Friday, November 10, 2006

What can the House of Representatives do, all by itself? - Step#2

Reprise from last time... What should the Democrats do, in their first days?

Before considering bills and legislation - which may face obstinate vetoes - let’s talk about things that the U.S. House of Representatives could do, all alone, to set a new tone in America.



Here are some more suggestions:


2 -- Require more work days, actually deliberating the Peoples’ business.

All right, that one is a no-brainer, especially after by-far the laziest and most contemptible Congress in more than a century. Just being seen working hard could be an amazing contrast.

On the other hand, the next suggestion may need some chewing-on, before you see the benefits.


3 -- Enforce the “good parts” of Newt Gingrich’s “Contract With America.”

Wait! Don’t hang up! Please stop and think about it. What act could possibly embarrass the GOP more than pointing out half a dozen solemn promises in that “contract” that Republicans betrayed?

Moreover, it would say to the voters: “Hey, we remember your anger in 1994. We acknowledge why many of you wanted us out of power. In fact, here is proof that we listen.”

In case you have political amnesia, drop by http://www.davidbrin.com/contract.html and look over that old “contract” with the eyes of a winner, who can afford some generosity of spirit. And who may be willing to learn from a historically masterful stroke of political polemic. One that did have some “good parts” that millions of Americans found appealing then, and would find even more desirable now:

* requiring all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply equally to the Congress;

* arranging for regular comprehensive audits of Congress for waste, fraud or abuse;

* limiting the terms of all committee chairs and party leadership posts;

* banning the casting of proxy votes in committee and law-writing by lobbyists;

* requiring committee meetings to be open to the public;

* guaranteeing an honest accounting of our Federal Budget.


Really, who could object to these particular items?

Indeed, what could be a more powerful blow to the GOP than to remind Americans of these broken promises... and then for Democrats to fulfill them at long last?

And yet, in a strange win-win scenario, this would also strike a note of bi-partisanship! By saying “we will listen to good ideas, wherever they come from.”

Finally, it would perfectly set the stage for rejecting the worst parts of the “contract”. The parts that (alas) did get fulfilled by the GOP.

Portions that only served the interests of a secretive elite.

---

I was going to wait till tomorrow, to present reform suggestion #4. But I am too eager, so let’s get to it right away.


4 -- Restore Independent Advisory Agencies For Science, Technology and other areas of skilled analysis, to counsel Congress without bias or dogma-driven pressure. Ensure that technical reports may not be rewritten by politicians, changing their meaning at the last minute.

No neoconservative crime was more devastatingly dishonest and hypocritical, than for them to have deliberately dissolved Congress’s own technological and scientific staff, while crying out for “more study” before acting on problems like Global Climate Change. This simple act of restoration will show the striking contrast between an era ruled by dogmatic fanatics and return of the “reality-based community” ... the rebirth of basic common sense.

Worth noting: Although presidential vetoes might stymie re-establishment of the full gamut of scientific support, a Democratic Congress can accomplish at least some of this entirely on its own! Each chamber may define its own housekeeping budget and expand its technology/science staffing.

Imagine the note that this would ring, across the land and the entire world. The America of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein is back in business.


Next time: dealing with Pork Wallow Central... K Street.

33 comments:

David Brin said...

---------
---------

An unrelated and non-political addendum:

Aw.... what a bummer. Today I heard that the Dean of Science Fiction - and my dear friend - was gone.

Like many others, I thought Jack was genuinely invulnerable. One of the sweetest and most genuine people I ever met, a man whose life and vision spanned farther than most of us can imagine or even dream.

It wasn’t just that he helped pioneer the most truly American of all literary genres, the one obsessed (as he was) with change and frontiers. Nor the relentless example that he set, continuing to write (good stuff!) until age ninety-seven. Nor the inspiration of his dynamic life. Nor the unflagging optimism. Nor Jack’s unfailing kindness, with never a word of ill will or malignant gossip toward anyone else (at least that I ever heard.)

