Posts tagged ‘Constitution’

Judge Roy Moore

Could just it get any worse? You know that Judge Moore would make a great leader…if this were a theocracy and we all agreed on who God is. Let’s just put aside the sexual allegations for a few minutes and think about how he is everything the Founders wrote the Constitution to prevent. The Founders were sons and daughters (yes women had influence on the men) of the religious wars in Europe. They saw how religious fanaticism wreck countries and led to perpetual war. There goal was to balance power and make no one party supreme. It was a government based on rational discourse and compromise.

Now let’s take that apart. Religious fanatics like Roy Moore live by a religion that cannot be question by man. He made belief in the supremacy of a Christian God over the Constitution the cornerstone of his campaign.

“I want to see virtue and morality returned to our country and God is the only source of our law, liberty and government.”

Now that probably plays well to the religious brain-dead in Alabama, but it does not stand the test of examination. In a theocracy in which Roy is describing, who interprets the word of God, Roy? And what if someone disagrees? Oh heresy. Burn them at the stake. So there is the end to rational discourse and compromise. We don’t need courts or legislatures, just a high prophet, and that would be Roy of course. Now if Roy were a Muslim, that would be Sharia Law, that boggy man that conservative Republicans love to bring out to scare people without brains. Oh, and if you are following Roy’s logic, he just justified ISIS and al Qaeda. It is exactly the same thing except we have Koran thumping Muslims telling the world what the one true word is, and dissent punishable by death.

Moore, who is an evangelical Christian, was removed from the bench in 2003 over his refusal to take down a monument to the Ten Commandments in the state Supreme Court building in Alabama. Last year, he was suspended for the remainder of his term after telling probate judges to enforce the ban on gay marriage, which by then had been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. Both fights elevated his profile among religious conservatives in the state and nationally.

The fact that Roy ran and won a Republican Primary shows you how many truly stupid and ignorant people live in Alabama, and dare I say it, religion froze their brains. I would argue as an aside, that conservative religions are antithetical to democracy. It is a belief that cannot be challenged by logic (faith), and as such denies all compromise. Say goodbye to rational thought and finding middle ground solutions. Where it gets really dangerous is when it leaks over into our political thinking, as in conservative Republicans and their conservative beliefs about gays, the economy, immigrants, oh you name it. Once you have a part of your brain that accepts groking, a gut drinking in to believe or understand something, which is what most religion is, say goodbye to rational thought. Who needs facts? There is no coincidence that conservative Republicans are mostly evangelical Christians or Bible thumpers of one sort or another.

Okay so Alabama, and Republicans so craven for holding on to power, were getting behind Roy while in essence, striking a blow to very heart of American and the foundation of our Constitution, when out come the sexual allegations. Now Roy claims these are political lies and attacks on him. But there is simply too much there there and we are in a time when we are starting to listen to women and believe them. Now for my part, this is why Roy is such a holier than thou guy. He knows he is the devil and he compensates by being a Bible thumper to root out evil (his own which you can bet he is in total denial on). But enough about Roy, he is a piece of scum right of the Republican playbook, and he is toast. Let’s focus on the Republicans.

First thing, if you are a hypocrisy buff, is remember when the women came out and accused President Clinton and Clinton did a small-scale Moore defense, but Republicans were all over it taking the side of the women (and correctly). Now they jump on Roy’s defense team? Craven doesn’t even get close.

“Take Mary and Joseph. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus,” Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler told the Washington Examiner. “There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit unusual.”

Um, if you believe this nonsense, then remember the part about immaculate conception. I bet Joseph would have been struck down by a vengeful immaculate conceptor for rubbing her body parts. But that is typical of Republican failure to connect the dots because I don’t want to connect the dots. From the Atlantic Monthly:

Many leading Republicans outside of Alabama said in public statements they would like to see Moore step aside—if the allegations against him are true. On Thursday, The Atlanticreached out to all 52 GOP senators, and the 19 lawmakers who responded said exactly that. That approach would seem to leave room for Moore to deny the report and continue his campaign.

“It comes down to a question [of] who is more credible in the eyes of the voters—the candidate or the accuser,” Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of evangelical Liberty University and a Moore supporter, told RNS. “And I believe the judge is telling the truth.”

