The Difference Between Writing and Legislating Is …

2014 05 23 18 15 05

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All rights reserved.

The difference between writing and legislating is, to put it in Okie parlance, writing don’t matter.

I’ve heard the old canard “The pen is mightier than the sword” all my life. Sounds great, doesn’t it? After all, Marx and Hitler both wrote books that laid waste much of the 20th century and whose insidious damage not only lingers, but is still active, like occult cancer cells in the social bloodstream that just won’t die.

It appears that some people are willing to kill just about anybody and everybody based on what they think is written in the Koran. And other people are willing to die for what is written in the Bible, and still other people (get ready for this) are ready to tear down the structure of society based on what is written by Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, et al.

The pen, is, or a least it can be, mighty. But I can tell you as a former sword holder that there’s nothing like brandishing the bludgeon of law around to scare the you-know-what out of people, including yourself.

The difference between writing as I do it and legislating as I did it is that writing don’t matter.

I can write a different blog post after I finish this one commanding everyone who reads it to go find a bridge and jump off of it. But, it won’t matter if I do.

In the first place, nobody has to read what I write. There’s zero penalty for just taking a pass on reading my words. In the second place, such a command, coming in a blog post, is far more likely to inspire laughter than obedience, because nobody — and I mean nobody — has to do what it says. In the third place, anything I write, whether its drivel or genius, will be forgotten in about 36 hours, max.

Writers are a lot more sensitive and emotional than legislators, and I include myself in that category. I’ve done a couple of things as a writer that I would not have dreamed of doing as a legislator. The reason?

It don’t matter.

The anger of a writer is more like a child, throwing their toys around in a pique. When a lawmaker gets angry, people get scared. Because the anger of a lawmaker can have huge consequences. By the same token, and appearances aside, lawmakers don’t take off after each other in public all the time, again for one simple reason. Such behavior can have consequences.

I know that sounds untrue, given the verbal fisticuffs that lawmakers engage in 24/7, but believe me, there are rules; things you don’t say, things you don’t do and confidences you don’t violate. The consequences are too high.

I went through a long period where I was hated and despised by my colleagues because of the fact that I would run right over them if I had to in order to pass pro life laws. The weakness in all their nasty that they heaped on my head was that I might have been hated and despised, but I was also Representative Hated and Despised. They could — and did — break my heart. But they had to be careful about taking it past the capitol doors, because there could be — would be — consequences.

There’s a saying in politics: Forgive and remember.

Nobody wants to get on the business end of that saying. It’s just stupid to put yourself there.

And it is also what I love most about not being a legislator. I can write whatever I want as a blogger and not get all in a snit about it because It. Don’t. Matter.

Lawmakers can kill people by putting a comma in the wrong place. Not only that, but bad laws don’t go away. They have a shelf life that runs into generations. Make a mistake with a law, and you can ruin people’s lives, even end people’s lives, for decades into the future.

Not only that, but lawmaking is always an exercise in who to hurt. Just about every vote I cast in my 18 years in office was at some level a decision as to who to hurt.

The pressures, the responsibility and the inevitability of making mistakes that will do harm were like living in a pressure cooker with the heat cranked up. Add to that the responsibility for thousands of constituents, and you’ve got a whole mountain on top you.

Nobody calls a blogger at three in the morning because their son was just murdered in the jail. When it rains, I don’t worry if Brock Creek will flood and drown people. The other day when I was taking Mama to the doc, I saw a cloud of smoke in the general area of my district. I looked at it, said a prayer for those involved, and felt grateful with the gratitude of someone who does not have to deal with it and try to make it right.

If a tornado wipes out your neighborhood, you’ve got to rebuild, but you don’t have to put on your boots and hard hat and go out, walking from one smashed home to another, making a list of things that people are needing that you have to figure out how to get for them. Of course, helping them is the good part. Having them cling to you like wounded children is what humbles and drains you to the depths.

I no longer have to convince gangs to stop killing people and work to keep the police and the people on the same congenial page. I look at things like Ferguson and I know that somewhere in all this there were lawmakers who weren’t doing their jobs, who didn’t get these things worked out and taken care of before they got to this pass.

