Friday, May 23, 2008

Living In An Upside Down World

No, I'm not going to get all bent today. I'm going to calmly and categorically show that our world is rotating on its axis completely upside down. Our country's rulers are completely whacked in the head, reason no longer appears to exist, and politics are only interesting now if you've got a serious sense of humor.

We have, written in clear language within our Constitution, the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." A quick glimpse of our current laws (be they legislated or passed down through the judiciary) will show that Americans no longer have these rights. Instead, they have the right to "viable, useful life" and "attainment of happiness through the pilfering of those more fortunate than themselves." Forget liberty - it's overrated. 

The State of California has gone the way of Massachusetts - with the courts decreeing a State Constitutional right to homosexual "marriage." Never mind the fact that there isn't even a constitutional right to heterosexual marriage written in there. It appears that a claim of, "hey, no fair" goes a long way these days. 

Way back in 1973, the United States Supreme Court declared that a woman had a constitutional right to end the life of her unborn baby. This is, of course, found in the constitution under the "right to privacy." Of course, even those words don't appear in there, but HEY! We're just splitting hairs, now! Since then, any attempt to legislate anything having to do with abortion is attacked as unconstitutional (regardless of any actual wording within said document). Even trying to pass a law requiring a minor to have the permission of her parents in order to undergo the surgical procedure is declared an horrifying infringements on women's rights. But should the public school give that same girl an aspirin without parental permission?? Sue, sue, sue... of course, in order to completely protect themselves from any such lawsuits, the schools won't even give an aspirin WITH the parent's permission now unless it's administered by the school nurse. So... surgical procedures - good. Tiny pill to help a headache - bad.

At the NYT, there was an article published called, "At Supreme Court, 5-4 Rulings Fade, But Why?" In this article (trying to pass itself off as an actual news item rather than an editorial) the writer bemoans the loss of the 5-4 rulings of the past. They talk about a "clear pattern" in the cases decided this term. The upholding of Kentucky's capital punishment methods, the upholding of Indiana's law requiring photo ID to vote, and the upholding a federal law against child pornography are all mentioned. The article then goes on to say, "All were government victories, hardly surprising coming from a conservative court... The surprise was that the government side won each so handily." Of course, not a mention of the "school integration" case that was decided on the side of the parents. That was a 5-4 decision in which the conservatives on the court decided against the government. 

But how upside down is this?? The court ruled that the state has the right to pass a law requiring one to prove who they are when the go to the polls to vote. And, according to some, this is BAD. A ruling in favor of the government here was BAD.

A ruling that says the state of Kentucky can impose the death penalty the same way they have been? Again, ruling in favor of the government is BAD!! 

Oh -- and the court upheld a law restricting child pornography!! Woe is us. This is BAD. Any ruling in favor of the government is clearly bad, right?? "Restricting free speech," they cry! Ah, yes... but these same criers are in favor of the Fairness Doctrine in broadcasting. Because the conservative viewpoint is too prevalent in radio. So, child pornography = good healthy free speech, protected by the Constitution. Conservative radio = a need for regulation and balance.

But when government was forcing students to be bussed clear across town simply because they were the wrong skin color to go to their local school, the conservative Supreme Court members said, "Nu-uh. You can't do that." I believe a more accurate quote was, "In order to stop discriminating on the basis of race, you have to stop discriminating on the basis of race." Certainly, since coming down on the side of government is BAD, the conservatives got this one right, right? WRONG. Race is everything and needs to be taken into consideration in order for people to learn to live with one another - therefore the bussing needed to take place. Ruling in favor of the people - BAD. 

Talk about an upside down world!

Barack Obama has friends such as Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers, and Tony Resco. None of these men would be considered fine, upstanding citizens by the majority of the American population. However, questioning his associations is clearly dirty politics and racism - and has no place in our country's political dialogue. 

Israel is a teeny, tiny country surrounded by people who hate them. The United States professes to be one of Israel's few allies. And yet our usual advice to them is to stop defending themselves already. Nice ally.

The United States needs energy. Energy is mostly supplied by oil. We have our own oil, but we would rather fund the terrorists who want to kill us than dirty up our own territory by digging for our own supplies. 

The United States has been walking backwards for a while now. And recently, it seems to me that we've kicked it down into a backwards sprint. The thing is, eventually, when  you're going backwards like that, you end up hitting something. And I'm afraid our time to crash is coming soon.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

No Rebate for Who?