No, I believe that most striking thing about Jack Williamson was also the work-of-art that his simple, modest life became over the years, when viewed in awe from the outside.

Some highlights: Crossed plains as a child in a homesteading covered wagon (seriously). Rafted down the Mississippi like Tom Sawyer. Was diagnosed "insane" because he liked science fiction. Originated many of the truly original ideas of our age. Became the Treasure of Eastern New Mexico. No doubt the real reason why all those Roswell Aliens kept coming. Looking for autographs, I bet.


Exactly 10 years ago, I wrote the intro to a collection in his honor. I will post it online soon, as a tribute to a great man. But the man carved his own memorial, in his words and books and ideas. In the authors and readers who considered themselves his daughters and sons.

He was 17 months shy of his centennial. Jack not only deserved his 100 years... we all were positive he would leave that milestone in his wake, like prairie dust. Like a trail of stars.

Stefan Jones said...

Sorry to have been the bearer of sad news!

Sad news . . . but not tragic, because what a life Williamson led, and what a body of work he left behind!

I need to catch up on his last few books, and . . . yes, I still have it! A copy of Wonder's Child, autographed on April 1, 1986. No fooling!

matthew jones said...

I grew up in Eastern New Mexico (Tucumcari and Carlsbad) and spent a great deal of time in Portales at ENMU. SciFi has lost a Dean - ENMU has lost a legend.

A girlfriend of mine that attended ENMU spoke highly of Jack Williamson- I never got to meet him. My loss.

*****

Back to politics - I really like DB's suggestions for what the House can do, so far at least.

But, for me, the question becomes one of, "How can we point these ideas in the general direction of the Representatives that have a chance of enacting them?" Good ideas like these have a shelf-life. How can we "sell" them to our Reps so that they may have a chance to be opened up, warmed over a low heat, and served savory not spoiled?

A suggestion to start with – write your Rep’s and suggest the Independent Advisory Councils be reinstated. And follow up with the subpoena idea. Anyone have ties to any of the Rep’s and can get a personal word? Use the opportunity please…

Rob Perkins said...

I guess (looking at some of the comments in the last thread) that we'll see just how many of all those new reps are of the "IMPEACH HIM NOWWWWWWW!" category, and how many want to get positive work done.

It will be a signal/noise measurement, giving us perhaps a more accurate picture of how much power the reflexive leftists have...

SpeakerToManagers said...

He was 17 months shy of his centennial. Jack not only deserved his 100 years... we all were positive he would leave that milestone in his wake, like prairie dust. Like a trail of stars.


Damn, that is the saddest news I've heard in a very long time. I didn't know him personally, but I have very fond memories of reading his stories. And that, I think, is typical of the way many people reacted to his work; not as books they have read, but as stories that have become part of them.

I first read one of Jack Williamson's stories when I was ten or eleven, and just this year I read one he'd written only two or three years ago. So I've been reading his work now for almost all of my own life, but only half of his. Every once in awhile I re-read some of his older stuff ("The Legion of Time", or "The Humanoids" or "The Legion of Space" or "Dragon's Island" or ...) and I'm reminded that he not only lived and wrote through the entire period of what we call modern science fiction, he was one of its primary creators.

It maybe would have been only a symbolic event with no practical effect on the world, but I was hoping he would reach his 100th birthday too. Or maybe his 200th. He will be sorely missed.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but this one item simply isn't going to work.

"banning ... law-writing by lobbyists"

Never happen. That's basically asking them to vote themselves a pay cut.

Don Quijote said...

Rumsfeld may face criminal prosecution in Germany for detainee abuses

Days after his resignation, outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other American officials may face criminal prosecution in Germany for their alleged roles in abuses at the military-run prisons at Abu Ghraib, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

New legal documents, to be filed next week with Germany's top prosecutor, would seek a criminal investigation and prosecution of Rumsfeld, along with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former CIA director George Tenet and other senior U.S. civilian and military officers, the Time magazine reported on Friday.

