Archive for the ‘I Hate Politics’ Category
Anwar Al-Awlaki, President Obama, Due Process, The Constitution, And Impeachment (Not Necessarily In That Order)
At what point does a citizen’s Constitutional rights become negotiable? This question, many times since 2001, has come up on the national radar. In the name of protecting the nation from terrorists we’ve treated the Bill Of Rights as flexible ideas instead of rights. President Obama campaigned on restoring some of these rights… taking a civil rights position on the Patriot Act and closing Guantanamo Bay. He talked about building relationships with the Middle East and increasing the transparency of government.
Then he executed a United States citizen without a trial.
I have admittedly never been President Obama’s biggest fan. I never agreed with his vision for the country. Even with that said the right guy probably won in 2008 even if, should he lose in 2012, he’ll be remembered for a joke of a stimulus package more about paying off Democrat supporters than creating jobs, a health care law that is probably wildly unconstitutional, and not following through on ending the aforementioned civil rights violations by closing Gitmo or ending the Patriot Act.
Now, I’m not against public health care. I think our current system of health care being tied to employment is dumb for three reasons:
- It stifles small business. Not by the supposed “rich job creators” who don’t actually just create jobs they don’t need because they have access to more capital, but because it’s hard to leave an employer and start a business because the person is taking the gamble that he or his family won’t ever get sick or break a bone. Being stuck in a miserable job for health insurance is dumb.
- If I break my ankle and change jobs, suddenly I can’t get coverage for future problems relating to my ankle because it’s a pre-existing condition… ever again… again eventually leading to bankruptcy
- Going bankrupt for being sick is unacceptable. This isn’t even arguable.
However, my “not really Republican” healthcare view doesn’t change that requiring a person buy a product or be fined is probably unconstitutional. Think about this legislation through the lens of any other product. Imagine the legislation said “If you don’t buy a car, you get fined.” Not “if you buy a car that isn’t a Ford, you get fined”, but “if you don’t buy any car, you get fined.” The way our system works is something is legal until it’s not — if we decide this is legal under the Constitution, then it’s always legal. Any product Congress wants to legislate every citizen buy is on the table. If this seems obvious, you’d be surprised at how many people don’t get it. Just because this Congress says that’s silly doesn’t mean a future Congress won’t change their mind. This is called definition creep, and the evidence of it is drunk frat guys on sex offender registries because they urinated on a street corner.
Now, I’m not a lawyer — but it serves to remember that the idea of giving someone $200k+ for the right to join the bar is relatively recent. As a side effect of a job making software for lawyers, I read a lot about lawyering. As it turns out, law school doesn’t teach magic or really anything a person can’t learn with reading, practice, and time. Near as I can tell, passing law school grants the right to sit for the bar exam. Passing the bar exam grants the right to tell people like me that I don’t understand — even though in most cases I’m pretty sure I do. Two sides look at a law, they each argue which side is correct by citing previous decisions that vaguely support a position, and then some other cranky old person with a God complex decides who’s less wrong.
Our justice system, for the most part, works on the premise that something is legal until it isn’t, then once it’s not legal it rarely ever becomes legal again. Think, for example, of the many “funny laws” e-mail forwards we’ve all gotten. Lost in the laughter about how silly a “walking a horse by a church on Sunday” law may be is the fact that a person can still be arrested and prosecuted for walking a horse by a church on Sunday. The one short-sighted thing we can blame our Founding Fathers for (outside the whole white landowning Protestant thing) is there was nothing to address the fact that laws, once created, stay on the books forever. When that’s the case, eventually every action becomes illegal with varying degrees of punishment. Personally, I think the Constitution should apply a 50-year sunset clause to every law in the United States. Important things can be renewed. Unimportant things, like it being illegal for women to wear pink underwear when walking a dog, can be allowed to quietly expire.
The reason “everything is legal until it isn’t” is important is because, in general, it allows any branch of government to do whatever it wants until another branch says it isn’t OK. In recent years, it’s meant the executive branch can do whatever it wants regardless of what anyone says. This has, finally, escalated in the Obama Administration executing a citizen in what seems like a clear violation of his Fifth Amendment right to due process.
To be clear, and what should always be remembered in cases like this, it isn’t defending the terrorist to decry the methods by which he was brought to justice. I will sleep just fine knowing a terrorist is dead. What bothers me, and what should really bother more people in my opinion, is the federal government ignored a lot of a citizen’s constitutional rights to do what they did. It appears he wasn’t innocent until proven guilty, did not get a trial by a jury of his peers, and was summarily executed by being declared an enemy of the state. The question arises: if the executive branch can unilaterally place someone on a kill list after some kind of black box review, thereby declaring his Constitutional rights null and void, what is left that it’s not allowed to do?