I guess it's just going to be a forever-thing that the NYT editorial board and I disagree. It's pretty much gotten to the point where if I agree with something they say, I feel I need to rethink my position. Their editorial "No Rebates for You" published May 15th is further evidence that they are completely out of touch with most of American society. 

See, while most Americans are genuinely concerned about illegal aliens, the NYT consistently celebrates them. Many people have national security concerns, many have concerns about illegals getting a free ride, and some people just want to communicate in English and it frustrates them when they can't. I happen to be a person who fits into each of those categories. 

But the NYT has no such concerns! No, siree... They start out by saying, "Hard-liners were so intent on keeping the cash out of the hands of undocumented workers that they restricted the rebate to people with Social Security numbers." Now, I do agree that if I'm going to get a rebate check, then the other folks who would qualify but for the fact that they're married to someone with a green card should get theirs, too. According to the NYT, that's not the case - and I agree that's not right. Woo-hoo! We agree on something!

But they go a step further and say, "But why shouldn't undocumented immigrants with taxpayer numbers get the cash too? The checks are not rewards for good behavior; they are taxes returned as a means to an end. Illegal immigrants constitute about 5 percent of the work force and earn much less than the native-born. They are just the sort of group the stimulus should be aimed at if the purpose is to get the most economic bang for every rebate dollar." 

Why shouldn't they? Well, because they're breaking the law, for one thing. The checks may not be "rewards for good behavior" as a purpose, but that doesn't mean that we should be rewarding the bad behavior with a check, does it? 

After reading the NYT editorial on this subject, I decided I must not understand "undocumented immigrants." So I did some research. I must say, for being "undocumented," there's a surprising number of statistics out there!! According to my research, there are about eleven million undocumented immigrants living in the US, with that number increasing by approximately 500,000 per year. Since 1995, the average number of undocumented immigrants arriving in the United States every year has exceeded the average number of arrivals of documented immigrants. What in the world? Are we just documenting them on different paper or what?? If they're undocumented, how can we possibly know? This reminds me of the commercial I used to hear about diabetes... about how millions and millions of people in the United States are diabetic and don't even know it. I remember listening to that commercial and saying to myself, "If they don't even know, how do YOU know about it?" Seemed really stupid to me. 

But no... with these statistics, I'm thinking that either someone knows how to simply pull things out of their rear end (totally possible, I guess) or there's some sort of documentation. According to this same publication, 57-70% of undocumented immigrants come from Mexico. 23-24% come from Latin America. 9-10% come from Asia, and 5-6% come from Europe and Canada. Further, they supposedly know that more than three million undocumented immigrants arrived in the U.S. between 2000 and 2004. 3.5 million arrived between '95 and '99. And 3.5 million arrived between '80 and '94.

So here's what I'm thinking. If they want a stimulus check, they need to get legal. This doesn't seem like rocket science to me. We start passing out checks, they're REALLY going to start coming over here!! And not that there's anything wrong with immigration... people coming here from other countries and having that hard working, entrepreneurial mentality is what makes this country great. But do it legally - so that you can hold your head up. And so that you can get your check.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Battle Over Voter Fraud

I never cease to be amazed at how I can so consistently come down on the opposite side of all things "progressive." Does that make me regressive? I certainly hope not!! 

Anyway, there's a big hullabaloo over voter's rights. Apparently some people are irritated that illegal aliens are voting here. I've heard it been said before that people can be a bit put out when they see that Tinkerbell and Mickey Mouse are voting. Oh, and the dead... some of them come out at voting time, too. (Come to think of it, I may have seen one or two of them at the polls last time I went!) 

Me, I can't figure out why this isn't a no-brainer. Well, that's not entirely true. I think I may have figured out why it's not. But it still SHOULD be a no-brainer. In order to vote, you are supposed to be a citizen of this country. Duh. You're supposed to still be alive. Double duh. And you're supposed to be REAL. I don't think that Mickey Mouse counts as a legitimate United States citizen no matter how much a part of our history he may be. This is duh-DUH. It would take a dizzying intellect indeed to confuse me on this issue. 

Leave it to the New York Times to give it the ol' college try, though...

"Voter ID Battle Shifts to Proof of Citizenship," proclaims the headline. Methinks I finally understand what they were talking about when addressing the Supreme Court and voter's rights... the NYT is unhappy that people are being "disenfranchised" in certain states because those states have elected by popular vote to require identification at the polls in order to vote. The Supreme Court upheld that law, and the NYT was irritated.

