Posts Tagged ‘Constitution’

The Top 8 Dumbest Things about the Republican Party

May 1, 2009

This feature is part one of a two-part series centered on the two major political parties in the United States.  For The 8 Dumbest Things about the Democratic Party, click here.

Is the Republican party going to be ok?

Is the Republican party going to be ok?

8.  Republicans believe that The War on Drugs can be solved if we throw everyone into prison.

Republicans get to take credit for the first recorded usage of the term “War on Drugs.”  It was used by Richard Nixon in 1969 as a way to fire up the base of the party against the counter-culture hippies that despised the Vietnam War.

Thanks to the War on Drugs, our prisons are overfilled.  The cost is so high to run some of these prisons that they have to be sold to private companies.  The legislature of California actually considered selling San Quentin prison this year because of the terrible financial shape that the state is in.

And drug cartels love the illegality of drugs more than Republicans do.  Drug demand in the United States will continue and the cartels increasingly find clever ways of evading the DEA.  In fact, cartels are now building semi-submergable vessels that can avoid RADAR and infra-red in Costa Rica.  They pack these boats with up to seven tons of cocaine and park it on a deserted beach in the United States. If they can get seven tons of cocaine to the coast of the United States without being detected, they can get seven tons of anything into our country.

Legalize drugs.  Pull the rug out from under the black market.  Levy taxes on the drugs and use that money to educate kids and help addicts get help.  This is exactly what happened during prohibition.  Legalizing drugs will help to stop the violence and the kidnappings in Mexico and in the southwest.

7.  Republicans demonize higher education.

From discounting professors in their “ivory towers” to laughing in the face of modern economic theory, Republicans love to rally their base on the premise of their shared mediocrity.  Ann Coulter believes that American teachers are “inculcating students in the precepts of the Socialist Party of America—as understood by retarded people.” (link)

There are intellectuals in the party, but you’ll find few conservatives that know them by name.  For every David Brooks, there is a Carrie Prejean.  For every George Will, there is a Joe the Plumber.

This isn’t to say that there are plenty of idiots in the Democratic Party as well.  The difference is that Janeane Garafalo doesn’t get microphone time at the Democratic Convention, while Joe the Plumber, a moron, is viewed as some everyman harbinger of truth in the Republican Party.  The problem with this outlook is that it eventually permeates into the politicians themselves.  The Palin phenomenon.  A folksy former sportscaster that bounced around from college to college without any sense of history or moder political theory is voted into the governorship of Alaska.  Same thing happened with Michelle Bachmann.

The hard right tarnishes the image of the Republican Party just like the Taliban tarnishes the image of Islam.

6.  Republicans believe that corporations are more trustworthy than the government.

Let’s get this out of the way quickly.  The government has done some shitty thingsBut they have also done plenty of good things.   Let’s look at the current financial crisis as a microcosm for the shittyness of government versus the shittyness of corporations.

The government allowed for corporations to create the derivatives market as well as offer subprime mortgages to people that couldn’t afford them.  That’s shitty.

The corporations took these allowances and had a field day.  Not only did they offer subprimes to the people that couldn’t pay them, but they bundled the mortgages into a security and bet on the outcome of the security.

Johnny thinks Group A of subprime mortgage holders will only pay back 40% of the loan while Philp believes that Group A will pay back 80%.  Johnny decides to bet $32,000 on the outcome even though he only has $1,000 in the bank.  Philip bets $28,000 even though he only has $900.  Group A only pays back 40%.  Johnny wins.  Now how the fuck is Philip supposed to pay him?

5.  Republicans believe that the government doesn’t belong in your pocketbook, but it does belong in your ovaries and in your bedroom.

It seems that every time the Republican party is asked about fiscal policy, the only two words on their lips are “tax cuts.”  We’re in a war?  We Need Tax Relief.  We’re in an economic booming period?  More tax cuts.  We’re in a recession?  Tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts.

People used to be offended if one was yellow and one was dark brown.

People used to be offended if one was yellow and one was dark brown.

