Uncommon Sense

August 9, 2022

GOP Leadership Responds to FBI Raid on Mar-a-Lago

Filed under: The Law — Steve Ruis @ 9:25 am
Tags: , , , ,

As the FBI served a warrant sought by the Department of Justice, approved by the FBI Director (a Trump appointee), and authorized by a federal judge, to search the residence of Donald Trump in Florida, the GOP Leadership lined up to respond as expected.

One by one the Republican leaders, reinforced the fact that the GOP was the party of law and order, and adding that “if the ex-president had nothing to hide, he had nothing to fear from such a legal search of his home.”

What? They didn’t say that? Oh . . . never mind.

July 24, 2022

Why We Are All in Danger from This SCOTUS

A precept I live by is “assume incompetence nine times before malice.” It applies to most human interactions, but what happens when incompetence is combined with malice? What you get is the current iteration of the current Supreme Court.

For example, in Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion supporting the Court’s decision to reverse Roe v Wade, he claims that the court restores the U.S. to “an unbroken tradition of prohibiting abortion on pain of criminal punishment [that] persisted from the earliest days of the common law until 1973,” when Roe legalized abortion nationwide. This is daft. Connecticut was the first state to ban abortion (only after quickening), in 1821, which is roughly two centuries after the earliest days of American common law. So what were people doing for those centuries in which abortion had not been criminalized? (You don’t need to guess, it is recorded history.) It was not until the 1880s that every U.S. state had some laws restricting abortion, and not until the 1910s that it was criminalized in every state (in various forms).

How does the actual history equate to “an unbroken tradition of prohibiting abortion on pain of criminal punishment [that] persisted from the earliest days of the common law until 1973.” (Common law existed from roughly the 1620’s onward.)

Was Alito ignorant? Were his clerks incapable of doing valid research? Was Alito trusting the propaganda of “his side” of the issue? Whatever the truth of the matter is, in making one the most momentous decisions in the history of the court, the conservative justices could come not up with a halfway decent cover story. They resorted to either propagating or repeating lies. This is a pathetic performance.

The conservative justices of this Court have an agenda, which equates to a return to the Articles of Confederation our Constitution replaced in 1789. And they don’t have the smarts to “discover” how wrong they are.

We all should be afraid, be very afraid. No one is safe when this SCOTUS is in session.

July 14, 2022

SCOTUS Fails Own Test

In the case of Lemon v. Kurtzman in 1972 SCOTUS established the so-called Lemon Test, to wit:

  1. The government’s action must have a secular legislative purpose
  2. The government’s action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion
  3. The government’s action must not result in an “excessive government entanglement” with religion.

Basically the test tells us that a government action violates the Establishment Clause of the United States’ constitution if it lacks a secular purpose, has its primary effect as promoting or inhibiting religion, or fosters an excessive entanglement of government with religion.

The background of this “test” is important, so this is Wikipedia’s take on the cases in question:

Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971), was a case argued before the Supreme Court of the United States. The court ruled in an 8–0 decision that Pennsylvania‘s Nonpublic Elementary and Secondary Education Act (represented through David Kurtzman) from 1968 was unconstitutional and in an 8–1 decision that Rhode Island‘s 1969 Salary Supplement Act was unconstitutional, violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The act allowed the Superintendent of Public Schools to reimburse private schools (mostly Catholic) for the salaries of teachers who taught in these private elementary schools from public textbooks and with public instructional materials. Lemon was a major precedent in federal and local courts until it was effectively overturned by Kennedy v. Bremerton School District in 2022.

Note that the second case ruled that Rhode Island‘s 1969 Salary Supplement Act was unconstitutional, violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The act allowed the Superintendent of Public Schools to reimburse private schools (mostly Catholic) for the salaries of teachers who taught in these private elementary schools from public textbooks and with public instructional materials.

SCOTUS’s recent decision in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, finds the complete opposite, that they must pay religious schools for those services!

So, one SCOTUS voted 8-1 that such was unconstitutional and the most recent voted 6-3 that it was. In case of a tie, shouldn’t the court with the more vehement vote win?

So, in then Kennedy v. Bremerton School District case, set in Maine, it seems that the State of Maine passed the Lemon test and SCOTUS failed, and failed big time.

July 13, 2022

Big Lies are Woven into the American Story

Mafia Don Trump’s Big Lie, that the 2020 election was “stolen” through voter fraud, is still an infant. It won’t become a toddler until this Fall. Many people are addressing Trump’s Big Lie as if it were unprecedented in U.S. history. It is not. In fact, Big Lies are woven into the tapestry of this country.

By definition, a big lie has to be large in scope as well as being patently untrue, just repeated over and over until it can masquerade as a truth.

