Saturday, November 13, 2010

co: On objecting to the Pledge of Allegiance in America

Kollapsnik at Club Orlov reminded us about November 7,the anniversary of the Stalin revolt in Russia that ended the sovereignty of the Czars, and rang in Communist rule.

One of the comments brought out a recent event, where a school student refused the class pledge of allegiance to the US and the flag - and the coach physically and verbally abused the student, attempting to twist the young person's arm into the expected hand-over-heart position.

I can see how someone might disagree with the boy's point of view and manner of protest but if this is supposed to be a free country, what is the point of trying to force him?

Another comment went on to object to the pledge itself.

. . Furthermore it's unconstitutional, as it includes a reference to "God," whereas the Constitution explicitly states that Congress shall pass no law respecting religion. The Pledge of Allegiance was rammed through during the 1950s and has no legitimate association with the Fourth of July, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or the Declaration of Independence. Moreover that kind of compulsory group behavior is a violation of the spirit of all those things, in my opinion. So I'm against it.

For 15 years or so after WWII, the US faced an active threat from Russia, from infiltrating and local communist agents and activists, many with known membership in a Communist Party. The threat intended to escalate into an American version of the 1917 revolution where the Russian government was overthrown by Communist rebels against their government. Senator Joe McCarthy won a deservedly (in my opinion) tyrannical and corrupt reputation by riding that very real threat into a cartoonish reign of terror on Americans.

Part of the response to that threat from within and without, with anti-American activities being funded by Russia and other fronts, was the pledge of allegiance.

Most American Communists at that time were passionate and determined enough to openly despise the US Constitution and it's Constitutional form of government - they refused the pledge. So the pledge was seen as a test for citizenship, a public demonstration that community and leaders were indeed engaged in legitimate discourse and governance under local, state, and federal laws.

I think the flag was chosen as the symbol of adherence to the Constitution, because the battle flag has always been an important icon for the uniformed services. The flag plays the military role of identifying leadership, authority, and a visible reassurance that our side is still engaged, still battling or carrying on. The US grew from the Revolution and leaders recently experienced in that military conflict. In post-WWII America, millions of citizens had just recently been released from military service. The US flag was, and is, a powerful emblem and symbol of the nation, national leadership, and here in America, the Constitution that many public leaders and all military enlistees are required to swear an oath to defend, from enemies foreign and domestic. The flag as a symbol is a remembrance, and a reminder, that America was won on the battlefield, partly, and owes it’s continued existence, in part, to readiness to defend against armed aggression.

Anyone should be permitted to choose to refuse the pledge of allegiance; it should have to be a deliberate and sincerely considered refusal. Refusing the pledge should carry the consequences understood when the pledge was first imposed. No one that can conscientiously object to the pledge of allegiance should be allowed any position of civil, legal, military, or other civic responsibility or authority.

One of the basic strengths of America is adherence to the Constitution. From the President of the United States, to the gentlepeople collecting garbage for the city, every single person should be engaged in their assigned duties in a manner that defends and protects the Constitution of the United States.

Quarrels with individual laws aside from the Constitution, or with words, positions, or actions of any public office holder, are all legitimate defenses of the Constitution, and are part of the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of each citizen of the United States. The onus to consider and choose what to support and what to oppose does not extend, in my opinion, to the US Constitution, the flag, or even to the pledge of allegiance.

Today the issue of Sharia law is a direct challenge to the Constitution in federal and state courts. Sharia law is to the Muslim, what the Ten Commandments are to Christian and Jewish faithful. They contradict the rights and responsibilities of citizens under the Constitution. Muslim beliefs of religious teachings superseding secular laws violate the Constitutional guarantees of separation of church and state. Harsh mutilation and stoning requirements under Sharia law violate freedom from cruel and unusual punishment. Death to Islam non-believers violates guarantees against discrimination based on faith.

There are those that refuse the pledge of allegiance on the grounds that the pledge represents a secular kind of 'belief', almost a religious faith.

Those that do not believe that the Constitution is or should be the basis for laws common to all Americans must and should be tolerated. But the Constitution requires that leadership and laws and governing bodies adhere strictly to the Constitution, to not compromise the guarantees of citizenship, nor to exceed the limits imposed by the Constitution on governance in America.

Thus, I see the pledge as a check and a privilege of Constitutional citizenship, and a bare requirement for leadership and authority.

As to "God" in the pledge, the Constitution mandates separation of church and state, and adheres quite closely to actual faith in a divine Creator. Faith and church are two very different entities. Faith is a description of beliefs and truths that an individual incorporates in relating to that individual's concepts of divinity and that individual's relationship to that divinity.

Church, and other forms of organized religion, is an organization of people, often bound to each other by common faiths and beliefs. The US Constitution establishes that no church of any faith may over-rule the US Government, nor may they interfere with the rights, protections, and responsibilities that derive from the Constitution or Federal, state, or local laws. The Constitution also, importantly, protects citizens from churches and faiths, and actions by churches and faithful, that contradict the rights, protections, and responsibilities of secular (non-faith based) laws and regulations.

The Constitution prohibits the government from allowing or acting from a basis of faith or church. Individuals, including office holders, are expected to act within their own faith and beliefs, as long as those actions adhere to the protections and limits of the Constitution and subsequent laws.

