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badice.com ~ travel musings for the masses

Posts tagged Politics

“Strategery”, “nucular”, and “guesstimate” are words that make people twitch when heard. For me, my head instantly starts pounding when “bipartisanship” starts being thrown around. Both Republicans and Democrats use the word in their attempt to assuage people’s need for civility and goodness. In reality, what either side is saying is “we need to come together as long as our coming together is on our side of the issue”.

Our political disagreements is the actual bipartisanship we should strive for. Disagreement on policy is how policy making works. Having everyone sitting around in a chant circle signing “Kumbaya” and agreeing on every single thing proposed allows crud to flow through with the good stuff. Rather than bipartisanship we need people discussing, disagreeing, and reworking legislation so that it is succinct, serves a purpose, and does the most good.

I am sure tonight’s State of the Union address will have plenty of “we need to come together” lines along with “we are one so we should act like one” ovation getters. These are simply long forms of “bipartisanship”. What I wish the President would say is, “We need to hash out the details on legislation to get the economy moving. We need each side to whittle this legislation down to help as many Americans as possible”.

Agreement is great, I’m just not sure that having a Legislative Branch of yes-men is the best way to go about getting people to agree.

A judge in Oklahoma has stopped the certification of a vote that keeps Shariah Law and international law from being used in Oklahoma courtrooms. The text that was presented to voters is as follows:

This measure amends the State Constitution. It changes a section that deals with the courts of this state. It would amend Article 7, Section 1. It makes courts rely on federal and state law when deciding cases. It forbids courts from considering or using international law. It forbids courts from considering or using Sharia Law.
International law is also known as the law of nations. It deals with the conduct of international organizations and independent nations, such as countries, states and tribes. It deals with their relationship with each other. It also deals with some of their relationships with persons.
The law of nations is formed by the general assent of civilized nations. Sources of international law also include international agreements, as well as treaties.
Sharia Law is Islamic law. It is based on two principal sources, the Koran and the teaching of Mohammed.

What interests me about this case is not that Shariah Law may be banned, but that the plaintiff is claiming his 1st Amendment rights would be violated if such a ban was in place. So, Shariah Law, based on religious beliefs, should be allowed to override federal and local law. This must really put people who do not want Judeo-Christian iconography on federal, state, or public land in general into a twist. You basically have someone who wants religious rights upheld while those rights violate the rights of others.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am really looking forward to reading some write-ups by people who are vehemently against religion in the public sector. I have to wonder which way they will swing on this issue. Do they back up a law that prohibits religion from interfering with federal and state law or do they say defend the 1st Amendment.

In reality, this law does nothing to prevent people from practicing their freedom of religion. It simply removes the possibility of religious or international law being used in Oklahoma courts. Basically, if you perform an honor killing (which Shariah allows for), you cannot be protected from being prosecuted. This would not be the first time that beliefs and religion have been turned down as adequate defenses.

A very interesting case is unfolding in front of us. It will be very interesting watching this play out over the next few months.

I’m burned out. Yep, utterly burned out. There is an incessant bickering that I thought was part of the process but it turns out it is just ignorance attempting to out-stupefy the opposite ignorance. In case you have not caught on yet, I’m talking about politics and all of the argumentative and condescending commentary that is out there right now.

There is a time for discourse and we need such discourse to keep things balanced, but as of late, the discourse has turned into a ruckus. Wait, ruckus is too nice of a word, full out brawl is better. We have Glenn Beck making some of the most random comments I’ve heard while on the left there is a general consensus that everyone on the right is a bigoted racist who wants to invade Mexico. All of the chatter is like a giant ray gun pointed at my brain. I just can’t take it anymore.

I thought I could away from it by avoiding television news. I wouldn’t have to listen to Katie Couric read us a page from her notebook or Glenn Beck ramble on about freedoms. I thought I would be able to manage my Twitter account well enough to somewhat block out the continual rants from both sides. It all still trickles in. My primary source of news has long been articles written by actual economists and political science writers but I’m relying on it even more now.

