What If?

Today I ran across a very interesting video on YouTube. It was a rant about politics, politicians and the government by Judge Napolitano on The Plain Truth. Now I do not watch Fox news, however I have to admit, for something that aired on Fox news, it was remarkably insightful.

Not surprisingly, Fox dropped his show, however I thought I’d share the clip in questions here with you. Much of what he is saying makes a lot of sense. they are things that I have often wondered about myself, but this is the first time I have heard anyone in a good position to talk about it, lay it all out there like this, much less someone from the Faux News camp.

Anyway the video is below:

 

This piece raises some really, really good questions: Why does our political system revolve around the segregation of the American populace? What possible benefit could that have? To whom? And more importantly, if our government system is supposed to operate the way we the people want it to… Why can’t we change anything? Chew on that for a bit…

PB out.

What if you were being lied to? – [YouYube]

Naked Politics. Ummm… No.

First we have an obsession with Hilary Clintons cleavage, and now the political “full monty”? Is this what politics have come down to?:

More Australian voters would like to see Labor Opposition leader Kevin Rudd naked than their current prime minister, John Howard, a poll showed on Sunday just two weeks out from a hard-fought general election. – [Yahoo/Reuters]

Granted this was an Australian poll, but still, somehow, politicians and nudity in the same sentence? Just not working for me. Seriously. Some people have waaaay too much time on their hands…

Which politician do voters want to see nude? – [Yahoo/Reuters]

More car crushing idiocy…

It would appear that Australia is taking a page from Californias law book of senseless and excessive practices:

Street racers in Australia will soon see their beloved cars being deliberately smashed by the authorities in videos posted on the Internet.

The often flashy, souped-up vehicles will be wrecked in crash tests under laboratory conditions, the New South Wales state government announced. – [Yahoo/AFP]

Now I’m sure some of you out there are thinking “Serves them right!”, but I assure you, this law is not a good thing. There is a reason this hasn’t been done in the past. This is technically a violation of an individuals rights. When convicted killers go to prison, even they do not have their belongings destroyed. They may be confiscated and cataloged, but they get them back when they get out. If they get out.

So how exactly can anyone think that this is a fair penalty for any lesser crime? I’d rather impose this penalty for drunk drivers, rather than street racers. At least the street racers are actually in full control of their faculties, and some of them (let me iterate the *some*) are actually really good drivers. The same cannot be said for drunks. But the kicker is that ultimately, as a deterrent, it wouldn’t work for that either.

These kinds of knee-jerk, intimidation-based legislative decisions set very dangerous precedents that could have very profound future ramifications. And to top it off, it’s not like this is going to deter anyone from street racing anyway. Most of the folks who street race will do it regardless of the penalties. Literally. These laws are little more than public displays to make others feel like something is being done about the problem, when in fact, it will have little effect on any hard core racers.

However to their credit, the Australians have adopted a better use for the vehicles than just crushing them. They will be used for crash tests. Which is orders of magnitude better than Californias pointless “crush ‘em all” solution. But both laws are seriously troublesome. The law will have to be very specific on what constitutes “street racing”, and even then I’m sure many police officers will still abuse it, much like how the “aggressive driving” box is seemingly checked on tickets at will, as opposed to, let’s say, the tickets of drivers who actually meet the legal definition of “aggressive driving”…

Aussie street racers to see cars crashed by govt – [Yahoo/AFP]

Guns, violence, and you…

There’s an interesting case taking shape in Washington. It involves guns and the second amendment. Looky:

The justices are facing a decision about whether to hear an appeal from city officials in Washington, D.C., wanting to keep the capital’s 31-year ban on handguns. A lower court struck down the ban as a violation of the Second Amendment rights of gun ownership.

The prospect that the high court might define gun rights under the Constitution is making people on both sides of the issue nervous.

Are they now…?

Critics say the law has done little to curb violence, mainly because guns obtained legally from the district or through illegal means still are readily available.

And I just so happen to be one of those critics…

Heller said Washington remains a dangerous place to live. “People need not stand by and die,” he said in court papers.

And I would tend to agree…

He said the Second Amendment gives him the right to keep working guns, including handguns, in his home for his own protection. -[Yahoo/AP]

We shall see. To be perfectly honest, this whole debate makes no sense, and really overlooks the fundamentals of the problem at hand.

Removing guns from the picture will not remove the threat of violence. The Brady bunch seem to think that guns are a big problem in our society. They are wrong. Our society is jacked up. That’s the biggest problem with our society today. They need to focus on fixing our societal problems, not treating the symptoms of the these problems.

Even if they are to make all firearms illegal in the US, criminals who need weapons will simply get them on the black market. They are simply making it difficult for law abiding citizens to acquire guns. The criminal element doesn’t use legal channels to procure firearms anyway, so it won’t make any significant difference to them. And while this is a secondary issue, violating another’s rights just so your irrational fears can be assuaged is sheer, unadulterated nonsense.

