Monday, April 19, 2010

A Proposal For Updating The US Constitution

For Making The Constitution More Compatible With The Modern Age

This proposal has been created and authorized by our organization, the Bastion of Urban Renewal and Progress (BURP). This is a community organization which has its home office on the upper west side of Manhattan, and is dedicated to the betterment of humanity, the cleanliness of the earth and the causes of equality within and between all nations.

We here at our organization (BURP) have always considered the constitution a living and breathing document that should be updated periodically to reflect the changing needs of our community. However, it has gotten more difficult over the years to take a document that was written in the 18th century and keep it contemporary. Therefore, rather than amend the constitution, and continue to put tape and paper clips on an old and out-dated document, it is time for a complete re-writing of the constitution. We will start here with the first 10 amendments known as the Bill of Rights.

The first amendment to the constitution reads thusly:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Many people in our organization were shocked to learn that the phrase “Wall of separation between church and state” was not actually in the document. We need to remedy this. The phrase “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” seems fine on the surface but we want to be careful in limiting the power of what congress can do. We want congress to be able to freely pass laws for the benefit of the many people who may not know what is in their best interests.

It is also important to define what religion is. Is a religion anything that prays to a God? Is it anything that utilizes a church? And how can a church be defined? All this needs to be written into the new document so that there is no ambiguity.

Just to digress for a moment, we are not concerned about the intent of the so-called “Founders”. Our goal in this re-writing is to come up with a fair and just document by which the country can be moved into the modern age and to stop being governed by outdated and unfair concepts.

The phrase “prohibiting the free exercise thereof” is a problem. Congress must have the power to prohibit religious practices because it conflicts with the new “Wall of Separation” clause.

Speaking of the important “Wall of Separation” clause and just as a side anecdote to this, I had a conversation the other day with my son Rainbow. He told me that at school the teacher was talking about the “big bang” theory and how all life was formed by the random combination of trillions of molecules and atoms. Another student actually had the nerve to offer the ill-advised opinion that maybe it wasn’t random, that maybe there was an intelligent design to all this. Can you imagine the arrogance of people to think that they were created by some invisible mythical being rather than the random combination of molecules? Now if someone wants to have a misguided opinion, that is his or her right but to try to force that religious view on a classroom of kids is exactly the kind of situation that this new revised constitution will stop. My son Rainbow should not have to listen to the rantings of a religious fanatic in a classroom setting.

As for “Freedom of Assembly” and “petitioning government for grievances” – these have become huge problems. We are very concerned that the freedom of congress to act in the best interests of the people has been severely limited by this ill-defined clause. Clearly the “founders” did not anticipate such things as talk radio, the internet, cable TV and so forth. The improvements to the printing press, alone, make much of the language concerning “freedom of speech” obsolete.

We have seen recently with the tea party movement that government clearly needs to have a role in how and when people can assemble and petition the government for a “redress of grievances”. We have seen how people can distort what congress and the president are trying to do. Congress and the president must and shall have the freedom to do what is in the best interests of the people and must be able to restrict the people from putting out information that contradicts the good intentions of the government.

So, without further adieu, here is the new revised first amendment to the Constitution of the United States:

There is a distinct separation between church and state. Church is defined as any dwelling, be it of brick, metal, or other structural materials, or any boundary whatsoever, where there is reverence or prayer being given to any being or entity which cannot be substantiated through scientific means. Church is distinct from the word religion which is defined as any belief system that involves prayer or devotion to any being that cannot be scientifically verified. Prayer is defined as words or gestures, thoughts or feelings directed towards a being or entity that cannot be verified through the scientific method. Worship of the sun, the earth, water, or any other physically verifiable, scientific entity is not considered a “church” or “religion” under this definition and therefore is not subject to restrictions.

Whereas the church and the state are considered to be two distinct entities, all activities associated with the church, including but not limited to prayer, religious clothing and jewelry, religious ornaments such as trees or candle holders with religious intent, are not to be permitted in buildings that are owned, operated or rented by the government or used by the government for any purpose, be it official or otherwise.