Indeed, many Republican officials are still behind him. “I’m not saying I support what he did,” Bibb County Chairman Jerry Pow told journalist Dale. But Pow said he’ll still vote for Moore, simply because he doesn’t want to vote for the Democrat.

Now where is the mentality in, “I would rather have an immoral sexual predator and Constitution denying moron, than a Democrat. Are you starting to see the connection between religion, whether spiritual or political gets us a damaged brain?

So I will just leave you with this: Republicans are evil and the country left in their hands will be destroyed. Sure, some have come out finally against him. They can read polls. But until we rid ourselves of this whole crop, and maybe the states that elect them, we are destined to ignorance, stupidity, and policy that hurts America, not helps it. No we should never compromise with these nut balls.

Oh, and yes I have been missing in action. You know, that work thing. You don’t think the wine I buy is cheap do you.

What are We Doing Here?

That is the question conservative political strategists are asking themselves as they look at the self-inflected wound Donald Trump has inflicted attacking the Khans.  They think this is just an issue of decency and morality and it is no win.  Just shut up about the Khans and move on. Well, they are right about the decency and morality thing and it is no win, but it is about a lot more than that.

It actually was a comment on his attack on our basic American values and that is what was so illuminating about it.  “Have you read the Constitution Mr. Trump” goes to the heart of the fact that the White Mob and Trump have no use for the Constitution if it gets hard.  They are good at waving it, but have no clue what it really means or how hard it is to keep it safe.

What Mr. Khan did was to expose that the Republican Party in their support of Donald Trump are abrogating our most basic and precious values.  Specifically “Have You Read the article 4th, the Equal Protection Clause?” That was the real damage.  That goes right to the heart of the Donald, and his us against them mantra. His demagoguing of his fellow Americans who don’t agree with him and his patriot test based on religion.  It goes to the heart of discrimination.  It goes to the heart of the White Mob.

So the Donald could not restrain himself because he was faced with a very strong emotional flashing neon sign that he, the White Mob, and the enabling Republicans are a danger to our democracy and our basic values.  He had to respond (in his mind) because Mr. Khan had pointed out that in the name of security, he was destroying the very basis of what makes America great. He had to find a way to sully that.  Oh, and of course he is a narcissist and can never be wrong.

So while the political spinners want you to see this as Mr. Trump just being arrogant, indecent, and cruel, all of which it is, there is a much more fundamental truth  exposed about Mr. Trump.  He has no understanding or comprehension of what makes America great.  He has no understanding of our basic values as promulgated by our Constitution. That my friends is the kiss of death if the American people can be awakened by the Khans.  That’s why Republicans so want to move on.

I Won’t Back Off on Muslim Ban

This would be Donald this morning and let’s think about this.  So far most radical extremists who have avowed to destroy our country are Muslim.  For the life of me I can’t figure out why there aren’t Central and South Americans in the group considering the way we have historically treated them, but that is for another day.  Well, since our protagonists appear to be Muslim extremists, why not ban them?  No, not Muslim extremists, but all Muslims. So ends the logical thread in Donald Trump’s brain.

Let’s expand that thread a little.  So are all Muslims dangerous?  Apparently not based upon their size and the peaceful practice of their religion throughout most of the world, just a small minority.  What religion was Timothy McVeigh (the Oklahoma City bomber)?  Wasn’t he a born again Christian?  Should we ban them from crossing state borders?  What is the religion of the latest abortion clinic shooter and should we profile them?  If you look at the 9/11 bombers, was it because they were Muslim, that they were Saudis, or was it because they were murderous extremists?  So if you are Donald you ban all Muslims, Saudis, and murderous extremists?  Oh, and how can you tell a person’s religion and could they not lie? Do you know them when you see them?  They look different (not white)?

Then there is that little thing called the Constitution that bars religious discrimination.  Basically you can’t have a religious test for office, and you can establish no state religion (although many in the Republican Party think they can).  To understand these Constitutional clauses you have to understand two things.  First the Founders were products of the Enlightenment, the recognition that hundreds of years of blood had been spilled over religion and they wanted it out of government, one based on rational debate, not ideological beliefs.  Only then can compromise and democracy function. Second, there were at that time State Churches and competing religions throughout the country.  They wanted to protect the little guy from the big guy so to speak in religious terms.  So we don’t judge by religion (or race or sex or sexual preference).

