Category Archives: Government

Prop 8: What Happened to Separation of Church and State?

So, I’ve been asking myself that question a lot since Prop 8 eked out a victory this week at the polls — thanks in large part to the approximately 22 million dollars donated by members of the LDS (Mormon) Church to the Yes on 8 campaign. Seems like I’m not the only one asking this question — and they’ve even started a petition.

I know that the LDS church offers a lot for its members — community, faith, support — but what I don’t understand is why they should have the right to use their resources to force the rest of us to conform to their world view. It’s not only unfair and immoral, it’s unconstitutional.

(The genius of the constitution being to protect the minority from a hostile majority through an intricate set of checks and balances — one of them being the Bill of Rights. Each time I watch our democratic process at work, I am awed by the foresight and genius (and sheer dumb luck) of our country’s founders. For this very reason, I love my country.)

the big undo

Today’s “guest post” is shamelessly copied from an email I got from Lee. The words are his, but I share the sentiment. ~c

My friends (!) -

So you know how most of the world kinda wishes we could just undo Bush? Maybe take away the God-like power W gave to the presidency? Perhaps return some level of civility and worldliness to our approach to global enforcement? I see this happening in 3 steps:

1. Replace Bush with Unbush — DONE
Maybe a Democrat. An eloquent one. Ooh! And make him black. And from the north. And level-headed. And a good listener! Ooh, this is gonna be good!

2. Unmake Bush’s abusive laws YOU HELP HERE
Support Ron Paul’s “American Freedom Agenda Act”, which is seriously as close as I can imagine us realistically sending giant “f u” to Bush, and a pragmatic turnaround toward reason. I did, and it literally took two minutes. Don’t be lazy. It took longer to vote. I’ll even give you a note to copy-paste (thanks to Brad):

Please co-sponsor the “American Freedom Agenda Act of 2007″ (HR 3835). Undoing the damage done by G. W. Bush and his calamitous administration over the past eight years must be our single most important focus with the start of a new presidency and Congress. Please throw your complete support behind this bill to restore the American people back to the position that they deserve—the position that was created by the prescient and able founders of this nation.”

3. Repair the gaping wounds with the world and ourselves AWAITING OBAMA PRESIDENCY
I’m hoping our nation will become a citizen of the world again (not its parent), refocus on domestic programs, balance the budget, reinvent health care, etc. You know, the basics. Easy-breezy.

Like most of you, I’m not an email forwarder (to be fair: I wrote this). But I do suddenly find myself a proud, caring American. I’m eager to help, but I’m busy. This is how I felt good today. I just wanted to share that opportunity with my friends. Please help!


HOWTO: cast a protest vote in California

Ted shared an article in Reason this morning: Not Voting and Proud. While I totally understand that “abstain” is just as valid a choice as any on the ballot, I think that Brian Doherty, the article’s author, makes a few missteps:

He sets up a false dichotomy between voting and otherwise helping out in the community. “So, this November 2, do the right thing for America: go to work and do a good job. Clean up some garbage on your street. Help a neighbor out.” The assumption is that I can’t do both. Yes, voting took some time. (For some people, it takes hours.) But I picked up trash yesterday, I’m going to work and do a good job today, and I’ll help a neighbor out tomorrow. Voting didn’t impede my ability to do any of those.

He invokes the paradox of an individual choice in collective action. “As the 2000 election showed, it’s not only effectively mathematically impossible that one vote could matter: it is politically impossible as well.” Doherty even hangs a lampshade over the obvious resolution:  “No American is responsible for the voting behavior of our countrymen; so don’t worry for a moment about what would happen ‘if everyone thought that way’.” There are better descriptions of how this paradox resolves, but I’ll invoke some examples: I picked up some garbage even though lots of people both litter and pick up garbage. I work even though my coworkers would take up some of the slack if I didn’t. I’ll help my neighbor even though there are a few other volunteers who plan to do the same. Why? Because each of us has been asked to make the decision for ourselves, so I make that decision as thoughtfully as I can.

He contradicts himself just by writing the article. “If you did control thousands of votes, the math might make it worth voting. But you don’t.” Ah, but how many people read Reason, and specifically how many like-minded people will be swayed by this particular article? The sheer fact that the article takes a tone of encouragement (“Don’t throw away your life; throw away your vote”) should discount the statement about “the math.” As another example, Ted recently asked friends to vote a certain way, “Assuming you vote. Which I don’t.” So it’s important enough to influence others, but not to actually state your preference when asked? I call shenanigans.

I posit that there is a way to vote in protest against voting, specifically in California. Using the ballot I cast this morning as an example, here’s how you could have cast a protest vote:

  1. Register to vote and/or get a provisional ballot (if you changed your mind at the last minute).
  2. Vote for any candidates or propositions that pass your “matters” test. (May be none of them, but I remind you there are Libertarian candidates on there, and local races often come down to a few votes’ difference.)
  3. Vote “no” on all propositions. (For those unfamiliar with CA propositions, that means “No, you may not change the law, change the Constitution, sell bonds, or whatever else you’re asking me about.”)
  4. Leave all other candidates blank, or fill in the write-in bubble and write “PROTEST” in the space provided.
  5. Give your ballot to the nice lady at the ballot box.

As extra credit for super-vote-protesters, you could also:

  • Attend the next city council / school board / mayoral meeting and participate in the process.
  • Next time around, attend the debates and ask really really hard questions. If you doubt this is possible, talk to Eric Bidwell.
  • Run for a seat on the city council / school board / congress and start disassembling government from the inside. (I’m sure Ron Paul would love the company.)

That said, your choice is your own. If that choice is to abstain from voting, I won’t harangue you further. I have more important things to do anyway. ;)

What Makes People Vote Republican?

or, What Democrats Don’t Understand About Morality

This is really fascinating stuff, folks.

Read this.

Then watch this:

And to quote from Jonathan Haidt’s article:

Here’s my alternative definition: morality is any system of interlocking values, practices, institutions, and psychological mechanisms that work together to suppress or regulate selfishness and make social life possible. It turns out that human societies have found several radically different approaches to suppressing selfishness, two of which are most relevant for understanding what Democrats don’t understand about morality.

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It’s the Equality, Stupid!

This opinion piece from The New York Times, entitled Preserving California’s Constituion, pretty much sums it up, so I’m posting the whole article here. Bottom line is that Prop 8 is a “mean-spirited attempt to embed second-class treatment of one group of citizens in the State Constitution.”

Oh, and about those “activist judges?” They were just doing their job.

If passed, Proposition 8 would add language to the State Constitution stating that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” Supporters of the amendment complain about the “activist” judges who wrote the court decision. But the majority in the 4-to-3 ruling was acting to protect a vulnerable group from unfair treatment. Enforcing the state’s guarantee of equal protection is a job assigned to judges.

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