Who is Lucky? Why, Those Men in Kentucky!

HEED THE CALL! YOUR SARCASM AND WIT IS NEEDED!

So, most of you all you know me for reals know that I also muck around with the old-timey-esque musics.  This past week we learned the old Everly Brothers tune (covered most recently by Neko Case) “Bowling Green.” As some of you may be aware, a little known opthamologist from Bowling Green named Rand Paul recently won a Republican Primary in the state of Kentucky, and hopes to replace that (un)beloved old codger Jim Bunning in the US Senate.

Listening to and learning the tune made our intrepid guitar player (Mr. SFL) think of the endless and hilarious possibilities that it offered for parodying, you guessed it, Rand Paul and the TEAfolk voters who elected him.

So, we are offering up a challenge: take the lyrics to the song “Bowling Green” and compose a parody featuring the Tea Party’s champion du jour. We will take the lyrics we like best (whole cloth from what you post, or we might mix/match/edit) and record them for your enjoyment … and post them for the world to hear on YouTube.

Here’s the actual tune (the uberawesome Neko Case’s version – a duet with A.C. Newman from The New Pornographers”):

And here are the ‘original’ lyrics:

Way down in Bowling Green
Prettiest girls I’ve ever seen
A man in Kentucky
Sure is lucky
To live down in Bowling Green

Bowling Green folks treat you kind
They let you think your own mind
A man in Kentucky
Sure is lucky
In Bowling Green you walk your own line

Chorus:
Kentucky sunshine makes the heart unfold
It warms the body
And I know it touches the soul
Bluegrass is fine
Kentucky owns my mind

The fields down in Bowling Green
Have the softest grass i’ve ever seen
A man in Kentucky
Sure is lucky
To lie down in Bowling Green

Bowling Green girls treat you right
They wear dresses cut country tight
A man in Kentucky
Sure is lucky
If he’s seen the Bowling Green light

Chorus:
Kentucky sunshine makes the heart unfold
It warms the body
And I know it touches the soul
Bluegrass is fine
Kentucky owns my mind
Bowling Green Bowling Green
Bowling Green Bowling Green
Bowling Green Bowling Green
Bowling Green Bowling Green

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Wall Street v. Main Street

[this post and comments are directed overflow from the ‘Tea Party and Race’ post and comments found here]

One of the key TEA Party Movement (TPM) issues is “smaller” federal government. Another complaint common to both the TPM and people in general is the slew of financial bailouts.  Right now, as most of you know, Congress is currently attempting to tack financial reform. My questions, then are these:

(1).  What do you think cause the current crisis?

(2). What do you think is the proper remedy?

(3).  What do you think is the proper approach going forward?

(4).  How important do you think a “free market” is to American society specifically? To any society?

(5).  How “free” do you think our market truly is?

Discuss…

I don't know why I posted this picture...

The TEA Party Movement and Race

I would like to open up a discussion on the TEA Party Movement (hereinafter “TPM”) and race.  Before we get started, let me first say that discussing race in the context of the TPM is not, in any way saying that the TPM is racist.  Every time that the questions regarding race and the TPM are asked, the answers in defense of the TPM are, almost unfailingly, that (1) there is no proof of racism and/or (2) the asker is racist for simply asking the question. Please note that neither of these responses are actual answers to the questions that I am about to ask. I also don’t really want to hear about other movements or administrations – I am looking ONLY at the TPM.  I simply want to discuss race and whether or not it matters in the context of the TPM.

In order to get a discourse going, let’s lay out a few basic parameters and assume the following to be true:

(A).  The TPM is disproportionately made up of non-Hispanic whites.  I understand some people will disagree with this; however all polls that I have looked at estimate the non-Hispanic white demographics in the TPM  to be anywhere from 79% to 89%.  The corresponding numbers for non-Hispanic white US citizens in general is 75%.

(B).  There have been some incidents of racism in connection with the TPM.  This means ONLY that there have been specific examples of either overt racism or racial insensitivity either at TPM events or voiced by TPM-identified people. “Some” is intentionally vague. But there have been “some.”

