The Rockin Johnny B

Monday, February 25, 2013

Are you a Conservative?



1: You’re irate over the president taking so many vacation days on the taxpayer’s dime (61 thus far), but you thought George W. Bush earned every minute of his leisure time (196 days at the same point in his presidency). [About 6.5 months to be exact.]
2: You’re happy with your 40 hour work week, paid vacations and company-provided healthcare, but you’re strongly anti-union, because those commies haven’t done anything for you lately.
3: You strongly support the First Amendment and its guarantee of religious freedom to all, but you don’t think Muslims have a right to build an Islamic Community Center in Manhattan.
4: You believe Ronald Reagan was a devout Christian, even though he hated going to church, but any president who spends twenty years going to the same Trinity United Church in Chicago must be a Muslim.
5: You believe when a Republican governor creates a healthcare package with an individual mandate for everyone in his state, that’s a good idea. But when a Democratic president does it, suddenly it’s unconstitutional.
6: You’re so enthused about demonstrating your Second Amendment rights, you can think of no finer place to brandish your pistol in public than at a presidential rally.
7: You believe Bill Clinton was responsible for Osama bin Laden’s escape ten years ago, but thankfully George W. Bush caught up with him and killed him in Pakistan.
8: You believe in putting American jobs first, except when president Obama rescued 1.5 million GM and Chrysler autoworkers, because that was socialism.
9: It angers you that you can’t communicate with the Mexican busboy at your local Olive Garden, but when you took a vacation to San Francisco’s Chinatown, you thought it’s quaint that so many Chinese-Americans are holding fast to their traditional language. Because that’s America!
10: You deny that the lunatic who tried to murder Gaby Giffords was a conservative, even though he targeted a Jewish, pro-choice, pro gay rights, Democratic Congresswoman.
11: You thought it was perfectly normal that every president in history had an untethered right to raise the debt ceiling when warranted, but when Obama asked the GOP held congress to do it, you thought it only natural that it be tied to cutting Social Security and Medicare.
12: When the new 112th Congress was sworn in, you swooned as they promised to focus on “Jobs, jobs, jobs.” But when they pivoted, and went after NPR, Planned Parenthood and gay rights, you cheered.
13: You accuse president Obama of raising your taxes to the highest point ever, even though they’re lower today than at any time since 1950.
14: You believe the wealthiest Americans are “job creators,” and they are — but it doesn’t bother you that all the workers in those positions are in India, China and Malaysia, and they’re doing the jobs that our fathers once did.
15: You believe gays are anti-American, because their lifestyle is a threat to the children… unless they’re married to Tea Party-backed presidential candidates from Minnesota.
16: You strongly defend individual freedom, but that freedom doesn’t include a woman’s right to decide her own healthcare needs.
17: You believe corporations are people too, and are deserving of the same rights as the rest of us. Just not the same obligations to pay personal income tax free of corporate loopholes, or penalties for massive criminal behavior and tax evasion. In these matters, corporations are deserving of special rights.
18: And since corporations are now people too, you must believe in their right to a driver’s license, the right to marry, to adopt children, etc. These rights shall not be denied to Exxon, Halliburton and BP (but still immune from the right of the People to try, convict and sentence to death any corporation that conspires to commit a felony… because at that point, they’re suddenly not people again.)
19: You still believe Climate Change is a myth, and the recent record highs, lows, floods and droughts around the world coinciding with climate scientist’s predictions are all an amazing coincidence. Oh, and Al Gore is FAT!
20: You believe when George W. Bush took the national debt from $5 trillion to $11 trillion, it was necessary for him to do so to keep America safe. But when Barack Obama added to it by trying to rescue the country from a second Great Depression, he was deliberately trying to destroy America!
21: You believe America is a God fearing country, and that the Almighty protects those who believe just as you do. But it’s never crossed your mind that the majority of tornadoes, hurricanes and floods all occur in the Bible Belt.
22: You believe that no matter who’s in the White House, the office, if not the man himself is deserving of your respect. The only exceptions to this rule, are if his middle name sounds Muslim, and if he’s not at least as white as that black guy who works down in the mail room at the office.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Oh that pesky deficit

Been stayin away from FB for a while. Been watchin the craziness in Washington continue on it's merry Beltway way. Sometimes I wonder if congress-folk understand simple math. Here's and example. If you spend 1 dollar and you don't make 1 dollar back, what do you call that transaction? That's a rhetorical question. Let me answer, that's called a 'deficit.' Get it? If you spend money and are unable to pay it back, it's called a deficit. That's what we are faced with, a huge deficit.