The plaintiffs in the case included 11 Iraqis who were detained at Abu Ghraib, as well as Mohammad al-Qahtani, a Saudi held at Guantanamo, whom the U.S. identified as the so-called "20th hijacker" and a would-be participant in the 9/11 hijackings, the report said.


I wonder how many other Bush Administration Officials will never be able to leave the US once they leave office.

I guess (looking at some of the comments in the last thread) that we'll see just how many of all those new reps are of the "IMPEACH HIM NOWWWWWWW!" category, and how many want to get positive work done.

Well, we could always do what was done the last time the Repugs broke the law, started their very own foreign policy in contravention of the House and the Senate because that worked out so well for the Nicaraguan people, the Democrats and US Democracy.

jomama said...

Put any 5 people in a room to discuss
"how to take Amerika back", you get 5
different plans to do it.

When Amerika really hits the fan, I expect
there'll be a passel of idiots holding a meeting
to find out what to do about it.

Then some of these Dull Sparks will grab their
rusting shotguns and pitchforks, hitting the
streets in an attempt to do it.

Hey, don't get me wrong. I don't like it any
better than they do.

I just know there's nothing to do but let it die
from natural causes and start all over from scratch.

Vigilante said...

How about editing your list of changes for the House using the phrase,

". . . giving teeth to the House Ethics Committee . . ." ?

michael vassar said...

These have been some very good ideas, but any idea of how to introduce them to people who might do something with them?

OdinsEye2k said...

I'm not sure what to do with the impeachment thing, other than to say investigations first. My instincts tell me that Bush and co. are guilty of criminal actions against the Constitution with their unitary executive theory, spying on US citizens and arbitrarily stepping outside the bounds of proper treatment of prisoners. Although if anyone should be publically beaten, it is Alberto Gonzales for bending his legal reasoning to justify these things.

There are things to get done, and it would suck if all the time was spent on that. Which is why I like the Good Cop/Bad Cop idea (and it feels this is the way the Dems plan to go), where senior leadership plays nice and gets things done while Conyers, Waxman and Leahy go out back and bash some kneecaps.

Bad people need to be punished when they do bad things. And this includes (or should apply espeically to) those that have power over many lives.

Personally, I'd also like to see guys like Moqtada al-Sadr taken out back and shot as well, but headless militias are generally not good things. And that's the great quandry of politics. If you shut out the nasty people, they come and destabilize your government. But if you include them, you reward them for their worst qualities.

Hawker Hurricane said...

To all who have asked "How do we introduce these ideas to our congresscritter"...
Somewhere in your district, your congressman has an office. Someone works thier Monday through Friday.
Go, in person, and talk to that person. Dress nicely. Have a briefcase, if possible. Have a copy of everything you want him to know printed out in the briefcase. Have multiple copies, in fact, ready to pass around as needed. Find out when the Congressman will be in his district office. Make a appointment.
Congresscritters have a 'priority list' of what they look at. Email is on the bottom, some junior staffer just scans it and passes on what he (the staffer) thinks is important to a senior staffer, who then decides whether it needs to be passed to the Congressman. Hand written letters are next... but show up at his office with a briefcase, and you might be somebody.
Anyone know where I can rent a 3 piece suit?

Rob Perkins said...

Hawker, I think that varies from congresscritter to congresscritter, especially since the anthrax scare. I've received signed letters back from my Congressman (Baird of Washington) for every email I've ever sent.

I've also called his offices on occasion and talked to this or that staffer, and been treated pretty well for my issues.

Blake Stacey said...

Over at Cosmic Variance, Risa Wechsler writes,

On a semi-related note, Andrew Baker suggested to me today that the new democratic leadership might take this opportunity to reinstate the congressional Office of Technology Assessment. For 23 years, this nonpartisan agency provided congress with "objective and authoritative analysis of the complex scientific and technical issues of the late 20th century" — until funding for the agency was abolished by Newt Gingrich’s 104th congress.

[...]

As Andrew suggested, "this might be a good moment for scientists to push this: making sure that Congress operates with the highest standard of information dovetails nicely with the push to make sure Congress operates with the highest standard of ethics."

