I’ve had some time
to ponder this question since the landslide win last week, and I have some
serious suggestions, and the reasons for each.
economic ship, but do so for the average American, and in an intelligent way,
that will have long-lasting effect, not just a quick fix. . Sure we need
to bail out the economy on some level, but we have to do so in a way that
will allow people to keep their homes, and that will create and keep jobs.
Bail out the auto industry, but create conditions, and make them use the
money to retool their plants to make vehicles people want to buy. You
could even take the money we now use to subsidize the oil companies to
accomplish that. Earmark billions for public works projects all over the
country; it will create jobs, and repair an infrastructure that has been
falling apart for decades. You can take money from the defense budget that
is now being used for weapons systems we don't need and will never use.
electoral system. By most reasonable
"conservative" estimates, at least 6 million votes were lost
this election, and it's a dead cinch that most of those lost votes were
Democrats. Does anyone really think that, in a year when the Republican
Party was in complete disarray, in which everyone pretty much blamed them
for ruining the country, in which the standard bearer for their party has
a 75% disapproval rating, the lamest Republican candidate in a generation
actually received 46% of the vote?
a democratic system, the vote is the key to absolutely everything, and it
should be absolutely impossible to deny anyone their vote, without due process,
at the very least. Yet, we hear story after story of state officials (usually
Republican) "purging" voter rolls of people with odd names or who
live in "certain parts of town," participating in illegal caging
exercises, etc., in addition to the constant fiascos involving voting machines.
states forbid the vote to convicted felons. Some also have strict rules with
regard to registration. Fine. But just as you can't convict that felon without
advising him of the charges and putting him on trial, because to do so would be
a denial of his rights, neither should you be able to simply and effectively
take away someone's right to vote, without advising them of that, and offering
them a process by which to fight it. Under the Constitution, it's not a
citizen's duty to prove that he's eligible to vote; it's the state's duty to
prove they he isn't.
the federal government is limited with regard to voting; the process is a state
issue. But as they did with the Voting Rights Act, the feds should be able to
step in, and put forth some minimum standards for voting. First off, there
should be no purging of any voter less than 90 days before an election, and
never without the registrar or Secretary of State making a good faith effort to
advise said voter of their pending removal, and giving them a reasonable time to respond. Second, the
voting process should be more open; it should be impossible for the
manufacturer of a voting machine to deny local officials access to software
code, in order to certify each machine. If manufacturers don't want to reveal
their code, they don't want to be providing public voting machines. Third, and
most importantly, all elections must have a mechanism in place for a manual
vote recount, should it become necessary.
That probably means paper. There must be a verifiable paper trail for
In fact, since this could probably be done within an hour after the
inaugural, Congress should prepare a bill to restore Habeas Corpus the
first day they take office, and dare Bush to veto it a couple of times,
before they hand it to Obama to actually sign.
is a no-brainer, folks. This is the cornerstone upon which our entire justice
system rests. Without habeas corpus, the
government can come into your home without a warrant, take you or someone else
in your home away, and place them in a jail cell forever, without due
process. How does that sound? Doesn't
that make us sound a lot like the old Soviet Union, where they grabbed people
and put them in "mental hospitals," if they felt someone was a little
too inconvenient to have around. Well,
we're pretty close to that. With the Military Commissions Act of 2006, all
someone in an Administration (including an Obama Administration, wingnuts!) has
to do is label someone an "unlawful enemy combatant," and Habeas
Corpus is hereby suspended for that person.
what's wrong with that, you ask, Wingnuts? Well, without Habeas Corpus, you
have no standing to fight the label of "unlawful enemy combatant." In
other words, if they label you that, you have no standing to prove that they're
wrong. In fact, they don't even have to tell anyone they're holding you. They
can go in, in the middle of the night, chloroform you, throw you in the back of
a truck, and throw you in a prison of their choice, and no one in your family
has to be told you're there? Are you comfortable with the "most liberal
Senator in the world" and a "commie pinko" having that kind of
power? Yeah, I didn't think so. Lucky for you, he seems to be the type who
values the Constitution more than the Bushies.
writ of Habeas Corpus is literally the one thing that keeps government tyranny
at bay, and it doesn't even make sense why Republicans have been so eager to
give it away. Therefore, the Democrats should pass a bill immediately, and
Obama should figure out a way to incorporate it into his Inauguration speech.