In my life I have seen quite a few. Remember the Gulf of Tonkin incident? It led the U.S. to fully engage in the War in Viet Nam. Of course, we found out later it was a lie. Remember Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction? These imaginary weapons were used as a justification to wage yet another war.

If you spend a little time reflecting you will discover more than a few: Elizabeth Holmes, the creator of the bio-tech company Theranos, promised to revolutionize blood testing but was convicted of fraud when it was found out that she had just lied her way to prominence and billions of dollars of venture capital, etc.

But in this country’s history, the biggest Big Lie dates back a ways. No, not to Revolutionary times, although there were lies enough to go around, I am talking about just after the Civil War, over 150 years ago. You remember the Civil War, when a handful of Southern states treasonously declared war on the rest of the states, you know the states called the United States. They ended up losing that disastrous war, but to this day there are still claims that they didn’t lose and that they are still fighting. There are claims that the Civil War was about state’s rights (even though the state’s statements of succession all mentioned their desire for slavery to continue as it had as the primary cause).

Just after the war ended, a disgruntled Southerner assassinated President Abraham Lincoln, but accounts of the story taught in our schools never mention the role the Southern state’s treason. The U.S. President, ranked by many as our greatest, was assassinated by a Southern traitor and that never gets mentioned! Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and Gen. Robert E. Lee were traitors under the U.S. Constitution’s definition of treason, according to William A. Blair, yet neither man – nor any other Confederate – was ever tried for the crime. So many families lost people during the war that there was little energy for vengeance and the North opted for reconciliation. We were paid back by the Biggest Big Lie of American History, that of the “Lost Cause,” the fight for the rights of states to not be dominated by the federal government.

Just a century ago, southerners began erecting large numbers of statutes honoring “heroes” of the Civil War, no, not Northern soldiers but Southern traitors. Imagine the people of Boston raising a statue of Benedict Arnold, shortly after the Revolutionary War. There have been no statues raised of Benedict Arnold but we have more than 700 monuments to Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis and other Confederate soldiers and politicians who betrayed our country (as of 2020). And this does not count the public buildings, schools, etc. that bear the names of the traitors.

The ironic thing is if you ask school kids who have studied American history to name a traitor to the U.S., they will all pipe up “Benedict Arnold,” whose name is synonymous with treason, but none will mention any of the Southern state’s traitors who did far more damage and cost far more lives. Gee, I wonder why that is? (Look at how textbooks are sold and to get maximum sales, books have to be “acceptable” to a large number of states, especially the biggest ones: California, Texas, etc. Texas, notably, has tried to get slavery in the U.S. downplay as “not being that bad,” “Slaves were treated like family,” etc.)

The recent battle over displaying the Confederate battle flag on public buildings in the South was part of the ongoing Big Lie. They claimed the Southern Civil War battle flag, called the “Rebel Flag” in the vernacular, as merely a token of Southern culture. It didn’t have any meaning otherwise. (They apparently didn’t ask many Black people about that.) My suggestion was to let them keep their flag but it had to be overprinted with a giant “L” because they were and are losers. They lost. So, the flag should stand for the simple lesson that traitors end up losing. Now there is a lesson from American History . . . and a part of Southern culture.

More and more southerners are giving up the Lost Cause Big Lie but it is over 150 years old and not dead yet. Let us hope that Trump’s Big Lie can be laid to rest much more quickly.

Maine Ain’t Stupid

The State of Maine was prepared for the recent SCOTUS decision that said if Maine provides funding to secular private schools for educating out-of-district Maine students, they must also provide the same funding for religious schools providing such schooling.

While this violates the separation of church and state principle, woven into the Federal Constitution, the State of Maine didn’t sit there wringing its hands over a possible outcome providing for such funding. It acted. It passed a law that said if you receive funding from the state to educate Maine kids, you have to obey all of the laws that govern public school actions. You know, all of those anti-discrimination, anti-fraud, state oversight laws?

Problem solved.

As I believe I have mentioned, the SCOTUS Scumbags didn’t use the myriad examples of European countries that pay religious schools to educate their citizens . . . because they regulate the hell out of the schools that accept such funding. And the SCOTUS Scumbags don’t like them some regulationing. Didn’t even want the idea to come up. But the State of Main outfoxed them by pulling the regulation trigger before any SCOTUS action took place, and, well, I don’t expect any of the religious schools to apply for that state funding.

Brilliant, State of Maine, Brilliant!

July 10, 2022

Compare and Contrast, My Friends

Filed under: Culture,Morality,Politics,The Law — Steve Ruis @ 9:51 am
Tags: , , , ,

I woke up recently to read this on The Guardian: “Shinzo Abe, Japan’s former prime minister, dies after being shot.” The assassin was immediately apprehended and appears to be deluded.

