Monday, November 30, 2009

The Bob of Rights

In 1789 the U.S. Congress wrote the first 10 amendments to the Constitution. These amendments, for those of you who were out with the Chicken pox during this 5th grade class, are known as the Bill of Rights and were adopted in 1791. I don't know exactly who "Bill" was but there were a number of "Williams" who were involved in the Revolution. I assume that someone (probably that jokester, Franklin) slapped some poor William's nickname on the legislation and it just slipped through.

These 10 Rights were added to the Constitution to satisfy those members of Congress who were concerned that without them that the Federal Government could become tyrannical, much like the central governments of Europe at the time and similar to today's DMV offices. These amendments were vaguely written in one or two areas, e.g. armed militias, gun ownership rights, privacy issues, the government's relationship to religion, liberty and such. Many folks these days believe that they know exactly what each of these amendments means because they can divine the writers' specific intent, i.e. "I can own a rocket propelled grenade launcher if I want to, the Second Amendment guarantees it."

I'm a bit more guarded in my interpretation given that the 1789 framers were unfamiliar with grenade launchers. "To bear arms" does suggest that the writers had in mind personal firearms and not more advanced weapons of war. Citizens, for instance, were not guaranteed the right to "bear howitzers" or "naval gunboats". I'm sure that there are some out there in reader land who disagree and plan to build their own naval gunboat for back yard defense, local ordinances and lack of water be damned. Go right ahead. The construction and maintenance activity will likely preclude you from positioning yourself for a Supreme Court slot or starting your own talk show.

In any case, the Bill of Rights has been and will likely continue to be, at the heart of contentious issues. People of intellect on both sides of the divide will disagree and the pendulum of legal interpretation will swing left and then right as the makeup of the Supreme Court evolves. Currently, Antonin "Batman" Scalia and Clarence "The Quiet Robin" Thomas bat from the right side along with Roberts and Alito with Kennedy as the switch hitter whose stats are a little weaker from the left side, if you get my drift.

But I take keyboard in hand today to talk about the "Bob of Rights" not the Bill of Rights. The Bob of Rights, named after fellow Georgian Billy Bob (he asked that his last name not be revealed) are founded on his observations of fellow Americans as they go about their daily routines. These Rights are based on many citizens' sense of entitlement regarding a number of issues and activities and they exercise these Rights with abandon.

And so, with no further to do, here they are.


The Bob of Rights (2009)

Be it knowneth hencefortheth and forevermoreth, not including Federal and State holidays, weekends and regular work days, by all who are in the literate to non-literate continuum and who are bona fide legal residents of the United States of America plus Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the American Virgin Islands and Canada (just a joke, you overly-sensitive Canadian readers) that the following are apparently guaranteed Rights of Individuals in spite of the fact that they do not appear anywhere in the U.S. Constitution but have been observed time and again by Billy Bob (and others). To whit: An Individual, because he or she is very special, has the Right to:

1. Ignore the line of cars patiently waiting in the exit lane and speed down the adjoining lane and force someone to let you into the front of the line because you drive a (BMW, Escalade, Mercedes, Lexus, etc. etc.).

2. Forward unsubstantiated, unattributed and scurrilous e-mail postings to everyone on your distribution list and insist that they do the same "for the good of the country".

3. Bang your over sized carry-on luggage against the heads and shoulders of fellow passengers unlucky enough to have an aisle seat.

4. Hoodwink the hosts and authorities, crash an important state event, get your picture taken with all the pooh-bahs and then demand $500,000 to tell your story to some faux news outlet.

5. Take a multi-million dollar bonus based on profits that were either (1) not profits after all or (2) profits made because the rest of the American public provided money to keep your business afloat for another year and because that's the way it has always been done on the south end of Manhattan Island.

6. Drive 80 MPH on the bumper of the schmuck ahead of you, another very special person who is already going 25 MPH over the posted limit and who has cars on either side, thus precluding a lane change.

7. Bring your five-year-old poorly parented child onto public transportation and let said five-year-old run the show for the duration because "that's the way (he or she) acts at home" (apologetic smile).

8. Loudly share your cell phone conversation with all around you, those who understand that you are very special and so therefore just can't wait to hear the details of when you got on, how long you will be on or when you will be getting off the friggin (train, plane, elevator, escalator, bus, what have you).

9. Ignore the "Don't Walk" light and enter the crosswalk while the "Left Turn" arrow is illuminated thus freezing left turn traffic and glare menacingly at anyone who dares blow their horn at your-own-special-self.

10. Strongly and loudly state your opinions on topics about which you have very little factual knowledge and no expertise.

