Tag Archives: Arizona

Since When Did Graduation Require An Oath?

Do you remember graduating from high school?

I do, vaguely. I remember standing in a long line, then sitting for what seemed like forever while I waited for the “R” section of a graduating class of some 600-plus students to start up. Then I walked some more, shook a hand, grabbed a thing, walked, sat, and done. Oh, and I sang a couple times before all that.

What I don’t remember is having to take an oath. The only “oath” or “pledge” I recall being even remotely involved in high school was the Pledge of Allegiance, and I stopped saying that my senior year based on the fact that the pledge is false. We’re not a nation indivisible, under God, or one with liberty and justice for all. But the pledge wasn’t compulsory. My choice to not say it was perfectly within my rights.

So I admit I’m a little bit confused when I see that Arizona Republicans have apparently proposed a bill that would require high school graduates to take an oath in order to graduate.

The Loyalty Oath reads:

I, _______, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge these duties; So help me God.

So, not only is it compelling students to invoke God, clearly a Judeo-Christian reference that not every high school student will actually agree with, it’s also compelling students to, you know, take an oath. While stating in the oath, “I take this obligation freely.”

Except, no… no you don’t. You’re pretty much being blackmailed into taking the oath. You either take the oath or you don’t graduate. With 13 years of education leading you to that moment, a moment that’s practically required to actually get even close to a decent paycheck in America, there’s no way that’s not blackmail. Perhaps it’s not as blatantly malicious as most cases of blackmail, but it’s pretty bad.

And what’s the point of this oath anyway? To force kids to say something they may or may not actually be agreeing with because they really just want their diploma? This doesn’t help education in the least. Arizona remains on my list of worst legislations, continuing to throw education into the crapper and walk all over women’s rights. What a regrettable state.

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Oh Look, More Terrible Things Said About Women

And by members of the GOP, no less! Who would have expected such a thing?

…look, let me clear this up really quickly: I don’t think that the Democrats are all guilt free when it comes to treating women disrespectfully. There are Democrats that are just as awful toward women, toward gays, toward minorities as we keep hearing over and over again about Republicans.

But I’ve been hearing a LOT about Republicans saying terrible things. And it’s often powerful Republicans. Members of the state or federal legislature, for example.

I mean, here’s a recent one. Representative Joe Walsh from Illinois has decided to jump on the “Screw that Sandra Fluke woman” bus and continue to bash her for… well, trying to suggest that health care directly affecting women should have some women discussing it, and maybe health care providers should start covering birth control pills, which are necessary for some women to control hormones and cure ovarian cysts and the like. I don’t know if you remember Fluke back when Rush “Weather Balloon” Limbaugh decided calling her a slut made sense, but she popped back into national view this week with a speech at the DNC. And a bunch of Republicans attacked and belittled her. Walsh told her to “get a job.” Because, clearly, she’s got no job and just wants Americans to pay for her contraceptives, with the implication that Americans should be paying for her ability to have care-free sex.

It’s wonderfully disgusting, don’t you think?

But that’s nothing. That’s really just rude and uncalled for, especially compared to this next thing. Also said by a Republican.

But the great horrific, M. Night Shamallama-esque twist on this? It’s said by a woman.

In Arizona (which, despite having a female governor, is one of the absolute worst places for women legislatively, as well as minorities), a cop named Robb Evans drove himself to a bar 8 beers in, flashed his badge to skip on the cover, went up to a woman, put his hand up her skirt and rubbed her genitals.

Clearly, this is a case of sexual assault. A jury convicted him of such and the police force fired him.

But trial judge Jacqueline Hatch, appointed by Governor Jan Brewer, decided the jury was wrong. She decided jail time was unnecessary, sentencing Evans to probation and 100 days of community service. He also won’t have to register as a sex offender.

Then, she said this to the victim: “If you wouldn’t have been there that night, none of this would have happened to you.”

It’s pretty much the exact same as the old mainstay, “If she hadn’t dressed like that…” Except it’s even worse. People can dress provocatively, sure, not that the statement still has any merit or truth at all. But now, apparently, women should just not leave their houses. They should expect to be sexually assaulted at places like bars.

It’s doubly awful. First, it paints men as these basely driven creatures with no control over their sexual impulses. It suggests that we’re pretty much out there to rape. That’s just what we do. “If you just hadn’t been a woman, I wouldn’t have had to rape you!” It’s a pretty awful portrait of men, and no man should accept such accusations. We’re not sex addicts or rape machines.

But worse than that, it basically tells women that rape is completely their fault. That someone else’s choice is their fault.

Imagine this judge, Hatch, presiding over the case in Aurora, dealing with the shooting. “Well, if so-and-so wouldn’t have been there that night, she wouldn’t have been shot and killed.”

