Thursday, February 23, 2017

Town Hall 2017: Flashback to 2009

So, you're a Republican Representative or Senator in 2017 and all you want to do is hold a Town Hall meeting.  Press the flesh.  Sell yourself.  Reassure your constituents they are the only reason you get out of bed in the morning.

And instead showing you proper deference and respect, instead of conducting themselves with due decorum, whole swaths of the hoi polloi only want to shout you down and express their frustration that Donald J. Trump is President of the United States.

Man (or woman, as the case may be), that must really suck.

In fact, just about this time eight years ago the tables were reversed.  Hordes of Tea Party supporters and other rational minded Americans showed up at primarily Democrat sponsored Town Halls to express their outrage at the health care plan that was taking shape and eventually shoved through with zero support from the Republican side of the aisle.  Some of you may well have participated in those protests.  Many no doubt applauded Americans exercising their First Amendment rights to give their servants in Washington a piece of their mind.

Servants?  That's right, servants.  Too quickly, elected officials from the United States Capitol all the way down to the smallest Town Council seem to forget they are public servants, not exalted lords and ladies bestowed with wisdom beyond the ken of the masses.

Remember that:  You, Senator, and you, Representative, are a public servant sent to Washington to serve the best interests of your constituents and your country.  Not to get re-elected.  Not to enrich yourself beyond your wildest childhood mud-hut imaginings.  Not to line up a "job" with a think tank or Fortune 50 company.  Your job description is Servant.

So serve.  Don't run and hide.  Don't complain that folks showing up at the Town Halls you host are mean or unruly.  It has happened before, and it will happen again.  Right now, it is happening to you.  Suck it up, Buttercup.

There are fair and very reasonable steps you can take to maintain some degree of order.  You represent a very specific district or state.  When you hold a meeting open to your constituents it is very reasonable to exclude those who do not reside within your district or state.  Require photo identification indicating a residential address within the borders of your area of representation in order to gain access to the meeting.  This will eliminate many of the concerns that have been raised about protesters being brought in from distant points to disrupt your proceedings.  If you are the Representative from Wyoming there is no reason you should entertain residents of Chicago, or Los Angeles, or New York.  They have their own representatives and should raise their concerns in those appropriate venues.

Once you have exercised proper and reasonable gate control though, stand up and be an adult.  Those folks are your constituents, whether they voted for you or not.  You are obligated to represent all of them, not just the ones who make you feel good.  You can't do that of you won't grant them a fair hearing.  Once you have heard them out, know who you are.  Own your positions and explain your actions.  Be patient.  You may be shouted down or derided.  Steadfastly explain your positions and motivations between the outbursts.  You may not change any minds, and you certainly won't enjoy many of the insults directed at you.  At least you won't be labeled a coward, too unprincipled or afraid to face those you are charged with effectively representing.

You're the one who signed up for politics.  If you wanted soothing you could have taken on an easier career such as high school teacher for delinquent students or battlefield sapper.  And if you still aren't happy, were you aware you aren't required to run for re-election or even serve out the entirety of your current term?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Anti-2A Crowd: Please Pick a Side

Assault Weapons Are Not Protected By the Second Amendment, Appeals Court Rules

On February 21, 2017, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the assault weapons ban imposed by the state of Maryland passed Constitutional muster.  In part, a passage was cited from the 2008 Heller v. District of Columbia decision allowing governments to regulate weapons similar in design and function to those issued to the military, itself a highly questionable interpretation.

For years, one of the loudest arguments offered by those who oppose the notion that mere Citizens have a right to keep and bear arms for their own private lawful purposes was that the Second Amendment was adopted to provide for the creation of what is today recognized as the National Guard.  State level organized military units, not individuals concerned with protecting themselves and their property from individuals or governments unlawfully intending harm.

So which is it, Anti-2A Crowd: Does the amendment only refer to the creation of a State Militia (military), or does it permit private citizens to bear arms, just not scary ones?  The argument that "yeah, you can have guns but not guns that might prove effective in a crisis" seems to blur your message just a bit.

The language of the amendment itself seems relatively unambiguous.
     "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."
Shall not be infringed.  Period.  End of amendment.  No invisible ink, no secret decoder ring required, no list of entirely subjective and arbitrary list of exceptions included.

"Shall not be infringed" does not appear to offer a tremendous amount of wiggle room.  "Arms" does not impose a limit on size, features or lethal capacity.  While I cannot imagine a scenario in which I could possibly want or need to possess a nuclear weapon, as an uninfringable right I should be able to do so as long as I command the resources and the desire to acquire one.  Through the years there have been neighbors who I would be uncomfortable with having access to a sling shot.  Regardless, my discomfort does not negate their rights.  Preemptively punishing (restricting) someone for a non-specific act they might conceivably commit at some undefined future point in time is an undeniable infringement, and a denial of the concepts of freedom and personal accountability the United States Constitution enshrines.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Pepsi, No Coke!

