Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Fail

Tom Tomorrow


This seems to be a recurring problem: major catastrophes, highly divisive issues, and general idiocy combine to create a practical shit-storm of people doing things that go against common sense. When things get worked up, when there's a lot at stake, or when there's a chance for public grandstanding, people seem to lose the ability to use their brains and operate in a way that makes any sense.

Take, as a great example, the way the media was chomping at the bit over the Boston bombings. Here we have an American tragedy being turned into a fear campaign that is plagued by misinformation, sheer idiocy, and people just making things up as they go. This coming from people who are supposed to be professional fact-checkers.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Common Sense Fails Again

The Senate, in predictable fashion, stopped every one of the President's new gun policy provisions. Every single one failed to receive the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster. This is really maddening, especially for those who are family members of victims of gun violence. Not even universal background checks withstood the Senate. That's apalling to me.

The President, as you can imagine, was pretty pissed. And why shouldn't he be? He was, after all, trying to save lives by putting common-sense protections in place around guns. I get that some people think an assault rifle with a 30-round clip is nice to have because you can. I get that some people live in dangerous areas and need firearms for their own protection. I get the recreational use of firearms for hunting and marksmanship competitions. What I don't understand is how asking people to go through a background check limits people's freedoms to own a gun. If they have nothing in their record that would prevent them from having a gun, then the background check won't stop the purchase. If they do have something in their record that would prevent them from owning a gun, then they shouldn't have one. Simple.

Another thing. I've heard a lot of people say that background checks will lead to a database of gun owners. But that's erroneous as well, since background checks are all done on paper, at every level, and it's against the law to computerize any of it. You can't plug in people's names on the computer, you can't document anything in a spreadsheet, nothing. Everything is handled via paper forms and physical filing. It makes for a convoluted, disorganized system, but that's what is expected so that we don't get a national database of gun owners.



Ruben Bolling

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Why it Matters

It's exceedingly ironic to me that the people who claim to revere our system of government and its constitution and bill of rights are the same people who go to very extreme lengths to fight it.

In North Carolina, a small group of Republicans have introduced a bill that would exempt the state from federal laws, regulations, or oversight. In essence, it would emancipate the state from the federal government entirely. And, in a new and exciting twist, these same Republicans have added an additional stipulation to their bill which would create an official state religion.

They're not the only ones, either. Mississippi is trying to do something similar by creating a board that would have the power to nullify federal statutes. And North Carolina is no stranger to thumbing its nose at the feds either. One of the requirements for any person to hold public office in the state is that they believe in God, though this has not been an enforceable stipulation for decades.

What's interesting is that North Carolina's own constitution seems to protect against just such a measure (see section 5 in the link). So why are they doing it? To shake off the tyranny of the federal government, of course!

I'm not sure what these Republicans are hoping to gain by attempting to nullify federal law, but I highly doubt it'll be successful. For one thing, it's unconstitutional. For another, it goes against the founding principles of our nation, which they claim to support. It is essentially secession without a formal declaration.

The federal government is what really gives us our national identity. The federal government is what grants us our rights and freedoms. It's what oversees our work with other states and countries. It controls our military, and creates the foundation for all of our industries, infrastructure, and investments. It is what makes America.

The debate in Washington may have sent us into a world of craziness where nothing gets done and everyone gets blamed. But we can't abandon our founding principles and doctrine because of how our current representatives are acting. The point of federalism is that there is an overreaching body of laws and limits that serve to protect the country and propel it to greater and greater success. Granted, the process has fallen apart recently, but that's not a reason to abandon it.

The process matters, the philosophies of our governance matter, the debate and even the dysfunction matters. It matters because it is by this mechanism that we develop and change to meet the needs of our ever-changing world. If we simply turn our backs on the system, not only are we failing our principles of a unified nation, we are trampling our history and allowing political division to end the conversation we've been having for hundreds of years about what is best for the country as a whole.