unastronaut*

Feet on the ground – head in the clouds.

Posts Tagged ‘constitution

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.

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Clinging to guns and the Constitution? McCain you fool…

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John McCain seems to not need a memory. Or facts. Or ideas even. He simply lies about Barack Obama’s tax plan and misquotes his “bitter” comments in such an interesting way…

Yes, Senator McCain, I cling to the Constitution, and I am bitter. Do you know why? Because your party and the president whose policies you whole-heartedly endorse have trampled all over the Constitution, the nearly 800 year old writ of habeas corpus, and our civil liberties. And yes, I must now cling to my gun. Not because I think those hippie liberals will take away my right to defend my family or go hunting, but because the essence of the 2nd Amendment is slipping.

Read the 2nd Amendment, there is no doubt the Founding Fathers were skeptical of government themselves. Our right to bear arms will always protect our freedom — from the government. Yes we use them for sport and personal protection, but the root of this freedom came from people who knew what it was like to be oppressed and have no rights or representation.

So Senator McCain, I cling to my gun and the Constitution. I find this works best when the Constitution is under attack. Maybe if you could correctly identify or quote anything, you’d understand just WHO they are under attack from — ideologues, on both sides.

When it comes right down to it, anyone who understand the incredible personalities of our Founding Fathers knows any one of them would cold-cock any or all of our elected officials for gross offenses to the Constitution. Less than 1% of those we’ve elected to represent the people are actually representing our interests. This isn’t so much about any one party as it is about partisanship in general. It’s phony. It’s old school. A dying school, I pray, for the sake of my country.

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Kucinich: Impeach Bush, uphold the Constitution (where the hell is the media?)

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They continue to mention the proposed windfall tax on oil companies in the Senate, but haven’t yet mentioned the introduction of Articles of Impeachment against President Bush in the House of Representatives. Do they need a map of the Beltway? It’s not like they’d need to travel far.

Is this the same media that made every marital misstep of President Clinton a national story for months? I’m not saying he shouldn’t necessarily be judged at some point, but maybe in a book — or if you’re religious, by God — and not in a media that should for the benefit of the people. It’s more like the media that allowed a Pentagon-planted propaganda campaign to lead us into a false war of aggression. The Founding Fathers would have loved the internet in its current state, free enough to matter and alert enough to call shenanigans on corruption.

 

Check out Raw Story for more video and a PDF link for the entire Articles of Impeachment.

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McCain’s ‘spiritual guide’ Rod Parsley: “We get off on warfare!”

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This is absurdity ad nauseam, and I know Michael Savage isn’t taken seriously by 90% of his listeners, but I can’t even believe he thinks this nonsense is legitimate. Reverend Wright can easily be described as a harsh critic of American foreign and domestic policy, but he’s served this country for 6 years in the military and 3 decades in his Chicago community. His church is ethnically diverse, not an all-black congregation preaching separation. Still, Reverend Wright is an ego-maniac, no doubt.

Rod Parsley, on the other hand, is literally trying to start a religious war and crusade. He believes somehow that America was created to destroy Islam, ignoring the language of the 1st Amendment. It is clear that the government shall stay out of the way, and the affairs of religion. If his extremist church believes there’s a call to arms against Islam, it has nothing to do with the American government. It really has nothing to do with reality. His conception is perverse and incites violence, but by the very Constitution he ignores, his voice is protected.

The same document, complete with our 1st Amendment for 217 years gives Reverend Wright the same freedom to speak his misguided mind. The problem I have is with the coverage and the cutting of 30 years of sermons down to a 30-second clip. If Reverend Wright were truly an America hater and separation advocate, wouldn’t they be able to continually produce clips, rather than simply playing endlessly the same 30 seconds of his long career?

All I believe is that everyone should be fairly informed, not halfway informed. If my coverage appears slanted, I’d implore it is simply because the preponderance of evidence in current events is so drastically slanted in one direction. I’d protect, tooth-and-nail, everyone’s right to freely practice their faith. This includes Islam. Not because, as Michael Savage says, “the libs are gonna jump in and say that they believe in Islam, because most of them would believe in anything except Christianity,” but because I believe in the Constitution and specifically the 1st Amendment. I believe more in this country than religious ideology because it is America — not any church — which has given me most in life.

America promises two basic things, freedom and opportunity. In some cases, opportunity has been found wanting but the goals remain the same. Success rates vary over the years, but we continually find the American dream exist where freedom and new ideas meet opportunity. I’m a political scientist by training, and one who wholeheartedly believes in empirical analysis rather than reactionary zeal.

