The 2nd Amendment and Me

June 28, 2012

I guess quite a few people believe that I am one of those “liberal, gun hating criminal coddlers”. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

I just have a problem with the vast majority of the NRA types who neither understand history or how to construct a rational and logical argument. I have studied the 2nd Amendment from its concept with the Founding Fathers to its present day applications. I believe the 2nd Amendment is more important today than it has ever been. Although the need for Americans to bear arms was essentially a common sense application in a country that was largely unexplored and dangerous, there can be no doubt that the political aspects of the right to bear arms are rooted in a deeply held suspicion of government.

In fact, I can’t stand these NRA sissies who hedge and haw on the 2nd Amendment. The right to bear arms is just that and, if you are going to take the position that any attempt to control weapons is unconstitutional, then take it. This doesn’t stop with fully automatic assault weapons, or even grenades or shoulder fired missiles. If the right to bear arms is a hedge against government oppression, then a few assault weapons won’t cut it. The government also has thermo-nuclear devices, so to defend ourselves against the government we all have a right to bear thermo-nuclear devices, by their logic (such as it is).

And anyone who argues otherwise is a liberal sissy.

One could argue that the right to bear arms is as important today as it has ever been, what with Birthers, Baggers and other right wing terrorists, this society is arguably more dangerous than the 17th century frontier! And with conservatives controlling many courts and legislatures, the efforts to take away our rights (such as the right to vote, equal pay for equal work, etc.) has never been more pronounced and the need to defend those rights by any means necessary is becoming more essential. However, if they are going to take a strictly constructionist, or literal interpretation of the 2nd Amendment, then do it and live with it, but at least have the courage to be honest about it.

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Midweek Ramblings

June 21, 2012

Eric Holder is about to be cited for Contempt of Congress related to the “Fast and Furious” DOJ program (started by the Bush Administration). In other words, Mr. Holder is about to join the rest of us in our contempt for Congress.

 

Roger Clemens was found not guilty in another DOJ travesty. The cost of trial was estimated at $18 million – to prosecute a man accused of lying to Congress. Really? Lying to Congress about steroid use? Not one cent has been spent to prosecute men lying to Congress about issues that really matter: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc for lying to us about Iraq; Wall St. thieves who stole pensions and nearly caused another Depression; Supreme Court justices who said they respected precedent…

 

Speaking of DOJ travesties, John Edwards was also the victim of another very expensive DOJ political prosecution. Already convicted in the court of public opinion, a Bush appointee decided to go ahead by charging him with a crime that doesn’t exist, while tens of thousands of white collar crimes go unprosecuted. Could it be that the DOJ has finally given up any pretense to “equal justice under the law” and simply become a vehicle for political prosecutions?

 

Anyone wondering what would happen if the Taliban were to take over the United States, need not look any farther than Michigan. Democratically-elected officials thrown out of office by a Governor’s order, legislation being written by religious groups to codify religious beliefs, women being ordered to silence by government officials, priests instructing people a mass on how to vote and who to vote for… those are just a few examples of what happens when “Christian Taliban” are allowed to power.

 

 There are a new set of video editorials and commercials about to be released, and I am excited about them. They feature real people in the Detroit area. I really get a lot of strength and inspiration from the people of Detroit, especially those on the margins (which I guess you could argue is just about all of us). To me, their faces, especially their eyes tell the story. Let me know what you think after you have seen them.


Taliban Control Michigan State Legislature!

June 18, 2012

While we are fighting a war in Afghanistan against a religious-political movement that uses violence and intimidation to silence opponents, Reps. Lisa Brown and Barb Byrum discovered that the Taliban have already taken control of the Michigan State Legislature. Taliban-in-Chief, Jim Stamas, has ordered the Reps. to remain silent and refuses to allow them to represent their constituents because they objected to yet another attempt to steal their rights away. The Christian Taliban (a coalition of far right religious groups) are intent on imposing their religious values on all Americans, apparently not only depriving women the right to control their own bodies, but the right to free speech as well. The next thing we might see is Republicans requiring women legislators to wear Berkas.

The Christian Taliban are no different than the Islamic Taliban, but they are an even more immediate threat to our freedom. They seek to impose their own harsh interpretation of Christianity on every citizen, requiring all of us to be regulated by laws written by their own Mullas (e.g. Catholic bishops, Right to Life, etc.) or be punished. They don’t really seek an end to abortion – they only seek an end to the right of women to make a choice with their own lives. If you have any doubt about the evil intent of these Taliban, just look at the actions of these “Pro-Life” legislators in the past few years: restricting health care such as public health programs, defunding antipoverty programs, preschool programs for the poor, attacks on public education, etc., etc. etc. They are pro-life until a child is born into poverty and abuse – then they turn a blind eye. In other words, the Christian Taliban in America are about as “pro-life” as the Afghan Taliban.

By the way, what if these guys wanted to restrict men’s access to vasectomies?

Shame on Jim Stamas and the other terrorists in the Michigan House of Representatives. They may silence a few women for a few days, but sooner or later people will start fighting back.   