Because legislating isn’t all or even mostly lawmaking. It’s taking care of thousands upon thousands of people. It’s protecting and building community. It’s loving and caring and using yourself up in the service of others.

Writing a blog, on the other hand, is mostly a kind of thinking out loud. A blog has a wide, wide sweep. It gets into the thinking of almost limitless numbers of people all over the globe. It can engage them and give them an opportunity to express their own thoughts and feelings. It can, at its best, help them to develop those thoughts and think things through.

Blogging is a form of teaching and a kind of entertainment.

But it does not — ever — reach the point where it really matters all that much.

Because if I made a law telling people to jump off a bridge, they would have to do it or pay fines, go to prison or find the scratch and spit to take on the government in court. But if I write a blog post telling people to jump off a bridge, they can — and will — laugh at me and turn the page.

On the other hand, if I write a blog post that gets people all worked up and wanting to lynch me, I can shut down the computer and go to a movie. They can’t do anything more than hiss and spit and disagree.

Blogging is fun precisely because It. Don’t. Matter.

It’s taken me a while to “get” that. In fact, I’m working on it still. I have to learn and know and believe what I’m saying to you here does not have the gravitas and will never be as deadly as law. The only consequence it has is what you, of your own free will, chose to give it.

I can help you think. I can provoke you to take ideas and noodle with them, disagree with them, support them, or dissect them. But I can do this only if you chose to do it. The contract between you and me, writer to reader, is our mutual freedom.

That’s the essence of what I’m trying to learn about my new life. I am slowly coming to grips with the sudden and as yet incomprehensible degree of freedom that is mine. I’ve traded a straightjacket for wings. I’ve cashed in my blazer with the target on it for a computer that turns off and an office door that shuts.

Because, in the final analysis and at the end of the day when the rubber meets the road and we get to the bottom line all in a collision of cliches and final thoughts, It. Don’t. Matter.

Ladies and gentlemen, put on your reading glasses, fasten your seatbelts and get ready to roll.

I am free.

Charlie Hebdo Roundup

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Book cover photo from Amazon

Some days, the news speaks for itself. 

This is a roundup of stories about and reactions to the terrorist attack on the Paris newspaper Charlie Hebdo yesterday. 

Charlie Hebdo Attack: Man Turns Himself In, Two Brothers Still Sought. 

French Police Converge on small town after Paris attack suspects seen

The Pen vs the Gun

#JeSuisCharlie — Will Clemency and Kindness Prevail over Extremism? 

Muslims segregated from French society in growing Islamist mini-states

Charlie Hebdo and a Broken Europe    … France faces rising tide of Islamophobia 

Charlie Hebdo Enrages French Catholics 

Charlie Hebdo’s history of challenging and angering fundamentalists

Dante: Mohammed in Hell

See Covers Published by Charlie Hebdo

Charlie Hebdo’s Muslim Cartoons

Charlie Hebdo’s Mysterious last tweet before the attack

The author on Charlie Hebdo’s latest cover imagined a France under Islamist rule

‘Islamophobic’ Michel Houellebecq book featured by charlie Hebdo published today.  I don’t speak or read French, but I’m ordering the book, anyway; in support of free speech. 

President Obama is an Idiot 2

 

I don’t know that I’ve ever used a title that provoked such comment as when I put “President Obama is an Idiot” at the top of a post about his idiotic lawsuit against the Little Sisters of the Poor.

I’ve been huzzahed and tsk, tsked, accused of being a racist and told that I really need to learn how to address my betters. I’ve gotten the full blast of self-righteous, sanctimonious how could you say that??? from people who engage in vendettas, personal attacks, character assassination and name calling as their ordinary means of discussion.

It was one of the most obvious cases of pot and kettle disowning projection I’ve witnessed in my young life. And I spent 18 years in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

To be honest, it reminded me of Aunt Pitty Pat, reaching for her smelling salts.

All this approbation and excoriation seems to fall (surprise!) along party and ideological lines. If, say, I had written a post called W an idiot, I rather imagine the applauders and the outraged would have switched sides.

