

 

 

Maybe the Left and Right could get together on this part of the gun problem right now. That would give us some common ground, wouldn’t it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jon Saltzman is the Publisher and Senior Editor of Political Storm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Comments

  • I agree with you on most of your points, Jon. Your argument misses the buck on the last one though. While I COMPLETELY agree with you on the mental health issue, I would argue that guns have nothing to do with suicides.

    Case in point. If you look at the countries with the top 10 rates of suicide per capita, you will not even see 1 country that cracks the top 30 in gun ownership rates. The #10 country for suicides (Latvia) comes in at 31 on the gun ownership list and then the next closest country is 90 on the gun ownership list, which is #9 (Hungary) on the suicide list. One could argue that Japan has some of the most strict gun control laws in the world and they fall at #7 on the suicide list.

    My point is, people kill themselves every single day in this world and the vast majority don’t use a gun. In the US, according to the CDC, about half of the suicides are committed with a firearm (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/suicide.htm). The rest of the world proves to us that if someone wants to kill themselves, it doesn’t matter what medium they have available to them, they will still do it.

    • Okay, I hear you ThreeP and 4 out of 5 ain’t bad so maybe I should quit while I’m ahead…Nah…

      Yes, it’s true that lots of other folks around the world use different means of suicide. But in the U.S. we are a gun culture. We use guns 51% of the time.

      I did a little more research to make my point.
      Check this article out about a study done at Harvard’s School of Public Health:https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/magazine/guns-and-suicide/
      Here’s a quote:A study by the Harvard School of Public Health of all 50 U.S. states reveals a powerful link between rates of firearm ownership and suicides. Based on a survey of American households conducted in 2002, HSPH Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management Matthew Miller, Research Associate Deborah Azrael, and colleagues at the School’s Injury Control Research Center (ICRC), found that in states where guns were prevalent—as in Wyoming, where 63 percent of households reported owning guns—rates of suicide were higher. The inverse was also true: where gun ownership was less common, suicide rates were also lower.

      The lesson? Many lives would likely be saved if people disposed of their firearms, kept them locked away, or stored them outside the home. Says HSPH Professor of Health Policy David Hemenway, the ICRC’s director: “Studies show that most attempters act on impulse, in moments of panic or despair. Once the acute feelings ease, 90 percent do not go on to die by suicide.”

      Here’s why that stat is important: People who use guns to attempt suicide succeed 85% of the time, while the next closest method of suicide is an overdose of drugs-which succeeds only 3% of the time (
      https://www.psychiatry.org/news-room/apa-blogs/apa-blog/2015/12/access-to-guns-and-suicide).

      Not only that but someone who has access to guns is 3 times more likely to attempt suicide in the first place. (https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2014/01/111286/access-guns-increases-risk-suicide-homicide).

      My whole point is to try to find some common ground between the parties in this debate. If we are willing to sacrifice some lives for the sake of our gun rights, maybe we should agree that at least some of our 22,000 gun suicides could be prevented?

      The baby elephant in the room is that storing guns off-site from where we live or in safer places that are always locked would be a major preventative if Gun owners and rights advocates would agree to champion these measures because clearly, not everyone is thinking about this.

      The big elephant in the room is the mental health issue. How can we get our state and local governments and even our armed forces to report mental health issues that people have? We already have those laws on the books so government and law enforcement must do their jobs.

      But- and I swear this is my final point. Do you know that only 32% of Americans own guns (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/06/29/american-gun-ownership-is-now-at-a-30-year-low/?utm_term=.899398254e68)? But they own 300 million of them. Why do all of those other Americans have to put up with the extra risk of gun death?

      • 4 out of 5 isn’t bad, indeed! It’s a solid B in almost any university! 😉 ha!

        But I digress… I hear your points and while backed up with some solid statistics, correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation. What I’m getting at with my previous post and rebuttal is that while guns are one tool used by the mentally ill, there are many tools available to commit the act. One could argue that if we completely did away with all private citizen ownership of guns, the suicide rate would stay the same because people would turn to the tools most commonly used in the rest of the world… poisoning or hanging. Go to San Francisco and I bet jumping off a bridge is fairly high up on the suicide statistics.

        While we can agree that safe storage is a very good and smart option, the only thing that can be done with that would be to encourage gun owners to properly store their firearms. The NRA and gun manufacturers have been doing this for years. Every new gun purchased in America comes with a lock that will render the gun inoperable without removing the lock (usually the lock is inserted through the camber area). I’ve seen numerous ads for gun safes with the newest and top technology for safety and accessibility in time of need that have been produced or sponsored by the NRA. I do not want to see the government get involved more in this area though, by passing laws requiring certain storage requirements because the only way to enforce that is a database and/or registry… then to go door-to-door ensuring compliance.

        Extremely against the guns-off-site idea… half of the reason people in America own guns is for hunting, the other half is for personal protection. If I’m at home and someone breaks into my house, I need my gun accessible to me immediately, to protect my family.

        On the point we both agree on, the mental health issue… in the Texas Church shooting, it has been stated by the government and the Air Force that a “clerical error” caused the NICS report to not happen. I’m not sure how you go about removing the human element from this issue, but he should never have owned a firearm in the first place. In regards to the laws on the books that aren’t being enforced, I think funding is the key to enforce it. If states do not report certain mental illnesses that would preclude someone from owning a firearm, then they have certain federal funds withheld until they catch up to the law. Money talks in America.

        To your final point: I understand what you are getting at, but I would counter that the number of guns or percentage of people who own guns doesn’t correlate at all with gun deaths. I’m about to commit a journalistic no-no, but look at this chart (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_firearm-related_death_rate) (I know… wikipedia… i know) If you sort it by the 2nd column, you will see the top countries with firearm related deaths per year. The US isn’t in the top 10, but has 112 guns per 100 inhabitants. What this shows is that the VAST majority (>99%) of all gun owners are responsible, safe, and smart with the firearms that they own.

        We will likely never see eye-to-eye with each other on gun policy and that right there is what makes America great. We can agree to disagree, carry on a thought-provoking, intelligent conversation and no one gets called a bigot, racist, idiot, moron, or whatever other adjective one can think of to denigrate another. Living in the deep south gives me a much different viewpoint and opinion to this than it would if I lived in, say New York City! 🙂

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About the author

Jon Saltzman

Jon Saltzman is the Senior Editor and Publisher of Political Storm. In a former life, Jon was the CEO of a publicly traded company. Tired of happiness and living a stress-free lifestyle Jon decided to embrace his passion for politics, creating a website to bridge the divide created in today’s political realm. He believes that all of us want to hear points of view from all sides, so he established a vehicle to help us get there.

You can contact Jon directly at jsaltzman@politicalstorm.com