Category Archives: Constitution

No Surprises Here

Over the last month I have watched various talking heads discuss the travesty that is the Trump presidency. They feign shock and horror at his false tweets. They are shocked by his lack of respect for the separation of powers. They are amazed that the GOP sits by while he fires a man investigating him and admits to obstruction of justice on a TV interview.

Hello.

What did you expect? What is new?

President Obama  said: “I have to tell you, this office, it’s about who you are and what you are and it doesn’t change after you occupy the office – it just magnifies it.”

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2104523/barack-obama-says-donald-trump-is-not-fit-to-become-the-next-us-president/

We all knew who and what Donald Trump is before he was elected. Did anyone expect that a 70 year old man, who has spent his entire life surrounded by sycophants, was going to become “presidential”? Really?

This is a man who has the following history:

Refuses to rent to black folks and is sued for discrimination (and loses) by the federal government. Had to pay a multi-million dollar settlement.

Inherited a multi-million dollar real estate empire and inside political connections with mob bosses in NYC, without lifting a finger.

Somehow managed to mismanage a casino and actually go bankrupt.

Multiple times failed to pay contractors for work done, driving some of them to the brink of bankruptcy.

Bragged about sexually abusing women.

Forced to pay over $20,000,000 damages to students he fleeced at “Trump University”.

Refused to divulge any Russia dealings in his tax returns.

Had a number of campaign advisers with strong ties to Putin. Flynn, Tillerson, Manafort, Stone, Page, Sessions, etc.

Then, of course, there are his multiple, regular false statements. A serial liar:

Obama was born in Kenya.

Clinton broke the law.

Insisted that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the JFK assassination.

He knew Putin. Then he did not know Putin. Then he met Putin. Then he did not meet Putin.

Obama illegally wiretapped his phones.

Supported a health bill that did the opposite of what he promised in the campaign.

Fired Comey because Comey was mean to Clinton. Because he was asked to do so by the assistant to Sessions. Because he was tired of the “fake” Russia investigation. Take your pick.

So, what’s the big deal. The talking heads KNEW this. Why are they surprised? The GOP rank and file KNEW this when they went into those voting booths and voted for this person. He did not get 60,000,000 votes without overwhelming support from the GOP. We all knew what he was and is. The GOP voters did not care.

And , as President Obama opined in North Carolina as the election was drawing to a close:

“This guy is temperamentally unfair to be commander in chief, and he is not equipped to be president.”

“It’s strange how over time what is crazy gets normalised, and we just kinda assume, ‘Well, he’s said a hundred crazy things, so the hundred-and-first thing we don’t even notice.”

So, let’s stop pretending that this is somehow a surprise. The question is: What does the GOP do about it? You brought us to this point. Surprise us.

 

 

 

 

 

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Something Deeper

Let me start by clarifying. I am not a conspiracy nut.

Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Bigfoot does not exist. The “government” did not take down the Twin Towers on 9/11 as an “inside job”. Millions of illegals do not vote in US elections. There is no  secret cabal of Jewish bankers running the world. The UN is not trying to destroy freedom in America. Etc. Etc. Etc.

I am a fact guy. A pragmatist. Show me the evidence and I will consider your case. But evidence is a must.

Which brings me to the latest, ongoing attacks by Mr Trump on the free press. Over and over he has been slamming any news organization that does not pay him proper homage as “the enemy of the people”. All news that is not completely positive is FAKE news.

Why keep harping on FAKE news? Why continue to try to undermine faith in such news organizations as the New York Times, Washington Post, Politico, The LA Times and others? News organizations that once in awhile make mistakes  but have spent years cultivating processes that lead to accurate reporting. News organizations that vet sources and double check  facts before putting ink to paper.

Mr. Trump is a stupid man. Yes. He is. He knows virtually nothing except how to put together real estate deals. How to manipulate  (or rather HIRE accountants to  manipulate) the tax code. He is singularly UNCURIOUS about the world. He has demonstrated no understanding of basic science, literature, history, sociology or any other field. Since he was given $13,000,000 by his father as a young man his existence has been one of self-promotion. Period.

But, Mr Trump is also a clever man. A con man. A manipulator of his supporters. A cult figure. He sees himself as larger than life. And so do the Trumpsters and Trumpettes who follow him. He knows how to use the media for free publicity, as he showed us in his  campaign for president. He hates any media that does not adore him. And he encourages his followers to do  the same.

