Feet on the ground – head in the clouds.

Posts Tagged ‘bill of rights

Radical change we could agree on?

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Income Tax is the most ridiculously counter-productive tax we could possibly impose in terms of productivity. We want Americans to be productive. We want them to earn, to create things that others may buy, to create jobs. We do not want them to limit productivity in order to maintain a balance. Americans aren’t about wading in the middle, it’s our tax system that creates people like a friend of mine who always worked 36.5 hours, the minimum average to keep his full-time status, but where he figured that the rest of his check would all go to taxes. He was an accounting major, so I’m sure his math wouldn’t have been too far off, and he always seemed to have more take-home pay and get more back on his returns every year.

A consumption tax would serve the public good, be a better model for a more-free market, and most of all put the balance of incentives back in order. We want people to earn, to save and contribute to the circular flow of money within their communities. We don’t want anyone to shy away from work. If I work my ass off and save enough to buy a house with cash, that’s good for a lot of people. Sure, I may cut out some bank middle-mannery but who wants to argue they deserve to finance those who are inherently more responsible than their own management? If I’m keeping all of my money, I can afford to account for the taxes to buy a nice place in America, where many people enjoy resort-style amenities just for existing in a nice community. If I want to buy five platinum-plated Maseratis, I’ll be prepared to take the hit, but don’t punch me for punching in.

NI4D – The National Initiative for Democracy is the hidden-in-plain-view answer to many of our political woes. Last I checked, there are 11 states using some form of public initiative system. How else would things like medical marijuana get on a ballot? Or ever get a vote of any kind? Or gay marriage bans, for that matter? There are many things that make sense to the general public that are simply too dangerous for any politician to approach, let alone a majority of Congress. Throughout my college days I came across a lot of people who didn’t vote, but were somewhat informed and had an opinion. Even those who vote in Presidential elections rarely vote in off-year and local elections. Voter turnout does not really reflect a complete political apathy, more an apathy with the effectiveness of the current voting system.

Enter the national initiative. If the majority of Americans do not want a war, the majority should be heard. If a majority of residents of a state support a doctor’s right to prescribe medical marijuana, a conservative or pandering legislature should not block the will of the people on a state’s rights issue. If a majority of the public believe that a doctor may refuse to perform certain treatments based on their religious beliefs, I don’t believe any law could Constitutionally coerce them otherwise so long as this is made clear to the patient before their life is in the hands of the doctor. The Bill of Rights mentions the rights of the people in the 9th Amendment, and again as a part of state’s rights. This is better served in those 11 states with initiative systems, and referendum and recall can also be a better way to clear the haze of our current political system. All of the nonsense calls for resignation, all of the political posturing on issues the speaker doesn’t even believe will ever come to a vote and the back-and-forth nature of our failing two-party system would at least see some improvement and at most clear the way for real public discourse, real participatory democracy.

Concerning gay marriage: I say again, can the government simply refuse to define a marriage in any way? Let churches or individuals have the right to define their own “marriages”, and simply allow for all couples seeking to join their lives to be unified in the governments eyes. The slippery slope argument doesn’t fly here. The US has a long precedent of defining such unions as a union of only two, consenting adults. We have laws restricting the marriages of children which are legitimately in the public interest. Lately some ultra-conservative Congressmen have been comparing homosexuality to pedophilia. This is ludicrous and gets a gut reaction in many ways, but I’d offer one rational argument without gut involved. By definition, pedophilia violates legitimate laws in public interest. Sure, there could be homosexual predators out there, but as Chris Hansen proves there are predators of all stupid persuasions. But a union of consenting adults should not be the government’s business to deny one group if it is permitted for another.

If marriage is a religious practice, the sanctity of which should be defended, then it should remain out of the government. What the government should do is have a system for defining next of kin in a humane way, with the utmost priority on individual freedom to choose who is considered a spouse by a hospital.

I’m often accused of being an ultra-liberal or whatever you’d call it, but those tags really are just how others see you based on the conversations you’ve had. Sure, if you’re talking to me about health care, I sound a bit more on the liberal side. But if we’re talking about guns, I’m never really accused of being a conservative. That’s odd considering I don’t think any American should need to choose a “favorite Amendment” from the Bill of Rights. There was a specific reason our founders first defended speech, press and religion then our last line of defense second. This is not a “hunter’s” Amendment, although along with defense, we should be allowed to enjoy sport. It is the first line of the Constitution that says… and if you fail to obey the Kings of America as prescribed by the first three words of the Preamble… we’re not, ya know, gonna take it. The contentious issue here for many liberals is hinged on people like Glenn Beck, who think you start talking about getting guns ready. Paul Revere didn’t ride around practicing his speech. He wasn’t the lead character in ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’.

In all honesty, your guns will never be taken away. You’ll be able to feel more confident in that fact if we enact a national initiative system, but at the very least liberal politicians are not a monolith against guns. I was listening to J.Douche Hateworth on the radio the other day and he played a little “comedy” piece that described a terrorist with a knife coming at a family, he said if the father is a liberal he’d quake in his boots and think of pacifism. First of all, a terrorist with a knife? Second of all, his scenario says both fathers have a loaded weapon. You think liberals make bad fathers, Hayworth? Why don’t you come at me with a knife and see how liberal I am?

