Tuesday, March 31, 2015

You built that RFRA - and I object!

I object to Indiana's RFRA! Yep, that's right, but hold on, because whether you are for it, or against it, it's highly likely that I'm strongly objecting to what you don't object to.

You see, I don't object to Indiana wanting to protect the religious liberties of it's business people - at the very least I applaud the sentiment; and I don't object to it because numerous twitter-heads say it permits the persecution of homosexuals - and if that's not stupid enough of an idea on the face of it, it's unlikely that reading it will help you realize how deeply stupid the assertion is ( but it couldn't hurt) - but I do object to RFRA 's continuing the process of devaluing everyone else's liberties in the process - and by 'everyone' that should be understood to include those who are homosexual, straight, native born or immigrant, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim or Atheist or [please insert your neglected grievance group of record here] - in order to do so.

In short, I object to Indiana's RFRA law, for the same reason that Chuck Schumer and Bill Clinton supported the original Federal RFRA law of 1993 which Indiana's law was derived from - because it implicitly presumes that you lack the right and power to make your own decisions unless you have 'legitimate', approved, 'longstanding religious reasons' for doing so, despite what the the 1st Amendment, and the 9th Amendment, and the 10th Amendment and the Contract clause of Article 1, Section 10, Clause 1, have to say on the matter.

How can people not see the real issue here? Maybe it'll help if you take a look at what a virtual friend of mine had to say when he said this about that:
"In my opinion, a business has a right to refuse service to homosexuals if the particular service they perform (wedding photography or wedding cake makers) would seem to tacitly support an activity that goes against their "legitimate" religious or moral beliefs."
Now, except for the scary scare quotes around "legitimate", that almost seems sensible; the problem is that the sentence before that said:
"It should be patently illegal to refuse service to homosexuals simply because they are homosexual. For example not serving a gay couple at a restaurant. "
, which amounts to holding the primary hostage to the secondary, putting First Principles in the back seat to circumstances and incidentals. Note that this has nothing to do with homosexuals and everything to do with the Individual Rights of every one of us. If that's not clear, maybe another example will help:
"Amendment I - 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."
"Amendment IX - The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."
Amendment X - "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
"Article 1, Section 10, Clause 1 - No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility."
Suppose you own a printing store, and someone comes in expecting you to print flyers and handouts which you find to be hateful, racist and disgusting. Do you have the right to refuse them? What if they are black? What if they are homosexual? What if they are Muslim? What if they are Nazis? What if they are black, homosexual Muslim Nazis?

Which of those incidentals gives, or withdraws from you, the right to make your own decision about whether or not to serve them?

Walter E. Williams, H/T Stacy on the Right

IOW, by proposing the various RFRA's, you concede that you don't have the liberty to make your own decisions in your own businesses, UNLESS your decisions can claim the backing of what govt considers to be 'legitimate' religious or moral beliefs!

This turns the 1st Amendment on its head, putting freedom of speech, association and religious practices, at the peril of what legislators and judges consider to be 'legitimate' practices. And just how easily even high caliber judges can rationalize away your right to do what they personally disapprove of, can be seen in the earlier SCOTUS case of Reynolds vs U.S. (1878), when a Mormon's fervently held religious belief in polygamy, was struck down by the Judges distaste for it - and the situation is little different today, they just need to show a compelling interest for doing so, as they most surely felt that they had done back then.

And for those of you foolish enough to trust in the wisdom of legislators and judges to look out for a greater good that includes you, rather than them, you need look no further than Senator Chuckie Schumer's position on the law today is - you see, he was not only for it before he was against it... he sponsored the original RFRA twenty two years ago! - and his vehement opposition to it now, is due to his gauging of the politically correct winds of today. Do you get that? Laws like this don't put THE LAW behind your 'liberty' (religious or otherwise), it uses THE LAW to undermine your Liberty - all of it - with one big crocodile tear of a bill that plays to the sympathies of the day.

Where did the power for govt to tell you what you should do for the greater good? The 1st Amendment already tells congress that it "...shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;", why on earth do we now need yet another law to prohibit what that already prohibits? Especially one that says "... well congress can pass laws that prohibit the free exercise thereof... but they have to think it's reallllyyyy important first..."?

What the hell is going on here?

