Saturday, September 17, 2016

All of this from just an ordinary guy, a millionaire football player

Recently in the news, a football star by the name of Colin Kaepernick, began making headlines for something other than his football accomplishments.  During the national anthem that start each football game, instead of standing with hand over his heart, he would either remaining seated or took to one knee. 

Kaepernick told the NFL reporting arm in an interview.  Here is a quote from that interview …
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

This raised holy hell with many people on both sides of the political spectrum.  The news media, social media outlets and conversations between friends all thought this was one of the most appalling things anyone could do.  (Well, there is burning the flag and stealing ice cream from a little girl, but I am not sure that is even worse.)

People stand at the playing of the national anthem for many reasons including it is just the customary thing that one does.  But, the reason people are expected to stand is to show respect for the song and the nation.

Many liberals are standing (a pun intended) with Kaepernick.  They support his actions as a way of bringing attention to Kaepernick’s claim of a promise not delivered to many people living in the country.  Conservatives are either mildly sarcastic about Kaepernick or out raged that he could have earned so much from the country and yet show this astonishingly amount of disrespect to the country at the same time. 

Also, recently, a 2-year-old photo of a wheel chaired old man trying to stand as President Obama entered the room surfaced.  President Obama told him he didn’t have to stand.  The old man said, but sir, you are the president.  It is customary for a person to stand when the President of the United States enters the room.  Not necessary for respect of the person, but for the respect of the office.

Again, different comments came from each side of the aisle.  Liberals cheered, expressing their favor of Obama and how we should respect him and the office.  I have heard some say that a few conservatives have said he didn’t have to if he didn’t like the office holder’s politics.

If the reader knows anything about this blog, you will know the blog supports consistency in most every action.  We are to be faulted if actions for one person is allowed and yet not for another, especially based on political view point.

Here is a clear case of in-consistency from the left and maybe the right.  Which is it, I ask, should people follow; custom and show respect or should they be allowed to pick and choose what and who they respect? 

In Kaepernick’s case, the liberals are showing support of the football player’s protest because it is a big theme of the left’s agenda currently.  So, it seems, anything that brings attention to that theme should be supported, regardless of the action.  Even though, standing for the playing of the national anthem has nothing to do with Kaepernick’s reasons for not standing.  It is only a customary action that shows respect for the county, not its politics or actions.

In the old man trying to stand for President Obama, the left; nearly exhausted at having to defend “their” president after being attacked for the entire time he has held office by the right, is showing support for this old man because of his respect for the office, to be read as showing support for Obama.  If this old man didn’t like his politics and didn’t stand would the left still support his right not to stand?

My apologies to the left, but I just don’t think so.

What we have here is the collision of custom and freedom of expression.  As a country we have to ask ourselves which trumps the other.  If we stuck with custom all this time, women would still be home bound and African Americans would still be picking cotton among other customs.  But, in each case, it took someone to break custom; a woman working out side of the home and an African American escaping his kidnappers and seeking freedom; to bring about some kind of change.  In each case the freedom of expression won out and made a better America by breaking with custom.

While I will continue to stand at the playing of the national anthem and I will certainly stand if the President of the United States is present, and especially if it is President Obama, I do support those who wish to break custom to make a personal statement.  Custom is a limiting and socially controlling belief. 

Freedom of expression on the other hand, allows us to find a way to stand on our own.

All of this from just an ordinary guy, a millionaire football player.  

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The choice is clear

This upcoming presidential election is reinforcing a strong belief that The Responsible Community should not support a personality for the office.  The Community should vote for the issues that best serve the Community.

If the Community was to support a candidate, there would be such trouble.  While no personality is perfect, (Obama is close for me) both are so far off of perfect that they wouldn’t even make the top ten or twenty. 

Hillary Clinton has made so many just pure dumb mistakes in her career that it amazes me.  At the very beginning of her introduction to American politics as first lady, she was under fire.  I don’t know about you, but if I knew people where keeping a very close eye on me, I would do everything close to the book. 

As for Donald Trump, he is the dark side of America.  He uses the people and their thinking of every dark, evil corner to advance his own self.  What is worse, I think, he is not only using the dark side, he also believes in much of it.

So picking the worse of two evils is what many people think this election is all about.  But, if we take the focus off the personalities and look at the parties and their differences, we would get a better picture of how to vote.

There is what is commonly called the left and the right.  On the left we have abortion rights, LBGT rights, marriage equity, religious freedom without religious bigotry, we may have a chance of a strong national health care system, support of unions, a taxation policy that rewards real work and an education system that works for every deserving student.

On the right, we have no abortion rights, no marriage equity, religious bigotry, a gun policy that is out of control, anti-union policies, a return to pure market driven health care, taxation that rewards those that don’t work and an education system that returns to the fifties when only the elite went to school.