But he WON the election in the electoral college. He is the president of the United States. So, why continue to attack the press? He won. He beat them, at least in his way of thinking.

As I said, I am not a conspiracy nut. But there is something deeper going on here.

The “leaks”, which every president hates, have gotten to Trump. He even had Sean Spicer take away the phones of his (Spicer’s) staff and had them checked for possible news leaks. Trump calls the leaks FAKE news, yet he seems to be giving credence to the validity of the information. Otherwise, why try to find the source?  If these negative reports are really “made up”, as he says, then why suspect his own inner circle?

I suspect something deeper is going on.  There are skeletons, probably Russian ones, in Mr Trump’s closet. There are connections, financial  and political, with Russian oligarchs. Perhaps with Putin himself. Connections that may be illegal or at least very damaging .

By trying to destroy the public confidence in the press, Mr Trump is staging a Pearl Harbor attack. Destroy the credibility of the press. then, when the stories come out about his corruption people may say it is simply the press out to “get him”. Mr Trump likes to control the agenda and he seeks to marginalize legitimate investigative journalism by preemptive strike. The press LIES. All the time. Don’t believe them.

Something is deeper here. Not just the rantings of our first  (and god help us, our LAST) twitter president. He is the master of distraction. He has called the New York  Times and Washington Post losers and his enemy.They did not  crumble.  When distraction  does not work he goes for destruction. Exactly the same way he did business in his real estate shenanigans.

There is something deeper here. And the press will discover it. Sooner or later. After all, Pearl Harbor was not a total defeat, it was a setback. Eventually the US won the war. The free press will not  be governed or destroyed by Mr Trump, no matter how hard he tries. But he is trying to set the stage for the inevitable investigations into his financial and political  chicanery. He hope to destroy the confidence of the citizenry in the free press. In the end, they will find him out. And publish.

The is something deeper here. Wait for it.  It will happen.

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The Pursuit of Happiness

Happy Fourth of July.

We all know the words….”life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. From the Declaration of Independence. 240 years ago.

According to Tom Jefferson these are three of the inalienable rights all human beings possess. (He made a few exceptions in regards to “human beings” which we need not go into at time). In the Lincoln-Douglas debates Old Abe often referred to this phrase and included ALL men, even 0nes not recognized by Tom. A different time.

And anyone who listens to politicians today, especially those on the right side of the political spectrum, certainly recognize the call for “liberty”. Freedom ! Freedom ! Freedom from tyranny. Freedom from Obamacare. Freedom from big government. Ad nauseum.

So, we agree that all men should have life and liberty. Those rights are explicitly mentioned in the Declaration of Independence.

But that third one? The pursuit of happiness? Seems like our modern right wing scholar/politicians are ignoring that third  “inalienable right”. Nothing new there. After all, they ignore half of the 2nd Amendment…the part about “a well-regulated militia”.

The idea that people should be able to be “happy” seems foreign to them. People should be free. People should be rich. People should be able to raise their kids as they see fit. People should not have to pay taxes. People should fight terrorism. But happy?

Happiness is just not part of the right wing equation when it comes to rights. Jefferson and the other men who voted to leave the British empire did so , primarily, because they just weren’t happy. And, gol darn it, they thought every man had the right to pursue happiness. That may have been a more radical idea than the right to life or liberty, which most people readily accepted. Happiness was one of the big three. Important enough to mention in the seminal document in US history.

Watching the “Make Him Fail” haters and the “Make America White…er..Great” chanters you would think that happiness is the last thing on their minds. I would guess that if all the terrible “liberals” like myself disappeared tomorrow it would not make a bit of difference. If all the soft, commie-loving “libtards” suddenly became invisible, it would not change a thing.

These sour politicians with their sour view of life would find something else to be angry about. The very idea of people pursuing happiness seems to bother them. They want laws about everything , from conception to birth to the grave. While they claim to want freedom, they really want to make sure others do not pursue too much happiness. Wipe that smile off your face and salute the flag.

They want to punish women who have sex. They want to punish people who smoke dope. They want to punish hardworking (illegal) Mexicans who are trying to make a living. They want to punish gays for..well.. being gay. Happiness is not in their Declaration of Independence.

I wonder what Jefferson would make of these folks. After all, he did write that we have inalienable rights, and AMONG THEM are the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. So, he did acknowledge that those three were not the ONLY rights. He understood that we have many rights, some unwritten.

