A National Rifle Association proposal to put armed police officers in every school in America could cost an estimated $714 million a year to implement in Texas alone, after a start-up cost of over a billion dollars, according to calculations by the Lewisville Texan Journal.
In a press conference today, the National Rifle Association broke its near radio silence since last week's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where a gunman using an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle killed 26 people. NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre, in a 20 minute speech, blamed the tragedy on media coverage, violent video games , music videos, a lack of a national registry of the mentally ill, and society at large for failing to adequately protect our children.
"The only way - the ONLY way-- to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," said LaPierre. "Would you rather have your 911 call bring a good guy with a gun from a mile away, or a minute away?"
"With all the money in the federal budget, can't we afford to at least put a police officer in every school?" asked LaPierre, who acknowledged that police department budgets were already strained, but called on Congress to provide whatever appropriation necessary to put an armed officer in every school in America. LaPierre announced that former Congressman Asa Hutchinson would head a new program of the NRA called the Model National School Shield Emergency Response program, a plan for school security which they would make available to every school in America without charge.
In every community, there are people who go above and beyond what is expected of them, and make the community a better place. We would like to recognize them here, and pick one person who makes a difference, so that we can do something nice for them.
So, starting this year, we would like to name an LTJ Lewisville Citizen of the Year.
Here are some of the traits and characteristics that we're looking for:
- They did the right thing, when it would have been easy to do the wrong thing. - They risked their life to save another. - They jumped into action and helped someone. - They sacrificed something to help, encourage, lift up, or support a person or organization. - They gave generously of their time, money, or expertise, to the benefit of the community.
If you look around the community, and pay attention, you probably know someone who fits one or more of the above. (Nobody is going to fit all of them, and that's okay.) Maybe they volunteer their time in a hospital or non-profit. Maybe they tutor schoolchildren who are at risk. Maybe they feed the hungry, or help the jobless. Maybe they saved a life. Maybe they volunteer at a nursing home, or collect school supplies for needy children. They may or may not have been recognized for their contribution, but that is not what motivates them, because they do it for love, and as a way to give back.
So, from now until Christmas (December 25th), we'll be accepting nominations from readers. We will name someone in January after discussing nominations among the editorial group here at LTJ.
One last thing: We need to reach far and wide, and hear from a lot of voices on this, so that we can hear from more than just the usual crowd. There are community heroes out there who may not be known to many people, so the more we get this message out, the better chance we have of finding someone who knows our potential Lewisville Citizen of the Year. So, please share the link to this story with your social networks on Facebook and Twitter, or by email to anyone you think might be able to nominate someone.
On behalf of myself, my family, and the Lewisville Texan Journal, we wish everyone a happy and meaningful Thanksgiving day today. It probably sounds trite, but it also seems to be true that we live in such busy times— so overloaded with tasks, information, and distractions— that it's hard to take a breath sometimes and reflect. I'm no exception, and still haven't really had a moment yet, but I hope that sometime today we all get some time to reflect on the things and the people that we're thankful for.
At LTJ, we're thankful for you, our loyal readers - for being engaged members of the community. We're thankful for the generous donors who have chipped in to pay for LTJ's expenses and help bring you the story. We're thankful for all the people out there who bring stories to our attention. We're thankful for the people who answer our questions and provide information that we ask for. And mostly, we're thankful to live in a country where freedom of speech and freedom of the press is held sacrosanct.
I'm taking the day off to step away from the computer and spend some meaningful time with family, and will be back tomorrow with your regularly scheduled content.
Earlier this month, we published a reader survey to get an honest feel of what readers think about LTJ, and how they use it.
Google Analytics says that we've had 137,000 website visits this year by 81,000 unique visitors, serving up 231,000 page views. Readers from Lewisville generate the plurality of those visits at 21%, with the top other cities all local. 186 people read our post about the survey, and 56 people answered at least some questions, with 49 people answering all of our questions. The sample group reflects more about frequent readers than the population of sometime readers as a whole.
As you know, we had an election this past Tuesday. I don't like to gloat, and I won't. There is plenty of that on Facebook, and I know how it hurts to lose an election. But I do have some comments.