During presidential elections, it isn’t just the winner, it is the effect it has on the down ticket candidates.  In many cases, but not all, the winning party improves their standing in the house and the senate. 

With that in mind, if Clinton wins the election, it is likely that more seats will be filled in the house and senate with those that support the issues on the left.  If Trump wins, more seats will be filled by those that support the issue on the right.

To me, it is a simple choice to vote for Clinton.  Not because I support the candidate, but because I support the position that her party takes on the issues that are important to me.  

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Drug testing at any level without evidence is wrong

Drug testing individuals that apply for welfare in three counties in Michigan have turned up zero results, as in, no individual tested positive.  None.  Zero.  Nada.  And of course, all the other words that can be used for meaning absolutely no one.

The outcry about drug testing comes from many groups.  The liberals, the anti-discrimination crowd and other left leaning government watch dog groups.  Opinions from the groups that I have read about claim that it is unfair to test people who are in desperate need for assistance for their own health and wellbeing as well as their families.

I say bunk.  That’s right, bunk.

Bunk, as in, it may be unfair, but that should not be the reason welfare applicants should not be tested for illegal drug use.  Being unfair is not a good enough reason to stop anything.  Life is unfair, as the expression goes, so live with it.

It is wrong on three different levels.  First, there is no evidence that the applicant has done anything wrong.  That means that the government can’t search a person’s body or belongings unless there is both real evidence that illegal drugs are being used and that the evidence has been presented in open court, where, the court rules that the evidence is worthy of a search warrant.
Then, and only then, can the individual be tested.  By the way, if the test comes back positive, the individual should be prosecuted for possession.  But, not deny benefits to any related individuals that are dependent.

The second level is that all individuals living in the country are to be treated as equals.  If the state thinks that individuals that are appling for welfare should be drug tested, then everyone who receives any type of assistance from the state should be tested.  People that live in a community where police and fire protection are provided should be drug tested.  The owners and executives from companies that receive tax breaks or other types of assistances from local and state agencies should be tested.  Otherwise we could select any socially hated class of people and start asking them to get drug tested.  Or, why stop there?  Let’s started walking into their home and check to see if anything is illegally going on.  It could be any immigrant that is living in the country, legal or not.  After all, an invasion of privacy in one area can be used to justify the invasion of privacy in other areas.

Of course, we could not do any of that because of the first level.

On the third level, the recipient of the benefits provided by the state, whether it is welfare or any other program, is that people have a right to it.  “Right?” you say, “where does it say they have rights in this area.”  Maybe not in the Constitution but certainly the law.  If a benefit program is created by an act of congress, at any level, and the guidelines of eligibility are outline, anyone who fits those guidelines has a right to the benefits if they so choose to apply for them.  Denying that right based on illegal search by the governing body is unconstitutional.

Whatever the rights or responsibilities are for the individual, others related and depended on the individual should not be punished.  Any individual that does anything wrong from murder to the use of illegal drugs should be treated as an individual not as a group.  The individual should be prosecuted, not the family.  Because a dad may use drugs illegally, does it mean that the mother and children are to be denied benefits?  The thinking, or so those that pushed for this legislation want us to believe, is that if the individual is doing something illegal, he or she will refrain from doing it so that his or her family can receive benefits.  As a side bar, that just might be the case here.  But, that individual should be denied, and not others related to him or her.

The reality here isn’t trying to weed out drug users in the system (no pun intended), it is to reduce the cost of welfare in the state budget to enable dollars to go elsewhere, like welfare for big business.  It is also to make good political public relations with the supporting constituents of the law makers that back the program.

The better effort by the state would be to increase the benefits paid to individuals so they can make time for educational programs, to provided educational opportunities, to provide real job training in fields that really matter to an economy that attract business, to ask the recipients to take responsibility for their success, to provide health care and ask for accountability from the recipients.  

Where are we going to find money for that you say?  

While it is a matter for another post, the money that was spent for this program would be the first place to start.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Supporting Constitutional rights must be consistent

Conservatives in this country have unflagging support of gun rights.  They all lean on the constitution as guaranteeing that right.  It seems that no matter the situation, people should have the right to openly carry guns. 

For those of us that support reasonable gun control laws, we are vilified for expressing our point of view.  The Constitution is waved in our faces like it is some kind of stone table sent by God himself.  The Constitution has rights expressed in it and any suggestions that we violate those rights is sacrilege.

My personal view of Constitution is a complicated issue.  I do believe that is some form, the Constitution does guarantee citizens of the United States the right to own guns.  This right was not meant to be blindly followed as is with all other rights.    

The issue of gun rights has gone so far as the Governor of Ohio, John Kasich saying he has no authority to suspend the open carry law in the state for the Republican convention.  It is a matter of state and federal constitutional guarantees.  This after a request from law enforcement no less, asked him to.  Kasich, like most conservatives, believe that no matter the situation, people have the right to pack a 6 gun, or an AK47 with a huge magazine.

