Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

… against all enemies, foreign and domestic …

I’ve used the words in my title before. They’re in the oath of enlistment, and even before I left the military I started to wonder if that oath has any actual meaning. My conclusion? No.

I never met an enemy to our constitution in Iraq. I’m not even sure what a foreign enemy to the constitution really entails beyond perhaps an invading force seeking, explicitly, to impose their rule over the United States. No such enemy existed in Iraq. One could make a very weak, and logically unstable, argument that such an enemy existed in Afghanistan but poking such an argument full of factual holes would be easier than lighting a half-empty barrel of gasoline on fire with a blowtorch. I was, however, ordered by the President of the United States and the officers appointed over me to deploy to Iraq (twice) based entirely on fiction. That fiction was supported by a majority of Americans. There is no room to point fingers at any individual party regardless of how Congress voted. The majority of the allegedly empowered people in the United States supported our invasion of Iraq. Period.

That leads to the second key part of the oath of enlistment. It says there must be defense, by those who swear into the armed services, against domestic enemies. Domestic enemies? I’m going to take that to mean groups within the United State who wish to circumvent the constitution or otherwise dilute its position in our government. Those groups have certainly been encountered. The most prolific happen to bear the titles of United States Senate and United States House of Representative. The senators and representatives within those two bodies were elected by the people to act as their representation in government. Instead, they act with no regard for their stated powers or limitations as defined by Article I of the Constitution of the United States of America, or the subsequent amendments. They act with no regard for the often vocal will of their constituents. Instead of acting as a representative body, they meet alone to decide what they will do and what they will not do. There is no room for individuality; the party line is rarely crossed regardless of the very clear will of the people. They act, as our founders feared, as if they are better than the public and are alone in their unique ability to determine any appropriate course for the nation.

Ah, but we have checks and balances right? On paper perhaps, but the Supreme Court does nothing to check the abuse of powers by Congress nor does the President. For as long as I’ve been alive, and indeed for the entire history of this nation, it tends to be the President requesting that Congress circumvent the constitution. So, my question is this: why are there thousands of troops deployed around the globe fighting a non-existent foreign enemy to the constitution but none in the halls of Congress fighting the very real domestic enemies who are busy bickering about who gets to assault the constitution more this year?

There is no easy answer to that question, and frankly deploying an entire division to D.C. won’t change anything. The real problem is the people in this country do nothing to exercise their powers. Oh, sure, people vote. People vote for the same establishment that mocks them every two years. People do not hold their representatives accountable. Most people don’t even bother to educate themselves on what it is their representatives are supposed to be doing. The vast majority of the voting population in this country has never even attempted to read Article I. As such, the people have given up their power entirely – and that is why the out-of-control government is shutting down. Congress failed because the people allowed it to fail. My oath had no meaning because the domestic enemy destroyed the constitution while it ordered its defenders off to fight fictional beasts for decades – and nobody noticed.

Repeal DADT

It should go without saying that a government supposedly based on freedom and equal rights has no business making discrimination an official policy. Yet here it must still be said repeatedly. It’s possible that this is because nobody in the government actually listens to those they are meant to represent. It’s equally possible that this is because nobody in the government actually believes the document they swear to uphold has any value or meaning. Neither of those possibilities make it right to continue discriminatory policy.

So long as a soldier does what a soldier is meant to do, namely live up to the oath of enlistment, matters of sexual orientation ought not matter at all. Nor should matters of religious preference, political affiliation, or any other matter of personal opinion be of any concern.

Supporters of keeping DADT alive like to claim that unit cohesion will be damaged by allowing the openly homosexual to serve. That might be the single most baseless claim I’ve ever heard in my life. Unit cohesion is probably damaged more by the current deployment cycle, in support of wars in which few can identify a single tangible goal, than it could ever be by even a full squad of homosexuals with neatly accessory-adorned body armor.

I knew homosexual soldiers, both male and female – support and combat arms, when I was in the Army. They conducted themselves like professionals. They followed orders, and often exceeded the standards set forth for the completion of their tasks and missions. On the other side of things I pushed for UCMJ action against more than a few completely useless heterosexual soldiers. Why on Earth is there a policy wherein a good soldier can be rapidly shown the door out of a service he or she both wants and deserves to be a part of based only on sexual orientation yet it’s nearly impossible to get rid of so much of the trash that makes its way into the ranks?

