Tuesday, July 04, 2006

4TH OF JULY VISIONS: A TALE OF TWO COUNTRIES

Two good local reads on the holiday have come my way today, and have somehow connected themselves in my twisty mind…

They are from people of, I think it’s fair to say, very different ideological biases – yet I find myself agreeing with both of them for the most part.

And it reminds me of what the choice between supporting the left or the right, the Republicans or Democrats, means to me personally - and of their small differences and great similarities…

First, a good short essay from Toby Nixon, a Republican who represents Washington’s 45th legislative district. It’s in the form of an untitled letter to supporters. You can read this at the Representative’s website or at Leaning Straight Up, where the hat tip goes to Karl:

http://www.tobynixon.com/news.htm#a179

http://leaningstraightup.com/2006/07/04/the-declaration-of-independence/

The second piece is by Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist Robert Jamieson:

“Blowing up democracy on Fourth of July”

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/jamieson/276374_robert04x.html

Lacking specific knowledge, I will nevertheless advance the presumption this man votes Democrat…

Republican or Democrat… Hanging or lethal injection…

Or so it often seems to me.

Either way, I can count on the government taking more of my money than I’m willing to give and spending a lot of that in ways I don’t approve of, including some that are downright foolish.

The “R’s” will spend a disproportionate amount of that money on foreign misadventures which perpetuate the cycle of war – job security for the military industrial complex. Of course, the “D’s” get their licks in on this one, too: It was a “D” who escalated Vietnam from a relatively minor police action into a major war…

Beware Texans on the warpath…

The “D’s” will spend a disproportionate amount of my money on social programs, some of which do nothing but perpetuate problems.

The “R’s,” by perpetuating American hegemony, will better secure my prosperity. But if I end up in the poor farm, the “D’s” will take better care of me.

I’m more likely to be either rich or ruined by Republican policies… I’m more likely to be poor and protected by the Democrats.

Neither group advocates protecting my rights the way I think they should be protected. The “R’s” will do a better job protecting my real property and will promote a better operating environment for any business activity I might start. Representative Nixon goes into detail on the hot-button issue of takings in his piece:

“…   Today, our government too often assumes for itself the power to take from us our lives, our liberty, and our property. It may be in the form of a “critical areas ordinance” that takes from each rural landowner the use of 65% of their land, or a U.S. Supreme Court decision that says any local government can take our home from us if they think some other private landowner would pay them more in taxes for it, or a state legislature that says the government should take ownership of a significant part of our assets when we die instead of them being inherited by our children…”

Bravo. It should be noted the GWB administration recently issued an Executive Order which repudiates economic “takings” by the Federal government of the kind allowed by Kelo…

Bravo…

The “D’s” are 90% AWOL on this matter. The majority “D’s” in Washington’s Legislature have given us land use and environmental standards so rigorous that the property right of many is practically void.

The collectivist left does not respect property rights per se - and neither does the Democratic Party.

On the other hand, siding with the “R’s” means accepting a “wink-wink nudge-nudge” theocracy which will seek to marginalize - and support the marginalization of - anyone who chooses to follow a non-traditional lifestyle. This will include sexual and religious minorities, people who eschew traditional marriage, etc…

The “D’s” are more willing to keep their morals out of my home and my life and their religions in their churches where they belong.

So I can protect either my property or my privacy, but not both…

And it’s privacy of a different kind - government secrecy - which occupies most of Mr. Jamieson’s attention in his piece, railing, as he does, against the Bush Administration’s secret programs and what he views as administration efforts to stifle the constitutionally protected free press:

“President Bush recently lashed out against reporters for divulging a secret government program that monitors international banking transactions. He called such newspaper revelations "disgraceful" acts that help terrorists… In Bush's world, the media should be lapdogs for the administration, not watchdogs. Asking questions is rude. Lies aren't lies -- they're examples of "truthiness." And when all else fails just pull out the fear card -- with color-coded terror warnings -- and distract the public.”

Mr. Jamieson quotes Thomas Jefferson “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

Old Tom… He really was a fine anarchist… And I would agree with him.

Yet Jamieson should consider a little less personalization here… There has been a lot of “D’s” riding this bandwagon… The President has a lot of bi-partisan support for his “security initiatives”…

Which brings me to the place where the minor distinctions without major differences between “R’s” and “D’s” merge: Both groups crave more power, even if they would wield it differently. And this is why I contend the power grab must stop now. I think GWB has vastly abused his office with unnecessary expansions of power cloaked in the necessity of fighting a “war on terror” - a war with only the most nebulous of goals, a will o’ the wisp enemy, and no definable end…

The powers are contingent on the war and last as long as it does… The war may never end…

Supporters of GWB, do you want a “D” wielding that enhanced power? Would you have been comfortable with Slick Willie having these powers? How about Mrs. Willie? The woman who, despite her only connection to the government being her marriage, nevertheless just happened to get a hold of at least a thousand FBI files… Have you forgotten? Not me.

She could be your next President… And I don’t believe for a minute any “D” - Kerry, Gore, any of them - would have failed to pull the same shenanigans the shrub has…

And a final question: If war powers can be applied to fighting against this will o’ the wisp, can they be used against others???

Every wartime President we have had since Lincoln has abused wartime powers. Our only defense is disclosure.

Which is why I support the New York Times in its recent disclosures of classified government programs. I don’t want the government wielding the power of the secret. I don’t believe programs like the SWIFT requests need to be secret – in fact, I’ll suggest that if they are out in plain view they might go a long way in discouraging wannabees like those fools recently nabbed in Florida…

The real terrorists will expect US to pull out all the stops… The others should be warned.

So, for a last call here’s two more pieces I recommend on Independence Day. The first is The New York Times rebuttal to critics:

“When Do We Publish a Secret?”

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/01/opinion/01keller.html?ei=5090&en=d54ac45e4e52e739&ex=1309406400&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=all

And finally, from America’s last honest President, James Earl Carter:

“We Need Fewer Secrets”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/02/AR2006070200674_pf.html

And may the Star Spangled Banner continue to wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

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