The one point of attack that had validity was the simple one based on the fact that I so often call other people down for name calling. I’ve made a big point of not allowing name-calling on this blog, and then here I go, calling someone an “Idiot” in a title. What gives?

I made an exception to my own rule in the case of our president going to court with the Little Sisters of the Poor because any politician, much less the president of the United States, who would do such a totally idiotic thing, is, well, behaving like a political idiot.

From the viewpoint of governance, politics, justice, proportion and common sense going forward with this lawsuit is idiotic.

We are talking about the president of the United States. This is the man who has told us that he’s “got a phone and pen” and he can pretty much govern as a reigning elected monarch from the Oval Office. Congress, (speaking of idiots) to this man is a cypher. He’s the Prez; he’s cool and he rules.

We are discussing the man who has his finger on the nuclear button. He can, with a whim, kill every single thing on this planet. He can melt the mountains down to glass, burn the forests to ash, boil the oceans dry and leave this sweet blue globe a smoking cinder.

He can order troops into any corner of the planet, send the bombers and reduce any city, any nation, any spot to rubble in a matter of hours.

And he’s decided to go mano y mano with the Little Sisters of the Poor.

I said he was an idiot for doing this. I kind of regret that. I think it was too mild.

How stupid does a politician have to be to get into a fight with a bunch of elderly nuns who don’t want to be involved in supplying contraceptives and abortifacients? He’s the most powerful man in the world and he’s maneuvered himself into a lose/lose fight with, of all people, The Little Sisters of the Poor? 

Idiot? Oh yeah.

Because, you see, all this power that President Obama wields, every single smidge of it, comes from we the people. We put him in power.

When the day comes that an American cannot call a president — any president — an idiot, then we’re in big trouble. That’s what we do in this country, and it’s a fine thing. President Obama may be able to melt the mountains down to glass and legislate with his mighty pen. But he’s still a sitting duck for we the people and our right to whittle him down to normal-sized anytime we chose.

So far as I can remember, every president I’ve ever lived under has been called an idiot by somebody. Also, every president I can remember has been called a Communist. And most of them were likened to the Anti-Christ. Is President Obama more disrespected than other presidents? I don’t think so.

I’m old enough to remember thousands of people marching in the streets chanting Hey, Hey LBJ, How Many Kids Did You Kill Today?

I remember Richard Nixon, otherwise known as Tricky Dicky.

And President Clinton, who was Slick Willy.

I’m not old enough to remember Franklin Roosevelt, who was a “traitor to his class,” Thomas Jefferson who was a “destroyer of civil liberties,” or Andrew Jackson who was a “whoremonger.”

I don’t like name-calling, and I do not usually allow it on this blog. But, I would defend without reservation the right of any American to call their president one of these names and a whole lot worse.

President Obama is the Prez. Being called an idiot isn’t specifically named in the Constitution as part of his job description, but the set-up for it is right there at the top of the list in the Bill of Rights. First rattle out of the box, we were given the right to have our say, petition our government, engage in free assembly and (enter the Little Sisters of the Poor, stage left) freely exercise our religious beliefs without government interference.

That’s what has made us who we are. It is who we are.

I was in Taiwan a few years ago with a group of Americans and a high-ranking Taiwanese guide. The Taiwanese man shepherded groups of people from many nations through Taiwan on official visits. Our little group was hard to keep corralled. We kept going off on our own in different directions. At one point, when our guide was particularly exasperated because of this, I said, “I suppose this happens with every group.”

“No,” he answered, “just Americans.”

That’s us. That’s us right down to the ground. We’re so accustomed to doing whatever we want, going wherever we please, saying whatever we think that we stand out among groups from many nations in this regard.

I hope and pray that never changes.

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Censoring the Truth about ISIS Dishonors James Foley’s Life and Death

 

We entered the age of run-away self-righteousness a long time ago.

No matter how dastardly a thing is, the perpetrator of that thing will justify it by claiming that they are not, as common sense would lead you to believe, the scum of the earth, but they are in fact noble actors on the great stage of life who are doing this dastardly thing for what they claim is a greater good.

