Thursday, February 18, 2010

Walking the Conservative Plank

From an NPR story on a conservative conference:
"The Republican Party has abandoned conservative values" and from someone else "It needs to come back to the conservative planks, which make up the platform"
So my question is - what is a conservative value and/or plank? Where to look for answers......Google!

First one up - not a paid advertisement mind you but the very first one listed" reading through.......blah... blah... liberals bad....conservatives better...blah....blah.....OK there it is...I think these are values (verbatim by the way):

  1. Conservatives love facts (not sure if that is really a value but, well ok, its a start)
  2. Government - which I assume means the federal one - should run the military and other related protective services. (OK - aggreed)
  3. Private sector better (not sure what they mean by "capitalist free")
  4. Liberal values must be expressed privately.
  5. If everyone is free how can you force a large amount of people to accept freedom? (Say what? So a value is to make sure some are not free?)

OK, so.....that's it? Those are the values we need to come back to? Next! Ahhhhh finally something spelled out.
  1. placing ideas and principles above personal desire, weaknesses, fears and regrets
  2. a never-ending quest for the truth, despite obstacles based on emotion and personal experience, and spreading such truths for the benefit of all
  3. recognizing and utilizing the benefits of competition and hard work
  4. emphasizing charity, with its unexpected benefits, rather than compulsory tax-and-spend programs
  5. teaching self-help rather than dependence on government and others
  6. a devotion to the principle of justice
  7. supporting self-defense
  8. recognizing the media for its bias, bullying, deception.
  9. frugality and efficiency
  10. rejecting the deification of government officials
  11. giving those in authority due respect, but not to the point of accepting orders or assertions that are contrary to logic or morality
  12. downplaying significance of wealth, disparities in wealth, and materialism in general
  13. emphasizing self-reliance and being able to keep the fruits of one's labor
  14. not complaining, and instead taking practical action to improve one's situation
  15. emphasizing self-restraint against hurtful activities
  16. emphasizing humility and open-mindedness instead of arrogant certainty about one's own views
  17. recognizing the power of the free market
  18. understanding that a rising tide lifts all boats, e.g. tax cuts benefit all.
  19. self-control as opposed to a self-indulgent search for instant gratification of desires.

OK, so most of these are the same things most folks want/can agree to - regardless of wheter you call yourself a conservative or not. So which ones bear a little further review.......I choose these, which I'll give my take on my next few postings.
  • a devotion to the principle of justice
  • recognizing the media for its bias, bullying, deception.
  • frugality and efficiency
  • downplaying significance of wealth, disparities in wealth, and materialism in general[11]
  • emphasizing humility and open-mindedness instead of arrogant certainty about one's own views
  • self-control as opposed to a self-indulgent search for instant gratification of desires.
I was going to add the "rising tides" one but that one can go both ways depending on how its played out. OK, so now I can sleep better knowing what these values are and how some tea loving Americans are trying to get them back.

"emphasizing humility and open-mindedness instead of arrogant certainty about one's own views" Really? - that's one of their values? No, serious?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Wow me!

I am starting to hone in on what is good, what is mediocre, what is poor, and what is pure schlock. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then it is my criteria that quantifies it. I have struggled with mediocrity not of my own doing, although I am guilty of allowing it to happen. My wife and kids often razz me about being "old" when I complain about something being poor when they found it good. But I am pretty sure I am a good judge in what really is worthy of being called good.

I know it when I see it and I don't want to ever produce or be fooled by smoke and mirrors, hype, or lack of true effort. So if you asked me what I consider good, well Ill point you to Pink's performance at the 2010 Grammys. It takes a lot of skill to perform, and each and every performer up there worked hard. But there is a difference between the average performance of Taylor Swift and that performed by the more entertaining Lady Gaga. And there is a huge difference between Lady Gaga and Pink. Pink made the jump from same ol' dance and sing to art. She raised the bar, made it different, made it beautiful in my opinion.

So when I don't laugh at the schlock passed off as comedy, yawn at movies, or roll my eyes at the next big thing, don't look at me like there is something wrong. It isn't in the same league of what others can do. It's nothing new or innovative - been there, heard and seen that already. Next!