Read more about the OTA at Princeton's OTA Legacy site.

David Brin said...

Reflexive is the word, Rob. This is less about "left v right" or my preferred "left vs liberal" than it is about spasmodically furious vs coldly determined.

My listed suggestions arise out of cold determination to win this fight for civilization. There are lefties who agree and will hold their fury in check. While there are "moderates" who I cannot stand...

...because their idea of "moderate" tepid and passionless, meeting absurd neocon policies halfway.

I favor a deeply militant and radically ferocious modernist moderation. Willing to take problem solving suggestions from all zones of the Olde Axis... but absolutely unwilling to let feudalist/secretive troglodytes gain any more leverage.

I want BOTH market and consensus solutions and I want them yesterday.

And, yes, under my breath I am humming "the Battle Hymn of the Republic." And under my civies I am wearing the blue of the California Volunteers.

Anonymous: the temptation to turn to lobbyists is overwhelming, sure. Which is why the Dems have to do something dramatic and Cold Turkey right at the beginning. Will the money find another way through? Of course it will. Which leads to other suggestions.

Jomama, grow up. Use of the “k” only discredits you and makes people skim to the end. As for the far left’s perpetual cant “let things get worse, so that revolution will make things better!” What romantic twaddle! 90% of “revolutions” only install monsters who become the NEXT feudal lords. I have heard this crap since my old hippie days. In all that time, I have defied those idiots saying it, demanding that they show me one example, ONE, in all of human history, when this progression actually happened.

They stammer and hem and haw, and never can. Cite... even... one. Yet it is their catechism.

Want irony? I can name one! When the 13 colonies tried to negotiate reform with King and Parliament... things kept getting more obstinate and worse... till revolution finally made everything a whole lot better. The one time that happened was... in the moderate, modernist, enlightenment experiment of “Ameri(k)ah.”

Live with it. And fear any future violent revolution, because the odds are 99% it won’t be as lucky. The odds were against 1776 leading anywhere near this good. Human nature ensures that if we blow this unique set of emergent properties, it will NOT happen again. Cynics like you are no answer. Just part of the problem.

Perpetual, hard-working reform. It is the only path with a chance.

Odin’sEye, I have no objection to quietly and efficiently waging the War on Terrorists, while pulling back from the Vietnam attrition Land War In Asia that we were suckerd into. In fact, one of the worst things about these assholes is that they have actually crippled to small, discreet operations that could have (for instance) quietly snuffed Saddam. They have made the very thing they say they want HARDER, because now we HAVE TO impose utter cold turkey on practices like Gitmo, that were (are) taken so far beyond discreet that they are now threatening our own freedoms. Bending habeous corpus in a few tiny cases, to grab a couple of horror-monsters per year? That was James Bond stuff. Done under Clinton and Carter, even, I betcha. But now it’s a PRECEDENT. And we cannot allow it.

At all. Sorry 007. Blame Gonzales.

Yes Blake, resurrecting OTA is a no-brainer and obvious. I just wanted to rush in and say it first, so some credit will fall on me! Seriously, nothing shows the overwhelming Dem-Gop diff more clearly than this. The Dems will re-install neutral science while the neocons wanted no truck with “facts.”

Blake Stacey said...

David Brin wrote:

Bending habeous corpus in a few tiny cases, to grab a couple of horror-monsters per year? That was James Bond stuff.

Reminds me of what Kiefer Sutherland said a while back about 24, Jack Bauer and torture. "Do I personally believe that the police or any of these other legal agencies that are working for this government should be entitled to interrogate people and do the things that I do on the show? No, I do not." (And how many terrorists have attacked the United States since Jack Bauer appeared on TV, I ask you?)

Segueing now into completely irrelevant matters, I'd like to proclaim now that moving from Chuck Norris facts to Jack Bauer facts represents a step forward for our civilization. The next stage in our progressive Enlightenment, of course, is Uma Thurman facts.

Anonymous said...