How about this:
I begin, I want to sign this bill, restoring Habeas Corpus to our legal
framework, and thus signal an end to the tyranny that marked the last eight
of our Constitutional rights. Another no-brainer.
Habeas Corpus isn't the only problem. Increasingly, our right to
free speech has been compromised by the Bush Administration's attempts to
muzzle us. Have you seen a Republican campaign rally these days? There are
probably more people of color at a Klan meeting. And God forbid you wear a
t-shirt that says something against the Bush government. Speak out against
Bush government action, and there is a high probability of the Bushies
turning their spies on you. In a repeat of the old J Edgar Hoover days,
more and more stories are coming out, suggesting they're not just data
mining our phone bills. They seem
to be listening in on our phone calls, and taking notes about them, if
they suspect that you might be anti-Bush. Not anti-America, but anti-Bush.
Apparently, they never got the memo; to
speak out against the president is not the same as speaking out
against the country.
as important as this, is to restore us to the time when it was possible to keep
us safe, without turning into a totalitarian state. The state of airline
"security" is absurd; if anyone is ever found with a bomb up his ass,
we're all in deep trouble. And what is this directive regarding the TSA being
able to confiscate laptops and download the contents, and perhaps give it back
later, when they're finished? What ever happened to "probable cause"
and "due process."
while I'm at it, may I recommend a swift change in government attitude, and may
I recommend codifying it immediately? The time to find out if a policy is
constitutional is BEFORE it becomes a policy. We've spent the last eight years
being forced to live with rules and policies that everyone knew were wrong, but which had to be followed,
until such time as a judge could rule they were wrong. I know such a thing
probably won't happen under President Obama, but he won't be president forever.
Just as importantly, there has to be a full commitment to full civil rights for absolutely everyone. It doesn't matter if you "approve" of gay marriage; that is not the issue. The government cannot be allowed to give rights to some and deny them to others, based on arbitrary criteria, such as the sex of one of the participants. The decision regarding whether or not a woman should stay pregnant is between her and a doctor, and not subject to government fiat. It's not that hard; it's called the Fourteenth Amendment.
permanent end to torture and inhumane treatment of anyone in our custody. Look; I don't care what
they've done; this country cannot afford to be torturing prisoners, and
denying people their basic human rights, as we supposedly recognize them
in our Constitution, as well as the many international treaties we have
signed over the years. If the United States is going to make it in the
international community, we will do so with a strong commitment to human
rights around the world. The last administration seemed to have no concept
of the difference between fear and respect, but there is a huge difference
between them, and they don't go hand in hand.
we learned anything from the 9/11 terrorist attacks, we should have learned
that all of the neatest, coolest weapons systems in the world cannot protect
you from the smallest bad elements in the world. Strutting around like we own
the world is no way to make friends, and make no mistake; we have fewer friends
than we once had. People want to love us, because our principles are the
greatest in the world. But if even we don't live up to them, how long with they
still respect us?
we have principles, or we don't. Either we believe in the basic concepts of our
Constitution, or we don't. You can't say you believe in the concept of
"innocent until proven guilty," and then deny folks a trial and
torture them for information. You can't claim a belief in "freedom of
religion, and then target people of several faiths, and spy on them to a
greater degree than anyone else. You can't claim to believe in the right to
personal freedom, and then deny folks their rights, based on a suspicion, or
just because you want to. You cannot believe in personal freedom, but then put
people in a prison cell, simply because someone in power has labeled them a
need an absolute commitment to human rights for everyone. Period.
full-on commitment to move this country toward alternative energy. We have to move away from a
standard in which we are wholly dependent on oil, and start working toward
generating energy a variety of ways. Hybrid cars should be a fact of life,
with an intent to working toward all-electric cars, eventually. Trucks are
a little trickier, but if we move cars away from oil-based gasoline, we
can reduce the pressure on diesel fuel.
addition, we should also make a full-fledged commitment to solar and wind
power, as well as geothermal and tidal power. The government has to make a
financial commitment to these, even if it makes it more difficult to balance
the federal budget for an extra decade or so. Look; in the last eight years,
we've added $5 trillion to the debt, with nothing to show for it; it we have to
spend another trillion or so to jump-start, or even create, industries we will
need going forward, that sure as hell has to be worth more than borrowing money
to toss down the black hole that is the Iraq occupation.
