Author Archive

POLITICS: Our Boy Brown Won Boston Town!

Written by Jess Jones on . Posted in Politics

Scott Brown

Call everyone! Teddy gave his seat up to a Republican! It’s sad to see there will actually have to be discussion again on the senate floor about issues like health care. I wonder how such a thing could happen. After all, the Democratic nominee, Martha Coakley, was ahead by large margins only a few weeks ago. Now she’s going back home with nothing but a “better-luck-next-time” and the reputation of being the first Democratic nominee to lose a senate seat for Massachusetts in the past three decades.

Now you might blame bad campaigning or whatever else, but in the end, is there a hidden message in this little turn of events? I don’t think it’ll be quite as challenging for the Senate to understand the hint, but hopefully they’ll get it: We don’t like the changes that are happening. The White House claims that the misdoings of their agenda has been merely “bad communication” to the American people. You’re right, Obama, because we would have never voted for you if we knew you were going to try and fundamentally alter American society within a year’s time.

Obama and his crony gang that is running both the Senate and House are sitting in office as the embodiment of an attitude of entitlement and welfare that has developed in America. I’m all for helping others out, but the attitude that government should provide all is nothing more than a virus that will corrode the bedrock of our founding. So perhaps the guilty party includes you and me. Thankfully, we seem to be waking up slowly and realizing we want change, but not at the price Obama is quoting us.

Whatever implications this has on party reactions and preparations for the 2010 election year is still hard to say. Democrats may take measures to reach out more to the people and work to address the job crisis in their states instead of pushing solely on the health care issue. Or perhaps they’ll just remain out of touch with their constituencies long enough for a changing of the guard. Who knows? For now, it’s just nice to see that in even the heartiest camps of liberal delusion, common sense still holds sway. Welcome to Washington, Senator Brown!

Jess Jones is a conservative political columnist for Rhombus. We welcome him back from his eight-year vacation.

POLITICS: Nobel Prizes for Everyone!

Written by Jess Jones on . Posted in Politics

Jess Jones

Jess Jones

Well, now that everyone has returned to their separate corners, let’s just have a little chat. So Obama won the Nobel Peace prize: woop-dee-doo! He’s joining the illustrious company of our greatest contemporary minds, such as Albert Gore, the father of the World Wide Web, and Jimmy Carter, the modern straw man himself. I’m so outraged!

Honestly, unless I were to really wake up and check my RSS feeds each day to survey the possible Nobel recipients prior to the announcement, there shouldn’t be much reason for any bellyaching from me. In all reality, I woke up the other day and peeked at the Drudge Report and saw that Obama had received the Prize. After picking my jaw up from the floor, I sat half asleep and in my jammies, wondering what the guy did to get a Nobel. I mean, at least Gore made a movie and contributed to the economy with ticket sales and donations to tree-hugger campaigns all over the States.

Then came the blogging and Facebook status updates. I was happy to see that so many others had already tweeted and blogged their disapproval. News agencies around the globe were scrambling to comment on the issue. Apparently there were mixed feelings about this somewhat forgotten award.

Isn’t it funny how we only care about the awards given to those we don’t approve of? (Obviously, we’d feel the same if the Nobel Prize went to Jon Huntsman, Sr. “Oh, Huntsman got the Nobel for curing cancer? That’s outrageous!”) Somehow, the only time most had even heard of the Nobel Prize was when they watched Russell Crowe receive the award (for economics) in A Beautiful Mind. Since then, all we’ve had to say about the prize is how much we disagree with the nominations of our vanguard thinkers like Gore and Obama.

Nevertheless, I do have to tip my hat to Obama. He sure does deserve the award. I mean, if I had spent millions of dollars parading around the world getting scoffed at and catered to, only to be sent packing time and time again without really accomplishing anything, I’d be expecting a pat on the back and a Nobel too! If we’re going to start handing out awards before we see results, then I think Samuel L. Jackson is due for an Oscar for Best Actor anytime now because, after all, he’s worked so hard!

With that, I need to get back to my list of suggestions for deserving Nobel recipients. So far I’ve got Oprah, Richard Simmons, Phil Collins, Chuck Norris, the Pope, the cast of Friends, U2 and David Bowie. After all, they all spread hope in one way or another (Chuck spread more fear, but that must have helped to promote nuclear disarmament, right?) Excuse me while I go brainstorm a few more.