There is a difference between performance and art. If you want to be mediocre keep doing what you do, never change, and copy the next guy. Otherwise wow me.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

16 days did not a rapist make

Sometimes you have to wonder if they really think before they react. On NPR this morning "Calif. Prison Early-Release Program Stirs Controversy":

The first sign of trouble came last week when the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department released 22-year-old Kevin Peterson, who has a record of violence, after he had served only half of a four-month sentence for violating his probation. Peterson was out for less than a day when he was arrested for attempted rape. Sheriff John McGinness said he had no choice but to release Peterson 16 days early. what you are telling me is that had you waited 16 more days this........:
  1. Would not have happened
  2. Would still have happened but the Sheriff would not be at fault
  3. Would still have happened but California Lawmakers would not be blamed
  4. Would not be an issue because no one would have even known about it
16 days is early release? 16 days would have made the difference between rape and no rape? Complete rehabilitation was almost at hand but Arnold got a bit premature and let out a man with "a history of violence" 16 days early. This is supposed to be such an outrage not because he committed this crime but because he was released early and committed it.

News flash, guys with a violent past, guys who violate parole often will, more than not, go out and committ another crime. They don't call them repeat offenders because they have gas. 16 days had nothing - nothing - to do with this. Had he been kept five months instead of the four and committed the rape within 24 hours of release would we still be having this discussion? No.

The fault is not in early release, the fault is in the lack of control and concern this Peterson guy has for his fellow human beings. Better judgment may have been warranted in this case, and as often is the situation, the law is followed to the letter and not to what is best. 16 days was not too early, 16 days was not the issue, 16 days is not the Sheriff's fault, Sacramento's fault, or the Governor's fault.

16 days, 32, 64, 128.......unless you give all prisoners life without parole for any crime they commit you will always have some that go out and commit a crime. They never learn, don't care, are stupid, or lack good judgment and in some form or fashion will commit another crime 24 hours or 20 years from their release. Does it really matter? Its a crap shoot when you release someone regardless of how much time they have spent locked up. But like craps there are ways to place your bets that reduce your risk and increase your success. That's the issue that needs to be addressed, not 16 days.

But no, 16 days allows the "throw the key away" crowd the ability to say "see! this is what happens!" And the news, even NPR, picks up and runs with it never illuminating the real issue at hand. If we are to be a compassionate society then we must forgive. However, we must also take into consideration public safety. There is no crystal ball to look into to determine who will and who will not commit a crime once released. There will always be errors unless we want to be error free in which case you had better pray you never get locked up because you aint never going to come out. Win for society, win for the victim, win for the lawmakers! The only person that losses is the criminal, you know guys like Martin Luther King, Mohandas Gandhi, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash....

You get the picture.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

And Liberty and Justice for all....except THEM!

A few days ago The Eagle ran a commentary by James Jay Carafano called Military Tribunals Work Just Fine. Dr. Carafano makes the statement that AG Eric Holder "could not come up with one compelling argument why trials in New York were superior to military tribunals in Guantanamo." I have not researched as to if this is true or not, but lets assume Mr. Holder was unable to answer. So I'll do it for him.

Lets go back.....way the Constitution. You know that silly piece of paper that - like Jesus - we tend to use only when it suits us and ignore when it gets in our way. Here is the thing I want to make perfectly clear - I take it ALL - the stuff I like and the stuff I don't like. That to me is what it means to be an American. I subscribe to the document because I see merit in what it was attempting to bring about - it is it's goodness and morality and humanity that I find worthy of my devotion.

Now I am no history buff, lawyer, constitutional scholar, or well read thinker. I do, however, know how to read - and - I do have an idea of what the Founders were trying to put together. Its that "more perfect Union" thing in the preamble to the constitution. It is beautiful, elegant, all encompassing, and a testament that these guys understood what it would take to "secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity."

So when some, Like Dr. Carafano, rail against the normalcy of our justice system they are, in fact, railing against what our founders felt was important for us to preserve and secure. The idea that the protections outlined in our constitution are not meant for some simply because of how we perceive them (non-citizen, terrorist, enemy combatant) or their crime smacks of a self-righteousness that the constitution and its amendments were trying to guard against. There is a reason that 235 some years these men addressed crime and punishment numerous times in both the Constitution and Bill of Rights (Amendments).

