Do The Freakin Math

Liberals and conservatives alike frequently rely on limited evidence, personal experience, religious beliefs or gut emotions to determine solutions for complex problems. From immigration to global warming - taxes to terrorism - or health care to free trade - analytical study is rare. Science based policy making isn’t the way of Washington. And the consequences are catastrophic. Change is urgently needed. Just do the freakin’ math.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Oregon militants want justice. Welcome to the crowd.



What I love about the United States is our federal government which stands on the principle that human rights are superior to the power of government (federal, state, county, or city level).  Our Constitution backs this up with a Second Amendment aimed at empowering individuals to protect themselves and their basic rights if any government abandons this premise.   
At first I was against the group of armed citizens who took a federal building in Oregon hostage in protest over a court’s verdict to put two convicted arsonists in jail.  I fantasized about infiltrating the militant group to find out the names of those involved hoping to assist the FBI in any legal proceedings they might undertake to confiscate the property of those involved.  Compensating tax payers for any expenses the government may have incurred in legally removing the militants from the facilities seemed like a fair thing to do.
But then I learned that both convicted arsons had already spent the time in prison (that a Judge and jury first sentenced them to) for accidently burning 127 acres of federal property adjacent to their own. They were burning to protect their land.  Government prosecutors then sought and obtained an “additional sentence under the federal “Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996” calling for additional years in prison. I immediately changed my position and entertained the idea of joining the protest group inside the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge facility to support their cause -- unarmed.
While having a few run-ins with the law myself in my younger years and having a fundamental resistance to laws that are unjust, I fell in love with the concept of the “Rule of Law” after hearing it roughly defined by Supreme Court Judge Anthony Kennedy.   In an interview he was asked what was needed for the Rule of Law to be effective.  He replied saying it essentially required three basic elements.   First, the laws need to be made and enforced by a democratic process (‘we the people’ need to participate in their creation and ultimate enforcement).  Second, they need to be applied equally to everyone (justice). And third (most importantly in my mind) they need to be protective of a certain set of inalienable rights (rights that we hold just because we are born, not because we are white, male, American or wealthy).
I see this “additional sentence” as unjust and a fundamental deal breaker if we expect the Rule of Law to work for us. I find the rationale for the extended verdict to be absurd as it is based on a law designed for “Antiterrorism” efforts.   There is no non-four letter word in the English language more abused by Americans and our government than the word “terrorism”.  It has led to catastrophic consequences that will reverberate for decades.  I’m all for freedom of speech but the word should be banned from use by government, the media and anyone involved in making or enforcing the law.  Reuters News Service banned its use shortly after Islamic extremists mass murdered over 3000 people on September 11th, 2001 and should have been awarded a Noble Peace prize for its wisdom and courage in doing so.   
It is shameful that in the US today it is better to be wealthy and guilty (see OJ Simpson or Affluenza verdicts) than poor and innocent.  Is it any wonder that Americans rank “government” as their top problem for the second year running?
Our greatest problem is failing to extend the fundamental and profound concept of the “rule of law” to the global level.  Without justice for all humanity, there will be no real freedom or security for anyone.   And, one of the primary goals of our Federal government and constitution is to protect our nation and our people.  Neither can survive without protecting the natural environment that everyone needs for our ultimate survival.

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