Constitutional Rights for corporations, yes… and they can still be not equal to people.

Granting rights to corporations is what gives us freedom of the press and many of the positive rights enjoyed by unions and non-profit organizations that we support. I’m not saying I agree with the Court’s rulings in Citizens United and Hobby Lobby: I’m just saying that a blanket statement of “corporations don’t have rights like people have rights” and any movement to amend the Constitution to remove those rights has a very hard job ahead of itself to carve out the consequences we don’t like about granting rights to corporations (which are, at the end of the day, just groups of individuals) from the consequences we do like.

There’s a reason the right to peaceably assemble and petition the government and to free speech are in the same Amendment. The combination of those three is what gives us the ACLU, for example. Whenever you move to amend, don’t just think about what your proposed amendment will do to Hobby Lobby: think about what it will do to Americans United for Separation of Church and State, to the ACLU, to the AFL-CIO, to the press, and to for-profit companies that use their money for speech that you support, not just that which you oppose.

Let’s just say I’m not opposed to a “move to amend”, but when organizations that promote the amendment say things like “money is not speech!”, they aren’t clearly contemplating the consequences of that statement. Any movement that restricts a person’s OR GROUP OF PERSONS’ right to political speech and expression of political opinion will find it close to impossible to do without screwing up the very freedom to conduct robust, fiery and heated debate about the political climate which led to the creation of the United States in the first place. It took money to publish the Federalist Papers.

When a site like “Move to Amend” proposes an amendment that strips all Constitutional rights from any and all “artificial entities established by law”, I think of freedom of the press and shudder.

There’s probably a way to achieve these goals through an amendment process, but I have yet to see proposed a good way to do it that doesn’t undermine principles of expression, self-determination and self-government cherished by both the left and the right.

Open Carry MN

I’m launching a local chapter of Open Carry Minnesota: we’ll be openly brandishing IUDs and Plan B packages at the Hobby Lobby store that opens here in August.

Don’t worry, we’ll have the safety on. No chance of a contraceptive accidentally going off and providing choice to an employee against their (employer’s) will.

Teachable moments

The moment of the soccer 2014 World Cup that I wanted my son to watch the most was Brazil’s David Luiz consoling Colombia’s James Rodriguez after Colombia’s defeat. There is so much in that instant: sportsmanship, the ability as a male to express your emotions openly, respect, not gloating over the win but rather feeling empathy for the match losers, a heartfelt moment between two players who have both worked so hard and so long to be at the top of their game, the shared humanity of both players after 90 minutes of being on opposing sides, Luiz pointing to Rodriguez to the crowd so they would recognize him… even as they exchanged shirts, suddenly they appeared as two equal human beings, no longer differentiated and set apart by national colors.

It was a beautiful moment, and a very teachable one.

As a parent I want more moments like this. I want all moments like this.

I’m hoping my son will remember that moment, and not the time 24 hours later when his dad was screaming himself hoarse at the television for two hours.

Costa Rica moves ahead. Some not as fast as others.

I have several FB friends and acquaintances from Costa Rica who in the past few days have expressed dismay that the brand-new President of CR, Luis Guillermo Solís, raised the rainbow flag on the lawn of the Casa Presidencial in honor of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 17.

To their credit, very few friends are expressing this dismay as clear homophobia, although some have (and are no longer my FB friends). But the other expressions, while more subtle, are still troubling.

The most common are variations on the theme expressed and forwarded in online articles that say “The Casa Presidencial should represent ALL Ticos, not just a few! Why don’t they raise the banner of the Dia del Agricultor (Farmer’s Day) or the Dia de la Familia (Family Day)? Why not the flag of the Roman Catholic Church?”

That sounds reasonable, right?

But I wonder if any of the people who express that point of view would be offended if there were a Farmer’s Day banner flying over the Casa Presidencial. How many of them would run to their FB wall to complain that we are not all farmers, and how dare the President single out just that one group? How many of them would criticize the new President for being so exclusionary, since most Ticos are in fact NOT farmers?

