RJ's Corner

We, The People….

2016-01-27_15-04-39.pngFreedom is an interesting concept to invoke here. What the Malheur militia was doing, not to put too fine a point on it, was trying to force the government to shift publicly held land — the people’s land — into private hands, the hands of ranchers like themselves, and mining and energy companies.

They did not generally describe their project in those terms. Bundy and his fellow scofflaws tended to fashion themselves as reclaiming the land for “the people”….

“It is frustrating when I hear the demand that we return the land to the people, because it is in the people’s hand — the people own it,” said Randy Eardley, a spokesman for the Bureau of Land Management, a central villain in the Bundy anti-government narrative. (The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages Malheur.) “Everybody in the United States owns that land… We manage it the best we can for its owners, the people, and whether it’s for recreating, for grazing, for energy and mineral development.”

SOURCE:  Team Bundy still wants to steal your land.

I am going to sound like a “liberal” here and say that whenever I see someone clinging to the flag so ferociously for their cause I become very skeptical.  There are just too many radical causes with the name “Freedom” attached to them.  In reality they are generally for the opposite. There is just way too much flag waving in some radical circles.

These same guys who are trying to steal our land are also vehemently against our government. They rant about the evil federal government taking away their rights, or “their” land, or their freedom. Maybe they should take a serious look at the constitution they cling to, especially the first three words.  We The People means just that.  When we talk about the government we are actually talking about the people of this country. We entrust our representatives with the task to take care of our corporate business and if they don’t do an acceptable job we can always fire them and get someone else to do it. That process is called elections and they happen at all levels of government on a somewhat regular basis.

Does that mean “We, the people” are of one mind and always see things the same way? Of course not. There will always be some who want more than their share of our country.  They want to use our property free of charge instead of paying the rest of us for it. They want to claim that “they” are the people and take away the rights of the rest of us in the process.  The Bundys and those like them are not looking out for us but for themselves.  It’s as simple as that.

It is sad that one of them had to lose his life in this recent incident. He said he would die before he was arrested so he put that on himself. I’m sure his life would not have been taken if he didn’t try to take some else’s life. It didn’t have to happen, but then again it was probably inevitable given the nature of these supposed patriots….

Chris Christie Flubbed Something Really Basic About American History

2016-01-16_08-14-54.pngNew Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made a bold pronouncement at Thursday’s Republican debate: the founders considered the right to bear arms to be one of the most important constitutional amendments—that’s why it was the second one on the list. “I don’t think the Founders put the second amendment as number two by accident,” he said, adding, “I think they made the Second Amendment the Second Amendment because they thought it was just that important.”

But that doesn’t make a lot of sense—the Third Amendment (which prevents citizens from quartering soldiers against their will) is not more important than the Fourth Amendment (which prohibits unwarranted search and seizure), simply because it has a lower number. Nor would you be able to find many conservatives who believe the Tenth Amendment, which delegates rights to the states, is somehow the least important of the bunch.

The other problem with this line of thinking is that the Second Amendment as we know it wasn’t really the second amendment to be written—it was the fourth. James Madison proposed 12 amendments to the Constitution, but the first two were not ratified by enough states. The original First Amendment concerned the size of congressional districts—not quite as big of a deal in the grand scheme of things as, say, the original Third Amendment (which would become freedom of expression). The original Second Amendment would have prohibited Congress from raising its own pay (it was eventually ratified as the 27th.)

This is all a bit confusing but you have to bear in mind the Founding Fathers were drunk most of the time.

SOURCE:  Chris Christie Flubbed Something Really Basic About American History | Mother Jones.

 

I know I have proclaimed a hiatus on the presidential primary process until some have voted. So, this is not about that but about how too many of us are confusing the facts about our country’s founding.  Just because a guy is a governor doesn’t make him knowledgeable about government matters.  In fact none of the amendments were considered important enough to be put in the original constitution. They were basically added as an after-thought.

But, I am grateful that the amendments are there, all twenty-seven of them.  Well almost all of them anyway.