But, when it comes to other rights in the Constitution, they don’t so strongly support.  Take, for example, innocent until proven guilty.  While those words are not mentioned specifically in the Constitution, it is clear from a reading of the document, especially about due process, that people are not to be held accountable unless due process has taken place. 

Well, in the case of Hillary Clinton, due process has taken place.  The FBI investigated Clinton, and did not find grounds to prosecute the would be president.  But many conservative members of Congress have tried every maneuver to change that decision by the Director of the FBI.  They went as far as asking that when she is nominated to the run for president by her party she should not be briefed on national security issues like every other presidential nominee has been for centuries.  The reasoning?  That to allow Clinton to be briefed it would present a clear and present danger to our national security.

The reasoning may or may not be true.  But, given the situation in the country right now and the approaching Republican and Democratic conventions, not suspending the open carry law for a few days in a specific area of Cleveland I think presents a greater danger than security briefs to the presidential candidates. 

Think about it.  If I was someone who was plotting with others to reign terror down on the Republican Convention for nominating a candidate that wants to ban Muslims from coming to this country what would I do?  I am not even able to write the words that I am thinking, but I think you know what I mean.  

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, get off my land!

Citizens for Constitutional Freedom lead by Ammon Bundy, have taken over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday, January 2, 2016.  They have taken the action because they believe two follow ranchers, farmers and citizens have been unfairly treated by the federal government.  The two compatriots were convicted of setting fire to public land to cover up their poaching on the land.  The two compatriots, who are now convicted felons and serving their time in prison, said they did it to burn off invasive species on the property.  (It is public land and not their decision to make if it was the real reason they set the fire.  So, that means, they are arsonists and it doesn't matter the reason.)

According to Wikipedia, the "Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was created in 1908 by a proclamation from President Theodore Roosevelt, [Republican] under law which allowed the president to declare game preserves on federal public land. The refuge was named after the Malheur River." (By the way, the river's name comes from a French word meaning misfortune.  This is will the group's misfortune.) Not only is this a public game reserve, declared by President Roosevelt in 1908, the land was held by the public before it was declared a refuge.  Currently, the property, by an act of congress, is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  This is clearly public land owned by all United States citizens collectively.  We, collectively, have agreed through acts of congress and many elections since 1908 (and before) that this was property is to be operated by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the safe, legal and peaceful use by all. 

According the website for the refuge, the area is closed until further notice.  A notice on the site states, "An unknown number of armed individuals have broken into and occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge facility near Burns, Oregon. While the situation is ongoing, the main concern is employee and public safety; we can confirm that no federal staff were in the building at the time of the initial incident. We will continue to monitor the situation for additional developments."

It is not my concern why the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom are occupying the property.  Their reasons is not a subject for this blog post.  Unless they have a permit from the managing agency, or are the owners of the property, they are there illegally.  They should be removed immediately.  The authorities should make every effort to end the siege peacefully.  Although, force may, after all other options have been attempted, be required.  It is more important in the end that the individuals that are involved are prosecuted for their actions and, if convicted, be given the appropriate punishment.

The guiding principle is this, property owned by an individual or a community must be protected and be available to for the quite enjoyment of the owners.  In this case, the owners are the citizens of the United States.  Right now, according to the statement on the website, none of us are able to quietly enjoy the refuge.  So, the occupiers must leave.

But, if you think this discussion ends here, you would be in error.  Because this principle needs to be applied to all regardless of the cause.  As stated above unless the property is owned by them, or, they have a permit for its use in this manner, it doesn't matter what their reasons are for occupying the property.  The only principle is that they are there illegally.  Well, so are the Occupiers of Wall Street when they camped out in parks to draw attention to their cause.  So are rioters that burned buildings and destroyed businesses over this last summer because of police action they disagreed with.  To be balanced here, Black Lives Matter did condemn the violence and understood that it hurt their cause.  Perhaps, it could be said that the riots are their "malheur."

Civil disobedience has a long, and perhaps honorable, history in our nation.  It was indeed part of the actions that lead to the Revolution against England.  The "Tea Party" that took place in Boston harbor was civil disobedience.  The people of the Americas had no voice in the laws that dictated their actions.  This made their civil disobedience justified.

Currently in the United States we all have a voice in the laws that are made.  We have a separation of branches of the government. One of the branches is the Supreme Court.  If the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom are unhappy with the laws that one branch made; Congress; and another enforces; Executive; then sue and take it to the third branch; The Supreme Court.  But, if they rule against you, as they have in many contested cases against public lands held by the Federal government, you must accept that decision.  Not just take land that isn't yours.

The people from Citizen for Constitutional Freedom are trespassers.  I wonder how they would react if I decided to pitch a tent on their land, that by the way they do own and control by law, with guns and said I am not leaving till you leave my land (collectively with the citizens of the United States), the refuge?

So, in the end, Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, get off my land!