If I went to school in Colorado, I would not feel threatened by my fellow students being allowed to carry concealed handguns. After all, according to an opinion piece by attorney David Kopel that was published in The Washington Post last year, there has only been one incident related to concealed carry on campus in the state's history with the policy. An employee at a dental school accidentally fired her gun, but nobody was hurt.I would not personally pursue a concealed carry permit. I have much more confidence in cops, security guards and my own agility than on my ability to use a weapon.Whatever rocks your boat though. Besides, not that many college-kids can even get permits in Colorado since the minimum age for concealed carry is 21. The thing is, I don't go to school in Colorado. I attend a community college in Alabama. Most public colleges and universities in my state do not allow students and faculty to carry guns, concealed or otherwise.Not everyone is happy about this. Students for Concealed Carry at the University of South Alabama is planning a protest for early October. The demonstration will be similar to the one SCC staged in April, in which students wore empty holsters to draw attention to their cause. Again, concealed carry at Colorado colleges hasn't made them more dangerous places. One must , however, consider the differences between the two states' policies with regard to issuing permits. Kopel writes, " In Colorado, an applicant must be at least 21 years old, pass a fingerprint-based background check, and a safety-training class taught by a nationally-certified instructor. Even if a person meets all these conditions, the statute instructs the Sheriff to deny the application 'If the sheriff has a reasonable belief that documented previous behavior by the applicant makes it likely the applicant will present a danger to self or others.' In order to obtain a pistol permit in Alabama, which gives the bearer the right to carry a concealed pistol, one only has to have reached the age of 18 and have a clean history with regard to mental health and criminal behavior.No classes are required. Alabama is a "shall issue" state, meaning that the sheriff cannot deny a permit to someone who has passed a background check and met all other standards. Before we can make our gun laws more lenient, we need to make them tougher. Until then, the would-be vigilantes in my English composition class should take some advice from Johnny Cash. Leave your guns at home.
This year has seen many issues divide the right and left. There did not seem to be much agreement between Republican and Democratic candidates on education, abortion, LGBTQ rights, guns or healthcare. One issue, however, united people as diverse as Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump as well as president Obama and Congressional Republicans: Protectionism and free trade. Protectionism is the use of tariffs and other trade barriers to undercut foreign competition and bolster a country's domestic industry. Over the last few decades, America has been moving in the direction of free trade through agreements that eliminate trade barriers between the US and other nations. With many lower class and middle class people blaming free trade agreements for the loss of American manufacturing jobs, 2016 saw a pushback against the political establishment on free trade. Donald Trump, breaking with his own party, promised to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership (which president Obama has lobbied Congress for the approval of). Although she adopted a skeptical position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Hillary Clinton was burdened with a pro-free trade legacy, including involvement with the TPP as Secretary of State. Trump's victory was aided not only by traditional red states such as Texas and Nebraska, but also by blue states such as Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan where factories were once reliable employers for those with less education. Proponents and opponents of protectionism both argue that Their positions are in America's best interest. These arguments are built primarily on economics and mythos.There is one ingredient missing in the discussion about free trade:ethics. I am a utilitarian thinker, meaning that I generally believe what is best for the largest number of people is what is moral. Since utilitarian moral analysis involves the consideration of the quantity of people that benefit from policies or behaviors rather than their nationalities, I reject nationalism as a basis for supporting protectionism. Indeed, prioritizing the prosperity of 318 million people over that of 6 billion others would be utterly immoral. With that said, trade barriers should be used to put pressure on foreign states to enact strong workers' and environmental protections. Trade with countries whose laws are as progressive, if not more so, than the US,(such as the EU,Australia, Canada, Switzerland) should be liberalized with little negotiation.
I wrote the following in 2013.It was published as an opinion piece on a local news website.
Recently it was discovered that the National Security Agency has been collecting billions of phone records. The Soviet Union had secret police. It doesn't comfort me much that we have secret courts which gave the order for the surveillance.
The CIA was secretly giving bags of $$$ to the president of Afghanistan. If it's about the Taliban or al Qaeda, by all means keep it secret. But keeping payments secret is just shady.
The NSA and Defense Intelligence Agency have classified budgets. You do know, big brother, that paper you are spending is our money, right?
We need transparency.
We need fewer cameras aimed at the people and more cameras aimed at the government.