But now, NOW... things are just getting out of hand! Now we're going to require proof of citizenship, too?? Oh, the humanity!! I mean, how DARE we think of putting in safeguards to ensure that illegals aren't voting themselves extra social programs!! (Not that we aren't doing a fine job of voting the programs in ourselves.) 

Get this:

Sponsors of the amendment - which requires the approval of voters to go into effect, possibly in an August referendum - say it is part of an effort to prevent illegal immigrants from affecting the political process. Critics say the measure could lead to the disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of legal residents who would find it difficult to prove their citizenship.

Okey-dokey... What in the world could they be meaning, you ask?? Well...

In Arizona, the only state that requires proof of citizenship to register to vote, more than 38,000 voter registration applications have been thrown out since the state adopted its measure in 2004. That number was included in election data obtained through a lawsuit filed by voting rights advocates and provided to The New York Times. More than 70 percent of those registrations came from people who stated under oath that they were born in the United States, the data showed.

It's getting clearer... sort of. I mean, if the people are willing to state under OATH that they're citizens, that should be good enough, huh? Because nobody would say something that wasn't true if they were under OATH. Oh, my. Are we that trusting?? I'm betting not.... but there's always an agenda of some sort behind the protestations... 

The big story is that Florida, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Missouri all have bills with strong support for a measure such as this. And bills are being considered in at least 19 state legislatures. "But only in Missouri does the requirement have a chance of taking effect before the presidential election." 

Already, 25 states, including Missouri, require some form of identification at the polls. Seven of those states require or can request photo ID. More states may soon decide to require photo ID now that the Supreme Court has upheld the practice. Democrats have already criticized these requirements as implicitly intended to keep lower-income voters from the polls, and are likely to fight even more fiercely now that the requirements are expanding to include immigration status... The Missouri secretary of state, Robin Carnahan, a Democrat who opposes the measure, estimated that it could disenfranchise up to 240,000 registered voters who would be unable to prove their citizenship...

This is nuts. How is it possible for an entire political party to be such a polar opposite of everything I think?? It's so strange... requiring proof of who you are is NOT intended to keep lower-income voters from the polls. It's intended to keep fraudulent voters from the polls!! And requiring proof of citizenship would be intended to keep illegal aliens from the polls. I have a very difficult time believing that the State of Missouri truly has 240,000 people who are legitimate citizens of the United States with no way to prove their citizenship. That's just preposterous. 

In most of the states that require identification, voters can use utility bills, paychecks, driver's licenses or student or military ID cards to prove their identity. In the Democratic primary election last week in Indiana, several nuns were denied ballots because they lacked the required photo IDs.

Really? Several nuns?!? Is this supposed to get me to say, "Oh, my!! They're disenfranchising the little old nuns now!! It's gone too far!!" Not going to happen. Just because somebody puts on a habit doesn't make them holy. And nobody can possibly convince me that the Catholic church is now checking citizenship before allowing somebody to become a nun.

Critics say that when this level of documentation is applied to voting, it becomes more difficult for the poor, disabled, elderly and minorities to participate in the political process. "Everyone has been focusing on voter ID laws generally, but the most pernicious measures and the ones that really promise to prevent the most eligible voters from voting is what we see in Arizona and now in Missouri," said Jon Greenbaum... director of the voting rights project at the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a liberal advocacy group.

Well, nobody said life would be easy. Frankly, requiring proof of citizenship makes things more difficult for all of us. And I'm okay with that! Make it harder -- make it so that we have to actually care enough to put some effort into voting! The fact remains that even if it makes things more difficult for us, it makes it next to impossible for the dead, the illegal, and the repeat voter. Sounds like a fair trade-off to me. After all, for every fraudulent vote accepted a legitimate vote is disenfranchised. 

Jon Greenbaum needs to be more specific... what in the world does he mean when he says that these measures promise to prevent the most eligible voters from voting? I assume he means the largest number.... but why eligible? What makes the people banned from the poll eligible? 

But now we can get to the agenda part of the article... because:

Aside from its immediacy, the action by Missouri is important because it has been a crucial swing state in recent presidential elections, with outcomes often decided by a razor-thin margin.

Ah-ha!! Can't tip the scales in the wrong direction then, can we?

My favorite quote from the article was by a supporter of the measure. Mr. Hearne said, "To those who have spent great energy opposing some of the voter registration or voter identification requirements, I would say their energy would be much better spent working toward trying to provide identifications to those who need them or assisting these people with getting registered." 

