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Lies Liberals Tell, Part 1

Lies Liberals Tell  (Confessions of a Born-Again Liberal)

Copyright 2017,2018,2019 Joseph Urban

Part 1 of a 7 part series.

The elevation of Donald Trump to the position of most powerful human being on the planet Earth should make all of us re-examine our most basic beliefs about mankind. Of course, Donald Trump did not win the majority of votes. (Latest count shows him losing by almost 3,000,000 votes) So his philosophy and beliefs do not reflect the values of most Americans. Nevertheless, he was able to garner enough votes in enough states to win the electoral college majority. So, while he is a “minority” president, the mere fact that he was even close in the popular vote this election gives us pause and causes us to reconsider where we stand as liberals. Furthermore, the fact that he exercises immense power with little or no regard to the desires of the majority must make us more than a little worried.

As a lifelong liberal I have had a number of core beliefs challenged by this development.  Perhaps liberals have been lying to themselves about America and what it stands for. Perhaps we need to dispose of illusions and lies we have been telling ourselves. In this short 7 part series  I will discuss some of the beliefs, which have turned out to be lies, that liberals have held for years. Things we thought were true. We have been dead wrong.

I am not suggesting that we abandon these ideas and beliefs. But we need to accept the reality that significant minorities of our population do not hold the same core beliefs that we do. We can no longer take for granted that most Americans share these core values and beliefs. In order to go forward in a practical way, we need to accept the reality that we have been, in large part, lying to ourselves about a significant number of  citizens of The United States.

Lies are organized into the following categories.

  1. Society
  2. Reason
  3. Mean Well
  4. Fairness
  5. Responsibility
  6. Inevitability of Progress
  7. It Can’t Happen Here

Lie # 1: We are all in this together in society.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Those are the first words of the US Constitution. “We”. Not “I”. We . We will establish a government that supports society. Remember that after the Revolutionary War the 13 colonies formed a union. The Articles of Confederation knit together the colonies in a loose union based on the interests of individual states. The United States , in the sense that we know it today, was not an easy sell. (See the Federalist Papers for a thorough discussion of the issues).

To form a more perfect union. The founding fathers discovered that a loose union would not last. It would either break apart into sectionalism or completely dissolve as each state demanded sovereignty and independence. The result would be a weakened group of states. Easy prey for European nations seeking dominance.  The weakness would be an invitation to chaos and interference by foreign powers.

The solution was to develop a document that guaranteed some unity among the diverse parts of states along the eastern seaboard. The Preamble to the Constitution establishes the philosophical framework for that unity. An attempt to pull together  the north and south, the rural and urban, the large states and small ones, into a cohesive society. Only by uniting the divergent elements into a new society could unity be secured.

So, we have, at the very beginnings of the United States, the fundamental understanding that “society” was the key to success. And how do we attempt to build this new society? By establishing the purposes of government. Clearly, these purposes were to unite , not divide. The divisions were already there. Clear. The need was to superimpose on those divisions a system that would  lead to national unity.

Establishing justice. A liberal idea, that justice is the key to any acceptance of a new system. People should be treated fairly and justly. For society to function people need to accept that they will be treated fairly. To do otherwise leads to dissolution or revolution. After all, the Revolutionary War was fought because a large segment of the population felt that British tax laws were unjust.

Promote the general welfare. The idea that government should be active, not passive, in developing plans and assistance to benefit society. Government has been established to facilitate what is good for people and society in general.  So we see in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution a laundry list of practical steps Congress should take to promote the general welfare. Among them are such things as coining money and regulating trade. Building roads for the public. Establishing post offices.  Doing whatever is needed to promote science and “useful arts” by securing patent rights. To raise money and pay debts as needed for the military and general welfare.

We see an active national government. One that does not sit back. One that actively pursues, through taxation and other legal remedies, the general welfare of society. A government involved in people’s lives in order to help make those lives better and fuller. A government, by its very nature, designed to benefit its citizens individually and collectively .

This basic concept, that the US Constitution is established, in part, to provide for a just and good society, was at the core of the Constitution. It has also been a core belief of liberalism. Because, the fact is, the designers of the Constitution were extremely liberal for their time. While they were still acting in ways that we would consider reactionary today, but that the overall sense of the document is certainly liberal at its core. A new type of government. Designed to assist the people and develop society, as opposed to the old way of thinking that government should serve the elites at the expense of the peasantry.