(C).  There is a perception that the TPM has a problem with race.

(D).  The TPM as repeatedly stated that it is a diverse group and that all people are welcome.

Bearing in mind (A) through (D), I would like to pose some initial questions.

(1).  Do you think that it is appropriate to even discuss race in the context of the TPM? Why or why not?

(2).  Why do you think that there are not more non-whites in the TPM?

(3).  What do you think about MSM coverage of the TPM?

(4).  How do you think the TPM should handle allegations of racial insensitivity?

(5).  How do issues of race affect how you feel about the TPM?

(6).  Do you think that the TPM would have gotten so much support if McCain had been elected president? Why or why not?

(7).  Please share any *actual* personal experiences that you have had with the TPM.

So let’s discuss.  Please keep it respectful.  Cookies for all…

Cookies of Discourse

ETSU Health Care Forum TONIGHT

Tonight ETSU is hosting a Heath Care Forum at the ETSU Culp Center Forum, from 5-6:30 pm.  The panel will consist of:

  • Former Congressional Representative David Davis, founder of Shared Health Services
  • Dr. T. Watson Jernigan, local Ob/Gyn
  • BCBS Vice President Calvin Anderson
  • Heidi Davis and Mike Clark for College Dems
  • Ryan Mills of College Republicans
  • Aubrey Childress from Public Health Student Association
  • Tracey Alice Berry, local attorney

So this should be interesting. I hear the attorney is a crazy pro-reform socialist liberal.  Be there or be L7…

People Over Profits

I’ll Put My Cookies Where Your Mouth Is…

So, we’ve have seen the ‘Impeach Obama’ bumper stickers. Every time I see one, I am seized with the urge to tuck a mini-Constitution under the windshield. People understand that this is not England, right? Impeachment does not equal Vote of No Confidence. You can’t just demand the removal of an elected executive (or justice) because they offend thine eye.

Yet we see this over and over and over again. And for some, a bumper sticker just isn’t a large enough stage for the ignorance behind the sentiment.

Because I Said So!!!

You can read here about this expensive display of stupidity here, but I will break it on down for you.  This billboard is currently up along highway 41 in Oshkosh, WI and is under contract to stay up for 6 months at a cost of $1,000.00 per month. The sign was paid for by an unnamed company represented by one Tom Wroblewski. Mr. Wroblewski, when asked about the sign, informed talkingpointed that Washington politics are bad for small businesses (and let me point out that my very small business is doing just fine, thank you very much and STFU because you don’t talk for me). Which is nonresponsive enough, but isn’t the best part.

Wroblewski went on to say – here it comes – that despite the clear and unambiguous directive to IMPEACH OBAMA, he’s not suggesting Obama committed an impeachable offense.

Which leads me to throw down this tasty gauntlet.  If anyone can tell me, (1) with specificity and explicit references to the Constitution and (2) impeachment law and (3) based on ACTUAL REALLY REAL FACTS, exactly *why* Obama should be impeached, I will send you a batch of homemade cookies. You may choose the type – and yes, I will even put green jellybeans and judgment in them if you so elect.

Citizens United v. FEC: The Moral High Road to Corporate Dominance

“It is not judicial restraint to accept an unsound, narrow argument just so the Court can avoid another argument with broader implications. Indeed, a court would be remiss in performing its duties were it to accept an unsound principle merely to avoid the necessity of making a broader ruling. Here, the lack of a valid basis for an alternative ruling requires full consideration of the continuing effect of the speech suppression upheld in Austin.”  J. Stevens, Citizens United v. FEC.

No. Judicial restraint would be refusing to hear a case on the grounds that the arguments presented were unsound and there is no clear and compelling argument presented for judicial intervention in the legislative process.

I.  INTRODUCTION

Last week SCOTUS handed down Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Long LONG story short, this case involved a challenge to the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (you may know this as the McCain/Feingold Campaign Reform Act. For the sake of brevity, I will refer to it hereinafter as BCRA), specifically to U. S. C. §441b, which prohibits corporations and unions from using their general treasury funds to make independent expenditures for speech that is an “electioneering communication” or for speech that expressly advocates the election or defeat of a candidate.