I understand the objections to calling him a citizen. I understand he left the country and sided with a group who’s stated objection is to attack America. I understand the idea that what he did was possibly treasonous. I understand the idea that he lost his right to be a citizen when he declared his allegance to Al-Qaeda. I understand that he represented an “imminent threat” to the US. The problem with all of these things is that the Constitution doesn’t guarantee citizen’s rights unless they go abroad and join a criminal organization. Losing citizenship is very hard. A person needs to fill out paperwork and pass three “are you really really sure” tests to rescind their citizenship. The government, so far as I can tell and upheld by Afroyim v Rusk (this would be considered legal research if I was smart enough to be a lawyer), has no ability to strip citizenship without the assent of the citizen. In Vance v Terrazas, the Supreme Court ruled that conduct can represent assent, but then one wonders how exactly swearing allegiance to either a) a criminal organization or b) a religion can supercede citizenship. As much as we like to pretend it is, Al-Qaeda isn’t a State. It’s purposely very hard to strip an individual’s citizenship. This is for the same reason that treason is the only crime whose definition, limitation of punishment, and standard of proof is explicitly defined in the Constitution. It was to prevent the State from instituting England’s then-definition of treason which was, roughly, “whatever the King decided it was that day.” It was also to prevent England’s method of declaring someone Stateless which was, again, “when the King didn’t like him anymore.”
It is unfortunate the Republicans have wrapped themselves in the view that any questioning of War On Terror ™ tactics makes one an unamerican terror sympathizer because this should be an impeachable offense. Isn’t what the Obama Administration did was to declare a citizen an enemy of the state and sentence him to death? They said he was an imminent threat, conducted a black box review, and placed him on a list. Then they found where he was and executed him. How is that OK? In any sense of what it means to have the protections of being an American citizen, how is that OK? John Hinckley shot Ronald Reagan on live television in front of hundreds of witnesses and got a trial. The Navy SEALs were dispatched to Pakistan — not even a member of the UN like Yemen — to attempt to capture Osama Bin Laden. Al-Awlaki, a citizen of the US, got a missile in the face. Satisfying, yes. Icky? Kinda.
None of this is meant to be a defense for Al-Awlaki. It’s just to express a resigned disappointment in the most authoritarian step a president has ever taken in my lifetime. In the last ten years, we’ve seen the left complain constantly about Bush’s actions in the War On Terror ™. Thus far, only Ron Paul has expressed any kind of problem with it and I don’t really expect that to change. We’ve now created the precedent, in painful spite of one of the reasons (For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury) we’re a country in the first place, that a citizen can be placed on a kill list as long as he’s 1) really bad, 2) hard to catch, 3) belongs to an organization we’ve deemed terrorists and 4) has access to the Internet. He wasn’t tried for anything. He wasn’t convicted of anything. He was just killed by the US Government. Democrats who excoriated Bush for violating citizens’ rights with the Patriot Act have been silent in this (with Bill Maher actually cheering it while claiming treason is punishable death… which it may be… if you’re charged and convicted of treason) which means, I guess, that the president ordering murder on a citizen is OK if the guy in office is your guy but a president ordering spying (which is significantly less than murder) on a citizen is not OK if he’s on the other team. Awesome.
Al-Awlaki’s father brought suit against the government once claiming placing his son on a government-sanctioned hit list violated his son’s Fifth Amendment right to due process before being deprived of life, liberty, or property. The judge in that case ruled Al-Awlaki’s father did not have the standing to bring this action for his adult son. I hope, now that Al-Awlaki’s dead, his father brings a wrongful death suit against the government, I hope he doesn’t take a financial settlement to go away, and for the sake of the Constitution of the United States I hope he wins. The world won’t miss Anwar Al-Awlaki, but Americans might, at some point, miss the Fifth Amendment.
Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole said Monday that such delaying actions would only “tie up people who want to go home and see their loved ones.”
Remember folks… don’t assert rights if it’s an inconvenience to yourself or others.
I don’t talk politics much because it’s pointless. It’s rare to change anyone’s mind and it really just creates needless conflict amongst friends. There are maybe five or six guys who I’ll talk with and that’s only because they share a similar belief with me that politics are, in general, a big joke. They say a lot of stuff, make a lot of promises, and — yet — the Patriot Act still carries on unfettered. Weird.
“We all wish we lived in a world where security procedures at airports weren’t necessary,” he said, “but that just isn’t the case.”
Isn’t it? The current system of metal detectors and X-Rays have pretty much worked, haven’t they? We’re going on a decade without a major incident on a domestic flight. What was the reason that, suddenly, we decided it was necessary for the TSA to rape scan everyone for the stunning suspicious activity of purchasing a plane ticket? What is that going to stop? The suggestion (paraphrased from the Colbert Report) being that if a terror plot has already confounded the FBI, CIA, the military, Homeland Security, local law enforcement, and state law enforcement — that the high-school educated, couldn’t give a f*ck TSA Agent is going to make the diving save?