Republicans believe that the best judge for whether you should carry your child is the federal government.  In fact, they believe that your Church should have no say in the matter.  They believe that a marriage between gay people somehow infringe on their rights.  There are going to be gay people that your children are going to be exposed to whether they are allowed to marry or not.  What difference does a certificate matter to you?

4.  Republicans believe that the Second Amendment of the Constitution is the only important one.

Not a peep came from the Republican party when George W. Bush all but suspended the Fourth Amendment with the warrantless wiretapping program.  Hell, even after he left office and we discovered that John Yoo had readied an additional memo that would have limited the First Amendment, there was no significant backlash at the Drudge Report and Red State.

But when anyone says that you probably shouldn’t be able to carry an assault weapon capable of shooting 30 times in 10 seconds, Republicans go apeshit.

Here is my compromise.  You can buy any gun you want.  However, that gun is only allowed to fire three bullets before you reload.  Gun manufacturers must make it so that a reload takes more than thirty seconds.  Military and police guns do not have to follow these regulations.

Many Republicans will say that that inhibits their ability to protect their family in case the government comes to get them.  But that’s idiotic.  The government has nuclear weapons, genius.  If they want a police state, then they’re going to get one.  Until then, three shots is all you get.

3.  Republicans say they reject big government when they are out of power, but balloon government when they are in power.

I don’t know how much longer Republicans will fall for this nonsense.  During the reigns of Reagan, Bush, and W. Bush, government grew on a massive scale.  Hell, George W. Bush added the entire Department of Homeland Security.  Government spending went through the roof with all three GOP presidents.  None of them ever balanced a budget or saw a surplus.

fiscal-conservative

It wasn’t until Bill Clinton balanced the budget late in his second term that many Americans finally realized that “fiscal responsiblity” did not belong on the Republican party platform.  Of course, the minute W took office, he squandared the surplus by adding significant tax cuts for the wealthy.  Most republicans don’t realize that the government has to PAY for tax cuts.  It is a signficant loss in revenue.  I’ll allow you to argue supply-side economic theory when a Republican balances the budget.  Until then, Bill Clinton’s “socialistic” 3% tax hike for wealthy people balanced it just fine.

2.  Republicans have shitty sources.

I don’t give a damn what some politician “believes” about global warming or Evolution.  If I want to hear about global warming, I’ll talk to chemists, geologists, and climatologists.  If I want to hear about Evolution, I’ll talk to a biological anthropologist or primatologist. There is no “big science” lobby.  These people do not get paid anywhere close to the bullshit experts from the oil lobbying firms.  They are scientists whose reputation is contingent upon their adherence to the scientific method.

Many, many scientists would like nothing more than to disprove global warming or Evolution.  They would be instant celebrities in the scientific world and they would be written about in textbooks for centuries.    But that doesn’t happen.

1. The people that vote for Republicans

On April 15, 2009 an estimated 189,000 people across the United States participated in Tax Day Tea Parties.  While simultaneously calling for an increase in defense spending, tea partiers were enraged at the 3% increase in taxes for people who make over a quarter of a million dollars a year.  Only 5% of working families in the United States will see a tax hike.

But don’t tell that to the teabaggers.

Sure, you get freedom of speech.  You just dont get to dictate policy when your guys lost.

Sure, you get freedom of speech. You just don't get to dictate policy when your guys lost.

If you asked them, taxes were through the roof on everything.  Even though the protests were sponsored by Fox News as well as two of the biggest lobbying firms in Washington, the majority of tea-party goers swallowed the kool-aid that this was a grassroots movement.

To be fair, the most vocal people on Fox and CPAC do not represent Republican voters collectively.  After all, the most moderate candidate in the Republican primaries John McCain won the 2008 Presidential nomination.  I suppose the proof of where the party is headed won’t be known until 2012.  If a Jindal, Palin, Romney, or Gingrich is selected, then they’re going in the wrong direction.  But if Jon Huntsman Jr.  is able to secure the nod, we may see a more reasonable, more intelligent Republican party.