I suppose if he lived today he might consider the feelings  of the right wing politicians and add a fourth right. The right to be miserable. And I accept that people  have a right to be miserable. They have to right to emphasize the negative. To be nasty and insulting.

I just wish they would not exercise that right  on the rest of us.

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Hiding Under the Bed

I have been reading a lot of history lately. The biography of John Adams. The biography of Alexander Hamilton. The story of the b-17 bombing of the Nazis during WW2.

Americans of the distant and recent past put their lives on the line. Whether they were right or wrong can be debated. Was Vietnam worth it? Was Afghanistan necessary? Was Iraq a proper response to 9/11?

Whatever your political philosophy it seems as though Americans have always stood up and faced whatever “evil” they needed to face. Even if some of that “evil” may be imaginary.

Until recently.

Over the last few years we have seen a new American emerge. This is the American of the political right wing. Just as American as you or I.  But Americans who have redefined what it means to be a “patriot” or a “citizen”

These Americans, unlike their forefathers, live in a state of constant fear. They are constantly horrified. Perpetually frightened.

They reject  the liberal FDR who, when faced with the most devastating economic disaster the US had ever known, responded by telling Americans, in his first inaugural address. “The only thing we have to fear is  fear itself”. A statement FDR repeated in 1941 in response to the Nazi menace.

They reject the words of another liberal president, JFK, who pronounced, “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate”.

We might even try Ronald Reagan, the patron saint of the GOP, who said, ” Whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears; to your confidence rather than your doubts.”

Well. Not so.

Today, the entire right wing seems to be hiding under their beds, teeth chattering. To hear some of these new Americans talk you would think we are a nation of cry babies and cowards.

What are they afraid of?

Gays.

Transgender people using bathrooms.

Gays getting married.

People who want to take away their guns.

People without guns.

Women who want to control their own bodies.

Blacks.

Blacks voting.

Old people voting.

Anyone voting.

The government.

Muslims.

Foreigners.

Mexicans.

Atheists.

Teachers.

Gays in the military.

Black Lives Matter.

Communists .

Socialists.

Libtards.

Did I mention gays?

Perhaps we need to get these grown men out from under the beds. Be gentle with them. Pat them on their heads. Hold their hands. Tell them it will all be okay. Nobody is going to hurt them. No gays are going to attack them. No one is taking away their guns. Heat up some cocoa and give them a cookie.

The poor darlings are frightened out of their (half)wits.

Perhaps Plato said it best over 2,000 years ago.

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light”.

 

 

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A Pot To Piss In

The United States of America  has, in its long history, faced a number of issues of  massive importance. The debate over the very founding of the nation and the separation of powers.  The issue of slavery, debated by Lincoln and Douglas and finally determined by war. The issue of Jim Crow. The woman’s suffrage movement. Civil Rights.Various conflicts between the federal and state governments.

I remember George Wallace standing on the steps of the University of Alabama, pledging to deny entrance to young Americans of color. The federal government nationalized the Alabama National Guard  troops to move the governor aside. Momentous.

Now, we add to the list, the battle over bathrooms.

The greatest nation on Earth. The nation of Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Lincoln, FDR, JFK and Reagan is facing another Constitutional Crisis.

To pee, or not to pee. That is the question. Shall the people of North Carolina be granted the freedom to pee in the toilet of their choice? Or should the iron hand of government compel them to pee in  approved lavatories? Shall freedom be taken away and driven into the night or shall all men, and women, and transgender men or women, be allowed to urinate and defecate in the restroom most fitting to them? Each to his or her own?

Can the great state of North Carolina demand a birth certificate as proof of one’s right to pee in a specific place?  Should the federal government join in and demand that all men, or women, or transgender men or women, have the right to eliminate in the facility of their choice? That, my friends, is the question facing America.

The intellectual titans of the USA, that beacon of freedom, are now engaged in a debate over the very hearts and souls of toilet bowls. To flush or not to flush? Put the seat down or leave it up?

Can you think of anything more humiliating or embarrassing than a government, whether local, state or federal, becoming enmeshed in where one goes to the bathroom? I can’t.

I know, sometimes major universal truths and rights are determined by small incidents. Does it matter where you sit on  the bus? Does it matter that a school closes it’s doors to you because of your skin color? Does it matter whether or not a baker has to bake a cake? I suppose it does.