Thus, in the James Foley video, we have the scum of the earth ISIS member giving out with all his justifications, including, odd as this sounds that President Obama is in fact doing the deed, before he beheads an unarmed, bound man who is his helpless prisoner.

No matter the ugliness of the deed, the deed doer will claim that they are the best of us all, that they are, if truth be told, acting heroically.

Silence is the best friend of scums of the earth. What they need most is darkness and deeper darkness in which to commit their crimes against humanity. Those who call for us to turn our heads and refuse to allow the bitter truths of their brutal behavior to be known are, whether they realize it or not, their collaborators and defenders.

I’ve come across a smattering of articles calling for self-censorship in the press concerning ISIS. These people, who I am going to assume are well-meaning rather than villainous, are calling for the world media to stop telling us about the crimes that ISIS is committing. They are doing this on the dubious grounds that publishing ISIS’ crimes is “what ISIS wants.”

My response to this is simple and direct: Get real.

I don’t care what ISIS wants. I do care that people know the truth, even if the truth reeks, as the truth about ISIS certainly does.

We need to know that these butchers are committing genocide, that they are committing crimes so horrible that we cannot fathom them. We need to know who is funding them and who is backing them. And if it is Americans, we need to lock these people up and keep them there. We need to know because evil in all its forms flourishes in darkness and hides behind lies.

A news blackout on ISIS would be an unintended collaboration with ISIS. It would allow them to continue with their bestial behavior uninterrupted. It would abandon their victims in the most profound way possible; by pretending that they don’t exist.

It would also dishonor the memory of James Foley as nothing else could. James Foley gave his life in the telling of hard truths to a Western world that didn’t want to hear them. He, and his incredibly brave colleagues, are our eyes and ears in hell.

The idea of using his death as an opportunity to lobby for shutting down media coverage of the carnage ISIS is wreaking on innocent people profanes James Foley’s life, work and death.

James Foley is an American hero. He died for an American value, which is freedom of the press. He was a man of a faith, a practicing Catholic and, by the accounts of those who knew him, “a good, good person.”

His courage awes me.

If you get the chance to see the video of his ignoble execution, focus on that. Focus on the awesome courage of this American and contrast it with the cowardice of his braggart executioner. The man who killed James Foley did not have the courage to take him on man to man. He tied him hand and foot and put him on his knees. Then, the filthy ISIS coward had to hide himself behind a mask and clothes that would hide both his face and his physique.

I had trouble watching the video. But I have no problem whatsoever with saying that we the people need to know the truth of these things.

The truth is James Foley is an American hero; a man’s man in the best and most courageous sense of the word; someone who watched horrors with compassion and tried to give the rest of us the truth.

The sniveling little coward who killed him is the human scum of the earth.

That truth is plain to see in the video.

Another truth is that the American people deserve to know these things. The press has no business “self-censoring” the facts.

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Fortnight for Freedom: Defending Religious Liberty on Tuesday, June 24, 2014

 

We are in the Fortnight for Freedom.

This annual event is sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. It’s purpose is to promote an awareness of the threats to religious liberty in America today, and to encourage Catholics in every walk of life to stand up for our precious freedom of religion.

Freedom of religion is one of the cornerstones in the great American experiment in government of, by and for the people. Without religious freedom, all other freedoms are meaningless.

So.

What one thing can you and I do today, Tuesday, June 24, 2014, to stand for religious liberty?

You are already doing something important by reading this blog post and informing yourself about the issue.

 

For today’s action on behalf religious freedom, I’m going to suggest that we turn our attention overseas, to a part of the world where religious freedom is considered anathema. In particular, I am asking you to contact the Sudanese Embassy in Washington DC on behalf of Meriam Ibrahim.

Mrs Ibrahim was sentenced to death for the crime of marrying a Christian. She was 8 months pregnant at the time. The Sudanese court freed her yesterday. She and her family were re-arrested the airport today.