I’m no gun liberal in terms of ever wishing to take away the guns of any law-abiding citizen. I’m not sure that extreme restrictions on gun possession are the way to get the “more dangerous” criminals. If you look at the example of Al Capone, who was finally brought to justice on racketeering charges. The man ordered countless murders, but we get him for tax evasion? Don’t get me wrong, at the time it was a victory and having a definite criminal in prison is never a bad thing. But how many innocent people do go to jail? How many non-violent offenders serve time for marijuana possession? We can get the little fish, right or wrong, but we have trouble with the big fish? That’s essentially the same logic some liberals use that says driving through a school zone with a legally owned and registered weapon is automatically a crime. It’s pathetic when you consider that most legal gun-owners use their weapons for sport or self-defense. Sure, people stretch the definition of self-defense all the time, but that’s going to happen in society. The answer is more education. More organizations like the NRA who promote gun safety and tradition, and they need to be in the mainstream. The NRA shouldn’t automatically be considered one with the Republican party, although it’s most ardent supporters are often conservative. Gun ownership should be promoted among all law-abiding citizens, because at least one flying spaghetti monster knows that criminals will always have weapons.

“When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” I can’t find the original source of that quote, although in looking I found a great quote from Charlton Heston speaking on Fox News back in 1997: “There’s no such thing as a good gun. There’s no such thing as a bad gun. A gun in the hands of a bad man is a very dangerous thing. A gun in the hands of a good person is no danger to anyone except the bad guys.” What we should do to curb gun violence is create more good guys, through lifelong education and a societal emphasis on family of some kind. I know adopted kids who are great successes and legacies who have fizzled out, and it all came down to involvement. If people are involved in the lives of children they will learn to act as responsible people do, if children are raised with every amenity money can buy with no relationship with parents or some caregiver they will look for a role model somewhere. Think of the ratio of crap-to-awesome at any given mall. I’d argue that you’re taking the same gamble by allowing your child to pick any role model from their lives in your absence. Sure, they could end up with an amazing role model somewhere but it’s a gamble parents don’t have to take. Well, they shouldn’t have to take.

This is where I can get more liberal on people, but I simply can’t believe you can support both family and bite-sized government. Health care is a part of this. Healthy parents can work without getting sick as often, imposing less of a burden on the family’s budget and productivity. Children’s health care helps give all Americans a chance to grow up and contribute to society rather than being punished by the circumstances of their birth. I do not advocate wreckless takeover of health care by the government, but a quick read of the Preamble would establish that the federal government has some responsibility to our health at least in terms of keeping us productive and safe from potential pandemic. The more free we are to be productive and contribute to society, the more we all benefit. We will all have different ideas about how to get us there, but I think we’d all agree on the benefits of a healthy society.

These are just some ramblings. I just wonder if we all agreed on the results we wanted, the discourse on the methods might be more civil.


Some of Barack Obama’s accomplishments (UPDATED 09.09.08)

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The most interesting thing of this breakdown, for me, is the idea of anyone purchasing firearms to meet with a law enforcement officer. On one hand I would think many gun owners and certainly those who make gun owner’s rights a key voting issue are not opposed to law enforcement. Those who tote guns and hate authority aren’t always voting, I presume. I could be wrong.

At the same time the Founding Fathers’ intent with the 2nd Amendment truly was to protect us from the government. In fact, the entire Bill of Rights is comprised of protections from the government. Many Americans confuse this to mean it also protects them from private citizens. I can certainly put a metal detector in the front of my building to prevent people from carrying in firearms, I can limit your freedom of speech by cutting you off on my privately-owned radio station. There are many times I find citizens confusing the Bill of Rights to be a list of protections from everyone.

  • He has also worked on death penalty reform in Illinois, for example the mandatory recording of all interrogations of suspects in capital crimes. Requiring recordings when the death penalty on the line is always going to be in the best interest of justice.
  • After all Senator McCain’s years in the Senate fighting lobbyists and standing up against earmarks, it was Senator Obama, along with Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who co-sponsored a bipartisan bill to reform ethics and lobbying in Washington. I respect Senator McCain’s efforts, but this proves criticisms that Barack Obama hasn’t reached across the aisle or worked on any landmark legislation are blatantly false. In an election season where even the Republicans claim to be selling change, ethics reform and limiting lobbyists’ access to legislators are a major action for positive change.
  • Another part of the bipartisan effort with Sen. Coburn would create an internet database of federal spending. This is a great step for transparency and true accountability in government. I don’t know how anyone could really be against such a thing, especially in an age when the amount of pork-barrel spending nationally is estimated to be $29 billion.  Senator McCain is lying through his teeth when he says Obama has not reached across the aisle, as McCain was also a co-sponsor of the Obama-Coburn bill.  [Gov. Palin says this would be a great idea, which explains how she could be ignoring Obama’s bi-partisan efforts.  It would Governor, something like usaspending.gov perhaps?  $223 million of which was sent to Alaska to build a ramp to an aborted Bridge to Nowhere.  When you say “thanks, but no thanks” you should also give the money back.]
  • Washington State for Obama 08 also has a great pdf flyer available for download here, it details his work during his years in the state and federal government. Rather than spin and punditry, here’s what he’s worked for and gotten accomplished.