Now, we could sit here and blame the Bush's. We could blame Good Ol' Ronnie Reagan or even Bill Clinton. Or if you really want to cast some blame, let's blame Barack Obama who inherited a deficit when he took office. Okay, now that we've found our sacrificial lambs, tell me, do you feel better? Is the deficit better? If the answer is no, read on.

Economists, like philosophers, agree on very little. But one thing they all seem to be consistent on is spending and saving. In times of plenty, you save. In times of economic stress, you spend. It's simple math. In times of stress, you have to spend in order to keep an economy strong. Spending is already happening in times of plenty. However, when the government continues to spend in times of plenty to the point of not replacing the money spent, it becomes a huge problem when the economy is in the doldrums. So far, I bet you can see what I'm talking about. But wait, I'm gonna slip you a micky.

In order to get back the money that is missing, i.e., the deficit, it takes more spending rather than cuts in spending. Let me say that one more time, because most Republicans don't get this. In times of stress, the government must increase it's spending to relieve the deficit. At first, this doesn't seem to make sense, but let's go back to the one dollar model in the first paragraph.

One dollar minus one dollar equals zero dollars, right? Show me where you can cut spending to get that one dollar back. Here's the simple answer, borrow it. We've done that to the tune of several trillion dollars – does anyone even understand that figure? One trillion dollar. One thousand billion dollars. That's simply beyond the human understanding of us regular folks. Most of us have a problem getting our mind around a million dollars, let alone a billion dollars or a thousand billion dollars. And that's why everyone is completely ga-ga over this deficit business. It's simply a sci-fi amount of money. But really it isn't.

A trillion dollars is no different than one dollar...both are dollars and all are made the same way...they are printed by the government. So, why don't we just go out there and mint up enough money to cover our deficit? Actually, we could. And, believe it or not, that thought has been bandied about. People have advocated a trillion dollar platinum coin to be used to pay back the trillions of dollars we owe. It could actually be done. But what would happen if we did that?

What is money? In the far distant past, rocks were money. Shells were money. Any thing we say is money can be money. We've chosen to call certain coins and certain types of paper money and we all accept these 'things' as being our medium of exchange. I know all you who went to high school heard that phrase before: medium of exchange. But most of us slept through that class and didn't really get the concept, so here goes.

Money was created because carrying around a bunch of rocks, shells, chickens –what ever – was just too clumsy and tiresome. So a bunch of smart farmers got together and said, let's call silver/gold coins money and put an intrinsic value on these coins. We will call it the Gold and Silver Standard and that will back the paper money we print out with 'real' value. That lasted until Richard Nixon got rid of the standard stating it was outdated and unnecessary. All we had to do was back our money with the full faith of the mighty U.S. Government. This, ladies and gentlemen, was almost the same as having faith that there is a God and that God will take care of you no matter what. Unfortunately, this also meant that the good ol' government could spend like a sailor and not pay back that there pesky dollar, they could simply print more money and that's the basic cause of the deficit today. You see, there is a finite amount of gold out there to back a currency. You cannot simply create gold out of thin air. Therefore, the government could only spend to the limit of how much gold we had in the coffers at that would have been it.

But, how can we finance our wars? How can we take care of our needs at home when we run out of gold-backed dollars? HELLO! It's called a BUDGET! IT'S CALLED A BUDGET YOU ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY HAVE TO ABIDE BY.

