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Gender: Male
Hometown: North Carolina
Member since: Wed Aug 11, 2004, 06:57 PM
Number of posts: 3,813

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I knew Paul Ryan's & Alan Simpson's politics in 2009

On (2nd) Edit: I initially interpreted Plucketeer's humor above as an attempt to derail the discussion and drag it down to a sarcastic caricature of the birther nonsense. But sometimes a joke is just an attempt at humor, even here at DU.

Now, on to the point of the Debt Commission itself:

I knew Paul Ryan's & Alan Simpson's politics in 2009, and I'm just a dude who reads the news. Are you saying that Obama, the President of the US and leader of the Democratic Party, did not?

People who oppose all taxes have no business being placed on a 'Debt Commission,' especially one appointed by a Democratic administration. All I am saying is that Obama could have handled the matter better in 2009 had he kept the slash-&-burn Teahadist wing of faux fiscal conservatism far from any such commission. Their craven greed and twisted lies on behalf of the 1% deserved no such mantle of legitimacy. I question even appointing a 'Debt Commission' at all during 2009, but if one was really necessary for whatever reason, the Democratic side should have had only pro-Social Security, pro-progressive-taxation, pro-worker, FDR/New Deal advocates. This 'Turd Way' nonsense is worse than Reaganism: a stinking corporatist effluvium polluting our own Party.


K&R, with one caveat

No doubt about it, Ryan is a heinous liar, but honestly, wtf did Obama expect to happen with that Commission? On the 'shred-the-safety-net side,' he appointed rabid ideologues like Paul Ryan & Alan Simpson.

Meanwhile on the 'save-the-safety-net side'... Oh wait, that side was barely represented, if at all on that Commission.

Meanwhile on the 'Democratic' side, Obama appoints weaselly-little corporatists like Erskine Bowles. Erskine-goddamn-Bowles stands for no one except Morgan Stanley and Erskine Bowles (and he does the latter badly, as he has been unable to get elected to any office lately; plus his tenure at the helm of the UNC system was utterly without distinction).

The 'Debt Commission' should have contained at least a plurality of pro-Social Security, pro-Safety Net, pro-progressive taxation voices among the Democrats (I know it would be too much to ask to find even one Republican to fit that description). Instead, the 'Debt Commission' was stacked against us from the start. It was bad policy from the outset, so it should be no surprise that the result is some bad politics.


So, what should we ban?

Guns can play a role in horrible crimes: I get that. But is the problem the criminal or the gun? I say it's the criminal, and that the solutions lie in the areas of providing better, universally-accessible mental health care, ending the war on (some) drugs so that police have more resources to fight truly violent crime, and creating tax and monetary policies that push the nation toward full employment and reduced income inequality. Do you really think the problem is more in the gun itself? If so, what should we ban?

With criminal intent, a common hunting rifle or old S&W revolver could cause unspeakable tragedy in five or more peoples' lives.

Used properly for recreation or target shooting, one of those 'evil black rifles' with the 75 or 100 round drums will cause no harm at all. And yes, such weapons do also have valid, lawful, self-defense applications as well.

Semi-automatic pistols and rifles are not problems in themselves. Large ammunition collections do not cause murders. Violent criminals are the problem, and we already have laws against them.


Reading Is Fundamental, my friend

Nice straw man you are attacking there, about consequence-free speech, but no one brought that up before you did. In fact, the article linked in the OP already distinguished how the government is more constrained from retaliatory action than is private business:

Bosses and those who work under them are not equal when it comes to free-speech legal claims. Employers have the right to take action against any employee who engages in political speech that company leaders find offensive. With a few narrow exceptions the Constitution and the federal laws derived from it only protect a personís right to expression from government interference, not from the restrictions a private employer may impose, lawyers say.

However, my own response #8 and subsequent discussion both attempt to illuminate the role that government plays in chartering and sustaining corporations. With that government support comes a corporate obligation to balance the free speech rights of employees with the desires of owners and capital. You need some more examples? OK, since 2008, most large banks only continue to exist thanks to the US taxpayer. All our defense corporations, from McDonnell Douglas to Lockheed Martin, etc. all feed from the 57% of Federal revenue presently devoted to the military.

