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Thursday
Dec232010

Vander Plaats continues call for resignation of Justices

The possibility of a push within the legislature next year to try to impeach the four remaining justices who were not up for retention on the 2010 ballot surfaced last week when several GOP lawmakers indicated they were spearheading an effort.

Vander Plaats calls for remaining Iowa justices to resign:

The Iowa Constitution has the following to say about state offices who are subject to impeachment:

 

The Governor, Judges of the Supreme
and District Courts, and other state officers, shall be liable to impeachment for any misdemeanor or malfeasance in office; but judgment in such cases shall extend only to removal from office, and disqualification to hold any office of
honor, trust, or profit, under this state; but the party convicted or acquitted shall nevertheless be liable to indictment, trial, and punishment, according to law. All other civil officers shall be tried for misdemeanors and malfeasance in
office, in such manner as the General Assembly may provide. 
Now, I know I'm not a lawyer, but last time I checked, issuing a ruling in a case, however unpopular it may be, is not tantamount to committing "misdemeanor or malfeasance". Try to imagine with me the sheer outrage that would come from the right if a liberal were trying to have a SC judge impeached because he ruled Iowa's gun control laws to be unconstitutional, or that it was illegal for anyone to pray in public.
The movement to remove Justices Ternus, Streit and Baker was predicated on fear and half-truth, but more importantly, Vandetr Plaats' claim that the people of Iowa have lost "complete confidence in them" is utter hyperbole. The vote to remove the three judges up for retention was not a landslide. It wasn't exactly 50/50, but it wasn't 90/10 either. His equating of a close decision in a midterm election (even one that saw 50+% turnout in Iowa) to a vote of no confidence is simply irresponsible.
As one Iowan who voted to retain all three of these justices I can certainly say that Mr. Vander Plaats does not speak for me and as an Iowan, I am ashamed that so many of my fellow citizens allowed themselves to be swayed by the tactics of fear employed by Vander Plaats and his ilk.

 

Friday
Dec102010

The Tea Partys War on Education

How the Tea Party Will Destroy School Reform - The Daily Beast:

Uwe Romeike teaches two of his children, Josua and Lydia, at their home in Morristown, Tennessee on March 13, 2009. (Wade Payne / AP Photo)

Across all these issues, “We can’t have government officials coming in and supervising the decisions that fit parents make,” said William Estrada, director of federal relations at the Homeschool Legal Defense Association.

Education reform has been pushed to the background on Capitol Hill as of late what with taxes and equality taking top billing for the lame duck session, not to mention a recession going on. That being said, the Tea Party, and many of it's members who were put into office in the midterms, have not forgotten about it and are ready to wage their own private war on the public education system starting in January.

The above quote raises two questions to me. First, who decides the parents are "fit"? If Mr. Estrada doesn't want the government supervising the decisions parents make, how will anyone determine whether or not the decisions they make are in the best interest of the child? I'm not against homeschooling, not in the slightest, but you cannot say that you want the government to leave "fit parents" alone, without determining who gets to make the decision as to whether or not they are, indeed, "fit parents".

Second, where are these government officials they speak of? Is there some sort of homeschooling police that I am unaware of? Granted, I am not overly familiar with homeschooling, having never done it, but I don't see how setting specific curriculum guidelines is tantamount to direct government supervision of a homeschooler. I think we should all be able to agree that there are certain minimum requirements all students, be it public, parochial, private or homeschool, should have to meet in order to qualify for a high school diploma, and no, I don't see that as some kind of Big Brother system where the govt. is telling you what you can and can't teach.

I'm not against homeschooling, not at all, I am against the idea that a parent has the right to decide whether or not their child has achieved a level of education that is equivalent to other children. Parents, fit or not, are not objective when it comes to their children and that is what we need, objectivity. 

I for one sincerely hope that the Tea Party does not succeed in eliminated the DOE and creating a system where parents get to determine what their kids curriculum needs to be. While I don't think that NCLB should be extended (it's a ridiculous, ineffective top-down reform that does little more than create paperwork for teachers and funnels money away from schools that really need it), I certainly don't think that we as a nation should put the future of our collective society on the partisan chopping block.

