Feb 11 2011

Sic Semper Tyrannis

This has been a historic day for Egypt (and an excellent opportunity for a meandering post). The recently appointed (as of January 29th) Omar Suleiman, Vice President of Egypt, appeared on Egyptian television today and announced that Hosni Mubarak had resigned after 29 years of rule. Only yesterday, Mubarak himself had announced that he would wait until September to step down. The half-measure announcement angered protesters, more people poured onto the streets, and by today Mubarak “resigned” (he is thought to have fled to the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, “The City of Peace”). His Vice President’s words were brief, but translated by NPR as:

“In these difficult circumstances that the country is passing through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to leave the position of the presidency. He has commissioned the armed forces council to direct the issues of the state. God is our protector and succor.”

The protests leading up to Mubarak’s resignation were inspired by Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution of December and January. From January 25th until February 11th, the Egyptian masses demanded change… and today, it appears they have finally got their wish. What that change will be, is anyone’s guess, and a lot of people here are worried because we just don’t know what will come of this. Conservative fearmongers are claiming that the Muslim Brotherhood will sweep in and establish a Muslim state (90% of Egypt is Sunni) under Sharia Law, despite assurances from that society that they have no interest in promoting a candidate. Others are claiming that this is a diplomatic nightmare for the United States (and by proxy, Israel) who have lost a valuable ally in the Middle East. Personally, I’m not concerned. It’s more important to me that the country’s population is able to exercise some self-determination and develop a government that supports them and their rights, than worrying about how pro-West they will be.

I can’t help but think that this is exactly the way these things should happen. Lasting change only happens from within. The people of Egypt rose up against their government and with the exception of some military / police / pro-government responses (~300 dead, ~3000 injured), brought change without resorting to armed revolt. So what happens now? Suleiman’s announcement indicated that the army (i.e., Supreme Council of the Armed Forces) would fill the power vacuum until new elections could be held. While this is not ideal (i.e., martial law was one of the major items being protested), someone or something needs to get the county moving again. I just hope that if it is the will of the people, that the army is willing to step down as well. Time will tell.

With few exceptions, relinquishing power has never been easy…

“Having now finished the work assigned to me, I retire from the great theatre of Action; and bidding an Affectionate farewell to this August body under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my Commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life.” – George Washington, Annapolis, 23 Dec 1783


Mar 30 2010

Marriage vs. Unions

Marriage is an ancient institution whereby two or more people (generally one man and one woman) are officially pair-bonded in the eyes of the church and/or state (see also polygyny and polyandry). People that are married typically inherit legal, cultural, economical, moral, and spiritual rights and privileges withheld from non-married couples. Sometimes these benefits are intangible (i.e., social pressures), at other times they are very real (e.g., tax benefits, insurance premiums, health plan coverage, legal considerations). Most religions (that I’m familiar with) promote marriage as a foundation for stable and productive communities that are presumably more suitable for raising families (and future followers). Whether this is true or not is irrelevant due to the laundry list of benefits a couple can gain by Tying-the-Knot. Marriage has therefore become an entrenched institution within our society, despite ending in divorce 40% of the time (as of 2008).

Somewhere along the line, a politician got the idea that money could be made on licensing marriages. These laws may have initially been introduced as a way of prosecuting adultery (evident among 50% of males and 26% of females, according to Kinsey). They may have also been instituted to facilitate the probating of Wills. Later they were used to prevent miscegenation (as late as 2009). Whatever the reason, today in the United States, people wishing to marry are required to register with the county/state and then after a short wait period (often longer than is required to buy a handgun, and perhaps sensibly) either go before a Justice of the Peace or an official of whatever religious flavor they prefer. This final ritual is what makes the marriage official. This is ridiculous.

I am in no way against marriage. In this society, marriage has its benefits. At it’s heart, marriage is a legal contract. We can’t erase 1000s of years of historical precedence with one shuffle of the eraser, nor is that necessary or desirable. What we should do however, is sever the connection between church and state (as famously referenced by Thomas Jefferson in his 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists). Counties and states should retain the ability to issue Civil Union licenses to whomever seeks them. Restrictions based on age, kinship, and current marital status should probably be retained. After a reasonable waiting period, the interested parties should reappear before a state authority to be officially recognized. If the bride and groom wish to be married by a religious figure, there should be no problem with that, but no religious ceremony should be granted binding powers by the state. In order to make the change seamlessly however, all prior marriage ceremonies (religious ones included) should be given Civil Union status.