He noted the alleged attempt by a Nigerian with explosives in his underwear to bring down a plane over Detroit last Christmas.
This seems like a really strong point, until one realizes that Umar Farouk Abulmutallab got on the airplane in Amsterdam which, shockingly, is not staffed by the TSA under TSA policies. Also not under most TSA policies: Germany and England where one does not have to take the ridiculous step of removing their shoes.
Many travelers said that the scans and the pat-down were not much of an inconvenience, and that the stepped-up measures made them feel safer and were, in any case, unavoidable.
“Whatever keeps the country safe, I just don’t have a problem with,” Leah Martin, 50, of Houston, said as she waited to go through security at the Atlanta airport.
At Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, Gehno Sanchez, a 38-year-old from San Francisco who works in marketing, said he doesn’t mind the full-body scans. “I mean, they may make you feel like a criminal for a minute, but I’d rather do that than someone touching me,” he said.
And this has been the most stunning part of this entire thing for me… this slack-eyed acquiescence to the whole thing. “Whatever keeps the country safe?” What has kept the country safe in the preceding decade? Three things: 1) The current policies which, while partially absurd, at least don’t involve a Rape Scan or a Handjob. 2) The locked cockpit door which, by the way, would have defeated the 9/11 terrorists. 3) The fact that passengers will likely not stand idly by and assume everything will be OK anymore, as the shoe bomber learned. And the fact someone can idly just say “they make you feel like a criminal for a minute” and pass it off as if it’s nothing… honestly renders me speechless. This is what people died in World War 2 for? So their grandchildren would be subjected to creeping control policies they defeated? Everyone in the country has to give up their right not to be humiliated in public to counter the 0.0000000001% chance that someone is carrying a bomb on to the plane. And just pass it off as something that has to be done. It doesn’t have to be done.
John Pistole should be ashamed of himself. Barack Obama should be ashamed of himself for 1) nominating him and 2) letting this continue. Congress should be ashamed of themselves for not rescinding this. The airlines should be ashamed for not pushing back. And the ACLU should be ashamed of itself for fielding “hundreds of complaints” without filing an injunction pending a 4th Amendment review… especially considering their vigorous defense of Americans who are responsible for these types of checks.
When PLR and I discussed getting out of the US and heading to Europe permanently, it was partially tongue-in-cheek. As things like this continue to occur with absolutely no outrage — and worse… support — from citizens, it seems less tongue-in-cheek. Maybe I’m the crazy one, but the quote I’ll close this with makes me want to punch the wall.
Pistole said at a breakfast with reporters organized by the Christian Science Monitor. “I clearly believe that passengers have a number of options as they go through screening. But the bottom line is, if someone decides they don’t want to have screening, they don’t have the right to get on the plane.”
We here in the Empire State are facing a budgetary crunch in the coming year. Some estimate that there will be something like a $51 billion shortfall over the next four years while tax revenue is expected to decrease 6.6% over the same time. This is mostly related to the fact that, during the stockmarket boom years, the legislature spent money like drunk dudes at a bachelor party. They also continued their ongoing effort to make New York the most unfriendly state on the east coast to do business in. Predictably, with the crash of the stock market and the plummeting real-estate prices (and, therefore, real estate taxes in the city that directly pay for the transit system) the state has no money.
Also predictably, after mismanaging the budget to the point the state is about to fall apart, there’s no chance of reigning in spending. Back in November, Governor Big Dave (who I like, by the way) called a special legislative session to work out some budget cuts and, shockingly, the legislature spent the day finger-pointing and yelling at each other instead of cutting any spending. The day ended with no budget cuts and with the legislature and governor still claiming progress was made. Only in politics can you meet for a specific purpose, not even come close to that intended purpose, and claim that you did what you intended to do and people will believe you. It’s amazing.
So, in true New York political fashion, the answer is to raise taxes as much as possible. Big Dave has suggested the following to close the budget shortfalls:
- An “iPod tax” that charges state and local sales tax for “digitally delivered entertainment services” — to note: New York is already the first state to charge sales tax on online purchases. Now there’s a new tax on top of that. On top of news that the recording industry will no longer be mass-spamming lawsuits, can you say “back to downloading?”
- State sales tax at movie theaters, sporting events, taxis, buses, limousines and cable and satellite TV and radio — I’m sure the dying satellite radio industry will be happy to hear that people are trying to make it more expensive. Isn’t it amazing that the merger of XM and Sirius was attacked as “unfair business practices” but the terrestrial radio lobby using the government to kill satellite radio is perfectly acceptable business practice?
- Costlier driving with the repeal of the 8-cents-per-gallon sales tax cap on motor and diesel motor fuel, plus and increase in the auto rental tax — the current car rental tax is 5%.