Email, call or write the Sudanese Embassy and tell them that you support Mrs Ibrahim and request that the Sudanese government release both her and her family.

You can contact the Sudanese Embassy by email here.

You can contact the Sudanese Embassy by phone or letter here:

Embassy Of The Republic Of Sudan
2210 Massachusetts Ave
Washington DC,20008,
Ph: 202.338.8565
Fax: 202.667.2406

Defending the Little Sisters of the Poor: Deacon Greg is Beautiful When He’s Angry

Have I told you that Deacon Greg Kandra is my hero?

Seems I have.

But let me repeat myself. Deacon Greg Kandra, journalist, Deacon and Catholic Patheosi extraordinaire, is my hero. I wish I could write headlines like the Deacon writes them. I wish I had a nose for news like the Deacon’s got. I wish … well you get the idea.

When Deacon Greg Kandra gets enough, you know that anybody else would be froth. The Deacon got enough when he read an over-the-top Catholic/Christian bashing opinion piece in US News and World Report.

The topic of the opinion piece? Why, it’s the Little Sisters of Charity and their “outrageous” appeal to the courts that they be allowed to follow the teachings of their Catholic faith. You know, that First Amendment stuff about the government not interfering with the free exercise of faith.

In case you don’t know about that part of the First Amendment, here is the whole thing for your consideration, emphasis mine:

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.

Isn’t that beautiful? I mean, aren’t those words in that magnificent document beautiful?

Think for a moment about the self-proclaimed Constitution worshippers who want to shear the first clause from the second and use it as a club to beat religious people into silence. Can you imagine any of the Constitutional-rights-for-me-but-not-for-thee crowd actually writing a law like the First Amendment?

US News and World Report, by publishing a Catholic-bashing hate piece posing as an opinion piece, has jumped on the bandwagon of hating on Christians and publicly hazing them. The subject of this particular piece was those pesky nuns with their bigoted religiosity and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. It was all about Catholics and Catholicism and how we are out of line for not letting the government tell us to stop practicing our faith.

Despite the fact that the faith in this particular frying pan was Catholic, the same treatment extends to every traditional Christian. Make no mistake about it my brothers and sisters in Christ, it was about all of us.

Deacon Greg took it on in his typically measured, fair and well-founded manner. Frank Weathers followed with a hilarious segue into Chuck Norris (an Oklahoma boy, I might remind you,) while The Anchoress gives a brilliant survey of the power politics and faux feminism involved, while Tod Worner compared the Little Sisters with St Thomas More and Joanne McPortland took a turn at bat, providing us with absolutely delicious Joanne irony. The Catholic Patheosi have got this handled.

I don’t have much to add that I haven’t already said a hundred times. We are not the aggressors here. The government is trying to force religious people, in this case, a group of nuns to violate the teachings of their faith. The fact that this commenter thinks that allowing nuns to forego violating their faith undermines the rights of all women doesn’t even begin to make it so.

When someone stoops to this kind of bigoted name-calling to defend their position, it is usually either because they are too stupid to defend their position intelligently or because the position itself is indefensible. I would guess that in the case of this commenter, the reasons she is resorting to this tactic are that her position is indefensible by reasoned argument, and also that bigotry against Christians, particularly Catholics, is so widespread in certain circles that she thinks an appeal to it will win unmerited support for her ideas.

The bottom line for those of us out here in the audience is this: If you are a Christian, you need to stand up for Jesus.

Don’t be a jerk about it. By that I mean keep your language clean, don’t name-call or attack any person. Do not try to use satan’s weapons to fight satan.

Just stand up strong for Jesus Christ and the right of Christians to be Christian without being attacked, reviled, slandered or bullied in our society. Make your case as the son or daughter of the living God.

Bigotry is bigotry, even when it’s aimed at the followers of Christ.

From US News and World Report:

Et tu, Justice Sonia Sotomayor? Really, we can’t trust you on women’s health and human rights? The lady from the Bronx just dropped the ball on American women and girls as surely as she did the sparkling ball at midnight on New Year’s Eve in Times Square. Or maybe she’s just a good Catholic girl.