So, this is a very rare event in Japan, unlike here in the U.S. and a comparison is of some value. For one, the “gunman” had to build his own gun. In the U.S., military style, semi-automatic weapons are available off of the shelf, as is armor penetrating ammunition.

In Japan, the target was a high ranking politician. In the U.S. the targets are school children and ordinary people attending parties and parades.

Japan seems to have got it right. If you want to shoot somebody, you need more than a credit card. You need the skill to build the weapon. And, by shooting politicians there is, at least, some hope for change for the better. At the very least, we are all better off when the politicians fear the people.

There is a story, I don’t know if it is accurate, when Richard Nixon was President. He was meeting with Henry Kissinger when there was a particularly raucous anti-Vietnam War protest going on outside the White House. The President, on hands and knees peeked out the windows and told Kissinger that the people hated “them.” I like that attitude.

Shooting people seems the wrong thing to do but, in this country, conservative courts, over and over, support easy access to the wherewithal of doing so. So, if people are going to be shot, let it be politicians. At least they are guilty of something.

And, yes, I am that petty.

July 9, 2022

Conservative Legal Theory (Sic)

I was reading a daily newsletter put out by AboveTheLaw.com. As you might expect, the recent SCOTUS decisions were causing quite a stir.

One comment that drew may attention was this: Conservative jurisprudence — again, as advertised — has four pillars: originalism, textualism, traditionalism, and judicial restraint.

In its most recent decisions, the court checked none of these boxes:
□ originalism
□ textualism
□ traditionalism
□ judicial restraint

In the Roe v Wade gutting, the court claimed that abortion wasn’t mentioned in the Constitution. Of course it wasn’t. But neither was murder. Abortion, at the time of the writing of the Constitution, like murder, was widely practiced. Benjamin Franklin even published procedures on how to perform an abortion. So, not being mentioned in the Constitution is not a deal breaker, nor is it unusual.

Justice Thomas claimed a precedent dated to the 1300’s was too old, but used one dated to the 1200’s for the gun law gutting.

All of this was summed up by the piece’s author this way:

Conservative legal theory is and has always been a public relations campaign designed to dupe ordinary folks into thinking radical judicial activism is ordained by some connection to mythologized and infallible Framers. But at all times the movement’s lodestone remained “whatever aligned with the policy preferences of the contemporary Republican Party.”

July 4, 2022

Hammer, Meet Nail

Conservatives want to implement the most extreme parts of their agenda — things that are harmful or discriminatory to many people — and, at the same time, be respected and admired. Joel Ombrey

Like the Russian army (and so many armies before) expecting to be greeted as liberators, the religious conservatives who backed the recent voiding of the Roe v Wade decision are perplexed that they are getting so much pushback. Who knew that abortion rights were so popular?

Unlike the Russian soldiers now invading Ukraine, religious conservatives are self-selected, so what attracted them to their “movement,” to their war?

Their religions tell them that they are special, especially in that their emotions are superior to other’s reason. They just have to accept Jesus “in their heart” to be saved. No complicated dogma to learn, no catechism, no Bar Mitzvah, just “accept in your heart. . . .” And what the heck does that mean, other than “by all means, don’t use your head!”

So, the operative action is you have to “love” Jesus and nobody can prove you do not. There is no test that can tell whether you do or you don’t. Your word is all that is needed, and Bob’s your uncle, you are “In with the In Crowd.”

So, the religious have been told over and over that they are special, even chosen by their god. (Even being noticed by a god is flattering, but chosen? Oh, my!)

And these religions tap into the deep vein of American anti-intellectualism. You don’t have to grind and sweat mentally to understand those science concepts you don’t come close to understanding; they are wrong in any case.

“Those scientists deliberately exclude God from their deliberations!” This is their interpretation of the behavior of scientists who, going about their daily exertions, find no need to invoke a god. So, finding no cause to invoke god is deliberately excluding God. Believers would find a way to invoke God, they cry! Gosh, all of those scientists who are religious apparently aren’t doing their jobs correctly. Well, a theologian would know, of course.

The transition from their religious bubble in which they are right and all of “others” are wrong, to the public debate sphere and they are shocked, shocked I tell you, that other people do not respect their God-inspired rightness. Those others should be applauding their righteousness.

Poor baby, deluded again.

July 2, 2022

The Two Party Choice—Between Despicable Republicans and Impotent Democrats

I have been thinking about the stolen seat on the SCOTUS recently, During this debacle, the Senate Republicans refused to do their duty, advising and consenting to President Obama’s SCOTUS nominee, Merrick Garland, and the Democrats sat by the side wringing their hands. So, what would I have done?