To invoke a bit of pop-culture, Lady Gaga probably said it best here, ““If you are not committed to perform with excellence as a U.S. soldier because you do not believe in full equality, then go home.” I really could not agree with her more. The one thing I’d say is that she needs to urge more than just three Republican senators to support the repeal of an insane policy – she needs to urge every single member of Congress to abolish the nonsensical policy once and for all.

Obama Administration Still Mistreating Alaskan WW2 Veterans

In early October I was made aware, by a fellow member of All American VFW Post 9182, that the Obama Administration has elected to throw 26 Alaskan WW2 veterans under the proverbial bus. I have followed the story since then, as have a few members of the media, and am most displeased by the lack of positive action on the part of the Obama Administrating in correcting this despicable act. Since this absolutely makes my blood boil, I will leave the fine art of crafting an appropriate statement to those better able to do so.

Click here to read the All American VFW Post 9182 Press Release regarding this matter, and learn what you can do to help restore the pensions of 26 elderly veterans who fought for American interests, and their homelands, long before I would ever wear the uniform of an American soldier.

The Death of a Legend

A long post was planned, but I’ve not got the energy to go through it all right now. The Constitution is dead. It died a long, long time ago. Only in the past month or so have I come to realize this interesting piece of information. Essentially, I took an oath (twice) to support and defend something that doesn’t actually bear any relevance today.

Article 1 defines the legislature, what the legislature can do, and what the legislature cannot do. Looking back at “key issues” over the course of the last several decades reveals that Article 1 is irrelevant.

Article 2 defines the executive, see above.

Article 3 defines the judiciary, and again we see large irrelevance.

Even the much vaunted Bill of Rights is but a shell of meaningless words today.

All of that said, I’m not sure why I still react to political ploys as if the Constitution still play some role in the way our government works. If you do believe in the Constitution, and the principles therein, you have no representation in government. It’s an interesting place to be in the land of the “free.”

Health Care Reform… wait, what?

There is no article, nor amendment, within the Constitution of the United States of America that gives Congress, the President, or the Supreme Court any legitimate power to exercise in this domain. That the debate, if you wish to call it that, continues to rage is a shocking testament to the fact that the document members of each aforementioned body swear to uphold bears no meaning on the course of American life today. What does that have to do with health care? Let’s make a little comparison.

There are guidelines as to exactly how our nation’s government is meant, or even allowed, to function. These guidelines are relatively simple to understand, having been written largely in plain English. To further simplify matters, they are not excessive in number. Surprisingly enough, in the face of such simplicity, the highly non-partisan guidelines of the Constitution are almost entirely ignored by all three branches of our government. These are the same people proposing to reform a system their own actions brought to ruin. The guidelines they seek to impose, while not even within their rights to legislate, are not simple to understand and are tremendous in number. Does this sound even remotely similar to a recipe for success to, well, anyone?

Proponents of the current House bill take great joy in climbing to the top of the hill and shouting that the free-market solution has failed us. This makes me pause and think, “What free-market solution?” There is no free-market in the United States. Pharmaceuticals, insurance companies, doctors, nurses, and laboratories are far from free within their own markets. What makes these people so certain that increasing bureaucracy within these same markets will cure the problems?

Cash For Clunkers

Someone please explain how this is meant to jumpstart the auto-industry and/or economy. The requirements to trade-in remove affordable vehicles from the pool of available automobiles forever. Most of the vehicles that qualify for the $3500-$4500 rebate still generate fairly high levels of debt for the purchaser (and government). Since I’m pretty sure the environmental aspects of the program are a waste of breath, I’ll just question the economic.

If this is meant to help the suffering auto-industry (ie: ours), shouldn’t American manufacturers have some qualifying vehicles people are actually interested in purchasing? It doesn’t strike me as something highly beneficial to the American auto-industry to have the government subsidizing the widening of the gap between foreign and domestic auto sales. From the outside, it looks like this is doing exactly what we do not want to be doing – generating tons of debt. The government does not have money, so every dime they put up is ultimately debt. You can call it “savings” if you want, but that requires you to ignore simple things like “definitions” of “words.” As that debt is ultimately the tax-payer’s, those that use the credits really get hit twice – once on the government books, and again with their new car payment.