Here is the article from Media Matters that provoked this diatribe. And here’s a video of Parsley being a rod, and some clips of how Senator McCain sees this “moral compass and spiritual guide.”

“We get off on warfare!” -Rod Parsley

Compare that with the entirety of Reverend Wright’s message in the infamous “chickens are coming home to roost” sermon.

The difference is also evident in the rhetoric of the campaigns. Senator Obama says we should have a dialogue with all nations, not to appease or deal with terrorists as President Bush ignorantly and recklessly stated in Israel last weekend. Two years ago, Senator McCain said we would eventually have to “deal with Iran” in reference to a question about his diplomatic approach with dictators. The question was not about potential military action.

Here’s a clip of John McCain discussing diplomatic dealings with Hamas two years ago.

And today’s video of a McCain campaign surrogate explaining the new, updated stance on what McCain meant two years ago:

Obama wishes to have a diplomatic, yet strong position in the world. Bringing our troops home to rest, be with their families, help the homeland recover from natural disasters and protect our citizens at home will benefit our national security. Endless war at the monetary expense of future generations and the psychological expense of an entire generation of our young, often poor and minority populations.

It’s nothing new that the military is one of the best opportunities this nation offers for youth to move up in the world if they come from an impoverished area. The problem is when unjust wars are waged at their expense. In that sense, supporting the poor and disenfranchised is supporting the troops and those who support and suffer most with the troops — their families.

     

  • When three-fifths of our men and women returning from Iraq are diagnosed with PTSD and depression — it is time to support our troops.
  • When evidence that our government has urged Army doctors to stop prescribing PTSD and depression, in favor of the cheaper-to-treat “adjustment syndrome” — it is time to support our troops.
  • When more children in a region already negatively disposed to America are orphaned in a war they don’t understand, much like those who perpetrated the atrocity of September 11 — it’s time to support our troops by taking them out of harm’s way.
  • When there is an “al-Qaeda in Iraq” now, where there was not before as a result of failed policy that takes our attention away from Afghanistan where our real enemy exists — it is time to support our troops by putting them in the best position to succeed and bring justice to the victims of bin Laden.
  • When those who fight, risk death and lose mental health and limbs to serve this country for only two years are denied education benefits — we must support our troops.
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That is the way Senator Obama wishes to support the troops.  Make no mistake, he’ll be going after bin Laden, and anyone else who threatens to attack us or our allies.  He just won’t pretend talking to someone is like giving them Czechoslovakia in an attempt at appeasement.  Talking gives us a chance to look them in the eyes and say, you will not bully us.  And it gives the person with the most power a chance to work toward a solution, rather than simply declaring another war and orphaning another generation of foreign children. Here’s Obama’s response to historically ignorant attacks from President Bush and John McCain:

It is un-American to leave your children worse off than your parents left you, not to exercise your 1st Amendment right to free expression.

Senator McCain was also exposed by the DailyKos for having lied about former President Reagan’s negotiations and dealings with Iran.  This man has clearly lost his bearings.  Whether it is to do with his age or is incredible lust for the presidency, his ideas have become polluted and convoluted in a way that betrays his previous “maverick” status.

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It’s not anti-American, it is just too American for some

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Lately this stupid “anti-American” tag is getting thrown around more and more.  Partly because of the Reverend Wright debacle and a super patriot named Nash McCabe, partly because it’s political season and those with no substance sling mud.  I’m getting tired of hearing things labeled un-American or anti-American as if there is some sort of board of Americanism certifying certain ideas.  If you understand anything about this country, you should understand the 1st Amendment and our freedom of speech.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.  

The 1st Amendment gives us much more than the freedom to shout, it gives us the freedom to shout against the status quo.  The right to assemble isn’t for Sunday gatherings in the park, it’s for protest and speaking against the actions of the government, or whatever the issue deems.  The point of the 1st Amendment to our Constitution was to give people the power of a voice and the freedom to associate and collaborate on ideas.  The intention of the 1st Amendment is to make every American a critic of public policy, to keep the government in check.  

What ignorant simpletons take for granted or even attack is actually quite revolutionary.  Not everywhere in the world can a rational discourse take place where people can present diametrically opposed viewpoints and have a peaceful ending.  Take for example the recent protests-turned-assaults over the freedom of Tibet.  It’s absolutely American to disagree, to say what’s on our minds even if it’s the most ridiculous thing in the world.  It’s anti-American to suppress that voice.