- Tuition increases as SUNY and CUNY, $620 and $600 a year respectively — remember this next time any state politician claims to be for “education.” Remember the caveat, kids… we’re OK with education as long as you go in to five figures of debt to get it.
- A 50 cent tax on cigars. The current tax is equal to 37% of the wholesale price, or 34 cents a cigar.
- No more sales tax break on clothes and shoes worth $110 or less, except during two weeks a year — you may be poor… you may be out of a job… but dammit, you can pay extra to clothe your kids.
- Higher taxes on wine, beer and flavored malt beverages. He would also impose an 18% tax on non-nutritional drinks like soda — now you’re attacking me where I live.
- The rich would pay more for luxury items through an additional 5% tax imposed on cars costing more than $60,000, aircraft costing more than $500,000, yachts costing at least $200,000 and jewelry and furs costing in excess of $20,000 — In other news… this doesn’t already exist.
- A host of a fees, including those related to motor vehicle licensing and registration, parks and auto insurance, would go up, as would various state-imposed fines — We pay $40 to the state every two years for a sticker that says we’re allowed to drive our car. This is on top of the fee to renew your license every 4 years. It’s also on top of the $20 you have to pay every year to have your car inspected.
- Toll increases on the bridges, tunnels, and Thruway — note: the tolls for the Thruway, which were supposed to disappear in the mid-90s, have been raised twice in the last three years.
- Enact tolls on the East River crossings — these are the bridges that connect Manhattan to Brooklyn. Tolls to get between different parts of the same city. Only here.
On top of all this, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (the entity that runs the subway, bus, and rail system) is expected to face a $1.2 billion budget shortfall next month. Somehow or other, an authority which has monopoly control over all the transit in New York City just can’t make money. The base subway fare could rise to as high as $3, while unlimited-ride monthly MetroCards could surpass $100.
After all of this, Paterson had the balls to say: Just like thousands of families across New York, our State government needs to tighten its belt and limit spending to what we can afford. Shouldn’t the latter happen before the former? Instead of addressing this, our media has been much more willing to report SNL’s unflattering portrayal of him rather than, you know, taxing the bejesus out of everyone in the state.
At least California offers nice weather… which is their version of having the common courtesy of giving their constituents a reach-around. Is there any reason to live in this state anymore?
I have a deep hatred for Hilary Clinton. During her first senate run, I watched her sell the state the largest sack of bullshit I’ve ever seen laid on a group of people. With equal parts disbelief and and disgust, I watched the state lap it up. I sat in stunned silence as she sold herself as a New Yorker at heart who understood the plight of Upstate’s dying economy. I watched the people of upstate, so desperate for someone to notice that the state’s policies to soak downstate businesses are all but destroying the ones upstate that they’d believe anyone who offered them a bit of attention, buy in to her line of bullshit promising upstate economic revitalization. I watched a woman with no qualifications to be in Senate other than being the former president’s wife convince the dolts in this state that she’d have their back and this absolutely was not a stepping stone to a presidential run. I’ve watched her angle her do-nothing Senate seat into a baffling re-election as the Republicans were so afraid of her that they raised the white flag on her re-election and put up the political version of Barry Horowitz as her opponent. Now, she’s angled her complete lack of qualification into the most important cabinet position in the nation… and I have yet to hear anyone tell me what, exactly, qualifies her as a Secretary of State.
And, honestly, I accepted that. I got what I wanted. She was going to be out of the state. We were getting a new Senator. Sure it would be another Democrat, but that’s OK. I wouldn’t expect anything else out of a Democratic governor… but at least it would be someone qualified! It would be someone who might do something in the Senate. Sponsor legislation! Maybe someone with a political career. Maybe it wouldn’t be the wife of a brain surgeon performing brain surgery!
Imagine my surprise as the public opinion began to turn toward Caroline Kennedy… whose only qualification for being the junior senator of New York, near as I can tell, is being a Kennedy.
In fact, even former mayor Ed Koch agrees: “When you look at her, and you know what the Kennedy’s are capable of and you know the family she comes from … think of the DNA,” Koch said.
And there it is. I occasionally joke that things in the big 3 Old Northeastern Cities (That would be Boston, New York, and Philly) only get done by a complex series of favors dating back to the 1700s. It’s only half a joke, really. But this helps prove my theory. We are essentially about to hand a Senate seat to a Kennedy for no other reason other than she is a Kennedy. She is embarking on a Hilary Clinton-esque “Listening Tour” (the phrase now makes me want to kick things) of the Dead Upstate Cities (that would be Syracuse, Buffalo, and Rochester) to see what would be important to the upstate economy. Here’s a thought — not tying the upstate business rules to the city’s business rules. That’d be a good start. Here’s a second thought — when the Surface Transportation Board wants to delay or kill a plan to put a railyard in a spot that was a railyard for 100 years before it shut down operations in the 1980s, talk them out of it. Explain to me why a 2.5 hour train ride from Albany to New York City on federally subsidized passenger rail costs $70 but a 5.5 hour train ride from Albany to Boston is $24. Explain to me why Upstate’s business rules are so unfriendly that to get AMD to build a plant in Saratoga County we had to offer them a benefits and incentive package worth over a billion dollars that would make Jeff Loria blush.