But the Donald does.  All Muslims are suspect.  So could, if that is allowed to stand, jump to all Catholics are suspect (actually they were in our history as John Kennedy was the first Catholic President).  Why not all Jews suspect?  It worked for the Germans in their march to Nazism.  If you can discriminate by religious belief, why not race.  Oh wait, all immigrants are rapist and murders.  I guess he already made that leap.

Here is the point.  If you examine this giant overreach, you find a basic violation of everything we believe that makes us and our Constitution exceptional.  It says we are not all created equal with certain inalienable rights, but only a select few are.  It says we are going to use government to discriminate against anybody we don’t like.  It is an absolute rejection of all freedom and liberty is meant to stand for.  And this is the country he is going to take back from the crazy liberals?  We are entering very dangerous times.

OH BUT WAIT!  As I just heard a pundit blather, “Look at what he has done taking over the Republican Party!  What an amazing accomplishment!”  Hitler took over Germany.  Was that an amazing accomplishment or a sad chapter in history?

He Had a Temendous Impact on the Court

And mostly bad.  Most continue to genuflect and that is what is wrong with Washington.  When you are tearing down our government and being effective at it, I don’t think that deserves all the platitudes being dumped on Anthony Scalia.  And it turns out neither does Linda Greenhouse whose reporting on the court over the years has been stellar.  Here are some of the things she pointed out:

I’ve become increasingly concerned, as my recent columns have suggested, that the conservative majority is permitting the court to become an agent of partisan warfare to an extent that threatens real damage to the institution. Justice Scalia’s outsize role on and off the bench contributed to that dangerous development to an outsize degree.

…The Feb. 9 order blocking the president’s Clean Power Plan was issued without explanation and over the dissents of the court’s four liberals. I don’t know whether Justice Scalia was the driving force behind this highly unusual intervention in an ongoing regulatory review. But clearly it couldn’t have happened without him. Neither could the court’s other recent destabilizing interventions, including the 5-to-4 decision in Shelby County v. Holder to gut the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

…Then, two months ago, Justice Scalia’s comment during the argument in the University of Texas affirmative-action case embraced the so-called mismatch theory beloved by opponents of affirmative action when he said that some minority students would benefit from “a less advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well.” I can only assume that somewhere out there is a tract that equates protection of the right to vote with perpetuation of racial entitlement.

…His frequent parroting of right-wing talking points in recent years may have reflected the contraction of his intellectual universe. In an interview with the writer Jennifer Senior (now a New York Times book critic) in New York magazine in 2013, Justice Scalia said he got most of his news from the car radio and from skimming The Wall Street Journal and the conservative Washington Times. He said he stopped reading The Washington Post because it had become so “shrilly, shrilly liberal” that he “couldn’t handle it anymore.”

…About 10 years ago, I attended a gathering of Canadian judges and lawyers at Cambridge University. Justice Scalia gave his stump speech there about how his Constitution was not “living” but “dead,” with legitimate constitutional interpretation limited to the words and original understanding of the document’s authors. He may or may not have known that in Canada, constitutional interpretation starts from the premise that “the Constitution is a living tree.” In any event, his speech fell flat; rather than greeting his remarks with the appreciative chuckles and applause he usually received, the audience sat on its hands. I remember his disconcerted expression.

Okay, you get the drift.  Yes he had a great impact on the court.  Now it is time to right the ship and restore the court to some semblance of fairness and justice instead of blocking social progress.  If we do, the Constitution will be restored to it’s rightful place as the guiding light of freedom, not the old staid words of dead men.

Scalia

My last words on this nut ball.  While everyone is genuflecting at the great jurist he was, all I could see was a person who saddled us with a very static and unrealistic way of interpreting the Constitution to push his very conservative agenda.  As a  NYT editorial pointed out this morning:

After three decades of Justice Scalia’s exuberant behavior on and off the bench and his multitude of public appearances, which earned him the moniker “Rock Star of One First Street,” justices are no longer cloistered. They are now perceived as politicians in judicial robes.