Imagine that. Imagine how quickly she’d be defrocked. Yet, apparently, when talking to women about sexual assault, it’s fine?

Yeah, I’m suggesting she should lose her job for this and for the statements she made. This isn’t just an “apologize and forget” moment. This is a fundamental lack of understanding of law, a broken philosophy that punishes victims and protects criminals from proper sentencing.

The very idea that women should be held responsible for the actions men take against them – “You shouldn’t have dressed like that,” “You shouldn’t have been there” – is disgusting.

Sure, there are things women (and men) can do to avoid having things happen to them. Don’t walk around naked. Don’t go down dark alleyways. Avoid places where people get shot every couple of minutes. But we should not be demanding women dress a certain way and go to specific places, otherwise rape’s their fault. If applied to any other crime, this line of reasoning would be laughed out of court. But for some reason, since it’s being levied against a woman and deals with her sexuality… Well, women should just KNOW better.

It’s disgusting. It’s reprehensible. Hatch should be fired and the jury’s original verdict should be put in place. And if you meet anyone that makes that type of argument? Slap them. Slap them reeeeeeeeeeally hard. For me. EVERYONE should be offended and disgusted by such statements and philosophies. EVERYONE should want them to stop.

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Let’s Talk A Little About Gun Control

Okay. So, just shy of a full week after the shootings in Aurora, Colo., I’ve decided to actually say my piece about gun control, an issue that got some amount of discussion afterwards. And still is. Which I think is a good thing. Discussion is necessary.

What isn’t necessary is vitriol and attacks.

While I tried to avoid the subject of gun control, I ended up talking about it on two friends’ statuses on Facebook. In one of those conversations, I ended up extending the number of comments from around five to around 35.

So much for avoiding the subject.

As a bleeding heart, pinko commie liberal, you may have guessed that I’m a fan of gun control. What this does NOT mean is that I am a fan of banning guns everywhere. As the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Clearly, citizens are allowed to have guns… (It is in this way that I disagree with “Seinfeld” alum Jason Alexander in his own rant on gun violence and control) but here’s my reading of the amendment, as informed by historical facts.

Note that the amendment mentions a militia. At the time of this being written, America was less than a decade out of a war for independence from Britain. Britain had tried to take the guns of the American colonists away. Had such a thing occurred, the revolution would have been nigh impossible. The ability of people to quickly form a ragtag resistance, people like the Minutemen, was important during the fights.

Further, guns in those days were often ways of life. There was fear of attack, from the British or the Native Americans. There was the need to hunt for food. There were people that hunted for trade. They knew how to use guns, by and large, and needed them for daily function in many cases.

And, to be more frank, guns back then were not nearly as efficient as guns now. Have you ever shot a black powder rifle? I have. They take some time to load. Quite some time. When they fire, it can be pretty devastating, but getting more than a shot or two off in a minute is asking a lot. So I’m not entirely certain the Founding Fathers predicted the invention of automatic and semi-automatic weaponry.

But all that aside, I am not trying to start a conversation on the banishment of guns. Just the control of them. Somehow, the idea that they were one and the same kept cropping up in conversation. They aren’t.

Would I love it if guns simply didn’t exist in the world? Yes. It’s awful how we’ve streamlined the ability to maim and kill people. It’d be great if it weren’t so easy.

Which brings me to the next point… in these discussions, the argument of, “We can kill with pretty much anything” kept cropping up. This, to me, is quite similar to the argument, “Controlling guns won’t stop these things from happening,” so I’m going to tackle them both here.

Yes. Humans suck. A lot. We’re good at killing and, when we set our minds to it, we can find new and inventive ways to do any project. Cruelty and murder are definitely included in that. But the idea that it will happen anyway so why bother is ridiculous. Allow me to make an analogy.

People, inevitably, die. It will happen. One way or another, your mortality will get to you. So, since it’s going to happen anyway, why should we try to prevent it? Why bother with medicine or healthy living?

Another analogy, dealing with crime: People are going to drive at reckless speeds. Since it’s going to happen whether there are speed limits or not, should we just not have speed limits? I posit that, without speed limits, a WHOLE lot more people would be driving at reckless speeds. And that’s why the limits are there. To discourage some from being dangerous, and to make those who are being dangerous be considered lawbreakers.

Which is another thing that happened a few times… there was this attempt at a tautologous argument that criminals are the ones that commit crimes. It was weird and senseless. To that, all I have to say is, yes. They do. And there is probably a point in their lives when they aren’t criminals. So shouldn’t we be looking at people before they commit their first gun-related crime?