But, the fake listening tour around miles of state she probably never knew existed amongst people she couldn’t care less about will work. She’ll be our senator, and she’ll win re-election in 2010… because the northeast desperately needs a Kennedy in the Senate and it looks like the old one’s about to end his reign of terror. Once again proving that we get the government we deserve.
At least we continue to have one Senator that has his mitts in everything. I may not agree with everything Chuck Schumer does or what he stands for… but goddam if he isn’t out in front representing the state every time something happens and weighs in on it with an honest opinion. And, if I don’t agree with it, I at least respect it.
I won’t pretend to be happy about the outcome. I wanted McCain to be the Republican candidate in 2000 and I wanted him to win the presidency this year. But, I’m tremendously proud that this country elected its first African-American President. While the college student turnout, and their relative obnoxiousness, rubs me the wrong way — it gives me great hope for the future of this country that less and less people think race means anything. My grandmother, a minority herself as a non-racist, 70-year-old Irish woman, said something to me when I was a little kid that always stuck with me: “Anyone who tells you someone can be judged by anything other than the content of their character is someone you shouldn’t listen to. People are just people.” She was different for her generation. I hope it’s the norm for this one.
Outcome aside, I was moved by his speech. I think you’d have to be a robot to be unaffected by 106-year-old voter’s story. My great-grandfather passed a few years ago at 101. I remember wondering about the things he’d seen after being born in 1899. This was another level entirely as the woman wasn’t allowed to vote. And if there’s one lasting image I’ll take from the speech, it was Biden, Obama, and their families standing on the stage together. I hope the image of the country’s highest two officials in a multiracial man-hug is a symbol that helps heal some of the nation’s 150-year-old scars. Oddly, the second image I’ll take is the image of Oprah Winfrey, standing in the crowd of commoners with a disbelieving look. Even Oprah, an American success story from anyone’s perspective, didn’t believe the United States could do this. I hope the multiracial man-hug is the cover image of a new chapter in American history. Maybe the US did choose the right person at the right time.
Regardless of any sarcastic posts that may or may appear in this space in the next four years, for this one, single moment… I’m happy for Barack Obama and proud of the country. I’m happy for all the people who feel this represents a new era in the United States. And I hope that all the things he promises — a better United States, unity, compromise, an openness in government, and better lives for everyone — happens. Selfishly, I hope this kicks off a huge shift of power in the Republican party to remove the religious maniacs and conservatives in their own little holes.
I’ll end this before cynicism and sarcasm starts to creep in to what I want to be positive congratulatory post. I still believe there are too many people who believe government is the solution, not the problem and Obama’s government wants to be the solution. The hero worship in the eyes of many people shown during his acceptance speech seem to indicate they’re in agreement. I find that terrifying. But, for now, congratulations President-Elect Obama. You earned it. And congratulations America for probably doing the right thing to heal the divisive wounds in this country. At the very least, I’ve been waiting for a Gen-Xer to be in charge, and now one is. Maybe it is, in fact, our time.
And to the Secret Service and God if you’re up there — for the love of all that is good and holy — protect this man.
I stopped writing these a while back because I couldn’t get myself up for them. I found myself doing my best to find anything else to write about — to the point where I started about 15 things in my draft queue that I’m probably never going to finish. It then occurred to me that the stupid blog-that-lacks-a-name is supposed to be fun. After the infomercial tonight (in which I decided that I can’t think of anyone better to reign in wasteful government spending then a guy who’d drop the cash to rent Invesco Field and buy a half-hour infomercial at 8pm during fall TV season) I’ve decided that I can’t take the election anymore.
For quite some time my decision had been made. I liked McCain in 2000 when he ran against Bush in the primary. I also generally agree with the Republican’s stance that the economy tends to be better off when less of people’s money is sucked in to the gaping black hole in Washington. I also have huge misgivings about Obama’s health care plan. I have a huge problem with a Obama teaching kids from a very young age that it’s totally normal to rely on the government for everything (via the college service tax check from Uncle Sam). The more I read, the more I became bothered by these gigantic government programs that seem to be the cornerstone of the entire Obama campaign.