Jess Jones is a conservative political correspondent for Rhombus.

POLITICS: Mainstream Morality: A Modern Paradox

Written by Jess Jones on . Posted in Politics

Jess Jones

Jess Jones

In the time following the recent General Conference of the LDS Church, I’ve had a brief moment to reflect on the question of faith and public reason. Although there has been great debate concerning the relationship between these two tools of society, there remains a great divide over which many dispute the issue from either side of the schism. It is clear to me, as I sit in reflection, that man is innately required to balance the powers of both faith and reason, and wield them both in the public sphere with equal fervor and dexterity.

In society today, there is a growing number of questions that conflict with the religious beliefs of many. Some such questions beg for a decisive opinion that perhaps would place the decider in conflict with the doctrine of his church. Many of you may already be thinking about one such question (as am I), and that is the matter of accepting homosexual marriages as legal and mainstream. Though I will not address this topic (as several of my colleagues have already done so), I merely wish to address the popular fashion of removing religious opinions from the public sector in all its forms.

There are those that would argue that the long lasting creed of separating church and state stands in direct opposition to promoting any sort of moral ethic tied to a religion. But are we not subject to religion? Is not our relationship and concept of man based on principles derived from religious origins founded in Christianity and other religions like unto it? I would argue that it is. We hold that men are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights; rights which men, by sheer virtue of existence, are entitled to exercise. Our reality of the natural comes as an attempt to incorporate the supernatural and incomprehensible. Regardless of sect, creed or denomination, the fact that we as a human race value human life and our planet resides in the foundations of religion.

Specific religions, though not publicly codified or universally accepted, provide the mooring line to which we can anchor our nation state. Political scholar David Walsh observed that if reason is used as though it were a mere instrument, it would proceed without direction or course. Reason becomes the means by which all laws are subject to discretion and change. Though we might argue that such a quality of change is necessary for laws born under democracy, is there not a line which we must draw in the sand? Is there not a moral compass by which we guide our decisions in this nation? The question regrettably remains unanswered.

Therefore if man, be he religious or no, abstains from promoting his values according to the dictates of his religious upbringing out of fear of persecution, then we as a people only march closer towards a privatization of religion. That is, a removal of deity from our daily lives. Politics, we know, grow more tacit and divisive as time marches on. Greed and selfishness, though ever present in our history books, have continued to corrode the institutions and laws that have held firm our nation until now. Slowly, the virtues of right and wrong fade into a haze of rationality and personal indulgence. Would it be so wrong to more assertively champion the virtues taught by the religions we hold as sacred?

I hope that none will confuse my affirmation of religious fervor as an attempt to merely place myself amongst those LDS leaders that spoke during General Conference. Yet I have found that I cannot be content with halfheartedly promoting that which I know to be true. I hope this article will be nothing more than an additional voice sounding in favor of the incorporation of moral and religious virtues into our secular society. May you be blessed in your efforts to better society and promote the values you feel we must profess in order to secure further liberty and peace.

Jess Jones is a conservative political columnist for Rhombus. He hasn’t written an article in so long that many feared him dead.

POLITICS: My Asphalt Facial Turned Political

Written by Jess Jones on . Posted in Politics

Jess Jones

Jess Jones

In a fit of stupidity, I landed myself in the emergency room. It wasn’t how I expected to spend my Tuesday evening, but I guess that’s what I get for longboarding after dark down a gritty canyon trail. I sat in the Provo ER giving my personal information, waiting to be treated for my war wounds, counting the number of people that were going to say, “I told you so.” Needless to say, I was embarrassed. I was a statistic.

I guess the good Lord intends to teach us in diverse ways, but it was wonderful to sit and contemplate the hilarity of the situation. I learned humility at the hands of gravity and an unforgiving asphalt facial. I gained an new found appreciation for the blessing of 24-hour medical facilities. I also mused about the political implications of the whole ordeal. Perhaps it wasn’t the best time to think about politics, but I couldn’t help but think of all the woefully uninsured neighbors of mine that had probably visited that same institution. So what if I didn’t have insurance? Luckily I was covered enough to only have to make a co-payment.