Let Me See If I Got This Right?

2016-01-06_08-13-16.pngLaVoy Finicum says the Feds won’t take him alive

One of the armed protesters occupying a federal wildlife refuge in rural Oregon said he would rather die defending the building than be arrested by the FBI.

Source: Oregon Occupier Warns FBI He’d Take Death Over Jail | TIME

I guess that not all the nuts in the country are running for president. Some of them are waving the flag and the constitution in the name of getting “free” stuff and saying they will die rather than pay for it.

Ok, maybe that is a little harsh, lets look at it a little more.  The major conflict of these guys known as the “Oregon Occupiers” is grazing rights. They all have ranches/farms  close to federal land and think they should be able to use that land for their own purposes. They get upset when the federal government says they have to pay rent on it via grazing fees.

How much is the rent? -I’m not sure if I got all this straight but it appears that people using government land to feed their cattle pay about $1.50 per cow a month. That comes to about $18 a year. If the rancher is not fortunate enough to be close to federal land he would have to pay  about $1/day. That’s about 20 times more than grazing fees.

How is this rent money used? – About half of it goes to the States to compensate them for not being able to get property taxes from that land. The other half goes to the costs of managing the land and to preserve additional land for public ownership.

All this doesn’t seem very evil to me and it certainly is not worth dying for. It doesn’t sound like it is the big bad feds putting it to the little guy. To me it kind of sounds like these guys are getting a deep discount for their cattle business but they want it free instead! I’m sure the vast majority, if not all, of these guys are ultra-conservatives who rail against all those free-loaders who are living off welfare checks but are they really any different in wanting free stuff?

As of this writing, and I hope into the future, the FBI and other law enforcement branches are choosing to just ignore these nuts who are ranting in the northern wilderness about their constitutional rights but actual history shows they are on the wrong side of this issue. I suspect they will prosecute some of them for the laws they are breaking, especially when they do so at the point of a gun. But that will come later.

As soon as the press leave I suspect even the guy who claims he will fight to the death for free stuff will leave. Let’s end this post with another group of armed insurrectionist occupying federal buildings..

2016-01-07_11-25-06.png

 

British Pragmatism…

Since the second world war, British foreign policy has been built on its so-called special relationship with the United States, which emerged from that conflict as the world’s most powerful nation. This week, London showed it was attempting to build another special relationship, with China, the world’s fast-rising power that is on its way to challenge US dominance in global affairs….

Britain is known for its pragmatic diplomacy. For instance, it was not only the first Western nation to recognize the new communist republic in 1949, but did so even before the Soviet Union for fear of a possible communist military takeover of Hong Kong. British foreign policy is best summed up by the words of 19th-century prime minister Lord Palmerston: “We have no permanent allies, we have no permanent enemies, we have only permanent interests.

Source: ANALYSIS: Britain’s new ‘special relationship’ with China is built on pragmatism | South China Morning Post

Banner Pragmatists  I love the words “We have no permanent allies, we have no permanent enemies, we have only permanent interests.” It takes a pragmatist’s mind to come to that realization.  We have been in war after war in my lifetime and usually withing a score of years our enemies become our friends.  The big one for my generation was Vietnam. We lost over 50,000 boys in that war. Now Vietnam is one of the premiere travel destinations for many in this country.

While Great Britain (I don’t know if they call themselves “Great” anymore) was the world power they, like we do now, made many blunders but they always seemed to land on their feet so to speak. Because they have a parliamentary form of government they are used to forming coalitions to accomplish things. Their diplomacy follows suit. They recognize what needs to be done to further their overall goals and then proceed to make that happen.

Too many of us in the U.S. get stuck in a mode of thinking that seems impossible to get out of.  One of those things is socialism. Say that word to many here, including politicians, and all they can think of is the “evil empire” USSR. We came close a couple of times in destroying the earth over our differences so anything that they do must be wrong for us. Britain on the other hand embraces socialism as a pragmatic solution to many of society’s problems. Socialized medicine works well there and keeps the cost of healthcare much more managable that we have ever been able to attain.