I am not calling for 'consequence-free speech.' As far as I am concerned, a sole-proprietor business owner who does not take public funds in any form can be as dictatorial as he likes about speech in his workplace. But most businesses these days are corporate, thanks to the very real benefits granted by government to corporations. And all my life corporations, those artificial constructs with state charters granting them limited-liability, have been socializing risks and privatizing ever more of the public sphere and their own profits.

I am saying that with a state charter, with public funds, and other social support that corporations receive, comes some responsibility to honor the spirit of the 1st Amendment. A more proper balance needs to be achieved, one that acknowledges that corporations receive considerable support from the state, as they hire citizens. The idea that owners and investors can buy media and make donations as 1st-Amendment protected free speech, while workers can be fired at will for any controversial views is a recipe for 1%-er totalitarianism. You may be comfortable in such a world, but this Democrat is not.


Must be nice in La La Land...

Sure, we can discuss some theoretical and ideal capitalism, where all market participants have full information, none has undue market influence or oligopolistic power, and workers are free to negotiate fair and equitable deals with capital as they trade labor for goods and services. But I have never lived in such a land, and I doubt you have either.

In the America I know, the interests of corporations and the state have converged so tightly as to be nearly indistinguishable. Large corporations, mega-churches, and think tanks for the 1% all maintain lobbying offices around the Capitol, ready to buy elections, influence contracts, and finesse the media with their own message.

Have you seen the photos from Anaheim, CA this month? I'm not there, so I won't pretend to know the situation fully, but I have seen enough to know that women are being shot with rubber bullets in the shadow of Disneyland's walls. Did you see anything of Occupy Wall Street's outcomes last year? Capital clearly is willing and able to muster the full force of the state whenever it feels even slightly challenged or questioned. Why should the People not retain at least a measure of their liberties in the workplace? Without exercising at least a measure of the enumerated rights of the first ten Amendments in the place most of us spend the majority of our waking hours, what chance do we have of progress? If you think that human rights and Constitutional liberties stand a chance in this landscape without the concerted demands of people being spoken and heard both in and out of the workplace, I'd like to hear your plan.


We are not 'in-control'

I was once at an Anishanabe (aka Chippewa or Ojibwa) gathering whe every public speech began with something that sounded to me like 'nin-get-a-ma-gess' (apologies to any Native speakers who know how badly I am surely transcribing it). It translates as 'I am humble in the eyes of the Creator.' What an inspiring and relevant perspective to always begin from.

The fools described in the OP are coming from exactly the opposite place, and they will surely fail, doing more damage to the ecosystem the whole while. But they will garner the support of the 1%, who also fancy themselves Gods.


The Bill of Rights needs to accompany us into the workplace...

We Americans (hopefully) all embrace the Bill of Rights as a codification of fundamental, inalienable, and self-evident freedoms. Throughout American history, more and more of those freedoms have been 'incorporated' into state law via Supreme Court decisions. This process of honoring the Fourteenth Amendment via incorporation has allowed for much of the progress we Democrats cherish, as certain states had otherwise resisted rights being extended to certain races, to women, and (still) to people on the basis of their sexuality, for example.

States are what charter corporations and issue licenses (dba's etc.) to private businesses. Yet for some strange reason many Americans, including too many here at DU, find it perfectly acceptable that one's right to free speech, one's freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, and nearly every other civil right and liberty enshrined in our Constitution end at the workplace door. This is a ludicrous and pernicious notion. Why should a state be able to create a private entity via a corporate charter which then can violate rights that the state otherwise must protect?

We ought to always emphasize that our Constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms can and should be exercised at the times and places where we spend the majority of our waking hours: the workplace. A corporation gaining a charter from the state should only be possible with if said corporation agrees to respect the fundamental freedoms of its employees. Indeed, how can a state give a corporation a power which the state itself does not have? If a state must respect the First Amendment, etc., then so must the corporations it charters.

The "Well Regulated Militia" clause in plain English and other liberal Constitutional musings

Anyone paying attention to the discussion of guns and the Right to Keep & Bear Arms here at DU since the Aurora, Colorado shooting tragedy (the "really big news" that has caused discussions of firearms to move here to General Discussion for the past few days) has surely seen the Second Amendment's text, in whole or in part, posted for discussion. For those of you who need a reminder, the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, which serves as the supreme law of this land reads as follows:

Amendment II
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.