That is, the Constitution both establishes the creation of our nation within the belief in God (an amorphous expression of Judeo-Christian faith), and protects the individual's right and responsibility to believe and worship as their conscience dictates. The limits on church and faith protect the rights of each and every American to believe as they understand their relationship to God and divinity.

At least, that is how I feel about it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Did Adobe just kill

OK, so the Natasha Bedingfield video (Pocket full of sunshine) I have been watching - and watching, etc., stopped working. They needed me to update to the latest Flash player.

So now I not only get to see Natasha, hear a reasonably good song - but I get to watch ads, too, ticker-taping across the blasted video.

Hurray for RIAA, etc.

Only - the ads detract from the reason I am there. If I want to watch ads, I would hie me to the blasted TV set, and, like, maybe plug in antennae for the first time in nine years. I might pull the spam and popup and script blockers off my browser and un-firewall my computer. I might for goodness' sake buy the local news (and ad) paper.

Hint, you folks at YouTube - newspapers and broadcast TV and cable TV put a lot of effort into getting those ads to throw at their viewers. Hint 2: Their business model is kinda spotty, with some doing well - and many not doing so well.

If I wanted to be paying RIAA for the music, I would consider paying for a CD or download *without restrictions, add-ons, ads, etc.*

Natasha - I am sure your video is still nice enough. I don't get enough out of it, though, to put up with ads on the video at the same time. Sorry. Have a nice career.

YouTube, Google - for shame. I kinda home you find a way to broadcast video without Adobe's ads. Else look for others to jump into the massive opening you created, for credible and useful alternatives.

Remember, kiddies. Patents and copyright laws were established by the US Congress and Constitution for a very important reason: To generate lots of ideas and creativity - and get those ideas and creativity into the public domain. Patents and copyrights were created to be a very limited period of protection for inventors and authors, to assure they got recognition (no one stole the idea) and a chance to profit from those ideas. Then, after a decent period, all those tunes and lyrics and poetry stanzas and books and papers and such - were to become public knowledge and a value to all the nation.

Words have power. Power to make people grow in useful and interesting ways, words can inflame passions, and unravel angers, words can soothe, and share an expression of beauty that enlarges the spirit. Words can also do other things - it is one of the obligations of a mature person to sort through the words, and make good use of what is good and fruitful.

And my word is that I am looking for something non-Adobe to read pdf files, and I for something else that shows Flash without the ads. I know I never wanted to do a Flash project, so none of my web design clients need worry, nor the visitors to their web sites.

And to the good folks at Adobe? I use the Photoshop Elements. And I still refer to every single Adobe product as "the Adobe Virus" - because starting up an Adobe application causes my computer to lock up, gasping, as if a virus attack had grabbed my computer, had stopped all my interfaces, and was busily erasing my computer's hard drive. The arrogance of the way Adobe software is installed and starts to run, abusing resources and my time, feels rude to me, and lacks respect. Yes, you bought Macromedia so you could do what you want with Flash. My hope is that you price yourself, and de-feature yourself, right out of the marketplace.

Friday, November 5, 2010

vftp: Lame duck Congress, FSA - S.510, and DADT

Tam at View From The Porch laments the damage this lame duck Congress - those folk with all the authority of their elected office, but with replacements with different agendas already selected - can do in their misdirected energy and bitter sense of loss. Tam lists some of the projected topics - and hopes they spend all the dwindling days of this Congress on DADT - the Clinton-era invention of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that stopped the military from assuring it's members were heterosexual, but clobbered anyone that was revealed to be . . different.

S.510 - So-called Food Safety Enhancement, and the FSA

We will have to watch this Congress. With Malice Aforethought - the Senate scheduled for this month - immediately after the election - S.510, the Food Safety Administration (Food Safety Enhancement Act or some such). The bill wants every farmer, trucker, farmers market, and truck farm listed and inspected by the feds - including mandated testing of foods and stuff that *could* be used in food for people *or animals*. S.510 includes the Fed capacity to shut down or outright confiscate anyone that botches the paperwork, fails an inspection, or fails to stick to Federally mandated practices to produce, transport, or store food or anything that could be a food component for people or for animals.

This will tap and hinder everyone that consumes food (like you and I) and everyone with contact with food - perhaps anyone selling at any Farmers market or roadside stand.

For those that think this sounds like increased food safety - recall that the existing laws prohibited that peanut butter incident from happening, and the Iowa egg thing, and didn't. Additional laws hamper the law abiding, without affecting the unscrupulous or ignorant. This also has the potential to put a lot of people right out of business that aren't using Monsanto based concepts - and expenses - of raising crops and livestock.

There are a ton of regulations required - but not written yet - in the bill, massive penalties, and it all rolls up into another brand-new bureaucracy, the Food Safety Administration.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Oh, please, please let them dither over DADT until the new batch get there. I served in the Navy some 30-35 years ago when women started serving in wider capacities. I heard most of the same arguments then about women as the military raises about gays. For the most part, most of us had little sexual contact with the others in our unit, and I doubt that will change. 'Way back then, when it was all guys (and the only dates discussed were female), there were some that preferred blondes, others with provocative clothes, or a habit of regular alcohol and frolicking about. Other than the hangovers, it didn't much affect the work. Sheesh. The military fears the gays mostly because they were taught to fear the gays. If they can learn to march in step, because they are told to, I expect most all can handle respecting the person next to them.

Even if the Army has to re-evaluate making skirts optional for both genders. Kilts didn't seem to hamper the Scots much.