My roommate who witnessed my swan dive into the bike trail mentioned that he was glad I bit the dust instead of him. (I don’t blame him.) I remembered he wasn’t insured. So what would I have done if I were in his position? I lay there as they cleaned my scrapes and cuts, thinking of myself storming into the ER bloodied and battered with a printed copy of the Hippocratic oath and demanding that I be attended to regardless, as if I were starring in a whiter version of John Q. I’d like to think that there are special privileges (such as musing) that are granted to trauma victims such as myself.

I sat there while the doctor stitched up my lacerated cranium and decided to quiz him about the whole health care issue. The moment I mention the name “Obama,” I could feel him stick the needle a bit harder into my numbed skull. He expressed his nervousness for not only the public plan but the uncontrolled tort laws that were allowing prosecuting attorneys to suck physicians dry in malpractice lawsuits. This obviously explained why he sent me to and from the X-ray room to examine every aching part of my body. Due to the presence of a cute X-ray technician that was assisting me, I didn’t mind too much; but think for a moment how much we could save by helping protect the doctors just a bit more from the ambulance-chasing thugs that prey on the medical world.

I don’t know whether it was the blow to my skull or just the intoxicating aroma of sanitizer in the ER, but i felt a little giddy to think that I was amidst the medical community that is in such a frenzy over the pending health care reforms. I can’t offer any definitive opinion concerning the issue, but some definite changes need to happen.

Despite my best efforts to remove myself from the gene pool, I’m still here thanks to the capable hands of the over-qualified and under-appreciated doctors in the Provo Health Center.  It’s always interesting to be placed in a new pair of shoes and experience the actual process of receiving medical attention. Needless to say, I witnessed the need to help as many people as possible receive medical attention. Perhaps I don’t feel the federal government should dictate the program nor should they just force employers to foot the bill, but obviously there is something that needs to be done. Until then, hopefully the majority of the American people will either stow their long boards till this bill passes or we all pray for softer asphalt.

Jess Jones is a conservative political columnist for Rhombus. His face hurts.

POLITICS: Excuse My Musing (A Piece of Short Fiction)

Written by Jess Jones on . Posted in Politics

Jess Jones

Jess Jones

“Teddy’s gone,” the voice told Nancy Pelosi through her overpriced cellular phone. She smiled. Finally, she had another chance to rally the troops behind her blitzkrieg of a health care bill and “realize the dream” of old Teddy Kennedy. Sure the “Lion of the Senate” was gone. He was the last of one of the most iconic political families in U.S. history; however, in light of the tragedy of his passing, there could be no time lost. She must seize the moment. But how?

As she drafted her statement concerning his passing, she couldn’t help but feel a slight twinge of glee knowing that perhaps this would help win back many of the “fallen” Democrats that she had so earnestly blacklisted for their opposition to her flawless bill. Those cursed Blue Dogs; Who would have thought that even Democrats could think to oppose her? This thought made her dictate more furiously (because, of course, she’d never lay a finger on one of those complex electronic typing machines).

The hour grew later, and Nancy was struggling. She needed a war cry. Her dictation machine nearly short circuited from her long-winded braindump of thoughts about Teddy and her precious bill. Exhausted she sat down and asked her butler to turn on the T.V. for her. She sat as he flipped the channels and came across the good old AMC station. She loved those old time movies.

“Pause there,” she exclaimed. Her butler gave her the remote and left the room.

It was the movie Rudy. She loved this movie (or at least she had heard it was good at one point in time.) She paused and watched little Rudy in the dressing room of the Notre Dame football team. She didn’t care much for football (she didn’t understand the rules), but she watched little Rudy as he paused and looked at a plaque hung in commemoration of the famous words of Knute Rockne. (“Whoever he was,” she thought to herself.)

Little Rudy began to read. Dreary eyed, Pelosi watched in dull interest, trying to stave off the sandman a little longer. But then Rudy’s voice lifted saying, “Sometime, when the team is up against it—and the breaks are beating the boys—tell them to go out there with all they got and win just one for the Gipper,” Nancy’s eyes shot wide open.

“That’s it!” she exclaimed. “We’ll win one for the Gipper… I mean Kennedy. We’ll do it for Teddy. Perhaps he’ll be more useful now than he was alive.”

She hurried to her desk and began hissing her thoughts into the dictation machine. She could almost see herself alongside Rudy, reading that immortal speech by whoever that Knute Rockne guy was. “Win one for Teddy.” This would be priceless.

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

Now this is not in any way, shape or form an accurate description of the events leading up to the Democrats’ decision to rally support for the health care bill around the passing of Sen. Ted Kennedy, but I’d like to think that this sad excuse for a P.R. rally occurred in a manner similar to the story I just spun for you.