Now Britain is using a pragmatic approach to China.  They realize that China is becoming a prime economic power in the world.  They don’t get stuck on the “communist” label as a reason for demonetization.

Pragmatism is one of those things that we need to import much more of if we hope to be relevant in tomorrow’s world. That and to finally come to the realization that we can no longer afford to be the policemen of the world before it breaks us under its load of debt.

Being The Adult….

McConnell said that this year, Democrats objected to spending bills drafted under existing tight budget caps — known as sequestration — because they want more spending for domestic programs. Republicans are seeking more defense spending than the current caps allow….

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Tuesday  “I would expect that in the weeks ahead we’ll have more of a discussion about how Democrats and Republicans in Congress can work together to make sure that we adequately fund both our national security and economic priorities, while of course taking the necessary steps to prevent a government shutdown in an unnecessary injection of volatility into the national economy.”

Source: Congress gears up for major budget talks with White House

I’m going to put on my fiscal conservative hat here.  I don’t like to wear the “C” cap very often but  it is necessary. Fiscal conservatism used to be the job of the GOP but since they are now in the “anti-” mode someone has to be the adult and talk about our spending.   It seems that both parties want to pile on more spending year over year. One for the safety net for our citizens and one for  expanding an already over bloated war machine so that we can get even more involved in all the conflicts around the world.

Instead of constantly increasing our spending someone needs to look at what we spend our current budgets on and eliminate those items that are no longer useful.  Some one needs to be the adult here.  Let’s start with the military.  We spend more on our war machine than the rest of the world combined and we are only 5% of the world’s population.  I say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. You hear almost every day about the next “$1000 toilet seat”. I’m sure there is at least 25% of that budget that no longer serves any purpose. Why can’t we root that out and get rid of it instead of just piling on more money? One of the answers is that if someone tries to cut military cost someone else will scream “you are making our soldiers less safe!!” But someone has to be the adult and do it anyway as the vast majority that wasteful spending it has nothing to do with the safety of our soldiers.

One the domestic side I personally have seen several people who are on disability payments who when no one is watching work just as hard as the rest of us. It is just too easy to get a government payment. I know I sound like a card carrying member of the GOP here. But, I am not saying that most, or even many, are in that mode but there are sufficient numbers who do game the system that if we took a closer look could substantially reduce our safety net costs.  I”m sure there are  many other examples of where we could reign in spending if we just put our mind to it.

I have been on a fixed budget for over 15 years now. Yes, some things change for instance the ever increasing cost of healthcare. Medicare pays for 80% of my medical costs for about $100 a month and that hasn’t changed dramatically but to cover the other 20% has increased from about $100 to over $250 and for my wife over $350.  In order to pay those bills we have had to cut back other places. Why can’t the government do the same?

Just Too Sensible….

It’s too bad America doesn’t have a queen. If we did, maybe she could summon the leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties in the House to her palace and order them — in the national interest — to form a coalition to lead the House of Representatives and end the dysfunction that’s taken over Washington. How would a Republican-Democratic coalition work? By enlisting Democrats to help the more-mainstream Republicans in the House elect the new leadership. In exchange for Democratic votes, the new leaders would promise that any legislation that had the support of a majority of the House (including Republicans and Democrats) could be considered on the floor…

The tea partiers have put ideological purity above the interests of the nation. They reject compromise not only with Obama and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi but with the relatively moderate members of their own party, whom they dismiss as Republicans in name only, or RINOs.

Source: It’s time for a Republican-Democratic coalition in the House – MarketWatch

The above words just make too much sense to be implemented by those disoriented yahoos in the House. They would much rather fight among themselves than do anything that had an air of common good.  I am kind of pessimistic about the above suggestion happening as I don’t see anyone on the GOP side who is enough of a leader to make it happen. With twenty different people running for the GOP presidential nomination that think they are the leader then it seems obvious that no one is the leader.  There is a total lack of anyone being in charge on that side of the aisle.

