The Political Zombie Apocalypse is Coming…

I’m gonna come out and say it – World War Z was a badass movie.  I’m a big fan of the modern zombie genre, and really enjoy the whole concept of some viral infection wiping out the world’s population with mindless, animalistic zombies that have no emotional attachment to the world.  Plus, according to WWZ, as a diabetic I will be spared from the onslaught and can finally credentials as a badass myself.  Some of you will be saved, others will fall before my AR-15.  Suck it.

That said, I really find it a bit odd the way an Independence Day float was presented in Dekalb County this past week.  The Dekalb Young Republicans (good group of people, BTW) and the North Dekalb Republican Women (don’t know ’em) prepared a float themed “Lady Liberty Belle and The Liberty Freedom Fighters vs. the Zombies of Tyranny.”  The link provided should give you a photo courtesy of Catherine Bernard.

I get attracting people to pay attention using a catchy and unique idea to present the concept of government tyranny.  However, I have some problems.  Zombies as presented in every movie, from World War Z to 28 Days Later to Resident Evil (which, admittedly, I thought was pretty damn creepy when the first film came out), are mindless, unintellectual creatures.  Their only drive is to consume healthy humans and spread the plague.  Instinctual.  Unthinking.  Vicious.  Worst, the lack of any survival instinct (on account of already being dead) makes them a terrifying prospect.  In tying “government” to mindless animals who want nothing more than to consume and consume without any thought of the consequences.  While it’s easy to point to many in elected positions and their staff as examples, we seem to forget that millions of Americans who have the same conservative philosophy as us get lumped into that category and instantly turned off.

The truth is that simply standing up and repeating “Constitution!” over and over doesn’t make you any more of a lover of American liberty than those you criticize.  After all, labelling yourself a “Liberty Freedom Fighter” pretty much puts you in the same groups as the late Bin Laden and many a theocratic radical that dub themselves the same.  Moreover, it doesn’t absolve you of the responsibility of explaining why the Constitution is so important to American society beyond the “founders were Godly men who loved liberty.”  That’s as much a logical fallacy as anything else.  Therefore, a zombie calling another zombie “evil” doesn’t really solve the problem.  We have to kill the virus, and to do that we need to provide the cure in our personal philosophies.

One particular instance that comes to mind is my own discussion with a “liberty” person I had during the convention season.  During a long conversation, we started discussing the concept of what a “big government Republican” was and whether or not she would consider me one because I valued a large, technologically superior military force to any other nation in the world.  Maintaining a military is specifically identified as a federal power in Article I, Section 8 and the President is Commander-in-Chief in Article II, Section 2, but it’s certainly something that the “liberty” crowd rallied by Ron Paul on during the presidential primary season. The only answer I could really get out of the conversation was that I’m a big government Republican if I am willing or believe that the military-industrial complex should be enriched at our expense.

Okay?  The problem is that it doesn’t really engage the question at hand, and that’s the problem with labelling the “government” as a conglomerate of zombies.  It doesn’t answer the question of how to reduce the size and scope of government.  Fact is hundreds of thousands of government workers consider themselves conservative.  They’d happily contribute to a solution to the burgeoning government if they knew that doing so wouldn’t endanger their families, means of living, and still give them an opportunity to help those they provide assistance to.  Simply saying “reduce the size of government” is no way to go about a planning.  In fact, it’s not a plan at all.  General drawdowns must be implemented in order to not create other problems the folks that smaller government advocates are trying to help will suffer the results of.  Simply saying “reduce the government!” is a zombie-esque approach to combatting the problem.  Details and consequences matter, and zombies don’t really care about details and consequences.

I give an A for effort and creativity, but F for the effectiveness in communicating the conservative message.  At the end of the day, that’s what we need having a lasting impact.  The Constitution is not, in and of itself, an immaculate document.  It’s the philosophy behind it that’s important, and too many conservatives these days have forgotten that.  Remembering it just might be the cure to what ails the zombie plague infesting the conservative movement these days.