It is a true trategy with the loss of Jack Williamson. George O. Smith, Robert Heinlien, Clifford Simak, Gordan R. Dickson, and Jack Williamson were the very reasons I came to love science fiction so much as a child and an adult. Much of that old guard has passed on into the light. At least the heirs to their literay legacy are with us, touched by some of the greatest artist humanity has ever known.

On the political issues, I think restoring independent science and technology council to our leadership is a grand idea. So many politicans are lawyers or businessman with little experience weighing the critical factors of scienctific investigation. Let the experts have their say and then make a decision, not rewrite the facts as the current Administration made a habit of doing. I would dearly love to see forcing our leadership write their own laws and be the 'Men of Letters' our Founding Fathers were, yet fighting out the lobbyist influences is like fighting a rampant cancer. But as far as the idea of foreign nations trying our leaders for crimes committed under our flag, I won't stand for it as a citizen nor as a serviceman. That's justification for war in my book. If anyone is going to put the bastards against a wall and shot them it will be us. Touch an american citizen for a crime some other nation has no right to prosecute is traditionally and internationally a moral justification for war, regardless of whom ever the nation is .

Earl

Rob Perkins said...

It would be nice if we could settle on both an internal nomenclature and a way to map it, one to one, onto the political language everyone else is using.

I mean, we agree, don't we, that seeing things in terms of "left vs. right" is insipid, and far more damaging than useless. Yet, in order to make larger points to others, we have to use it.

But I digress. You know that I've been quite insistent that a) all the premises get established, b) that everything proceeding from them adhere to the (arbitrary but proven) rules of reason we all learned in college, if we were listening. And c) that we operate pragmatically from all of that.

Thing is, there isn't a single thing in Pelosi's 100 hour proposal that I can't get behind. Personally I'm waiting to see if a) she actually puts it on the calendar for debate (very likely) and b) that it goes up for a vote.

And man, Harry Reid as Majority Leader! This is going to be a really, really interesting next Congress. Here's an interesting perspective: A Mormon, an Evangelical, and a Catholic each control one lever of power, with a Jew (Lieberman) as a tie-breaking kingmaker in the Senate!

I have to wonder if the U.S. leadership caste has ever been that philosophically diverse, and I wonder what sorts of compromises can come of it

Blake Stacey said...

Quoth Rob Perkins:

Here's an interesting perspective: A Mormon, an Evangelical, and a Catholic each control one lever of power [...]

"A Mormon, an Evangelical, and a Catholic walk into a D.C. bar. . . ."

David Brin said...

Ah, but which of them is a closet atheist? (The one unforgivable clade in American life.)

Don't forget the young black senator with the golden voice and the new Jewish governor from New York, who has actually caught and sent -to-jail cronies of the king (find who else can brag about that!)

And Austrian bodybuilder Ahnold. If only he could run, we'd be safe from another run by over-rated and deeply worrisome John McCain. Worrisome in the Bob Dole sense. Meaning human. Meaning I'd take him over these monsters in a shot. Still... Arnold is buff.

Anonymous said...

So what we do in purchase Arnie's hometown, make it a part of the United States, and thus declare anyone born there a U.S.-born citizen. Arnie then has the ability to be the next Presidahnt of the United Staytes. ;)

I still have to wonder though if the House and Senate (Dems and Repubs alike) got together with Bush immediately after the Dems gained control of the House and Senate... and told him "Look, we have enough evidence here to get you Impeached, thrown out of office, and then thrown into a very deep dark hole for the rest of your life. If you don't behave and do everything we tell you to, we'll do so. Or you can keep your job, keep your pension, and behave for the last two years of your Administration. Your call."

I mean, better an Administration you control through blackmail and coersion than a complete unknown (if potentially uncorrupt).

Then again, I am a cynic so... ;)

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

Blake Stacey said...

More in the Tru-Vue category: "YouTube.com Video Prompts Probe of LAPD", from the Associated Press (11 Nov 2006, 7:08 AM EST).

An FBI investigation prompted by video footage of a man being punched repeatedly in the face by police has demonstrated anew the power of the Internet sensation of the year, YouTube.com.