Whereas the practicing of religion, regardless of the location of the said practice, involves the training of people in such practices, and whereas these practices, thoughts and opinions are likely to be brought into government offices or schools, either consciously or subconsciously, it is incumbent upon the congress to restrict these practices . Congress, therefore, shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. In rare circumstances, private religious events may be permissible but congress shall have the authority to levy a tax on the religious event and to monitor the proceedings in such an matter as is deemed appropriate.

Whereas people (people being defined as living beings of the homo sapien species who are not a member of the United States congress, senate, judiciary or executive branch of government) have gathered in public places and contradicted the words, intentions, policies, and strategies of congress and whereas said people have made it difficult for the government to act in their interests, and whereas said people have violated the right of congress and the executive branch of government to levy new taxes, and whereas these same said people have raised money to disseminate information in a manner not approved of by congress, we do declare on this 17th day of April in the year of our Mother Earth of Two thousand ten the following:

That the freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in congress and the senate ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place outside of the congress and the senate.

That the gathering of people to protest the good policies of congress without the consent of congress is pernicious and illegal.

That criticism of the President, whether through print, broadcast, internet, or radio, is tantamount to incitement to violence and is illegal, unless that President is deemed, by a special commission (see more on this commission in the addendum to the First Amendment to the Constitution), to be worthy of said criticism.

Well, that’s it for the new First Amendment! You can download the addendum to the first amendment in PDF format (all 36 pages), as well as the rider to the new first amendment (27 pages), at www.burp/newconstitution/

We here at our organization (BURP) are dedicated to creating a more perfect union. To this end, we have recognized that the people have encroached upon the freedom of congress. The government needs to get on with the job of ruining the country without interference. We will continue to work tirelessly to this end. Look for continued updates to the constitution as next time we will offer you our new second amendment!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Deceptive Arguments And Specious Reasoning - Political Debate Gone Wrong

There are a lot of ways to win an argument and a lot of ways to deceive others into thinking you’ve won an argument. There is one set of rules to follow when you have facts on your side and a different set of rules when the facts are not with you. The first rule is to never use any of these rules in arguing with your wife. If you do, it should be under controlled circumstances and only when there is professional supervision.

There are situations of absolute fact. For example, OJ Simpson either killed two people or he didn’t. People may disagree as to what evidence shows but there is a Yes/No answer to the question of whether OJ did it or not. No matter what anyone believes, the event did happen in a particular way and was caused by specific actions.

Other situations are more theoretical. Global warming is a theory based on models and evidence. Whether it exists, is caused by human activity, the extent of damage (if any), what might or might not happen in the future, all has to be based on honest scientific inquiry. In the first situation with OJ, you are dealing with a known fact (two people were murdered) while in the second, you are dealing with a future event (some say an event that has started already), but in any case, one that is not as specific as a Yes/No answer can provide.

The last situation is one of morality and spirituality. Issues such as abortion or the death penalty fall into this third category. There is much passion in these debates. A belief in God is a matter of faith. The ongoing evolution vs. creationism debate also falls under this last category.

While there may be some issues that cross the line between these three categories, in most situations they will fall in one of these three groups and not more. When propaganda is used, it is usually done by blurring the distinction between these categories.

A good example of this is to look at how Al Gore argues the inevitability of global warming. First, backing up a step, if you are going to debate an issue, one of the best ways to do it is “Search and Destroy”. You find your opponent’s arguments, you list them one by one, and then you point out why they are specious or why their reasoning is faulty. When people have truth on their side, they are eager to display why the arguments of their opponents are wrong.

Getting back to Al Gore, when he is faced with a question challenging his belief in global warming, he never answers it. He simply labels people who don’t agree with him as “deniers” or “flat earthers”. Some people may not disagree, per se. They just may not be sure, not being as scientifically trained as Al Gore, they just want more of a debate before committing so much money, resources, and lifestyle changes to a theory that they don’t know enough about.

