Hopes For the New Year

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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty(rafflaw)-Guest Blogger

With the end of 2013 fast approaching, I have begun to wonder what the New Year holds for the country.  It looks like the Affordable Care Act is finally getting its website to function properly and the sign ups are now being counted in the millions.  Wall Street is still booming with the Dow Jones over 16,000, but yet unemployment is still too high and Congress is still trying to push austerity for the middle class and the poor, while doing everything in its power to prevent corporations and the wealthy from paying their fair share of taxes.  The Citizen’s United decision opened the money floodgates and needs to be curbed.  The military budget was spared in the recent Budget Deal, but yet unemployment benefits for millions have not been extended.

The gun lobby continues to prevent reasonable gun control legislation and needless scores of innocents continue to be slaughtered.  Instead of closing the gun show loophole or mandating reasonable and effective universal background checks, Congress did nothing.   Although there has been some recent movement from the Obama Administration to push Congress to allow the closing of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, the facility remains open after 12 years.  With all of the bad news or non-action on many fronts, is it possible to have hope that 2014 will bring better news for all Americans? 

I do have high hopes for the country in this New Year, but Congress and the rest of Washington will have to make some significant changes before the hopes can be realized.  Ever since the Sandy Hook school shooting, the NRA has been pouring money into Washington in an attempt to stem the tide of public support for reasonable gun control legislation.  It is obvious to me, that without a culture change in how Americans and government officials look at guns in this country, the mass shootings and needless killings that happened in 2013, will continue unabated.

Even though the killings are still rampant, one of my biggest hopes is that Congress will see past the NRA and corporate money and agree on universal background checks in 2014.  I don’t have any evidence that my hope will come to fruition, but at some point, the killings will over take our Wild West mentality and people will come together to help relieve the problem.  Maybe that will begin to happen in 2014.

Another of my hopes for 2014 is the closure of Guantanamo military prison.  We have seen some movement on the part of Congress to agree with the Obama administration’s plans to close the facility.  However, much has to be done and President Obama needs to use his bully pulpit to move the closure ahead, but President Obama’s actions to push for closure leave something to be desired.

“As a notable improvement, NDAA 2014 includes a provision that Obama called a “welcome step” toward fulfilling his longtime promise to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp. The bill relaxes regulations that have held up the transfer of detainees out of the detention center.

The defense act also includes provisions aimed at intervening in the epidemic of sexual assault in the U.S. military. But, as the Washington Post noted, “it stops short of the broad reforms that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and other advocates have been calling for.”

While legislative movement on Gitmo’s closure is necessary, it is insufficient. As Amnesty International USA’s director Zeke Johnson commented, “[the president] should move forward with foreign transfers immediately and lobby Congress hard to end the ban on transfers to the U.S. mainland. Guantanamo must be closed by ensuring that each detainee is either fairly tried in U.S. federal court or released to a country that will respect his human rights.”

Meanwhile the troubling NDAA provision first signed into law in 2012, which permits the military to detain individuals indefinitely without trial, remains on the books for 2014. Efforts to quash or reform the provision (especially with regard to the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens) have failed and have been fiercely fought by the administration.” Salon

Hopefully, Congress will allow for detainees to be transferred or tried in a Federal court, as suggested by Amnesty International.  We need to keep the Democrat’s feet to the fire.

My last hope for the New Year revolves around reforming the NSA.  As we have seen and heard here and in the mass media, the NSA has turned the 4th Amendment into a mockery.  The latest Federal court judge’s decision that the mass retention and collection of phone data is legal, is in conflict with another recent District Court decision and the Supreme Court may need to decide once and for all, just how far the NSA and other intelligence agencies can go.

It is amazing that in the judge’s decision, he stated that the 4th Amendment is not absolute.  However, why is it that the 2nd Amendment seems to be absolute, but the First Amendment and the Fourth Amendment must be subject to limitations?  If the NSA is allowed to continue to collect all calls and all data, shouldn’t they at least have to pay a portion of my phone bill?    It is my sincere hope that the NSA can be restrained in the New Year, but it may be a long fight.