If the savings are meant to come from the gas pump I’m going to have to go ahead and raise my trusty BS flag. Right now my truck gets a lovely 16mpg. I don’t drive it often, but that’s because I’d rather be on my motorcycle. Assuming I drive 300mi per week, and gas is $3 per gallon, I spend about $225 a month on fuel. Now, if I did the same thing in a vehicle that gets 30mpg, I’d spend about $120 a month. Moving vehicles is sure to save me $105 per month, right? Wrong.

My truck is 12 years old, even full coverage insurance on the vehicle is less than $100 per month. With my excellent driving record, and my freedom from the under-25yr-old-males-are-insane insurance bracket, full coverage (often required for financed vehicles) on even a new subcompact is over $200 per month. The difference in insurance premiums alone just killed all but a cheeseburger’s worth of the “savings.” We’ve not even touched on the part where my truck is paid for, and a new car comes with payments.

Let’s say that by some miracle you get a car, after the $4500 rebate, for $10,000. Then lets say they give you 0% financing for 5yrs. You’re going to pay $167 per month for five years. You’re now spending $167 per month more than you were before, fuel savings or not. Even if your insurance premiums stay dead even, the payments exceed the fuel savings by over $40.

It seems that in the last few years we’ve seen several economic sectors explode in the face of rising consumer debt (and over-extension). Is the auto-industry somehow exempt from this? If you couldn’t afford the vehicle without the $4500, can you really afford it with the money? Or is that just enough to bring your payments down to the level where eating Ramen and SPAM three times a day is still possible? Did Congress consider any of the above when they authored and passed the bill? I say all of this as one that was actually interested in the program, and was close to turning the aforementioned truck in for CARS credit. Then I did the math.

Easily Distracted

With so much “change” taking place in Washington, I have to wonder how matters of such little importance as state-level politicans’ stupid mistakes even make the stage. There are bills in both the House and the Senate that deserve the attention and scrutiny. The media are, sadly, far too focused on who sleeps with whom to pay any real attention to matters important to the future of the “American Dream.” This makes no distinction of political ideology. The pursuit of happiness, and the ability to lead meaningful life (though deciding what a meaningful life even is requires deeply philosophical discussion) in which you are able to enjoy all liberties afforded by the Constitution are threatened subsection after subsection in bill after bill.

Somehow, this passes by the public without notice. Some point to the “liberal media”, but even the “liberal media” ignore encroachment on the liberal ideology. While I find it hilariously laughable that anyone can say that “liberal bias is a myth” with a straight face, real stories do tend to be covered about as objectively as humans, a quite subjective species, can cover a story. The gatekeepers, from reporters to editors, ultimately decide what is important enough for public consumption. Liberal or not, those gatekeepers fail us all by ignoring the government actions that matter, instead focusing on packaged drivel that does not matter.

Lest anyone get confused about the rightful claim to virtue, I invite you to a harsh reality: Democrats and Republicans are, as surprising as this may seem, human. There is no party active in our government today that can claim to have upheld family values, civil liberties, peace, justice, or the Constitution throughout history. Without fail, everytime the direction of politics in the United States changes, the mudslinging overshadows real business.

Democrats, we get it. You are not the only party to regularly engage in extramarital affairs. Republicans, we get it. You are not the only party that panders to your base with undeliverable promises. Both parties, we get it. When your bases calls you out on a forgotten campaign promise, you shift responsibility elsewhere.

People, and this is not limited to citizens of the United States, wake up and smell the manure. We are smack in the middle of an age in which your phone can access more information than even existed at the height of the Roman Empire. Start accessing that information. Learn something. When that happens on a large scale, “yes we can” have some “change you can believe in.”

