22 May 2008

Senator talks about a variety of issues

I was fortunate today to participate in a conference call with Senator John Cornyn and a group of other bloggers.

It was pretty neat, actually. When I think of the United States Government, accessible is not one of the first things that comes to my mind. That is, until today.

Senator Cornyn came online and gave a brief opening remark that brought us up to date as to what was going on in the Senate today. He spent some time explaining why he voted against the war funding bill today, stating that he didn't agree with the additional spending for things like extending unemployment insurance and home heating oil subsidies. In addition, the Senator said he believed the President would veto the bill in which case they were wasting time trying to get funding for the troops on the front lines.

I was glad to see the Senator point out that Queen Bee (my words, not the Senator's) Pelosi's plan to relieve the pain at the pump is failing miserably. Senator Cornyn also discussed the lack of drilling that's allowed offshore, thanks to a 1982 moratorium on offshore drilling that Congress passed. In other words, it was refreshing to see a US Senator who understands that OPEC is not the problem, but that our own government is the problem.

After that, the floor was opened up for questions and the Senator handled a wide variety of questions that ranged from the GI Bill to ethanol subsidies to a question from me about gun control. He handled all of the questions quite well and as far as I could tell on my end of the phone, did so without having to consult his staff and was able to discuss at length each question without searching in vain for a cogent thought.

When asked, Senator Cornyn spoke of his love for hunting and that he was an avid supporter of gun rights for both recreational purposes and self defense. I was pleased to see the Senator make the distinction that most politicians don't seem to understand. My right to self defense is a human right and it has nothing to do with my right to hunt - and from what I could tell, that was what the Senator believes as well. Cornyn did mention that he believes the Supreme Court will rule to overturn the DC gun ban, which we have been watching closely here at the Tattler. Let's hope he's right!

I informed the Senator that I was frankly nervous about the upcoming election because each of the 3 candidates left in the race have varying levels of anti-gun beliefs and the writing on the wall says that the Democrat's numbers in both the House and the Senate are likely to grow.

While Senator Cornyn seemed confident in John McCain's defense of the 2nd amendment, I remain unconvinced. From McCain's own website (emphasis mine):

Background Checks at Gun Shows

At a time when some were trying to shut down gun shows in the name of fighting crime, John McCain tried to preserve gun shows by standardizing sales procedures. Federal law requires licensed firearm sellers at gun shows to do an instant criminal background check on purchasers while private firearm sellers at gun shows do not have to conduct such a check. John McCain introduced legislation that would require an instant criminal background check for all sales at gun shows and believes that such checks must be conducted quickly to ensure that unnecessary delays do not effectively block transactions.
Here's the problem with background checks at gun shows. If background checks are required of person to person sales at gun shows, there is nothing that says background checks are required of ALL transactions, whether it's at a gun show or not. For example, if JR and I wanted to swap out guns (which we've done once or twice, by the way), we would have to get Uncle Sam's permission to do so. There would be a record of that transaction. And absolutely NOTHING will get gun owners more hopped up than the thought of a national database over who has guns and who does not. As the saying goes, once they have the list, they know whose door to knock on. Don't think it can happen? Ask your buddies in Australia.

So, needless to say, I have a huge problem with McCain's position.

The call ended with another question on ethanol subsidies. Senator Cornyn pointed out the same thing that we've talked about here on the Tattler for awhile now that ethanol is less efficient than gasoline - 28% - and is creating scarcities in other crops. The Senator pointed out that in fact, thanks to the Democrat led Congress:

Energy legislation signed into law last year requires an annual increase in the amount of ethanol produced domestically, from 4.7 billion gallons in 2007, to 9 billion this year, increasing to 15 billion in 2015 and then 36 billion gallons by 2022.
So, you think it's bad now? Just wait.

All in all, the impression I got after the call was that Senator Cornyn is a pretty down to earth guy, knows the issues, and is willing to talk to us "normal" folk; something you can't say about all of our elected officials.
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