Thursday, June 16, 2005

A dividing issue....

Resolved? Probably never. This is why I am a firm believer in living wills. I know this was a hot issues on the political spectrum earlier this year and my wuestion was... Why? Really what did it accomplish? Not a lot. Am I glad Frist is eating crow? Not really. In my humble opinion this should not have been an issue that politicians and pundits needed to debate. It was a family and courts issue.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Many years ago a little document called The Declaration of Independence was written. Inside of this document was a small passage:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Life, Liberty and Happiness - doesn't sound too hard to maintain does it? In fact it looks pretty simple. Many years ago it was.

I'm not the first guy in the world to take notice of the happenings of these three words. In fact, several other bloggers have written at great length about it. N.Z. Bear, Common Dreams, Spare Change, Getting Elected Blogline, Dust in the Light, Meyerweb, MVRWC, RealFake, Democratic Wings, The Fat Guy, Laugh at Liberals, Freespace and others have all written about it. Heck, there's even a blog with the name LiLpoH (abbreviated out). For many it is a piece of history that should exact an effect in every life as an American.

Over time this cornerstone on which the United States of America was founded on has slowly been eroded from the hearts and minds of Americans. Today there are just too many caveats to the statement. It appears that over time we have lost our way. Nothing is ever as simple as it seems when you subject it to the scrutiny of the law.

For words so impacting on our society you could imagine that these words are written in several documents that have guided this country. That's where you'd be wrong. Both the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, the documents that make up our laws make no mention of the phrase. The closest we can come is section one of the XIV amendment in the bill of rights:
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Okay, that's close to what we're looking for; Life, Liberty and Property; but it's not the whole deal. Happiness doesn't seem to play into law.

That's exactly what has been happening though. Through the use of law these unalienable rights appear to be slipping away and eroding right before our very eyes. These words have become watered down versions of themselves with no more potency than a near beer. They still contain the flavor of content, but no ability to effect change or guide policy. Allow me to explain in detail:

Everyone has the right to life. Everyone is "endowed by their Creator" with the unalienable right to life. This quandary is quite possibly the simplest to define if not for the two opposing sides in this battle.

Does a murderer have a right to life? Much data has been gathered about the death penalty and most of it indicates that it does nothing to rehabilitate or discourage any future crime. Many times it has proven to end the life of an innocent. The only function it serves faithfully is to end the life of someone that has been deemed unable to be rehabilitated, or at least that's what it's supposed to be for. Many courts have used if for "an eye for an eye" decisions that would make the grieving family of the victim(s) feel better but do nothing else. Is this really showing your right to life appropriately?

Does a fetus have a right to life? Where does one's blob of cytoplasm end and life begin? How long will we keep fooling ourselves into believing that it's okay to end this life, or potential life, so long as it hasn't taken its first breath? It has been proven that a fetus has nerve endings and can feel by the end of the first trimester. Is this considered life? Is this considered a living, feeling human being or still no better than a dog or other household pet as some would lead you to believe?

Many people will argue that it is choice and therefore protected by the next two words: Liberty and Happiness. There's a reason that the word LIFE was put first. It's the word we should most cherish. It's the one we should give the most consideration above all else. "Choice above all" infringes on others unalienable rights to all three.

This is where things can get a little confusing. What is liberty? Is liberty the freedom to to whatever the heck you want or does it have to be within reason? Where do these rights come from? How can I protect my liberties?

Right now we have a good example of diminishing liberties. It's called the Patriot Act. Some say it is a necessity if we are to maintain security in the United States. Others believe it's a rehash of the McCarthy act. Although we haven't had the hysteria related to McCarthyism it has drawn national attention to what powers our government actually holds over us. How much control is too much? Where is our happy medium between security and liberty?

The other piece I'd like to put in here has to do with state's rights vs. federal rights. Again, this is a gray area that really should not be. This used to be clearly defined in the past as anything that crosses the border from one state to another gets covered under federal rights, while anything within a state is classified under state law. That all changed when some asshat judge decided it would be cool to give federal control over in-state issues. Now I sit wondering why we even have states anymore. Why not just give all of the power to the government and take it out of the hands of the individual states? Who needs the local government anyway? We should all have big brothers hand controlling every aspect of our lives. Can you see my cynicism in this?

There is a reason for states rights and for the maintenance thereof. By allowing the federal legislation to intermingle with that of a state's you have effectively taken away the liberties that each state enjoys. It's no better than centralized communism.

To be more correct, "The pursuit of happiness. This is one of those perception issues. This is also where I'm probably going to get into the most trouble. So, where does happiness come from? Does it come from intrinsic or extrinsic things? In other words, is happiness something you can buy and touch or is it something on the inside?

I would suggest that it is both of these. Happiness can be derived from both your physical pleasure sensors and how you feel about things. So, what can I make from this that might torque people?

Here's a list of controversial "feeling" pleasures:
  • Cigarettes

  • Alcohol

  • Prostitution

  • Marijuana

  • Hard Drugs

  • Now here's a list of controversial "feel good" pleasures:
  • Vindication

  • Malice

  • Lust

  • Holiness

  • Yes, I know some of you may not be happy that I lumped holiness with the other controversial feelings but I shall explain. Many people have a problem with those that speak and feel of religious feeling. It makes them uncomfortable for some reason as as such people try to turn the tables by banning religion, just like people try to get of lust, vindictiveness and malice. They are all controversial items of Happiness.