The road to “There’s Nothing Here”…better known as Wyoming.

I’m flying back to the homeland today. Rather, I’m flying back to Denver and then bussing it up. I’m genuinely excited, at least much as you can be going to Wyoming. That said,  join me for my journey.

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6:24a EDT: Yes,  I added Eastern.  I’m traveling to Mountain, and I refuse to add two hours to my watch so you can follow easier. Thanks for reading.

Anyways, Southwest is the best fora simple reason – they don’t nickel and dime you to death because their CEO doesn’t know how to say no to pour management. Built lean, run lean gives me extra leg room without an upgrade fee. Exit aisle… he’ll yeah. Also, just a tip. If your flight leaves Atlanta at 5:40 am, don’t go through security with twenty minutes left. You get no sympathy from me.

9:41a MDT:  Well, I’ve arrived in Denver and have the day to kill downtown.  I hope to make it to the Capitol building which is a bit of a walk from where I’m at right now…but I have about nine hours, so I think I’ll be okay.  The reason for going to the Capitol?  Well, I did work there for a session when I was in college.  Interned for a good Republican Senator Ron May from Colorado Springs.  It’ll be good to walk in and see what the old building looks like again.

More importantly, I want to see if there are people on the steps of the Capitol smokin’ a blunt…cause it’s really legal here.  My final destination is the bus station, which is a blog post in and of itself, but there’s no way in hell I’m staying there until my bus leaves.  Well, walking down to 16th Street, I never in my life witnessed someone smoking marijuana so casually.  Sure enough, a nice young woman took her smoke break to read a book and get high.

To crack a joke that is no doubt cliche by this point – this is truly the Mile High City.  Har har har…

10:39a MDT:  Man, I miss this place.  The Colorado State Capitol is going through some renovations, so I cannot throw in a picture of the dome.  That said, this is such a beautiful building.  It’s noticeably smaller than the Georgia State Capitol, but impressive.  I’ve attached a few photos here for your enjoyment.  A couple of things worth noting:

  • The legislature is significantly smaller.  100 total legislators – 35 Senators, 65 Representatives – serve the state.  Even though Colorado is just about half the size of Georgia, that still means they represent more people in their constituency.  I always remembered them doing a very good job, too.  A lot of turnover, too, since Colorado term limits their legislators as well as their executive officials.  In fact, they pretty much term limit everyone down to dog catcher.  I hope the day comes soon in Georgia.

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  • The rotunda in this building is amazing!  One thing that I love is the paintings representing Colorado history – Native American contributions, the pioneer spirit, agriculture, mining, and the future all have a place.  Also, the rotunda is one of the most direct ways to walk to the upper floors.  It serves a far more prominent role here than it does in Georgia’s Capitol.  Click on the small version below to get a good glimpse of the rotunda.

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12:10p MDT:  Just spent a significant time meandering around the Denver City Hall building.  The building, too, is absolutely amazing and heralds from the late 1920s/early 1930s.  Apparently, Cherry Creek flooded and washed away the old City Hall and all the records with it.  From what I understood, the City Hall’s inspiration comes from the Columbian World Exposition – sans sadistic serial killers.  Denver’s just too relaxed of a city for that kind of nonsense.

In any case, I just boldly stopped in some City Council offices to see if I could poke around and see what’s going on with some folks.  I didn’t get to speak to any elected city councilman or councilwoman, but I did get to speak to a couple of folks who really make the city’s legislative body work.  Ean Tafoya, the Legislative Assistant for Legislative Services, and Feven Netsanet, Legislative Assistant for Councilwoman Robin Kniech.  I gotta say thanks to both of them for taking some time out of a busy Friday to talk about what’s going on with Denver these days.