Many who wish to see greater regulation of guns seize upon the prefatory clause, "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state," as their excuse to claim that further bans of certain firearms, magazines, ammunition quantities, or other materials would be Constitutional and/or just good policy. Those posting such sentiments here generally ignore that we already have thousands (some sources say tens of thousands) of gun laws, including virtual bans (i.e- hefty ATF reg's & taxes) on rounds larger than fifty-caliber, fully-automatic weapons, and explosives. We also have a Democratic Party platform that states that "We recognize that the right to bear arms is an important part of the American tradition, and we will preserve Americans' Second Amendment right to own and use firearms." While the platform goes on to say that "We believe that the right to own firearms is subject to reasonable regulation," including a call for a renewed Assault Weapons Ban (Read more: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_position_of_the_Democratic_Party_on_gun_control#ixzz21aIgbHpS), Democratic leaders such as Bill Clinton generally credit the last AWB as a primary reason why the Democrats lost Congress in 1994. Does anyone here really want a repeat of that? If the Democrats lose the Senate in 2012, what kind of Supreme Court Justices will Obama get to seat? If the Democrats lose the Presidency in 2012, what the fuck will happen to this country?

But the point of this OP is to deconstruct the "well regulated militia" clause. I believe that gun-control advocates who rest their arguments here are mistaken for at least two further reasons:

1. Regulated may not mean what you think it means:

I'm no historian, but I have read that "well regulated" in Eighteenth Century parlance meant well-equipped and well-trained. Rather than reiterate all the history here, I recommend DU'er Francis Marion's response on the topic:


In fact, that whole thread is worth a look. On to the second reason, and the core of this post:

2. It's the militia that is to be regulated, not the arms:

"Fine," you might say; well regulated might have meant something different then, but it means regulated now. Even if I concede this point, that is no rationale for further gun control. The Second Amendment states that the militia is to be "well regulated," but that the "the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." To my 21st Century mind, this allows extensive government regulation of how and where I might assemble with others and train for military purposes. This makes sense, especially just following the First Amendment which in part explicitly protects, "the right of the people peaceably to assemble." So, peaceful gatherings should be sacrosanct and free from government intrusion, but once arms come out and militias start marching, the state might get a say in the matter. Reasonable enough for any state, no matter how much a bastion of liberty. However, within the Bill of Rights, my individual right to "keep and bear arms" is at least as strongly enshrined as people's rights to free speech, to freedom of religion, to "be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures," etc.

I'll conclude that the immediate wake of a tragedy can be a terrible time to hastily write new policy, particularly policy that further abridges our rights. The PATRIOT Act was passed only 45 days after the 9/11 attacks, with regrettable and extensive Democratic complicity (John Edwards was a co-sponsor - yet another reason he is an asshole): what did that gain us?

I am a Democrat, a progressive, and liberal. I stand for all our rights, including the right to keep and bear arms. I call on Democratic Underground to recognize and celebrate this vein of Democratic thought.


Well, that's a problem.

The first two Amendments of the U. S. Constitution protect fredom of speech, worship, assembly, and the keeping and bearing of arms. All of these rights are sacred to me, and should be so for all Americans.

I'm normally a fan of the Rude One, but I find it regrettable that he is busy trying to erode the Second Amendment, when he should be focusing on restoring the First. The fact that freedom of speech has been trampled in the US is no excuse to go trampling more rights.


Did you ever consider democracy?

This site is Democratic Underground. While that may mean blind Democratic party loyalty to some, I prefer to concurrently embrace the notion that because we are Democrats, we believe in government by the 'demos,' i.e.- the people.

I have been paying close attention to politics & policy for decades now, so I feel quite competent to evaluate the performance of the present AG. But more imortantly, the AG works for us. 'Eleven-dimensional chess' & super-secret double-plus-good policies don't cut it. Had Holder upheld the full Bill of rights, as is his job, he would have the unequivocal support of myself and many Americans like me. He didn't, and so he doesn't. Maybe the 'Eleven-dimensional chess' strategists can put these facts in their pipes & smoke 'em.

As I said, I expect better from the second Obama administration. I am willing to temper my (legitimate) anger aginst Holder for a few months in order to help make that second Obama administration happen.

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