Politics Archive

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Response to Article on U.N. Arms Trade Treaty

UN Flag LogoOnce again, I got an e-mail forward that I couldn't help but respond to. This one simply copy-and-pasted an article from Conservative Daily, RE: Election Is Over And The U.N. No Longer Quiet - correction. For those interested, my response is below. I've edited the links a bit to make them more blog friendly (i.e. giving descriptions instead of just the URL).

To give a flavor of the article, here are the two opening paragraphs.

Obama is back in business with the U.N. as they work on implementing the Small Arms Treaty that will eliminate our Second Amendment rights.

The U.N. laid low until after the presidential election because any news about Obama supporting an international gun treaty would have hurt his re-election chances. So, just as he tried to sweep Benghazi under the rug, and just like he asked contractors to ignore the WARN Act and hold off on giving layoff notices until after November 6th, he supposedly pressured United Nations committee members to keep quiet about the Small Arms Treaty until voting was over.

The article went on to discuss all of the dangers of the treaty, and how horrible Obama and the U.N. are. Here's one more paragraph as an example of the language used.

When Obama took office, he reversed the policy of the United States and began treaty negotiations with the U.N. Now that he doesn't have to worry about re-election, he is going to ram through his agenda. Taking away the rights of American gun owners and weakening America is part of that agenda. Governments will become more powerful and well armed, and citizens will see their right to own firearms disappear. It is Barack Obama's dream; the dream of a large state to take care of weakened masses

This article's a little over the top (well, more than a little after skimming through it again). Whether or not you agree with Obama's policies, I think everybody but the conspiracy nuts can agree that his intentions are good. He doesn't want to destroy America or hurt our citizens. He just has policy ideas that conservatives don't think will reach the goals he wants (for example, that the Affordable Care Act might not lower health care costs like he would like), or that conservatives don't necessarily agree with (e.g. that it's the government's responsibility to provide a strong social safety net for the less fortunate). But to claim that "weakening America is part of that [Obama's] agenda" or that "It is Barack Obama's dream; the dream of a large state to take care of weakened masses" is ludicrous.

Second, I couldn't find any mention of a U.N. Small Arms Treaty except on far right websites with articles similar to this one. I could only find an Arms Trade Treaty. That may seem like a small point, but it's indicative of sloppy research. It makes you wonder how well informed their opinions are when they can't even get the name of the treaty right. And seeing as how all the mentions I could find of a U.N. Small Arms Treaty come from far right groups, it makes you wonder if there's an echo chamber effect in what they're writing. i.e. Did the writers of this article ever go outside of far right groups to do research on the treaty, or are they merely repeating claims without looking into their veracity?

Assuming this is referring to the Arms Trade Treaty, there do appear to be legitimate concerns. The treaty is intended primarily to regulate international trade of firearms and help ensure that they don't get into the hands of human rights abusers, but the devil's in the details and we have to be sure that it's final implementation doesn't violate U.S. law. The Obama administration has already demanded provisions to keep this treaty from infringing on American's Second Amendment rights. Here are two relevant statements from the resolution:

  • Reaffirming the inherent right of all States to individual or collective self defence in accordance with Article 51 of the Charter...
  • Acknowledging also the right of States to regulate internal transfers of arms and national ownership, including through national constitutional protections on private ownership, exclusively within their territory...

And even assuming that the State Department allowed the final version of the treaty to somehow infringe upon our rights, and further that it ever managed to get passed by the Senate, there's still the Supreme Court to protect our rights. The Reid v. Covert case set the precedent that the Constitution supersedes any international agreements.

Here are a few sources for more information on the treaty and the U.S. position on it, as well as a link to information about the Reid v. Covert case.

Image Source: United Nations

Updated 2012-12-06 - Added excerpts from article to give examples of the type of language used.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

2012 Texas SBOE Election Results

TEA LogoWell, it's been a week since election day. I meant to get to this post sooner, but real life got in the way.