In addition to being a monumental time-waster around the office, YouTube could also become a tool for keeping police honest, some say.

This week, a clip on the post-it-yourself video Web site triggered a police-brutality investigation by the FBI. The footage shows the Aug. 11 arrest of alleged gang member William Cardenas, 24. Two Los Angeles officers can be seen holding him down on a Hollywood street; one punches him several times in the face before they are able to handcuff him.


Reminds me of the impression Bill Hicks did of the policemen in the Rodney King footage. "It's all in how you look at it. . . Well, if you play it backwards, you see us help King up and send him on his way."

David Brin said...

Blackmail... shudder... you are raising the darkest (almost) of all plausible scenarios.

Question, if you were a neo-feudalist trillionaire and utterly ruthless, which would be most effective? Bribe public officials, then again, then again down the years?

Or bribe them, throw kinky parties for em... then show them the videos? And then say heel!

Above all, you must imply to each official that he ALONE is being treated this way. For, if they ever start to realize that it is pervasive... then one or more may realize the value in being the first to come clean.

Oh, but Rupert, I didn't mean it. Don't accident me. I'll shut up, now.

(Dang, without ever even being OFFERED a kinky party.... rats.)

Anonymous said...

What can I say? I'm an evil bastard. ;)

Still, I was talking about the House and Senate blackmailing Bush into backing their policies (as we've heard Bush soon after the Dems won the House and Senate speak of a "new age of cooperation" and the like), not the neo-feudalists controlling the politicians of this country through shame and humiliation.

Besides, if you rely in bribes and blackmail material, you risk coming across one of two sorts: the wily politician who keeps track of everything offered so he has counter-blackmail material against you... and the idealist who actually believes in what they are doing and thus remains beyond that level of corruption because it doesn't interest them. And in recent years, it seems that quite a few of this form of idealist has been creeping into the House at the very least...

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Rob, the idealists don't matter if they are not a majority. In fact, all you really need are a few committee chairs and a few cabinet officials, some shills at justice and... a few justices.

But I am being a sci fi author now. Now, it ain't so. No.

Rob Perkins said...

In all seriousness (if the press can be trusted on the matter) I think none of them are closet atheists.

(And I take your point but I was thinking only of the top leadership positions, and Lieberman's very unique position as an Independent, this time.)

Not that I understand that particular bias, unless the atheist in question is as mind-stunningly blinded and annoying as, say, Dawkins. Then he or she would be no better than a militant Evangelical, throwing his ideologies into every context under the sun, whether or not it's appropriate.

SpeakerToManagers said...

David Brin said:
The one time that happened was... in the moderate, modernist, enlightenment experiment of “Ameri(k)ah.”

It may be nitpicking, but the American "Revolution" was actually a war of secession, similar to what the American South tried to do in the Civil War. The difference is that secession involves some subset of the existing power structure, usually separated by geography, trying to make itself independent of the rest. Clearly, if the war goes well, the resulting new polity will be more stable than that formed by the revolution of a non-governing group, which must then replace all the existing systems, including the police and other security systems. I think this difference means that America is not an exception to the rule about revolutions.

Not that the American experiment isn't something rare and valuable, just that we need to understand how it came about, or no-one will be able to duplicate it elsewhere.

As for what to do with the Congress in the beginning of the next session, I have a pet change to Congressional procedure that I think would pull the lobbyists' fangs without the apocalyptic battle required to directly pry their fingers off the CongressThings' brains. Disallow the practice of adding arbitrary, irrevelant amendments to bills under discussion. Most of the earmarks and other pork are hidden away in those amendments. Allowing only amendments that modify the existing language of a bill would prevent a lot of the theft of our money that's been going on, and would make it harder to sneak unpalatable or unethical legal shenanigans into bills without their being spotted.

Anonymous said...

It is a lot of fun (and very tempting) to write about alternative and theoretical situations in government and society, isn't it, Dr. Brin? *laughs* I suspect it's one step above "fanficcing" (which I used to do a lot of), in that you're creating a "what-if" scenario but working on a social and governmental level rather than modifying someone else's characters and setting.