At the same time, not everything needs to be a court case. Not every principle needs to be fought over . Sometimes we can let stuff slide. Even stuff that is wrong. Maybe a little perspective?

We are not talking about getting an education. Or a job. Or the right to vote. Or the right to dine in any public establishment. Someone just needs to use the toilet. Does the city of Charlotte and the state of North Carolina and the United States of America really need to get involved? Is this an issue worthy of a Constitutional crisis? Do we need a “law”?

Do we have more pressing problems?

I am reminded of the first time I traveled to Guatemala. Early in the morning  I was watching some man walking past a side street in Antigua. He must have already had his morning coffee. He stopped, glanced around (he didn’t see me), and proceeded to urinate against the side of a building. Zipped up. Walked on.

Problem solved.

 

 

 

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“Doing The Mitch”

The GOP Senate, lead (?) by Mitch McConnell, has announced that they are refusing to consider any Supreme Court nominee put forth by President Obama. Even though the Constitution does require the Senate to “advise and consent” on judicial  appointments, they have decided that they will refuse to abide by this Constitutional requirement. They won’t even listen to Mr. Obama on the matter.

Why? Because President Obama has only one year left in his four year term of office. And in their minds that means that he should relinquish his Constitutional power. NOW! And relax .

At first I thought this was odd. But since the McConnell announcement I have had many experiences which have convinced me that his philosophy may be the norm. In fact, across America millions have now embraced  McConnell . It even has a name. “Doing the Mitch”.

Some examples:

I called 911 because a burglar was breaking into my house. The operator informed me that she was retiring in 7 months. She said she was not going to put my call though because she was “Doing the Mitch”. Why bother? With only a few months left to work?

So, I called back and finally got a 911 operator who took my call. (By now a truck had backed up to my door and a gang of burglars were loading up my furniture).

Finally a police car arrived and Officer Blarney got out. I was relieved. I pointed out the burglars ripping me off. He had a faraway look in his eyes. And rolled them. I begged for help.

“Sorry, sir”,  he said. “I am due to retire in 10 months. In the old days I might have done something,  but no longer.  I am taking my cue from the US Constitution. I am “Doing the Mitch”.  You’ll have to call the department and ask for some rookie to come out.”

Since the truck with all my worldly belongings was starting to pull away I took matters into my own hands. I dragged one of the burglars from the truck, but was then pummeled into a stupor by the other two. As I lie on the cold hard ground I managed to find my phone and speed dialed the local hospital (don’t ask why the local hospital is on speed dial). Thank god a young voice answered.

The ambulance arrived in record time, about 30 minutes later. To my horror the EMT had graying hair and a lot of wrinkles.As he looked at me lying on the ground I could feel his irritation.

“Look”, he explained. “I would like to help you, but the fact is that I am retiring in 9 months. I really don’t see the point in working any longer. The end of my term is almost up. It doesn’t seem fair to me to force me to do my job. I am “Doing the Mitch”.

Well, I finally crawled into the hospital and was given medical assistance. Sort of . Unfortunately for me I needed a couple bones reset. The good news was that the MD who saw me was new on the job. Great. The bad news was that the anesthesiologist was near retirement. “Doing the Mitch”. Ouch. That hurt.

So, there we have it. A nation of Constitutional scholars dedicated to “Doing the Mitch”. As I was recuperating in the hospital bed a nice old lady came in with a cake that someone had sent to me as a gift. At first I was a bit worried. So I asked her, “Are you near retirement?”.

“No”, she responded sweetly. “I have a year and three months left delivering cakes for the Kim Davis Kentucky Bakery”.

“Great, I’ll take the that cake” I blurted.

“Not so fast, dearie”, she glared. “Are you gay?”

 

 

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Speaking Ill of the Dead

De mortuis nil nisi bonum.

Evidently the ancient Romans did not know Antonin Scalia.

I have no problem writing ill of Scalia. He’s dead. He won’t read this. And if he did I could care less.

Scalia was not, as his supporters like to claim, the voice of “conservatism” on the court. More likely, he qualifies as the voice of the “reactionaries”. Those who want to return to an imaginary past. He was not, as his supporters claim, a “strict constructionist” devoted to the Constitution. He was, in essence, a “reactionary” devoted to the Articles of Confederation.