We didn’t get into political leanings – and rightly so – but I did find it really cool that they seemed to light up when talking about some of the major efforts the city is undertaking to make Denver a modern city for all to enjoy.  Ean told me about the bicycle stations around the city and how Denver is making a strong push to become more friendly and accommodating to bicyclists.  Feven shared priorities around ensuring that as Denver grows, middle and low income families are welcome into the newer developing neighborhoods and communities.

Again, political leanings weren’t part of the conversation.  Didn’t feel the need to discuss that.  They both seemed very, very excited to share what’s going on and their perspectives on it.  One other cool tidbit – Ean told me he gave a tour of the City Council to the Mongolian ambassador.  If you two read this, thanks for taking some time!

12:30p MDT:  The Streetcorner Preachers have camped out a spot outside Starbucks.  Lemme see if I can’t get a video of what they’re doing.  Yes, I’m back in Colorado…

1:08p MDT:  Gotta say, as Streetcorner Preachers go, he wasn’t all that bad.  Far less fire and brimstone than I’m used to and far more grace and salvation.  Homeboy can stay…

1:16p MDT:  Just to be clear, sidewalk preacher is not in the same boat as this tur…ehem, backyard preacher…in Phoenix.  Pro tip – lying to the gub’mint gets you thrown in the clink:

Despite what’s being said by Fox News and Christian news outlets about Phoenix pastor Michael Salman, he’s not in jail for hosting bible studies at his place.  The former gang member is in jail for breaking the law — again.

Oh yes, Fox News needs to shutup.

4:00p MDT:  Well, I’m now officially burned out.  You can only walk so much.  Nonetheless, it’s been a pretty good day.  I’m not heading over to the bus depot for a little while, so I have more time to build up this count.  Eight (8)…yes, eight…people I’ve witnessed openly and casually tokin’ refer.  Recreational use is here for reals, folks!  Nevermind the federalis could bust those folks at any moment.

6:05p MDT:  I’ve been here at the Greyhound Station for about an hour now, and I just sit trying to will the time to go faster.  Here’s the magic of this place.

CNN is playing on the television for all to see.  Fine, okay, don’t have much of a problem with that.  What I do have a problem with is someone looking at me and trying to argue about the nature of Zimmerman’s guilt in the death of Trayvon Martin.  I’ll say this – I don’t know the facts of the case, and frankly, I could see a conviction or acquittal based on the news I’ve seen (and not really paid attention t0).  I don’t intend to sit here and argue with an African-American man about why I don’t know what the true case is and means.  Clearly, he didn’t seem to understand that and became a bit agitated.

The last thing I want is to sit here and discuss legal theory with someone I assume doesn’t have a law degree and doesn’t practice criminal defense.  I, too, do not have a law degree and don’t practice criminal defense.

8:47p MDT: Where to begin? Let’s start with the classy lady behind me. I’m gonna call out the bus company’s website and say there is nobody on this bus so middle class. Swearing takes tact and wit. This woman lacks class, tact, and wit…makes for an amazing ride. Second, bus drivers are soulless creatures. Soulless. Third, sitting through a video of the world’s most violent football injuries would be more enjoyable.

BTW, if I have to listen to this jagoff behind me talk about this “tornado” that isn’t a tornado any more….I’ll just have to sit and listen…

9:53p MDT: Hey, Cheyenne! You really, really suck! At least Al Roker is done behind me. His 15 year old girlfriend sounds like she’s a retired bingo player,  though.

6/29, 1:14a MDT:  I’ve now been up 24 hours travelling in some form or another.  Some moments were good, some were bad.  Nonetheless, I’m here with my family that I haven’t seen in over two years…so peace out.  I’m going to bed!  More on Al Roker, my El Salvadorian bus driver, and the other shenanigans on the morrow.

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10:51a MDT:  Well, up and moving.  Two Wyoming institutions to tell you about.  The first is Taco John’s.  How to describe this place is probably best up by saying it’s the Chick-Fil-A of fast food Mexican.  The meat is so greasy it drips from the shell, and the Potato Ole!!  Good lawd, makes you wanna get down and beg!!!  Good stuff.