Again. I’m not talking gun elimination. Let’s just toss ideas around to maybe try and help prevent things like Aurora, Colo., or Tuscaloosa, Ala., or Tuscon, Ariz., from happening. Yes, the violence will happen. Yes, people that want to commit crimes will try to find a way. But instead of lying down and letting it happen, why not throw up roadblocks? Why not get suspicious when a guy buys a crapton of explosives and guns? Why not put a limit on the types of weaponry you’re allowed to have? (For example, in Texas, people are apparently legally allowed to purchase rocket launchers. In what way is that a good idea?) Why not put a limit on the number of guns you can have? Or the amount of ammunition at any given time?

Some will say these suggestions violate the Second Amendment. I point them to the First Amendment and remind them that there are laws against slander and libel despite the freedom of speech. There are common sense things, things to prevent harm, that must be addressed in our freedoms.

Some will say their weapons are a defense against tyranny. To them, I say that’s ridiculous. Unless you’re secretly hoping for a second Civil War, those guns are not going to be used to defend against tyranny. In fact, such an argument could cause more violence, as people seek to defend a perceived tyranny that doesn’t necessarily exist.

But none of what I’m saying is an absolute. It’s an argument. It’s another side to the conversation. A conversation that, frankly, needs to happen. Because if there is ANYTHING that we can do to potentially prevent such a horrible event from ever occurring again, then it’s worth it.

So let’s talk a little about gun control.

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It’s A Grand Delusion – The GOP And Immigration

Welcome to the grand delusion. Today, the United States Supreme Court struck down, 6-3, nearly the entirety of the Arizona immigration bill, the first of a long line of increasingly draconian bills meant to get illegal immigrants out of the states the laws were created in. Only one portion of the bill was unanimously given leave to remain, the right for state police to check papers during stops for other legal situations.

Republicans everywhere had a lot riding on these bills. This was, for many of them, their big stance. It’s their Obamacare, so to speak, the major legislation they took great pains to craft specifically to fit their political ideology and achieve certain goals. Heck, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio even said that, no matter what the federal government ruled, he was still going to enforce the state’s law. Which, technically speaking is, I believe, illegal once a federal branch has overruled it. Now that both the Executive and Judicial branches have dealt blows to the law, it’s to be expected that the GOP, particularly in Arizona (and where the bill is famously even worse, my state of Alabama), will be rather upset.

So upset, in fact, that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer declared the ruling a victory for her administration.

I mean, I have to assume that she’s in such a state of shock that she’s fallen into delusional fits. But, no, even Alabama Governor Robert Bentley has decided that this ruling is a good thing.

And why is that? Because, apparently, SCOTUS upheld what Brewer calls the “heart of the bill.” Apparently, all the rest of the stuff in the bill, the many many (potentially hundreds of) provisions were just unnecessary fluff. All that matters is that state police can, in fact, ask for proof of the citizenship of a person already being investigated in some other legal matter. They can then tell ICE, the people that would actually do the deportation. That’s it.

So, um… good for them, I guess?

Yes, the upheld part isn’t exactly swell. It seems like a power too easily abused. All they have to do is find someone they’re suspicious of being illegal and draw up some minor charge, like jaywalking or littering, before harassing them incessantly. It’s great that the worst parts of the law were struck down, but it would have been nice for this to at least have been given an addendum or some such.

Still, for the GOP to declare this a victory is, I think, rather delusional. They’re too needy for wins if they’re trying to grab this one. Combined with President Barack Obama’s executive decision about immigration, this segment of the law is rather weak.

Of course, the Democrats may be dancing to the same sort of tune depending on how Obamacare fares in the court’s decision.

America spells competition. Join us in our blind ambition.

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The Rodney Dangerfield Presidency

Comedian Rodney Dangerfield was best known for three things: Those two buggy eyes and his comic catchphrase: “No respect, no respect.”

These days, it seems there’s an increasing lack of respect for the person sitting in the Oval Office. Is it because President Barack Obama is a black man and we don’t exactly live in a post-racial society, suffering from a plague of ignorance and hatred that has simply learned to hide itself better since the public cry against it in the 1960s? Perhaps. Is it because he’s a liberal, and our political chasm between the conservative and liberal mobs is growing into a massive, all-consuming maw? Possibly.

But whatever the reason, it’s clear that respect for Obama is diminishing. Even Mitt Romney, his major political opponent, has a campaign seemingly supported by a disregard for everything Obama is and stands for, letting campaign buses and people heckle and disrupt Obama’s campaign events and seeking to diminish the strength of his office and power during a time when we could use a strong head of state.

I have to wonder if such a thing has ever happened before with a president. Sure, George W. Bush was derided by the population at large, but that happened after almost eight years with him, eight years filled with gaffes and anger, unwanted decisions and unpopular politics. And even after those eight years, I don’t recall so many people, particularly people with seats of political sway and power, being so rude and disrespectful. I don’t remember members of the press heckling him and interrupting his speeches, much less brazenly defending such actions.