You may recall that the Articles of Confederation were the first plan of government after the revolution. It gave massive power to individual states and little power to the central government. It guaranteed no rights nationwide. It was an abysmal failure. It was because the “states rights” concept  failed so miserably that the Constitution was formed.

Scalia was more devoted to the Articles than to the Constitution.  Some examples.

In 2000, in Bush v Gore. Scalia sided with the 5-4 majority is overturning the Florida Supreme Court.That  Florida court had ruled that it was necessary to recount the Florida voted because under Florida Constitution and law a vote so close had to be recounted. The Florida Supreme Court wanted to get it right.

Scalia, siding with the majority, supported the very odd decision that counting all the votes fairly would impact negatively on the Bush campaign. The vote count was stopped. The right of the state of Florida to follow its own election laws was overturned by the SCOTUS.  Justice Scalia had a son who was in the lawfirm directly involved in the Bush appeal to the SCOTUS, which should have been a reason for his recusal.

Scalia opposed the right of citizens to health care under the ACA. He used a rather foolish broccoli analogy to suggest that the federal government had no right to implement any law requiring people to..well..do anything.  (Actually, Scalia was the prime target of a 2012 blog post on this matter….    https://josephurban.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/scalia-and-the-broccoli-conundrum/)

Scalia opposed the rights of gays to marry. He took the position that only the individual states can decide on whether or not an adult can marry. State’s rights, ignoring the amendments guaranteeing equal protection under the laws.

Perhaps the strangest case ever for someone who claimed to be a “strict constructionist”  was the Citizens United fiasco. Overturning federal law to regulate money in politics. The decision basically created a new class of citizens, called “corporations”. According to Scalia, corporations had first amendment rights to spend money on candidates. No where in the Constitution is there any indication that the founding fathers sought to make corporations “persons” in the same sense as you and I are persons. this was a complete contortion of the reason for the Bill of Rights in the first place. To protect INDIVIDUALS from governmental power. Another example of Scalia claiming to be a “strict constructionist” and then ignoring the Constitution.

And, adding to this fantasy. A corporation called Hobby Lobby was granted “religious” reasons for not providing adequate health care to its employees. A total perversion of the meaning of the First Amendment. And Scalia was there. Leading the charge.

Scalia consistently refused to support individual rights. He opposed a woman’s right to abortion He supported overturning the Voting Rights Act. He supported the idea that individual states could deny classes of citizens certain rights. He was the most reactionary justice since WW2, perhaps since the Civil War. There is no doubt that he would have been very comfortable voting with the majority in the Dred Scott case. After all, slavery was a “state’s rights” issue.

So. I speak ill of the dead. But, in fairness to me, I spoke ill of him when he was alive. His death does not make his decisions any more palatable. The fact that he has passed from political power can only be seen as a positive step for individual rights. His loss is not one to mourn.

 

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Boozing with the Prez

Somewhere around the turn of the century (the latest turn) pollsters and “news” reporters started asking people which presidential candidate they would “prefer to have a beer with”.

I confess that I come from a generation in which the drinking qualification for the highest office in the land was not considered a factor. I thought maybe life experience should matter. Empathy. How about intellect or intelligence? Maybe previous service in the military or as a community organizer? Someone who had “gravitas”.  But that seems to have changed.

What would the “Founding Fathers ” say about this? What did they think  were the necessary qualifications for a chief executive? The Constitution is clear. A certain age, a citizen, not much else. But, as with so many things in life, I was mistaken. It seems the Founding Fathers had more to say on the issue.

There is the old  Tavern in NY city where the patriots used to meet. Recently, one of the Guatemalan illegal immigrants sweeping up at night found weathered, dogeared piece of paper stuck to the bottom of a bar stool with chewing tobacco. It has been authenticated by top Fox Entertainment experts as the real thing.  It dates from the days of the Founding Fathers.

Evidently this old document was SUPPOSED to be part of the original Constitution. Sadly it was lost or misplaced, perhaps during one of the many drinking parties and barroom brawls of the old Whigs. It clarified exactly what the qualifications should be for the President of the United States. Take a gander.