Are you getting the picture yet? We have way more dollars out there than we have gold to back 'em up. All we have is American Reputation to back 'em. And now congress is messing with that by saying they will not increase the debt limit. What would happen to the American economy if we lost our credit rating completely? SAY IT WITH ME....GREECE. Congress, of course, knows that this cannot happen. So, why do they toy with the deficit like they are doing now? There's only one reason: politics. If we, as the Republican Party, seem like we are hard on the Democratic President, then the public will vote for us because they will see us and being fiscally responsible. Sorry, I gotta say that again, the Reps think by holding up the debt ceiling, they will seem to the public as being FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE. Is that ludicrous or what? What, in actuality, is happening, is they are causing a possible rift in the economic structure of the American Economy. They are also messing with America's credit rating worldwide and finally, they are ruining the reputation of their own party. And yet...and yet...they would like you to believe they have YOUR best interests at heart. Bullshit. Who's interests do they have at heart, I ask ya...who's?

So, when it comes time to vote on your new and exciting congressmen and women, who ya gonna call?  Ghostbusters?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Marco [The Zombie] Rubio

As some of you know, I'm a big fan of Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize winner for Economics].  Here's what he has to say about Rubio's economics: Definition of Zombie;
 [ zómbee ]   
  1. offensive term: an offensive term for a person considered to lack energy, enthusiasm, or the ability to think independently
  2. dead body given life by voodoo: in voodoo, a dead body supposedly brought back to life again without a soul
  3. voodoo spirit reviving dead body: in voodoo, a spirit that supposedly brings a dead body back to life again

On the other hand, the G.O.P. reply, delivered by Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, was both interesting and revelatory. And I mean that in the worst way. For Mr. Rubio is a rising star, to such an extent that Time magazine put him on its cover, calling him “The Republican Savior.” What we learned Tuesday, however, was that zombie economic ideas have eaten his brain. 

In case you’re wondering, a zombie idea is a proposition that has been thoroughly refuted by analysis and evidence, and should be dead — but won’t stay dead because it serves a political purpose, appeals to prejudices, or both. The classic zombie idea in U.S. political discourse is the notion that tax cuts for the wealthy pay for themselves, but there are many more. And, as I said, when it comes to economics it appears that Mr. Rubio’s mind is zombie-infested.
Start with the big question: How did we get into the mess we’re in? 

The financial crisis of 2008 and its painful aftermath, which we’re still dealing with, were a huge slap in the face for free-market fundamentalists. Circa 2005, the usual suspects — conservative publications, analysts at right-wing think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute and the Cato Institute, and so on — insisted that deregulated financial markets were doing just fine, and dismissed warnings about a housing bubble as liberal whining. Then the nonexistent bubble burst, and the financial system proved dangerously fragile; only huge government bailouts prevented a total collapse. 

Instead of learning from this experience, however, many on the right have chosen to rewrite history. Back then, they thought things were great, and their only complaint was that the government was getting in the way of even more mortgage lending; now they claim that government policies, somehow dictated by liberals even though the G.O.P. controlled both Congress and the White House, were promoting excessive borrowing and causing all the problems. 

Every piece of this revisionist history has been refuted in detail. No, the government didn’t force banks to lend to Those People; no, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac didn’t cause the housing bubble (they were doing relatively little lending during the peak bubble years); no, government-sponsored lenders weren’t responsible for the surge in risky mortgages (private mortgage issuers accounted for the vast majority of the riskiest loans). 

But the zombie keeps shambling on — and here’s Mr. Rubio Tuesday night: “This idea — that our problems were caused by a government that was too small  — it’s just not true. In fact, a major cause of our recent downturn was a housing crisis created by reckless government policies.” Yep, it’s the full zombie. 

What about responding to the crisis? Four years ago, right-wing economic analysts insisted that deficit spending would destroy jobs, because government borrowing would divert funds that would otherwise have gone into business investment, and also insisted that this borrowing would send interest rates soaring. The right thing, they claimed, was to balance the budget, even in a depressed economy. 

Now, this argument was obviously fallacious from the beginning. As people like me tried to point out, the whole reason our economy was depressed was that businesses weren’t willing to invest as much as consumers were trying to save. So government borrowing would not, in fact, drive up interest rates — and trying to balance the budget would simply deepen the depression. 