This perception as “politicians in judicial robes” is part of what is wrong with America today.  It is a perception that institutions are not fair and destroys our belief in them and he led the charge.  So what was this “great” judicial legacy he expouses:

Justice Scalia’s most important legacy will be his “originalism” and “textualism” theory that judges should decide cases according to the “public meaning” of the words in the Constitution or its Amendments as understood by the American people in the state constitutional ratifying conventions. He frequently lectured his colleagues against using a “living” or “evolving” interpretation of the Constitution, something he termed “idiotic.” He argued, “The only good Constitution is a dead Constitution. The problem with a living Constitution in a word is that somebody has to decide how it grows and when it is that new rights are – you know — come forth. And that’s an enormous responsibility in a democracy to place upon nine lawyers, or even 30 lawyers.” For him, the Constitution was static, unchanging and enduring, and should only be changed by the voters through the amendment process.

Now in one sense you can see the logic in this.  Read the Constitution as a static document and if problems result, get the Congress to do their job.  And like all simple logic, it is sadly flawed.  For instance, the 2nd amendment reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” 

Okay except we don’t have militias any more so do we still get to stockpile weapons.  Yes according to Anthony Scalia.  What about abortion?  It was even possible (safely) back in those days, so is choice a natural right?  Again since the constitution did not specifically address it, then not according to Anthony Scalia, and that is ignoring his Catholic prejudices that he could use this judicial philosophy to support.

His judicial philosophy was nonsense.  The Founders read Locke, Hume, Locke, John Stuart Mill, to name a few.  It was about basic principles of human behavior and government, not specific rules to follow (oh, how conservative and ideological, like a literal reading of the Bible).  The Constitution laid out our basic principles and it is a living document because those don’t change with time even though the events they weigh on do.  So yes interpretation is required in light of what we know today, not static views from the 18th century.

Think about this: Issues and cases don’t reach the Supreme Court unless there is a strong difference of opinion.  So it is unlikely that Congress would even be able to act on it to change the Consitution.  And more importantly, more likely to act if the Supreme Court makes a highly unpopular decision.  We turn to the court not as a rule reader, but to interpret the intent of a living document, not a dead one.  Justice Scalia used his rigid interpretation, hidden behind a wall of judicial restraint, to be an activist judge that pushed his ideological agenda and tarnished the court and America.  Let us never forget Bush versus Gore.

Was he smart, brilliant, and outspoken?  Yes.  But he is part and parcel of the divided America we see today where the respect for our highest institutions are crumbling.  That is what this brilliant jurist brought us. Or as the Onion put it, Justice Scalia dead following 30 year battle with social progress.  Brilliance wasted.

Breaking News: God Wrote the Constitution!

Tom Delay declares that the Constitution was written by God. That just furthers my thesis that evangelical Christians are the problem. I guess he missed that whole Constitutional Convention thing where they spent all summer fighting over the wording, or the next few years adding the first Ten Amendments and ratifying the document. Oh, and let’s not forget that most of the Founders were Deists, who believed that if there was a god, he didn’t dabble in human affairs. Delay and his brethren give us Atheists a good name.

I hate to break it to most people, but God didn’t write the Bible either. A bunch of guys wrote it hundreds of years after the fact and it is full of contradictions. Maybe some good literature there and a few good ideas, but it is the work of man, just as God is.

Walking Your Talk

No, I am not talking about the Red Line. I think after consideration of what I know at this time, we must enforce that Red Line. But we are also a constitutional Republic and there is no legal way to do this without Congresses authorization, which they will never give. This Congress can’t agree on a Farm Bill, so they are not going to authorize a tough, risky, but necessary action against Syria. It is a forgone conclusion that if we go to Congress for approval, nothing will happen.

I think it is critical that we take action, but I also want to see the Constitution restored. So if you are going to walk your talk, even if the outcome is not what you want, I have to say, we must get Congressional approval. No, I don’t think the debate will be healthy for the country because Congress has become so Republican (not partisan, Republican) that the debate will not be an honest one. It will be a political show trial with “death panels” and all the other lies they generate.. And in the end, we will do nothing just as we have done nothing about the Farm Bill, jobs, Immigration, Infrastructure investment, real banking reform, you name it. But that is the system we have, and while it failed us in Iraq (due to cooked books), and will fail us again here, it is the government we have all sworn to uphold.