During his time in the United States Senate, Obama has co-authored two landmark pieces of legislation.  One of Obama’s major credits is a bipartisan ethics reform bill.  Oddly enough he’s running to change Washington’s lack of ethics and respect for the American people.  His critics say he hasn’t worked across the aisle, and that his views of changing Washington are a “fairy tale” and yet his record speaks for itself.

If this election is going to be about reform and change, you *could* look at Senator McCain as a reformer and a maverick. This is what I saw in him back in 2000 when I helped campaign for him in Kansas. But I’ve also paid attention the last five years or so when John McCain obliterated his maverick reputation by voting with the Bush administration and cronies 90% of the time. But in “only 2 years” as the Republicans are quick to point out about Obama, he has passed bi-partisan ethics reform and worked to secure loose nukes. If John McCain had sponsored the loose nukes bill, we’d have heard all about how it was part of his strength in the War on Terror. Instead you have every conservative pundit with access screaming that he hasn’t worked across the aisle, calling the two instances of his bi-partisan efforts “insignificant“. When America sees Washington as corrupt and broken, it’s going to be hard to brush aside an ethics reform bill.

OpenCongress has a great comparison site of the current legislative projects of each candidate.  There are other sites tracking the legislative accomplishments of Senator Obama.  They make an interesting point to say that this does not include anything prior to elected office, where recent statements by the faux-maverick extremist VP nominee have spotlighted one of America’s best traditions.  Community organizers are probably the selfless example of people working to improve the lives of others we can find in American society.  What has Sarah Palin ever done to help the lives of struggling Americans in the communities hardest hit by the Republican “you’re on your own” economy? And what does she have against the Civil Rights Movement?

The Nation has a great article on his community organizing years, when I think he proved and shaped himself all at once. At 24, a recent Columbia grad headed to a community devastated by steel-mill closings to make a difference in people’s lives. There’s no way on earth you could accuse him of making the decision based on money and yet people seem to treat this experience much like I’ve found people treat teachers. When was the last time you heard “oh, he’s just a lawyer” or “she’s just a doctor”, but somehow “just a teacher” is a pretty common phrase even among people speaking directly to teachers. Community organizing is as noble as any other service profession, and all of them should be more respected in our society. There’s not much admirable about a stock broker, especially in these tough days.

Perhaps Barack Obama’s greatest accomplishment of all was having the insight and willingness to face the harsh criticism as he opposed the Iraq War from the beginning. Cite the surge all you want, it wouldn’t have been necessary to further drain American blood and treasure in the first place had it not been for the unjust war.  He was correct that it would divert our attention from the real enemy. He was correct that it was based on false assumptions and Bush administration propaganda.

Here is Obama’s Blueprint for Change, direct from the campaign. Or check out Barack Obama’s positions, issue by issue.

The War in Iraq
The Job Market
Health Care
Foreign Policy
Technology & Innovation
Women’s Rights
Veteran’s Issues
The Environment
Latino Issues

Why is the Constitution considered a radical thing to talk about?

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I first heard someone talking about it on über-conservative talk radio, and then felt that sense all throughout the Ron Paul Revolution, and I just can’t stop thinking about why this occurs. It’s the same sense of creepy feeling you get when Dennis Kucinich enters the room. The problem is, when they start talking, it makes sense. Think about this: our entire government was formed on a document that is about 6 pages long. The entire government’s foundation is only 6 pages (front and back).

How is it difficult to adhere to the basic tenets that built a nation able to last 221 years without breaking at the seams. Held together by free speech, a free press, the election cycle and ultimately the individual’s right to vote and choose. The strongest democracy on earth, we owe it to lead by example and not undercut our own strengths as we ravage and trample on the Constitution. I disagree regularly with those in power, but the United States is still the best place on earth to live. It’s because of our foundation, our Constitution and not any one president in our history.

I believe we should have a stronger emphasis on citizenship, community involvement and service in our public schools. I believe that the truth should be held over our pristine picture of ourselves as a nation in our classrooms. Students know that problems exist, they may live in a neighborhood that government forgot, but they still have hopes and dreams. We must educate all citizens to pay attention and remain an active voice in our government, or we lose it to the cronies and elites.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The Preamble to the Constitution was written last, and outlines the goals of the Constitution and the purposes of government. It’s memorize-able, it’s basic, and yet for so many people it’s like speaking in tongues. The Constitution is somehow off-putting. How can this be? We are certainly not serving our Posterity when we rack up debt to China to pay for an unjust war that our children will either die in, become permanently damaged in or pay for, for the rest of their lives.