The Supreme Court is now best understood as the Extreme Court. One big reason why is that six out of nine Justices are Catholic. Let’s be forthright about that. (The other three are Jewish.) Sotomayor, appointed by President Obama, is a Catholic who put her religion ahead of her jurisprudence. What a surprise, but that is no small thing.

In a stay order applying to an appeal by a Colorado nunnery, the Little Sisters of the Poor, Justice Sotomayor undermined the new Affordable Care Act’s sensible policy on contraception. She blocked the most simple of rules – lenient rules – that required the Little Sisters to affirm their religious beliefs against making contraception available to its members. They objected to filling out a one-page form. What could be easier than nuns claiming they don’t believe in contraception?

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Catholic contraception controversy.]

Sotomayor’s blow brings us to confront an uncomfortable reality. More than WASPS, Methodists, Jews, Quakers or Baptists, Catholics often try to impose their beliefs on you, me, public discourse and institutions. Especially if “you” are female. This is not true of all Catholics – just look at House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. But right now, the climate is so cold when it comes to defending our settled legal ground that Sotomayor’s stay is tantamount to selling out the sisterhood. And sisterhood is not as powerful as it used to be, ladies.

Catholics in high places of power have the most trouble, I’ve noticed, practicing the separation of church and state. The pugnacious Catholic Justice, Antonin Scalia, is the most aggressive offender on the Court, but not the only one. Of course, we can’t know for sure what Sotomayor was thinking, but it seems she has joined the ranks of the five Republican Catholic men on the John Roberts Court in showing a clear religious bias when it comes to women’s rights and liberties. We can no longer be silent about this. Thomas Jefferson, the principal champion of the separation between state and church, was thinking particularly of pernicious Rome in his writings. He deeply distrusted the narrowness of Vatican hegemony.

The seemingly innocent Little Sisters likely were likely not acting alone in their trouble-making. Their big brothers, the meddlesome American Roman Catholic Archbishops are bound to be involved. They seek and wield tremendous power and influence in the political sphere. Big city mayors know their penchant for control all too well. Their principal target for years on end has been squelching women and girls – even when they should have focused on their own men and boys.

What Are You Gonna Do? Arrest Me for Praying?

The Supreme Court heard arguments this week on whether or not the town of Greece NY had violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. The reason?  Most of the prayers that opened its city council meetings were given by Christians.

From what I’ve read, Greece opened its city council meetings with prayers from many faiths through the years, including Jewish and pagans. The argument is that most of the prayers were offered by Christians, which means …

What?

Evidently it means that Americans United for Separation of Church and State found a couple of people to say that this offended them and were who willing to be plaintiffs in a court case. This Court case has ended up at the United States Supreme Court.

The issue in Town of Greece v Galloway, as described on the Supreme Court Blog, is …

Issue: Whether the court of appeals erred in holding that a legislative prayer practice violates the Establishment Clause notwithstanding the absence of discrimination in the selection of prayer-givers or forbidden exploitation of the prayer opportunity.

What is the establishment clause that gives the federal government the right to intrude into small-town city council meetings and censure the speech of citizens who address those meetings? Just this: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.

That clause, (which, by the way is an accurate description of it, it is a clause and not a sentence) is the pry bar that those who hate religion in general and Christianity in particular have used for decades to attack the presence of religious speech in the public sphere.

Of course, the clause is not a sentence. Here the entire sentence in which this clause rests: 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. 

Those of you who read the comments on this blog might have noticed that there is a group that decries the fact that these rights — all of them, by the way — apply to Christians as well as other citizens.

“Christians can believe whatever they want,” they say, “but I don’t want them trying to force their beliefs on me.”

They are not talking about mobs of Christians showing up on their front yard carrying torches and demanding that they get baptized.

No.

What they are talking about and speaking against and trying to stop is the exercise of these free rights by American citizens who happen to also be Christians. What they are objecting to is that there are people, some of whom are  motived by their Christian faith, who vote according to their conscience and petition their government either by contacting their elected officials or through the courts.