Sure enough, interest rates, far from soaring, are at historic lows — and countries that slashed spending have also seen sharp job losses. You rarely get this clear a test of competing economic ideas, and the right’s ideas failed. 

But the zombie still shambles on. And here’s Mr. Rubio: “Every dollar our government borrows is money that isn’t being invested to create jobs. And the uncertainty created by the debt is one reason why many businesses aren’t hiring.” Zombies 2, Reality 0.
In fairness to Mr. Rubio, what he’s saying isn’t any different from what everyone else in his party is saying. But that, of course, is what’s so scary. 

For here we are, more than five years into the worst economic slump since the Great Depression, and one of our two great political parties has seen its economic doctrine crash and burn twice: first in the run-up to crisis, then again in the aftermath. Yet that party has learned nothing; it apparently believes that all will be well if it just keeps repeating the old slogans, but louder. 

It’s a disturbing picture, and one that bodes ill for our nation’s future. 

Here's a piece of realism.  You cannot...I repeat...cannot stimulate an economy with slashes in in spending and lowering taxes.  It simply does not work, never has, never will.  It is actually very easy to show why.

Let's say you make $10.00 per hour on your job.  I, as the employer, say: "let's cut your salary to $9.00 per hour."  Now I ask you, can you go out and buy more?  No, of course not.  That's just silly.  But that's what Rubio and the nutty Republicans want you to believe.  They want you to believe if they cut taxes and spending, the economy will rebound faster.  Remember, taxes are the government's wages we pay them to do our bidding.  If they don't get as much in wages, they damned sure cannot stimulate the economy, now can they?

I can hear my Repubs yelling right now.  All you liberals want to do is increase the size of government and seize control of our rights and freedoms.  Listen not my friends to the woes and laments of the failed party, that's balderdash.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  What is true, is that government spending kept us from dropping into a severe depression after the fuzzy economic policies of Ronald Reagan and two Bushes.  Remember, it was Uncle Mitty who said, Let the car companies fail...that wasn't just him talking, it was also his party's stand on that issue.

See, Republicans are 'Supply Siders' and 'Social Darwinists'.  They believe if you give money to the rich, they will build businesses and the money will "trickle down" to the working man.  You and I both know what the rich do with money.  They don't spend it, they invest it and lately they've been investing it overseas where they get huge tax breaks and low wage benefits.  In the meantime, the U.S. economy takes a dive.   But they don't care, because they worship the bottom line.

No, the only way we'll get out of our economic dilemma is to keep spending high thereby creating a "demand" for goods which goads the rich into building businesses to take advantage of the money out there that we --the people -- have to spend.  This is just a very simple economic realism everyone should know.  The Republicans are dead wrong...period.  If you don't believe me ask yourselves how did we get here in the first place.  It wasn't the Democrats that got us last Democratic president was Bill Clinton and he left office with a surplus handed over to Dubya...and what did Dubya do?  Rhetorical question.  And, the president now, Barack Obama, is leading us slowly but surely out of this fiscal offal.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sheriff's and the Constitution

Let's take a look at the constitution and gun control. Let's look at it dispassionately if possible. This is taken from today's paper, which is, by the way, a very conservative leaning rag.

I'm paraphrasing...

Those of us who didn’t sleep through our elementary school social studies classes remember there are three “separate but equal” branches of government in the United States. They are:

The legislative — the branch that makes laws.

The executive — the branch that enforces the laws made by the legislative branch.

The judicial — the court system, which determines whether the laws passed by the legislative are constitutional.

The 2nd Amendment to the Constitution is very clear, both in word and intent: The public has the right to own guns. You have the right to possess firearms to protect yourself.

The ultimate authority of the courts in interpreting the scope of those constitutional rights.