If Mr. Gore had the facts on his side, he would bring out all these challenges to then tear them down (“Search and Destroy”). Some arguments against global warming (there are many more):
- The ice in Antarctica has been growing since 1979.
- Temperature measurements during the 90s (the supposed warmest decade) did not use weather stations in some of the coldest climates which artificially increased the average.
- There is evidence of warming on other planets indicating that sun spot activity may be a cause of temporary warming.
- Ice core samples show the middle ages to be warmer than the present.
- The earth has been cooling in the last 15 years.
- Many of the same people who are now warning about global warming were warning about the coming ice age as recently as 1975!
- There is evidence, also from ice core samples, that the cause and effect of global warming is backwards. In other words, increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere didn’t cause global warming in the past but, in fact, periods of warming caused increased levels of CO2.
These are just some of many arguments against the theory of global warming. Not being a scientist, I would welcome hearing the other side to these points but all I hear is crickets. That no one does a “Search and Destroy” on these points leads me to believe they are true. Al Gore smears people who don’t believe global warming to be “settled science” and with that, hopes to stifle debate on the issue.

Stifling debate, by the way, is not the same thing as winning the debate. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party has become a party that can’t debate on facts and therefore, they debate by character assassination. Whether it is global warming or the Tea Party movement, the left is constantly trying to impugn the integrity and motives of whoever has a different point of view. Personally, I would never want to stifle the opinions or speech of people on the left. Every time they speak, they tell you who they are and what they want to do. The fact that they don’t extend the same courtesy to people on the right is a great indicator of who is telling the truth and who is lying.

Uh-Oh, I think someone just fainted while reading this article. If anyone knows the address of the person that just fainted would you please get him or her some water? Maybe have him or her lie down and prop some pillows up so he or she can breathe. Please give him or her plenty of room….

The final straw in this Global Warming/Climate Change/Greenhouse Effect thing is when Mr. Gore labels people who want more evidence into global warming as equal to Holocaust deniers. Global warming is a theory. The Holocaust is a historical fact backed up by evidence including hundreds of thousands of witnesses, physical evidence, film archive and even admissions by some who committed the horrific acts. To compare this to a subjective theory such as global warming is an insult to the memories of the people who died in the Holocaust, as well as to the survivors and their children.

Barack Obama’s way of dealing with a challenge (not that he faces many from the main stream media) is different than Al Gore’s. Obama’s preferred method is to ramble meaningless phrases as if by the magic of his oratory skills, people will forget what the question was. Asked what his favorite Whitesox player was on opening day of the baseball season, he couldn’t just say he didn’t know or remember any. He talked about being an Oakland A’s fan while living in Hawaii, blathered a few other meaningless things about liking the Cubs as well but never answered the simple question! You’d expect that from a kid in third grade, not the President.

What is amazing about this is that Obama made a specific point of showing the world that he was a Whitesox fan. He pulled out a Whitesox cap to display in front of 40,000+ Washington Nationals fans and millions watching on TV. You’d think he’d be prepared to answer, just as a matter of common sense, some questions about the team since he made such an unnecessary spectacle of bringing it up. It makes you wonder, if he is that unprepared for a question that is the logical result of an action he has taken, then how is he to be trusted negotiating with Russia or China? Who knows, maybe he put on the Whitesox cap to give fans an excuse to boo. That way, he could say they were booing the cap, not him or his actions, but he couldn’t be that narcissistic, could he?

If he can’t answer a simple question about his favorite player, how is he to answer questions about health care or taxes? The answer to that is a 17 minute incoherent response to a question about whether or not the US is already too highly taxed to shoulder the additional burdens to pay for health care. If Obama had truth on his side, he wouldn’t need to spend 17 minutes on a disjointed dissertation while still not answering the question! Obama mixes in all tactics. He confuses fact with theory, and throws in a hefty dose of moralizing and somewhere in between all the meaningless words you are almost tempted to say “Stop already! I give up -- just stop talking!

The old joke says “How can you tell if a politician is lying?” Answer: “If his mouth is moving”. Some, however, lie more than others. Propaganda involves turning facts into subjective concepts while turning subjective concepts into facts. It involves taking bad policy and packaging it as an absolute moral good so that no one dare oppose it.