A Voice of Reason: Sane Views for a Crazy World

May 5, 2007

A Most Unusual Caucas of Christians Marches In

From the Baltimore Sun

This most unusual Christian coalition is between Evangelicals, fundamentalists, and many African American clergyman. Though there is often a wide gap between them, this and in some instances NCLB and/or vouchers really do make “The Saints Come Marching In!”

Proponents say the bill – similar to one the Senate is expected to pass in the next few weeks – is a moral imperative. But some Christians are depicting it as a “thought crimes” bill attacking 1st Amendment freedoms of speech and religion. A coalition of evangelical, fundamentalist and black religious leaders is mounting a furious assault on the bill, airing television ads and mobilizing members to stop its progress. President Bush has said he might veto the measure.

This is a tough one to call as it has equally compelling arguements for its passage and its rejection. I’m already using my legal eye on this bill, because I can’t see this one not eventually becoming a tune for the Supremes to sing. The level of support would make a veto interesting as this is a bill does cut across party lines, and enjoys broader support than the recent, and only second veto of the Bush Administration. Is this bill worth the political exchange of coin, must be on the President’s mind.

“This legislation strikes at the heart of free speech and freedom of religious expression,” said Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition. “Statements critical of sexual orientation or gender identity can be prosecuted if those statements were part of the motivation of a person committing a crime against a homosexual or cross-dresser.”

The bill’s supporters say that such an assertion is nonsense, and that a sermon could never be considered an inducement to violence unless it explicitly advocated it.

While to a reasonable mind, it is hard to imagine that any sermon would advocate hurting a person based on sexual preference, or any other factor, one must remember that there are many voices of hate using the guise of religion to score points. This is in no way to state that anywhere near a majority or plurality of the members of this crusade are of such view, but having been raised within the Evangelical/Fundamentalist/Charasmatic culture, I have heard a few interesting things in my time. I also have little faith in the statement made by proponents that they would go after free speech. Someone stating a position such as “homosexuals are condemned to hell” could be construed in the minds of some prosecuting a case, as a an intent to give spiritual license to promote giving such people a head start to that destination. As little as I trust the capacity of people to arrive to false conclusions based upon what “they heard”, I hold an equally distrustful view of giving the state license to link criminal intent to words of one party to actions of another party. I have great faith in the creativity of lawyers to create crime and intent, particularly prosecutors, as it is in their interest to do so.

Hoyer, House majority leader, said before the vote that the bill was necessary “because brutal hate crimes motivated by race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation and identity or disability not only injure individual victims, but also terrorize entire segments of our population and tear at our nation’s social fabric.”

Again, one must look at some of the crimes being committed, and happily the number of crimes such as those brought horrifically upon Matthew Sheppard and other victims, may not qualify as “entire segments” of the population, as asserted by Rep. Hoyer.

Opponents argue that the bill is un-American, in that it effectively creates a two-tiered justice system. In defining only certain groups as legal victims of hate, many argued, the law’s supporters were leaving out other categories of people deserving of protection, such as members of the military, pregnant women and the elderly. An amendment to add these groups to the hate crimes law failed in the House shortly before the bill’s passage.

Onemust wonder why these groups are excluded. Wouldn’t rape if a man said, I’d like to have a piece of that, or the attacking of American servicemen, after calling them slurs or spitting upon them, which has happened, in the former far too frequently, and in the latter, at a shockinginly rising rate, qualify as hatred based upon another factor?

“All violent crime is tied to hate in some way,”said Carrie Gordon Earll, a spokeswoman for Focus on the Family, another conservative group opposing the measure. “The Virginia Tech shooter said in his diatribe that he hated rich kids. Well, rich kids aren’t protected in this hate crime bill. If we’re going to start choosing categories of people for additional penalties when they’re victimized, where does the list end?”

This assertion, perhaps the best summation of the case against this law, and a case will come if it is signed into Federal law.

All violent crime should be punished harshly. The aspect of retribution is an inherent part of any legal system dating back to Hamurabbi. The right of the state to mete out punishment to show its collective ire at those who would dispense harm or other felonious acts towards “any” member of society must be restated. In a perfect world, Federal assets would be applied to all victims of violent felonies.

However, that doesn’t mean this legislation is not without merit, or unreasonable. If signed, and I don’t forsee doomsday for Free Speech if it does, I do see a very long and possibly negative Judicial Review forthcoming. Those Supremes tend to take the First Amendment pretty seriously, and if you remember your history, the Founding Fathers didn’t mind to let the fur fly, at least with regards to speech.

Advertisements

May 4, 2007

Pro Life, Pro Choice: Symbol Over Substance

One of the more controversial instances in a rather ho hum “debate”, which was really trying to squeeze talking points between questions that sometimes lacked great meaning, may have been former NYC Mayor and front runner, Rudy Giuliani hedging a pro-choice political position in a very pro-life atmosphere. Did the former mayor handle the matter deftly, the consensus seems to be probably not, but was his answer the wrong answer is another issue entirely.