The second, of course, is the Kum & Go.  Yes, the Kum & Go.  We have affectionately named this place the Jizz & Jog, Ejaculate & Evacuate, Ounce & Bounce, and many more.  Only in Wyoming can you name a place Kum & Go and it become a serious convenience store franchise.

Immigration Reform and Elections…what to do, what to do….

So, the understandable kerfuffle over the immigration bill in the Senate is coming to a head after the vote produced a 68-32 Senate majority for the bill.  The Republican Senators that vote for it are already catching major flak for supporting the bill, none more than (former) Tea Party darling Marco Rubio.  Just looking at the petition site calling for his recall, a one “Michael Jackson” from Illinois can be quoted in the following deep thought:

Rubio is lying. He is not a natural born citizen. Being born on U.S. soil does not make a person natural born. His parents did not become U.S. naturalized citizens until Marco was nearly 4 yrs old. He is native born at best and because of that cannot be VP or POTUS. Rubio has sold America a bill of goods just like Barry Obama. Wake up America, Rubio is lying about S744 and amnesty, just like he is about Barry not being a U.S. natural born citizen and likely not even a U.S. citizen. What a bunch of politicians lining their pockets with filthy lucre, but denying the real American citizens the truth and helping destroy our liberties.

Nevertheless, the reform will pass the Senate and head to the House where it is essentially dead on arrival.  Boehner already walks a fine line with the raucous Republican caucus in the House, and he won’t overstep his authority by forcing this bill (or some modified version thereof) down the chamber’s throats with Democrat support and a few scattered Republican votes as happened in the Senate.  Unfortunately, we’re likely to see a piecemeal approach that focuses on “border security” first and then, oh yeah, deals with whole “amnesty” issue by forcing everyone back to Mexico.  When the time comes, I for one will be casting some serious blame on House Republicans for failing once again to find some balls and make some tough decisions on a very tough issue.  Our caucus will suffer as a result, and we are only creating more problems for ourselves by not coming up with a comprehensive solution to the problem while the iron is hot.

BoehnerPartisan politics is dominating this conversation, and it needs to stop.  I know why the Democrats want this issue at the forefront.  They’re horrible on the economy, and people know it.  The more they bring other issues to front, the more they are insulated from a real discussion about their ridiculously poor understanding of job creation. That said, it doesn’t remove the importance of finding legislation that addresses this issue.  Furthermore, the more Republicans pony up and provide a good solution now, the more time they have to drive the conversation back to budgets, deficit spending, and taxes that the Democrats are sure to lose on.

Which makes it so frustrating that Boehner is taking the politically safe stance.  This concept of “border security” is the ultimately manifestation of that.  For all the talk of needing more, no Republican has provided any substantive discussion of what that means.  After doubling the number of border agents, building a fence along the southern border, implementing important biometric technologies and others, and even requiring businesses to use e-Verify as a process of screening employees, Senate and House Republicans are still upset.  Why?

I’m okay with the stance that the border security measures aren’t enough, but that criticism obligates Republicans in opposition to provide a reasonable and viable alternative.  Senators like Ted Cruz, amazing in their rhetorical flourish as they are, seem unwilling to demonstrate the intellectual strength needed to add substance to style.  That’s sorely lacking right now, and it’s making our party to suffer as a result.  Those Republicans not supportive of the bill have little leverage in finding modifications on the final version.  More importantly, we lack any reasonable claim to make modifications in the House that are aimed at genuine solutions as opposed to partisan posturing.

Furthermore, we’re only going to hurt ourselves if we continue to harp on “amnesty.”  There’s still no viable alternative provided by the Republicans here.  Stonewalling reforms isn’t going to stop the de facto status many of these individuals receive now.  After all, education and health care is already provided regardless of immigration status.  Also, the Obama Administration is already providing DREAM Act relief to young immigrants who have a very reasonable and viable claim to being more American than they are anything else – all without Congressional approval.  If our response is to simply say “NOPE!  No more!” then we are setting ourselves up for failure.  Again, viable alternatives are warranted.