With disapproval ratings on the rise, it’s understandable that Democratic leaders will try anything to bolster the diminishing support for their precious bill. I just flinch at the sight of them prostituting the passing of a fallen comrade to perhaps soften a few calloused conservative hearts.

It’s a last ditch effort to drum up support. It’s smoke and mirrors and nothing more. After all, there’s been an overwhelming consensus that the plan as now proposed is illogical and fiscally damaging to the nation. So why not turn to the pity card? Or better yet, how about we let the noble senator rest and focus on fixing the undesirable bill?

Jess Jones is a conservative political columnist for Rhombus. His editor developed approximately 17 ulcers while reading this column, but opted to publish it nonetheless. Three cheers for free speech!

POLITICS: From One Hypocrite To Another

Written by Jess Jones on . Posted in Politics

Jess Jones

Jess Jones

Greetings to all you Rhombus readers. It’s wonderful to publish articles for you and hopefully it’s been interesting to read. The more articles I attempt to publish and the more feedback I get from readers, it’s become apparent that there’s a large portion that don’t agree with what I have to say.

It’s not a very big shocker, I know. My editor is more liberal than Richard Gere and Michael Moore combined and loves/despises every piece I submit. And yet this funfest of contention doesn’t stop at our humble Web site, no sir. Even more amusing is the hype and heat that is radiating around controversies and conflicts produced by talk show hosts like Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, the White House, Congress and basically anyone else who voices their opinion.  Oh dear, we’re disagreeing with one another.

Now there seems to have been some nasty treatment of the fair-minded liberal leaders in office. Isn’t is awful how those conniving conservatives are waging this national whinefest to combat the pure intentions of the Democratic Party? How could conservatives generate so many lies and misinformation and slander our leaders in such a shameless and degrading fashion?

The truth is, it’s been happening for ages. And I’m not just blaming the “vast right-wing conspiracy.”You could easily switch the parties around and what would we have? Why we’d be right back in the good ol’ days of “W” and the Haliburton Hitmen of the Bush administration. There is no question as to whether the Pinko commie liberals were using dirty tactics of misinformation and rabble rousing. Millions of rock albums were sold on the mistaken idea that we were living under a fascist dictator. (Here’s looking at you, Green Day.) But now that we’re not under the spurs of our beloved Bush Jr., it’s fun to see how they whine about the nasty and apparently unfounded attacks on our new president, the great reformer.

I’ve got two words for you: Double standard.

Please don’t think of this as an attempt to excuse the conservative nut jobs from their slanderous statements toward public officials. I’m just hoping you realize this isn’t a new issue and mistreatment isn’t a one-way street running from the right to the left.

Some may argue such tactics of misinformation are only fringe practices in the Democratic Party and that Democrats are much more concerned with bigger, more important issues. But guess what? That’s because the Daddy Democrats are now actually in charge of helping to steer the country. They’re running the show, so naturally they have to be a little more preoccupied with actual affairs of state and less stressed about debunking the commander-in-chief.  Such tactics have, of necessity, been pushed to the fringes.

Now I’m not saying that there isn’t a need to decry unfounded allegations and accusations made against those of opposing viewpoints, but I am saying (to both sides) to stop playing the martyr. We disagree on what needs to be done here in the States. The whole right/wrong concept really boils down to which side of the aisle you stand on. The basic belief systems that we have espoused perhaps differ greatly. Some amenities that I would consider privileges are regarded by others as God-given rights. It in no way says that I’m right and your wrong or vice versa, it just means we have differing viewpoints.

You don’t walk up to a member of a different religion and say, “You’re wrong!” That’s both rude and hypocritical. I’m sure you’d feel the same if an atheist came to you and said your beliefs are foolish (if you are of a particular religious denomination). The fact that we believe ourselves to be correct doesn’t warrant a crusade to unhinge the beliefs of others. Once we can get that concept clear, maybe there will be less of this ideological propaganda and a greater effort to reason together and incorporate ideals to achieve more elevated solutions to today’s problems.

But until then, bring on the bickering, back biting and blowhards. I’m sure there will be some sort of sense we can find in the endless debates on CNN, The O’Reilly Factor and other “credible” news sources. If anything, we’ll stimulate the economy from added airtime for private advertisements. So don’t worry about progressing: It’ll be fun! Having played water polo in my past life, treading water has always been a pastime of mine anyway.