And no matter what any law makers say, law enforcement officers cannot possibly protect everyone. The result? Law abiding citizens of the good old U.S. of A. will be left defenseless, while the criminals remain armed. If an armed robber breaks into my home while I’m in bed one night, I would consider being unarmed a darned bad position to be in. But somehow this group of illogical, emotionally blinded gun pacifists seem to think that this won’t ever happen if they make firearms illegal.

The funny thing about these people is that most of them are so focused on the “guns” that they don’t seem to be able to see anything beyond that. Let me give you an example to illustrate how some Brady folk think:

A man is robbed at gunpoint. When asked what the most heinous thing about the experience is, he responds: “Having that gun pointed at me was so scary. He could have shot and killed me! We need better gun control laws.” OK. That sounds rational doesn’t it? But wait, it gets better. A week later he’s robbed at knife point. When questioned again about the experience he proclaims “It’s a good thing he didn’t have a gun. He could have just shot me and taken my money!”. Aaalrighty then. I suppose knives can’t kill then. Right.

A week later this same man gets beat up, in the same area he was robbed twice before, by a high schooler with a baseball bat, then robbed, stripped naked and left bleeding in a ditch. Later, queried once again, he replies, “At least he didn’t have a gun. He could have shot me.” Heh. Sure thing. If you aren’t at least chuckling to yourself at the narrow mindedness of this perspective, you should slap yourself. Twice. Really, really, hard.

Seriously, the man was robbed three times, almost stabbed once, and beaten half to death with a baseball bat, and yet all he could think about is “I didn’t wanna get shot.” Yes, OK, you got me. This story is fictional. But it accurately illustrates the error of the many arguments gun control lobbyists are using. Guns do not cause violence. They are simply a tool, like a knife or a bat.

You are no safer if guns are outlawed because they can still be obtained illegally. And more importantly, you can still be killed, quite easily in fact, without the benefit of a gun. Banning anything that can kill you is a senseless endeavor. Even as you sit there now reading this, there are at least 10 non-firearm related items in your immediate vicinity, that can be used to kill you. Trust me.

Honestly, I think the only people that can make these arguments are people with a blind, abject, paralyzing fear of guns, unable to see nothing else. But the problem is that these people will still continue live in fear, even after guns have been make illegal, and will proceed to try and ban anything and everything they can think of.

Whereas, on the other hand, there are actually some very tangible benefits to everyone being armed. I think a criminal would think twice about robbing some random people on the street, if they though there was a good chance they might get shot in the process. But that could just be me.

Now truth is, I don’t keep a gun cocked and loaded on my nightstand at all times in case of a break in. Primarily because my little cave isn’t likely to get burgled out here in the middle of nowhere. And also because nothing I own is irreplaceable. But I don’t see where I have the right to do anything to prevent others who live in more dangerous neighborhoods from taking steps to defend themselves against a break in. That just isn’t right. And that is where I have a problem with these people.

OK, I’ll stop preaching from atop my pile of automatic rifle crates now.

Supreme Court could take guns case – [Yahoo/AP]

Laaaaaaaw, is a many splendored thiiiiiing… Not.

OK, forgive my musical refrain. I ran across an article today that kinda illustrated how important it is that the laws be objective, not morally motivated, and constantly revised to stay current with the changing times:

Dying in parliament is an offence and is also by far the most absurd law in Britain, according to a survey of nearly 4,000 people by a television channel showing a legal drama series.

And though the lords were clad in their red and white ermine cloaks and ambassadors from around the world wore colourful national costumes, at least nobody turned up in a suit of armour. Illegal. – [Yahoo/AFP]

Obviously many of these laws probably had some practical logic to them when they were made, and merely suffered from being too broad or too specific in scope. However the same is true of many of the laws on the books today. They are based on historical or social standards that are either obsolete or irrelevant today.

On the other side of the coin, there are laws placed on the books, that are simply poorly thought out. Most often emotional the result of knee-jerk reactions by over zealous lawmakers. For instance banning baggy pants? No tag in school? No hugs?!? Seriously, how is banning baggy pants supposed to reduce the crime rate of a city? (see <Dumb Laws.com> for a big list of really wacky laws… Fair warning, you may laugh yourself into oblivion :) )

But on a more serious note, the law has become a means for activists to push their own agendas, as opposed to protecting the society at large, and no, the two are not the same thing. An equitable legal system does not discriminate against anyone on the bases of race, color, creed, beliefs, etc, so it is absolutely ludicrous that any one should have to face prosecution simply because of their choice of clothes. What we are seeing is an abuse of the legal system. And it really needs to stop.