Recently, Arizona (that wonderful hotbed of horrendous legislation and disrespect for Obama) has had a small rash of events that would cause Dangerfield to be on a never-ending loop of his catch phrase. Earlier in the year was the Governor Jan Brewer finger-pointing thing… but there were a couple even worse happening just a little bit ago.

Yesterday, Arizona radio host Barbara Espinosa said on air that she prefers to call Obama a “monkey” and that she doesn’t “believe in calling him the first black president.” As she says, “I voted for the white guy myself.” Later, she doubled down on her ignorant, rude, unnecessary and rather racist comments by saying things like “freedom of speech” and “With a last name of Espinosa I’m anything but racist.” Suggesting, of course, that whites are the only people that can be racist, I suppose. And the whole freedom of speech thing… I hate that argument. No one is saying you can’t say what you said. They’re saying you’re ignorant, rude and stupid and SHOULDN’T say what you said. It’s disrespectful and rude. You shouldn’t be calling anyone a monkey, much less the president.

Well, here’s a fun thing about that. One of her guests on the show that day was Arizona GOP Chair Tom Morrissey. Instead of saying that her comments were unnecessary, poisonous to proper discourse, shameful political feaux-commentary, et cetera… Instead, today, he decided to call people that disagree with Obama patriots. Thus suggesting that people that agree with Obama and support Obama aren’t patriots. Which means there are probably several military men and women that would like an explanation from Morrissey.

Then, also today, we have the Arizona Secretary of State being a disingenuous tool of disrespect. Ken Bennett, who earlier wanted to remove Obama from the Arizona ballot unless he (again) showed his birth certificate, has decided one birther-esque scandal isn’t enough. Even though he adamantly claims he’s not a birther. No, now he’s an inverse birther. Now he’s claiming that Obama CLAIMED to be born in Kenya in order to get into college. And then spent several million dollars to get his college records sealed so no one could see he claimed to be born in Kenya.

Y’know, I remember after 9/11, there were a bunch of conspiracy theories being bandied about. Most people disregarded such conspiracy theorists as nutters not worth listening to. Now? Now we have an entire political party proliferated with conspiracy theorists. Why should we take them seriously?

Look. Maybe you don’t think Obama’s doing a good job, for whatever reason. Maybe you think Romney would do a better job. Whatever. Even so, he’s the President of the United States. He deserves respect. Such blatant disrespect for him reflects poorly on our status as a nation. Dissemble and disagree all you want. Fine. But keep it civil and orderly. Political discourse should be political, not devolving into personal brouhaha.

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The Vagina Filibusters

You know, if I had to make a list of states creating terrible legislation/legislative decisions over the past few years, the top of the list would probably be Arizona, Alabama and Florida, just to name some off the top of my head. But recently, Michigan has decided it wants to put its name in for top tier contention. While today’s discussion isn’t entirely about a law (another day’s will be), it’s definitely about a legislative decision.

Michigan is considering legislation similar to one that states like Arizona have already passed where abortions would be limited to within 20 weeks of conception. So, there’s the first bit of bad news from the realms of their Congress, particularly since it passed their House 70 to 39. Where it gets really interesting (and, you know, terrible) is when Democratic Michigan State House Representative Lisa Brown decided to stand up and make a speech against the legislation. She ended her speech saying, “Finally, Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but ‘no’ means ‘no.'”

I appreciate it. It’s witty, but still poignant, pointing out the similarities to rape and the ownership a woman should have over her own body. But some did not see it that way. According to the New York Daily News, House Republicans have blocked Brown from speaking on later legislation due to that comment.

Representative Mike Callton claimed the remark was offensive. “It was so offensive, I don’t even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company.”

Apparently, we’re supposed to refer to a lady’s genitals as… what, a hoohah? The Down Under? A vagoo (a term I always imagine is pronounced “vah-jew”)?

And Brown isn’t the only one that found herself vagina-blocked. Democratic Representative Barb Byrum also found herself blocked from speaking in regards to the bill. Byrum was attempting to add an amendment to the bill that would have banned men from getting vasectomies without proof of it being a medical emergency.

Now, I can’t quite tell why Byrum was blocked from speaking. To the best of my knowledge, she didn’t use a medically correct term like “vagina” or “penis.” I don’t know that she said anything. I mean, maybe she said “vasectomy.” I suppose that should be called a “kid snip”? A “ball deflation”? A “Vans different”?

I could point out the whole “freedom of speech” thing, but I guess there are rules and orders in each Congress that supersede such things. After all, apparently Brown broke “decorum” by using such a word.

…come on. Really? She broke decorum by referring to a part of the female anatomy that is actually very near and dear, not to mention relevant, to the legislation being discussed? How? How is that breaking decorum? It’s a word that’s heard by 5th graders nation wide in sex-ed classes. It’s not remotely offensive. And for Callton to claim it was too offensive to say in front of women when a woman said it? What is this, the 1850s, when the things women say are decided by the men? Do you know who might be able to say if something was offensive to women? A woman. But, apparently, in Michigan, it’s not only okay for men to legislate women’s bodies, but also women’s words.