All that and I didn’t even mention getting us into crazy wars, justifying torture, and the annual gay sex scandals.

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Full impressions and tons of photos from Tea Party Protest in Eugene, Oregon

April 16, 2009

Digg It!

There wasn’t a Tea Party protest in the city of Eugene and I suppose that is appropriate.  Eugene, known for raucous WTO protests in the early 90s, violent members of the Environmental Liberation Front, and more aging, balding, dread-locked hippies than a Bob Dylan concert, wouldn’t look kindly on right wing protests.  The protest was ultimately held in neighboring Springfield, known for its incessant insistence that it is the true Simpsons Springfield.

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I showed up just minutes before the protest started, following a Nissan SUV sporting an NRA seal and a yellow Support the Troops ribbon in heavy traffic all the way to the event.  It was held just outside Gateway Mall in Springfield, right next to a United States Post Office, in a park paid for by state and local taxes.

Eugene and Springfield host a population of approximately 210,000, not including the 20,000 students that attend The University of Oregon.   I’m not great at crowd size pinpointing, but I would guess that the attendance was between 500-800.   Local media did show up, but their reports can’t be trusted.  They were about as inconspicuous as an orange-vested hunter in a barren forest.  They didn’t mingle with the people, they didn’t speak to the people, they filed their report in thick make-up and black whore boots and went home to watch Dancing with the Stars.

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The atmosphere was like a County Fair.  Middle-aged professionals with their children and seniors with their oxygen tanks crowded the sidewalks, while their 20 to 30 year old neighbors stayed home.   Opportunists sold t-shirts out of their cars.

A man from the Americans for Prosperity organization dressed up as Thomas Paine, a man he has little to nothing in common with ideologically, and spouted platitudes of Freedom, Liberty, Free Markets, and Fair Taxation.  It was like being at a fucking campaign speech.  Do we really need to subject ourselves to this bullshit more than once every two years?

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Of course, the main thing that Fraud Paine talked about was the horrors of earmarks and the out of control spending in Washington.  Next on the docket was lower taxes.  Of course, the majority of the electorate doesn’t see the inherent paradox in this philosophy.  We have to pay for tax cuts.  If the Republican party wants more Defense spending, we need to pay for that through taxes.  But what the hell am I thinking?  I’m trying to bury this in an article that is too long for many of the Tea Baggers to consider reading.

That brings us to the true “substance” of the Tea Party Revolution.  The substance is the sheer number of slogans and issues represented by the protesters.  There is no unity here.  It’s not the rage against the WTO that made Sublime immortalize Eugene in April 26, 1992.   It’s a mish-mash of right-wing talking points that all lead to a few basic underlying messages.

  1. Congress doesn’t read bills.
  2. Barney Frank and Chris Dodd are the only people to blame for the current economic crisis.
  3. Barack Obama is not “one of us.”
  4. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are dictators in Congress.
  5. Debt = “fiscal child abuse.”
  6. Democrats are godless.
  7. Democrats and Republicans are responsible for mess in Congress (even though they only single out Democrats)
  8. Advertisements for Glenn Beck.

I think I can fit all of the signs I saw today into each of those categories.  The problem is that there is no discussion at these events.  Because the attendees believe everything Fox spews, they accept these slogans as righteous.  Further exploration of these ideals needn’t be taken.  The people who attended the Tea Party today aren’t intellectuals who devour every word of George Will and David Brooks.  They listen to O’Reilly, Rush, Glenn Beck, and Neil Cavuto.  Additional research is unnecessary.

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What’s wrong with the youth today?  It’s a popular motto for many people in the twilight of life.  Today, I ask a different question.  What’s wrong with the baby boomers?  Why have they lost their taste for good, investigative journalism and rational facts?  We can have a real debate in this country if they would accept that their taxes are not increasing if they make under $250,000.  We can have different opinions about what we are going to do in the future.  We cannot have different opinions on facts.

