Everyone's Got One

While I agree that the wealthier nations such as ours have a responsibility to look beyond our borders to better the lives of our fellow humans, I do not believe that we have the moral mandate to drag other nations, kicking and screaming, into line with what our nation's leaders believe to be the only valid form of government, nor should we veil self-interest with claims of self-defense. How can we claim to know that only we understand what is, to someone on the other side of the world, a "better life." We must strike a globe balance between isolationism and imperialism. I'd say we should have entered WWII earlier and not gone in to Vietnam at all. Easy enough to say now. Hindsight is, as we know, 20-20.

While our nation's leaders focus on global issues of dubious merit, much to the detriment of our own citizens, they run roughshod over the very freedoms that are supposed to make our country and society so great. At the same time, many citizens seem to feel an outrageous lack of personal responsibility. They try to hold other individuals, businesses, our society, and our government responsible for their own weakness, stupidity, and misfortune. They blame others for their own poor choices, poor parenting, and laziness. If we're truly going to rise up as the single greatest force on the planet for liberty and justice, we must have some moral ground on which to stand and the fortitude to face our own problems with dignity and strength. Wisdom would be nice, too. Perhaps a dose of humility.

First, be sure you are familiar with The Constitution and its Amendments. I've posted these with cross-references from the amendments to the original text, plus may refer to them as they relate to issues below. I'll be adding some Comments soon.

I've also created my list of people who I believe are negative influences on our lives, or are at least very annoying, along with a few things or events that piss me off. I'm still working on these pages, as you'll notice, so there may be some unfinished or poorly-worded sections. You may, in fact, find all this to be drivel. Well, enjoy.


  Censorship & Free Speech
Man arrested for 'peace' T-shirt in NY Mall CNN, Tuesday, March 4, 2003
There are a number of issues I'll want to rant about here, including the dumbing-down of the entire Internet to protect Little Timmy's innocence, the silencing of unpopular speech as being un-patriotic or even a threat to national security, the FCC's assault on folks like Howard Stern and their preoccupation with a certain metallic nipple (if it was covered with a shiny metallic pasty, then is wasn't nudity!), etc.

  The Media
Time magazine to hand over reporter's notes - Grand jury investigating leak of undercover CIA officer's name CNN

So Joe Wilson, former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, criticizes the Bush administration when they alleged (falsely) that Hussein had tried to purchase yellow-cake uranium in Africa. In retaliation, this ass, Robert Novak leaks Joe's wife's name, Valerie Plame, as a CIA agent. Aside from being illegal, obnoxious and counterproductive, isn't this un-patriotic? I stand by my characterization of Novak as an ass. Rove, another ass, is involved, too. Figures.

  Church vs. State
I'll have lots to comment on here, as I get to it...

Bush is always invoking God, which must rankle with the billions of Buddhists, Moslems, atheists and others throughout the world who know full well that he is not referring to any deity in whom they believe.

To have the Ten Commandments posted in a courthouse is entirely inappropriate. Why not use the Code of Hamurabi, and start gouging out eyes and hacking off arms whenever the crime seems to dictate such punishment? If the courts are not completely secular, they are worse than useless - they're dangerous.

The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster... This is a humerous take on the proposed addition of "Intelligent Design" alongside evolution in public school classrooms. Bobby Henderson has proposed that, perhaps, he and "many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster." Arrrrgh! He insists that it is as plausible and Christian creationism and should therefore be given equal time in the classroom. He also notes a very important trend, that global warming is inversely proportional to the number of pirates in the world. I especially enjoy references to "His noodly appendage."

I actually tend to believe in a form of Intelligent Design, though not one that is based on the bible. I do find it amazing, awesome is a good descriptor, to consider evolution leading from the "primordial soup" to sentient beings such as man. I do not, however, feel any need to present my feelings in a biology class. Philosophy, sure; comparative religion, fine. Such religious, completely non-scientific beliefs simply should not be presented in the same light as a scientific theory which is embraced by a hugely overwhelming majority of educated people worldwide. If Intelligent Design is included in public school courses, I'd like to see Native American, Shinto and other religions' creation myths be treated equally.

  Separation of Powers, aka Checks and Balances
Soon, see my Commentary page regarding separation of powers.

Terry Schiavo case CNN Feeding Tube Removed. This was a disgusting political meddling by Congress in the lives of citizens.

The Supreme Court's role in first Bush election.

  Property Rights
Supreme Court Supports Use of Eminent Domain for Private Development CNN
"WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses -- even against their will -- for private economic development." The Supreme Court is placing its faith in local officials to identify when it is reasonable to use eminent domain, previously reserved for public works, public access, national defense and similar issues, to force people from their land for private development that would benefit the community. Such things as shopping malls, residential developments and business parks would be allowed if the area is deemed to be blighted or if the tax revenue is deemed necessary. This opens the door for a lot of potential abuse.

Asset Forfeiture and Car Seizure Laws ACLU
Oakland, Sacramento, Los Angeles and other cities have adopted or are trying to adopt asset forfeiture laws (in Oakland, it falls under "nuisance abatement") allowing police to seize personal property if it is suspected of being used while committing a crime, such as seizing your car if it is suspected that you are buying or selling drugs or are soliciting a prostitute. The seizures result in the property being sold and proceeds going to the city or the police department, even if you are acquitted of all charges, in most cases. San Francisco ruled a similar law unconstitutional. This is an insane punishment for an alleged, usually victimless crime. To me, it clearly violates the 8th Amendment.