This is beyond pigheaded and idiotic. This goes back to my post from yesterday. This is childish. The Michigan Congress needs to get its collective head out of its collective butt (Wait, am I breaking decorum by saying “butt”?) and stop being childish dickweeds. (Okay, that might break decorum.) Just because people disagree with you politically is no reason to shut them out of the political process. It’s stuff like this that make it impossible for America to move forward as a nation. It’s stuff like this that desperately makes me want to have Congressional term limits.

Here’s a lighter side note, sort of. One I didn’t know about until after I had already written this post’s title, actually. Eve Ensler, along with Brown and other female state representatives, will be performing Ensler’s famous play, “The Vagina Monologues,” on the steps of the state Capitol. Hopefully, we’ll also be able to see some intelligent, free-thinking men to start dropping the “v-bomb” during congressional meetings. It would be nice to see people take the moral stand.

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Similar Politics Does Not Mean Constant Agreement

This week’s “Most awful scandalous thing ever said” has been a comment made by Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen. Wednesday night, she went on “Anderson Cooper 360” and said of Ann Romney, who Mitt Romney says he looks to for advice on women, that she “has never actually worked a day in her life.”

The thing Rosen was attempting to say was that Ann is just as out of touch as Mitt. She doesn’t know the struggles of the typical American woman. She’s never had to hold down a job, or two, or more. She’s never been a working mother, trying to keep her children fed. She’s never had to split time between financial support and emotional support for the family.

Of course, she didn’t quite say that all so clearly. Rosen’s gaffe caused a metric crapton of people to jump all over her case based on the fact that Ann is a mother of five children and has, of course, had to do some work. Being a mother without a job is still a struggle at times.

Which is pretty much exactly how Ann put it, saying “I know what it’s like to struggle.” And, again, since she is a mother, that is likely true. She seems to have turned out a decent group of kids, so there was likely work involved. That’s fair. Rosen should have clarified her points better.

This, of course, hasn’t stopped people from exploding with ire. Even though Rosen tried to explain her comments and has also apologized, we’ve seen this “issue” become the focus of national discourse, with comments ranging from the calm and reasoned, like “Morning Joe”‘s Mika Brzezinski saying “That was an unfortunate statement,” to the defense of Rosen, like Fox News’ Greta Van Sustern’s comments, to the perhaps somewhat harsh, like Vice President Joe Biden’s calling the statement “outrageous,” to, finally, the flat out moronically ridiculous, like Michelle Malkin’s conclusion that Rosen’s comments show a deep seated hatred by Democratic women for conservative stay-at-home mothers.

Add in one of only a few people that get more ridiculous than Malkin, Rush Limbaugh, saying that Democrats are now launching a war on motherhood, and we’ve reached the pinnacle of the absurdity this gaffe can take us.

In what’s clearly a desperate attempt to distance the discussion from the Republican party’s woes on women, some conservatives have made a desperate, absurd attempt to link Rosen’s comments to a liberal bias against mothers, particularly the stay-at-home kind. Anyone with the ability to think will know this isn’t true. But it’s that thought that brings up one facet of what I want to talk about in just a second.

See, President Barack Obama is another person who commented on the gaffe. Obama, who hasn’t always been happy with some of the punditry being tossed around all the time lately, is no less happy about this comment, saying “I don’t have a lot of patience for commentary about the spouses of political candidates.”

But Obama is the de facto leader of the Democratic party. And Rosen is a Democrat. Which leads to people like Wolf Blitzer to make observations like Rosen is being thrown under the bus. Which then leads him to ask Obama’s deputy campaign manager why they were all so quick to do such dastardly under-bus throwing.

So, it’s not just the nut job, over-reactionary conservatives that are jumping to stupid conclusions. Blitzer’s line of thought and questioning seems to suggest that, since Rosen is a Democrat, Obama, as the Democratic leader, must defend all things all Democrats say.

And that’s the annoying thing. People are confusing a personal opinion (and a misstated, ergo misunderstood, one at that) with a party line. As this column points out, that’s frankly ridiculous.

When Limbaugh said his nastiness about Sandra Fluke in a three day diatribe, some conservatives defended and agreed with him, to an extent. Further, we can point at conservative legislation being passed all over the country, like this recent one in Arizona that I’m sure to talk about later, and say, “Hey. This stuff is pretty anti-woman. What the hell?” From there, we can discern a disturbing trend amongst conservatives leaning toward taking away certain women’s rights, especially in the reproductive department.