I have listed just a few of my “hopes” for the New Year.  I have some others, but I want to hear what your thoughts are for the New Year.   What hopes do you have for 2014?  Let us know what you are hoping for and why you are think it is important for the country.  It doesn’t matter what side of the aisle you favor, because most of these issues should be non-partisan.  It is not a Democratic or a Republican problem when scores of people are being murdered and killed by people who have no reason to own guns or could have been prevented from acquiring the deadly weapons.

It isn’t a partisan issue when the NSA is collecting almost all of our phone calls.  Just where does the Fourth Amendment begin and end?  I look forward to reading your hopes and the reasons why they are important to you and to the country.

Happy New Year to all and let’s hope that Congress and the President can make progress on my Hopes and on your Hopes.

137 thoughts on “Hopes For the New Year”

  1. PS. I retired last month. … This December, and early January weather, is incredibly difficult to deliver mail in. I do not have shaudenfreud, I simply do not have to get up in the morning and walk around outside in this terrible weather. I don’t know how I did it, because I don’t have to anymore. My morning coffee is super excellent. I know many people struggle everyday. I have at times. What we as individuals struggle with, is different for every individual. Some people struggle with dragons that only exist in their environment. …. They never rise above it. I have been sad in my life. I have slayed many a dragon, and continued on. My sadness or happiness is up to me. But that’s me. I try not to be a pawn of “other” authority.
    … I also try not to be an authority to others so I can benefit. Blah Blah Blah.
    I probably should have stopped several sentences ago.

  2. Bron, I have read your stuff. You represent yourself well. This stuff…. Bron
    1, January 2, 2014 at 3:40 pm. is the most heartfelt I have read from you.

    “I think you miss the entire point. It is about individual liberty, economic liberty, political liberty and using the mind nature gave you to do the best you can with what you were given. Whether you be a ditch digger or a brain surgeon, a truck driver or a corporate CEO, you do your best and you work hard and you dont expect other people to pay your way. If that is what wish fulfillment heroism is, well a good number of people adhere to those principles who are not Objectivists and who have never read Ayn Rand.”

    My anecdotal point is, deliver mail for 35 years in a city. Some true and honest citizens, just are not capable of the ideals you espouse. They don’t know how. ….. Yet they are true and honest. They just deal with the environment they know.
    Somehow, from my environment, I am content with my ability to seek, learn, and question stuff. I am my own authority. …… So many people are simply pawns of the “environmental authority” they are raised in.
    Ayn Rand had an intellectual edge on her environment. …
    Not everybody does. I think you do, and I think many on this blog do. Some folks just are not capable. … Period.
    They are not fools, they are simply human dealing with their own life. We are all equal. We are all different.

    Animal farm says Pigs are more equal. …..(my words) “Only because they can be”. Ayn Rand easily accepted her superior intelligence, because she easily accepted herself benefitting from it. That is the definition of Randiism

    I am a starstruck Idealist. We are all equal to the pigs that feed first at the trough. I just don’t want to step on humans to get there first.
    Thank you Bron for your additions of thought to this blog.
    …or something like that. 😮 sincerely, David Blauw.

  3. SwM,

    Well, which ever way the ball bounces, we know what we’re going to do.

    It is really wintering up in my backyard and we are enjoying it because we no longer have venture into it. How about you?

    Oh good lord … Tex is messing with the remote and has somehow or another gotten himself into “Tools” on the DVR. Gotta go.

  4. Gene H:

    I dont deny she had some issues if some of what has been said about her is true. I did not know her personally and to be honest I have only met about 12 Objectivists in meat space. They ran the spectrum of personalities from weird as hell to fun loving and gregarious.

    I have never said that compassion was bad, I have never said democracy is only for the wealthy, I certainly dont think material success is the only or even the primary measure of an individual.

    I dont want an underclass, nowhere have I ever even made the slightest inkling of a thought to that end. I want people to thrive, I want people at Wal Mart making 20/hour as a start, and they make $17/hour starting salary in North Dakota, which has a thriving economy thanks to oil and gas exploration.

    I dont see her ideas as anti-social at all, free people engaging in voluntary cooperation to create a better society? How is that anti-social?

    That super-hero of your own tale is ridiculous. You can say that about people involved in Occupy Wall St just as easily.

