Cross-Post: Good Luck, Mr. President

Cross-posted from The Neophyte Photographer.

It is Inauguration Day in the United States.

For all the silliness of the election season, and regardless of the winner, I like inauguration day and the peaceful transition of power it symbolizes (or in this case, the assent of the people to the continuation of the current administration).  I’ve got a number of friends who are there and I hope they have a great time.

I took these shots of the White House last March.  You can see the lights on in the Oval Office and I wonder if they are on all the time, or only when the President is in residence. I’m pretty sure President Obama was in D.C. at the time, so seeing the lights on was kind of cool.

UPDATED to add: Okay, now I’m feeling rather foolish. I’ve been operating under the misapprehension that the Oval Office is located in the White House. It is not. Rather it is located in the West Wing, a separate building on the White House grounds.

Amending the Constitution? Some thoughts.

Nevada Rural Democratic Caucus blog has an interesting post up about introduced resolutions to amend the Constitution of the United States. She has her thoughts, here are mine.

HJRES 03

Introduced by Rep. John Fleming [R-LA4], this bill proposes an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution relating to Parental Rights:

  • Section 1. The liberty of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children is a fundamental right.
  • Section 2. Neither the United States nor any State shall infringe upon this right without demonstrating that its governmental interest as applied to the person is of the highest order and not otherwise served.
  • Section 3. No treaty may be adopted nor shall any source of international law be employed to supersede, modify, interpret, or apply to the rights guaranteed by this article.

Wow. So much of a mess here, I don’t quite know where to begin. Section 1 begins with a premise that I think is backassward. What about the fundamental right of the child to be educated to a particular standard?  With regards to Section 2, if a parent thinks their child has no need to learn arithmetic, does the state have to go to court to prove that it is in the interest of the state that the child learn basic math? What about reading? What if a parent belongs to a religious cult that thinks that girls do not need to learn to read? Would John Fleming insist that these parents have the right to refuse to educate their daughters? What happens then? More court cases?

But you know what? Let’s go for it, but here’s the deal: Any parent that chooses to “direct the education” of their child without proving that they have given their child a full and complete education has no claim to any tax dollars. So, no, you don’t have a right to “educate” your child in a school that claims humans lived along-side dinosaurs and still expect to receive a tax-payer subsidized voucher to send your child to that school. Further, that school will not be eligible for any form of tax break, subsidy, etc.  If you do choose to avail yourself of the public school system, let it be agreed that by sending your child to that school, you are consenting to have your child taught to the standards of that school district. No more court cases demanding that your beliefs about the natural world be taught as science. No more demands that untestable theories be taught alongside testable ones as though they are equally valid. No more harassing teachers who teach facts at odds with your beliefs.   Furthermore, any school district which refuses to teach the basic tenets of science should be denied federal tax dollars as well.  And yeah, your kid will sit through health classes that teach them the basics of human reproduction.

But that other clause:  . . . direct the upbringing . . .

Hooboy - that sends some chills down my spine.  nvrdc says it well:

For example, does that mean that since a parent would have full liberty in the upbringing of a child, that they could, in addition to literally, physically whip a child into submission.  Or, in the case of a female child, does that mean a parent could incestually condition the child to please that incestuous father … or worse, to please any individual the father later farms that female child out to?

Has Rep Fleming actually thought this one through? So, I guess female genital mutilation would be a-okay with Rep Fleming. Will we be bringing back the stoning of misbehaving or disrespectful children outside the city gates? (link)

If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear. — Deuteronomy 21:18-21

 He that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death. — Exodus 21:15

 He that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death. — Exodus 21:17

How about honor killings?

But if this charge is true (that she wasn’t a virgin on her wedding night), and evidence of the girls virginity is not found, they shall bring the girl to the entrance of her father’s house and there her townsman shall stone her to death, because she committed a crime against Israel by her unchasteness in her father’s house.  Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst.  (Deuteronomy  22:20-21 NAB)

I guess the state could prove that their “governmental interest as applied to the person [child] is of the highest order” so I guess stoning your kids would be out of the question, but nvrdc does bring up some interesting points. If we as a society insist that it is not in the child’s interest to engage in sexual behavior (a) before a certain age (b) with one’s relatives or (c) with any adult, does the parent have the “right” to ignore society’s interest in forbidding those actions? According to Rep Fleming, yes, they do.  Just thinking out loud here…

Let’s move on.

HJRES 16

Introduced by Rep. Steve King [R-IA5], this bill proposes an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to repeal the 16th article of amendment.

Abolishing the 16th amendment would remove the right of the federal to levy income taxes. Period. Income taxes are fully 50% of the revenue taken in by the federal government.

Pray tell, how does Rep King plan to pay for the vast military industrial complex? Interstate highways?  The Internet? NASA? A little closer to home, where does he expect those federal corn subsidies to come from? Hell, how does he expect to get paid and pay his staff? 

As an aside, looking at Nevada where our per capita allotment of federal dollars is below what we pay in, the fault lies not with the census, but with ourselves. By being unwilling to ante up in order to receive our full share of tax dollars, we choose to leave money on the table.

For example, in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2008, Washington allocated $51 million to Nevada Check Up, its version of SCHIP. But the program got only $28.8 million because the state’s contribution — $14.2 million — fell $11 million short. If the state had allocated more money, Nevada Check Up would have had a total of $75 million, instead of $43 million.