What really amazes me is that people are still ranting about Sarah Palin. Really? If she is as useless and unimportant as people claim she is then if you stop talking about her, maybe she’ll stop being so important. By ranting you’re just perpetuating the whole thing.

That brings me to the issues that currently face the country. A jobs report came out today and it was not good news. The national unemployment rate continues to stay in the 9.5-9.7% range. This is an issue that President Obama and the House and Senate should be discussing fervently. Not pushing agendas, not looking for the best opportunity to drop a sound bite, but simply talking about options. Of course, this is only one issue, there are many others and I think for all of them, realistic discussions in which political prowess does not come into the mix would be a good thing.

The other thing that has my raised my blood pressure significantly lately is all of this talk about the Constitution and people’s rights. There are two camps here, both claiming that their understanding of the Constitution is the right one. To be honest, I think they’re both wrong. One side wants you to believe that the Constitution is a completely living document, open to interpretation and meant to be applied as needed. The other believes the Constitution is a completely strict document that needs to be taken literally. Both of these views go to the extremes. The way I see it is that the Constitution is living, but not in the way most think of it. It was meant to be changed, but only by amending it. It was also meant to be interpreted but not to the extreme that we should break it down to minutia and apply to every single possible permutation of an issue. To do so would not only be time consuming, it would be next to impossible.

What we need is a true understanding of a Constitutional republic. As a nation we have become so much more complicated than when founded, it is making adaptation difficult. It makes me wonder if people still really believe in the concept of states making their own decisions when it comes to politics. If people do then a lot of the bickering seems mighty overblown. We can be positive and yet have discourse if we remember how to actually debate something rather than parrot what our favorite television personality says. We need more readers of history and less of Twitter. We need more action and less activism. We need to grow up a little.

Not a lot of links this week, but they’re interesting.

  • Captain’s Training Blamed in Crash of Flight 3407 – The pilot had never done any simulation training of the kind of icing he experienced the night of the crash. Worse than that is the fact that Colgan allowed him to fly after failing multiple check-rides.
  • Pelosi: C.I.A. Misled Congress Over Waterboarding – Pelosi strikes me as someone who only her immediate constituents can stand. She cannot get her story straight and when she tries, it sounds worse than the time before. Their plan of making people think that waterboarding is awful and not worth the lives it saved has somewhat failed, so they fall back on this scheme.
  • Maine Bill Targets Parking By RVs at Commercial Lots – Wow, what a surprise, a state government steps in to try and combat a “problem”. If they think that charging RV drivers to park in their state is going to help the economy, they need a basic course in economics. Wal-Mart had no problem with the RVs parking in their lots, but the RV campsites did, they claim they’re struggling, so the state comes to the rescue.

I will be at Wordcamp MidAtlantic in Baltimore this weekend. If you will be there, leave a comment or find me at the conference.

Around 750 “tea parties” are taking place around the country today in an effort to protest the taxation changes being made by the Obama administration. This is one of those issues that has turned into a boxing match between the left and right based media (I guess most issues are now). The tea parties are loosely based around the events that took place before the Revolutionary War, where “No taxation without representation” was the slogan. Today’s events differ because they focus on tax rates and government spending. This is a poor idea, or at least poor execution of an idea.

Sure, a government on its way to spending itself into a debt wholly owned by foreign nations is a bad idea, but focusing on tax increases for the wealthy is no better. The tea parties should instead be focused on bringing attention to what the government is doing with our money, maybe even making the slogan “No taxation with poor representation”. The officials are elected by us but make decisions based on their own prerogatives rather than the needs of the people.

The argument that Americans do not mind paying taxes is one that has been coming out of the media lately and it too is a poor one. Most Americans do not mind because it is simply a way of life and for the most part the actual payment takes place without them even noticing. The truth of the matter is, most Americans get a refund at the end of the year and have no idea that it is because they paid in too much to the system. Start taking more out of people’s paychecks and making the refunds smaller and the number of Americans who do not mind taxes is sure to take a dive.