They steadfastly refuse to admit this, even as they maintain the position, but what they are objecting to is the freedoms of other Americans to disagree with them and to act on that disagreement.

In other words, what they object to is the fact that Christians have and exercise the same rights that they do. They try to frame political involvement by Christians as somehow or another a violation of “separation of church and state” or, failing that, an attempt to “force other people” to do something or other.

But it is not. All Americans, including Christians, have these rights. That is called democracy.

This one-sided application of American rights and freedoms shows up with boring repetition in the com boxes and public debate. It also shows up in court cases. The establishment clause, it would seem, is the only part of the First Amendment that those who want to limit religious expression in the public sphere believe should apply to Christians.

All that stuff about the government not interfering with the free exercise of religion, or everyone having free speech and the right to petition the government, including Christians, is nixed right out of their conversations and their court cases. These same people will make self-righteous statements about how they support the Constitution, but what they mean is they support their own interpretation of the Constitution and want to use that interpretation as a hammer to beat those who disagree with them into silence.

For the past few decades, the Supreme Court has been playing catch to their throw. Every case that gets tossed to the Court ends up limiting religious expression in public situations. The Town of Greece v Galloway is particularly galling because it is aimed directly at one religious group, and that group is Christians.

I don’t know what the Supreme Court is going to do with this case. But I do know that I, for one, will feel no compunction to obey any ruling limiting my right to pray in public. I say that as an elected official and an American citizen who has the right to free speech.

I’ll pray if I want.

What are they going to do? Arrest me for praying?

From Fox News:

The Supreme Court is wrestling with the appropriate role for religion in government in a case involving prayers at the start of a New York town’s council meetings.

The justices engaged in a lively give-and-take Wednesday that highlighted the sensitive nature of offering religious invocations in public proceedings that don’t appeal to everyone and of governments’ efforts to police the practice.

The court is weighing a federal appeals court ruling that said the Rochester suburb of Greece, N.Y., violated the Constitution because nearly every prayer in an 11-year span was overtly Christian.

The tenor of the argument indicated the justices would not agree with the appellate ruling. But it was not clear what decision they might come to instead.

Justice Elena Kagan summed up the difficult task before the court when she noted that some people believe that “every time the court gets involved, things get worse instead of better.”

Greece is being backed by the Obama administration and many social and religious conservative groups in arguing that the court settled this issue 30 years ago when it held that an opening prayer is part of the nation’s fabric and not a violation of the First Amendment. Some of those groups want the court to go further and get rid of legal rules that tend to rein in religious expression in the public sphere.

On the other side are the two town residents who sued over the prayers and the liberal interest groups that support them. Greece residents Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens say they and others who attend the meetings are a captive audience and should not be subjected to sectarian prayers.

At its broadest, the outcome could extend well beyond prayer and also affect holiday displays, aid to religious schools, Ten Commandments markers and memorial crosses. More narrowly, the case could serve as a test of the viability of the decision in Marsh v. Chambers, the 1983 case that said prayer in the Nebraska Legislature did not violate the First Amendment’s clause barring laws “respecting an establishment of religion,” known as the Establishment Clause.

Who Will Call Obama for Us?

 

Would you like to call President Obama and demand that he stop tapping your phone?

Some people have done just that.

According to a New York Times article, German Chancellor Angela Merkel dialed up the president and angrily demanded assurance that he was not tapping her cell phone. French President Francois Hollande summoned the American Ambassador and expressed “extreme approbation” over NSA spying on French citizens.

It’s too bad we the people don’t have someone to make a similar call to the president for us.

Oh wait.

We do have someone.

We have our elected representatives in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate. The only trouble is that they’re in the bag on the plans to spy on us, right along with the Orwellian press.

So … does that mean we don’t have anyone to speak out for us?

Yes. It does.