The Vice presidential nominees tussled over Syria at a debate in Virginia. The public has known since the primaries that Clinton and Kaine favor a no-fly zone over Syria. That seems pretty dangerous to me. I understand that Assad and Russia are committing horrible crimes against the Syrian people, but let's wait until IS and Al-Nusra are defeated before we consider impeding their ability to drop bombs. Governor Pence's idea came as a surprise to everyone watching. It goes further than what his running mate has publicly proposed, but that hardly matters since the evidence shows that in a Trump "presidency" Pence would be the one actually calling the shots in our government. Mike Pence Voiced support for "Safe Zones" within Syria where Syrians fleeing the war would be safe from Daesh, Assad, and Russia. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has floated the idea as a way to slow the flow of refugees into Europe. Would this be any better than a no-fly zone? Let's delve into it a little further. Establishing these safe zones would require ground troops. Even if all outside threats could be eliminated using air power, there would still need to be boots on the ground to maintain the rule of law. Who would these troops be? UN peacekeepers? The UN is regarding the safe zones proposal with skepticism after a disastrous 1990's experience protecting a buffer zone in Bosnia. Americans? We're not ready to have our ground troops play a central role in another Middle Eastern war. Perhaps Turkey would provide the troops needed. Turkey, a NATO ally in the Middle East, facing a flood of refugees, has been negotiating with the US in an attempt to establish safe zones. Turkey is much more democratic than other majority Muslim states in the Middle East, but still has concerning human rights issues. Especially under President Erdogan. Erdogan could use the safe zones as an excuse to attack Kurdish forces, thus strengthening IS and Assad. And what of the Kurds in the safe zones? Turkey's civil war with the PKK could cause tension between Turkish forces and Kurdish refugees. This operation would be a tremendous violation of Syrian sovereignty. There are no easy answers. Only dangerous ones.
During the first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Trump did something that he has done many times during that night and throughout his campaign: he put his foot in his mouth. When Clinton pointed out that the last time Trump's tax returns were made public, he was paying no taxes, Trump responded 'That makes me smart.' This was of course a dumbass thing to say. It implied that people who don't have gaping tax loopholes and top-notch lawyers available to them are not as smart as everyday people.Not to mention, there is abundant evidence that Trump is anything but 'smart'. The left has seized on Trump's remark as an opportunity to slam him. I will join them in calling for tax loopholes to be closed and for Trump to release his tax returns. I will not, however, give him flak for not paying taxes. There is no evidence that Trump has done anything illegal by avoiding taxes. There are tax loopholes Trump can take advantage of that ordinary taxpayers can't. This is no doubt an injustice, but ask yourself this:would you pay taxes if you weren't legally required to? I wouldn't. I would like to think that if I had a fortune like the Donald's, I would spend more of it on liberal causes and legitimate charities than personal aggrandizement, but I would not voluntarily hand over my money to the state.
A gas leak was discovered in a Shelby County, Alabama pipeline last week. Effects on the ecosystem have been minimal. The economic effects, however, have raised concerns in the government and media. Prices rose by as much as +12 cents per gallon in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Nathan Deal, the governor of Georgia, encouraged his state's citizens to maintain their normal level of oil consumption so as to prevent a worsening of the crisis. All that I can hope for is that this lasts as long as possible. Look, I understand that it sucks to take more out of your wallet to get to work or school or wherever you go on a regular basis.Perhaps I don't have enough perspective seeing as how I don't currently pay my own gas bill and my family can afford two Priuses. Something I do know, however, is that we need to get the hell off of petroleum. Forget the impact that petrol and other fossil fuels have on the climate, something that the anti-intellectuals and the tin foil hatters cannot seem to wrap their minds around. Air pollution can have drastic health effects on people in urban areas.Many of the people being affected by these price increases were hurt by the 2010 BP oil spill or know someone who was. For any rational person, incidents like that should be reason enough to collectively and individually decrease our consumption of gasoline. Unfortunately, insecure jackasses all over America are perfectly content driving cars bigger than the road.Cultural differences aside, Europe's biking habits are probably linked to the fact that gas taxes are higher in most industrialized countries than in the United States. If state and federal gas taxes were raised, there would be more of an incentive to use less petroleum and for the private sector to focus on projects to find viable alternatives to petrol-fueled cars. Additionally ,revenue would be provided to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. There probably isn't enough political will to make such a move, but I'm not ready to give up on the planet just yet.
Most of the time, the American Civil Liberties Union is on the right side of political issues. Whether it is stopping warrantless mass surveillance, protecting the rights of LGBTQ people, maintaining separation of church and state, suing the Obama administration for assasinating US citizens without trial, or calling for reform of the criminal justice system, I am in 110 percent agreement with the ACLU. Lately,however, they have been pushing a notion about immigration that seems more rooted in emotion than logic. The ACLU has a petition on its website calling for the US government to stop deporting non-citizen veterans. While I appreciate the sacrifices that service veterans have made for our country and it is sad that many of them end up in the criminal justice system, often because they are struggling to readjust to civilian life, I also believe that they should receive the same punishments for serious felonies that they would had they not been veterans.If they are not US nationals, that would mean removal from the country.There are some former service members who are undocumented and have not committed violent crimes. Nonetheless, they have still done something very dangerous. Enlisting in the military as an illegal immigrant is not allowed, which means one would need to lie to federal agents and submit fabrications as evidence of legal status in order to do so. There is much we Can and should do to improve life for our veterans and service members. Allowing criminal aliens to stay in our country is not one of them.