I have had the biggest smile on my face since Tuesday. While it's clear that our country is still divided, it's also clear that the Republican Tea Party hate machine only further turned people away from their flawed ideology. In spite of their voter suppression efforts, and their relentless flat-out lies, funded by unlimited money from billionaires, criminals, and foreign nationals, the Republicans only managed 48.65%.
Now, I don't think that 51.35% of the vote constitutes a landslide, or a mandate, but it is a clear majority. It's a majority that I think would have been even higher if Sandy hadn't suppressed voter turnout on the Eastern seaboard.
It is time for the belligerent ignoramuses on the far right to gather up their lawn chairs and take their illiterate hate signs, their wackadoodle conspiracy theories, their fear-mongering lies, their regressive doctrine du-jour, and go somewhere else to impose their dystopia. It's time for the few remaining adult Republicans to quit pandering to their idiotic demands.
Most of all, it's time for our leaders to quit taking orders from talk radio's hyperbolic blow-hards and start listening to the American people. It's time to put Country before ideology and get back to the business of truthful, sincere debate about the best way to move our country forward.
As I write this, it's the night before early voting starts in the November 6th national election. For about 6 years now, I've been covering local, state, and national elections, and trying to make endorsements where I can, when I feel strongly about a candidate or issue. When I do so, I generally like to look specifically at the candidates and compare them. This year, I won't be, and this post will explain why.
An important part of democracy, in my mind is that we have this free marketplace of ideas, and that people can go into a forum like this and share their vision, and their opinions about what the facts mean, and where we should go. People can have rational conversations about what they think works best, and why. As fellow Americans, we share the same tradition and mostly the same values, no matter what labels we wear. So ideally, whoever wins an election, our country still goes forward, even if it's a little to the left or a little to the right. Maybe it's a little slower, or a little faster.
But it has become apparent to me that our system is just so extremely broken. People don't talk anymore, and even if they did, 30% of them will have made-up "facts" force-fed by a corporate-controlled brainwashing machine that masquerades as "news", and feeds people literally hours per day of masturbatory garbage that feeds their egotistical need to hear that their prejudices and fears are "patriotic". When we can't agree on what the damned facts are, there is no hope for reaching any sort of consensus on what to do. Predictably, our nation is more polarized than ever before, and young people are tuning out.
For those who read regularly, you know that we're often at odds with the philosophy and votes of our Congressman, Dr. Michael Burgess (R, Lewisville). A fine example is his crusade to save antique light bulbs. Just today, the Texas Tribune posted an interview with Burgess, explaining his opposition to the provision of the energy act that required light bulbs to have increased efficiency. It's entirely reasonable for government to regulate energy efficiency, since we all share the same grid, and pay the costs of peak demand.
But this post is not about light bulbs, or any of the other loony bills the right-wing extremists have been pushing on Capitol Hill. This post is about healthcare.
Burgess, along with three cosponsors, all from Texas, have filed a bill (H.R.5800) that would increase price transparency in healthcare by requiring hospitals to provide price information to consumers. The cosponsors are Gene Green (D, TX-29), John Carter (R, TX-31), and Mac Thornberry (R, TX-13). The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, on which Burgess sits.
Although healthcare is not a market segment that responds well to classic free market inputs, and I'll argue forever that single-payer care would be more cost-effective, I do think that there are some decisions that consumers make that could benefit from transparency in pricing. None of us is going to comparison shop hospitals while being rushed to the E.R. after a heart attack or stroke. But for those who have a little more time to ponder medical decisions, it could be quite useful to have state-wide standardized pricing information that would allow consumers to comparison shop. In some cases, knowing the price up-front - even if the price is paid by insurance - might allow a patient to choose other less-costly alternatives, or pursue a second opinion.
I'd like to ask our readers to take a moment to participate in a few polls for us, so we can see what you think about elections for law enforcement offices like Sheriff and Constable. Please share this with your friends so that we can get enough participants to get some meaningful numbers.
Also, as always, these polls are not scientific and should not influence your decision whether to vote or not.