But a simple comment made by a single Democrat is not a party line. If people treated the GOP the same way, you can bet your bottom dollar that people like Rick Santorum and Allen West would make the majority of their voting base want to ship the entire party to Antarctica. This is all ridiculous sensationalism that continues to miss the entirety of the point. The issue here was, initially, Mitt and the GOP’s possible lack of ability to empathize with female voters and their daily problems, particularly financially speaking. And that is an important issue to talk about. Because empathy and understanding are important when attempting to run a country and guide legislation. If you don’t understand who or what you’re trying to help or fix, how the heck are you going to actually do it?

So, can we please stop the sensationalist stupidity?

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We Need Congressional Term Limits

You know, the more I read about laws being made and passed, the more I start to wonder what the heck is going on with our legislative branch. And I’m not talking about just on the federal level. After all, you may remember my most disliked state when it comes to lawmaking, Arizona. I meanI’ve only mentioned it a few times.

But, apparently, Arizona loves being part of my blog. And never because it’s doing anything right, either. They love passing laws that I can’t pass up talking about. Like, for example, this recent one involving the internet, Arizona House Bill 2549.

What is this bill, exactly? Well, it’s an update of some old technology anti-harassment law, one that made certain types of harassment illegal over phone. What they decided to do to make it more applicable in this modern world is update the wording. By saying things like “any electronic or digital device” and “electronic or digital communications.” Then they added a tag that says, “For the purposes of this section, ‘electronic or digital device’ includes any wired or wireless communication device and multimedia storage device.”

Can anyone tell me what might possibly be wrong with that? Here, I’ll let you in on some of the other language in the bill.

“It is unlawful for any person, with intent to terrify, intimidate,threaten, harass, annoy or offend, to use any electronic or digital device and use any obscene, lewd or profane language or suggest any lewd or lascivious act, or threaten to inflict physical harm to the person or property of any person. It is also unlawful to otherwise disturb by repeated anonymous electronic or digital communications the peace, quiet or right of privacy of any person at the place where communications were received.”

Maybe now you’re starting to see the problem.

Have you ever been on the internet? I hope so if you’re reading this, because if someone’s just randomly printing off and handing out my blog posts, I feel like I should have been told about it first. But if you’ve spent more than a few moments on the internet, especially somewhere like the YouTube comments section, a popular blog or a forum, you’ll find that 90% of the things people say offend, harass, annoy, offend or terrify someone.

See, over the telephone, you have to specifically target an individual. You may or may not know them, but generally speaking, telephone conversations tend to be a one-on-one type of thing.

On the internet, conversations and comments are very often public affairs which anyone can stumble onto and be offended by. And there’s the problem,

Clearly, the people that updated this law are completely ignorant about how their wording works within the realm of reality. They don’t understand the application of the bill. Why? Because they don’t understand how technology has changed since their younger days, or since they started off in Congress.

Remember that thing I wrote a while back about SOPA? Something that seems to keep coming back despite it being a horrendous idea? Well, in my original SOPA post, I linked to a Daily Show clip showing members of Congress basically flat admitting they didn’t understand the ramifications of the bill they had either co-written or were openly supporting. They jokingly said someone should bring in the nerds to have it explained to them.

Members of Congress have a high incumbency rate. There are people that have been in Congress, be it state or federal, for longer than I’ve been alive. And since I’ve been alive, we’ve seen the creation of the internet, social networking, cell phones, texting, YouTube, 4chan and financially successful Shia LaBeouf movies.

Times change. And, lately, they’ve changed rapidly. They’ve changed insanely. They’ve grown in ways so quickly and complexly that it really isn’t much of a joke when people say that technology is for a younger generation. Many of the older generations try to get a grasp on it, some more successfully than others, but so often many fail to understand its complexities. Even some of us that grew up alongside the technology have trouble following it.

And it’s because of things like that that Congress has to have term limits. Our nation, in every facet, is moving at a fast pace. Since the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, we’ve seen civil disobedience move at an ever faster clip, allowing for the defenses of people that most wouldn’t have even talked about at the time, like homosexuals. I’ve already mentioned the rapid growth of technology. Information has become more freely and rapidly available, making secrets harder to keep, causing politicians to be held more accountable. Protests and organization can be done more efficiently, and on a more national and international scale.

And much of Congress can’t make heads or tails of it.

It certainly doesn’t help that the longer you sit in Congress, the more likely some special interest group, some lobbyist to grab a hold of you and take you away from your constituents. The longer you stick around, the more you play the game of Congress, and the less likely you are to be a voice of the people. The longer you stay in Congress, the more work you have to do to understand and keep up with the world around you… and it simply seems like many Congresspeople are simply unwilling to do so.

