Domestic Politics: Not All Is As It Appears To Be – Expanding on Glenn Mollette

U.S. House chamber. Inset: Glenn Mollette.

U.S. House chamber. Inset: Glenn Mollette.

     Glenn Mollette is a syndicated columnist. That sounds like a simple, six-word statement, doesn’t it? For the most part, it is. Glenn Mollette is syndicated, his opinion and editorial pieces appearing in newspapers and websites across the nation. At this point though, maybe I should explain why I’m talking about Mr. Mollette, and how that pertains to the title of this article.

     Glenn’s column was picked up a while ago by Big Valley News, a small, local news site in Madera, California. I pop over to BVN on occasion, to get a different take on the goings on in my hometown, than what the mainstream news stations can provide. Jack Porter, the man who runs BVN, is quite an “odd duck,” however his perspectives on things are, at times, far more intuitive than I think even he realises. But, I digress…

     Today’s editorial, written by Mr. Mollette, is entitled, “What Do Republicans and Democrats Look Like?” It’s a short piece, less than 500 words, most of which describe Glenn’s parents; his Republican father and his Democrat mother, both honest, hard-working Christian folks. Mollette reflects on his parents’ jobs, their activities around the home and their later years. He goes on to muse about how lovely it would be, if people from both parties could live in such harmony and the state of affairs in today’s America. He ends the piece with a quotation from Abraham Lincoln’s “House Divided Speech.”

     Glenn Mollette is a Theologian. Yes, that’s right. Dr. Mollette is also the President of Newburgh Theological Seminary and College of The Bible, in Newburgh, Indiana. Now, I’m not at all certain of what Mr. Mollette’s personal belief set involves exactly, but regardless, I tend to get edgy whenever religion and politics start becoming intertwined within the same setting. Granted, theologians and politicians share a lot in common; one politics for their faith, the other for their political party. Both often tend to do so more for their own aggrandisement than the common good, I’m afraid!

     Ah, if only it t’were that simple. Imagine the “warm fuzzies” those looking on might get, seeing Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate, sitting around the campfire, agreeing on every piece of legislation and singing, “Kumbaya.” Yeah. Never…gonna…happen. (At this point, my fine young readers might be asking, “Why not, J.P.?”) Well, some of it has to do with that aggrandisement thing I mentioned in the last paragraph. Aside from that, those elected to represent us, do so for a diverse population with often differing views on the issues. Glenn Mollette knows this to be true. (If he doesn’t, if he’s that willfully ignorant of the political process and climate in this country, I dare say that he shouldn’t be commenting on it.)

     No, the political landscape in this country is just as divided over issues as the church is. Like denominations within Christendom, we have different political parties, with different worldviews and opinions on things like how the money gets got, what it gets spent on and how much. (Perhaps the realm of politics is a bit less dysfunctional than that of the church, though; there seem to be far less political parties than religious denominations!) In addition, where the church starts getting involved in the business of the state, the “dramarama” will ensue.  The bleed over is inevitable, and happens all too often, as evinced by the Catholic church’s meddling in health care issues, and the Mormon church’s meddling in the debate over Marriage Equality.

     So, is there any way to solve this problem? Is there any possibility that Glenn Mollette’s utopian dream of a Kumbaya-singing, 100% efficient government will come to pass? (I heave a heavy sigh.) Not with the current form of government that we have, I fear. In short, the answer to Glenn Mollette’s simple question…is simply not that simple.

Advertisements

In The Aftermath: Canonising Christopher / Demonising Dorner

aftermath_waste_cabin

“At last Don Quixote’s end came, after he had received all the sacraments, and had in full and forcible terms expressed his detestation of books of chivalry.”
(Miguel de Cervantes, from “Don Quixote” c1615.)

     In amongst the charred remains of what was once a cabin in Big Bear, lay the body of a murderer. That murderer was once an honorable man, who served his country with dignity in the U.S. Naval Reserve, and dreamed of joining one of the most high-profile law enforcement organisations in America; the LAPD. Christopher Dorner realised that dream, but then his dream turned into a personal nightmare.

     Christopher Dorner, in the process of performing his duties, was confronted with difficult choices. One of these choices brought him up against something that he wasn’t prepared for; the “blue line”. It’s an unspoken, undocumented line that officers dare not cross in their interactions with each other. Chris Dorner however, later stated in his “manifesto” that what he witnessed forced him to step perilously but purposefully over that line, in an effort to keep other officers honest. (1) As a result, Chris Dorner’s life and career were turned on their ear by the very same organisation that he had dreamed of being a part of, and Christopher Dorner…was driven over the edge.