Now having said all that, I think President Obama will skirt it. There is historical precedent for that in both Republican and Democratic administrations. That is what I see in the tea leaves so far. I think he is in no hurray to get involved in another Middle Eastern mess, I think he sees what I do if he doesn’t act, the leaders of the various Middle Eastern countries turned loose to do what they will in an ever increasing sectarian conflict. When he does, and he does it because he believes it is the right thing to do for the country and the world, he has finally given the Republicans the material they need to impeach him. That is why they don’t want to vote on it. It is rather amazing to see the Neocons questioning the use of military power to enforce our foreign policy goals, hypocrisy run wild, but that is where we are at today.

It would be nice to see a real debate in Congress, discussing the risks, possible blowback, follow-on policy, or the impact of doing nothing with an honest appraisal. And if you believe we would get that, I have some land just recently cleared land, just west of Yosemite that I want to sell you. But as bad as it would be, it is what must be. To do anything else is to once again turn away from our Constitution in a time when that document and its principles are ever more important to safeguard our freedoms.

Cognitive Disconnects

I listened to two stories this week that to me indicate a disconnect between our mouths and our intellect.  One is the advice by “financial advisers” to not walk away from a home that is underwater (mortgage worth more than the appraised value of the house) and the other is the Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin opposition to a mosque near the site of the 9/11 attack in New York City.

First on whether we are just irresponsible scumbags if we walk away from our home mortgage.  The financial advisers have a vested interest in the market so they are not your best source of advice since hurting bank profits will hurt the market.  The best advice I have heard is to attempt to negotiate, not for reduced interest rate, but for a reduced mortgage value based upon the real worth of the property.  If they refuse to negotiate, walk away.  Here is why:  When you got into the loan, the bank demanded an appraisal.  They may have also demanded PMI (mortgage insurance) if you borrowed more than 80% of the house value.  The deal here is simple.  They will lend money up to a certain amount (usually not 100%) with the house as collateral.  If you don’t pay, they take the house and they are betting on the worth of the house to come out ahead.  Now that that has not worked out, they want you to hold the bag for their bad business judgment.  Staying in the house and paying a mortgage based upon a false worth of the house that you can never recoup, is really a bailout for the banks.  It keeps them whole and doesn’t hold them accountable for the real worth of their assets.  Don’t do it.  If you want to make sure that banks act responsibly and don’t sell bad loans to you in the future, make them share the pain. You don’t have to carry all of the risk.  It is as simple as that.

On the building of the mosque in the shadow of where the World Trading Center used to stand, we are talking about a stance that is purely racist and that violates everything we stand for.  I am sure that this posturing about the mosque appeals to small minds, but it is lynch mob mentality which these two are very good at stoking.  We were not attacked by the Muslim religion, but by radical Muslims.  This is an attempt to say that all Muslims are responsible for the act of a few and that we can discriminate based upon religion.  The same logic could be applied to building a Christian church anywhere near where some fanatical Christian attacked an abortion clinic.  These bombings and killings were not by the Christian faith, but by demented Christians.  Worse yet, from those who want to return to the Constitution, it is clear they have not read the 1st Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

So I guess discrimination by denying a mosque be built is not government making a law respecting an establishment of religion?  Worse Gingrich said that we should allow no mosques near ground zero “so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia.”  Let’s see, because they are intolerant we need to adopt the same intolerance to prove what?  That we are as narrow minded and authoritarian as they are?  That is what you get with these two.  They believe in freedom only if your freedom implies that you totally agree with them.  If you are not Christian, you do not have the same rights as other citizens.  How can Americans even consider these two loonies as potential Presidential candidates?  Their ignorance and pandering to race, hate, and intolerance should disqualify them for dog catcher, much less President.

One other thought on Sarah Palin:  Pundits salivate about her political potential because she energizes a crowd.  The fact that she is truly an ignorant (uneducated) person who is appealing to mob mentality seems to be okay with them.  Just what this country needs, a leader who leads out of ignorance and uses hate and fear as her charisma.  It is no wonder we are a declining nation when we are so blinded by our ideology that we would pick a leader based on how she/he can gin up a crowd, and not where they would lead us.  These pundits are morons.