But it’s not just health programs.

According to testimony last year to the Assembly Health and Human Services Committee, just 30 neighborhoods in Washoe County were being served by a nutrition assistance program, or about 1 percent of the children eligible. That left $57 million in federal funding on the table.

“To be blunt about it,” said Nicholas Johnson, director of state fiscal policy for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “if Nevada wanted to capture more federal dollars, they should be cutting less and doing more on the revenue side and supporting those programs with a federal match.”

At work, we are encouraged to allot as much to our 401ks as we can to maximize our company’s match. Why is it that Nevada doesn’t see it the same way when it comes to getting federal funding?  But I digress.

Moving on.

HJRES 45

Introduced by Rep. Paul Broun [R-GA10], this one is proposes a Marriage Protection Amendment to the US Constitution: “Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.”

I see. States should be free to do anything they want, except when it does not jibe with one’s moral outlook. Then it is the federal government’s right, nay, obligation (!), to override those state’s laws.  Perhaps Paul Broun should have a chat with this fella…

HJRES 46

Introduced by Rep. John Carter [R-TX31], this is an Amendment to the US Constitution to allow the several States to nullify a law or regulation of the United States:

“Whenever the legislatures of two-thirds of the several States approve resolutions to nullify the same law or executive regulation of the United States, such law or executive regulation shall be null and void and any portion of another law or executive regulation amended by the nullified law or executive regulation shall be deemed to read as if the repealed law or executive regulation had not been enacted.”

I think I’m getting whiplash. Seriously though, can you imagine the chaos? So each state legislature would be allowed to overrule the United States Congress? Rep Carter might want to reread those portions of the Constitution relating to the states (and this time for comprehension).

So which is it? Are we the United States of America where each citizen of our country is free to go from state to state with the understanding that under the U.S. Constitution, they have certain rights and privileges, or are we the loosely aligned States of America where there are no guarantees? 

Why does John Carter hate America?

And finally . . .

HJRES 17

Introduced by Rep. José Serrano [D-NY16], this bill proposes an amendment to the U.S. Constitution of the United States repealing the 22nd Amendment, thereby removing the limitation on the number of terms an individual may serve as President.

You know what? I’m all for this. The 22nd Amendment was added after FDR had the audacity to win re-election three times and until the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives are subject to term limits of no more than two terms in each house, I see no reason why the President should be subject to the same restriction.  For some perspective, at the time of his death, FDR had served only 13 years as President – just slightly over the length of two U.S. Senate terms. There are currently 18 U.S. Senators  and 42 U.S. Representatives who have held their current seats longer than FDR was President.

And while we’re at it,  let’s abolish the cap on the number of representatives a state can have.  Let’s go back to pure representation by population in the House of Representatives as was originally required by the Constitution.  That would surely help even things out in the Electoral College as well!  Let’s set a population number that gets a state a representative. 500K gets you one, 750,001 – 1,250,00 gets you two, 1,250,001 – 1,750,000 gets you three, and so forth.  That would truly make the House of Representatives truly “representative.” (click on images for larger resolution)

 I did some math and compared the 2010 U.S. Census figures and congressional representation. Only one state actually lost population, but nine states that grew in population actually lost at least one representative!   If representation were strictly proportional (1 rep per 500K population) look at the change!

Update

Via email from our Guest Poster, Dee Holzel, re: the Montero case . . . good news!

The AG’s Office filed the necessary paperwork to appeal the Montero case to the Nevada Supreme Court yesterday. It may be a couple of days before it’s official.

Representative Government – Nevada Style?

(My friend Dee has posted here before and she has brought something to my attention that is being ignored by our local media. In essence it is a ruling that strikes at the very heart of county autonomy and representative government. Residency requirements for elective office exist for a reason, namely, that the person being elected will not only have an understanding of the area and its issues, but will also have a stake in the decisions they make, whether legislative or judicial.)

Guest Post – Dee Holzel

WINNEMUCCA — While we in Nevada have quietly been going about our business, a legal decision was made that could fundamentally change the residency requirements of elected officials.

The case involves Mike Montero, of Reno, who decided to run for judge in the 6th Judicial District Court.

Here’s the problem: Mr. Montero does not live within the jurisdiction of the 6th Judicial District Court, which includes Humboldt, Pershing, and Lander Counties.

A challenge was filed to Montero’s candidacy on the grounds he didn’t meet the residency requirements as outlined in the Nevada Revised Statutes AND the Nevada Constitution.

This is really a no-brainer. The law requires candidates to live in the districts where they’re running for office at least 30 days before filing.

The challenge was filed with the Sec. of State’s Office, who turned it over to the Attorney General’s Office.

The case ended up in the 2nd Judicial District Court (Washoe County) where Montero successfully argued that judges are state officers and therefore the entire state is their district.

In essence, anyone can run for judge anywhere.

Where will this end? One slick politician has gotten around the residency requirements — how long before the rest follow suit?

The implications are greater for those of us who live in rural Nevada because it isn’t likely someone from Elko is going to end up on the bench in Clark County.
It will probably be the other way around. Politicians will look at the rurals as being an easier place to jump-start their political careers.

If we allow this to happen, we can kiss our water good-bye.

The AG has until April 30 to appeal the case to the Nevada Supreme Court.

More info: Las Vegas Review-Journal article (4/12/2008)