As I've said before, it's really no secret which political direction this part of Texas leans. If you're interested, here are the 2012 Election Results for Wichita County, Texas. In every race but one where a Republican ran, the Republican got the majority of the votes. The sole exception was Democratic incumbent, Barry Mahler, winning reelection for County Commissioner Precinct 3.

I wasn't particularly surprised by these results, but I was especially disappointed in the school board race. I wrote about the school board race before the election in the entry, 2012 Texas SBOE Elections, so you can see exactly why I'm so disappointed that Marty Rowley won. But what about the rest of the state? What does the makeup of the board look like now? Are we in for more shenanigans?

You can follow links from that previous entry to get more information on each of the new school board members, but here's a quick summary.

District Board Member Position
1 Martha Dominguez, D-El Paso Reasonable
2 Ruben Cortez, D-Brownsville Reasonable
3 Marisa Perez, D-San Antonio Reasonable
4 Lawrence Allen, D-Fresno Reasonable
5 Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio Extremist
6 Donna Bahorich, R-Houston Probably Extremist
7 David Bradley, R-Beaumont Extremist
8 Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands Extremist
9 Thomas Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant Reasonable
10 Tom Maynard, R-Florence Probably Extremist
11 Pat Hardy, R-Fort Worth Reasonable
12 Geraldine "Tincy" Miller, R-Dallas Reasonable
13 Mavis Knight, D-Dallas Reasonable
14 Sue Melton, R-Waco Reasonable
15 Marty Rowley, R-Amarillo Extremist

So, we have 9 reasonable members out of 15. That's enough to keep the extremist bloc from pulling the types of stunts they've pulled before. It's better than what it was a few years ago, but still disheartening that so many extremists can get elected.

More info: TFN Insider - Another Big Setback for the Far Right on Texas State Board of Education

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Get Out and Vote, 2012

I Voted Today
Image Sourc: WPClipArt.com

I voted today. Now go and do it yourself if you haven't already.

Like I've said many times previously, I hardly ever vote a straight ticket, and this year was no exception. Granted, my ballot limited my choices on several of the races, but I still judged each of the candidates individually. For the record, I voted for 3 Green Party candidates, 4 Libertarian candidates, 7 Democratic candidates, and 9 Republican candidates (and only 2/3 of those Republicans were in uncontested races). That's actually 1 less vote than there were races on my ballot. One uncontested candidate I refused to vote for.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Election 2012

PoliticsTomorrow is Election Day. Go vote and let your voice be heard. It's probably too late at this point to change many minds, but it's the obligation of bloggers to voice their opinions even when no one is interested.

I've already written about the Texas State Board of Education election in the entry, 2012 Texas SBOE Elections. Given the history of extremists on the Texas SBOE, make sure you vote for a reasonable candidate to avoid the types of shenanigans our school board became infamous for. If you live in my district, vote for Steven Schafersman.

I've also written before about Texas Republicans in general in the entry, The 2012 Texas Republican Platform. Go read that to see just how crazy some of their positions are. But just remember to judge each candidate individually. As I've mentioned before, I've never voted a straight ticket, and this year is no exception. There are one or two Republicans I'll be voting for.

If you're interested in general aviation, check out AOPA's 2012 Voter's Guide on GA issues in Congress.

And if you're still undecided on the presidential election, here's an interesting survey you can take:
I Side With...

They ask you a series of questions on different issues, and you give your answers along with how important that particular issue is to you. It then tallies up all your answers and gives you the candidates that match you the best. For the record, my best match according to that survey was Jill Stein, followed by Obama, then followed by every other major third party candidate, and finally with Romney as my worst match at something like 6%.

I've mentioned Romney a few times on this blog before. I won't link to all of those entries (just browse my Politics category if you're that interested), but here are a few of the more informative entries that have discussed the man.