The House of Representatives has approved a bill that would allow lawsuits against the Saudi Arabian government for its officials' roles in 9/11. The bill, which originated in the Senate, passed unanimously, indicating that it could survive president Obama's threatened veto. A part of me fears the Saudi response and the effect that it will have on the American economy. The larger part of me, however, believes that the severing of this repressive ,theocratic monarchy's ties to our secular republic will be worth whatever financial pain it causes in the short term. This bill could potentially open the US up to foreign lawsuits as well, but I see no reason why our government shouldn't also be held accountable for crimes it has been involved in.
Covering the topics of citizenship, equal protection, due process, war debts, and apportionment, the 14th; one of the "reconstruction" amendments, helped dramatically change our country for the better. In my opinion, there is no single amendment to our constitution more important than the 14th. I will discuss each clause or part of the amendment, its historical context and how it is relevant today. I am not a historian or legal scholar, just a guy who's really passionate about the US constitution. I would encourage anyone with expertise on this topic to correct me if they see any errors.
"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside." With few exceptions (such as children born to foreign ambassadors) anyone born in the US is a US citizen.It doesn't matter if your mother got off a banana boat five minutes before giving birth . If her ass was on American soil while she was screaming in pain, you're an American. The original intent of this clause was to give citizenship to black people, who, thanks to Dredd Scott were not considered citizens even if they were born here. Today the birth-right citizenship clause is under attack because of the far-right's concern about the proliferation of taco trucks. The derogatory term "anchor baby" originates from the idea that mothers come to the states illegally and give birth so that they themselves have a right to stay.This phenomenon,however, is a myth since the 14th amendment clearly does not give anyone the right to reside in the United States other than people born on our soil.
"No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." You know how on a police procedural show, when a suspect gets arrested, the cop reads him his rights? You can thank the 14th amendment for that.The first 10 amendments set some ground rules for the then new federal government. Don't establish a state religion. Don't censor people. Don't torture people. Don't take their shit without compensation. Don't throw them in jail for no reason. Before the 14th amendment, however, the states' rights trumped human rights. The first 10 amendments didn't apply to them. You remember how the Declaration of Independence said "all men are created equal"? It's kind of hard to enshrine that sentiment in a legally binding constitution without touching your right to own another man. With the slaves freed, the 14th amendment made it clear that everyone would be treated equally under the law regardless of their skin color. It took a about a century of fighting in court and congress for the 14th amendment to provide true equality.While its original purpose was related to racial minorities, African-Americans in particular, the 14th has also been used to protect other groups .The 14th amendment was applied in Obergefelle v Hodges in which the court ruled that states were required to allow and recognize same-sex marriage.
"Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the executive and judicial officers of a state, or the members of the legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such state, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such state." The infamous 3/5 compromise allowed slave states to count 3 out of every 5 slaves as part of their populations for the purpose of congressional apportionment. After abolition of slavery, the constitution's guidelines on apportionment were in need of an update. So now all of the blacks are "persons". Hurray!
"No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability." This clause has little relevance today, if at all, but was important after a civil war in which many former civil servants , politicians, and soldiers took up arms against the federal government. They could only get a government job (elected or appointed)if 2/3 of both houses of Congress voted to "remove such disability".
"The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any state shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void" During the war, bonds were issued to raise revenue for the CSA, some of which the confederacy had not paid back.This clause made these debts illegal. Since slave owners had what had legally been their property taken from them, they could have made a case for compensation from the federal government. The 14th amendment made it clear that no one was getting paid to make up for losing human livestock.
"The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article." As was the case with the 13 and 15th amendments, Republicans knew that the courts alone could not enforce the 14th amendment. The final clause of the 14th gave congress the power that it needed to pass numerous civil rights bills.
Obergefell V Hodges wiki
Dredd Scott V Sanford wiki
Fourteenth amendment to the United States a Constitution wiki
Economy of the Confederate States of America wiki
There is nothing that the GOP treasures more than helpless, innocent babies. And to show just how determined they are to protect little ones from harm, Republican members of congress poisoned a bill to fight Zika, a mosquitoe-spread virus that causes birth defects. The provisions that prompted Democrats to block the $1.1 billion funding bill targeted Planned Parenthood.And what's more, the amendments in question had nothing to do with the non-existent baby parts profiteering or abortion.Instead, they removed the women's health organization from the list of recipients who would be given funding to prevent the spread of Zika.Let's recap:In order to make a statement about protecting babies, GOP lawmakers took a bill meant to protect babies and destroyed its chances of passage by taking away potential Planned Parenthood funding to protect babies. Good job, Mitch McConnnell. Honest Abe would be proud.