Monday, January 21, 2013

Mr. President, what are your priorities?

As a new presidential term begins, attention naturally turns to the agenda and tone that he will pursue. Across the entire political spectrum, pundits are putting forth their ideas for what he should do, what he shouldn't do, and what he'd be crazy to try or leave off the table. There have been copious electrons sacrificed to analyses of his prior term and expectations for his new one.

Predominant themes are gun control in the wake of the Newtown shooting, marriage equality for homosexuals, the fiscal cliff, and religious freedoms under the Affordable Care Act. Poll 5 pundits, and you'll receive 15 different answers, depending on which tracking poll they've looked at last.

Well, here's your chance. You have been named President. You are guaranteed that your next policy or legislative proposal will receive filibuster and veto proof (of course, you're the President so why would you veto it, but let's ignore incongruities for now, shall we?) votes for adoption or passage in Congress, and it will be fully funded in the requisite budgets or appropriations bills. Let's double-down and state for this thought experiment that this legislation will remain in effect for at least the next 12 years (your entire term, and the next two presidential terms). Unfortunately, you do not know, you have zero guarantee, as to how your proposal would actually work out. This isn't complete fantasy (just a very close approximation). You don't get to override the Law of Unintended Consequences. You still have to pay the piper.

So, what would your legislative proposal be? What critical ill of the nation's would you attempt to solve? Why is that issue more important that any other? On what basis do you think you have the authority to pass that legislation?

I have gone back and forth on this. The three issues that concern me the most right now are protecting the 2nd Amendment, preserving religious freedoms, and restoring some sort of fiscal responsibility in Washington.

My three proposals would look something like this:

2nd Amendment
I would push for National Reciprocity, with a definition of civilian firearms that basically stated that if it's good enough for LEOs it's good enough for civilians, excepting weapons capable of select fire. I have Federalist concerns, but between the 1994 AWB and NICS background checks, that horse has left the barn. The Federal government already intrudes in State legislative control over those matters.

This is a Constitutional question, and the President is sworn to protect and defend that document. Now, granted, the fight would simply move on to other issues of populace thought-control, but I would draw the first line in the sand on this one.

Religious Freedoms
I would provide that  any and all persons or organizations would be allowed to claim the religious equivalent of conscientious objector status to the mandated coverage requirements of the ACA. In fact, I would try for broader legislation that would grant this status for all persons in any economic activity. If a wedding photographer wants to limit their clientele, I believe that should be their choice. Let the nature of free market economics sort it out. If no one is willing to utilize their services, they won't be in business long. However, I don't think the government has any right to force a company to do business with someone when such a business transaction would violate their religious beliefs.

Government Spending
This would be omnibus legislation incorporating several proposals. These would include initiatives like a Balanced Budget Amendment, having the annual budget tied to GDP, and No Budget, No Pay for Congress. Something has to give, and I fear it's too late.

Yes, I'm cheating at my own game by not proposing a single initiative to push, but these are the three "biggies" on my list. They are most likely listed in order, too, but the first two could easily be flipped.

So, that's where I sit today. What say you?

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
Numbers 6:24-26 (ESV)


  1. More guns. More religion. More insecurity. These might be good priorities for you but they are terrible priorities for a nation. The Republican Party will never win another national election running on a platform which prioritizes guns, religion and the abolition of the federal government. The Civil War is over. The South lost. Pandering about states rights is the Conservatives way of saying there was nothing wrong with racial segregation. Get over it. The slaves are free, women can vote, and 'homosexuals' can fight for their country. Why do you hate freedom?

    1. Interesting. Two of my three proposals were meager attempts to preserve freedom for certain groups of citizens, yet you accuse me of hating freedom.

      Now we know your opinion of my opinions, and it's an oft-stated truism that it's easier to tear down than to build up.

      What would be your legislative priorities?

  2. "I don't think the government has any right to force a company to do business with someone when such a business transaction would violate their religious beliefs."

    You don't like that Jim Crow! And God said you don't have to! And ain't nobody gonna make you sell him a cuppa coffee at your lunch counter! Git out the fire hose, boys, call out the dawgs!

    There's nothing meager about your religious exceptionalism. If you figure that out, you can begin to have a conversation with other people about what it means to work together and build up, rather than tear down. Until then, your confirmation bias for the talking points delivered to you by Fox News won't let you see beyond the end of your own nose.

    1. So am I to take it then that you disagree with conscientious objector status in the military?

      Can I then infer that all individuals must be subjected to the prevailing whims of the culture at the time, regardless of their own personal convictions? If so, do you support the passage of Proposition 8 in California even if you disagree with its moral foundations?

      Oh, and I'm still interested in seeing what your preferred policy proposal would be for guaranteed implementation.

  3. Assume first, ask questions later. The opinions of a snowy owl about conscientious objection serve in no way to validate or confirm your position on gun control. Is that clear?

    The snowy owl will use this opportunity to point out that conscientiously objecting to being ordered to kill is different than sanctimoniously refusing to include coverage for birth control pills in an employer-sponsored health insurance plan. For you to conflate the two proves your position to be so far off of center as to put you on the fringes of reasoned thought on either matter. Unfortunately that position also makes you an average Republican.

    1. Shall we substitute the vanilla phrase of "birth control pills" with the equally descriptive, yet more menacing sounding word "abortifacient"? After all, that is the crux of the matter when it comes to that aspect of the health insurance reform plan.

      But I'm sure you'll have yet another witty rejoinder, and I will respond as well, and we will continue to perform a poor imitation of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

      You can propose your own policy goals or not, I really don't care. And as for whether or not my position tacks toward some definition of political center, I do not care. My position is dictated by my faith, and I try to be as consistent in application of that faith as I can be.

      If you wish to have a discussion on why I feel my faith mandates certain policy decisions, then I am more than happy to oblige. Otherwise, I believe this conversation has run its full course.