I’m firmly okay with denying citizenship to any individual who came to this country illegally, especially if they were of age to know they were breaking the law at the time.  But, they’re not going back unless we spend billions rounding them up in a fashion I’d personally feel terrified about (government men and guns is not something I want roaming around the country on a crusade).  Sending them “home” is unrealistic in the fashion so many conservatives wants, so we need to come up with a solution that allows them to earn a spot in this country and take responsibility for breaking the law.  That’s not called amnesty; that’s called a solution.  Stringent requirements?  Yes.  Citizenship?  No.  I think that’s a fair solution that fleshed out people can buy into.

There are real world impacts to this, too.  Love him or not, Karl Rove knows numbers (I’ve heard people say in 2004 he could cite complex registration and turnout statistics for every zip code in the country) and how they impact election prospects.  Citing examples from Georgia should paint a very real picture of the fact that Republicans cannot rely on a Southern strategy anymore.  Just in terms of elections, Republicans are setting themselves up to lose and belie this image of “inclusiveness” we’re trying to portray.  Regardless of whether or not someone is a native English speaker, speaking out of both sides of your mouth is readily apparent.  In fact, many immigrants – legal and illegal – came to this country precisely because their own politicians did that for too long.  They want to find a home where they don’t suffer because of political ineptitude and mismanagement.

Secondly, and more importantly, we distract ourselves the more Republicans drag this discussion of immigration reform along through a piecemeal approach.  I’d like to think that most people, especially those in government, can work on multiple problems at once.  However, Congress will not make the budget and deficit a real priority in until other pressing problems are solved.  For all the talk of the sequester, we’ve moved onto something else the Democrats can use as a distraction and taken the platform away from real reform.  Those that claim too much immigration suppresses wages and economic opportunity are remiss to acknowledge that poor monetary controls, runaway budgeting, and heavy regulation has a much larger negative impact on job creation.

The Know Nothing Party provided a sizeable minority in American politics in the mid-1800s.  Opposed to immigrants and Catholics (hello Irish!) who took jobs away from “real” Americans, they provide a good historical example of what Republicans face today.  Many of those immigrants provided a very important cultural foundation for our society, and their contributions can certainly be seen if you’ve ever been in Chicago or Savannah during St. Patrick’s Day.  It goes deeper than that, though.  Many of those families went on to sponsor successful small businesses and a pioneering spirit that helped build this country into the mighty powerhouse it is today.  Republicans would do well to remember those days and how it contributed to our own creation as a party.  Know Nothings became irrelevant in politics because our Republican Party formed and provided deeper solutions to the pressing problems of slavery.  We need remind ourselves of that and provide some tangible solutions to the issue of immigration.

Prosecutors in West Virginia Double Down on Stupidity

Recently, I posted about how a kid in West Virginia faced jail time because he didn’t essentially disagreed with his school’s decision about his shirt.  Well, just ensure the state is going to get his man, this follows from the Daily Caller:

The case of the rural West Virginia eighth-grader who was suspended and arrested in late April after he refused to remove a t-shirt supporting the National Rifle Association just keeps getting weirder.

According to local CBS affiliate WOWK-TV, the student, 14-year-old Jared Marcum, was back at the Logan County Courthouse on Monday for a hearing because prosecutors Christopher White and Sabrina Deskins were seeking an emergency gag order.

Huh?  Prosecutors want a gag order on the boy, his dad, and his lawyer?  Yes, they do, and probably because they know the more the public reads about this case, the more that the public will see the school and prosecutors are really overreacting.  Good job, guys.  You got your man…

What the Court Decisions Mean

First, I’m calling bull**** on the press conference outside the Supreme Court building.  If you’re trying to rhetorically justify your position by saying this is about “the children,” then you’re a moron.  Bone up and admit this is about you and what you want for your own life.  Nonetheless, that’s not the issue here.