To put this in perspective, SCOTUS has previously determined that restrictions on corporate spending to support or oppose political candidates were kosher, Austin v. Michigan Chamber Of Commerce, 494 U.S. 652 (1990) and upheld numerous provisions of BCRA in McConnell v. Federal Election Commission, No. 02-1674 (Decided December 10, 2003), including the provisions that limited spending by corporations and unions.

In January 2008 Citizens United, a nonprofit corporation, released a “documentary” bashing Hillary Clinton.  Citizens United’s intent was to run the video on cable television via video-on-demand 30 days prior to the primaries. Citizens United also put out tv ads promoting the documentary on regular and cable television. Citizens United then filed a declaratory judgment action (effectively an action that asks a Court to determine the rights of a plaintiff, sometimes indistinguishable from an improper request for an advisory opinion) and requested injunctive relief proclaiming that it was not subject to the restraints of §441b. In its claims for relief, Citizens United made a number of arguments pertaining to a narrow construction of the statute in addition to the generic claims that the statute itself was broadly unconstitutional. NB:  this is a standard approach – one ALWAYS sets up a blanket assertion of fundamental unconstitutionality to balance out the more narrow – and realistic – unconstitutional as applied arguments.

SCOTUS, in a jaw-dropping example of sua sponte policy making by the conservative arbiters of judicial restraint, ignored all the narrowly drawn arguments and determined that this case could only be decided on large-picture 1st Amendment grounds, coyly found that Citizens United had not waived any such arguments, and then proceeded to overrule long-standing precedent and determine that corporations have the right to engage in unlimited and unfettered political spending in the guise of free speech.

To say this decision came as a shock is an understatement. Most people thought this was just a quirk of a case, and one that would be decided on very narrow grounds thus having scant little impact on future political speech activity. Not so much. For those of you who like to torture yourselves, you may read the opinion here in its 180+ page glory, including the very eloquent, if stunned and horrified, dissent penned by Stevens. For those of you that don’t feel like engaging in such an endeavor would be a good use of your time – or may be likely to increase your rage level beyond the range of acceptable – I will give you a quick and dirty summary of WHY the conservative wing of the Supreme Court, the so-called bastion of judicial deference, decided that it had to go all judicial activist on the collective ass of the citizenry. Bottom line? Because it is *GOOD* for us.

II.  SUMMARY.

A.  Support of Candidate A and Attacks on Candidate A’s Opponents Are Two Legally Distinct Activities.

“[B]y definition, an independent expenditure is political speech presented to the electorate that is not coordinated with a candidate.” In other words, the majority insists that there is a meaningful and substantive difference between giving a bazillion dollars to Candidate A to get him/her elected and spending a bazillion dollars to get Candidate A’s opponent defeated. First, if we were a multi-party country, this argument might actually have some (very little) merit. However, as we are inarguably a two-party system, money spent to defeat Candidate B is inherently money spent to elect Candidate A.

Think of it this way:  Leno want the Tonight Show back from Conan.  Wal-Mart, being generally evil, wants Leno to get the Tonight Show. Under the Citizens United theory, Wal-Mart cannot give Leno more than $2,400 to assist him in his jackassery.  However, Wal-Mart can spend unlimited amounts of money to get Conan to leave.  What, praytell, is the substantive distinction here? Is SCOTUS trying to pretend that tanking Conan doesn’t necessarily promote Leno? Or, and this is my thought, is SCOTUS simply being difficult and insinuating that Congress set up this false distinction, so they will have to live with it?

Either way, I cry bullshit on this line of reasoning.

B.  There is No Principled Way to Distinguish Between “Media” Corporations and “Other” Corporations.

Basically, EVERY argument of principles/moral/philosophy/religion/politics boils down to this simple diametric:  ‘slippery slope’ v. ‘de minimus.’  In other words, unspeakable horrors will/may result v. you’re making a mountain out of a molehill.

