Politics

Security expert Bruce Schneier concisely describes our broken approach to airport security:

It’s not even a fair game. It’s not that the terrorist picks an attack and we pick a defense, and we see who wins. It’s that we pick a defense, and then the terrorists look at our defense and pick an attack designed to get around it. Our security measures only work if we happen to guess the plot correctly. If we get it wrong, we’ve wasted our money. This isn’t security; it’s security theater.

Read the whole thing at The New York Times.

Let’s take back our rights and our flights from the TSA.

The TSA has outdone itself this time with its invasive new searches: if selected, travelers must choose between having pictures of them naked taken via x-ray, having their genitals very aggressively handled, or not flying.

Republican Congressman Ron Paul has introduced the American Traveler Dignity Act to the House of Representatives. (Read his announcement of the bill here.) The legislation simply clarifies that security must not abridged:

My legislation is simple. It establishes that airport security screeners are not immune from any US law regarding physical contact with another person, making images of another person, or causing physical harm through the use of radiation-emitting machinery on another person. It means they are subject to the same laws as the rest of us.

Please call or write your Congressional representative today and ask them to cosponsor Congressman Paul’s bill.

McCain breaks his word on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Three years ago, John McCain had this to say regarding the United States’ discriminatory policy on homosexuals serving in the military:

“The day that the leadership of the military comes to me and says, ‘Senator, we ought to change the policy,’ then I think we ought to consider seriously changing it because those leaders in the military are the ones we give the responsibility to.”

Today, the leadership of the military – Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen – testified to the Senate Armed Service Committee that it is time to change the policy. McCain’s response to the military’s highest leadership?

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has been an imperfect but effective policy.  And at this moment, when we are asking more of our military than at any time in recent memory, we should not repeal this law.”

Admiral Mullen testified, “It is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do.… I cannot escape being troubled in the fact that we have in place a policy that forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens.” But apparently that’s not good enough for Senator McCain any more.

John McCain has been an interesting character to me, and my coverage of him on this blog reflects that. I’ve given him high praise for his sometimes unpopular stand on torture, and endorsed him in the Republican primaries. But despite the noble values the Senator sometimes espouses, this is not the first time he has made a complete political about-face – check out his argument for troop withdrawal from Haiti in the early ’90s compared to his unflinching support of our current extended occupations in the Middle East.

It’s one thing to be a “maverick” and express your views even when they conflict with political convenience. It’s another thing to actually follow through on those views as an honest man. I honor your opinions, Senator McCain, but I question your integrity when you won’t stand by your own commitments.

The New Three-Fifths Compromise

In short, the Supreme Court ruled today that proprietors of corporations are entitled to more freedoms than non-proprietors.

Does anybody remember the three-fifths compromise?

When considering this case, did the Supreme Court consider Section 2 of the fourteenth amendment? It states:

Representatives shall be apportioned …counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed…

A corporation is now a “whole person” under this interpretation. It is owned by “whole persons” who are already guaranteed representation, making them count more than once. This is literally a revival of the three-fifths compromise, as some are entitled to more representation than others. It’s unjust and tyrannical.

One last thing, for those who would argue that corporate personhood is fair because corporations are taxed: taxation does not a person make. I’d actually argue that double taxation should not exist for this same reason; as corporations are collective property of real people, those people should pay personal taxes on their capital gains instead of the corporate “entity” being taxed instead. This preserves the concepts of “no taxation without representation” and “one person, one vote” equally.

The Shoe’s on the Other Foot

Yesterday and today’s news headlines have been making me laugh:

December 17, 2008, 7:27 pm

Gay Activists Decry Pastor’s Role in Swearing-In

By Sarah Wheaton

The Rev. Rick Warren, a conservative evangelical pastor, has been tapped to deliver the invocation at President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration – and gay rights advocates are not happy about it.

Hmm, where have we seen this before? Oh yes, that’s right:

Famed Pastor Defends Invitation to Obama

By NEDRA PICKLER
The Associated Press
Wednesday, November 29, 2006; 11:14 AM

WASHINGTON — Famed pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren Wednesday defended his invitation to Democratic Sen. Barack Obama to speak at his church from objections by other evangelicals to the senator’s support of abortion rights.

Obama is one of nearly 60 speakers scheduled to address the second annual Global Summit on AIDS and the Church beginning Thursday at Warren’s Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif.

So two years ago we have pro-lifers “outraged” over Obama’s invitation to an AIDS summit, and now we have gay rights advocates “outraged” over Warren’s invitation to an inaugural event.

Personally I bet the media exaggerated both of these people, as I know some pretty rational people in the pro-life camp and the gay rights camp that aren’t freaking out over this. But regardless of the  amount of people who took offense to one invitation or the other, I think that those who did have missed the point about what Barack Obama is really about. Consider the following from his 2006 book The Audacity of Hope:

But for those of us who believe that government has a role to play in promoting opportunity and prosperity for all Americans, a polarized electorate isn’t good enough. Eking out a bare Democratic majority isn’t good enough. What’s needed is a broad majority of Americans – Democrats, Republicans, and independents of goodwill – who are reengaged in the project of national renewal, and who see their own self-interest as inextricably linked to the interests of others. (40)

Our country needs to move forward. I don’t care what you think about gay rights, abortion rights, any of it: we need your voice. We need everyone to work together on making actual progress instead of this self-destructive fight to silence people who disagree with us on this issue or that issue. Democracies function best when everyone puts their word in. And I honestly don’t give a crap if the guy working with me to stop AIDS is pro-choice or anti-gay. If we continue to shut ourselves off from each other, we will make no progress on anything.