Jess Jones is a conservative political columnist for Rhombus. His editor doesn’t quite consider himself the liberal revolutionary that Mr. Jones does and genuinely wonders when Richard Gere become the new envoy of the left.

POLITICS: The Medical Monkey On Our Backs

Written by Jess Jones on . Posted in Politics

Jess Jones

Jess Jones

In what has been one of the most heated and highly publicized debates in recent years, it’s been amazing to see the upheaval of public interest in health care reform.  From countless YouTube videos and dozens of newsflashes and reports of town hall protests, it’s easy to see there are a lot of people that aren’t happy with what’s going on. Now, this would normally be a time for me and my conservative minions to proudly sound an advance on Capitol Hill, but there is some reckoning that needs to happen first.

The debate has taken a turn for the worst. We’re no longer compromising. Be it the bull-headed GOP or the jackass liberal Democrats, a definitely line has been drawn in the sand; Representatives are being forced to choose their side under immense public scrutiny. The White House has even begun to imply that there will have to be a Democrat-only vote to push health care legislation through Congress. The white house blames the GOP and the visa versa.

What really chaps my hide isn’t so much the fact that we’re disagreeing. Heck, we’ve been at odds with one another since men were still wearing wigs and knickers. What really get me are the implications of the outcome of this debate. There is a serious shift of power that is occurring in this country as we consider and possibly pass bills such as the health care bill currently sitting on Capitol Hill.

With the introduction of federal programs, there comes a surrendering of autonomy in some degree or another. Many families lose the ability to find decent health care, because private insurance companies will be scrambling to match the government’s offer. Even then, if those families decided to take the feds up on their new program, they’ll have to take a number and wait for their turn to check out some ailment that should have been addressed much sooner. Companies, both big and small, will suddenly lose a bargaining chip (a.k.a. health benefits) that they once used to attract skilled full-time labor and instead get a “tax monkey” to carry around, in order to support this doomed program.

Part of my sentiments about this issue comes from time spent abroad in the socialized nation of Chile. One thing I noticed above all is the polarization of the health care offered to the Chilean people.  If you were looking for treatment that was comparable to “U.S. standards,” you would have to be willing to shell out the big bucks to pay for it. Otherwise, the government-run hospitals and clinics were the only other local option.  Since there was little-to-no cost to the patient for health care, people came for the slightest coughs and sore throats. A mere checkup would be scheduled out three to four months in advance.  Is it any wonder that the leaders of other countries come to the States for their medical needs?

If you’re scratching your head and saying, “Jess, you’re an alarmist and an over-exaggerator,” try this one on for size. I am currently enrolled in a health plan that mimics the proposed health plan the federal government will provide if the bill passes. Several months ago, I went in for a checkup for chest pains and was informed that I needed to visit a specialist that dealt with such problems. Should the problem continue, I was in danger of contracting cancer. Naturally, there was need for an urgent checkup to curb this potentially lethal problem. However, the program in which I am enrolled offered only one specialist — and he was booked solid for four months. Keep in mind, this was America. Granted, I only had to pay for the co-pay and I would eventually get seen, but what can we expect from a larger version of this plan? Is there need to worry about the shortage of doctors and specialists that will want to work for government?

I guess what is most troubling above all is the manner in which we are proceeding to pass this bill. Democratic leaders, along with the White House, are determined to pass this bill without delay. I don’t fault them for their vigor, nor for their ambition of helping a larger portion of Americans receive healthcare; However, there is no room in democracy — especially in American democracy — for these thug-like stratagems in Congress. This bill is just one of several examples of a major shift of power and responsibility towards the federal government.

It’s a big deal and for Democrats to just say “We’re doing this whether you like it or not” isn’t only offensive to the framework of the Constitution, but it’s a key indicator of the lack of leadership abilities of both the majority leaders and the White House. The attempt to garner public support through town hall meetings has proved that many Americans are against the plan set forth thus far. Polls show that more Americans disapprove than approve of the plan, so why are our leaders planning on making a power move to ramrod this legislation through Congress when it will clearly take a step toward greater government control?