Why bother? Because the term “marriage” carries with it several millennia of unwieldy baggage. Many Christians for instance, insist that marriage should never join two people of the same gender. Since many religionists believe that morals stem from a supernatural source, the use of their terms are forever encumbered by the tenets of their faith. People that are not of that faith should not be similarly encumbered, especially by the laws of an allegedly secular nation. Before same-sex marriages were legalized in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Washington D.C. (and counting) many claimed that their legalization would destroy the institution of marriage and unravel the fabric of our society. It hasn’t happened yet. If it happens, same-sex marriage won’t be the cause. While the current trend of legalization is encouraging, it doesn’t solve the underlying problem. The state should get out of the marriage business and concentrate on Civil Unions as the basis for determining a couple’s  legal standing. Leave marriage to the churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples.

“There’s no reason that the government should prevent homosexuals from entering civil marriages because some religions object to the concept, any more than the government should ban atheism because some religions object to it.” – Lisa Pampuch


Dec 17 2009

Article the Second…

Minuteman

“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.”

The United States of America are long overdue for a Second Revolution. It could be argued that the American Civil War was a revolution of sorts. Enough changed as a result of that war to support the claim (e.g., abolition of slavery, consolidated government). I’m not even sure whether a Second Revolution would require guns; I hope not because the way power is distributed today the People are at a clear disadvantage. While we claim to enjoy any number of  freedoms, the truth is that “We the People” have fastened a noose around our collective necks and handed the horse-whip to the government. This is not how it was supposed to be. We need to reclaim the ability to stand up for our rights, whether by ballot or barrel. If you think this is an extremist position then you should look into the mirror and introduce yourself to one of the brainwashed masses that have come to accept the current state as an acceptable substitute. Thomas Jefferson summed this up best when he wrote:

“When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.”

The second amendment to the Constitution states that citizens have an implicit right to own and bear firearms. This right was proposed by James Madison and later ratified by the 2nd United States Congress on December 15, 1791. While it is impossible to know with 100% certainty the intent and scope of this Second Amendment, the context is clear. Fifteen years earlier the Declaration of Independence stated:

“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government”

The number of peaceful revolutions in history can be counted on one hand (well, okay… one hand of several people). We cannot hope to reclaim our lost freedoms if we cannot stand up against the police-state (discussed later). This is not to say that we should start fighting in the streets, absolutely not. The key is fear. The government should fear and respect its People. I have a good friend that once told me that the AR-15 is the legal modern-day equivalent of the 18th century musket. How do you think the government would react if every adult man and woman ordered one tomorrow? Would they sense a movement? Would there be a scramble for power? Would the government declare an emergency until they “got to the bottom of this problem”? You bet they would (conservatives and liberals alike).  No animal likes to be cornered and almost every politician in office today is a member of the same species. If everyone was armed, the revolution could take place and we wouldn’t even have to aim.  Sound too good to be true? Well, given today’s mentality that all true power should reside in the government’s hands… yes, it is too good to be true. We have castrated ourselves. It wasn’t one bloody cut though, it’s been hundreds of very small snips over hundreds of years. Most of us don’t even realize the boys are gone. We are much too complacent. If we don’t exercise our rights, we will lose them. We should never be content with the freedoms that remain but instead strive to reclaim those that were lost.

After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn’t do it. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to live in a society where the only people allowed guns are the police and the military.” – William S. Boroughs


Sep 14 2009

Wading In…

Buy War BondsI think most people that meet and talk to me would classify me as Liberal (maybe it’s the limp and thinning middle-aged ponytail? *shrug*). Labels are good for sorting things but often fall short of telling the whole truth. Part of the problem (which I really don’t see as a problem) is that many of my positions are evolving.  Flag-waving mouth-breathers see this as weakness, fence-sitting, and an opportunity to rant and foam about why their position makes so much sense. Usually these arguments mirror (to an alarming degree) something a television or radio personality excreted just the day before over their chosen medium.  Not impressed or swayed… Additionally, I am continually unimpressed with both of the major political parties (e.g., the Republicans frighten me, the Democrats disappoint and worry me) and their Kung-Fu Grip on the American political system. We need more than two viable parties. Choices are a good thing.

So here I am complaining about The Powers That Be without any solutions. Typical. Truth be told, I do have SOME solutions but I don’t think a great many people are going to be signing-up for what I have in mind. There would be a lot of “Oh, you can’t do that!” when in fact, we can do pretty much whatever we put our minds to. I’ll discuss some of these items as the blog grows, but for now… here is a list of topics that I hope to discuss in the future:

  • Military reallocation
  • Overreaching Federal laws
  • Firearms
  • Drug legalization
  • Line-item vetoes
  • Transportation and alternative fuels
  • Dismantling the education system
  • Dissolving social security
  • Original copyright
  • Patent reform
  • Overhauling elections
  • Separation of church and state
  • Marriage versus unions
  • Tort reform, etc.
  • Capital punishment
  • Reforming jury selection
  • Defense versus war
  • And more…

If anyone actually cares enough to read this, they should feel free to comment…