Die and you’re under arrest! Britain’s most stupid laws – [Yahoo/AFP]

Contrary to what the evidence might suggest…

You know, one of the things I find amazing about the current administration is how flexible their definition of events and scenarios are. And how they see whatever they want to see, and declare whatever they see fit, ratified by presidential decree. Even when it is obvious as the light of day that the truth is actually contradictory to the presidents view of things.

Like the President declaring “Mission Accomplished” without having achieved any of the stated mission goals. Or that the national outrage about the war in Iraq is little more than the opinions of a focus group. Or even that global warming is a natural phenomenon. Or that you can win a war with terrorists using conventional warfare. Or that you can introduce national stability into a country torn by civil war using the aforementioned conventional warfare. I could go on, but I think the picture is abundantly clear.

But then again I’ve never governed a country. But when former presidents of said country begin to speak out against the current administrations actions then, well, hey there has to be some merit to it right? Apparently not.

Former president Jimmy Carter, in a recent interview, called out the president on the issue of prisoner torture and the violation of human rights, in regard to:

… secret Justice Department memorandums supporting the use of “harsh interrogation techniques.” These include “head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures,” – [CNN Politics]

The Prez’s response?:

Responding to the newspaper report Friday, Bush defended the techniques used, saying, “This government does not torture people.” – [CNN Politics]

The white house response?:

After reading a transcript of Carter’s remarks, a senior White House official said, “Our position is clear. We don’t torture.” – [CNN Politics]

Well OK then. I am by no means an authority in torture, however slapping a person upside the head until they sing like a bird, sounds like torture to me. I mean, it ain’t exactly the same as a swedish massage now is it? But if the President and White house officials say it’s not torture, well then I stand corrected!

But if I slap my next door neighbor cross-eyed while attempting to find out what he did with the lawn mower I lent him last year, I better not hear any lip about it from the peanut gallery. And I’ll sue whoever calls the police…

The RIAA Strikes Again!

In an interesting first, the RIAA has actually won an honest-to-goodness trial against a suspected file sharer:

┬áThe Recording Industry Association of America won its first trial this week when a jury ordered Jammie Thomas of Duluth, Minnesota to pay $220,000 to six separate record companies — Sony BMG, Arista Records, Interscope Records, UMG Recordings, Capitol Records, and Warner Bros. Records. The amount covers 24 copyrighted songs illegally downloaded on her computer. – [Yahoo/TechWeb]

Now given the inconsistencies in her testimony, if I were a betting man, I’d say she was in fact guilty. However the damages were absolutely outrageous. And regardless of what anyone says, this win does not legitimize the tactics the RIAA has been using to hunt down suspect file sharers over the past 4 years. The moment they started suing people regardless of whether they were actually engaged in file sharing or not, the RIAA started committing extortion.

It is clear to me that the actions of the RIAA is no longer about managing copyrights. They are about income, plain and simple. And the damages are entirely out of control. Throw a bunch of people, half of whom might as well have been luddites, into a jury, and the RIAA can get away with anything.

RIAA Victory Sends Message But Won’t Stop File-Sharing – [Yahoo/TechWeb]

Da Prez Gats Prahoritahs…

In the latest mind-numbing news, our illustrious Prez has vetoed a bill intended to expand health benefits for American children:

The Democrats who control Congress, with significant support from Republicans, passed the legislation to add $35 billion over five years to allow an additional 4 million children into the program. It would be funded by raising the federal cigarette tax by 61 cents to $1 per pack.

His reasoning for the veto?:

“Poor kids first,” Bush said. “Secondly, I believe in private medicine, not the federal government running the health care system.”

Ah. Yes. Of course. Poor Kids First. Sure thing there Mr. Prez. And the Federal government should absolutely stay out of health care. Yeah. What was I thinking. Silly Dems. Healthcare insurance isn’t for middle class kids. Please enlighten us further:

The president argued that the Democratic bill was too costly, took the program too far beyond its original intent of helping the poor, and would entice people now covered in the private sector to switch to government coverage. He has proposed only a $5 billion increase in funding. After Bush’s speech, White House counselor Ed Gillespie said the president’s offer of more money meant more than the $5 billion extra, but he wasn’t specific about how much more. – [Yahoo/AP]

Hmmm. Now lemme see here. Apparently you are perfectly fine with the approximately $454 (and swiftly rising) Billion US dollars that we have spent sending many brave American soldiers into a shadow war, (I won’t even go into how many of them aren’t coming back) but $35 Billion to fund kids health care (over 5 years) is too costly? Interesting.

So your priority at the moment would be to ensure that we stay at war with an enemy in hiding, and attempt to stabilize a country that is founded on quicksand, for as long as possible. As opposed to taking steps to help ensure that about 4 million American kids have the opportunity to remain healthy. Primarily because you are afraid of “freeloaders”. Huh.