     Dorner was terminated from the Los Angeles Police Department in 2008, and pursued a five-year battle within the system to try to get his termination overturned, being represented by retired LAPD officer Randall Quan. This process proved unsuccessful, and in the end, something in Chris Dorner snapped. His answer to the “blue line” would now be to draw his own line, where lives would become collateral, vendettas would be outlined, and plans would be made for all-out, “asymmetrical” warfare on the police force that he had once revered.

     In the days following Dorner’s posting of his manifesto on the internet, three people would lose their lives, and another two would be injured. Randall Quan’s daughter Monica, and her fiance Keith Lawrence were shot and killed in Irvine, one officer in Corona was injured, and two Riverside officers were also fired upon by Dorner, one fatally.(2)

     Law enforcement caught up with Chris Dorner on Tuesday, February 12th at a cabin in Big Bear where, after officers fired incendiary devices into the structure, (3) Christopher Dorner, once a decorated veteran and aspiring LAPD officer, and now a hunted fugitive from justice, met his maker. (4)

can·on·ise: transitive verb /ˈka-nə-ˌnīz/

1. Treat as a sacred person.
2. Declare to be a saint.

de·mon·ise: transitive verb /ˈdē-mə-ˌnīz/

1. To represent as evil or diabolic.
2. To mark out or describe as evil or culpable.

     [SOAPBOX=ON] Did Christopher Dorner actually “meet his maker”? What I mean to say, my fine young readers, is who made Christopher Dorner the man he was at the time of his death? Granted, the cheese had slid off of the cracker at the moment in which he claimed his first victim, but what drove him to it? While the recriminations might seem simple, they are in point of fact anything but. Exactly how much culpability are Randall Quan, Teresa Evans and the LAPD willing to accept for what has happened? Should they even be held culpable?

     Now, don’t get me wrong here. I am not trying to turn Chris Dorner into some kind of saint, or a “modern-day Robin Hood”. Anyone who would take innocent lives and make terrorist threats against people’s families, especially their children, is a monster. There are however, those on the fringes and on social media sites including Facebook that would view him in this light. (5) (To those people, I would suggest that anyone who would support a murderous traitor to their country, needs to seriously reexamine their own values system!) No, Dorner strikes me more as a twisted, macabre kind of Don Quixote, tilting at the creaking windmills of a police force that indeed, is still in dire need of repair and further reform.

     Yes, I’m inclined to agree with Chris Dorner on that point of fact, especially when in the course of hunting for him, officers from the Los Angeles and Torrance police departments opened fire on three innocent people, just because they happened to be driving around in vehicles that resembled Dorner’s! These are a stark reminder of an issue that plagues not only the LAPD, but other large metropolitan police forces as well; a lack of discipline. These two “shoot first, ask questions later” incidences were largely the result of a police force that was, at the time, on the edge. Chris Dorner had placed the entirety of the L.A. basin’s law enforcement community on the defensive, and they in turn had itchy trigger fingers. Something was bound to break, the already brittle rubber band had been stretched, and it was primed to snap…and snap it did, to the detriment of three civilians. (6)

     Some will say that it was Chris Dorner’s fault that the three civilians were shot by the police, that had Dorner not gone on his short-lived, one-man war against the police, this wouldn’t have happened. While this may be true to some extent, I would also posit that had the LAPD not held their sacred “blue line” in higher esteem than doing the right things, then Chris Dorner may never have had a cause to lose his marbles in the first place. Those firmly ensconced on the side of law enforcement will continue to point their fingers squarely at Christopher Dorner…while at the same time remaining blissfully unaware, or willfully ignorant of the three other fingers on the same hand, pointing back at themselves.

     In the aftermath, the saddest part of it all is that no one will discuss the real issues. The entire episode will fade from the social consciousness, and our society will be no better or worse for the wear. I guess that’s the one word that truly sums up the whole thing; a waste.

The Homefront: My Milkshake Brings All The Mayors To The Yard…

"Damn right, it's better than yours..."