To that I give a resounding AMEN!!

Friday, May 9, 2008

On Judicial Appointments

On May 7th, the New York Times published an editorial titled "It's About the White House." Ironically enough, the editorial was not about the White House, but about what's really at stake in trying to win the White House... judicial appointments. 

It's no secret that the NYT editorial board and I don't quite see eye to eye, but I (loving to argue even in my own head) had a field day with this particular piece. About the only thing I agree with them on in the entire article is that the presidential race is really all about who will be appointing the next Supreme Court justice. Four of the currently sitting justices are over the age of 70, making it quite likely that the next president of these United States will be appointing at least one judge to the highest court in the land. John Paul Stevens is 88. Antonin Scalia is 72. Anthony M. Kennedy is 72. Ruth Bader Ginsberg is 75. Steven G. Breyer is just 70. 

It is apparent that there are people who think the United States would be better served by having Hillary Clinton and/or Barack Obama choose the next Supreme Court nominees. The idea of that gives me the creeps... but I digress.

According to the editorial:

Mr. McCain predictably criticized liberal judges, vowed strict adherence to the Founders' views and promised to appoint more judges in the mold of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito. That is just what the country does not need.

I beg to differ. That is exactly what the country needs. A common sense understanding of the separation of powers is a breath of fresh air!

Since President Bush chose Justices Roberts and Alito, the Court has ordered Seattle and Louisville to scrap voluntary school integration, protected employers who illegally mistreat their workers, and constrained women's right to choose and voters' right to vote.

Only the New York Times could think of the programs in Seattle and Louisville as "voluntary." If I recall correctly, it was the parents who were suing because the program was anything but voluntary, and their children were being bussed far away from their homes in an attempt to "integrate." The word voluntary suggests that people are choosing something of their own volition... so calling that particular program voluntary is somewhat like suggesting taxes are voluntary because you're only required to pay them if you're earning money. If you choose to work, you're obviously making the choice to pay the tax.

The employers who were "protected" were not protected by the Supreme Court, but by the law. The law allowed the woman who was suing a certain amount of time in which to sue. She went past that time, and the court ended up saying no to her lawsuit on that technicality. You can hardly denounce the justices for following the law as it was written.

In 2007, the court held that the Partial Birth Abortion Ban that was passed by congress and signed into law by President Bush in 2003 does not violate a woman's constitutional right to an abortion. The law bans a particular procedure, not abortion in general. I've probably stated this before, but passing a law that will make people feel better without actually accomplishing anything but a procedural ban is pointless. I suppose the pro-lifers felt they were paving the way for further restrictions, but the law generally doesn't do anything to protect life. You can still kill the baby, you just can't kill it that way.

As for the voting rights accusation, it's too fuzzy for me to answer. How in the world has the Supreme Court "constrained" a voter's right to vote?

 There was a moment when we were briefly cheered. Mr. McCain declared that "all the powers of the American presidency must serve the Constitution and thereby protect the people and their liberties." We hoped that would be the start of a serious critique of how President Bush has violated cherished civil liberties: endorsing torture, ordering unlawful domestic spying and depriving detainees of the most basic right of habeas corpus. Mr. McCain himself has eloquently criticized Mr. Bush's policies on some of these issues, but he did not raise any of them on Tuesday.

I've got to admit I think it's a hoot that the NYT flat out says they were somewhat cheered up when they thought McCain was going to roundly criticize President Bush. Their glee was short lived, however, when they didn't get to hear him denounce the president -- and didn't get to hear the McCain opinion on torture yet again. Too funny.

The NYT then goes on to say that the metric used by the super-delegates at the Democrat's convention should be "the candidate best able to explain to voters in the coming days what is truly at stake in this election and why the country cannot, for example, afford another president committed to packing the courts with activist, right wing judges."

Hmmm... funny how the "progressives" are trying to steal the verbiage from the conservatives on judges. Nobody likes an "activist" judge!! Of course, depending on what view you hold you may think they're activist or not activist now. It's all about blurring the lines, right? 

McCain's comment on judicial appointments? "The duties and boundaries of the Constitution are  not just a set of helpful suggestions. they are not just guidelines to be observed when it's convenient and loosely interpreted when it isn't. In federal and state courts... there are still men and women who understand the proper role of our judiciary, and I intend to find them and promote them... My nominees will understand that there are clear limits to the scope of judicial power."