    To dig this pit a bit deeper, I have a hard time seeing how anything listed above should be disallowed. What? How could I say that we should let people shoot up on the streets? Should we have prostitutes on every corner now? What's up with that?

    Okay, let me explain. As long as there is no infringement of anyone else's unalienable rights why should it be any of our businesses what you do in the privacy of your own home. That's the trick: in the privacy of your own home. Many of the things noted above are considered adult behavior. Subjecting minors, heck, anybody to questionable adult practices is an infringement upon someone else's rights.

    That doesn't answer the question of sustainability though. I'm talking about those people that will become addicted to THC, barbiturates, uppers, downers, etc. If we are to open these facilities up to general population it should come at the cost of adequate facilities to rehabilitate those that gain problems. Most people call these sin taxes and they have frequently been funneled away from the programs they were intended for to pay for Congressman Bob's pet project. The money paid in by the tobacco giants never met the needs of a single smoker. Bob got it all.

    I'm sure you can find many more examples of how these three little words have been tried and twisted to suit the needs of today. You can see it in most every piece of major law you find. It always breaks down to a bunch of rhetoric and doesn't really pay attention to why we founded this country: Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    Thursday, June 09, 2005

    I am not union.
    I never needed their help.
    I'm still Democrat

    Why a non-union haiku? Because I found other non-union Dems. Julie B, had a guest poster whom identified themselves as doggystyle in her comments. Chuck from B-trans is like me and anti-union? Is this a movement? Doubtful... though, Kevin Drum appears to be likeminded as well.

    I agree with Doggystyle that unions have outdated themselves, and that the Democratic party... if they want to become a true party of the people, need to be for the people.

    Wednesday, June 01, 2005

    I'm trying....

    A half-hearted attempt to win back some of my more liberal readers

    Bush is a chimp.

    *Update* We need to divide and conquer.

    *Update 2* Atrios is blogging god. I promise to relink both him and Kos.

    *Update 3* I miss Clinton. I really hope for a Hillary run in 2008.

    *Update 4*Howard Dean is my mother fucking master. Boo yeah bitches.

    *Update 5*What do you think I am serious? This post is bullshit. Really it is. I did not like Clinton when he was in office, but I do miss his economy and global view. I think Hillary would be a terrible choice for my party to pick. I am who I am, Just plain old Jess. I am not a fan of Dean, I am fan of moving in one direction, I am not a Bushie, but whether I like it or not he is indeed the preznit. Love it or hate it. I am me.

    Crossposted @ LOSLI

    Tuesday, May 31, 2005

    Another plug for centrism

    centrist.bmpSomething I'm hoping is just a slow startup is the new group site over at Grand Centrist Station. We're averaging a whole 15 hits a day! Pretty sad considering there are five members and most hits are coming from only two of them. So, I'm going to go out on a limb and request that members put up buttons. Until I get into a graphically groovy mood you're going to have to settle for only one.

    More stuff will come. More people will come. More traffic will come. It's just a matter of time.

    If this is the first time you've heard of it allow me to explain.

    Everybody's so hellbent on being on either one side or the other of politics that many are missing the bigger picture. They have stopped being on polar opposite sides of the issues and become on polar opposite sides of each other. Words like terrorist, facist, communist, racist, maybe not dentist, but worse words are being used to describe anyone that does not subscribe to the viewpoints of either the extreme right or extreme left.

    Personally, I'd like it if we could keep our extremities to ourselves; or at least bring something to the middle of the table. That's why we're starting this whole GCS thing. We believe that the parties as a whole have degraded to such a point as to ignore what is best for this country and fight the other party, instead of fighting for what is right.

    So, who can join this "center of the battlefield" group? Anyone that is capable of listening to a rational argument without invoking the name Bushitler or French panzy is invited to be a publishing member. The only thing I'm asking in return is a link button. Eventually we may be putting out an optional blogroll, but with only five members I don't think we need one quite yet.

    So, here's how you do it:

    1. Slap the above button up on your website with a link here:

    To make it super easy, here's the code to cut and paste into your template sidebar or elsewhere:

    <a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="centrist.bmp" src="" width="88" height="31" border="0" /></a>

    2. Email me and/or Jess to request access to the group site.


    3. Jess and I beat each other over the head until one of us gets around to responding to the other's email and we both agree to let you in. Then we'll send you an invite to the blogger blog. Remember that you'll need a blogger account. If you have any problems just use one of the above e-mails.

    4. Begin writing and/or crossposting stuff from your own blog that relates to the political issues of the day. It doesn't have to be centrist. It just has to be thoughtful and respectful. If you need an example of what is and is not respectfull let us know and we can direct you to some examples of both.

    Sunday, May 29, 2005

    Democrats, Republicans, The Filibuster And The Moderate Compromise.