I think maybe what we need is a third, or even fourth party in our political system. That, like in the UK, necessitates a coalition government and right now that seems the only way out of this totally self-inflicted partisan situation we are in. Push the Tea Party off into their own party. That’s where they belong. Split the lefties from the Democratic party and let all four of them vie for as many votes as they can.  But this idea is too logical a solution and that is something that is a rare commodity inside the beltway.

The simplest way out of this quicksand is for both parties to simply shed their extreme members and look for a coalition among moderates no matter the party. The vast majority of us citizens just want them to get along and get things done.  Surely some of them can put country before party?  But that takes courage and it doesn’t appear anyone in the House has an ounce of it right now.  If they can’t, or more appropriately won’t, form a coalition congress then it is our duty as voters to remove them from office.

Here is one simple piece of advice for both parties, for the good of the country quit catering to your wingnuts,  and work together. It is as simple as that…

Will the GOP have the courage to attack this problem head on or will they just continue to kick the partisan can down the road….

 

 

Coalition Government….

2015-10-10_09-26-20”In order to pass any bill around this place, everybody knows we need to assemble a bipartisan coalition,” Dent told reporters after McCarthy bailed out. “I suspect at some point, if we can’t get 218 Republicans to vote for a speaker candidate, we’ll have to assemble a bipartisan coalition to elect a speaker.” Conservatives in the GOP caucus would adamantly oppose such an arrangement, and it would spark a serious rift in the Republican Party. But it may open the way for Congress to start getting more work done.

And Dent isn’t the only Republican to be fed up with colleagues who have proven willing to shut down the government if they can’t win their battles to defund Obamacare or yank federal funding from Planned Parenthood. “We have to do whatever it takes to elect a speaker,” said Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.). It’s not that lawmakers on King’s side of the aisle would prefer forming what amounts to an American version of a coalition government. But even those who think it’s a bad idea admit it could happen.

Source: Republicans Fear They May Need Dems To Solve Their Speaker Crisis

I don’t understand why those radical right wingnuts in the GOP are so against forming coalitions, some call it bipartisanship,  for the common good.  I guess to them it is “my way or the highway”. They want it all and to hell with anyone who might even see is slightly differently.  And what they seem to want is a total shutdown of the federal government except for our war machine.

The best thing the moderates who hopefully make up the majority of the GOP could do is to quarantine these guys off on their own.  Put them in a room with rubber walls.  Maybe if they are ignored long enough they will eventually get the message that not everyone is the enemy or another scenario is maybe those who voted for them will send them packing in thirteen months but I’m not sure we can wait that long.

I know I do and I think most others except maybe those low-info voters just want congress to go about doing the people’s business regardless of which party they claim affiliation to. It should be country first and party second. Our current way we do business is more like a boxing match, whoever can bloody their opponent the most wins.  That is no way to do business. I just pray that the sane one in the GOP, if they exist and have a backbone, listen to the will of the people and not to fear that radical fringe element that makes so much noise.

I guess we will learn in the next few days who rules in the nuthouse we call the House of Representatives.

 

Perhaps They Never Will..

GOP_Leadership

I have to put out a quick post here following Pope Francis’ speech before our congress. To me it was very inspiring but obviously there were those there that simply refused to listen to anything he said. Instead they sat stoically on their hands while those around them frequently stood and applauded.

This reminded me of the last words in the final verse of one of my favorite songs which is entitled “Vincent” by Don McClean. It goes like this…

They would not listen,

They are not listening still

Perhaps they never will

I just cannot believe that the current GOP leadership really represent all those who claim allegiance to that party.  Are all those millions who make up the GOP base so close minded that they will not even consider listening to anything that might threaten their current views?  I certain hope not.  The Bible calls that “hardened hearts”.  Perhaps its time to look elsewhere for your leaders?

Maternity Tourism…

“I was focusing on a specific targeted kind of case where people are organizing to bring pregnant women into the country, where they’re having children so their children can become citizens,” Bush said. “That’s fraud.”

