Archive for 'rights' Category

2011.08.16

Guns in Britain

One Texan in the London office of MSNBC asks, would it be so bad to issue guns to the bobbies to quell the rioting and looting that happened there recently?

Yes, there’s an argument for unarmed police, and yes the British police do have an armed unit, but I’m not going to get into the minutiae. I just want to know, what’s so bad about a show of force in the form of a gun?

I mean, you don’t see anything like this kicking off in Texas, do you?

There are so many things wrong with this premise.

First of all, you don’t see things like this in Texas because, while it’s true the police in America are armed, so is the citizenry. The Second Amendment was put in place partly so that if our government turned to despotism the citizens could rise up effectively. I believe, morally, that if you’re going to allow your police forces to have guns, you must allow your citizens to have them, too. Not that people need them, but there is good reason to allow it. Bear in mind I’m not even pro-gun; I think too many people here in America get them for no reason at all. I see no reason to have one myself, though I will say I would like to learn how to use one someday (though at four decades of age this is a low, low priority).

In the meantime, in what looks like data from 2004, 1364 were murdered in Texas by handguns. That puts Texas alone in 14th place in murders per capita for States. England and Wales, in 2008/2009 had 651 homicides (I assume that’s all homicides, not just with guns). Maybe it’s a good thing for the British not to run around willy-nilly with guns (whether the police or the citizenry).

There could be completely different reasons for the lack of riots and looting in Texas, as well. In America, unfortunately, we are a bit jaded by police killing someone (deliberately or accidentally, whether the person was innocent or guilty). Also, our rate of unemployment is much lower than in England, especially for young people. This was a vector contributing to the incidents in London recently.

Would arming the police have made a difference? Possibly. The Texan wonders what would be wrong with a “show of force” but this implies that the police would be willing to pull the trigger. Personally, while I deplore the violence that ensued, I think the police showing up with guns would have made the matter worse. London is not Texas, even if there is a London, TX. This guy might as well ask if the murder rate in Texas would go down if everyone in Texas gave up their guns; it’s just not culturally conceivable so don’t be an idiot and wonder about it.

Comments Off on Guns in Britain | Catergorized: grrr  rights  thoughts

2011.08.12

Wealth Entitlement

A lot is said over and over again about entitlements in America. From Medicaid and Social Security to public schools and libraries. Conservatives want to axe entitlement benefits for unemployment, feeding children in poverty, a clean environment and scientific research that could save lives and better everyone. If they could they would even deny you the “entitlement” of freedom of religion; after all, they are all Christian and that’s good enough for them so it should be good enough for you. Do I need to make links for all of these issues or are we basically on the same page?

The one entitlement they will defend with their dying breath is wealth for the already rich. Partly this is because they are already rich and their Congress members make $174,000 a year minimum (in the private sector many of them make loads more). Wow, I’d like to make that much! Another reason they defend the rich is because the wealthy pay for their campaigns, whether individually, as PACs or as groups (lobbyists, corporations, etc). And what do the wealthy want? Aside from a very few who get it, they want to keep their money and grow it at all costs. Wall Street creates a financial disaster and cries, “We’re too big to fail!” So they get bailed out with tax money, grow their business with that tax money and give themselves fat bonuses. Yay money!

As America approached debt default in recent weeks, it’s notable that tax increases were off the table. The rich don’t feel obligated to contribute to the society that allowed them to make their money. They don’t want to help anyone else make money when it could be theirs. What money normal Americans do earn we are encouraged to spend. Seriously? Isn’t government spending exactly what they are railing against? Well, so long as we buy their shit they won’t complain. After all; yay money!

Kill the country already. Bankrupt us. Convince some minority like the Tea Party to keep fighting for your rights. Make us tear our throats out, distracting us from your gluttony and greed, and keep making your money. The Tea Party, most Republicans and not a few Democrats are going to fight anything that will actually save this country till they are dead.

Sadly, it seems no one has the balls to fight this wealth entitlement. There hasn’t been a fighting Democrat in my living memory. Libertarians lack the moral compass to guide their financial system (where amorality is beneficial). Republicans long ago bent over to the wealthy. I hope it feels good for them; it sure hurts the rest of us.

Sadly, the bulk of America is apathetic, ignorant, zealous, or too busy living paycheck to paycheck. So someone put me on that wealth train already (vote me in to Congress!) so when the time comes I can cry that I deserved my wealth rather than earned it and can pass it on to my kids who absolutely deserve to not earn anything but still be outstandingly rich.

Yay money! I deserve it! More than you! Give it to me! You love me, you really do! Yay money!

PS: What’s sad is it isn’t any better anywhere else it seems, at least right now. Better the fracked up system you know than learn a new one?

1 Comment | Catergorized: grrr  political  rights

2011.07.22

LA’s New Bicycle Law is a Bad Idea

I’ve grumbled plenty about bicycle riders in the past. That’s why the news that LA has passed new bicycle laws without regulating bicyclists as well is a very bad idea.