The GOP has made it a point to put a pro-life face on the party since Ronald Reagan’s stance in 1976. This was used to contrast against GOP apparatus candidate the then unelected, President Ford. Reagan’s bold campaign, which did benefit slightly from the pro-life movement’s involvement in his campaign. By 1980, the pro-life movement was a force in the GOP and played a role in Ronald Reagan, who had governed California with policies which were anything but “pro-life”, but publicly stated the lingo that the movement wanted to hear, and propelled the issue to prominence within the party. Pitted against this, oh Lord forgive me for invoking this with the name of Reagan with this term, flip-flop, George Bush who was not as ardently pro-life, but had never cast a pro-abortion rights vote or signed pro-abortion rights legislation, was seen as “soft” on the issue, simply because he didn’t run it up a flagpole, and inferred there was room for reasonable disagreement.

Now while I don’t doubt that President Reagan may indeed have had a turning moment in his life, and I would argue that Mit Romney deserves the same benefit of the doubt, the actual impact of his support of the pro-life agenda – and that is not inherently a perjurative, since “everyone” has an agenda – was little of substance and a lot on symbol. You have to hand it to President Reagan, he knew how to get mileage on an issue, and nobody expected him to come out of California, home of the most progressive abortion rights laws, many signed by him, and overturn Roe v Wade. Talking the talk was enough, and has remained so for the past 27 years. This is not to say that the sincerity of GOP candidate’s opposition to abortion on demand is disingenuous, it is to say that despite their sincerity and placing it as a bona fides to be a “true Republican”, very little has been accomplished towards ending this practice despite it being a rallying cry for the political party that has held the executive office for nearly 20 of the past 28 years, and has had control of Congress for approximately 12 of those years. Simply put, there appears to be a lack of political will to push the symbol into substance.

One can look to the steps that have been made towards restricting or to at least stemming the tide of abortions taking place, although they still run about one million or more a year. Although the raw numbers are going up, the percentage rates seem to be decreasing, partly because of shifts in public sentiment towards unwed mothers raising children. However, abortion remains a relatively common practice in the nation, and despite gains such as the Hyde Amendment – which is very good legislation from the pro-life vantage point, and the recent SCOTUS affirming of a ban on partial birth abortions, which is the epitome of symbol over substance when one considers the miniscule numbers of abortions performed in this admittedly disturbing manner, and even the wrapping of nine of the GOP candidates firmly in the mantle of symbolicly being pro-life there is little to hope that much substance will be reaped from this act.

Which leads us to Roe v Wade, or the decision that fires the hearts of the pro-life movement much in the same way that the number 666 makes a old fashioned tent revival preacher tone up the occilation in his voice with the mandatory appearance of veins bulging from the neck. The real point is that Roe v Wade is symbol, and not really much in substance. If the decision is overturned, and the best path for the pro-life advocates is via the judiciary making decisions pushed forward by state legislatures which will take away the reach of the law, there is no reason to believe that abortion will be outlawed in the vast majority of states, nor that the number of abortions performed in the nation will go down in a drastic manner. Just as Roe v Wade served as a symbol for the women’s movement, rather than giving much substantive relief, as abortion was readily available in most areas, its overturning will be a symbol without much substance. If this issue were cereal, it would have snap and crackle, but lack pop.

So what is the big deal about having the pro-life mantle and wearing it proudly? What is so heretical about saying, as Rudy Giuliani did last night, that this is a highly personal decision that is ultimately up to the woman? If a woman wants to end a pregnancy, she will do so. Should the state make it easy by funding her desire, well the law says no, however, should the state governments “put obstacles” in the path in the exercise of this decision, would be fully in line with Federalism. However, the role of the Federal government advancing or putting up obstacles remains the area that will likely be debated. Perhaps this is just the instance the the 9th Amendment was framed, let the states fight it out, and keep it out of the pervue of the Feds. Although it is the “dream of dreams” that abortion will be nationally outlawed by the of the pro-life movement, and conversely the “sum of all fears” of the pro-abortion rights crowd, both sides need to face reality, that like it or not, abortion is a reality and an option that whether Federally deemed as woman’s right, or given protection by the states, is likely to remain among us. It would also be the reciprocal of a bad decision that allowed Roe v Wade, and if you understand math reciprocals have the exact qualities of their counterpart. It would likely be just as bad from a Constitutional framework as the 1973 decision.

A reasonable position is that probably both poles don’t have a monopoly on the truth. To assert this position as a human right, although it is the law, is hard to imagine to be the intent of the framers of the Constitution, but rest assured, women were having abortions, lots of them in colonial days. They just didn’t get Federal funds for it, nor have Congress stopping production of whatever plant women used in a “tea” to end an unwanted child, and this disinterest is likely the best position. Funny how the middle of the road, although hated by the poles, is where the vast majority of the public, and in this case,  Constitutional ground.

Survey USA Poll: Giuliani Beats Opponents in Debate

A poll of 317 viewers watching the debate were asked to rate the performance of the candidates:

Rudy Giuliani 30%
Mitt Romney 12%
John McCain 11%
Jim Gilmore 8%
Duncan Hunter 7%
Sam Brownback 4%
Mike Huckabee 4%
Tom Tancredo 4%
Ron Paul 2%
Tommy Thompson 2%

UPDATE: Drudge report is having an interactive poll, but it does allow for multiple voting, so pretty worthless.