Federal agents earlier this year described “maternity tourism” schemes in which wealthy foreign women, particularly from China, travel to the United States to give birth so their children will have U.S. citizenship.

SOURCE: Jeb Bush again defends use of ‘anchor babies’ term, says referred to Asians – Yahoo News.

QE BannerBirthright citizenship seems to be dimming in the political sphere. Everything is now focused on Donald Trump and is meteoric rise in the GOP.  It was not until this topic came front and center that I found that “maternity tourism” to be a thriving industry.  No matter how high there is not a wall big enough to prevent this from happening.  The only way to do that is to, like the rest of the world, eliminate birthright citizenship.

While I am generally for all kinds of immigration I just don’t see the usefulness of this seemingly archaic law. Except for the original inhabitants we are a nation of immigrants. Very few of our ancestors were around before the formation of the U.S.  I love the words on the Statue of Liberty.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

 Our history in advocating these words have been on-again, off-again at best. It seems that when one ethnic group gets settled in the country they then go about trying to prevent others from accomplishing the same thing.

Given that we seem to be entrenched into a mode of fear and anti-everything now is probably not the time to look at changing our foundation documents but when will that time conveniently come?  One of the primary reasons that our country has survived as long as it has is that we treat our constitution as a living document and not set in stone.  It’s time to make some fundamental changes to allow us to thrive in the 21st century and beyond. The second amendment was never intended to make guns readily available to people with severe mental problems. Gun control is a necessary step in American progress.  The 14th amendment was truly necessary for the post civil war period but has long since outlived its usefulness.

Thomas Jefferson was a firm believer that constitutional conventions were going to be necessary on a regular basis to keep our nation moving forward.

Question everything….

Why Does China Back North Korea???

2015-09-11_09-46-38Even on its best days, the regime teeters on the brink of collapse, simply because most of its people are starving and unhappy. It would take only a tiny push for the straightjacket of terror that keeps the regime together to fall apart, for enough people to become more hungry than scared, and for enough regime thugs and mid-level officers to say, “No, not this time, we won’t pull the trigger.”

The regime’s attempt to black out all outside information has been showing cracks. Cell phones and DVDs (and probably Bibles) are streaming in from the Chinese border, where guards are easily bribed. This contraband is showing an increasing number of North Koreans that another way of life is possible. Various market-driven “reforms,” while improving the lot of a few ordinary North Koreans, also highlight the regime’s dons for what they are: corrupt kleptocrats, businessmen with guns.

Source: Why North Korea’s collapse is inevitable.

How North Korea has held on to power for so long is a mystery to me. Compared to the other Korea they are living in abject poverty barely surviving from day-to-day. The majority of their resources are directed toward their military and to support the lifestyle of their insane child leader.  I would hope that someday the above scenario finally comes to pass and the country is once again allowed to re-unify as Germany was a few decades ago.

One thing that seems to put off this inevitability is China’s support of the regime.  I really don’t understand why that support is even there?  I guess it is because they are one of the few countries in the world that like China still have a communist form of government.  But China has moved so far away from basic communist principles. Maybe it is because one dictator seems to always support another.

Here is what Wiki defines as a dictatorship:

Dictatorship is a form of government where political authority is monopolized by a person or political entity, and exercised through various mechanisms to ensure the entity’s power remains strong.

A dictatorship is a type of authoritarianism, in which politicians regulate nearly every aspect of the public and private behavior of normal people. Dictatorships and totalitarianism generally employ political propaganda to decrease the influence of proponents of alternative governing systems, as is the nature of nationalism of any governing system.

Dictatorships by their very nature are eventually doomed. The dictatorship falls for one of two reasons. Either the regime eventually morphs into something else through evolution or they are overthrown by revolution.  China’s dictatorship is an example of the first condition. Korea will probably go the way of the second.

Now that China controls a big hunk of the world’s manufacturing processes we can only pray that their change continues to be evolutionary instead of revolutionary.

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