How many would stand up and protest for the rights of Ticos who don’t have a family, if the banner for Family Day were flying? Who among them would be writing letters to the Tico Times expressing concern that non-Catholics in the country were being oppressed and excluded by such blatant pandering?

How many would complain on the International Day Against Violence Towards Women, that the President is only recognizing 50% of Ticos because… they are actually Ticas?

None. You would most probably simply appreciate that many Ticos ARE farmers and ARE members of a family, and that recognizing them on their day is a nice tribute, even if you are a Tico who does not belong to their ranks.

But oh, the irony of complaining about the rainbow flag, on the very day of the year in which we should be thinking about how much violence and hatred and EXCLUSION is directed towards other human beings because of their sexual orientation and gender identification. Including in Costa Rica.

I would like to suggest that you consider that no one in Costa Rica is afraid of “coming out” as a farmer to their parents and friends and co-workers; that no one gets bullied and beaten up in their school because they are a Roman Catholic. That no one can get fired or thrown out of a bar because they are members of a family, and that farmers are not denied the right to marry the person they love, or adopt children or even have their partners farmers recognized as their own family members. NO Roman Catholic in Costa Rica has been denied visitation rights to their own family because of their religion.

And consider that perhaps the hatred and criticism towards Luis Guillermo Solís for making a the tiniest token of acceptance towards a group that has been historically sidelined, discriminated against and a target of violence and abuse ON THE VERY DAY the world is recognizing how big of a problem that is, is a sign for those of you who feel such vitriol to start thinking about why that abuse is such a huge problem. It’s because of that very mentality: cloaked in the “we are all Ticos!” excuse, it manages to generate outrage only when you are reminded that there are many Ticos who are different from you in ways you find uncomfortable.

That discomfort, that outrage, is exactly what the Día Internacional contra la Homofobia y la Transfobia is supposed to be fighting against. If you are feeling it, then perhaps you are missing the entire point of the day, the very point of raising the banner, and the pain and suffering your attitude is causing towards other people who are just as Ticos as you are.

And to my LGBTQ friends in Costa Rica, I offer the love and unconditional support you deserve, on this of all days; and the hope that some day the public statement that you, too are Ticos, causes as little controversy as it does today for the farmers, for the families, for the church members.

Defending the indefensible

The people who were defending the ex-CEO of Firefox and the Duck Dynasty character on freedom of speech grounds, and decrying their criticism as un-American censorship have been remarkably quiet in their defense of Donald Sterling.

Ted Cruz on Phil Robertson: “If you believe in free speech or religious liberty, you should be deeply dismayed over the treatment of Phil Robertson. Phil expressed his personal views and his own religious faith; for that, he was suspended from his job.”

Ted Cruz on Donald Sterling: “I agree with President Obama: Don Sterling’s comments are ignorant and offensive. Millions of Americans of all races love the NBA, and these racist sentiments have utterly no place in our society.”

So, I’m guessing that if Donald Sterling were a racist for *religious* reasons, then he’s an American Patriot expressing his religious freedom, just as the Founding Fathers intended. But if you’re a racist because you’re just a straight-up dumbass, then that’s unacceptable.

So you can be a racist or not a racist, a homophobe or not a homophobe, depending on where you think the voices in your head are coming from.

in Pope news…

Yesterday in the Vatican the Pope, the world’s most widely-beloved while simultaneously ignored religious leader, canonized two other Popes while a fourth Pope looked on from the wings. Then, with a cry of “ULTRAPOPE: ASSEMBLE!” the four Popes joined together to form a single giant mecha-Pope with the power to take credit for a single poorly-documented case of leukemia remission, while millions of other people worldwide continued stubbornly and blasphemously dying of malaria.

The UltraPope then schismed into 14 different SectPopes, each one with the infallible and unchallengeable authority to interpret religious texts in ways that differ substantially from the other 13.

Parallels

Since nobody asked me but I have a keyboard so suck it, here’s a couple of thoughts on “infinite parallel universe” theories.