You may think this is a half-hearted attempt at a Beck/Hannity homage, but the truth is there are things to consider here that are of serious consequences. James Madison explained that the purpose of the American republic was to reduce the effect of factions, splinter cells that are looking to deprive others of their rights. Although the representatives that are fighting over this bill were elected by the people, a faction of leaders has emerged on Capitol Hill with the determination to decide for us one of the most personal decisions that we could make: How we care for ourselves medically. Are we in trouble or are we paving the way of the future? Such questions are worth debate and a personal diagnosis.

Jess Jones is a conservative political columnist for Rhombus. He is also the incoming vice-chair of the BYU College Republicans.

POLITICS: Let's Get Philosophical (Part 2)

Written by Jess Jones on . Posted in Politics

Jess Jones

Jess Jones

Welcome back to the second part of a discussion that has been a bit philosophical and has taken somewhat of a religious turn. I’ve appreciated the comments and arguments presented in response to my previous article. It’s interesting to see the differences of opinions and the valid reasoning behind them.

After discussing the case of Richard Reid, a convicted terrorist who attempted to destroy a passenger jet en route from Paris to Miami, there have been several interesting opinions expressed that I would like to address and include some of their points in this article to see if we can build on this discussion together. Although this will be a cursory conversation that may not be the most in-depth discussion known to man, we’ll do our best.

Rights in and of themselves are only as resolute as the faith we put in them. Everyone conforms to some sort of social contract and, in doing so, agrees to the rules of that contract. We believe that man deserves specific rights out of respect for him being human. The amount of rights that we give to any human being depends greatly on how we view society and man’s need for liberty.

This would explain why Americans may think that other parts of the world are more controlling or more anarchic, yet many of the people that live in these foreign countries feel as if their lives are satisfactory, to say the least. Children in one society may feel completely comfortable living subject to the tempers and discipline of their parents while American children may feel that they aren’t (or shouldn’t be) required to follow their parental guidance. It’s all a matter of what rights we believe man should be afforded.

As you have heard countless times before, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are rights that we as Americans feel are endowed to all men. I agree. These rights constitute a sort of code that allows us to cooperate, legislate and co-exist. These rights become the rules of the game we call life (no pun on the Milton Bradley product intended). We detail more of our inherent rights in the First Amendment. In order to live peacefully, men are granted (that’s the key word) the right to express themselves and practice their religion. This is quite acceptable in my eyes. Man should be able to express his opinion and beliefs so long as it isn’t harmful to others.

There may be an argument that these rights of freedom to practice one’s religion and speak freely are inalienable and above revocation. I contend that such a scenario would create a loophole through which a person may act lawlessly without fear of consequence. Thoughts and opinions should and will forever remain free from control and legislation. It is the realm of actions that we are responsible for. Actions bring consequences. It’s simple Newtonian physics: An action brings a reaction. These rights can be taken away if so ordered by court of law. Due process is the key to removing any one of these rights.

Several of the comments from the last article quoted scriptures and examples of when it was necessary to take away rights of others. Primarily, such instances were few and occurred during times of war. However, the rights of the people were taken away when there was a need for greater unification or protection from harm in times of trouble. The people that failed to cooperate were stripped of many liberties afforded to them; not because they were treated lawlessly, but because they failed to comply with the laws under which they were living.

Moreover, if a person is expecting protection under a certain form of government, he or she should become subject to the system as a whole.  In Richard Reid’s case, he wishes to exercise his right to practice religion, but up until recently he was deemed too dangerous to practice religion and communicate with the outside world. Of course, this opinion is to be determined legally in a court of law, but there is a value judgment that we make in his case. In my opinion, by acting out of hostility towards the U.S., he waived the right to certain privileges that perhaps he could have enjoyed had he been more civil.

In the end of all things, the design of the United States government is to “establish a more perfect union, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to us and our posterity.” To allow for the greater part of the American people to exist peacefully and enjoy life liberty and the ability to pursue their noble endeavors, the government must assist in removing and/or regulating any sort of threat or barrier that impedes the life and liberty of the nation as a whole. This perhaps applies to not only the Richard Reid case, but to a much broader myriad of issues.

Ultimately, there is a definitely a need to think about these issues. Like I said at the outset, this is purely philosophical and should be treated as such.  They can be dry, but such conversations are necessary at times. Thanks to everyone who posted and I hope that you find this installment interesting enough and worthy of continual discussion.

Jess Jones is a conservative political columnist for Rhombus. He thinks way too much.