Quick Summer Update

Things have been fairly stagnant around here lately, mostly because I’ve been moving about quite a bit in the weeks since I finished finals. Right now I am waiting on acceptance letters from both the University of Texas at Arlington and the University of Houston. Neither of them seem to have developed an admissions system that is in any way efficient. There is hardly any point in working quickly on your end. Rest assured they will move as slowly as possible on their end.

I would check things more often, but one of my youngest sister’s friends spilled water on my Macbook Pro. Making life quite a bit more complicated for me than needed. You see, a photographer without a computer on which to process photos can’t do a whole heck of a lot of work. I suppose if I had any film equipment I’d be in the game. Perhaps that’s a good excuse for me to purchase some darkroom equipment, so I can at least shoot B&W 35mm (I do actually have a film EOS body) when my digital world is turned upside-down. At any rate, the MBP appears fixable, and I’ve ordered a 24″ iMac to serve as my main processing machine. I will keep the MBP for mobility, but I’m going to do the majority of my processing at a desk anyway, thus the desktop.

My younger brother Phillip graduated from Louisiana Tech on Saturday, so I drove out there to see that (and to help him and his future wife move to Little Rock).

Longest. Graduation. Ever.

Bobby Jindal was the speaker for the commencement, and gave a pretty good speech. I don’t believe that he’s actually convinced of a single thing he said, but he’s a politician so that’s to be expected. Jindal strikes me very much like a Republican Obama. Pretty words, no substance. A few people in the crowd remarked that Jindal will be our next President. In my lifetime, I’d like to hope there’s potential for an actual “change” instead of this vicious cycle of fail in which we seem to be stuck.

In other news, you know that problem I was having attaching to people I met post-war? Seems to be resolved. I don’t know if it was just time that fixed it, or the meditating, or what. Things aren’t crystal clear where all of that is concerned, I’m just pretty happy to know at least that part of me isn’t “broken” anymore.

Oh, this wouldn’t be complete without noting that I no longer have that T/C Encore in .260 Remington. That rifle has been replaced with a Savage 110 in .270 Winchester. Soon, I will put some glass on it and go zero a 130gr load.

Also, someone feel free to buy me the Canon 5DMK2.

A little news for the night.

Click here for a piece I hope is accurate in its predictions about the direction President Obama is likely to take with his upcoming SCOTUS appointment.

Click here for some politics related to the issue above.

Click here for a glimpse into Justice Souter.

Click here for talk on opening the internet in censorship-heavy nations (Iran, China and others).

Change indeed

Solidly in the ballpark of the 100 day mark, we have indeed started to see real change. This change causes some great room for worry, at least from the perspective of one sworn to defend the Constitution.

Senator Arlen Specter has changed party, leaving the Republicans and joining the Democrats. While Specter has stated that he will not be an automatic vote, the balance of power has certainly shifted such that a filibuster has become incredibly unlikely. Equally worrisome is the announcement that Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter, a 1990 appointment by President George H. W. Bush, intends to retire.

Why do these moves, by two single members of two different branches of the federal government, provide room for worry? Each change ultimately results in a lack of effective opposition. Such a lack of opposition has proven, time and time again, to be greatly detrimental to workings of this country. Left unchecked both parties have, on several occasions, crippled the United States. The Executive Branch is now steered entirely by a welfare-liberal administration. Counting the two conservative cabinet-level members as balance would be foolish at best. The Legislative Branch has come to a similar fate, with both houses controlled by the welfare-liberal ideology. Following the first Supreme Court appointment opportunity to be given to President Barack Obama, the rulings of the Supreme Court of the United States will also likely follow the welfare-liberal ideology (rather than the text to which it should adhere).

Now, much can be said about the path that ultimately led to this end. The Republican Party has been on a self-destruct course for several years, ignoring their constituency at every turn. As it stands now the leadership is hardly worthy of the title, and the party stands fractured at every level. There exists no major platform from which one may push for a return to the principles of a conservative (or classical-liberal) movement. While the Democratic Party is by no means a cohesive unit with a singular and clear focus, the party is far more united in purpose and intent. Combine that with a leadership immensely popular within their voter base, and you have a strong platform from which you may push forward a welfare-liberal agenda.

Where we go from here will be interesting, though I fear without meaningful oversight the potential for wrong turns to result in catastrophe has risen exponentially.

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