Much has been said about the fact that if there are infinite universes, that anything that you can think of is reality in one of those universes. A universe in which Justin Bieber is a type of mollusk? Sure. A universe in which “Star Wars” is real history? Absolutely. A universe in which “Frozen” is NOT the best animated movie of all time? Definitely (spoiler alert: it’s this one. Sure, it’s a good movie, but c’mon…).

These are all theoretically possible in a reality with infinite universes that demonstrate infinite variety; but there are different types of infinity. Just because something has an infinite number of instances, doesn’t necessarily mean there is infinite variation between them.

Take the fraction 41/333, for example. It converts to 0.123123123123… with the ellipsis meaning that the “123” part repeats forever, an infinite number of times. Infinity embedded in a fraction. So does the fact that there are infinite instances of that “123” pattern mean that at some point there HAS to be a variation down the line where just one of the instances is actually “124”? Or does the concept of infinity somehow imply that several trillion instances down the fraction you’ll find the pattern “12zappos.com3”?

Of course not. There is a basic rule to that particular infinity, and that rule is that there are an infinite number of instances of that single pattern, but they will not vary. That rule will not be broken no matter how many times you repeat it. Infinity doesn’t work that way.

The same can be the case in the multi-verse: just because I can imagine it, doesn’t mean that there HAS to be a universe out there with that set of properties. For example, there wouldn’t be a universe in which the Earth as we know it today coalesced fully-formed out of the quark soup in the first millionth of a second after the Big Bang, except all the people are golems made out of spoons and gravity reverses directional pull every Thursday and the Sun is made out of Chiclets yet still has all the other sun-like qualities like heat and nuclear fusion and requiring Bono to wear sunglasses everywhere, even indoors.

There could be an infinite number of universes, but a finite variation of instances. Maybe there are an infinite number of universes, but there are only 60 different types of them, each type with an infinite number of instances. Infinite “you”s with no variation, 60 different “me”s that only show slight changes in handsomeness and sex appeal.

And I’m stuck in this universe, where obviously something went horribly wrong.

But here’s the other thought: if there truly were an infinite number of universes and every possible thing that you could imagine happening is true in one of those universes, then one of those universes has a version of me that has discovered the ability to jump between universes. Not only that, but there HAS TO BE a universe in which a version of me has discovered the way to jump to THIS universe, and will post a followup comment to this post that will prove this fact.

The fact that he will not (or *she* will not: I accept an alternate universe in which I am a different gender, and I have a prehensile tail I use to type) is good enough for me to disprove the concept.

In fact, in the theoretical all-things-are-possible-in-one-of-the-multi-verses, there are actually an INFINITE number of “me”s who will now jump to this universe instance and post comments below, crashing WordPress.

The fact that you can read this post is proof that this has not happened.

We, the Extorted

There is a remarkably simplistic, captioned sepia-toned photo making the rounds on several of the social networks. I won’t post it in this entry, but the gist is that until 1913 Americans “kept all of their earnings”, and in spite of that fact we had schools and roads and railroads and an Army and unicorns pooped tax-free rainbows. Therefore people today are being “extorted”.

The implication is that prior to 1913, when the 16th Amendment was ratified (allowing Congress to levy income taxes without apportioning them among the states or basing them on the United States Census), we weren’t paying taxes on our earning, and we did just fine. Therefore taxes = extortion.

But this is a remarkably ignorant reading of history. Just because in 1913 Congress could levy taxes without apportioning them, doesn’t mean taxes didn’t exist before then. You can’t even claim to have read the Constitution and say that, since the 16th Amendment was just a modification of Congress’ ability to levy taxes as granted in Article I, Sections 2 and 8; not something brand new. Prior to 1913 there were direct and indirect taxes: excise taxes and tariffs, import taxes, property taxes, taxes on economic activities, personal income taxes (on and off since 1861), inheritance taxes, poll taxes, sales taxes, etc. Or does someone think the state and federal governments worked with zero budgets until 1913?