“Damn right, it’s better than yours…”

     Can I ask my readers an honest question? What is it with these elected officials, servants of the public that don’t know how, or simply aren’t able to comport themselves as leaders? Don’t we elect these individuals to their positions in government to lead, and to do it with at least a modicum of dignity and respect?

     Some time ago, I wrote an article about Madera County Sheriff John Anderson, and his unfortunate decision to drive drunk in our state’s capital back in November of 2000. Now, yet another local official has gone and made a complete arse of themselves in a very public way. Atwater Mayor Pro Tempore Craig Mooneyham has been charged with misdemeanor “disturbing the peace by fighting”, over something as trivial as…the price of a milkshake. A milkshake that, might I add, he ordered with extra toppings and accoutrements. The incident, which occurred back in late January, has now made local news. (1)

     It seems that, upon being informed of the price of this cold and tasty treat, the mayor was evidently overcome with angst over the price, and began berating the cashier at the local eatery where this order was placed. In short, he threw a temper tantrum. Other customers chimed in, attempting to assist the mayor in regaining some perspective, to no avail. Now, charges have been filed against him by the Merced County DA’s office. (2) (3)

     Honestly…a milkshake? What have we done to this society of ours, what kind of nation have we become when an elected official throws a hissy fit over the price of desert? When did behavior like this become acceptable? To paraphrase the words of Henry II of England in 1170; what miserable drones and traitors have we nourished and brought up in our household, who let their electors be treated with such shameful contempt? What’s even more ironic about this, is that mayor Mooneyham is also named as being assigned to the city’s “USP/Atwater Community Liaison Group”. (4) Isn’t a “community liaison” supposed to be able to work well with and within the community?

     In my honest opinion, the people of Atwater should seek this man’s ouster. I know that Atwater is a pretty small town in a much larger area of California, but I feel for them. I feel for the citizens of this town, a mere five minutes’ drive north on highway 99 from where I live. It has to be pretty embarrassing having a mayor who acts with less maturity than some junior high school students I know. If I was mayor Mooneyham, I would step down.

     I also realise that this mayor is far from the first elected official to make an arse of themselves in a public venue. In fact, it seems that this is happening with greater frequency as time goes by. From former congressional representative Todd Akin’s “Legitimate Rape” faux pas (5), (which quite probably cost him the election!) to recent Twitter posts from senator John McCain (6) and former congressional representative Ron Paul (7), our politicians have been letting their mouths, their typing fingers and their attitudes run amok. My fine young readers, I think it’s time that we start expecting better of the people we elect to lead us. In the meantime, maybe the mayor of Atwater would like to invest in one of those neat blenders they’re always hocking down at Costco…

The Cybersattva: Politics In A Nutshell

     With over 100 posted articles, I can see how some of my politics might have become fuzzy to some of my readers. It is with this in mind, that I’ve decided to write this article, outlining some of my positions and beliefs regarding social and political issues. Now, given that my fine young readers (yes, I know I use this descriptive quite often, however it’s not at all meant to be patronising; I really do appreciate all of you!) have had the opportunity to read through the many posts here, you will know that I am vociferously pro-LGBT rights, pro-choice and pro-establishment clause. What lies below is basically a statement of my politics, in a nutshell! So, on to it, shall we?

     I believe in the equal protections and rights under the laws of this country, for everyone. As is stated at the end of the Pledge of Allegiance, “…with liberty, and justice, for ALL.” Period. That doesn’t mean “…with liberty and justice for all, except those sexually deviant homos!” No, I’d like to believe that I’m a bit more rational and open-minded than all of that. Therefore, I am again, definitely pro-marriage equality.(1) (2) (3)

     I believe that our borders need to be secure. Given the events surrounding and subsequent to September 11th of 2001, I feel that our government has been sorely remiss in its duty to its citizenry, by ensuring that the nation’s borders are safeguarded. In addition to this, our interactions with other nations have been problematic, at best. Shortly after 9-11, we embroiled ourselves in a protracted war in Iraq, one that was engaged in under false pretenses, managed haphazardly and left with too many ends untied. Geo-politics and national security are inexorably joined at the hip, if you will, and it is imperative that our government come to a greater realisation of that fact.(4) (5) (6)

     I believe that any discussion regarding Roe v. Wade must include the woman. It has been the practice of the fundamentalists to continuously debate women’s rights, focusing solely on the fetus and completely disregarding the simple question, “What about the woman?” I have also noticed that the majority of people engaging in this exclusionary approach to the debate are men. I find this to be disgustingly chauvinistic, bordering at times on misogyny. The fight for women’s rights is far from over, but I have taken up the pen / keyboard, and vow to do my level best to further this cause!