Motor City Madness

June 15, 2012

As if anyone needed a reminder of just how dysfunctional city government is in Detroit, the media is reporting that Mayor Bing has hired his own attorney to challenge the City attorney who is suing the State of Michigan to block the consent agreement. This has to be a first. I think Ms. Crittendon has a valid basis for her lawsuit – the State does owe the City of Detroit millions of dollars of revenue sharing funds that have been denied for nothing more than political reasons by Republicans. However, I also think she is missing the big picture. The consent agreement was the only viable defense against the State taking over Detroit and allowing the pillaging of its few valuable assets by other cities. For example, it’s no secret that the suburbs have longed for the Water Department. In this sense, the city managers and unions might be a bit less concerned with preserving the last vestiges of patronage and privilege and much more focused on defending the City from the relentless political attacks of Lansing. The argument that Michigan needs a vibrant urban center as an economic engine is accurate, but that center is becoming Grand Rapids.  Detroit remains relevant because of the border and the Illitch sports empire and the few remaining auto plants. The point is that the State still needs us to be successful, but for years the Republicans in Lansing have sought to disenfranchise Detroit. If Mayor Bing had more cooperation and less co-opting then we wouldn’t have needed a consent agreement in the first place. This might sound strange coming from me, but there is a time and a place for a lawsuit – and this is not it. Drop the suit (for now) and let’s start  building a new Detroit.


Economic Morality

June 5, 2012

The House of Representatives passed the Ryan budget yesterday. To be more precise, the Republicans passed the budget. On the same day, Congress also let unemployment benefits for hundreds of thousands of unemployed families expire. We could debate the economic effects of these actions (although the European experience with “austerity” budgets is a clear failure), but let’s take a moment to look at what the Ryan budget tells us about our values. Republicans are fond of citing budgets as “moral statements”, and they are. Budgets reflect our values – what we consider to be priorities. In this sense then, historians hundreds of years from now may look at the Ryan Budget for insight. What will they see?

Future historians would certainly conclude that in 2012 the political establishment  concluded that there is a major socio-economic crisis: the poor have far too much money and the rich don’t have enough money. Programs that feed children in poverty, provide shelter and care for impoverished elderly citizens and education programs to help poor and middle-class students to attend college are eliminated or significantly cut; while the richest citizens receive (another) reduction in taxes. Infrastructure spending is essentially reduced as is spending for technology innovation. The defense budget is the only sector of the budget to continue to grow.

Put another way, if the Ryan budget were translated into a family budget it would look like the following: we have decided to not feed the kids, not send them to school, not repair the leaky roof, kick out grandma and spend most of our family income on buying ammunition for our guns. 

Those are the values of the Republican Party. Not ours. 


The Crisis of Voter Fraud

June 5, 2012

There is a national movement coordinated by Republicans to reduce the “crisis” of voter fraud. This is a real crisis and there is a real need for citizens to act. Elections have been stolen and candidates are being illegally out on ballots. It is a clear and present danger to our democracy, and it is only fitting that Republicans are spearheading the effort – because they are the major perpetrators of voter fraud. Whether you consider denying legal voters their rights, or simply fabricating votes, the current Republican Party is the most guilty perpetrator in U.S. electoral history.

History will record that the 2000 Presidential election was stolen when tens of thousands of registered Democrats were purged from voter lists by the Republican Secretary of State. Over 10,000 voters, who were later proven to be legally registered citizens, were purged and the margin of victory for George W. Bush was about 7000 votes. Sure, Al Gore’s passivity and the partisan ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court sealed the deal, but it may have been the first clearly documented and important electoral theft in U.S. history.

Now, fast speed ahead to the current G.O.P. efforts. In Indiana, the Republican Secretary of State Charles White (who was officially in charge of regulating elections) was convicted of felony voter fraud in his own election and removed from office. In our own state of Michigan, Thaddeus McCotter (one of the most vociferous proponents of voter suppression) was found to have submitted thousands of fake signatures to appear on the ballot. A criminal investigation is being initiated. These are a only a few examples.

In Florida (again), the Republicans have sent out notices to citizens that their right to vote is being taken away because they were suspected of being non-citizens. What? Voter rights are taken away because a Republican suspects something? An initial investigation by the media showed that the overwhelming majority of voters being denied their rights were Democrats, and the overwhelming majority of them were, in fact, legal citizens!

Republicans want to turn this country into a place where, if you are a Democrat, your right to vote is denied unless you can prove to them that you are a legal citizen. After generations of Americans fighting and dying to preserve the right to vote, Republicans are denying your rights.

Maybe those Second Amendment advocates are right…


The Real Issue in the Wisconsin Election

June 5, 2012

The people of Wisconsin have a significant vote to make today, but the significance of the recall election reaches far beyond the provincial. To be sure, the strength and political relevance of organized labor is being tested more than at any previous time since the 1960s. The quality and tenor of political discourse is also being tested there. However, the real significance of the Wisconsin election is the most definitive answer to the questions raised by the Citizens United decision by the Republican dominated U.S. Supreme Court.

The Citizens Untied decision was met with consternation and fears by many people of all political persuasions and affiliations that it would cause the demise of our democracy and lead to a plutocracy: a country run by the wealthy, for the wealthy. In Wisconsin, Governor Walker has represented the interests of the wealthy with a legislative agenda straight out of the Koch brothers’ corporate wish list: tax relief for corporations and the rich, the destruction of unions and worker’s rights, and the destruction of any legal rights for individuals when corporations damage them.  

After Walker’s recall, outside interests who have remained anonymous (another consequence of Citizens United) have poured in over $30 million dollars to get Walker re-elected. The Democratic candidate has had a total of $4 million dollars from all contributors combined. Those who argue that money doesn’t win elections are ignorant or naive.  Money buys media which can define and obscure issues; it buys voter suppression campaigns and get out the vote efforts. I know, I’ve been there as the Democratic candidate for Governor in Michigan. It was an education in how money is indeed the life-blood of any large campaign, whether it is for mayor, or governor or even the local school board. It certainly has been decisive in electing judges who represent corporate rights over individual rights.

If Walker succeeds, then we will have the first, clear indication of the end of a government of the people, for the people and by the people. Maybe we should get ready to display flags with corporate logos instead of the Stars and Stripes?