Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sunday Thinkin': We should have had a Counter-Terrorism Agency instead of DHS

Welcome to the first of what will hopefully be a new feature on The Whig. Sunday Thinkin' will, as the title suggests, feature yours truly dwelling on whatever subject comes to mind. Sometimes long, sometimes short, these posts won't be overly formal and meant to be just ruminations on different subjects.

So, as the title suggests, this introductory post will be about how there should be an agency dedicated to fighting terrorism as opposed to a department which seems to be all over the place. Let's begin.

I've long held to the opinion that the creation of a Department of Homeland Security was a mistake. Obviously, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and everything it seemed like a good idea at the time. But to me, it was a knee-jerk reaction and a mistake. Yes, we needed an entity whose sole focus was foiling terrorist plots bringing them to justice, but I just don't think we needed a cabinet-level department.

Also? Can we all be honest and agree that "Department of Homeland Security" sounds just a tad ominous and even sinister? It comes off akin to one of those sinister government agencies you find in dystopian novels.

Now don't get me wrong, I realize that DHS is full of people who are just trying to do their job and protect this great country of ours, but I don't see why it couldn't be done via a law enforcement agency in the Department of Justice. I mean, we have the DEA and the ATF which were created to handle specific areas of crime, so why not one that deals with terrorism? It could have been called the Bureau of Counter-Terrorism or some such. Hopefully the agents working for that agency wouldn't go overboard like Jack Bauer did on 24.

Am I right? Am I wrong? Maybe. I don't pretend to be a counter-terrorism expert and never will. I just see the DHS's creation to have been knee-jerking by an administration and congress caught flatfooted by a horrendous attack and needed a way to allay fears and give the public the impression that the government knew how to handle the situation.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

"B-b-but...COMMUNISM!" I'm sure someone said while pearl clutching

It is the year 2017 and the California state government is just now getting around to dumping the last vestiges of the Red Scare.
California may end a decades-old ban on members of the Communist Party working in its government, after the state Assembly approved a bill that would delete references to the party from its employment requirements.

The bill's sponsor, Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, said that California's laws should focus on individuals' actions and evidence rather than political affiliations and what he termed "empty labels."

Speaking on the floor of the Assembly, Bonta called the legislation a "cleanup bill that removes archaic and outdated references to the Communist Party in our state laws, specifically those stating that a public employee may be dismissed from employment if he or she advocates or is knowingly a member of the Communist Party."
Amazing, but not as amazing as the fact that 30 legislators voted against the bill and several made arguments against it by invoking Vietnamese (and presumably, Hmong) refugees and war veterans who fought against communists in Korea and Vietnam.

My two cents? While I understand why the ban against communists was put in place, I no longer think they apply. A person should not be excluded from employment because of their ideology except when they advocate the overthrow of the government or if the ideology is hate-based. According to the article, the bill includes a provision that would continue to bar the former from working in the state government, so I fail to see any reason why someone who identifies as a communist shouldn't be allowed to be a government employee.