Wednesday, June 28, 2006

One Vote Away From Insanity

The fact that 66 United States senators voted to add a flag protection amendment to the Constitution ought to scare the hell out of anyone who still holds the slightest shred of hope that our elected officials are actually concerned about upholding their oath of office.

That would be the oath to support the Constitution. The oath has no codicil, no loophole along the lines of “unless I need to appease the superstitious yahoos who might vote against me in the next election.”

And yet 66 Senators--66 out of 100!--voted to start dismantling the document they’ve sworn to protect. Are they intellectually incapable of doing so, or are they just terrified of the yahoos?

Now, in today’s dishonest, cutthroat, and superficial campaign climate, it’s entirely possible that they’re terrified of some future political opponent twisting their “Nay” votes into a campaign issue. But there’s also a good counter-argument to that sort of sensationalism, if you can pull it off. Let’s say Senator Bob Fudknuckler of Iowa finds himself opposed in the next election by Candidate Steve Jingo, whose entire campaign is built on questioning the incumbent’s patriotism. Candidate Jingo might run a TV spot that says “My opponent Bob Fudknuckler voted against protecting Old Glory from the flag-burners. Why does he hate the flag? Does he want to see America burn, too?”

Fudknuckler’s response, then, would be something like this: “I voted to repeal the tax cuts for the wealthy in order to help fight our growing deficit and make taxation fair for all Americans. I voted to raise the minimum wage so working families can have a fighting chance to get out of poverty and live the American dream. I voted for measures that would prevent corporations from sending jobs overseas and screwing the working man while lining their own pockets with the increased profits. I would ask my opponent which is more important to the future of this country: its people, or a symbol?”

Yeah, I’m an idealist. And I get a kick out of the name Fudknuckler.

But moving on. Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah sponsored the flag amendment, and actually had the nerve to say the Senate had nothing more important to be concerned about. This is one of the most mind-bogglingly stupid things I’ve ever heard come out of someone’s mouth. You’re an elected official, Orrin, and you’ve been elected to make the country a better place than it was when you took office. If you consider protecting the flag more important than the economic well-being of your constituents, if you consider it more important than finding a way out of the quagmire in Iraq, if you consider it more important than protecting freedom itself, then in my opinion you aren’t qualified to do your job. I don’t believe you have the smarts.

Speaking of not having the smarts, the ever-quotable Bill Frist said the flag “is the single symbol that protects our liberty and freedom.” Really. I enjoy a good bit of anthropomorphizing now and then, but I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a flag enlist in the army. I’d like to know how a mere symbol protects anything at all.

One vote away, folks. I can’t imagine being so terrified every election year that you throw common sense to the wayside and spend a single minute on time-wasters like these.

Oh Wait, There’s More

+ By the way, it’s a little disingenuous for them to constantly refer to “the” flag, as if there were just the one in existence instead of the millions flying all over the place--most of them mass-produced in China, as I understand it.

+ Hillary Clinton, who just a few months ago sponsored legislation to criminalize flag-burning, voted against the amendment. I don’t know what to make of that, but I’ll give her probationary kudos.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Fighting Them In Miami

Kudos to the FBI agents and local police officials who uncovered the terrorist cell in Miami and thwarted a plan to bomb the Sears Tower and other locations.

And our occupation of Iraq helped this how, exactly?

The report on said an undercover operative was used to infiltrate the gang, leading to the arrest of seven people described in the story as "al Qaeda wannabes." Hey, wait a minute--an undercover operative? That's a great idea! Since your standard terrorist yahoos operate as a sneaky, shadowy organization, let's approach them in a sneaky, shadowy manner. Not only would that be more cost-effective than using thousands of troops to occupy some godforsaken hellhole in the Middle East, it might actually help prevent future acts of terrorism from occurring.

Which any president who wasn't mentally defective would already understand.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Beware the Marauding Judges!

My clock-radio is set to come on at 5:30 every morning, right at the beginning of the NPR news. For the last two mornings I’ve been treated to the stupid Texas twang of acting president Bush, delivering a speech in support of a federal marriage amendment. The good thing is that it gets me out of bed fast, because as I’ve mentioned before, any time that guy speaks I know it’s either going to be a lie or something intended to stir up the flag-worshipers.

But today he said something so absolutely moronic that I knew it was time to fire up the Runes again. Today he said this:

“When activist judges insist on imposing their arbitrary will on the people, the only alternative left to the people is an amendment to the Constitution, the only law a court cannot overturn.”

Oh, where to begin.

How does one become president of the United States without the simplest understanding of how the judicial system works? In Bush’s fanciful world, bands of marauding judges are roaming the land imposing their arbitrary will on the people. It’s like he has no idea what judges do or where they come from, which might in fact be true but in no way diminishes the reality that judges don’t make laws, they interpret them.

And their guide to interpreting laws is, say it with me, the U.S. Constitution.

Bush knows just enough about the Constitution to be dangerous, which can also be said for how much he knows about economics and foreign policy. He’s correct that an amendment to the Constitution can’t be overturned by a court, but he’s overstating the case when he says “the only alternative left to the people” is a Constitutional amendment.

The only alternative to whom? Who are these people so desperately turning from place to place, looking for a solution to the problem of gay marriage?

Why, they’re bigots, that’s who. People who aren’t affected by gay marriage in the least, except to the extent that it doesn’t fit into their narrow view of the world. They’re people who can’t see the difference between marriage as a legal partnership and marriage as a union of blessed souls. Sadly, though, they’re people who don’t pay a damn bit of attention to what a mess this president has been making until he gets them all fired up with some non-existent bogeyman.

In an election year, of course. And people call me a cynic.