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All content © 2002-2005 Anne Zook

February 03, 2006
2 - What About Me?

Okay. I don't care that much about Party affiliations. I care about what someone does when they're in office. The label "Republican" doesn't make a person or a politician a wingnut. The label "Democrat" certainly doesn't guarantee a politician is a labor-supporting, planet-protecting, future-looking Lefty.

Also, not all of the issues most important to me are "Constitutional" ones.

So. What matters to me?

Public education - We need more and better, not less. Even the Bush Administration threw a sop to the value of public education in his recent SoTU, admitting that without teachers, and schools, we can't hope to compete in the world today. And I don't think they were thinking about regressive and censored religious education when they talked about "science."

You can't just teach kids to code xtml or to support Oracle databases. You have to teach them to think if you want a work force that's responsive to your precious "market forces", and that means a liberal education. Philosophy, metaphysics, history, social studies, government, and mathematics and science. (Yes, a well-educated and informed populace may be a danger to the ability of the government to do whatever it feels like doing. Only venal and corrupt politicians think that's a bad thing.)

Right to privacy - No secret wiretaps of war protesters, no reading the e-mail of environmentalists (and no prosecuting environmentalists under the label of "eco-terrorists" and claiming a victory in the "war on terror), and no interrogating the neighbors of people guilty only of being of Middle Eastern heritage. No secret trials or tribunals. No indefinite detentions. No prisoners, of any kind, classified as being outside the scope of the Geneva Conventions.

Even if I die in a brutal "terrorist attack" later today or tomorrow, never, ever torture anyone in my name.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Neither the Constitution nor the Bill of Rights give the government the right to torture people and I deny them the right to do so on my behalf.


Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

unusual - Not usual, common, or ordinary.

Torture is not usual, common, or ordinary for the USofA, so it's unconstitutional, regardless of the semantic hokey-pokey danced by the Bush Administration. To say we can torture people if it's on foreign soil is the same as saying it's okay to murder people in other countries, to buy a six year-old for sexual purposes, to steal money, or to deal drugs. We've denied that the laws of host countries apply to soldiers on foreign soil and now we're denying that our own laws apply? Not acceptable. The rule of law is not optional, not even if you are George Bush or Dick Cheny or Donald Rumsfeld.

Labor rights - It's a source of continual amazement to me that there actually seem to be those in this country who don't believe that, well, that people are more important than things. No matter what the Supreme Court ruled, a corporation is a "thing." It's a legal fiction. Possibly a kind of social force. But it's not a human being. If commerce isn't run for the benefit of labor and consumers, it must necessarily harm labor and consumers...or people. Bottom line? People are more important than products and many's the "social force" that has passed into oblivion unmourned. This concept is so basic for me that I can't even find words to argue it.

Abortion rights - My body. My choice. You don't approve of abortion? Wear a condom or keep it in your pants. You want to eliminate abortion on a broader scale? Invest in education and help eliminate the crippling social and economic divisions in this country that contribute to the abortion statistics. (Note: Pre- or extra-marital sex and abortion are not the same topic. "Marriage" is a legal institution that allows two people to merge their financial assets. Over the centuries, religions have attempted to corner the market on marriage and thus corner the market on sex...and thus control women, the ones most likely to experience the consequences of sex. Now we have the pill, and condoms, and other things and you don't own us any more.)

Freedom of religion - Your religion. Your private business. If my bare elbows offend you, don't look at them. Your freedom to worship your god stops at the edge of your personal life.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

Like it or not, that includes my right not to have a religion. I am neither an atheist nor an agnostic. As long as you keep them out of my government, your primitive superstitions are not important enough in my life for me to actively oppose them. (I find such things academically, intellectually interesting, but I wouldn't trade every "saint" ever canonized for the right of one child to be raised in an atmosphere of tolerance and acceptance.)