Then, recently, I came across an article about 401(k)’s and it brought the whole thing together for me. With Obama’s impending election, a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, and control of the House — all the pet projects Democrats have had for the last 8 years get green-lit. This includes taxing retirement savings (while in the same breath complaining that Americans don’t save enough for retirement… but… whatever). Because an investment account designed to make money over 40 years lost money over six months, the obvious answer is to start messing with a retirement savings program that most people seem to like. On top of that, let’s just call it what it is — a thinly-veiled way to bolster a failing Social Security programs that Democrats are desperate to save… just like their dogged insistence that Bush’s calls to take a gander at what was going on with Fannie Mae was nonsense. Besides… who needs personal savings accounts when the government can provide? Who needs to decide what they need to save when the government can take what you need and just pay you what they think is fair?
From the article: A less radical idea under consideration would permit all workers to contribute to “universal” 401(k) plans.
This is where we’re going?
Besides that point, here is a general list of things supported by the last Congress:
* no secret ballot to unionize
* “fairness doctrine” – allowing the gov to dictate content of media outlets
* various tax hikes (depending on what plans we are talking about)
* dramatic expansion of the definition of a “child” for gov’t health care purposes, or just the all out gov’t plan for all.
* re-institution of drilling bans on OCS and oil shale while insisting we need to end our dependence on foreign oil.
* rewrite of DC gun ban, plus likely expansion of federal restrictions
* a flood of justices to lower courts after the Senate’s 8-years of whining and stamping their feet about Bush appointees.
* adding House and or Senate members, with voting rights, to the House and Senate for DC
We’re staring down the barrel of a massive, New Deal-esque expansion of government with Obama somehow insisting he’s going to manage to cut taxes on 98% of Americans while only 60% of Americans pay federal taxes in the first place. Which seems… stunning. After watching the infomercial, it makes me wonder why so many people are trying to come here illegally when it obviously sucks so much to live here.
And that leaves me with a guy whose 114 years old who voted for a banking bailout, wants to nationalize mortgage loans, and picked maybe the worst VP candidate in the nation’s history in hopes to rally the crazy Religious Right into voting for him when they were never, ever going to vote for Obama in the first place.
But I can’t pick against the Giants because David Carr sucks.
I guess the problem with running on a platform of Change is that some people liked it the way it was. I’m not going to volunteer for socialism… you’ll have to bring it to me.
I’m voting for McCain.
I kind of got away from this with baseball and football and because I got burned out on the election. Much like 2006, I find it increasingly difficult to spend a lot of my free time in a medium where most people are exactly the same. Any political website is frequented by 25-40 year old college graduate, hippies who can save the world. I’m not. I rarely, if ever, look at anything other then sports’ news online anymore and I don’t really listen to any news other than Sportscenter and Mike and
the Mad Dog Random Co-Host X.
Anyway, to try and get myself to focus on something other than my relative hatred for the obnoxious, self-righteous branch of Obama supporters, I need to get back to this. If for no other reason than to be sure I’m making the right decision based on issues and not my hatred for the political version of Philadelphia Eagles’ fans (smug, think they’re better then everyone, and haven’t won anything yet).
When we last left off, Obama took right to choose, McCain took possible supreme court appointees and a two-point round in gun rights, they pushed in Iraq, and McCain was assessed a penalty point for his campaign’s criticism of bloggers. The current score is 2-1 McCain.
Obiden: Obama and Biden believe we must fix the dysfunctional immigration bureaucracy and increase the number of legal immigrants to keep families together and meet the demand for jobs that employers cannot fill. Obama and Biden believe we need to do more to promote economic development in Mexico to decrease illegal immigration.
McCalin: As you know, I and many other colleagues twice attempted to pass comprehensive immigration legislation to fix our broken borders; ensure respect for the laws of this country; recognize the important economic contribution of immigrant laborers; apprehend those who came here illegally to commit crimes; and deal practically and humanely with those who came here, as my distant ancestors did, to build a better, safer life for their families, without excusing the fact they came here illegally or granting them privileges before those who have been waiting their turn outside the country. Many Americans did not believe us when we said we would secure our borders, and so we failed in our efforts. I don’t want to fail again to achieve comprehensive immigration reform. We must prove we have the resources to secure our borders and use them, while respecting the dignity and rights of citizens and legal residents of the United States. When we have achieved our border security goal, we must enact and implement the other parts of practical, fair and necessary immigration policy. We have economic and humanitarian responsibilities as well, and they require no less dedication from us in meeting them.
This is pretty high on my list of “who gives a f*ck” issues, but I’m perfectly willing to admit that I might have a different view of that then people in border states. I think that politicians love this issue because it taps right in to America’s love of hating people and distracts them problems that aren’t “people from other countries want jobs.” I understand people come here illegally… also, having been to Mexico, I understand why they do. The poverty that you see in Mexico — people living in stick and mud huts with no windows selling beaded necklaces to survive — is horrific. And, for some reason, we’re only bothered by Mexicans. There is a relatively large piece of Manhattan that is nearly a Chinese nation state. Maybe they’re all legal. Maybe not. But, the Chinese already did their time as the hated import du jour 100 years ago, so they’re OK now — just like the Japanese did in the 1920s, the Irish did in the 1850s, and the Italians did in the late 1800s.