The big takeaway from this is that right-wingers aren’t used to protesting.  When they do protest, they want to protest 10,000 different things at the same time so that they never have to do it again.   Abortion, Cap & Trade, Obama’s legitimacy as President, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, the Stimulus Bill, the Bailout, the Budget, Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Gun Laws, “Christian” values, Earmarks, the free market, spending, Joe Biden, Janet Napolitano, Ron Paul, Bob Barr, the Federal Reserve, the renegotiation of home loans, Obama’s bow to the Saudi prince, terrorism, the Department of Homeland Security, the Employee Free Choice Act, NAFTA, the Death Tax, and the IRS were all targeted today.

When you have 800 people with 800 different reasons for protesting, the message is lost in the crowd.  But the real reason they’re there is simple.  Mass media and lobbying firms have a hell of an influence.

More pictures:

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Every editor of every major newspaper should be fired today

April 8, 2009

Except for the San Francisco Chronicle.  It is indefensible that the media in this country completely ignore the Big Brother shaped dent that was delivered to our Fourth Amendment yesterday.

The following news sources have run stories about the warrantless wiretapping story so far:

  • San Francisco Chronicle
  • The Register (UK)
  • The Atlantic
  • Bay Area Indymedia
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation
  • BuzzFlash
  • Washington Post (Blog section, web-only)
  • Raw Story
  • Dslreports
  • Alternet
  • SecuObs
  • Lew Rockwell
  • Think Progress
  • Salon

The media should be RAGING about this story.  Instead, CNN currently has a goddamn Somali pirates story on their front page.  FoxNation is whining about Obama not going to fucking church since he became President and The Huffington Post is riffing about Farrah Fawcett’s cancer.  What the fuck are you people thinking?

The American public have had it so good for so long that they don’t realize that the Obama Administration is chipping away at our Constitution.  Hell, I voted for Obama in November and I am infuriated.  This is not what he was elected to do.

Fuck you, Obama.  Fuck you, Media.  Both of you need to do your fucking jobs.

RWP Rating: Bizarre

Is the United States a Christian Nation?

April 7, 2009

What is a Christian nation?

This is a hell of a question to start out this debate.  But it’s the only way that we’ll make any kind of headway.  We have to define our terms before we set out or we’ll just end up in a game of semantics.

I think the best way of answering this is by comparing the United States to other nations around the world.  For example, clearly the United States is more influenced by Christianity than The Netherlands.  We have laws against incest and (in some states) sodomy because of our Christian influence.

However, a nation that is influenced by a group of people doesn’t mean that it is founded on their principles.  For example, would we say that the United States is a White nation?  Of course not.  In fact, that’s a great way of getting your ass kicked.  Even though the founding documents were written by white people, we do not consider ourselves a White nation.

What is a Muslim Nation?

A Muslim nation is a nation where Sharia (Islamic law) is enforced.   Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Yemen all enforce Sharia law.  In these communities, religious law is civil and criminal law.  Often, beards must be worn at certain lengths and women must cover their bodies completely or they will face criminal charges from the state.

What about our history?

So do we enforce the Ten Commandments in the Bible?  Have we ever?  The answer is yes and no.  During the days of the Puritans, the United States was a much different country.  Witches were burned at the stake and adulterers were made to bear the infamous A.  But these laws were a distortion of our Constitution.

The First Amendment of the Constitution reads:

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 peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Pretty clearly stated.  Our founding fathers escaped religious persecution to establish this nation.  The last thing they wanted to do was create a country that made all the same mistakes their homeland did.  Even though certain communities did adopt some Christian law into their governing arsenal, it turned out pretty terribly.  I think you’ll find few people willing to defend the Salem Witch Trials.

What about the law?

The Christian law never changes.  It was written in the books of the Bible 2000 years ago and there have been few amendments to it since.  However, our founding fathers purposely established this country in a way so that laws could change.  At the will of the people, through their representatives in Congress, we can change the laws by which we live.

Pound of Flesh?

Pound of Flesh?