This is how Article 2, Clause 5 looks today:

“No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

However, the following “lost clauses” were supposed to be added:

“No person shall be elected to the Office of the President who has not the ability to consume one half a hogshead of hard cider within the time of 3 hours and who, within such time, shall not be required to visit the latrine more than thrice. In addition;

“Such person shall have be of high moral  character and as such shall not have on his or her plantation more than 5 slave children who bear a remarkable resemblance to such a person, nor shall such a person whip his slaves more than twice in any fortnight. In addition;

“Such person shall have the ability to load and fire a muzzle loading weapon at least thrice within a time frame of 5 minutes  and shall be able, at a range of 50 paces or more ,  to use such weaponry to hit the broad side of a barn. In addition;

“Such person shall have had no physical contact with or been alone with any livestock , including but not limited to hogs, sheep, poultry of all kinds and horses, unless such a person find himself alone and at least 6 miles from the nearest brothel. In addition,  finally;

“No person shall be qualified for the high office of President until such person shall be declared having the mental age greater than that of  the Hamadryas Baboon  and be so certified by 2 astrologers and one bloodletting physician.”

I think we need to go back to the original intent of the Founding Fathers and eliminate a number …well,  perhaps ALL, the current crop of candidates for the most important job on Earth.

(Source of the story about the lost document: I overheard  a guy say his cousin talked to a guy who was watching TV and thought someone mentioned something about it. Good enough for me).

 

 

 

 

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Planned Parenthood Shooting Responses

News Item: 3 are dead in Planned Parenthood shooting in Colorado.

At this point I do not know HOW the GOP candidates will respond to this latest act of violence. Imagine if these were the responses of the GOP candidates for president.

Trump: We must go after these domestic terrorists with everything we have. I will not tolerate it. A Trump president would go in with guns blazing.  Take them out. Let  these old white guys know that as Americans we do not tolerate terrorism. I would  register all adult white Christians and keep very close tabs on them.

Carson: I am saddened by the loss of life. We should never allow violence to rule our lives. I reject violence in all its forms. Just as we welcome newborns into the world, so should we welcome refugees to our shore. All life is sacred.

Huckabee: God bless the police officer and civilians who were killed by this outrageous act. True Christians do not commit murder. This man was not a true Christian.  True Christians believe in love and brotherhood. Let us all condemn this violence against these women who are simply seeking health care. And condemn the use of violence as Jesus would.

Gowdy: We will investigate this. Congress needs to investigate where these domestic killers are getting their weapons . Then we need to stop the easy access to these weapons. I pledge to work across the aisle with the Democrats to  finally put an end to these senseless killings by introducing effective gun control.

Rubio: I condemn these murders. We must be a nation of laws,  not a nation of violence. We need to stop pandering to the worst in people and to hate. Let us work together to make sure all women have access to good health care so so day we will not need Planned Parenthood.  Until then, we must protect women who are exercising their Constitutional rights.

Christie: Perhaps we need to stop yelling at each other and discuss issues  like adults. Let us have an honest conversation and not try to bully each other over these issues. Let’s stop blaming Obama for every problem we have in this country. Most of all, let’s  respect each other as equals and fight domestic terrorism together. Let’s stop the blustering and try to solve problems.

Bush: Every American has the right to health care. The US Constitution must be respected. Let us join in a national day of mourning and support for a woman’s right to choose. Let us condemn violence against women and show our support for the Constitution. When you take the law into your own hands you destroy the idea of law itself.

Wouldn’t those responses be something?

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Lincoln-Douglas Debates Redux

I just finished reading the original Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858. Both were running for the Illinois Senate seat. Douglas was the incumbent.  The debates half the time centered on the key issues of the day and half the time were used to attack the opponent as corrupt or dishonest.

Still, they discussed their different philosophies about slavery, the Dred Scott decision, the Missouri Compromise, the Wilmot Proviso, the Mexican War, the Fugitive Slave Act and the Nebraska question. As well as the original intention of the “founding fathers” regarding the spread of slavery. Heady issues of the times.

What was most fascinating, though, was the format. No “moderators”. No “gotcha” questions”. Just a timekeeper. Over the course of the seven debates the format was the same. One candidate was given a full hour to speak. His opponent was given one and a half hours for rebuttal. Then the first candidate was given half an hour to respond. Three hours total. Over the course of the debates Lincoln and Douglas each had ten and a half  hours to explain their philosophies and positions on the great issues of the day.

I wonder what a Lincoln-Douglas debate, using today’s typical format and analysis, would look like. Here goes.

Moderator: Welcome to the first and only debate between “Honest Abe” Lincoln and the “Judge”, Stephen A Douglas. This debate is sponsored by the FauxNews/ABC/CBS/MSNBC/ESPN/Hollywood/Shopping Channel consortium.  The format is as follows. Each candidate will get 30 seconds to answer a question, then his opponent will get a 30 second rebuttal. We hope to delve into the important Constitutional, social, economic, social and political issues of the day.