What really surprises me is the number of people who are stubbornly unwilling to admit that the United States has a rather obvious pattern when a new group decides it’s their turn to start coming here en masse. They usually come for the same reason — to escape really crappy situations like famine, plague, or poverty, and it’s always met with the same jingoistic hatred, panic, and lawmaking from people whose families have been here for a solid three generations. I mean, think about it… the country was founded in the 1780s. By the 1850s we were trying to keep the Irish out because they were Catholic so we didn’t like them. Then the Italians came, and we didn’t like them because they spoke a weird other language. They were Catholic, too but the Irish decided they weren’t the same kind of Catholic so they made them go to their own churches (seriously… my little town of Mechanicville had an Italian neighborhood and an Irish neighborhood both with their own Catholic churches that the other side couldn’t attend). Then the Asians came who not only spoke a WAY different language but looked different and wanted to retain their culture so we didn’t like them. Then the Eastern Europeans started coming by they were creepy Orthodox so we didn’t like them. It’s ultimately laughable. These douches want to create laws that would have banned their grandfathers from entering the country. Well-played. I met my great-grandfather. He still spoke Italian and came here in 1920 for a better life. I’m going to yell and scream about people from Mexico who want to do the same thing 100 years later?
Both of them want to crack down on employers, which is fine — even though you are on then one hand are complaining that illegals are straining the system and then further strain the system by having a bunch more people with no jobs. Both of them want to secure the border, which is a joke. Criminals have a lot of time and money to figure out ways around the border.
Both plans have flaws. McCain’s plan has a terrifying idea of a biometric employment verification. Obama’s version contains the stupid idea that we have to help Mexico’s economy to prevent illegal immigration. That’s a flowery, sweet, idiotic statement. Mexico has the 12th largest economy in the world. The problem isn’t that Mexico has no economy. The problem is that the poor are REALLY F*CKING POOR. It’s not Mexico’s economy that sucks, it’s their income disparity and the fact that while the US kind of helps its poor, Mexico doesn’t.
What Obama’s plan points out that McCain’s doesn’t is that process of immigration needs to be streamlined. It shouldn’t be as hard as it is for people to move here. That’s not supposed to be what we’re about. We have a statue in this city that asks for huddled masses yearning to breathe free. That symbol can’t sit at the gateway to the biggest city, in front of a monument to immigration, and then spend so much time trying to keep those same huddled masses out. Just because an exceptionally small percentage of illegals come here to scam the system, it doesn’t change that a solid majority of them would be here legally if it was allowed. Do we really believe that these people wouldn’t go through channels and would instead prefer to pay a criminal who may or may not just steal their money and kill them instead of smuggling over the border? Is that the argument? Most immigrants are here for the same reason my great-grandparents came here — for a better life. The hate-peddlers on the radio should be absolutely ashamed of themselves for framing all illegals as lazy system scammers. If they could get here legally without waiting 20 years, most of them would go through channels. Their choices are starve to death in Mexico or sneak in to the US. The reason they’re stressing the system is because of our idiotic policies making it so hard to get here and work legally.
So here’s the answer: fix border security, streamline the immigration process. Obama hits on those without a terrifying biometric database. I’m in.
Point: Obama (2-2)
From Michael Goldfarb via the McCain for President website.
It may be typical of the pro-Obama Dungeons & Dragons crowd to disparage a fellow countryman’s memory of war from the comfort of mom’s basement, but most Americans have the humility and gratitude to respect and learn from the memories of men who suffered on behalf of others.
Can this discrimination of people who play Dungeons & Dragons in their dad’s basement end now?
Penalty: McCain -1 (2-1).
Rent Control/Stabilization is a program in New York City where, in exchange for tax breaks, condos set aside a certain number of units for rent-stabilization. These rents can only increase when the city’s rent board says it’s OK and, even then, only by the amount the city allows. The apartment must be stabilized for a certain number of years and, after that period expires, the person in the apartment cannot be evicted. When the person leaves, the building then has the choice to raise the apartment to market rate or continue letting it be stabilized. The Democratic-championed program is sold to New Yorkers by trotting out old people on fixed income, teachers, cops, firemen, and anyone else who provides essential services to a city they could not otherwise afford to live in.
The obvious abuses of this program are rarely mentioned; people who qualify for the apartments when they don’t make much money are not asked to leave them if their income goes above the threshold, people who sublet their rent-controlled apartment for market-rate (say, their rent control allows them to pay $650/month and they rent it out to someone else for your more standard $3000/month… these numbers are not exaggerations), etc. Fewer people still mention that the almost one million rent-controlled apartments in the city help to contribute to the ridiculous rent prices by decreasing the supply of available market rate apartments and thus, shockingly, driving up rents for everyone else.