The United States Constitution was signed in 1787. That was before automobiles, telephones, airplanes, rockets, television, satellites, cameras, computers, the Internet, atomic energy, drones, antibiotics, X-rays, tape recorders, “sexting,” video recorders, video games, contraception — not to mention weapons that can fire dozens of rounds in mere seconds. Would that founding document been written any differently after all these inventions? If so, how?

we have a legislative system in place to write new laws to regulate use of this new technology and a court system to determine whether those laws meet constitutional muster.

Profound disagreements over how to maintain a lawful society that balances rights with responsibilities are inevitable. When those arguments are over and laws are in the books, it’s up to law enforcement to uphold those laws. That’s their role. They should leave the “political posturing” to the lawmakers and let the courts decide which laws are and aren’t constitutional.

So, when you read about those nutty sheriffs down south and here in the west making statements saying they are for or against gun control, it is not their place to say so one way or the other. The law enforcement people have to obey laws “that are on the books right now” no matter whether the laws are bad or good or even mediocre. If they do not, they are in violation of the Constitution of the United States and can be prosecuted for dereliction of duty. That is the law, like it or not.

I have heard management police officials say things that are totally out of their milieu of expertise and they are clearly not obeying the constitution they are obligated to defend. They should step out of the fray and let the courts decide what's right and what's wrong with present laws.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Oh, those pesky Democrats who ruin our economy

Sooooo, lemme see if I got this correct. That pesky Barack Obama is driving this nation into the brink of bankruptcy with his fiscal policies...right?

Hmmmm. Let's really take a look at that statement.

Our $14.3 Trillion National Debt Who/What/When Accumulated?
1.0 trillion
Left over WWII war debt
1.9 Trillion
Reagan 1981-1989 Peacetime defense spending and tax cuts
1.5 trillion
Clinton 1993-2001 deficit spending before surpluses
6.1 Trillion
Bush 2 2001-2009 Tax Cuts, 2 wars, Medicare Part D, Economic downturn 2001 and Recession starting 2007
2.4 Trillion
Obama 2009-2011 Stimulus, Tax cuts and Effects of 2007-2009 Recession
US, THE PUBLIC: individuals, corporations, pensions, mutual funds, banks, state and local governments.
1.2 Trillion
.9 Trillion
2.1 Trillion
Other Countries
1.6 Trillion
Federal Reserve System
2.7 Trillion
Social Security Funds
1.9 Trillion
Other U.S. Government Trust Funds.
Source: New York Times
“Charting the American Debt Crisis”

What does all this mean? Well, the first thing you notice is that the Asiatic nations are not the biggest holders of our debts. The biggest is, the American Individuals, hold the largest share of the debt. The government owes us $3.6 trillion dollars. This money was taken from us to fund wars and defense issues, that is, wars.

The second largest holder of our debt is out Social Security program. The Fed borrowed $2.7 trillion from this program. This is money we socked into the program for our retirement and the government used it to fund their wars.

Four point two trillion is owed to foreign countries who loaned us money to pay for our wars, recessions, deficit spending by out government.

The other $3.8 trillion is owed to other U.S. Government Trust Funds and the Federal Reserve System.

It would seem that whenever the government needs money, they rob Peter to pay Paul and this practice has gotten us in a heap of trouble. Now, somebody has to pay the vig. Who do you think that's gonna be? You're right. Us. The only way the government can get money is to either print it, or get it from taxes on the American People. If they print it, then the value of a dollar goes down and it takes more money to pay down the debt. If they raise taxes – which, by the way, is what is going to happen – then we the people have less money to spend thereby slowing the economy and increasing the recession.

The other way, an even worse way, is to cut spending. And were do you supposes these cuts are traditionally taken? Right again. Social Programs and that means Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security. Which, by the way, is where the government already owes $2.7 trillion dollars and has damn near bankrupted the program, in the process. Whenever you cut spending, someone gets hurt [usually the people who can least afford it]. Invariably the poor and disenfranchised are the ones who pay the debts rang up by the fed. The reason this happens is simple – poor people have no voice, therefore, they create no stink. Imagine if you will, that the president came out and said: “I've decided the way to pay back that $14.3 trillion dollars is to double up on corporation tax and to charge the rich a 60% increase in their personal income tax. Plus, we will raise taxes across the board on anyone who owns over 2 acres of property within the boarders of the United States.” Do you think there would be a couple of voices raised? How likely do you think it would be that this initiative would pass Congress and the Senate? And yet very few bat an eye if the government cuts the incomes of the poor and needy among us. Instead the president would be called a Socialistic Monster for even bringing up the subject of asking the 'Haves' to chip in what they definitely can afford. It does seem to amplify the saying, “he who holds the gold makes the rules.” Or as my Republican friends would say, “money talks, bullshit walks.