The ordinance, which backers described as the toughest of its kind in the nation, makes it a crime for drivers to threaten cyclists verbally or physically, and allows victims of harassment to sue in civil court without waiting for the city to press criminal charges.

This takes into no consideration the sometimes dangerous riding habits of bicyclists, nor their sometimes verbal abuse or threatening habits. In fact, it encourages this behavior because any sort of defense by a driver, whether guilty or not, is now instantly cause for a lawsuit. Critical (M)ass must be creaming their spandex pants.

It is my opinion that bicyclists should obey the rule and law of the road, just as drivers must. Drivers have to stop at stop signs and red lights; so must bicycles. Vehicles are not allowed to weave out of control through traffic; bicycles should have the same restriction. Drunk drivers are rightfully punished by law; so should bicycle riders. Drivers must have a valid drivers license, issued after passing written and practical tests; so should bicycle riders.

I agree that vehicle drivers need to be more aware of bicycle riders. I believe there should be more bike lanes in cities. I think there should even be bicycle-only arterial roads through cities. It is my opinion that these things could actually help everyone, drivers and riders.

However, this new law in LA doesn’t help anyone. Enforced niceness isn’t nice at all. Bike riders may think it helps them and their cause, but I can see it making drivers nothing but more aggravated and hostile. Don’t make the situation worse. LA already has a reputation for hostile drivers shooting each other on the highways when someone cuts them off. Get rid of this ill-thought law and put something in place that might actually work.

Comments Off on LA’s New Bicycle Law is a Bad Idea | Catergorized: grrr  political  rights

2011.05.19

Bicycle Drivers License

I’m getting pretty sick of bicycle riders disobeying the rules (and law) of the road. If they were driving in a car as they ride their bikes there would be pandaemonium on the pavement. I’m tired of their excuses. I’ve read that they run red lights and stop signs because it keeps their momentum, no one else can go anyways (at a red light with no current cross traffic) and, in some cases, just because they are on a bike and setting an example for drivers of those terrible automobiles. I understand wanting to ease the burden of oil dependency, to exercise and all that rot. I get it, but that’s not an excuse.

Hey, I have an idea. Let’s make anyone wanting to ride a bike get a drivers license. Let’s make them get insurance, too. Let’s start enforcing the rules of the road. Hell, even pedestrians are supposed to cross at crosswalks and this is why there are jaywalking laws. “But think of the children,” some weepy granola hippie might say. OK, let’s think of the children who might want to ride bikes. Make them get licenses, too.

I will make one single compromise to my desire to see bicycle riders forced to obey the rules of the road. If the road is less than a city block (definitions will vary from city to city, I suppose, but let’s just say 80 meters) and is bounded exclusively by two stop signs (not lights and no breaks in between) then people may ride on that street without a license. The block will be marked by the city to indicate to vehicles and other bicyclists that the block could have unlicensed bicyclists on it. This is my pandering to the “think of the children” issue. Now go play, kids.

Dear Bicyclists,
Do not blame me (or anyone else) when it is my turn to go through an intersection and you get run over because you didn’t even slow down, let alone stop. Get a license, get insurance, obey the rules. Then when you run the intersection and you are injured you can argue with your insurance about how unfair it is you were injured while breaking the law (meanwhile the insurer can pay to have the dents and scratches fixed that you caused) and you can pay for the moving violation and deal with the cops.

5 Comments | Catergorized: grrr  rights  san francisco

2011.05.03

Left Versus Right Chart

Left Versus Right Chart
Left Versus Right Chart
Apparently this chart has been around for a while, but I only recently discovered it. Click on the image to the right or, even better, follow this link to view larger versions. The chart was a collaboration between Stefanie Posavec and David McCandless.

The chart, while limiting in many ways, illuminates many of the core differences between the ideals of the Democrats and the Republicans. Bear in mind the word ideals because many, many people think that there is almost no difference between these parties. Even I am often inclined to agree.

Still, the chart is pretty awesome because it shows something I believe to be generally true, which is that while maybe the two parties express many of the same ideals, though certainly not all, they have different ways of getting to the expression of their philosophies. It reminds me of something Mookee and I used to say about our friendship. We believe in many of the same things but have completely different ways to getting to those same beliefs.

A basic flaw of the chart is that it succumbs to a very conservative myth; the world is black and white. So, for example, social conservatives who are gung ho about dictating and enforcing their views on America clearly fall under the “interfering with society and social lives”. Meanwhile, someone like me, who thinks government should stay the hell out of people’s social and personal lives would fall on the Republican’s side of the chart for “does not interfere with society or social lives”.

Still, awesome chart. I thought more people should know about it.