Moderator: First question to “Honest Abe”. Mr Lincoln, isn’t it true that you slept with a man for many years . Doesn’t this imply that you support gay marriage.

Lincoln: Well, while it may be true that I did sleep in the same bed as a fellow for a while, let me put that in context. At the time many young men without means rented cheap rooms at boardinghouses and shared accommodations as a matter of economic necessity.  This in no way….(BUZZER)

Moderator: Your time is up. Now, to the “Judge”. Senator Douglas. What do you think of Mr Lincoln’s support for homosexuality and gay marriage.

Douglas: First, let me thank the press and the fine audience here. I see many supporters and some detractors. I hope you will give both Mr Lincoln and I the courtesy of listening carefully to our arguments and positions. Now, regarding Mr Lincoln and…(BUZZER).

Moderator: Your time is up. Next question for the “Judge”. Senator Douglas, Kim Kardashian has recently called both you and Mr Lincoln racists. What is your response?

Douglas: Well, I don’t know who this particular person is (LOUD GASPS from the audience) but I have always said that the United States was formed by white men and for white men. If that makes me a racist, so be it. Any white man today would hold the same opinion.Furthermore…(BUZZER)

Moderator: Abe. Your response?

Lincoln: I am afraid that you have me at a disadvantage, sir. Like my friend the Judge, I have no idea what news organization this Mr Kardashian works for (more LOUD GASPS from the audience, and chuckles of disbelief from the moderator). I have always held that the Negro is a human being, but is , of course, inferior to the white man in every way. However, let me add…(BUZZER).

Moderator: Well, there you have it, the only debate between Lincoln and Douglas . Fascinating stuff. Now , to our analysts, Huck and Sarah. Tell us who won?

Sarah: You betcha I will. First, old Abe. A catastrophe. I don’t know who did his makeup but those ugly lines and big nose? Give me a break. His suit was way too small. His looks like a big ape . Gangly and awkward. Definitely not going anywhere in politics.  Judge Douglas. Well. Here cums da judge. Here comes da judge. Hahahaha. Dressed to a “T”. Great suit. Great tie. I would only suggest he wear lifts to make himself a little taller. A clear win for Senator Douglas in my book.

Moderator: And Huck, what is your analysis? Who won?

Huck: Well, I think the American people were the big losers today. Neither of these candidates is fit for high office. Lincoln sidestepped the gay rights issue. What is he hiding? And Douglas never did explain his ideas about white supremacy. What does he really believe? But the clincher was this. Neither candidate seemed to know who Kim Kardashian is? Really? You expect us to believe that? The most important political analyst-dancer-TV personality of modern times and neither of these candidates had a clue? Both are UNFIT for public office. Case closed.

Moderator: So you have it. An in depth look at the issues and candidates. Stick around for the next two hours as we air our special ” When  Sasquatch Goes to the Mall”. And don’t forget to vote. It is your duty. I think voting this year is sometime in November…or is it October..? Google it.

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Filed under candidate, Conservatives, Constitution, debates, Dred Scott, entertainment, liberals, news, slavery

Contestant #6: The Doctor is In…Sane

The next in a series of biased reports about the men and women who want to be President of the United States.

Ben Carson. A great surgeon. Proof that a person can excel in one area and be a total incompetent in other areas.

A look at Mr Carson’s website: https://www.bencarson.com/issues/

Ben has no experience in governing. Which is fine. But he has no record of voting on issues.  So his website is especially important. It allows us to see the depth of his understanding of political issues and the practical solutions he puts forth.

His site lists 10 issues. They are: A Balanced Budget Amendment; Education; Keep Gitmo Open; Keep Faith in Our Society; Health Care; Protect Innocent Life; Russia;2nd Amendment; Israel; and, the Tax Code.

Ben wants an amendment to the Constitution to balance the budget. He makes no recommendations on what he would cut to do so. Voodoo.

Education. Schools are failing. He wants to improve schools by having more “local control” and less big government interference. He would stop common core. Evidently Ben does not know that our educational system is the ONLY area in our lives where “local control” dominates and has done so since book learnin began. . Maybe that is why schools are failing in some communities? He also evidently does not know that common core is not mandated .