From the New York Times:

BERLIN — The diplomatic fallout from the documents harvested by the former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden intensified on Wednesday, with one of the United States’ closest allies, Germany, announcing that its leader had angrily called President Obama seeking reassurance that her cellphone was not the target of an American intelligence tap.
Washington hastily pledged that the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, leader of Europe’s most powerful economy, was not the target of current surveillance and would not be in the future, while conspicuously saying nothing about the past. After a similar furor with France, the call was the second time in 48 hours that the president found himself on the phone with a close European ally to argue that the unceasing revelations of invasive American intelligence gathering should not undermine decades of hard-won trans-Atlantic trust.
Both episodes illustrated the diplomatic challenge to the United States posed by the cache of documents that Mr. Snowden handed to the journalist Glenn Greenwald. Last week, Mr. Greenwald concluded a deal with the eBay founder Pierre Omidyar to build a new media platform that aims in part to publicize other revelations from the data Mr. Greenwald now possesses.The damage to core American relationships continues to mount.
Last month, President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil postponed a state visit to the United States after Brazilian news media reports — fed by material from Mr. Greenwald — that the N.S.A. had intercepted messages from Ms. Rousseff, her aides and the state oil company, Petrobras. Recently, the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, which has said it has a stack of Snowden documents, suggested that United States intelligence had gained access to communications to and from President Felipe Calderón of Mexico when he was still in office.

The Prez Who Hates the Bill of Rights and His Senatorial Minions Write a Little Law

The HHS Mandate. (First Amendment)

Surveilling the American people. (Fourth Amendment)

Gun control. (Second Amendment) 

Those pesky amendments keep getting in the way of better government. 

Thankfully, we have a Congress (who we trust soooo much) who, as everyone knows, always puts the needs of the American people ahead of any special interests, to take care of those little tripping-up points in the Constitution. These are the folks who sat on their thumbs while the administration pushed through a quasi law attacking religious freedom called the HHS Mandate. They are the ones who want to find some loophole to allow them to do away with the right to bear arms. 

Their latest little move is to rescind the legal protections of the free press to protect their sources. They are doing this by “defining” who is the “press” and doing it to their advantage. What they’re doing is limiting First Amendment protections to the “legitimate” (i.e., the corporate) press.

As anyone with half a brain knows, the corporate press is not free. They are owned. And they function more and more as a propaganda tool for the government, which also appears to be owned. 

It follows and it’s easy to follow that if the corporate press is the only legitimate press, then there is no free press. 

Slam dunk and done. First Amendment, (both parts) tamed and brought to heel. 

To put a cherry on top this rescission of the First Amendment, our Senators want to make the Attorney General of the United States the person who gets to decide which press is “legitimate” and worthy of First Amendment protections. 

Now, let’s think for a moment. Who appoints the Attorney General of the United States? 

The President of the United States. 

And who confirms this appointment?

The Senate of the United States.

Mr Fox, here’s your gun. You’re now in charge of the henhouse. 

From Breitbart:

An amendment is moving through the Senate Judiciary Committee that would essentially allow the government to determine who is a journalist for purposes of legal protection of sources. For purposes of protecting a source, a “journalist” under law would be anyone who: 

  • Works or worked for “an entity or service that disseminates news or information by means of newspaper; nonfiction book; wire service; news agency; news website, mobile application or other news or information service…news program; magazine or other periodical…or through television or radio broadcast…” These people would have to have the “primary intent to investigate events and procure material in order to disseminate to the public news or information.” Opinion journalists might not be covered.
  • Bloggers and citizen journalists – citizens who commit acts of journalists without working for such an outlet – would not be covered, unless it was determined that “at the inception of the process of gathering the news or information sought, had the primary intent to investigate issues or events and procure material in order to disseminate to the public news or information.” In other words, the government – the Department of Justice – would now determine whether primary intent was news distribution or political concerns.
  • Those explicitly excluded from protection include those “whose principal function, as demonstrated by the totality of such person or entity’s work, is to publish primary source documents that have been disclosed to such person or entity without authorization.” Glenn Greenwald, please contact your lawyer.

 

 

Syrian Rebels Attack Christian Village in Syria

Christians in Syria have enjoyed relative tolerance under the Assad regime. My questions earlier were Who are the rebels and Why is our government willing to go to war to help them win? Do we really want them to win?

I still don’t know the answers to those questions.

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