Here the majority engages in the long-favored rhetoric of those adhering to an unprincipled argument – insist, instead, that the other approach would result in greater lack of principles down the road. Bait and switch – NICE! What the majority “fears” on this issue is that the provisions of BCRA at issue, if left unmolested, would prohibit “…[i]nternet sources, such as blogs and social networking Web sites, …[from] provid[ing] citizens with significant information about political candidates and issues” as the language of section 441b “…would seem to ban a blog post expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate if that blog were created with corporate funds.”  [NB: As Steven’s dissent rightly points out at fn 31, these provisions are expressly inapplicable to print media; so unless your blog is spoken word, the majority’s alarmist potentials do not apply.]

The majority further insists that under the current law, Congress could theoretically ban showings of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Because “[a]fter all, it, like Hillary, was speech funded by a corporation that was critical of Members of Congress. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington may be fiction and caricature; but fiction and caricature can be a powerful force.”

Really? So now Congress, in addition to attempting to limit campaign contributions, is also necessarily attempting to limit obviously protected free speech?

Come on

C.  Not Allowing Corporations Free Rein To “Speak” Is an Infringement on OUR First Amendment Rights.

Warning – this may nauseate you.

The majority additionally asserts that their decision to grant the full unfettered political speech rights of a U.S. human citizen to corporations is to protect US – the U.S. citizens.

When Government seeks to use its full power, including the criminal law, to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought.  This is unlawful. The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves.

So yes, restrictions on a corporation’s ability to spend a kabillion dollars to get its favored candidate elected infringes on our 1st Amendment rights to hear them “talk.”  And why does this suck for us? Because, apparently, corporations are inherently good and all-knowing (ummm…does this mean they are God?). The majority gives the following as ‘support’ for its rape-stand of an argument:

The Government has “muffle[d] the voices that best represent the most significant segments of the economy.”  McConnell, supra, at 257–258 (opinion of SCALIA, J.).

And “the electorate [has been] deprived of information, knowledge and opinion vital to its function.” CIO, 335 U. S., at 144 (Rutledge, J., concurring in result).

By suppressing the speech of manifold corporations, both for-profit and non-profit, the Government prevents their voices and viewpoints from reaching the public and advising voters on which persons or entities are hostile to their interests. Factions will necessarily form in our Republic, but the remedy of “destroying the liberty” of some factions is “worse than the disease.”  The Federalist No. 10, p. 130 (B.Wright ed. 1961) (J. Madison).

Factions should be checked by permitting them all to speak, see ibid., and by entrusting the people to judge what is true and what is false. The purpose and effect of this law is to prevent corporations, including small and nonprofit corporations, from presenting both facts and opinions to the public.

D.  The Dissent’s Concerns Are De Minimus Because Corporations Can Spend to Influence Already

Just in case, or perhaps it is their usual response to liberal slippery slope arguments, the majority observes that its actions are really not that big of a deal and will likely not result in some sort of Atwoodian policorporodystopia because corporations already have the ability to buy their candidate.

“Even if §441b’s expenditure ban were constitutional, wealthy corporations could still lobby elected officials, although smaller corporations may not have the resources to do so. And wealthy individuals and unincorporated associations can spend unlimited amounts on independent expenditures.”

But never fear, actual living breathing human people, for SCOTUS assures us that “[t]he fact that speakers may have influence over or access to elected officials does not mean that these officials are corrupt.”

III.  CONCLUSION

So, what does this opinion mean? And what the hell do we do?

Well, it means, quite simply, that SCOTUS has greatly expanded the constitutional rights of a corporate “person.”  So now, in addition to simple and logical “rights” like ability to bring or defend a judicial action, a corporation now enjoys rights that seem necessarily tied to human existence and experience.

And yes, it does open the door for rampant corruption. Or, if you prefer, takes what was a very open, regulated, and transparent “window” and just gives the whole damn building to Wal-Mart. And yes, that may well be histrionic, but it simply illustrates my point that ALL things are either a slippery slope or de minimus. And when it comes to corporate involvement in elections, yes, I tend to fall on the slippery slope side.