Open Government - There should exist no "privilege" that allows the White House to consult with any members of any industry in secret. For instance, energy policy is not a fit subject for secrecy in this country. The public is entitled to know with whom the President (or Vice-President) consults and what is discussed. Claims of "privilege" on such topics serve corporate interests in that they can "advise" on what bills they'd like to see passed but they are in direct conflict with the public's interest and welfare.

Claims of "national security interests" should be rare and rarely upheld. If people with terrorist links discover that our government is tracking down individuals with terrorist links, they might get worried and leave the country. I'm okay with that. Most of them probably don't want to terrorize anyone but us and if they're not here, they can't do much. (Unless, of course, we give the world a "pocket nuke.")

I want transparent government. Little or nothing that the government does should be behind closed doors or under seal of secrecy. Contrary to what some of you believe, it's still supposed to be a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. There is nothing the government does that is not my business.

And while I'm on that theme, let's have open, honest, and transparent voting processes. Everyone votes, and everyone's vote is counted. Let's do away with corrupt and unreliable electronic machines and throw out complicated and confusing paper ballots. There's no reason why a ballot can't be a single column of names and offices next to a punch-hole or an oval to be filled in. The money states spend on the extra paper should be more than made up for by the time and energy they save on the maze-like design processes currently in use. (Not to mention the time and effort that must have to go into proofreading those fold-out double or triple-column messes.) I don't really give a shit if it takes four days sitting on the Capitol building's steps to count them all. It's not like the country doesn't still have elected officials during the counting process. Business can continue.

Isolationism - No, I'm not actively an isolationist. But these days I'm hard-pressed to find any examples of the USofA interfering in any other country's affairs that hasn't turned out disastrously. (I'm talking post-WWII.) When it comes to South America, Africa, and the Middle East, our track record is pretty appalling. I don't disapprove of using USofA troops or military might to spread human rights and justice around the world. I just don't think, grandiose rhetoric aside, that's what most of our 'interventions' have been about. I think they've been about protecting USofA corporate interests.

There's probably other stuff, but this is already 'way out of hand.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:50 PM


"I'm hard-pressed to find any examples of the USofA interfering in any other country's affairs that hasn't turned out disastrously. (I'm talking post-WWII.) When it comes to South America, Africa, and the Middle East, our track record is pretty appalling. I don't disapprove of using USofA troops or military might to spread human rights and justice around the world. I just don't think, grandiose rhetoric aside, that's what most of our 'interventions' have been about. I think they've been about protecting USofA corporate interests."

I'm inclined to agree, but what do you think of the argument that we helped keep countries from going Communist? Do you think it was better to support right-wing dictatorships rather than Communist ones?

Posted by: Lawrence Krubner at February 4, 2006 12:35 PM

People all over the world are now reacting against US-supported dictatorships instead of USSR-supported dictatorships. Hell, the US is now reacting against US-supported dictatorships in Iraq & Afghanistan.

Posted by: AlanDownunder at February 4, 2006 07:07 PM

Good point.

Posted by: Lawrence Krubner at February 5, 2006 09:42 AM

Lawrence - You've been visiting my little corner of the internet for long enough to know that I don't believe the end justifies the means.

Also, you have to take into account that I think most of what was done fighting The Red Menace by the Reagan Administration(s) in the 80s was wrong. Some of it criminally so.

A lot of these dictatorships were encouraged and supported in the 80s. Ask yourself this...what kind of people were Reagan's supporters and administrators (the "neo-cons") that they thought repressive, abusive, rightwing dictatorships were a valid and acceptable choice?

In what way is that kind of a government preferable to communism?

Answer that question and worry, because a lot of those people are back in Bush IIs Administration. If they find totalitarian dictatorship acceptable, then what about our own democratic system might they decided is non-essential?

I'm scare-mongering, of course. If they had designs on our civil liberties or personal privacy or voting rights or freedom of speech or any of those things, we'd have seen them taking action against those by now.

(Oh, wait....)

Posted by: Anne at February 5, 2006 10:04 AM