We won’t lose by accepting the voice, even if we don’t accept the idea or the argument.  That’s why it’s stupid when people label everyone who speaks out against the war, exposes corruption in government or brings a devastating negative market externality to our attention an America-hating liberal.  It’s not an act of hatred to speak out against a corrupt government but of a patriot.  

“… God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty…. And what country can preserve its liberties, if it’s rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”

Thomas Jefferson Papers, 334 (C.J. Boyd, Ed., 1950)

The people who built this country would be ashamed of such a rejection of their ideas.  The people give power to the government and not the other way around.  Free speech, press, petition, assembly go along with our right to the free exercise and the protection from the establishment of religion.  This entire American experiment began with much more than the simple minds that think anything they disagree with is anti-American.  We exist to pass more freedom on to the next generation, not less.  It is only through a free press and everyone speaking do we really see what is “American”.  

America includes people from the “far-left blogosphere” and the “vast right-wing conspiracy” and everyone in between.  From the apathetic to the uninformed; or the college professors and high school teachers.  People of all stripes inhabit this country, and only the people make it what it is today.  I’m a firm believer in the history of this country — from the first strokes for the Declaration of Independence to the Federalist Papers and Constitution — and a humble and honest critic of its mistakes.  That doesn’t make me, my ideas or me saying them anti-American.  I’m just anti-mistakes and extremely proud of my country.

On the Tim Russert Show this Sunday (05/04/08), Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia actually discusses the idea of things being “un-American”. I’ve found Justice Scalia and I don’t often agree, but here we have consensus. He mentions that he can’t imagine in the course of French politics or [insert country] politics, the idea of saying something is un-French. Americans truly do identify with flag more than with blood or specific birth location, and that’s not a bad thing. It just creates more demand for things (his example was the House un-American Activities Committee) that are inherently more un-American than the behaviors we’re trying to prevent.

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If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas. -G. Bernard Shaw

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The sum of human wisdom is not contained in any one language, and no single language is capable of expressing all forms and degrees of human comprehension. -Ezra Pound

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The mark of a well educated person is not necessarily in knowing all the answers, but in knowing where to find them. -Douglas Everett

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A small dose of karmic justice for Alberto Gonzales

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In the history of this country there has never been a higher ranking official so unqualified for their position as Mr. Alberto Gonzales.

He’s having trouble finding a job. What a beautiful thing to see, something positive! I don’t recall much about him, maybe this article from the Economist might address the issue. This video also illustrates his understanding of the Constitution. Keep in mind this is Arlen Specter, a Republican from Pennsylvania.

He doesn’t know anything about terminated federal prosecutors, and he just knows “that they [Bush and Cheney] would not do that.” This is the wrong kind of moron crony, just like Mike Brown at FEMA, that puts this country at more of a risk than any terrorist threat.

Perhaps this partly explains why 61% of historians consider the Bush administration the worst in our history.

A more complete tally in the cost of the war

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About 300,000 U.S. troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or depression, but about half receive no care, an independent study said on Thursday. Reuters 04/17/08

This isn’t a small number. This isn’t a laughable disorder. This isn’t a small issue.

I don’t want to be an alarmist, but when we write the check (or swipe the Bank of China credit card) we must also weigh these costs. These are the most patriotic of their generation, losing mental health and more, for a war never justified. We have lost over 4,000 servicemen. Supporting our troops is bringing them home. Protecting America is having a strong defense at home. Recovering from disasters requires American forces. Something nearly synonymous with victory. Nearly. But we can neither focus on victory or defeat. Forward is the way, the past is past.

President Bush was asked today what he says to critics who see no end in sight in the war in Iraq – is it an open-ended war? And he effectively said it is – at least for the remaining 10 months of his presidency.

“So long as I’m the president, my measure of success is victory – and success,’’ the president said in the Rose Garden, standing alongside British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, leader of a nation that has stood as the staunchest ally of the United States at war in Iraq and Afghanistan but has begun to draw down troops from Iraq and is moving its remaining forces “from combat to over-watch.’’ from Mark Silva at The Swamp

Focusing on victory and defeat, victim and aggressor or who gets the blame only serves to deflect our attention from real problems. When our forefathers set out the founding documents, they realized they couldn’t account for everything. But they also knew we needed to be well informed (free speech and press) and have direct involvement in our government. If we aren’t alert, a small group of people protecting their own and only their own best interests will hijack our nation. Everyone is subject to the rule of law. Absolutely everyone.