COLUMN: Let's Get Philosophical

Written by Jess Jones on . Posted in Politics

Jess Jones

Jess Jones

Every once in a while, I have this strange craving to be philosophical and talk about really complicated issues. So readers beware, this installment may not be to your liking (unless you get a thrill from discussing civil rights for detainees.)

On July 6th, Justice Department lawyers told courts that detainee Richard Reid will be given “new placement” from under his Special Administrative Measures (SAM). For those who don’t speak prison lingo, SAMs are security directives that are issued when there is “substantial risk that a prisoner’s communications, correspondence or contacts with persons could result in death or serious bodily injury” to others.

Recently, Reid’s SAMs were allowed to expired, giving him greater ability to communicate more freely with the outside world. Reid was originally arrested in 2001 for attempting to blow up an airliner traveling from Paris to Miami. He has since been held at the Administrative Maximum (ADX) Penitentiary in Florence, Colo. While imprisoned there, Reid’s SAMs were in place to restrict him from communicating with others and potentially helping coordinate further strikes against the United States. His SAMs were tightened in 2006 when three detainees not subjected to the security directives received communication via mail from terrorist networks involved in several major attacks throughout Europe.

However, Reid filed a lawsuit against the federal government, stating the SAMs violated his First Amendment rights to participate in “group prayers” prescribed by his religion. Keep in mind that these group prayers were with other convicted al-Qaida A-listers.  The case was originally dismissed but, after conducting a self-imposed 58-day hunger strike, Reid’s SAMs were removed under the Obama administration. Although no one has ever escaped from ADX, Reid is the first one to sue his way out.

Should foreign detainees, like Reid, be able to advocate the protection of rights granted by the United States? Are they protected under the constitution? Again, this a huge philosophy question and it really depends on what you feel should happen, so it is really up to you and your thoughts on the issue.

The Declaration of Independence states that “all men are created equal” and that they are “endowed with certain unalienable rights.” “Governments are established among men” to secure these rights. Yet to whom does the security of these rights extend: to everyone or to Americans only? The Constitution, created under these principles of securing liberties, provides for the freedom of religion and speech. But are all men, be they American citizens or not, entitled to sue the U.S. government for a protection of these rights?

In my opinion, protection by any system of government comes as a benefit of compliance to the essential ground rules set forth by that government. The government’s power to protect those rights is granted by the consent of the governed, which includes those that prescribe themselves to be governed by that establishment. Granted, the voice of the people may feel that these rights extend to others who don’t live directly under the rule of our government, but do they apply to those who are openly opposing the U.S. and potentially intend to harm American citizens?

If a potentially dangerous detainee, such as Reid, has openly expressed his opposition towards the U.S. and is affiliating with other individuals guilty of terrorist attacks, why should the U.S. government concede to grant him any rights that might assist him in the attacking of other people?

The directives restraining Reid were released after his 58-day hunger strike, but I still feel that a man’s self-deprivation of nourishment should not be cause for the government to give into his demands. What should any responsible parent do when their child throws a tantrum? Definitely not give in. If he wants to die of malnourishment, it wouldn’t be the government’s fault. After all, it is his choice.

It’s hard for me to see the logic in allowing a person, man or woman, to expect protection under a government which he or she intends to attack. It seems absurd for anyone to pick and choose the portions of the American political system they wish to follow. Reid may be advocating his right to free speech and religion, but you can almost assuredly bet he disagrees with the majority of other rights proffered us by the Constitution.  America was not made for picky people.

This is a very difficult issue to grasp completely and it’s harder still to justify any argument. I’m extremely interested in hearing the views and opinions of others regarding the matter. My hope is to publish a follow up article in response to the arguments and comments to this article. Please don’t hesitate to leave yours thoughts in the space below.

Jess Jones is a conservative political columnist for Rhombus. If you couldn’t tell, he’s an aspiring constitutional lawyer.

COLUMN: "I Had A Dream"

Written by Jess Jones on . Posted in Politics

Isn’t it interesting that, despite the countless ways the White House has interject to interject itself into our lives, President Obama still has time to stoke the fires of racial discrimination. Upon being questioned by reporters about the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. (who has been a long-time friend of the President), Obama commented that James Crowley, the arresting Cambridge, Mass., police sergeant, had “acted stupidly.” He further explained the situation by stating that “there’s a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately.” Isn’t it interesting how a president who claims to have broken the racial barriers of our nation is still emphasizing the use of racist practices such as profiling?