 

Thursday
Dec022010

Tell me Mr. Ryan, what exactly is "limited" government?

Rep. Paul Ryan, Columnist David Brooks Debate 'Limited' Government:

During the rejoinders, Ryan responded by saying that our nation has gone from assuming our rights were derived from God to assuming our rights come from government. "And so, I do believe that the idea of the role of government has changed," he said.

I would contend that "limited government" is an oxymoron. The government is supposed to derive it's powers from the consent of the governed, therefore intrinsically limiting it to what the citizens want it to be.

Putting some sort of arbitrary limit on the powers of government is, in my opinion, antithetical to the nature of our democratic system. The government should not be allowed to create it's own power, but that is not the same as summarily limiting what the government has the power to do. Those decisions are made by the citizens through our representatives in Congress.

Now, whether or not Congress (i.e. Politicians) is bastardizing their role in the governmental process is an entirely different discussion. But I think that for the purposes of this venue, Brooks is right and Ryan is a little too caught up in the semantic argument about the role of government as opposed to it's overall function.

Thursday
Nov112010

Iowa GOP Leader predicts ouster of more judges

Republican leader predicts remaining justices will lose their jobs:

The recently re-elected Republican leader in the state senate predicts the four remaining justices on the Iowa Supreme Court eventually will lose their jobs, too, if legislators don?t start the process of giving Iowans a chance to vote on a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Here's my question for Mr. McKinley and the rest of the gay marriage opponents in Iowa. If a gay marriage ban is put to a vote and fails, will you turn to the courts for aide or, will you accept the will of the people?

Especially given that recent polling (as recent as June) indicates that a majority of Iowans (53%) favor granting marriage rights for Gays and Lesbians and more than 60% of Iowans polled last February didn't feel it should be on the legislative agenda this year, I'd be more than willing to put it on the ballot next year. 

Something tells me that gay marriage opponents won't be satisfied until they get their way, they've already ousted three judges and are probably planning on trying to oust three more in 2012.

They also don't seem to understand that it would take at least three years for a constitutional amendment to make it onto a ballot in Iowa. So we'll toss out three more judges in 2012 and maybe have a vote on a gay marriage ban in 2014. I'm willing to bet that by then, the number of proponents will be even greater.

Tuesday
Nov092010

GOP Surge leads to business as usual in DC

GOP: There'll be no compromise on tax cuts | McClatchy:

Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., who's expected to become the majority leader in the House when the new Congress is sworn in next year, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Sunday news programs that they'd insist on an extension of the tax cuts for wealthy. McConnell said that higher taxes on upper income earners would harm small businesses.

 The GOP overtook the House because it was the will of the people, apparently the will of the people means that it's the GOP way or the highway.

So, with all the talk about change in Washington, on this point at least, we are going to see no change, which most likely means that everyone's taxes will be going up, including the precious "small businesses" that the GOP is apparently sworn to defend at all costs. Why would they do that? Even Boehner admitted that he would vote for a compromise if it was all that was presented, well, at least until he said it out loud and had to immediately retract.

This is a political move. The GOP appears to be standing firm on their principals here, but in reality, they're just trying to build up the case against President Obama for 2012. Problem is, if they refuse to compromise on the tax cuts, they'll actually be more to blame for a tax increase than the Dems. If they won't even consider a compromise that maintains the Bush cuts for 99% of the country, what does that say about them? What does that tell the average voter? Does it say "We don't believe in raising taxes and we'll stick by our guns," or does it say "we'll do anything we can to make sure that the wealthiest 1% of Americans get the benefits of these cuts." 

To me it says, we are going to do everything we can to make sure that nothing happens over the next two years, and I can't say as I appreciate the GOP's newfound dedication to obstinacy. If the GOP wants to prove to Americans (and no just the Tea Party) that they are dedicated to change, then they need to prove it by actually changing something, as opposed to allowing change to happen through attrition.