Back to the tea parties, Paul Krugman, who I am constantly agreeing and disagreeing with, writes that the right-wing is a bunch of crazy people who are embarrassing themselves with their antics and maybe he is right. If the conservatives in this country want to avoid a social democracy then faux-protesting a slight tax hike is not the way to do it. This is not to say that what the government is doing is right, by all means, it isn’t. The idea is not to change tax rates, it is to reduce spending. If spending is reduced, then budgets are naturally cut and as a result, the tax rate stays steady or better yet, falls.

What this country needs is more students of history because then maybe we’d have our memories jogged on how things were done when the Constitution was drafted and what the role of the Federal government should be.

I dropped the ball last week and did not post any links, mostly because I had been out of town and did not bookmark anything. This week’s links will try to make up for it.

  • Four Fannie Mae Execs to Get Big Bonuses – There seems to be some disconnect between the media and this story. AIG execs get bonuses and they are essentially burned at the stake, but a government backed agency gives out bonuses and the story is a blurb. People should be more up in arms about this than the AIG debacle.
  • Colleges Duck Tough Cuts, Keep Hiking Pay and Tuition – An interesting and, in my opinion, necessary opinion piece in USA Today about the cost of college tuition continuing to rise all while schools give out raises. We’re taking something that we claim should be the “right of everyone” and turning it into a corporation. There is little reason to cut spending when the money flows in, except for the fact that federal money is dwindling.
  • The Pioneer Woman Cooks! – I was browsing some food blogs during lunch (the best time to do it, to avoid the hunger it causes) and came across The Pioneer Woman. Her writing is interesting and she makes Texas favorites look easy.
  • Why to Startup in a Bad Economy – This was posted in the latter half of last year but I think it is just as relevant today as it was then.
  • Facebook Fallout: Is it time for Zuckerberg to go? – I’ll admit that I am not as big of a user of Facebook as I was in college. My interest peaked and now I only occasionally look up old friends and see what they are doing. After multiple redesigns and the usability taking a nosedive, I just lost the desire to visit the site. Maybe it is time for Mark Zuckerberg to go.

Leave a comment with your thoughts!

  • It Was 20 Years Ago Today: The Web – It has already been 20 years since Tim Berners-Lee authored his paper on Information Management for CERN and started the ball rolling developing what is now the internet.
  • Michelle Obama’s Message – Eat Fresh Food – I mentioned this idea in a post about grocery shopping and while it is not a new idea, I am glad that the First Lady is making it a publicly visible issue.
  • Skeptics Dispute Climate Worries and Each Other – Just because the climate change crowd appears to be on the same page does not make them right. It seems that dissension is only welcome when it is dissension that matches up with the beliefs of the other guy. Since the disagreements here are among the climate change skeptics, they must be wrong. Give me a break.
  • The President Lays Out His Education Ideas – He calls for merit pay, longer school years and hours, and getting kids into better schools. At the same time, his budget bill has all but completely killed the Washington Scholarship Fund. “The earmarks can stay, but what’s this scholarship thing for underprivileged kids? Get rid of that”
  • Naughty and Not So Nice: Celebrity Chefs in Firing Line (from Jessica) – Celebrity chefs are getting into hot water because their recipes contain high amounts of fat.
  • Google Voice is Launched – Google has launched Google Voice, their follow-up to GrandCentral. It allows you to use a single number for your land line, cell phone, and work and get voicemail online.
  • Geithner, With Few Aides, Is Scrambling – The Treasury Secretary and the aides as a whole are having trouble keeping up with all of the things they a promising and trying to deliver.

With all of the talk about bailing out the auto-industry I started wondering what would happen if we bailed out the Big 3 automakers and still they failed. It is a very real possibility. Pushing money to a problem and committing government “oversight” to something does not ensure an entity’s ability to thrive, just look at Fannie and Freddie.

If Washington rescues Detroit and the auto companies fail anyway, then we have essentially shot ourselves in the foot. Sure, Washington can continue to print money, devalue the currency and attempt to pay off debt with more debt but in the long run it just will not work.

I understand that a lot of people would lose their jobs if we do not do something about the automakers, but I also understand that we can do something and still have a lot of people lose their jobs. This fact is little talked about and seems that it is one of those things that “we can worry about later”. Yep, let the later generations pick up the pieces…