Republicans, in case you didn't know it, believe in Social Darwinism. If you cannot produce, then you are not a Real American and need to be “PUT DOWN.” Then they label themselves devout Christians and believe in the Teaching of Jesus. Course their Jesus is a Republican.

Who the hell is Republican Jesus™?

Republican Jesus™ is very different than the Jesus you and I are familiar with. First off, he is White. Not just white, but White. Republican Jesus™ has a special place in his heart for America. Specifically, White America. Do you doubt this? Ask yourself why anyone who believes in a colorblind Jesus would even conceive of praying for the death of Obama? No, only those who follow Republican Jesus™ would even think that such a prayer could, or should, be answered. If you are currently thinking that racism has nothing to do with the unprecedented hatred of Obama, go away, I’m talking to the grownups.

Republican Jesus™, by the way, is a big supporter of the Confederacy. Why he let them lose the War of Northern Aggression is a mystery. But all “real” Americans know that the South will rise again and Republican Jesus™ will lead the way back to glory. Or something like that.  How the Northern and Mid-western Red states fit into this Southern revival is also a mystery.

Republican Jesus™ loves guns. Loves them! Never mind all that silly talk of beating swords into plowshares! Every good member of the church of Republican Jesus™ should have, at minimum, enough armament to hold off an invasion by those commie Nazi liberal hordes that are coming any day now. Or the ATF, whichever shows up first. Or maybe just enough to wipe out a schoolroom filled with kids when their excellent parenting skills manifest themselves in the next Columbine tragedy.

Remember, conservatives, to complain about anti-bullying programs being government overreach afterward!

Republican Jesus™ loves the rich. Ignore that whole “camel through the eye of a needle” garbage. Republican Jesus™ wants you to be prosperous! It’s called “prosperity theology” and it percolates throughout the conservative religious fervor. God rewards the faithful with material wealth. Very spiritual stuff. If your idea of spiritual is a McMansion.
But Republican Jesus™ is not just about love. Republican Jesus™ also hates and, boy, does he hate!

Republican Jesus™ hates the poor. This is the flip side of “prosperity theology”. If God rewards the faithful with riches, than the poor are obviously NOT of the faith and deserve what they get. This is, in part, why conservatives hate the social safety nets of welfare, food stamps and Medicaid. Those (and by “those” I mean those) people don’t worship Republican Jesus™ and are unworthy of being helped. Besides if you feed them, they’ll just breed!
Republican Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer of South Carolina actually said that. And he meant it.
Republican Jesus™ hates The Gay. They’re sinners, after all.  It says so right there in the Bible next to the part about shellfish being an abomination.  Nothing demonstrates the compassionate conservatives’ dedication to the teachings of Republican Jesus™ like blocking legislation for same sex marriage and calling homosexuals pedophiles while enjoying a nice shrimp cocktail before a delicious lobster dinner.

Also, Republican Jesus™ gave us AIDS, and STDs in general, as punishment for homosexuality. Of course, this ignores the fact that lesbians (a well-known subset of homosexuality) have the lowest rate of STDs, including AIDS, among all adult population groups. So as far as punishment goes, half of the “sinners” are better off than the rest of us, statistically speaking. Maybe Republican Jesus™ likes him some girl on girl action?
Republican Jesus™ hates Muslims. Muslims are scary because some of them do bad things to innocent people. That makes them all evil terrorists. This is not to be confused with White Christian Militia types who blow up abortion clinics or plot political assassinations in Republican Jesus’™ name. Those people are martyrs and heroes. Or they were crazy lone wolves having nothing to do with Republican Jesus™. It depends on which channel you’re interviewing on, Fox or MSNBC.