     Likewise, I believe that the issue of women’s health, as recently highlighted by the shake-ups at the Komen Foundation, needs to be delivered from the demon of politicisation. If we have the ability to fund organisations and offices to do proper breast screenings, then let’s do that and keep the politics to a minimum! (Kudos to Komen for finally coming to their senses!)(7) (8)

     I believe in the necessary separation of church and state. Our government is a Republic, and not a Theocracy. It was never meant to be a Theocracy. Our founding fathers knew this instinctively, hence the reason for things like the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses, enumerated in the first amendment. Thomas Jefferson knew this, and it was he that coined the phrase “separation of church and state” in his 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Association. As a result, I have taken an active position against Dominionism. (The active attempts of organised religion to influence the policies and politics of the state.)(9)

     As long as we’re talking U.S. Constitution, I also believe in the right of the people to bear arms, as enumerated in the second amendment.

     I believe that our educational systems are broken, on a herculean scale. No Child Left Behind was a good idea, but has since been taken into bad places. In addition, the arrogance and ignorance of select persons within the compulsory education system has all too often resulted in catastrophic failure, as has recently been witnessed in such places as Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles, where it became necessary to remove the entire staff of a school due to the demon of child molestation.

     Our nation’s colleges are not much better, specifically community colleges. Little more than money-pits, it has become quite commonplace for students to be “wait-listed” for courses that they require to complete a degree, for entire courses to be cancelled from the schedule and for counselors to approach their jobs with a “Laissez-faire,” devil-may-care attitude. In short, the nation needs to fix this broken down hulk. We the people need to sit down with our legislators, and come up with a viable, sustainable plan to enact real change.(10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15)

     Ladies and gentlemen, these are just the highlights. I’ve addressed all of these in various articles throughout the past six months, and I would encourage each of you to follow the superscript links to read those individual pieces. If you agree with what I’ve stated here, then please feel free to comment! If you disagree, then by all means, let’s engage in some dialogue, because it is only through meaningful communication and discussion of the issues, that anything meaningful will be accomplished!

TeaBaggers Take Aim at the 17th Amendment

     The Seventeenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:

“The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.

When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.”

     The Seventeenth Amendment, which was ratified in 1913, provided for the direct election of U.S. senators by citizens. Until 1913 state legislatures had elected U.S. senators. Ratification of the amendment followed decades of insistence that the power to elect senators should be placed in the hands of ordinary voters. This successful struggle marked a major victory for progressivism—the early twentieth-century political movement dedicated to pushing government at all levels toward reform. In addition to serving the longer-range goals of the reformers, the campaign on behalf of the amendment sought to end delays and what was widely perceived as corruption in the election of senators by state legislatures.

     From 1787 until 1913, the U.S. Constitution specified that state legislatures would elect U.S. senators. Article 1, Section 3, reads:

“The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.”

     In giving the elective power to the states, the framers of the Constitution hoped to protect state independence. The framers were suspicious of majority rule and sought to restrain what they regarded as the potentially destructive forces of democracy. Thus, while providing for direct election to the House of Representatives, they countered this expression of the people’s will by allowing legislatures to select members of the Senate. At the Constitutional Convention, the proposal for state election of senators aroused no controversy. Only one proposal for senatorial election by popular vote was offered, and it was soundly defeated. The states were receptive and did not protest when the Constitution was sent to them for ratification. Nor, over the next decades, did the system incur more than occasional criticism.

     By the late nineteenth century, however, political opinion was changing in favor of a more fully participatory democracy. Starting in the 1880s, the concentration of elective power in the hands of state legislatures provoked criticism. The critics complained that the legislatures were dominated by party bosses who prevented citizen participation and thwarted popular political action. The critics also pointed to practical and ethical problems: lengthy deadlocks, which sometimes resulted when legislatures could not agree upon a candidate, and alleged Bribery. Progressivism, the reform movement that sought to address social inequities by broadening government power, helped to bring about this change in outlook. Under the pressure of the Progressive movement and the popular belief that citizens were capable of choosing their own senators, the states began to bend. By the turn of the century, several states were holding popular elections that served as advisories to the legislatures in selecting senators.