So it should come as little surprise that in the back-scratching, favor-filled world of New York City that one of our esteemed Congresstrolls has not only one rent-controlled apartment… but four. Congressmen Charles Rangel has three rent-controlled apartments which he combined into one penthouse and a fourth on another floor of the building which he uses as an office in complete violation of the law. Y’see, one of the actual regulations on rent-control is, go figure, that a rent-controlled apartment must actually be your primary residence.
This is two months after the media discovered that our esteemed new governor also enjoys a rent-stabilized apartment. Unsurprisingly, I guess, it turns out that both guys live in the same building in Harlem.
I can’t even imagine the sh*tshow the New York Media would stir up if this was a Republican Congressman. I look forward to both Rangel and Patterson being re-elected. Since, you know, breaking laws is only bad if you’re a Republican politician.
Stay classy, guys. Please, continue the Democratic tradition of telling everyone that they need to take care of the poor while stealing from them with the other hand.
McCain: John McCain believes it is strategically and morally essential for the United States to support the Government of Iraq to become capable of governing itself and safeguarding its people. He strongly disagrees with those who advocate withdrawing American troops before that has occurred.
Obama: Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months. Obama will make it clear that we will not build any permanent bases in Iraq. He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats; if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda.
For the purpose of full disclosure: when I believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction I was for this. As it turned out they did not and we managed to destabilized something of a stable country and contribute to $4.50/gallon gas. Don’t get me wrong — I realize Saddam Hussein was not a particularly nice guy and all and life in Iraq seemed pretty awful. But, let’s be honest here — really no more or less awful than most other Middle Eastern countries where they may or may not still burn women at the stake for learning to read. I mean, we LIKE Saudi Arabia and they still sentence women to death for witchcraft or, my personal favorite, punishing women for having the audacity to get raped. So, the question is: how does the candidate best clean up GWB’s mess?
For the most part, I totally agree with Obama’s principal for getting the F out of dodge. Here’s the problem: we screwed it up… aren’t we kind of on the hook to fix it?
Most reasonable people (as we think of reasonable people in the US) would say: OK, you have three separate and distinct belief sets in this country. Why don’t you try our screwed up system of states? You’ll have three loose-associated states under one federal government. You can all have your own rules and policies and the federal government will just be there to apportion things and fairly distribute the dead dinosaur juice proceeds. Here’s the problem: religious people aren’t reasonable… like ever. Reasonable people tend to not blow themselves up to make a point.
I appreciate the fact that Obama stood against the war the entire time. In retrospect, he was right and the rest of us were wrong. However, his plan to fix things involving pulling US troops out of the country and expecting an unstable government to not immediately revert back to a military dictatorship is short-sighted. He’s asking three distinct groups (all of whom believe they have God on their side) to agree. This was, fortunately, something our founding fathers realized: government by the Bible is not good government.
On the other hand:
McCain: The answer is not unconditional dialogues with these two dictatorships from a position of weakness. The answer is for the international community to apply real pressure to Syria and Iran to change their behavior. The United States must also bolster its regional military posture to make clear to Iran our determination to protect our forces and deter Iranian intervention.
Obama: Obama will launch the most aggressive diplomatic effort in recent American history to reach a new compact on the stability of Iraq and the Middle East. This effort will include all of Iraq’s neighbors — including Iran and Syria. This compact will aim to secure Iraq’s borders; keep neighboring countries from meddling inside Iraq; isolate al Qaeda; support reconciliation among Iraq’s sectarian groups; and provide financial support for Iraq’s reconstruction.
Getting in to a never-ending battle with counties in the Middle East is stupid. Why do we continue to put on this insane posture that these countries on the other side of the world pose some threat to our national security? We have satellites that can watch these people from space. If they launched a nuke, we’d know it practically the second it went into the sky. If there’s one thing that the United States is very consistent in it’s responding in kind when attacked. Responding. Wouldn’t it make far more sense to ensure that someone can’t, I don’t know, climb on the R-train out on Coney Island with a suitcase nuke and detonate it under Times Square? Or get on a Metro-North train in Poughkeepsie and bring it to Grand Central? Or drive halfway across the Golden Gate bridge? Aren’t these all more important — and more likely — then a random launch from Iran? Aren’t these all more important than having this cowboy mentality that we’re going to bring the Middle East in line? How’s that been working out over there for the last, like, forever? Isn’t there a wildly misattributed quote that defines insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? This goes for both guys. Obama’s going to launch a diplomatic mission to make these guys see the light? Really? Have you ever had a reasonable “Creationism vs. Evolution” argument with someone that didn’t end with your eyes glazed over and your mouth agape? Didn’t think so.
So, this pretty much sucks. I agree with McCain’s position on fixing what we screwed up but agree with Obama’s position on not stirring up a hornet’s nest in two other countries.
Point: Draw. (3-1, McCain).