Because a corporation simply is NOT a U.S. Citizen in the same way that you or me or my child or Bill Gates or my odd-bird neighbor is a U.S. Citizen. A corporation does NOT in any way whatsoever have the same interests at stake in a political election – its interests are SOLELY economic. A corporation cannot get laid off, get sent to war, go to prison, get married, have a family, get an education, go on welfare, get a divorce, retire, collect social security, be born or die.

And it is utterly offensive to everything on which this country was founded to suggest that a corporation is fundamentally ‘the same’ as a human U.S. citizen.

So, if you feel the same way, start contacting ALL your elected officials NOW and insist that they get on the ball with a Constitutional Amendment. Check here or here for more information. And check out the video in my previous post on this matter for more information.

The United States Government is Brought to You By…

I intend to blog about the recent SCOTUS 1st Am/corporate personhood decision in depth, just as soon as I calm down, conquer the raging Idiocracy-themed nightmares, and stop vomiting long enough to read the decision. However, I can write with confidence that I do *not* like this decision one bit and feel very strongly that we need to get our shit together and force our congressional reps to sack up and do the right thing.

Let these fine people tell you more…

H/T to Southern Beale

My Rights v. Yours

I figured if I am going to eat major crow, at least I can put on a little New Pornographers in the background. Seriously, though, I am actually surprisingly happy to write this post and thank all the people involved for hearing me out on these issues.

As any of you that actually read this blog probably witnessed the whole gun debacle, then witnessed the removal of the debacle in its entirety. People that actually know me, know that this has been a pretty upsetting experience, but after emailing at length with several people from the pro-2nd-Am side, and after a LOT of thinking on my part, I have come to a few major conclusions about the whole thing that I would like to share.

Now, I would like the anti-gun people to bear with me and really *think* about what I am writing. I know that a lot of you will TOTALLY disagree with the details of what I write, but I would like you to try to ignore the details and imagine what I posit. What I would like to do is open up a dialogue about how we fight for our rights and beliefs and WHY public perception is important. I am going to open up comments and I ask EVERYONE to keep it cordial. Learn from mine and Rob’s mistake. This means no nastiness, no threats, and, yes, no douchy personal attacks. Though, as always, you are free to swear as much as you want.

This is more or less excerpted from an email that I sent, among other people, Bob S, who was the original commenter to the gun post. I want to point out that I have apologized to Bob S via email and that Rob has apologized, as well. My reasons are explained below. Rob would like to say that he is VERY sorry for the comments he made both here and on his blog. He deeply regrets the whole thing and hopes that Bob S wasn’t negatively affected by them.  Rob absolutely never intended to follow through on any element of what he said and was just reacting out of fear. He was upset and worried because I was upset, but that is really no excuse. He should never have written those comments, or defended them and he honestly hopes that Bob S will accept his apology.

Here goes…

Bob S-

This has really given me a lot to think about – your response, some of the responses of others, and all that has transpired up until now. I plan to post parts of this email on my blog as an attempt to both reopen the discussion and to (hopefully) undo some of the damage done.

I think, up until now, I haven’t been able to look at the situation from any vantage point other than my own, which includes my own reactions to seeing some nastiness directed at me personally. Now, obviously my first several responses are not a shining example to cordial discourse. However, in general I make it a point to stay focused on the substance of the issue, and to not make any personal comments (which would include derisive comments about the person’s intellect). Though I will freely admit that sometimes I stray from this mandate.

The main problem with that, as I may have mentioned to someone else, is that I don’t really have a personal, vested interest in either side of the debate, so in participating in the debate I committed the same cardinal sin that I often rail against – namely, taking a side on a peripheral issue that necessarily argues against the rights and interests of others, when I have the luxury of not having something profound at stake.

However, if I remove all the vitriol from both sides, and think of this in terms of an argument for one’s rights v. the curtailing of those rights as a matter of public interest, I can see *exactly* what you have said regarding your cause and the damage that posts and comments like mine may have and can totally see how both the original post and the picture are offensive. Because whether or not I agree with what you believe, there is little difference between your desire to protect a basic right and my desire to protect some other basic right.