Barack Obama's comment on judicial appointments? "We need somebody who's got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom, the empathy to understand what it's like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old - and that's the criteria by which I'll be selecting my judges." Well, now. If you're searching for a benevolent dictator, you may be looking for somebody with those empathetic qualities... an "Aw, shucks" sort of guy who will smooth out the rough edges and make life smell pretty again. But a judge? I think you're better off sticking with somebody who will follow the law and leave the legislating up to those we elect to legislate. That's the point of separation of powers!

Monday, May 5, 2008

How Crazy Is It Going To Be?

Okay, I know... I know. I'm not supposed to be so blunt. It's very politically incorrect for me to call a spade a spade. But I've decided that this environmentalism thing has just gone too far. It's gone over the edge and into crazy. Seriously. Completely bonkers. 

The hype over the global "climate crisis" is almost entertaining to watch... I was on today and I found a section on "global dimming." According to that web site: 

"It's now established that when particulate material (e.g. soot and carbon products), generated from vehicle exhausts, aircraft and industry, enters the atmosphere, then less light reaches the ground - this is known as 'Global Dimming.' 

"Since the 1950s, sunlight reaching the Earth has significantly reduced. In Israel, where the first measurements were taken, sunlight intensity has reduced by some 22% and in the UK it has reduced by about 10%. 

"Why is this important? Global dimming causes a drop in temperature around the world that can upset established climates - altering season length and characteristics, and change the Earth's monsoon patterns. Scientists believe that global dimming was a key cause of the Ethiopian droughts back in the 1980s. 

"Does Global Dimming counteract Global Warming? Global Dimming can, and actually has, slowed the effects of Global Warming. However, the Earth's population is now doing something about the amount of carbon particulates being released into the atmosphere, by fitting catalytic converters to cars and reducing emissions from power stations, etc. Many scientists now believe that the rate of global warming has been significantly underestimated because of global dimming, and global warming will accelerate giving us even less time than originally thought to take action."

So let me see if I understand this right. Global warming was being counteracted by global dimming until we started to try and correct our emissions -- and then by our NOT putting as much pollution into the air we accelerated global warming? Of course, the solution to the "crisis" according to this particular web site is that we are all supposed to go back to an early 1800s lifestyle and purchase offsets from them as well. 

Why do I make that nasty remark about the early 1800s lifestyle? Well... in calculating my "secondary carbon footprint," I came across questions such as:

Food preferences:
I am a vegetarian
I eat mainly fish
I eat mainly white meat
I eat a mix of white and red meat
I eat red meat every day

Organic produce:
I only buy organic food
Some of the food I buy is organic
I never buy organic, or I don't know what I buy

In season food:
I only buy in season food
I try to buy some in season food
I don't try to buy in season food

Imported food and goods:
I only buy local
I mostly buy local
I prefer to buy closer to home
I don't notice where things come from

I only buy second hand clothes
I buy new clothes when I need them
I regularly shop to have the latest fashions

Furniture and electricals:
I only buy second hand furniture and appliances
I mostly buy new but generally keep things for more than five years
I like to have the latest technology and latest home fashion

I only do zero carbon activities (e.g., walk and cycle)
I occasionally go out to places like the movies, bars or restaurants
I often go to movies, bars or restaurants
I enjoy carbon intensive activities (e.g., quad biking, sky diving and flying)

Car manufacture:
I don't own a car
I own one car
I own two cars
I own three cars
...and on up to ten cars

Finance and other services:
I don't even have a bank account
I use the standard range of financial services

So, apparently, it's not even green to have your money in the bank anymore. No... probably much better to just give it all to Carbon Footprint! So maybe I was generous when I said they would allow us an early 1800s lifestyle. I mean, I'm pretty sure there were banks around even then!

This same web site encourages us to catch our rainwater and home treat it so that we can "save on water." Does this actually make sense? If we catch it and use it, we're taking it from sinking into the earth... how is this actually saving any water? And why do we really need to save it? I think I'm getting very confused... Not that I have a big problem with having a rain barrel outside my door. I think it might be a handy place to cool off my kids when they're fighting.

Also, I have to be a vegetarian. I have to only buy local, organic food in its season. I always have to wear hand-me-downs. So do my children. So does my husband. Somebody else always has to have used my furniture before me. All my recreational activities have to be carbon free. No electricity, no going out. Walks, bike rides, and reading only, please. I can't own a car. I can't use financial services. Hey... wait a second!! I don't have to live in the 1800s! I just have to be a hippie!! I'm surprised there's not a "no shaving" rule...