Republican Jesus™ totally hates Liberals. Liberals are the pawns of Satan George Soros trying to destroy the greatest country ever made on this 6000 year old planet (conservative moderates are almost as bad and must be expunged!). Compromising with a Liberal is a terrible sin in the eyes of Republican Jesus™ and must not be tolerated.

Finally, Republican Jesus™ hates science. With a passion bordering on obsession. And that’s the topic of my next ivory tower snobby liberal thesis: “Why DO conservatives hate science so much?” Or “How I learned not to learn and trust my beer gut instead.” [taken from: Justin Rosario]

Friday, February 1, 2013

Okay, Here's the Real Skinny


With debates about gun laws louder than ever, misunderstandings and muddled deÿnitions abound. Today, IPT seeks to clarify some of the hazier points of discussion.

By IDAHO PRESS-TRIBUNE STAFF   © 2013 Idaho Press-Tribune

   Q: What do the White House’s proposed new firearm restrictions include?

   A. On Jan. 16, President Barack Obama put forth a multi-point plan that includes both executive actions and calls for new legislation. Among the proposals are:

   Requiring background checks for all gun sales. Licensed dealers are required to run background checks on those buying firearms, but sales at gun shows and between private owners are exempt. Proposals suggest requiring background checks any time ownership of a firearm is transferred, with some limited exceptions such as transfers between family members.

   Strengthening the background check system. The number of mental health records available through the system has increased 800 percent since 2004, but Obama’s proposal suggests including more records would increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the system.

   Banning possession of armor-piercing ammunition. It’s already illegal to manufacture or import armor-piercing bullets for civilian use. This proposal would ban possession by — and transfer to — anyone but police and military.

   Limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds.

   Passing stronger restrictions on assault weapons, which brings us to our next question ...

   Sources: Assistant United States Attorneys Rafael Gonzalez and Aaron Lucoff,

   Q: What qualifies as an “assault rifle” under current federal law?

   A: “There is no legal definition of ‘assault rifle’ right now.” — Assistant United States Attorney Rafael Gonzalez Fully automatic weapons — firearms that fire more than one round per trigger pull — are classified as “machine guns” under the National Firearms Act of 1968 and have been restricted from civilian use for decades. The terms “assault rife” and “assault weapon” do not exist in current federal law. Under the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons ban, which expired in 2004, the definition of assault weapons included semi-automatic rifles with removable magazines and at least two of the following features: n Folding or telescoping stock n Pistol grip n Bayonet mount n Flash suppressor, or a threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor n Grenade launcher Since 2004, the definition of an assault weapon is simply not addressed by federal law. Any potential future legislation, Gonzalez said, will likely include a new definition that may not exactly match the previous one.

   Sources: Assistant U.S. Attorney Rafael Gonzalez, Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act

   Q. Can the government take my guns away?

   A. The proposal does not address the topic of confiscation. CONCEALED CARRY PERMITS

   Q: Can I carry a weapon in Idaho?

   A: You can legally carry a firearm as long as it is clearly visible. To carry a concealed weapon, you must obtain a concealed carry permit.

   Q: How can I get a concealed carry permit?

   A: Submit an application with your county sheriff. Typically, you’ll be required to complete a firearms training course first. Eligible courses include: an Idaho Department of Fish and Game hunter safety course, a National Rifle Association safety training course, or a program offered by local law enforcement or other qualified institution. Permits are valid for five years and cost $20 to apply, $15 to renew.

   Q: Are there places I can’t carry a firearm, concealed or otherwise?

   A: Yes, you cannot take a firearm into a courthouse, juvenile detention facility, jail, prison or school. Also, private property owners can prohibit firearms on their property, even if it’s open to the public. If in doubt, call ahead.

   Q: Can I carry a concealed weapon in Idaho if I have a concealed carry permit from another state?

   A: Yes, but you must have the permit on your person at all times while carrying the weapon.

   Source: Idaho Attorney General’s Office