    Objectivists dont wish for something to happen, they try to make something happen. My grandfather, a democrat and union man from St. Louis used to tell me “if you sh*t in one hand and wish in the other, which hand gets filled up first.” He was hardly an Objectivist but he understood life.

    I think you miss the entire point. It is about individual liberty, economic liberty, political liberty and using the mind nature gave you to do the best you can with what you were given. Whether you be a ditch digger or a brain surgeon, a truck driver or a corporate CEO, you do your best and you work hard and you dont expect other people to pay your way. If that is what wish fulfillment heroism is, well a good number of people adhere to those principles who are not Objectivists and who have never read Ayn Rand.

    If wanting people to be free, to do well in life, to be happy are the virtues sociopaths embrace, I would wonder about myself if I thought those virtues were emblematic of an unbalanced mind.

  5. Bron,

    I say Ayn Rand was a sociopath because she demonstrably showed all the signs by both DSM and WHO criteria. Who she was influenced by is in no way an indication that the either properly understood them nor came to good conclusions by extrapolating thereon. Her ideas are inherently sociopathic. If they weren’t? Do you think so many people would think you’re a sociopath too when you espouse her teaching? Ehhhh. I don’t think so. They don’t know you well enough to know you’re basically a descent fellow with some very bad ideas so they get their opinions from what stands you present.

    Society and collective action are real. Selfishness is not a virtue. Compassion is not a weakness. Democracy only for the wealthy is not democracy. There are more and different measure of a person than simply their economic success. Jefferson? Would have been appalled by Rand. Because he wasn’t a sociopath.

    Carrot Top was influenced by the Marx Brothers.

    That does not make him Harpo, let alone Groucho or Chico.

    Consider this too: Einstein was influenced by Newton.

    Your influences don’t make you. You make you as the sum of your experiences and choices. You aren’t a sociopath simply because you are influenced by Rand any more than Jefferson was Aristotle. However, her ideas were inextricably colored by her mental defect. They sound nice on the surface, but when you dig past the egoism, you see there is some real psychological ugliness beneath. That is in part why most people grow out of Objectivism while it remains popular among disaffected teens still trying to figure out themselves and the world. There are far more “former Objectivists” than there are life long Objectivsts and I’d bet a dollar on that. Her ideas at their core are antisocial. They require both an underclass and eschew social ethics for ego worship. They invite you to be the superhero of your own tale, sure. That’s why they are attractive. But even Superman existed in a social context. Think of how different that character and story would be if he thought of himself first and everyone else second.

    Changes from wish fulfillment heroism to horror story real quick.

  6. Blouise, Talk about lame….. what about that sockpuppet that used the name of the street that I lived on? I am sure it was just a coincidence 😉

  7. Blouise, As I’ve said here before, my integrity in the bare knuckles world of a legal communities, in KC, Chicago, and Madison has been above reproach. There are NO secrets in the legal[or political..same thing] community. People who I have worked adverse to, having taken money out of their and their clients pockets in the 6 and 7 figure category, REALLY don’t like me. NONE would question my integrity like you, and so many here cavalierly do. I have had many attorneys and judges shake my hand in social settings praise me for running a tight and honest ship.

    There is a judge who recently retired here in Dane County. Before becoming a judge I was allowed to interview a rape victim client when this judge was still in private practice. It was on a civil damages rape case. The victim was raped by a bartender after hours. I was hired by the bars insurance carrier. Now, I had interviewed too many rape victims working for the prosecutor’s office than I care to remember. So, I knew how to do it, and didn’t need to feign empathy. In a RARE situation, this attorney wrote a letter to my client praising my interview.

    Whenever I appeared before this judge I always got a genuine smile of acknowledgment. I surmise some attorneys here have checked me out. And, as I type here, I can’t think of any questioning my veracity. I may be wrong, but the folks who do so that I can think of are all non attorneys. You see, you can’t build a solid biz w/ 5-6 PI’s being employed by you, working all over a state, if your integrity is not ABOVE reproach. I care less and less what you think of me because you’re not quite as perceptive as you think you are.

  8. “Those measures are both time consuming, inconvenient, and require mobility and constant off-blog communications.”

    I just reread that sentence … some sock-puppet stuck the word “both” in there.

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