Here is a description of the role of the Vice-president of the U.S. with regard to the U.S. Senate: the Constitution names the vice president of the United States as the president of the Senate. In addition to serving as presiding officer, the vice president has the sole power to break a tie vote in the Senate and formally presides over the receiving and counting of electoral ballots cast in presidential elections.

Hmm, “in addition to serving as presiding officer.” At the time, the VP of the U.S. was Joe Biden, a long-term Senator who knew the rules of the Senate inside out. I would have sent the VP up to the Senate every day that it was in session to take up his job as “presiding officer.” Sure, that has never been done before, but the Senate has never refused to consider a Supreme Court nomination like that before.

Biden’s job then would be to declare every topic the Senate chose to address as being out of order, until the president’s SCOTUS nominee was addressed. The Senate might have responded by doing absolutely nothing for that year plus and whining about the Democrat’s blocking any action being taken, but the reason for the Democrats “blockade” would have been in the news every single day. Their meme would be “Senators, do your job!” Americans are required to do their jobs to earn their salaries. How far would an average American get by picking and choosing what they will and won’t do out of what they were hired to do? Two weeks notice?

Everyday, day in and day out. “Out of order!” is the mantra of the Presiding Officer of the U.S. Senate. Maybe this would not work, but at least the Democrats would be seen as at least fighting unfair behavior on the part of their opponents.

Consider now that the GOP has stacked the court with incompetents who will vote their way. (I say incompetents because they find it necessary to lie and misrepresent situations, ignoring provided facts, to have their way.) They have just got what they claimed was the goal 50 years ago, the repeal of Roe v. Wade. And the Democrats have responded to questions of what will they do now with “What can we do?” The GOP spent 50 years plotting and working to reverse Roe v. Wade and when they finally do, we find out that the Dems have spent that 50 years doing what? Fund raising on the threat? Wringing their hands? Having only 50 years to prepare has left them flat-footed, unable to respond.

It is clear that we need two new political parties: one not steeped in lies and deceit, the other focused upon being effective for the American people they represent.

I imagine the wealthy people actually in charge of this country are welcoming the distraction from their real interests, their economic instructs. While we are bemoaning a rogue SCOTUS’s actions, the plutocrats are trying mightily to blame the current state of inflation on wages that are too high and employment that is too high. It is based upon neither, but facts are not important now in political battles. They only need to get the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates excessively, which will slow growth (and probably create a recession) but that will slow hiring and reduce wage increases, which makes it okay with the plutocrats.

Do They Really Know What They Are Saying?

There was an article on ArcaMax, Court Restores Morality Rooted in Biblical Truths, by Star Parker (June 29, 2022), that was gloating about the triumph of “biblical truths” in the recent SCOTUS gutting of Roe v. Wade, the Lemon Test, etc. Here is a taste:

What we call morality, the morality rooted in biblical truths that still influence and guide large parts of the American population and that served as a guide to many more in our past, provides the rules and framework that sustain life and living.

Everyone that knows me knows how I celebrate this court decision that overturns that decision in 1973 that opened the door to the destruction of 60 million-plus pregnancies.

That decision introduced a culture of death to our nation.

When I say a culture of death, I don’t only mean the widespread physical destruction of infants in the womb, which is what the decision brought about.

A culture of death means introduction of behaviors that threaten the future of our communities, of our nation.

I believe Ms. Parker is a Christian, a subscriber to a death cult, and she has the temerity to call Roe v. Wade part of a “culture of death.” I guess this is all psychological projection, but still.

My main point is I wonder if Ms. Parker is familiar with the Biblical Truths™ concerning women’s rights, essentially them being somewhere between slim and none. Were she to actually subscribe to Biblical Truths™, she should not have a job, unless it was approved by her husband, or if not married, then her father. It is a Biblical Truth™ that she, being a female, is owned by her male overlord (father or husband) and is to look at him as he looks at Jesus. If Ms. Parker didn’t faithfully bleed (from a ruptured hymen) on her wedding night, she would be stoned to death by her family (even though a sizable percentage of women do not bleed when their hymen is first penetrated). I wonder how she would feel if her female children were sold into slavery by her husband, without consulting her.

According to Biblical Truths™, Ms. Parker could not vote (there is no democracy in the Bible). She could not drive a car (there are no cars in the Bible). She could not speak up in church (from her reserved spot in the back of the bus).

Do these people actually know what they are saying? I doubt it. More likely it is a manifestation of a Religious Stockholm Syndrome.

I also question her faith in her editors which allowed the word “Morality” to be misspelled in her published article (Original Title: Court Restores Moralty Rooted in Biblical Truths). Misplaced faith to the left of me, misplaced faith to the right of me, valiantly I drove into the valley of Christian Nationalism. . . .)

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.