We need our voices in the government to be kept on a tight leash. We need to not continue to pay them large sums of money for not listening to us, creating and passing laws that are detrimental to our society. We need to make sure that our voice in government actually IS our voice. And one way to do that is to keep Congress moving. Don’t let them be complacent. Let them in, let them do work, get them out.

It will keep the voices fresh and knowledgeable. It will lower corruption. It will instill a greater sense of civic duty and responsibility in more people. It will widen the path for more participation in government.

And maybe, it’ll stop these stupid anti-Internet laws from getting through all the time.

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We Need To Talk About Racism

When Senator John McCain gave his 2008 presidential concession speech, officially making Senator Barack Obama our first black president, some of the first responses I heard were those of my roommates, since we were all in the dorm at the time. Two of those roommates I went to high school with and we were all cool with one another. One voted for McCain, and had no real negative response, while the other voted for Obama, like myself. The third roommate was randomly put into our suite. He was from the woodsy, redneck part of New York (a.k.a. anything not New York City, apparently), and kind of resembled WWE wrestler and “The Real World” cast member Mike Mizanin.

His response was to curse and say he was going to grab his shotgun and go out in the streets to calm any uppity… well, I’m sure you can guess the word, but it’s a rather derogatory term for blacks that resembles an African country a bit too closely.

That was one of many reasons I really disliked that guy.

During President Obama’s time in office, there has been quite a bit of racism floating around the country. Some of the racism has been simply personal, like the allegations that Paula Deen and her brother behaved in racist ways at their restaurant. Other examples have been politically charged, often specifically targeting Obama, like a federal judge insinuating that Obama’s mother had multiracial and multispecies orgies, or the more recent bumper sticker that manages to be both racist and completely opposite of what it’s trying to say (to not renege would be to keep Obama as president).

But racism isn’t always about whites being racist toward blacks. There’s always whites putting down Latinos, too. Some of these cases have been mentioned before, like Arizona residents calling to whiten a school’s multi-ethnic mural and the school almost doing so, or Arizona and Alabama passing severe and quite possibly racially charged immigration laws. Of course, there’s more obvious racism, like Southern Mississippi band members shouting “Where’s your green card?” to Puerto Rican Kansas State basketball player Angel Rodriguez, and the more subtle racism, like GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum rather foolishly suggesting Puerto Rico needs to put more emphasis on English.

Heck, you could probably even rightfully make the claim of racially charged ideas behind attempts to pin Obama and former Harvard professor Derrick Bell as anti-American black radicals by lying about, misrepresenting or blowing out of proportion their stances and the things they’ve said.

And, truth be told, each of these stories has their own awful, disturbing flavor of disgust. The fact that racism is still so prevalent in America today is revolting and is something that should be confronted head on and destroyed the way a plague should be.

Which, of course, makes it all the more disturbing when blatant, violent racism that shows a gaping hole in the application of our judicial system goes almost silently by. I’m talking about the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

It’s very possible you’ve not heard the story, especially if you’re white. Somehow, the story has been talked about by black media personalities en masse, but the majority of the media has decided to stay mum on the issue.

The story, for those unaware, is shocking and disturbing, more so than probably any of the other aforementioned tales, which is saying something. On February 26, Martin was visiting a relative’s house in a gated community in Sanford, Fla., outside of Orlando. George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old neighborhood watch captain, called police to say there was someone that looked “real suspicious.” The police informed Zimmerman they would be sending some people out and told him not to pursue the boy.

Zimmerman did anyway. Martin, returning from a store with a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea, was confronted by Zimmerman, who had a 9 millimeter handgun. After allegedly engaging in a physical altercation, there was shouting. Then a gun shot. When police arrived, Zimmerman was covered in blood, and Martin was on the ground with a bullet wound in his chest.

Here’s the fun part. Zimmerman, who has confessed to killing Martin, has not been charged as he claims he acted in self defense. Zimmerman’s parents are claiming their son can’t be racist because… he’s Latino.

Even worse than the “I have a black friend” defense, it’s the “I’m not white” defense.

What’s hugely disturbing about all of this is the lack of public outcry. Imagine, if you would, the victim was a young white girl. The same way Natalee Holloway, Caylee Anthony or Amanda Knox were. How much national outrage would there be? How much attention would this story get? Probably even more than some of these other stories since Zimmerman is apparently Latino and it could be labelled as a “race crime.” Just against a white person.

But when the victim is a black teenager with a bag of Skittles, the culprit doesn’t even get arrested.

Am I suggesting that injustices like the Amanda Knox story shouldn’t be discussed? No. I’m saying justice should be blind. It shouldn’t favor the young, pretty white girls. It should favor all wronged people, no matter what race or creed.

If justice is not blind, it is not justice. The scales lose their balance when weighed with color and race and sexuality and all other defining characteristics used to separate people. If the scales are tipped, how can we trust our legal system to do what’s right?