So, you have a job in the Executive branch of the federal government.  Good for you!

Guess what?  Your boss is the duly confirmed Secretary of your agency, and your Chief Operating Officer is President Donald J. Trump.  Your marching orders come from these individuals, and they do in fact get to define the objectives of your job.

You do not have the privilege of defining your own "mission".  Your organization's mission is what your bosses say it is, and your priorities need to be what they define them as being.  If you find you do not agree with the defined objectives of your job, just like any other employee in any other business in the country you are free to leave.  You are not free to stay in place and wage guerrilla war against the chosen path your "business" has embarked upon.

In the Real World, as opposed to the Fantasy Island many entitled government employees believe themselves to inhabit, anyone who accepts a job at the Pepsi Factory is obliged to further the mission of producing and distributing Pepsi.  They are not required to drink Pepsi, or even like Pepsi, but when wearing the uniform they need to do everything they can to make Pepsi the number one product on the planet.  When they change out of their work clothes at the end of the day they are more than welcome to swing by the convenience store, pick up a six pack of Coke,  and drink away their sorrows in the glow of TV Land emanating from their television sets.  First thing next morning, it's back to "Rah! Rah! Pepsi!!"

If they can't handle that, then they are honor bound to leave their job at Pepsi and find something else to do they can feel good about.

You, federal employee, have that same obligation.  The voters have spoken, and if you cannot abide their choice you must as a manner of honor and integrity get out of the way.  If you can grit your teeth, do all that is asked of you as it is asked of you to the very best of your ability then you are welcome to hang in there.  Who knows, you might even get a new set of leaders in four years, or eight years, or whenever who might better suit your ideals.  Bully!  Until then, keep your nose to the grindstone doing as you are asked by your rightful leaders, or let your feet hit the streets and find the life that is better suited to who you are.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

A False Premise Does Not Make One Right

Below is but one example of several similar memes making the rounds:

Though no doubt the messengers are high-fiving each other for their brilliant insights and put-down of the anti-human haters they struggle against on a daily basis, the sign is based upon a totally invalid premise.

When one invokes the KKK, clearly one is not implying that all Christians support the agenda of the KKK in whole or in part, nor is there a suggestion that the KKK represents them to any degree.

Likewise, when one invokes terms such as "radical Islamic terrorist" and similarly specific designations, the clear intent is to identify that small portion of the population who have co-opted specific elements of a religion for their own ends.  Having wrapped themselves in the mantle of Islam does not automatically mean the terrorists, "supported" by the declaration of a Caliphate,  magically represent every Muslim on the planet or that all or even most followers of Islam support ISIS et al.

Twisting what is said and defining it to represent that which you claim to abhor is to transform yourself into exactly what you profess to fight against.  The ends do not justify the means.

Similarly, anyone who expresses a desire to stop individuals from entering the United States through other than legally authorized means, and to ensure that those who were granted entry for specific purposes or for a defined duration leave when those purposes no longer obtain or the duration has expired, is accused of being racist or worse and of wholesale loathing all who are immigrants.

Immigrants as a group are not a problem.  The problem is those who do not feel obliged to follow established protocols to enter the country.  Those and only those individuals are the specifically defined subset of the entire immigrant population.  No matter how desperate or heart-wrenching their personal stories may be, no one has the right to come here outside the law just because they want a better life for themselves or their families.

And no, we are not all immigrants.  Mindless chanting of an untruth, no matter how fervently it is desired that it be truth, does not make it a fact.

Lawfully practiced immigration is a healthy and vital part of what built this country into the nation that was able to win two world wars and build the greatest economy with the most opportunity for its people in the history of the planet.  That is precisely why so many are eager to come here.  Throwing open the doors to any who wish to pillage the treasury is one of many factors degrading the United States into a country that the Greatest Generation would not recognize, and would not wish to be a part of.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Gerrymandering Is Like Representatives and Senators: They All Stink - Except For Mine!

I've missed the Liberal outrage over one of their own not only admitting to unabashed gerrymandering while governor of Maryland but proudly stating "As a governor, I held that redistricting pen in my own Democratic hand. I was convinced that we should use our political power to pass a map that was more favorable for the election of Democratic candidates."

Is this something Liberals only find deplorable when Republicans are doing it and thwarting their compulsive need to take over the universe?

How about getting behind an initiative to have congressional and legislative districts drawn by computers programmed to create districts that are as geographically compact and contiguous as possible without giving any consideration whatsoever to age, race, religious or other demographic factors?

Or is a world without blatant bias in Liberal favor the stuff of nightmares too horrifying to even be imagined?

O’Malley now supports non-partisan commissions to draw congressional districts he admits gerrymandering