money should go toward propping up alternative energy, but also the development
of technologies that do more with less power. No matter how much oil we manage
to replace with electricity, we still have to learn to use less. The population
will continue growing, vehicles will continue to proliferate, and we will
continue to need more energy, unless we figure out a way to conserve, and learn
to go 100 miles, using less energy than we now use to go 25 miles. We have to
figure out a way to use fewer kilowatt hours in each home, and we have to shift
the system, so as to generate more power, on a much more local level. There is
no choice; it has to be done.
of the secrets of the last administration. Yeah, I do long for a day when Bush and Cheney
are put into chains and frog-marched into the Hague to stand trial for war
crimes, but let's be real; such a thing is just plain fantasy, kind of
like seeing one of the stars of Leave It To Beaver getting a piece in the
Louvre, you know?
this suggestion is not about that. I don't imagine President Obama is
interested in exacting political revenge
on his predecessors. Okay, he might, but he would keep it to himself, in any
case. No, what I'm interested in, is
finding out what they actually did during the last eight years, and crafting
laws and rules that would prevent such a thing from happening again. If our
government is to work for us, there has to be transparency on all but
"national security," and that term should have a very narrow meaning,
and even that should not be without oversight.
time we made clear that our government works for us, not the other way around.
And that it works for all of us, and not just the few people capable of giving
them a good bribe.
the system of bribery that has developed in the last 30 years. I know, you think I'm going
to suggest outlawing lobbying, but I'm not. Lobbying serves a useful
purpose for everyone, from large corporations to citizens' groups. Everyone has the
right to petition the government for a redress of grievances, or to
address something that needs to be done. Lobbyists serve a very useful
purpose, in that they educate lawmakers about issues that concern them. I
know it's cute and trendy to denigrate lobbyists, but I've never been very
someone needs to explain to me how lobbying became such a system of bribery
over the years. One of the most amazing things to me has to be Ethics Rules,
which limit the value of gifts to lawmakers. Limit GIFTS? Why should a lawmaker
EVER get a gift from a lobbyist? I understand that a casino owner might want to
bring a few lawmakers out to his casino to discuss an issue, but why should the
lawmaker receive anything but an airline ticket, room and perhaps a small per
diem for meals? And why would these things be given to a lawmaker, without a
record being made of exactly what was received, and without an authoritative
body approving the entire junket? And
shouldn't that body also look at what the casino owner is lobbying for, and
determine in advance whether a trip is even necessary? Video and photo
technology is awfully good these days, and if it's possible for company
executives to all teleconference from various continents at the same time,
perhaps it's time we stopped allowing junkets and started sending video crews,
at the lobbyists' expense?
other words, it's time for severe lobbying reform
Senate majority to fill the courts with real judges. For all but two of the last 28 years,
Republicans have been able to pack the court with right wing whackos. The
only two years in that time, in which Republicans didn't have either the
ability to nominate, or the ability to block a nomination were 1993-1994.
Therefore, for 26 of the last 28 years, the vast majority of judges
appointed to federal courts have been very far right, barely to the left
of Strom Thurmond. Nominations have been based on this insane concept of
"original intent," which would be alright, if they didn't make
up a meaning for "original intent" that had nothing to do with
history or reality.
you want to know what the bulk of our judicial system believes, go check out The Federalist Society, a group of right wing
extremist lawyers, who have been running the nomination process since Reagan,
and who have been trying to use the courts to reverse every bit of progress
this country has made in the last century or so.
now, it's our turn. Democrats should table all of Bush's nominees immediately,
and approve a whole bunch of moderates, who believe in the constitution as
written, in the letter of the law, and especially, in the concept of stare
decisis, which means "let the decision stand." Basically, it means,
if there is no compelling reason to overturn a previous decision, you
a little secret you should know about; you know how the far right are always
talking about "judicial activism" and deriding it as a bad thing?
Well, to my knowledge, they're the only ones who practice it. It's time to
being balance to the court system.
Well, that's a small
sampling of the first things President Obama needs to address when he takes
office. Like I said, they are in no particular order, because they're all important., Which
is most important depends on your point of view, I guess. And there are probably
many I forgot, so feel free to comment, and remind me of some I may have left
I'm very excited; we
again have adults running the show. Good for America.
Copyright 2008 The PCTC Blog