Mr. Prezidente, your Kung-Fu is mystical. And strong. And as sensible as standing barefoot in a muddy open field, wearing a hawaiian shirt, bermuda shorts and a tin foil hat in the middle of a thunderstorm.

Bush vetoes child health insurance plan – [Yahoo/AP]

Presidential ignorance is a curse…

You may remember many moons ago I posted about American citizenship, and whether or not a citizenship exam should include questions on things like sports, world events, and cultural awareness. Now in this bloggers humble opinion, these things are not a true measure of whether or not a person will be a good American.

I would rather have every aspiring American citizen take an ethics test and be done with it. In fact I’d like to see every young American, not just immigrants be required to take a federally mandated ethics test when they reach legal age, before they are allowed to be considered a legal adult. I think the country would benefit from this more than anything else. The rest of it is almost inconsequential by comparison.

Almost. There are many positions where I think a broader, more comprehensive test of ones knowledge, ethics, social awareness and general knowledge of world events and character should be a mandatory requirement. High ranking police and military are a couple that come to mind some of them. Even your average street cop should ideally have comprehensive periodic psych evals, as well as more ethics and social training. But most important of all, President of the United States of America should be one of those positions that requires all of the above.

Before you ever get to see elections, or even start running for president, I think you should, at the very least, be able to demonstrate significantly above average ability on an IQ test, as well as a comprehensive knowledge of social, political and world issues. This should be a requirement for the position.

Why? Because ignorance has absolutely no place in a presidential office. No self respecting IT department would hire a professional bricklayer for their server administration. Nor would a construction company hire a nerd for manual labor. Why does the same not apply for the oval office? People with that kind of power need to know how to use it intelligently. And when I read some of the (many) questionable things our outgoing president has to say, It is clear to me that he is lacking in that department:

In a speech defending his administration’s Iraq policy, Bush said former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s brutality had made it impossible for a unifying leader to emerge and stop the sectarian violence that has engulfed the Middle Eastern nation.

“I heard somebody say, Where’s Mandela?’ Well, Mandela’s dead because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas,” – [Reuters]

Saddam killed all the Mandelas?!? You know, any country as great as this one really ought to be run by someone who has a modicum of awareness about important world leaders, events, issues, etc. I’m all for presidency being open to any American citizen, but shouldn’t there at least be some sort of IQ requirement? World knowledge? Social awareness? How about the basic ability to form coherent, meaningful and intelligent sentences?

The presidency should be open to everyone, but at the same time, becoming president should be a highly selective process. I don’t believe that it should be solely the domain of highly educated aristocrats though. Lord knows we don’t need more classism. But I think that maybe the presidency shouldn’t be an option for your common, average everyday ignoramus either…

Mandela still alive after embarrassing Bush remark – [Reuters]

Here Come the Fashion Police. Literally.

Every time I see a law that is centered around the way a person dresses, I cringe. I cringe because, almost every law that gets passed in relation to clothing seems to be based on someones personal conviction of what they believe to be “decent”. Here’s a typical example:

Baggy trousers that hang way below the belt and expose what the wearer has on underneath could soon be banned in the southern US city of Atlanta, a city council spokesman said Friday.

“Many youngsters are walking around with their pants way, way below their waists, and you can see everything. Some people call it a fad or a fashion statement but it is simple indecency,” Dexter Chambers, the communications director at Atlanta City Council, told AFP by phone.

And by everything, you mean what exactly?

The trend of wearing oversized trousers that fall down and expose one’s smalls derives from the US prison system.

“It started in prison, where, as I understand it, belts are taken away from inmates. But it evolved into a situation where it was used by prisoners to let others know they were ‘available,’ and it still has that sexual connotation,” Chambers said. – [Yahoo/AFP]

And this is the basis of your objections? Why do people like to look at things and then infer a meaning from it without any logical frame of reference to do so? Even if wearing your pants low around your hips in prison might mean you are sexually available, that does not mean it means the same thing out here. How can you make that kind of leap?

Is he trying to say that all of the youth running around with low slung pants are basically advertising thier sexual availability? I’m no expert, but I seriously doubt that. Why does the idea of it being a fashion fad seem so unreasonable? They are quick to deny that any similar laws are aimed at exposed bra straps and athletic bras, but what exactly is the difference? They might as well.

Who decides what the dress code of the street is supposed to be? Why is it that you can have women walking around in thong bikinis, and men in naught but a pair of speedos, and that is considered “decent” but a fully clothed man whose only fashion faux pas is that his pants are so low that his underwear is showing is an abomination?

These things make no sense. The law should not be used to enforce any indidivuals personal moral code. If the teachers don’t like it, then the schools needs to implement and enforce a dress code. The law should be used to enforce serious public safety issues. Not social dress code.

US city planning ban on low-slung baggy pants – [Yahoo/AFP]