The founding fathers knew the Bible.  Many of them were Christian.  But they purposely did not establish Christian law as United States law.   Even though many were devout Christians, the governing principles of the nation were purposely establish with no religion in mind.  Even though God/Creator/Supreme Judge is mentioned in some of our founding documents, there is no mention of biblical law or Jesus.

What about the faith of the founding fathers?

Many of the founding fathers were Christians and others were not.  Thomas Jefferson famously ripped every page out of the Bible that involved Jesus doing any type of miracle.  He believed that the supernatural aspects of the Bible distorted the moral teachings.  Jefferson even penned a new ending: rather than Jesus resurrecting from the dead, he is buried in the ground.

We cannot act like our founding fathers spoke in a unified voice.  There was dissension, there were disagreements.  I’m sure many of them thought that we should found a Christian nation.  However, that is not what they gave us.  They gave us a democratic republic.  A democratic republic where the will of the people reigned supreme and not the laws of their former homeland.

Fox Nation attempts to smear Obama

Fox Nation attempts to smear Obama

Conclusion

It’s easy for commentators on Fox News to say we are a Christian nation because we were founded by mostly Christian people.   But it’s not a debate that can take place in the 3-minute rush zone of a TV studio.  We have to address the issue from many facets, define our terms, and somehow explain the rich history of our nation.  The United States may be a nation of Christians, but it was not founded as a Christian nation.

Real News of the Day: Spain investigating Bush officials for war crimes

March 28, 2009

Guantanamo Bay was essential to the Bush Administration’s War on Terror.   Its location in Cuba enabled a suspension of Habeas Corpus and due process.  Many suspected terrorists from many different countries were extradited to Guantanamo Bay.  Five of those suspects were from Spain.

The Bush Administrations worst nightmare.

The Bush Administration's worst nightmare.

Each of the Spanish citizens claims that they were tortured during their time in the prison.  All were released and stood trial in Spain and all of their cases were eventually dismissed.   So now  there are five free Spanish citizens that were tortured because of decisions made by a small list of top Bush officials.  Number one on that list?  Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez.

Investigative judge Baltasar Garzon is examining the case in further detail.  Garzon gained fame in the 1970s for ordering the arrest of Chilean dictator (and American puppet) Augusto Pinochet.   Since then, Garzon has been a prominent human rights advocate, holding nations and terrorists, including Al-Qaeda, responsible for thier violations.

Also named in the report is former Justice Department lawyer John Yoo.  Yoo recently came under fire for writing memos in the wake of the September 11 attacks that would suspend the First Amendment and the Fourth Amendment in the United States.  These memos were immediately retracted by the new chief of the Justice Department Jack Goldsmith when the Obama Administration took over.

John Yoo despises the Constitution.

John Yoo despises the Constitution.

Garzon is investigating Yoo and Gonzalez for knowingly circumventing the Geneva Conventions as well as the 1984 Convention Against Torture.  Torture tactics used by the United States including waterboarding were considered to be in violation.  Yoo and Gonzalez are also accused of attempting to redefine torture to fit in with the War on Terror ideology.

Other Bush Administration officials in the investigation include William J. Haynes II, the former general counsel for the Department of Defense, Jay Bybee, a manager at the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, and David S. Addington, who was the chief of staff and legal adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney.

President Bush and Vice President Cheney are not named in the investigation…which is bullshit.  The buck stops at the President of the United States.  He is ultimately responsible and so is Cheney.

Cheney despises everything.

Dick Cheney despises everything.

I complain about the Obama Administration a lot.  I think that Geithner was a mistake and that we should not be bailing out AIG just because it cuts into the profits at Goldman Sachs.  That being said, the Justice Department of the Obama Administration is 210 million times better than the Justice Department during the Bush Administration.   After 8 long years, we can say unequivocally that the United States does not torture people.

The Bush Administration worked for 8 years to undermine our Constitution, to chip away at the Fourth Amendment, and to completely decimate the moral standing we once held in the international community.   Now we have a new President who seems to legitimately care about exceeding in the realm of foreign policy.   So today, sit back and drink some lemonade.  The blood on our hands is washing away.

Further Reading: New York Times