May 3, 2007

Where You Stand Politically

So, you want to  know where you stand and how you can get that cool little icon like I have on my blog?

Well, just go to this site and take the quiz.  I would put no opinion if you are not sure about something.

Please post your results, and you get BIG TIME BONUS POINTS for reasonableness if you score Moderate, Conservative or Liberal!  I “hope” I have constructed a place where divergent views are allowed and where we gain from seeing each other’s perspective.  I also hope that sometimes someone will say, I see your point, or something like that.

So often politics are too personal, so maybe this would at least bring back agreeable discussion and dissent to the forefront.

I’m posting this on all topics to hopefully get maximum participation.

IF you wish to take the quiz it is here.

Thanks!

April 26, 2007

What is a Liberal; What is a Conservative.

This brilliant post came as a result of a discussion on Woman Honor Thyself about gay rights. I love discussions which make me think, and something that had been ticking away just came out. It was one of my replies to many of the comments of “the left says this”.

There are so many mentions of the “left” and the “right” on blogs. Since I think many would consider this a “Conservative” blog, though I’m sure many “Conservatives” would call this place a den of Marxism or radical leftism, I asked think, What exactly is the Right would be a most approproriate question.

Are you of the “right” if you are a traditional conservative in the mold of Barry Goldwater that wanted small government, few intrusions by the Federal into the state and high amounts of libertarianism thrown in?

or
Are you of the right when you want BIG government with HUGE intrusions of the Federal into daily life with low regard for libertarianism thrown in as shown by NCLB, The Patriot Act and “The War on Drugs”.

or
Are you of the left when you support such “big government” positions as shown by the three I mentioned and add The New Deal and some of The Great Society programs thrown in.

or

Are you of the right when you side with those who would say yes to expressions of religion in the public domain such as The Ten Commandments being on public displays, religious markers – including Wiccan due to a recent court ruling – being allowed to be put in government owned cemeteries for veterans at tax payer expenses (38 religions – now 39 are officially allowed)
or

Are you of the left when you feel that Wicca markers should be paid for by your tax dollars.
Are you of the Left or the Right when you contemplate the full circle that “Conservativism” has undergone when you look at the start of the GOP as a “more conservative” political organization dedicated to stopping the expansion of slavery, but shifted pretty radically left when Emancipation – was imposed on rebellious states, and then the Radical COngress of the 1860’s and 70’s were they left or right?

The terms themself are hard to monitor as being of the left/liberal or being of the right/conservative has little meaning anymore.

When I define myself as a Conservative by saying I like BIG Government with regard to The Patriot Act, NCLB, The “War on Drugs” and even other “liberal??” aspects of it such as The New Deal, Social Security, and The Great Society, I also realize that I am in favor of unions and worry about the ecology of the planet, and kind of like that the Feds stepped in and mandated civil rights in 1964 as well as intergration of public schools in 1952. Time to stop kidding myself, I don’t dislike “Big Government” so maybe I’m a lefty after all.

Maybe, what makes me self defined as a Conservative, is that I’m as HAWKISH as they come, well, except for the loonies who are to the right of me!

Such labels are impossible to uphold anymore in today’s hegemony of political stances. The question is which party puts up with diverging views better. And also, which one lines up with who you are at your core.

The Supremes Latest Tune: CFR Out the Door

Today the US Supreme Court heard arguements concerning campaign finance reform.  The questions and comments from the case seemed to break along ideological lines with more liberal members of the Court defending the legislation, while more Conservative members, particularly Justice Scalia may have tipped his hand when he said, “It is better to allow some bad speech . . . than to eliminate good speech that is justified.”

The particular issue at hand was a case that involved a pro-life series of advertisements which ran late in Wisconsin’s Senatorial campaign, and asked for those with questions to call Sen. Feingold (D-WI), the author of CFR legislation along with Sen. McCain (R-AZ).

For full details on the story click here.

CFR is not the favorite topic among many Conservatives who see it as an issue of free speech.  Candidly, I find that a smoke screen for the line towed by special interest groups and big lobbyist groups, who wish to peddle cash for influence of the political process.  In the long run, a free and open debate always benefits a democracy, but there is nothing “Free” about the types of tactics used by groups which have been speaking in political campaigns for certain causes.  If anything, the loopholes left in CFR legislation need to be tightened so that groups such as Moveon.org and Swiftboat veterans find it harder to get their message across.  Candidly, the negative advertising and false insinuations by many of these organizations need to be held to the same standards of libel as all speech.  If the allegations promoted by these organizations proves to be true, then it is fine that they are aired, however, if the allegations are proved in fact to be false, those who produce, traffic, and fund these advertisements should be punished harshly by torte law.

Free speech is one thing, there is nothing free with the types of ads that were run prior to CFR and by many of those which run using the loopholes of CFR.  Thus the adage of “The Golden Rule” is proven again.  Those with the gold, make the rules.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.