    Left-Right.jpgThis week we witnessed a moment of compromise between our two governmental parties. There had been loggerheads over a rule called the filibuster. Fourteen senators, seven Democrat, seven Republican, brokered a deal of compromise to get the wheels of legislature moving again. Neither of the party leaders, Bill Frist or Harry Reid, were very pleased with the outcome. As with all compromises a party has to lose something in order to forge ahead. Both left that day cursing the “moderates” that had thrust this upon them. Progress had prevailed when both were looking for a showdown.

    The first judicial nominee went through without problems then, instead of moving to the next judge in line, they switched direction to the UN nomination, John Bolton. Now the entire deal has proven to be for naught. Again, the Democratic Party threatens to filibuster in previously unheard of arenas. Again, the Republican Party threatens to enact the nuclear option against this sort of filibuster. Again, those that want congress to actually do something for a change shake their head in bewilderment.

    Is this two party system so inclined to fight against each other that they will obstruct all progress in order to gain an advantage on the other party? Where does government stop and party begin? Is there any way to quell this tide of party fighting? Should we?

    Moderation, or centrism lends itself to the thought that groups of people can work their differences rationally without choosing sides, touting declarations and making much ado about nothing. It uses words like compromise, agreement and sympathy. Centrists are usually the ones to get things moving, to break through, to cede a point in order to gain a point. They’re the small gears of each party that grind together in order to keep the larger gears moving.

    To date, we have only had one president not associated with a party, George Washington. Some would arguably call him the greatest president we have ever had. Others would call him mislead by one party or the other and not at all a good president. It was this “spirit of party” that was one of the determining factors in him leaving office. The fighting and bickering was too much for his aging mind and body to take anymore.

    So is centrism really the way to go? Should we disband our two party system and work as one unit towards a better democracy? Maybe we should and maybe we shouldn’t. Sure, centrism has been a good and worthy addition to government, but has it been a route that disdains all others? Should we always seek a compromise?

    Since our two parties have formed we have grown to be the greatest, most powerful nation on Earth. Our military is second to none and our industry is better than any other country as well. Our nation is the envy of the world. It may sound arrogant, pompous even, but it’s true. No nation in the world is as desired as we are. When a nation needs military help do they call the French, the Chinese or the British? No, they call the Americans. When there is a humanitarian crisis are the Syrians called? No, we get called before anyone else in the U.N. humanitarian council is even considered. We are first in and last out.

    So is it centrism that makes us the most sought after nation in the world? It’s probably not. It’s probably our unwavering desire to do better, our strong belief system and just plain old stubbornness. We go in with the intention of getting the job done and don’t leave until we see it through to the finish. Our greatness comes not from our ability to compromise, but our ability to laugh in the face of adversity. It comes from standing fast on one side of an issue or the other. It comes from our two party system.

    We are a strong nation because our two party system makes every issue, every bill, every judicial nominee, absolutely everything to be sent through a trial by fire. We are the best because everything must be put up against the most rigorous approval process for any government the world over. It is our infighting that makes us stronger.

    I am not saying that there is no need for a middle party. There is a definite need for some compromise between parties. It is an integral part of our government and without it there are times when all progress would stop. It is the bridge between the two unwavering pillars that occasionally needs to be traversed. Alone, however, I do not believe it could succeed. Just as alone the two opposing parties could not succeed.

    Remember this the next time you see someone with the polar opposite to your opinion. There is a purpose for their dissenting opinion.

    Remember this when you see two sides fighting over something as simple as blue or black ink. It is through this fighting that the most durable path of freedom is discovered.

    Remember this when you see a R.I.N.O. or a D.I.N.O. and remember that there is a need for those in the middle just as there is a need for those on the extremes. A centrist is not a spineless weasel selling out his party. A centrist is someone trying to keep the wheels of legislature turning ever onward.

    Friday, May 27, 2005

    My mask, Tonto! He wanted my mask!

    Apparently in W. Virginia it is illegal to wear masks except for very specific reasons.
    Conversation between the Lone Ranger and State Policeman along a dark country road:

    SP: Sir, you’ll have to remove your mask.

    LR: Oh, no, you need to understand that this protects my identity!

    SP: Precisely sir, that’s why you need to *remove* the mask

    LR: But I work for the good of humankind! I right wrongs! I rescue the weak!

    SP: OK, sir, Now step over to the side of the road and remove the mask!

    LR: I wear a white hat! I help catch the bad guys!

    SP: That’s my job, sir, you just leave it to me. Now REMOVE the mask!

    (scuffling sounds, stage right)

    SP: OK, now get this, just take the ma - - ow! That’s it!

    (wet hissing sound)

    LR: Ow! Stop what is that stuff! Burns my eyes! Silver!

    (hoofbeats sliding to a stop)

    SP: Hey! That thing bit me! What the heck, hey, get away, OW!

    SP: (leaning into car for radio) Yeah, backup and animal control! Yes a horse! Stop laughing! Ow ! Ow! Dang!

    SP: Stop! I’m telling you to stop!

    LR: OK, Silver, now! Hi Ho Silver! And awaaaayyyyy

    (hoofbeats receding into distance, stage left)

    Thanks to Jess and Pear for inspiration... ;-)