See Forfeiture: A Threat To Every American by James Bovard

  Privacy Rights
We've got Carnivore and the like, illegal wire taps and the Patriot Act, and lots more to cover here.

  Sex & Drugs
Supreme Court upholds Federal ban on use of marijuana. This seems to clearly violate the 10th Amendment. It is absurd that alcohol is so well accepted, but pot is still viewed as the devil weed from Reefer Madness. I don't even like pot, but I'm so annoyed by this court decision.

Gay marriage. What's the problem? It's not like straight people are being required to marry a gay person, so why all the fear and vitriol?

Then, there are the antiquated sodomy laws, the silliness that an eighteen-year-old high school student is guilty of statutory rape for banging his or her willing seventeen-year-old sweetheart, etc.

  Tort Reform
We can all recall cases where someone was awarded millions of dollars for suffering some emotional and/or physical harm. The woman who spilled hot McDonald's coffee on her lap, for instance (see below where I go into issues of personal responsibility). The issue here is not whether or not individuals and businesses should be held to certain standards of professional and ethical conduct. The biggest problem here is to whom the sometimes immense awards go. Right now, with plaintiffs and their attorneys splitting the awards approximately fifty-fifty, there's a huge incentive for each to file frivolous or at least borderline lawsuits in the hopes of living on easy street the rest of their lives. I don't believe people are entitled to $10 million for much of anything. They should be awarded all medical costs, reasonable pain and suffering, lost income, any reasonable estimate of lost future earnings, etc. The remainder of these huge settlements should go to serve the public good, by funding the agencies that work to prevent future incidents, or education, or even the general fund. Why should one individual become an overnight millionaire just because they suffered some bad fortune?

  Gun Ownership
I'm sure my comments will blow you away...

  Personal Responsibility
Boy's family sues McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and Kentucky Fried Chicken, alleging they misled the public into thinking the food was not grease- and fat-laden, resulting in his obesity and diabetes.

Woman spills hot coffee, burning her crotch, after getting it from a McDonald's drive-through and sues for damages.

It's just not the role of government to protect people from being stupid, unwise, bull-headed or the like. Go read from the Darwin Awards. New York still has a law on the books stating that the penalty for committing suicide is death. Seems appropriate. I wonder whet the penalty is for attempting suicide. Just because someone buys a "magic bean" and then fails to reach the treasure above the clouds as promised doesn't entitle them to sue for the millions of dollars they hoped to rake in for their $25 impulse buy. Now, if that person were mentally handicapped and targeted for that reason, they should have some protection under the law. That's different.

  Foreign Policy
We have a policy? Cool. I'll comment soon.

  Formula One Racing
Congratulations to Fernando Alonso, 2005 Formula One World Champion! He's the youngest world champion in the sport and the first from Spain. He seems to be a dedicated, passionate driver with maturity and class that defy his youth. Well done!

As I watched the Speed Channel coverage of the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours, I found myself again fuming at the absolutely idiotic handling of the Michelin tire fiasco from the United States Grand Prix at Indy. In essence, Michelin, supplier of tires to seven teams in F1, failed to provide tires that could withstand repeated race-speed lapping on the resurfaced track, despite this being the sixth year in a row they've raced there. Bridgestone, who supply three of the teams, had little or no difficulty. Michelin and teams running their tires asked the FIA to put a chicane before Turn 13, which is the banked high-speed turn believed to be the cause of the tire failures during practice sessions.

The FIA's response was that they had these options: run the race using the pit lane as a bypass to Turn 13; run the race and have the drivers slow to a safe speed, off the high banking, through Turn 13; or take more frequent pit stops to change tires so that they did not wear to an unsafe degree. These suggestions struck me as entirely reasonable. Changing the course the morning of a race to benefit teams running with one particular tire manufacturer would have made it even more of a farce.

What did the teams do? All the Michelin runners pulled off the track after the formation lap. The fans were justifiably incensed. The World Motorsport Council found the Michelin-running teams guilty on two of five charges: failure to ensure they had suitable tires for the event and refusing to race by using the pit lane on every lap to avoid Turn 13. Said Martin Whitmarsh, CEO of McLaren Mercedes, what they did was "the only thing we could do... We don't regret what we did... We had no other choice." Peter Sauber, Team Principal/CEO of Sauber Petronas, stated "I believe we... the seven Michelin teams... did everything to drive in Indianapolis, but was impossible for us." A bunch of crap, in my opinion. They are appealing the FIA's two rulings against them. I think the teams should have bucked-up, run the race in as safe a manner as they could by either slowing for Turn 13 or pitting more frequently for tires. The FIA and the track owners should have had better communication with the fans. In the end, this situation had an immensely detrimental effect on F1 getting a decent foothold in the US market, a huge market that will not be easily weaned off the hypnotic left-turnings of NASCAR, IRL and CART. To try to claim driver safety was the issue is ridiculous, with all the safe options suggested by the FIA. Well, at least it gave Ferrari some points in the series.

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Last Modified May 2, 2008.


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