In addition, a lot of the income taxes imposed before 1913 used wars as their justification, so that helps explain the Army, Navy and Marine Corps. Heck, one of the main reasons the Constitution came to be was because the nation was unable to pay its war debts, thanks to the lack of collection powers in the Articles of Confederation.  And prior to the establishment of public education, schools and colleges were available only to those who could afford to pay for them personally or within their community, so it wasn’t exactly an educational utopia for those who wanted the opportunity to better themselves but lacked the money.

But fundamentally we need to ask the question: does anyone think that 1912 was the high-water mark for American society and the welfare and happiness of its citizens, one that we should strive to recreate?

Sure, there is tax fraud and waste today, and we can work to eliminate that within the current tax context. But as my friend Ben Zvan said after April 15th this year, quoting Oliver Wendell Holmes: “I like to pay taxes. With them, I buy civilization.” To equate taxation with extortion or to claim that prior to 1913 no one paid taxes and everything was peachy because of it is ridiculous.

Fred Phelps has died.

Fred Phelps, founder/leader of the Westboro Baptist Church, has died.

This is a profound test of our ability to rise above the ignorance and hatred that were part and parcel of his message.

I do not celebrate the death of any human being. I wish he had dealt with whatever demons made him so broken and spoiled inside. I wish he hadn’t wasted the only life he will ever know.

I will celebrate the death of his message, whenever that happens: it hasn’t died with him, and that’s one of the things that makes it impossible for me to experience any joy at his passing. The other is basic human decency and the sometimes complicated and conflicting desire to be a better person than he ever chose to be. But I won’t celebrate his death, as much as the primitive lizard part of my brain begs me to gloat over it.

May he rest, not in peace, but in oblivion: forgotten. May his funeral not be picketed or protested, but instead completely ignored. May his message be reviled wherever it survives, and die the painful death I hope he was spared. May his “religion”, gnarled, twisted branch of a tree that grows in the shape that we nurture it to be, wither and fall.

We have work to do. Let’s not waste our time on those who deserve none of it, other than to learn our lessons about the bell curve of humanity, and move on.

The Tyranny of Forced Time-Saving

This whole concept of the GOVERNMENT telling us what time it is, and then having us all move forwards and backwards in lockstep at their whim, reeks of socialism. When the Founding Fathers met to write the Constitution, there was ONE time zone in the United States, and it was called THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE STANDARD TIME. And now, almost 300 years later, the government has expanded that FOUR HUNDRED PERCENT in the continental US, not even counting Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico and the Falkland Islands.

WASTEFUL.

Since when does being a U.S. citizen mean we surrender our watches? After all, one of the first requirements of a well-regulated state militia is that everyone can agree on what time to attack. If the Federal Government can change time at their pleasure, then how can a state militia know when to show up to defend their fundamental liberties? “Sorry, local patriot state militia: you’re an hour late and your slot was given to those hippies in Vermont and now you have to marry this gay giraffe while smoking free government-provided pot for your glaucoma AT EXACTLY 10:30 EASTERN COMMIE TIME.”

SOCIALISM. WHAT TIME IS IT BACK IN KENYA, BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA?

I say we go back the principles that founded this great nation, to the ideals of the patriots that fled England and the tyranny of Queen-imposed “Greenwich Mean Time” (the “G” in “GMT” used to mean “Government”). Back then no one agreed on what time it was, and everything worked out fine! The words “Central Standard Time” don’t even appear in the Constitution!

A great man once started a speech with the words: “Four score and twenty years ago…” Not “Four score and twenty years ago at exactly 4:20pm Mountain Standard Time”. Back then you didn’t depend on the government for your handouts of free time, you made your own. People “made time” for each other! That’s where that saying originally comes from! We worked *together* as a country to make time: we didn’t depend on socialist redistribution of time stolen from the rich time-creators to give to those too lazy to get up in the morning at whatever time they want and put in a full day’s work at whatever job they had at the time.

The only “time” we should recognize is the Time to Take Back our Freedom. Throw off your shackles, people! Stop bowing down to Obama’s corporate foreign masters in Switzerland! You have nothing to lose but an extra hour of sleep once a year!

Written by my hand, the 9th of March, 2014, at Flebteen past Hammertime, Dave’s Standard Time.