     Over the next decade, increasing calls for change reached Congress, where the resistance to change was considerable. Federal lawmakers argued that direct election would strip states of their independence and sovereignty. The pressure continued to increase, however, until by 1910, thirty-one state legislatures had requested that Congress hold a constitutional convention to propose an amendment. The next year Congress buckled and passed the amendment; within two years, the amendment had been ratified by a majority of the states. It read, in relevant part:

“The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote.”

     Only ten states opposed ratification.

     Ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment introduced significant changes to Congress. When states elected senators, they exercised the power of instruction—they could direct their senators to vote a certain way on important matters. The Seventeenth Amendment formally ended this power, for now senators were beholden to the voters. Historians and legal scholars continue to debate the other effects of the amendment. Some view it as a grave surrender of state sovereignty; others see it as a benign or even positive outgrowth of popular will. Direct election has seemingly contributed to the decline in the power of party bosses, but its impact upon the actual practice of Senate business has been negligible.

_______________________________________________________

AMENDMENT XVII

Passed by Congress May 13, 1912. Ratified April 8, 1913.

Note: Article I, section 3, of the Constitution was modified by the 17th amendment.

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.

When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.

_________________________________________________________

     Now, what possible reason would the Tea Party have to want to repeal the 17th Amendment? Simple.

     Does the word “gerrymander” mean anything to you? Over the period of the Bush administration, (W) Republican states have been busy trying to ensure that they maintain their house majorities by changing the boundaries of congressional districts in every state possible. But while this works for the House side, it is not possible to do this on the Senate side.

     Don’t get me wrong…I know that Democrat legislatures have also practiced gerrymandering. But no democratic body in the US has ever used it as a weapon as it is being used today by Republicans.

     When the 17th amendment was passed in 1913, there was no fear of the direct election of Senators by the public. In fact, the “party bosses” of the day had become so powerful that the Senate was little more than a country club for the rich and powerful business interests of the day. (Sound familiar?) The 17th amendment marked the demise and eventual dismemberment of those power-based interests. For the first time, “advice and consent” had meaning, and the public good was brought to the forefront.

     Over the years, there have been individuals and groups who have complained that the 17th amendment was an infringement on “states rights” (heard that before?). And now comes the Tea Party. Those constitution-loving scamps just cannot figure a way to “gerrymander” the Senate districts as they have successfully done with the House districts.

     Oh, and by the way, all those “red state” legislatures have been able to gerrymander democratic districts almost out of existence…Texas is a perfect example of this political genocide…just in case you wondered.

     So, in order to rig the game completely, repealing the 17th amendment has become paramount. Putting the election of Senators back into the hands of these gerrymandered state legislatures will complete their national plan and thereby rig the game in their favor, ad infinitem.

     Please do not dismiss my words as the contrivances of a disillusioned Democrat. Just read the newspaper. Just listen to any Teabagger who argues for “states rights”, and remember what has been said here. They will not stop with the 17th amendment…they are also after the 1st, the 10th, the 16th and the 21st amendments. And to what end do they wish to do this?

     The goal of the Tea Party is to destroy the fabric of the US government, to belittle it to the point that it becomes irrelevant and immaterial to our daily lives. I agree that many times the feds are not the best source for efficiency-information-truth-concern- as these idiots will surely tell you, and with a big grin on their faces. But the federal goverment is NOT the ENEMY…and if it becomes so, we will all perish by our own hands…because we allowed these situations to become true.

     The federal government is a reflection of we the people. Before you allow it to become even more dismembered, take a long look in the mirror. Is this REALLY what you believe is best for the nation?

Commemorating September 11th: Bloomberg’s Blunders?

     As we fast approach the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, I can’t help but feel a certain amount of frustration with the people of New York. I know this sounds cruel to say, especially around such a solemn time as this, but I have a very good reason for this. The problem you see, is their mayor.

     Michael Bloomberg has been the mayor of NYC since 2002. He is also among the 20 most wealthy individuals in the nation. He ran for re-election and won in 2009. Evidently, the people of New York love the guy. But I digress, back to the issue at-hand…

Heroes All

First Responders jumped into action in the wake of the attacks on September 11th, 2001.

    In the hours and days immediately following the fall of the Twin Towers, a great number of first responders and clergy were among the humanitarian effort being mounted in lower Manhattan. They searched the rubble, they comforted the families. They dragged the broken bodies of our fellow men and women from the hell at the WTC, and they held the victims, and the survivors up in prayer.