  • What part of "The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury" do you not understand. Regardless of his standing this jury idea seems to me like it was pretty important to them.
  • And why in New York? Valid question and fair, but the Constitution is implicit in its direction when it states "...but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed."
  • What part of "The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it." applies to guys we picked up in Afghanistan and are now locked up in Gitmo?
  • What part of "habeas corpus" is not applicable here? I mean the mere fact that it is referenced in our constitution means it was important to the founders that the safeguarding of individual freedom against arbitrary state action be implicitly mentioned. Isn't it wise and prudent for us to question our government over the detention of these men? Doesn't that "state action" they were referring to in the Constitution really mean us? This to me is exactly what ol' Pogo was referring to when he saw the enemy. The founders saw it too, that's why habeas corpus is not to be trifled with, unless you really don't give a shit about the Constitution and just want to do away with all them evil-doers.
  • And what part of "nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law" does not apply here? And if it does not, why? Because they are not citizens, because they are enemy combatants? Because we are at war? Thats not how I read the 5th, but assuming I am reading it wrong, I think the message is clear: Before you lock someone away there should be due process. This applies to everyone, you know, that All Men are Created Equal thing....its the "All" part that sticks with me.
  • And what about the "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury ..... and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence?" Do we throw that one out the window because these men were picked up and declared an enemy combatant? Does that simple act by "the state" make the 6th moot? My God Dr. Carafano, ins't it clear to you how important the protection of the accused was to our Founders? Are these men in Gitmo not accused or have they already been declared guilty by you and your ilk so why bother with all this bleeding heart trial fairness stuff?

So I will ask you the same question posed to Mr. Holder: "Give me your one compelling reason why military tribunals are superior to the method prescribed in our Constitution?"

I double-dog-dare-you to tell the truth. C'mon you can acknowledge the reason - be brave and tell it like it is - that a Military Tribunal will more likely than not present a verdict of guilty. You want a guilty verdict even if some may not be guilty. That's cool - wrong in my opinion - but you are entitled to your sense of decency and morality. But when you will unequivocally give the state the power to both accuse and convict you are messing with my constitution. I have complete confidence that the method prescribed by the Constitution will be superior to that of a Military Tribunal, even if I don't agree with the verdicts rendered. Better to let one or two guilty men off the hook for a technicality then trample on our two-century old Constitution.

If you don't like these protections then I suggest you go find somewhere else to live ....and take all your like-minded buddies with you as well.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Back in the saddle

Well took some time off blogging. Mainly for a couple reasons, WoW being the top reason, play WoW - don't blog. 2nd reason was finishing up my thesis, not that playing WoW was working on my thesis, its just that when I play I can put my mind on neutral (just ask my kids who play WoW with me "hey old man you paying attention!"

No, its just that writing, even a simple thing like my thoughts requires, well.... thought. I had the thesis monkey on my back and it stretched for one year longer than I wanted it to. Not from lack of effort but....lets be honest....lack of push on my end. So I buckled down and got it done.

They take a lot of work, these thesis things, especially if you want to do them right. I finally got it to a point where I felt it was good enough to put out there and if anyone reads it they will find it sound - even if they find fault in my methodology (hell I find fault in it, but you can't go back and ask for a mulligan). So today I defended - not my best public speaking, but good enough to get the signatures needed to graduate this May.

So now I can write for just the heck of it again. But since it is a new year I am going to try to make some changes to my blog-that-no-one-reads.

  1. As Conan said - Don't be cynical. Easier said then done with Sarah Palin running around loose, but still my point should be always to make a point - or counter point. To add something to think about for anyone that may stumble upon my blog.
  2. Stop calling Tea Party folk "tea baggers" That's not nice of me. "Tea bagger" will only be used to describe someone exhibiting the utmost stupidity, and no, that's not all Tea Party participants so don't even go there.
  3. Present more why they think this way and why I think it is incorrect. I want to present all sides not create an argument. Only time I will veer off is when someone says something really stupid like "when you feed them they breed." Fair warning - stupid, callous, fragilistic soundbites like that from folks we have elected to govern us will be eviscerated on what ever sharp-pointy object I can muster.

And now to rest my brain.......Level 80 Destruction Warlock loaded and ready for mindless game-play. See y'all soon.