Thus sweareth, stateth, avereth, orateth, sayeth and proclaimeth Billy Bob (Anon) this December 1, 2009.


My thanks to Billy Bob for sharing this vital information. For the good of the Republic, please forward this to all of the people on your e-mail distribution list. If you don't, someday you will have bad luck and/or die.


Observoid of the Day: If you have a bunch of clowns, you're going to have a circus.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New Light Through Old Windows

In the late eighteenth century, America's Founding Fathers (salute) came together in Philly, declared the colony's independence from England, established a constitution and very possibly invented the cheese steak sandwich. The first two accomplishments are irrefutable facts.

We remember many of these Founding Fathers (there were no Founding Mothers, and this is an important fact as you will see directly) as literate men of property, education and creativity. Most of them were Christians--with the exception of a handful of the most influential--all of them were Caucasian and all of them wore silly pants, which were the rage at the time. Many wore wigs, a style that has pretty much faded away, except in some sectors of the entertainment business. These men clearly saw themselves as qualified to lead the country and to be selected and re-selected by voters who were similar to them: literate, educated, land-owning white men.

I suspect, that if the Founding Fathers were to learn that in today's America we encourage to vote anyone who is at least 18, can prove legal citizenship and can fog up a mirror, they would be horrified. Women voting? Nonsense. Negroes? You surely jest. Illiterate workers? Outrageous. Indians? Now you are just being silly.

The "All men are created equal" thing was limited to the aforementioned "men" and to a certain class of capable men, in other words, the Founding Father archetype.

Eschewing current political correctness, let me opine that our Founding Dads had a point. Wait, put down that rock and hear me out.

I strongly believe that citizens of the female persuasion, Blacks, Indians, non-property owners, laborers, et al, who were originally left out of the voting equality equation should be included, just as they are now. However, if any of these folks is a certifiable moron, I don't want them helping me select representatives or to run for office themselves. Moron inclusion is the standard now and it is a major contributor to the fact that we get a fair share of morons in state and federal legislative seats. The fact that we don't have effective moron screening as part of the voter or candidate registration process is unconscionable.

Let me be clear, I don't mean to denigrate morons and for those of you who are morons, "denigrate" means to "put down" or "to make fun of".

Seriously, we don't let people drive cars who can't pass the driver's test but we let people vote--no, we encourage people to vote--who know virtually nothing of the policies, implications and nuances of the issues at hand or the machinery and purposes of the three branches of government. Many of these voters likely don't have the capacity to be informed voters, much like some people can't safely merge onto a freeway. Both are dangerous types in their own special way.

There is a faint but growing wail building in the distance as the liberals amongst my readers began to understand my rather conservative take on voter's rights. My take is simple: an adult U.S. citizen has a right and duty to vote but only as long as there is some evidence that he or she has the mental capacity to think clearly and independently.

Along with the right to vote comes the obligation to be informed instead of merely influenced by those who would twist and spin the facts. If one is unable to think rationally for themselves, someone else will always be available to think for them, rationally or not. Based on much of what I see and read on the Internet, it's clear that some citizens, many of whom would probably make good next door neighbors and/or drinking companions, should be kept away from the polling station through threat of force because they are political and policy morons. Ergo, we get the government that we deserve.

Some may argue that I just don't want people voting or serving in office who do not agree with my personal political views. Au contraire. There is always room for disagreement and ideological differences between people of informed goodwill. For instance, I believe that the current proposed health care legislation is better than doing nothing, although it is far from being adequate to solve the problems of the system long term. Others, on the other hand, may think that an entirely different approach is the better way to go; I'm glad to hear them out, maybe even give their ideas a try. However, if you carry a sign showing corpses at Buchenwald and equate that horror to "Obama's health care solution", your right to vote or hold office should be immediately revoked because you are a moron.

I haven't solved the moron screening conundrum and so I can't provide a simple solution today. Perhaps science could invent a machine similar to a metal detector that emits a silent alarm when a moron passes through. It would be silent so that the moron not be unduly embarrassed. Surely they suffer enough embarrassment by routinely saying and doing moronic things, i.e., former Congressman and soon to be convicted scofflaw Tom DeLay appearing on Dancing with the Stars. A moron screening machine could have caught him before he even ran for Congress.

I will be interested in your thoughts and comments regarding voter and candidate registration moron screening. Be advised, if what you write is moronic, names and embedded cookie identifiers will be archived for possible future use.


Observoid of the Day: Willie Nelson is the son that Ozzie and Harriet never mentioned.