Don’t all Americans agree with this fundamental truth? This is the first liberal lie we tell ourselves.

American liberals tend to accept the idea that the proper role of government is to assist and support society. That includes society’s weakest members as well as the most fortunate ones.

However, the emergence of the “new right” under Ronald Reagan and continuing through the Bushes and Trump puts that belief to the test.  John F Kennedy, in his inaugural address said: …”Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country…” (society). Ronald Reagan replied in his first inaugural address: “…government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem”.

Reagan and those who  follow his philosophy turn the Preamble to the US Constitution on its head. Government, they believe, is not supposed to “promote the general welfare” Quite the opposite. Government should promote the elites and let society devolve into a dog-eat-dog world. Greed is good. Regulation is evil. Society exists only as a battleground of self-interest and self-promotion, not as a cooperative venture where all of us have a stake and where all people can participate fully. Some must lose big time so others can win big time.

Liberals need to recognize that the seductive “me-first” ideology has taken hold of a very significant portion of people in America. They have been propagandized into accepting the notion, which is at odds with the Preamble, that they should reject idea of the “common good”. That the “common good”  is seen as equivalent to communism or Marxism. This distorted notion of the role of government has taken hold and forms the basis for the “new right”. They incorrectly assume that any “public good” must inevitably lead to some kind of communistic equality. They are blind to the Constitutional mandate to promote the general  welfare.

So, liberals need to recognize that millions of Americans no longer hold to the founding fathers’ core belief. Of course, to liberals the contradiction is glaring.

For example, the states that consistently vote for the “less government”,  new right, largely Republican candidates are the very states that benefit most from the federal treasury. These “welfare states” take much more from the federal government than they send to Washington, DC in taxes. While they condescendingly refer to others as “takers” they themselves have not paid their own way in years, if ever.

Nevertheless, liberals need to deal with the reality. Millions of Americans no longer support a key tenet of the Constitution, that government has a significant role in maintaining a just society and is responsible for promoting a good society.

 

 

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Filed under Conservatives, Constitution, Democrat, GOP, government, logic, Neoconservative, neoconservatives, Politics, Republicans, SCOTUS, Society, Supreme Court, United States

Don’t Blame Trump

Polls show that most Americans blame Trump for the current shutdown. I don’t.

I taught Participation-in-Government classes for high school seniors for about 25 years. So, while I am not an expert I probably know more than most people about  the US Constitution. Which is why I do not blame Trump for the current shutdown.

The president does not make the laws. Maybe a lot of people think the president makes the laws, he doesn’t. He executes the laws passed by Congress. He may decide to prioritize some laws over others, which makes sense and is his right. But he cannot overturn a law or create a law.

That is the job of Congress. The powers of Congress are contained in Article 1 for a reason. The founding fathers put the representatives of the people first. Article 1. Only the Congress can make laws. And all laws requiring appropriation of tax dollars must originate in the House of Representatives. That is the constitution. Clear. Precise. Congress makes the laws.

Now, Mr Trump cannot sign a law unless Congress first passes it. For example, he recently signed a law which will give back pay to the 800,000 federal employees laid off through no fault of their own. Which is curious. That means when this debacle ends, all the workers will get paid. Even though they did no work. Both Congress and the POTUS agree that this is the thing to do.

The House of Representatives have passed a number of bills, 6 I think, to fund all of the government. None of those bills includes funding for a long, 2,000 mile wall. These bills were then sent to the Senate to act on.

So, the ball is in the Senate’s court. Even though the Senate passed the very same bills just last month, the Senate now refuses to even vote on these bills. But wait. Why are they refusing to vote on bills they just passed?

Because of one man. Mitch McConnell. Mitch McConnell is the virtual dictator of the Senate just as Nancy Pelosi is virtual dictator of the House. Whether you like that system or not, that is what it is.

If Mitch McConnell allowed a vote he knows that the bills passed by the House would easily pass. Then those bills would be sent to the president. The president can then decide to sign or veto any or all of them.  But, as of today, Trump is irrelevant.

Obviously the POTUS has some say in what the laws will be. He should. But ultimately it is not Mr Trump’s decision to pass any bill. He cannot sign something that has not been sent to him.