Ben wants to keep prisoners at Gitmo without trial. Evidently he does not believe that evidence should be required to detain folks.  (To his credit he does not claim to support the Constitution).

He wants religions to be able to practice their faith. I am not sure who opposes this.

He wants to end the ACA and fund health care through individual “Health Savings Accounts” which will drive down health care costs. Does not explain how this keeps costs down. I guess if you tell your doctor that you are paying with a HSA he will cut you a deal? And on a minimum wage salary it should be easy to sock away a lot of loot into your family’s HSA.  Yep. That will work.

He wants to protect innocent life. Don’t we all?

He thinks Russia must be dealt with. And he supports Israel. So far, so good.

He thinks the 2nd Amendment should stay on the books. Hard to argue that.

And he wants to change the tax code and eliminate the IRS. Not sure how taxes get collected?

All in all, his “Issues” amount to vague generalities, code words and general ideas. To put it bluntly. This guy is full of crap.

One example is from his “Keep the Faith” explanation. He wrongly asserts that the US was based on the Declaration of Independence as the “bedrock” document. It wasn’t . The Declaration lead to the Articles of Confederation, which was a massive failure. The “bedrock” document of the USA is the Constitution, which fails to mention any religion.

There’s more. And I quote:

“…However, we need to reverse the recent trend of secular progressives using activist, federal judges to drive faith out of our society. Anyone who wishes to practice their faith, for example by praying privately, can and should be able to do so. Equally, the rights of someone to abstain from private prayer should also be jealously protected…”

He cites no case in which judges have DRIVEN OUT faith. (Is he not aware of Hobby Lobby?). And he says people should be able to pray privately. Who , in god’s name, is STOPPING THEM  from praying privately?

I have to stop. The shallowness of his thinking, the lack of understanding of US history, the use of code words. I can’t decide if he is the most devious, dishonest candidate to date or if he is actually dumber than Sarah Palin . (Now that WOULD be an accomplishment.)

Last note: He forgot to mention Prison Reform on his website. After all, “Dr” Ben is the guy who insisted that prisons create gays.

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Filed under ACA, Ben Carson, Budget, Conservatives, Constitution, economics, Elections, gays, GOP, prayer, Republicans

Gays: Religious Freedom To Marry?

The Supreme Court will decide later this year whether or not the government of an individual state can prevent homosexuals from marrying. No matter where you stand on the issue, recent decisions  would seem to render any negative decision by the SCOTUS as a moot point.

If the SCOTUS decides that states can interfere with the rights of adults to marry whom they choose they will be facing a problem that they, themselves, have created.

Recent decisions, (Hobby Lobby,  for example) have made it clear that religious beliefs take precedence over the law. Irregardless of how absolutely insane that concept is, the SCOTUS has judged it so. If your religious beliefs are opposed to paying full medical benefits  to your employees, so be it. Don’t pay them. This Pandora’s Box will be used over and over again to avoid various laws.

Which brings us to homosexual marriage.

Currently there are a number of religious groups which do marry homosexuals. And more bless homosexual unions.  For example, the United Church of Christ performs and recognizes gay marriage. Some Quaker meeting houses do, some don’t. The Unitarian Universalist Church performs and recognizes gay marriage. Rabbis of Reformed Judaism perform and recognize gay marriage, as do some conservative Jewish synagogues.

This raises the question. Can the SCOTUS on one hand claim that a private business like Hobby Lobby has religious rights, while denying religious rights to legitimate religious organizations? Can the SCOTUS , on one hand claim that private businesses and individuals can evade the law while on the other refusing to allow churches to practice freely based on religious beliefs?

I would think that the next step, if the SCOTUS decides to deny individuals the right to marry, would be for those individuals and their churches to return to the courts under the auspices of religious freedom. This would be especially true in many of the states that have passed “Religious Freedom” laws directed specifically at undermining gay rights. Those laws may, in fact, be used to assure the religious rights of gay Americans.

Can those decisions and laws now be used as a doubled edged sword to guarantee those same individuals the right to be married in their churches and synagogues. If there is any logic to SCOTUS decisions they will decide that preventing people from marrying is a violation of the First Amendment and freedom of religion. A right they CLAIM to hold so dear.

We shall see.

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Filed under Christianity, Churches, Conservatives, Constitution, gay marriage, gay rights, Hobby Lobby, homosexual, SCOTUS, Supreme Court