     Now ten years later, Michael Bloomberg has made the decision to exclude two groups from commemoration ceremonies at Ground Zero: First Responders, and the Clergy. I find this unconscionable and indefensible. Above even that, it pains me to think that the people of New York have, in the span of a mere ten years, forgotten the many sacrifices and contributions made by these two important groups. Is there just so much apathy flowing through that city, that the voters can’t stand up united and tell their mayor to make the accomodations? I’m sure that if enough people got off their asses (yes there, I said it. Asses. I’m that incensed!) in at least three of the five boroughs, that Bloomberg would have no choice but to listen.

     There’s still time. There are exactly eleven days until this happens, and I for one think the people of NY need to start speaking up. Let the First Responders and Clergy be included. The people of New York, and for that matter the nation at-large owe these groups a ginormous debt of gratitude that we can never hope to repay.

The Growing, Preventable Storm

     As Hurricane Irene fwaps us on the left-hand side, the worldwide animous, disdain and rhetoric continue to drag us down into what I fear will be a hard-to-escape quagmire. From here in the U.S., to Geneva to the Middle East, things are happening…

     Earlier this week, the small, Communist island nation of Cuba succeeded another Communist nation, North Korea at the helm of the United Nations Conference on Disarmament. The first thing about this that I find troubling is North Korea presiding over a conference on disarmament while at the same time actively developing a nuclear weapons program inside of their own borders, and also providing technologies and parts to other hostile governments such as Iran and Syria. I would not be surprised if Woodrow Wilson, the presidential mind behind the League of Nations is rolling in his grave at this very moment! Seating Cuba at the wheel of this conference is like putting the Marquis De Sade in charge of child abuse prevention! (Or Michael Pearl, for that matter!)

     Speaking of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad again today opened his mouth, and spewed vitriol against Israel, stating that there would be no room for Israel in the region once a Palestinian state is established. Ever since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, their relations with Israel have been hostile, with this latest president calling for Israel to be “wiped off the map”. During a Quds Day rally in Tehran, Ahmadinejad also stated that once a Palestinian state was established, that the “liberation of all Palestinian lands should follow.” (For those lay-people reading my blog that don’t quite get that, it means the REST of Israel.)

     We already know for certain that Iran also has a developing nuclear program, with centrifuges recently moved to a reinforced bunker to protect them from attack. (presumably by Israel or US!) Now, if you haven’t done so by now, connect the dots my fine young readers. Who else is Iran “buddy buddy” with in the worldwide web of nefarious characters? Hmm, let’s see. Iran and Venezuela have close ties, yes? Mahmoud and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez have been hanging out together recently, and I don’t think it’s because they have a mutual love of coffee. If memory serves me correctly, Venezuela is pulling all of their gold reserves out of Europe and the U.S., according to a recent Deutsch Welle article on the matter. It seems to me that Hugo Chavez is ALSO “buddy buddy” with the current dictatorship of…Cuba, who just took over chair duties on the 65-member U.N. Disarmament Conference…

     The wolves are slowly circling, and it’s like no one is seeing them. Either that, or they just don’t want to. Either way, stormclouds are definitely building at a quickening pace.

Debating Religion: Refutance Is Sistile?

“We are Dyslexus of Borg. Refutance is sistile. Your ass will be laminated.”

     A few posts back, I got into a discussion with Truelibertarian regarding religion, why I believe the way I do and why it works for me. He asked me if I could provide concrete, physical proof that God actually exists. After thinking about the question logically, I answered him honestly. NO. There is no concrete proof, most of what we have is based on faith. Now, I know that a LOT of Christians are going to take a fair amount of umbrage with this statement, but to these I would ask the very same question: “Okay, can YOU prove beyond a shadow of doubt that God exists?”

     Atheists I think, have just about as much of a chance of proving beyond a shadow of doubt that God does NOT exist, all things being equal. These two opposites however, still insist on getting into heated theological debates. If you ask me, it’s an exercise in futility.

     Another concept that I have grown to accept is that, based upon culture and upbringing, no one religion or set of beliefs is “right” for everyone. What may work for me may not work for someone else. The same is true for systems of government. While a lot of narrow-minded Americans may believe that Democracy is the best form of government for every country in the world, other countries sit back and laugh at us, because they, like myself, are a bit more enlightened. They realize that Democracy will not work dynamically.