Since last November, we’ve been hearing about how the president has fulfilled Dr. King’s dream of having an African-American in the White House. Racial intolerance, especially against African-Americans, is all but history. There are occasional mishaps that occur that require local authorities to intervene and make corrections, but there should never be a word spoken by the president emphasizing the “long history” of racial profiling that officers have worked so hard to eliminate.

I know that Gates perhaps wasn’t the most harmful-looking of characters. I mean, how dangerous can a middle-aged man that uses a cane be, right? After all, he is a Harvard professor and he was in his own house. Yet there was no room for him to belligerently accuse Crowley, who has been deemed a stellar officer with an impeccable history of service along with a career of teaching classes against “racial profiling.” Crowley, summoned to Gates’ residence by a concerned neighbor, asked Mr. Gates to step onto the porch to speak with him. Gates refused and asked if it was because he was “a black man in America.” Gates proceeded to slander Crowley, calling him a racist and saying, “I’ll speak with your mama outside,” a sentiment hardly becoming of a Harvard professor.  Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct and hauled off to jail.

If you ask me, Gates deserved his treatment. If he’s going to try and reignite the “glory days” of racial protests by yelling at a police officer, he deserves to cool his jets of in the county clink for a day or two. The officer was summoned by the neighbor under the pretense that two black men were allegedly forcing their way into Gates’ house. Crowley, whose record has already been established, was clearly not there to intimidate nor threaten Professor Gates. Gates clearly needed to take a chill pill in this scenario and perhaps the county lock-up was just the place for him.

I don’t really care if your white, black, blue, yellow, green or purple: if you mouth off to a cop, you’d better be prepared to either back yourself up with some great evidence or be ready to spend some time in a jail cell. That sort of behavior shouldn’t be tolerated, especially coming from a person trying to use race as their get-out-of-jail-free card. To ignore that would only promote the continued use of the Race Card as a legitimate means of acquittal.

What has been even more controversial is that President Obama has stepped into the picture. His involvement has rekindled the flames of the race debate that has long existed in the liberal powder keg of Massachusetts. It is not his place to take sides on an issue like this. It’s micro-managing in the worst form. So now, instead of facing opposition from city or state authorities, the Cambridge police department is facing pressure from the White House of all places.

In my opinion, the comment made by Obama that Cambridge Police “acted stupidly” was, in fact, just as stupid. It was an ill-conceived attempt to garnish the support of minorities to rally behind his resolve to face the “evils” of society. He had stated that he was unaware of all the facts regarding the arrest, but the fact that he criticized Cambridge P.D. so harshly and so publicly has left him wide open for criticism from many different sources. If you ask me, he deserves the heat. When we’re faced with national issues of rising health care costs and economic depression, how can he possibly think to stoop down and pass judgment on one local issue, despite his personal ignorance to all the facts? Do we really need to fall back into the hole of racial discrimination to bolster up the declining approval ratings for the greenhorn president? If so, talk about digging through America’s couch cushions to find a few loose coins of controversy to fund his presidency.

When asked about his comments in the following days, Obama was surprised about the amount of controversy that his comments have sparked. Asked if he stood by his comments that the Cambridge police had acted stupidly, he did not give a clear cut answer but alluded to other issues facing the nation (deservedly so since he’s been eaten up by his last “stupid” statement).

It really isn’t the time for our Commander-in-Chief to be making little pit stops in the local affairs of our cities to pass his own judgment on affairs that involve personal friends. Most recently, after taking several days of intense criticism for his statements, the President phoned Crowley and went back on his original criticisms of the officer and expressed an interest in having both Gates and Crowley to the White House to share a beer over the subject. Now that’s diplomacy! Settling things over a pint (funny how it all returns to alcohol). It’s almost laughable how the President has retreated the moment people disapproved of his statements, even though he didn’t expressly apologize for his words about the Cambridge police department.

Some may deem this article as overly critical and opinionated, but since it is an “opinion” column, I’ll deal with the accusation of being overly critical. Underneath this whole mess lies an underlying problem: Our president, despite his claims of being fair and equal, still seems to be stoking the flames of racism by emphasizing his own ethnicity and commenting on misunderstandings such as the Gates/Crowley incident. If only Dr. King could see us now.

Jess Jones is a conservative political columnist for Rhombus.