And all this is without me even talking about how heavily stacked against non-whites our justice system is via the death penalty and other prosecution, such as the severely unjust execution of Troy Davis.

The first step to fixing these problems is awareness. If people are unaware of these events, the system will stay broken. You can help spread awareness by telling people about the story, or signing and sharing petitions like the one on Change.org.

But awareness isn’t enough. We need to raise hell. We need to let those in charge know we aren’t going to simply accept this kind of behavior. That we want liberty and justice for all. That we want awareness and fairness for all.

Otherwise, America will never be able to grow and become a great nation. We will fall into disrepair as a nation wholly unable to accept all its inhabitants and treat them all as equals. And history will mock us as we truly deserve.

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Arizona: The Cesspool Of Legislation

Stereotypically speaking, the Deep South is supposed to be the most bass-ackwards, Jim Crowe, stationary, anti-visionary places in America, especially when it comes to legislation. Hence my mention of Jim Crowe. We here in the South are not generally seen as legislative visionaries. It took until the 1980s for us to allow interracial marriage, and it’ll be at least the 2080s before gay marriage is even talked about in our legislation in some way other than a ban.

But, lately, Arizona has been trying to one up the South.

It was Arizona that kicked off the severe anti-immigration legislation race, making a law that was seen as hugely draconian. But apparently it was necessary for jobs. …jobs which were almost immediately harmed as people created boycotts and protests. And, of course, once the immigrants, both legal and illegal, started leaving in droves, many jobs went completely unfilled for some time.

Of course, Alabama went and tried to one-up Arizona. And our fallout may even end up being worse. There’s more examples than just that one about the play, but I found it so ridiculous that I had to put it up. Seriously, we’ve got some idiots writing laws…

But that’s not my point. While Alabama may have won the “who wants to risk their economy and stability for the sake of getting rid of illegal immigrants” race, Arizona is still far ahead in the “making stupid choices” department.

For example: A couple of years ago, there was a massive outcry against an elementary school’s mural being too ethnic, an outcry led by City Councilman Steve Blair, and the mural was apparently going to be whitened up.

And who can forget that wonderful moment earlier this year when Arizona Governor Jan Brewer apparently got all up in President Barack Obama’s face about… something silly. Disrespectful and not becoming of a state governor, that’s for sure.

Then there’s the bill passed a few weeks ago requiring every single college student, in-state or out-of-state, scholarship/free ride, poor, rich or whatever, to pay an automatic $2000 for going to school in Arizona. And Representative Michelle Ugenti supported the bill with a blunt, “Welcome to life.”

But the one that really wins it for Arizona, the one that takes the backwards idiocy out of the South and puts it firmly in their hands, is the law that would allow doctors to commit the lie of omission with their patients, particularly if the doctor feels giving the information will encourage abortion.

Bravo, Arizona. You’ve done it. You, as a state and body of legislation, have become detestable and hostile.

I mean, I can kind of see where some of this comes from. Illegal immigrants are taking jobs that could be filled by unemployed citizens looking for work. Your economy is in the crapper, so you have to get money somewhere. And you want to discourage abortion. I get it.

But, seriously. This is all massive overreacting. It’s as though you suspect people are using cork in their baseball bats, so you ban the use of any wood products in all sporting events, including toothpicks holding together that random soccer mom’s treats for her kids. That’s not constructive. That’s destructive and pointless.

Not a one of these laws has been tempered with thoughts for consequences and stink of being driven by something far more sinister than the reasons I listed in an attempt to understand what your deal is. The odor of racism and attempts to control women waft from your Congress like a stench choking the life out of your state.

With the law about omitting information from your patients, can you not see the massive amounts of abuse that could occur? The way such abuse is now legal? Can you not figure out the potential for patient death rates rising for the sake of “morality”? Or do such things not interest you?

As for the $2000 price tag for education… you do realize that many students simply can’t afford college without scholarship? Whether I’ll sink into debt like the Titanic in the ocean remains to be seen. (I’m all about these weird metaphors tonight…) But I know there are some students that simply can’t get an education without the government’s help. $2000 for some is several months of work. Maybe even years. But worse than the law is the glib, “Welcome to life” response given by Ugenti.

Ugenti. Brewer. Can you please learn to act in accordance with your office? Maybe you shouldn’t say or do things that make you look and sound like terrible people. Not to mention uninformed and uncaring.

As for the immigration laws… this goes for Alabama, too. What exactly has that law accomplished? It hasn’t created jobs. It has sent jobs away. Sent potential work away. Taken money flow away from your state. Caused a hugely bureaucratic headache. What happened to downsizing government? Or is that only for the federal government? I know that Alabama practically needs its own Department of HB 56 just to keep up with all the myriad provisions.

If you want to be a state of the union, be a state of union, not a state that chases people out until you feel comfortable.

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