Undoubtedly, religious conservatives will find fault with these decisions.  They’re wrong to do so.  Those that should be celebrating are the individuals who value the concept of federalism espoused in our Constitution (many of whom are the self-described social conservatives).  In both cases, the Supreme Court upheld essential part of that very concept.  In United States v. Windsor, the federal court correctly recognized that the federal government cannot deny benefits to certain classes of people properly recognized under State law.  In other words, if New York decides to recognize gay marriage and issue the benefits thereof, the federal government cannot discriminate against those couples in terms of how it applies its benefits given to married couples.  Social Security benefits are the first that come to mind here.

Again, should New York make that legal recognition for their own peoples’ relationships, the federal government is not entitled to deny benefits available to all other folks simply because it doesn’t agree with the State’s legal application of rights and liberties.  The concept essentially says that such legal classifications emanate from the States, not the Federal government.  That is the proper application if the Court is not entirely willing to remove the state (small “s”) from marriage altogether.

Here’s an important statement from the end of that decision:

The class to which DOMA directs its restrictions and restraints are those persons who are joined in same-sex marriages made lawful by the State. DOMA singles out a class of persons deemed by a State entitled to recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty. It imposes a disability on the class by refusing to acknowledge a status the State finds to be dignified and proper. DOMA instructs all federal officials, and indeed all persons with whom same-sex couples interact, including their own children, that their marriage is less worthy than the marriages of others. [Emphasis Added]

Look, the end goal here should be to remove the state (small “s”) from marriage and affirm its responsibility to provide a proper venue to adjudicate disputes between parties to contracts.  That is a radical position, admittedly, and one that will take years to build support for in the population.  That said, I’m okay with today’s decision for what it is – a removal of the Federal government from the definition of marriage and remittance back to the States to where it belongs.

Now, onto Hollingsworth v. Perry.  The decision here is the absolutely correct one.  Standing is an important legal concept that defines who a proper party is to a lawsuit, and is important in helping the courts define whether or not they are the proper venue for adjudication of disputes.  An entire body of law is dedicated to defining this concept, both in terms of statute and case law, that guides our American jurisprudence.  That five justices on the Supreme Court who we would generally not look to as being agreeable in political persuasion came to this decision speaks volumes about its correctness.  From Chief Justice Roberts speaking for the majority:

Petitioners argue that the California Constitution and its election laws give them a “‘unique,’ ‘special,’ and ‘distinct’ role in the initiative process—one ‘involving both authority and responsibilities that differ from other supporters of the measure.’” True enough—but only when it comes to the process of enacting the law. Upon submitting the proposed initiative to the attorney general, petitioners became the official “proponents” of Proposition 8. As such, they were responsible for collecting the signatures required to qualify the measure for the ballot. §§9607–9609. After those signatures were collected, the proponents alone had the right to file the measure with election officials to put it on the ballot. Petitioners also possessed control over the arguments in favor of the initiative that would appear in California’s ballot pamphlets.

But once Proposition 8 was approved by the voters, the measure became “a duly enacted constitutional amendment or statute.”  Petitioners have no role—special or otherwise—in the enforcement of Proposition 8. They therefore have no “personal stake” in defending its enforcement that is distinguishable from the general interest of every citizen of California.

This is important.  Citizens do have a right to see their laws enforced equally and fairly.  However, we also empower our elected officials and bureaucracy to defend those laws in court viewed as important and letting die those that are not.  Simply put, our right to see laws enforced in a certain fashion manifests itself through our elections.  The federal government correctly recognized it does not have the authority and jurisdiction to force states to enforce State laws that its citizens demand it enforce, and properly failed to grant standing to those citizens.  That is an important limit on Federal powers and a recognition of State powers.

Two good decisions today from a legal standpoint.