     Take Great Britain for instance. Their system of government has existed far longer than ours. For them, a Constitutional Monarchy works. China on the other hand, has thrived with a Communist government in place, a great deal of that due to the intuitive evolution of the flavor of Communism that China operates under. “Waitaminute! What about the Soviet Union!? Communism failed in Russia. Remember the fall of the Berlin Wall?” Yes, I remember. I watched it on CNN! I would posit to you the reader, that Communism in Russia was destined to fail from the beginning, simply because the culture is different.

     Recently, there has been a great deal of upheaval in countries where Islam is the primary religion. Some of this is due to public perception of government not abiding by the tenets of the Muslim faith where care of the populous is concerned. Egypt, Lybia, Syria and Tunisia have recently seen mass uprisings, and even Saudi Arabia has seen protesting of its government’s policies.

     Culture plays a great part in the success or failure of an idea. This is an immutable truth that we’ve seen borne out time and again in governments past and present. (At this point, the blog post takes on more of a logical flow from one idea to the next, so please bear with me as I share epiphanies!) This brings us to an idea that is bandied about in the U.S. quite often: the separation of church and state.

     Separation of church and state is a myth. The reason I say this is that, if you look closely, church and state have always been intertwined in some way, shape or form due to shared principles.

     I know that a fair amount of this is debatable, and I’m probably going to get some comments to that end which is all well and good. I am by no means an expert where government and religion are concerned. I’m simply relaying my observations and opinions on the matter(s). If it stimulates discussion, all the better for us to continue the real task in life: learning!

     I close this with something of a fledgeling trademark where debates on religion are concerned….”Heloooo KITTY!”

American Rhetoric: The (Long Island Iced) Tea Party Patriots?

     In the process of looking over my old blogging entries from Facebook, I ran across one that I wrote in April of last year, having to do with the two weeks I spent as a member of the Armed Forces Tea Party Patriots group. Given current events in the political theater, I thought that I might re-work that blog article for this blog!

Christine O'Donnell, photo courtesy of Gawker.com

     Last week, TPP activist and three-time political failure Christine O’Donnell walked off the stage from a Piers Morgan interview on CNN. Evidently, she was extremely uncomfortable with the questions that Piers was asking her, perfectly VALID questions regarding comments that she’s made during her runs for office and in her new book, “Troublemaker”. Christine is a vociferous backer of current GOP candidate Michelle Bachmann, who incidentally just finished first in the Iowa Straw Poll last week. Christine is ALSO a self-avowed Tea Party Patriot.

     Now don’t get me wrong! I’ve seen plenty of bad behaviors on the lefty-liberal side of the aisle as well! A prime example of this would be the many shenanigans of former Speaker of The House Nancy Pelosi. From her aspirations of having a private Air Force jet to fly her pampered arse across the country, to calling conservatives who spoke out against the Liberal agenda “unpatriotic”. Senator Barbara Boxer’s dressing down of a U.S. Army General last year also speaks poorly of the left’s attitudes toward the military. But I digress, we’re talking about the TPP…

     The following was pretty much my after-action review of the AFTPP group, and the people it was composed of at that time…

_______________________________________________________________

     During the past few weeks, I have spent a LOT of time in the Armed Forces Tea Party Patriots group here on Facebook. While I came away with a greater appreciation for political views, and even a few friends, I also saw some things within the TPP movement that bother me.

     Tea Party Patriots, I learned, come from all walks of life. From rich to poor, from east coast to west, these people are VERY concerned with the direction that this country is heading in under the current leadership. While that in and of its self is a good thing, I also noted that, within the TPP movement, there are several factions operating on the EXTREME right that have infiltrated the TPP, spewing conspiracy theories and fear-mongering. Here are just a few examples:

     The “Barb Adams” types: A user, one Barb Adams, would continuously post a link to a website, dedicated to freeing one 1LT Behenna. Seems that this 1LT was involved in the death-by-shooting of one Ali Mansur, a suspected Iraqi insurgent that was in 1LT Behenna’s custody and unarmed at the time he was shot and killed. While 1LT Behenna maintains that Mr. Mansur attacked him and that he acted in self defense, I brought to Barb’s attention that 1LT Behenna is (was) a U.S. Army RANGER, which means that he has been through RIP and Ranger School training, and would have assuredly had other, “less-than-lethal” means of subduing a prisoner in his control. From what I gather, the U.S. Army agrees with me, because they sentenced him to 25 years. I mentioned this to Barb, and her response was, and this is a DIRECT QUOTE from a message she sent to me! She writes; “John, anyone who wants to put our soldiers iin (sp) PRISON like you is NOT someone I am interested in talking to. Liberals are insane; they worry about the perpetrator’s rights instead of the victims.” WHAT!? No, I don’t WANT to put our soldiers in prison, I WANT them to do the RIGHT THING while they’re out there representing US! Does this woman think I LIKE seeing our brave men and women ending up this way? Think again, BARB! (UPDATE THOUGHT: In this situation, 1LT Behenna forced a reversal of roles for Mr. Mansur, from perpetrator to victim. Victims rights now apply.)

     On several occasions, I have made it known in the group that I am a MODERATE LIBERTARIAN, slightly left of middle on the political scale. However, I guess since I still embrace the Rule of Law, and believe that people, EVEN ENEMY COMBATANTS have certain rights while in custody, that I am a bleeding heart liberal. PSSH!

     The Birthers: There is a growing conspiracy theory that our current president, Barack Hussein Obama, is not legally entitled to hold office. The “Birthers” maintain that Obama was NOT in fact born in Honolulu, Hawaii, but was born outside of the U.S. and is therefore NOT a natural-born citizen of the U.S. Now, as with any kooky conspiracy theory, the Birthers can’t get their damned story straight. Some will tell you that the birth certificate that the Obama campaign posted on the internet is a fake, and cite other BCs as proof, ones that have already been PROVEN to be frauds, no doubt perpetrated by the Birthers themselves. Others contest that the BC posted is not an original, and want to see the “long-form” birth certificate as proof. (Which might just shut these nuts up, why not?) Lately, the birthers have been increasingly making their presence known in the AFTPP group.

     Now, this group has THREE administrators running it. The founder, one Gary Stein, is a U.S. Marine Sergeant. The other two are civilians, near as can be told. NONE of these three have made ANY attempt to curtail the shenanigans being engaged in by either the neo-cons, OR the ultra-libs that constantly enter, snipe debate then leave. In short, the group’s Wall section is starting to look like some half-hearted attempt at a Jerry Springer episode. While the few outspoken right-wing nut cases stand on their soap boxes and pontificate, the majority of members either outwardly agree, or silently acquiesce. It’s rather sickening to see that the people who are supposedly worried about liberty and “everything good that our forefathers stood for” are so quick to jump to immature conclusions, abandon the Rule of Law, and / or let idiocy run amok.

     So I left, my BS tolerance meter finally having pegged the ZERO mark. I think at this point, I’m now looking for the “change” that is NOT coming from the Obama camp, NOT the stale Republican stuff, and DEFINITELY not from the Tea Party Patriots. In my humble but WAY more informed opinion, this movement is still in its childhood, and boy does it reflect that in the overall lack of mature forethought and consideration for things. I guess what I’d like to see is a NEW Tea Party movement, comprised of people that are a bit more level-headed in their approach to things like state and geo-politics. While the current incarnation of TPP is just “shooting from the hip”, the NEW TPP would know WHEN to shoot and when to just holster, how to take careful aim at each issue, and what ammo is called for.

“I KNOW ye can fight, but it’s our WITS that make us men!” (from “Braveheart”)

Gun Control: Doing The Second Amendment Cha Cha Cha

     One sticky conundrum. What to do, what to do. The second amendment to the U.S. constitution, part of the “Bill of Rights”, defines the right of the citizenry to keep and bear arms. Or, does it? Here we go, doing the cha cha cha;

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

     Now, this can be read and interpreted two ways. First, that every citizen has the absolute right to “keep and bear arms”, and that the “well regulated militia” is necessary to the security of a free state. Or, that the people’s right to “keep and bear arms” is so that the states CAN form and maintain a “well regulated militia”. In other words, does the amendment protect the militias, the rights of the individual to own a firearm, or both? (I would have to say the latter is true.)

      I personally do NOT own a firearm. I’ve never found the need (nor the available funds!) to purchase one. This is not to say that I’m ready to surrender my constitutional right to own one, however.

      This short post is just to get people thinking about the different aspects of gun ownership, gun control, how the second amendment applies, etcetera.