I actually looked into that for a series of stories I'd planned once. Unfortunately, I realized that the scenario I had planned was a bit unrealistic. The government's potential to abuse psy-phenomena (if they could be proven and utilized on a large scale) is far too great for the government to allow psychics to operate visibly.

*ponders* Of course, I could always write it from a "secrecy" perspective...

Rob H.

Anonymous said...

As for the whole "gay marriage" bruhaha currently underway, I've a simple solution which would destroy the Culture War brewing around that. It would mean destroying the very concept of "marriage" as a legal definition and shifting it purely into a religious one.

Basically, grandfather all current marriages (unless of course the government wants to make a lot of money by forcing people to "register" again) into the concept of "Civil Union". In order for a couple to benefit from the legal protections currently found in "marriage", they would be required to have a Civil Union instead.

If you wanted to have a marriage, you could. However, it's not legally binding. It means nothing except in a religious setting. It does not allow for insurance benefits, pension benefits, tax benefits, or anything else.

Civil Unions would then be defined as a partnership between two people (I'd even be tempted to say "two or more people" but that would undoubtedly increase the complications of tax forms and other benefits). It is two people, regardless of gender, race, or any other situation. In addition, any offspring from a Civil Union are enjoined into the Civil Union until they reach 18 years of age or are Emancipated (I think that's the term) from the family-group.

A Civil Union does not need to be a sexual relationship or anything of the sort. In legal terms, it would probably be doable for a brother and sister to enter into a Civil Union if there was need (say the brother was destitute, uninsured, and sick, the sibling could enter into a Union and thus share insurance benefits from the family-grouping between these two), but again that would undoubtedly bring fears of incest into the situation despite the fact the Union is a legal document only, not an affirmation of physical union between the two people.

All marriages thus would require a Civil Union license (as opposed to a marriage license) in order for them to achieve any legal protections and the like. There would no longer be a need for a constitutional amendment banning "gay marriage" because marriage is no longer a legally binding union but just a religious one, and churches can do whatever they want outside of the State (so long as it doesn't break laws).

Rob H., Tangents

Don Quijote said...

Personally, I'd also like to see guys like Moqtada al-Sadr taken out back and shot as well,

Why? what has he done other than survive the Saddam Regime & fought the Invaders who are occupying his country.

Genius said...

Don,
I guess you would need a trail to figure that out but... Resistance is a dirty business, and er... moral compromises get made and... stuff happens.

Nate said...

Rob: I do like the idea of getting the government to just do civil unions and leave marriages up to the churches and stuff, but there's no way it'd stop the "Culture Warriors" like Bill O'Reilley from talking about destroying marriage. They'd scream even LOUDER, and be able to point at it. As opposed to now, which is trying to make marriage bigger.

Good News, Via hilzoy: "Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who is expected to become chairman, confirmed Thursday that he is drafting a bill to undo portions of a recently passed law that prevent terrorism detainees from going to federal court to challenge the government's right to hold them indefinitely. (...)"

Rob said:
It would be nice if we could settle on both an internal nomenclature and a way to map it, one to one, onto the political language everyone else is using.

Andrew Olmstead had a post on Obsidian Wings a while back, about some of the troubles communicating across the political spectrum, just because words have developed different meanings or baggage on different sides. Partially inspired by the fire he'd come under for making a post that seemed reasonable to him, but ended up making comparisons that sounded ridiculous to many of the commentors. The commentariat over there skews liberal, partly because most of the conservative front page posters stopped posting or left, and because ObWi got a lot of links from the liberal side of Blogistan thanks to Katherine's series about torture.

And Andrew was picked to help bring back the conservative side of things (ObWi really needs at least probably five more posters, but that's neither here nor there). And his posts kept getting tripped up over what seemed to him to be little things. The thing is, Andrew's not even that conservative, but the different kinds of internal meanings of words kept tripping things up.

Which I think happens here too.

Phyllis said...

Really useful information, lots of thanks for your post.