Comments Off on Left Versus Right Chart | Catergorized: political  rights

2009.05.28

CA Prop 8: The Defenders

Without going into detailed analysis of why I think the CA Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Proposition 8 was flawed, I would like to simply say it is sad -pathetic, really- that we still live in a world that would curtail rights for anyone. Which is why I think this video, called The Defenders (via SFist), is pretty good except the ending, which probably actually hurts the message.

I’d also like to repeat a previous proposition that by law we should simply ban marriage and institute civil unions. If people of faith want to preserve the symbolic meaning of marriage they can but their marriage will not be recognized by the government in any sense. Maybe that’s just me, though. Honestly, I don’t understand what those folks are defending. They treat the word marriage like a trademark. I would remind them of what happened to words like Kleenex or, I believe, Xerox and is in the process of happening to. Marriage is now a generic term and nothing people of faith can do will ever change its impending genericide.

2 Comments | Catergorized: political  rights  thoughts

2008.11.05

Yeehaw and WTF

Yay! Obama won. When the TV showed him over the top we could hear cheers out on the streets. I was, for the first time in my life, quite emotional about a political race.

Yet this morning I woke up to check the CA and San Francisco results and WTF?!? Proposition 8, which would create a CA constitutional amendment to ban the rights of same-sex couples to marry, rent a car bulgariapassed. Unbelievable. I am very disappointed that this passed and yet a proposition to protect the “rights” of food stock animals passed. I feel like we just went back to the era when inter-racial marriage was illegal. California, you just disappointed me in a way I’m having a hard time expressing.

Still, most of the election this year was phenomenally positive. And on January 20th, 2009 we will have a new president. Alas that Obama has to fix, clean up and repair the mountain of crap that Bush and the Republicans have left behind. I hope he can do it.

“Yes we can.”

5 Comments | Catergorized: grrr  life  political  rights

2008.09.18

Clear Legal Language

Huzzah to Attorney General Jerry Brown for changing the language of California’s Proposition8 so that it’s clear what the thing is really about.

Original ballot summary: “LIMIT ON MARRIAGE. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Amends the California Constitution to provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

Amended ballot summary: “ELIMINATES RIGHT OF SAME-SEX COUPLES TO MARRY. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Changes California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry. Provides that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

It seems the changed language is making it clear to people that this proposition takes away the rights of certain citizens which I’ve always maintained is highly un-American.

I love this quote, too.

“There’s no doubt the views on same-sex marriage have softened a bit over the last eight years,” she [Jennifer Kerns] said. “It’s our position that a majority of Californians still support marriage as between one man and one woman.”

Umm… I support marriage as between one man and one woman, too. I also support it between one man and another man or one woman and another woman. That is one of the stupidest observations I’ve read in a long time. It’s also sad how they subtly couch their prejudices.

1 Comment | Catergorized: rights

2008.09.17

The Right to Bear Arms

Here’s a question, the answer of which I’m still pondering… Does the “right to bear arms” (the 2nd Amendment) have any relevance in a first world country?

I can sort of see it in a third world country, where the rule of law is lax if not non-existent. I can even see it in a second world country in which the government is often corrupt, tyrannical and fluctuating often between types of government. But in the first world? What’s the point?

Understand that I’m not ranting against the 2nd Amendment. This is a philosophical, social and political question that I haven’t yet seen or heard anyone discuss.

6 Comments | Catergorized: political  rights  thoughts

2008.05.17

Gay Marriage… Again

The California Supreme Court just ruled that homosexuals have the same right to marry as straight couples. This has, naturally, led to passionate reactions from both sides of the proverbial aisle. Personally, I am for gay marriage. I believe in the expansion of rights granted by our many Constitutions, within reason, not the limitation of rights. So I won’t go too much into the reasons why I support this decision but rather into the reasons why some people are against it.

1: Same sex marriage will ruin the institution. This is patently false. I think we straight people have managed that all on our own. My own parents are still married, but nearly all off my friend’s parents are divorced. At one point over 50% of all marriages ended in divorce. If marriage is a pact for life, it has obviously failed.

2: Marriage is an institution to raise children within. Really? What about couples who don’t want to have children? What about couples that do have children and physically or sexually abuse those children? Who’s to say that gay couples couldn’t raise children just as well as any kind, loving straight couple? Besides, domestic partners can already adopt, so gay couples can already raise children.

3: This ruling goes against the will of the people. I can’t argue this one terribly hard except to say that often the will of the people is often wrong. For example, slavery, racial equality, religious equality, gun ownership, various forms of taxation, etc. I hate to bring up the Nazis because they are the worst, most extreme example and people hate reading about them when they justify someone else’s position, but the Nazi party did have the overwhelming support of the German people in their day. They were wrong.

If we ban same sex marriage, what’s next? Should we ban it for non-Christians, too? Should we ban certain types of convicts from being able to marry for fear that their criminal ways will ruin the idea of marriage? Should we ban marriage altogether as a violation of blending church and state?

3 Comments | Catergorized: political  rights
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