For example, I have very strong feelings about gay marriage. The basic issue, for me, is that I find it utterly repugnant for the State amend its Constitution to take away the rights of a certain group of people, simply because *some* people do not like what *other* people do behind closed doors. And in reading your comments about the damaging effects of public perception on the fight to retain rights, I realized that those are exactly the same comments that *I* make in defending the issues that are dear to me. And then I realized how I would have felt and reacted if I had come across a post that I considered derisive, insulting, and misleading on an issue I believed in.

Likewise, I would fully expect a similar onslaught from other like-minded people. And they would have responded with a similar wave of statistics, stories, appeals, and yes, nastiness and anger in their comments in defense of our viewpoint. And I would have been equally offended when the original poster shut down the debate. Because when a minority depends on the majority to “allow” them to continue to exercise their rights, the minority necessarily depends on public perception of their “agenda.”

I imagine it is much worse when the public misperception is that your group is angry, paranoid, and aggressive, regardless of how hard you work to challenge that and show it as falsely based. Probably kind of hard to do anything even remotely defensive without being seen as proving the myth. I will freely admit that when you first began commenting, I read your comments as being overly aggressive and vaguely threatening, and that this context comes from my pre/misconceptions of the very vocal wing of the pro-gun movement.

I would also like to add that, thanks to many of the comments that I received in response to my previous posts, I can say that, by and large, there are many, many articulate, passionate, educated, and polite people on the pro-gun side of the debate. I would remind readers of the number of kind comments that we had where commenters shared their stories and expressed both interest and care in the stories and situations of others. Unfortunately, as with many debates, the overwhelming good gets drowned out by a small handful of ugly, and that often what we perceive as ugly is only ugly because we don’t agree with it. Townhall debates, anyone?

I am generally only subject, as you can probably admit your initial comments reflected, the preconception that I am going to cry about the children. Or the other traditional misconceptions that liberals are unpatriotic milquetoasts.

To be fair, most of my readers are actually friends, so when they saw the deluge of comments, and the multitude of trackbacks and links, they of course saw this as an “attack” on my blog. Moreover, they will see comments made about me (and that includes comments made on other people’s blogs) as personally as they are written, and if they think these comments are unfair or cruel (and I think we can all admit that there have been some pretty nasty things written about me personally as opposed to my views), it is only because they know me. And hopefully know that I am not a mentally unbalanced gutter whore who got my JD in a Happy Meal.

But again, to be fair, I see similar behavior from people of all sides when they feel their interests are threatened. In fact, I am fairly certain I once accused mike w of acting like an a**weasel on a board about healthcare. Note, though, that this was a pro-swearing board, otherwise I wouldn’t have written it. Though it is also true that he has accused me numerous times of being absolutely void of intellectual functioning.  Anyhow, my point is that it isn’t just “gun people” who make personal attacks or are perceived to be a bit, shall we say, aggressive in defending their cause. And yes, mockery is a common response among people who feel their basic rights are being challenged.

So I just wanted to say that I see your side of the argument now. I can see how the initial post and picture are offensive, and while I can’t promise not to offend anyone in the future, I am sorry for offending you (and others). And I also see how the post, picture, and comments, as well as the removal of all the posts and comments in their entirety was unfair to your side of the argument. And I apologize for that. I probably won’t agree with your positions on things, but I certainly won’t be so callous about other people’s rights in the future.

Hope this makes sense and thanks for hearing me out. If anyone has any other thoughts, I would appreciate it. I would like to open up a debate and maybe even provide a forum where pro- and anti- can come together for a reasonable discussion. Perhaps my mandate for guns and gays will bring us all together… Or just simply alienate everyone.

My Wedding (Cup)Cakes. And Yes, I Made Them.

Money Talks, Corporate Welfare Walks

Check out this fabulous wake-up post from Swashzone.

401K? I put all MY money in flour and sugar.

Fight the Power/Palate Cleanser

I totally *heart* this:

What Do We Want? Awesome Science Fiction! When Do We Want It? We're Not Picky!

Thanks Sly Oyster!

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