So, don’t blame Trump.

Blame Mitch McConnell. He has decided that he will not even allow a vote to open the government. He has said he will not allow any bill unless Trump gives him permission. Think about that for a moment. The leader of the Senate will only pass bills that the POTUS wants. Period.

That means that the president now controls not only the executive branch, but the legislative branch as well. Exactly the OPPOSITE of what the Constitution demands. A separation of powers.

The proper process is to pass the bills, send them to the POTUS and let the POTUS respond. Mitch McConnell has given all that power , which is supposed to be in the legislative branch, to the executive branch. One wonders why?

So don’t blame Trump for the shutdown. He has nothing on his desk to sign or veto. For some reason Mitch McConnell has decided it is not the job the the legislative branch to legislate.

Don’t blame Trump. Blame Mitch.

 

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Condolences to Ray and Elfreda

The election for GOP candidate for the next senator representing the good people of Alabama is this Tuesday. Mr Trump was in Bama campaigning, kind of, for Luther Strange. His opponent is Judge Roy Moore. Whomever wins this primary election is pretty much assured of beating anyone the Dems put up in the special election to fill Jess Sessions seat. I mean the last time Alabama elected a Democrat as senator (Richard Shelby) he immediately switched parties and became a Republican.

So this election is, in effect, the election for the Senate seat.

A little research shows us that Luther Strange is, well, strange. He supports Donald Trump all the way.  He wants to kill trade deals, cut off funding for family planning at Planned Parenthood and of course, “Drain the Swamp” (but that is a different essay).

Luther, as Alabama attorney general, fought to allow Hobby Lobby to keep women from accessing basic medical care, like family planning services. He also supported Exxon’s refusal to reveal the climate change research it had done. As the replacement Senator for Jeff Sessions he has voted to take away health care for 40,000,000 Americans and to gut Medicaid  (which is the primary health insurance for over 1,000,000 Alabamians, mostly children). And Luther is the SANE candidate!

Judge Roy Moore, former Australian cowboy and kickboxing champion, has his own set of abominations. He was the judge who insisted, contrary to the US Constitution, that the 10 Commandments be placed outside his courtroom. (On a side note, the good judge has a personal set of 10 Commandments he carved himself… maybe he thinks he carved the originals as well). When he lost the court case and was told to remove the 2 ton granite boulders , he refused. He put himself above the law and was removed from the bench. Then Alabamians immediately elected him to the state Supreme Court.

He wants to give public money to Christian schools. ( I guess the Alabama public school systems are glutted with cash). He has condemned homosexuals from the bench. He condemns the idea of universal health care. He condemns trade. He condemns immigration, especially from our “northern border”.  (We don’t need no Canucks!) He condemns…well… just fill in the blank with any concept designed to give folks equal rights or make their lives better. You get the picture.

So, what does this have to do with Ray and Elfreda? I went to college with Ray and Elfreda (not their real names) back in the early 1970s.  (OK, Ray and Elfreda ARE their real names. I mean, who could make up a name like Elfreda?). They both live in Alabama.

Now, you could take any rusted pickup truck with a tail light out, stars and bars decals and gun rack (in other words, ANY vehicle in Alabama) and run over 2,000,000 Alabamians. And you would not hit anyone nicer than Ray or Elfreda. I mean, these folks left the relative sanity of the north and gave their professional lives to educating the kids of the Yellowhammer State. They migrated south of the Mason-Dixon Line to help kids in a state whose leaders couldn’t choose between 2 official fish,  so named them both: the tarpon and large mouth bass.

So I send Ray and Elfreda my condolences. Luther Strange or Judge Roy Moore is going to be “representing ” them for the next 6 years. A choice between an idiot and a bigger idiot. Heads I lose, tails I lose.  Perhaps there will be a tie and BOTH candidates can go to Washington.

“Introducing the distinguished senators fro the great state of Alabama: Moore Strange.”

Ray and Elfreda, I feel your pain.

(Actually I DO feel your pain. My “representative in Congress is an avid Trump supporter and all around con artist named Tom Reed, NY -29.)

 

http://www.lutherstrange.com/on_the_issues

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luther_Strange

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Moore

https://www.roymoore.org/Positions/

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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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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