While I may not be the biggest fan of Obama, for most of the issues where I disagree with him, Romney would be just as bad or worse. So, seeing as how third party candidates have pretty much zero chance of winning, I can only hope that projections such as the Five Thirty Eight Forecast are correct, and that Obama wins tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

2012 Texas SBOE Elections

TEA LogoElection Day is soon to be upon us. In fact, early voting has already started. So, I figured it would be worth posting a bit about the school board election. I've written quite a bit about our State Board of Education (SBOE) in the past. For a pretty thorough listing, go to this entry, Texas Primary Results for SBOE, and scroll to the bottom for a list of all the times I've discussed our SBOE. To quote one sentence from that entry to describe the situation in the state, "An extreme right-wing faction has pulled some sleazy and dishonest stunts over the past few years, from last minute back door dealings that not all board members were privy to, to trying to inject creationism into science, to trying to change history standards to some alternative reality." Thankfully, many of those far right members were voted out in the last election, and some more lost in the primaries this year. But, the extremists didn't disappear. Some are still up for reelection, and there are some new ones on the ballot. So those of us in the state that care about our children's education need to turn out at the polls this year to ensure that good board members are elected.

I'll add that this isn't exactly a partisan issue. While all of the extremists are/were Republicans, not all of the Republicans are extremists. So look at the candidate's positions and vote for the ones that look to be the best qualified regardless of what letter appears behind their name.

For more information on the candidates, the best resource is the Texas Freedom Network. Here are links to a few pages on their site that will help inform you for the SBOE election.

I also found a right wing site that sent questionnaires to the candidates and got responses from mostly Republican candidates. If you navigate through that site, you can find their response.

If you're unsure of which district you're in due to the recent redistricting, there's a very hand online tool to help you out with that. You type in your address, and it will tell you your district and representative for U.S. Senators, U.S. Representatives, State Senators, State Representatives, and SBOE.

I have to admit that I'm already cringing for the expected result for the SBOE representative for my district. Thanks to the redistricting and then a loss in the primaries, I'm no longer represented by Gail Lowe (one of the past extremists). But the candidate that looks poised to win the spot for my district this time around is Marty Rowley, who looks to be just as bad if not worse than Lowe. His website had the following statement that's a big red flag, "I support allowing our Texas teachers and schoolchildren to look at all sides of scientific theories, including evolution, intelligent design and global warming, without fear of recrimination." I've written about this issue before in Strengths and Limitations. It's not an attempt to provide the best information to students, but a type of weasel phrase that creationists/denialists use to try to teach discredited creationist/denialist ideas.

Even worse than his stance on science, when I looked at his answers to that Heritage Alliance questionnaire, I found this. In response to the statement, "It is the government's responsibility to be sure children are properly educated.", he disagreed. That is mind boggling. Out of all the possible roles government could have, this to me is one of the least questionable. A government of, by, and for the people should certainly ensure that the people receive a proper education. Democracy just doesn't work without a well educated citizenry. Our population is already ignorant enough. Does he want to leave education in the hands of the already ignorant?

Here are a few of the other questions/statements from that questionnaire. I'm sure that even without following the link to the Heritage Alliance site that you can guess how Rowley responded. "Biology textbooks which do not teach both the scientific strengths and weaknesses of the theory of evolution should be rejected by the Board." "I support the History and Social Studies curriculum standards approved by the State Board of Education in 2010." "I support school counseling or teaching about homosexuality." "I support displaying the Ten Commandments in public school buildings." "Any teaching to children on sex education in public schools must include all contraceptive methods, and should not show preference to abstinence."

His opponent, the good guy, is Steven Schafersman. I've followed Schafersman's articles on the Texas Observer, and I think he would make a good member of the BOE. Unfortunately, he just doesn't have the support that Rowley has. I can no longer recall where I found it, but I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that Rowley had raised significantly more funds for his campaign than Schafersman, and it's really no surprise which way this part of Texas leans.

So like I said already, research the candidates in your district, and make sure to get out there on Election Day and vote for the most qualified one. Our children don't need any more disservice like they've gotten from past extremists.


Selling Out