The only reason we have a RFRA in the first place, was to quiet a populace that was figuring out (perhaps a few decades too soon?), that something the govt was doing for the greater good, was leaving our liberty in a precarious state. And the precarious state of affairs that we find ourselves in today, is one where the govt has taken upon itself the power to disregard your Individual Right to make your own decisions for your own life and property, so long as they feel that their reasoning comports with either the politically correct reasoning of the day, or some other interest the govt has in disregarding your rights. Which of course ultimately means that We The People have no right to make our own decisions for ourselves, but only the power to exercise approved ones.

What do you suppose could have seemed so important and necessary to Americans, thirty or more years ago, as to make them think that it would the greater good for them to give up the substance of their Individual Right to live their own lives?

Yes... I can see that uncomfortable look in your eye from here, yes, this does mean that I'm not only venturing into that territory that Sen. Rand Paul stuck his toe into and then ran from, but unlike Sen. Liberty, I'm jumping in with both feet: Yes, the Civil Rights Acts which prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin, was detrimental to all of our liberty - both the bigots and the rest of us. While I certainly understand the emotional appeal to put such fools in their places, and to an extent revel in it myself, I must point out that it is by making intellectual decisions on the basis of emotional appeals, that good crisis' are prevented from going to waste.

So long as you don't violate another person's Individual Rights, you have the Individual Right to make your own decisions for your own life and for your own property, which includes your own business - or else you no longer have that Individual Right, or any other, you left only with having the permission of those in power to do what they approve of.

The law, properly, defines the boundaries of our actions, it does not - and it should not - define whether or not our actions are morally acceptable - that is the very meaning of the 1st Amendment! When we err and violate that hard rule 'for the greater good', we then put govt in the position of defining the morality which we then all Must adhere to - which has the affect of eliminating the moral quality from it. Worse, because we've given Govt the Power to make that choice,having made it, it can then, ala Sen. Chuckie Schumer, change its mind as it sees "legitimately" fit, with the spin of the next elections, or more likely, by appointments and regulations.

It's also worth pointing out that in this day of shifting demographics, ensuring that all are equal before the law, is the only sure defense for every demographic, no matter what their numbers might be yesterday, today or tomorrow.

Understand, I'm not denying anyone the right to determine what they consider to be legitimate religious or moral beliefs, I'm denying that govt can or should be in a position to determine what religious or moral beliefs are "Legitimate". The 1st Amendment wasn't written to make you smile and nod politely to your neighbor - that was the province of a decent upbringing and community outrage - the 1st Amendment was to prevent Govt from interfering - 'make NO law - abridging your right to speak your mind, associate with who you chose - or chose NOT to - and to forbid govt from making any laws that might favor - legitimate or otherwise - any one religion over another.

Morals, particularly in the Greco-Roman/Judeo-Christian tradition, are what you choose to do, and if that choice somehow ceases to be a choice, then it ceases to be a moral decision. Do you really want to put Govt, or more pointedly, do you really want those people who manage to be elected to political office, to be in charge of what is to be considered a moral 'choice'?

The Rule of Law does not, and cannot, relieve you of the necessity and responsibility of being a decent human being - that's on you!

Freedom is so easy, even a cave man can do it. How so? Freedom means that you have the power to do, what you can get away with doing. It also means that those who have the power to stop you from doing it, can, and that their power gives them the freedom to stop you or take anything they'd like from you - freedom is so easy, that that's what democracy looks like!

Liberty, on the other hand, is Hard. Liberty takes thought, Liberty takes consideration of consequences over the long term. Liberty is the rarest thing in human history because it requires of you that you respect the Individual Rights of other people whom you may despise, to do what they think is best, no matter what you might think of it. And it also requires that you think long and hard about what you believe, and that you speak out for it, and that you stand up to those who'd violate it, even if you detest everything else about them.

For those on the Right (or left) who argue that laws which forbid businesses from refusing service on the basis of race, religion or gender bending, are necessary and good, but then want to also claim that govt cannot tell businesses who they can refuse to bake cakes for, are not simply guilty of not connecting the dots, they have somehow managed to forget that the dots ever existed at all. Egregious violations of our Individual Rights under law, have come about only after imposing 'necessary!' and acceptable violations of our Individual Rights under law, for the 'greater good'.

The plain truth is that Govt mandated health care, with all of its violations of our Individual Rights, property and religious freedoms, could not have come to pass, had govt not been enabled to take the first step against our Individual Rights, by forbidding businesses to deny services based upon race, religion, gender, etc.

Govt has expanded through our seeking to shirk our own individual responsibilities as thinking, moral, individuals. The fact is that rather than actually facing up to our friends, neighbors and relatives and telling them, arguing with them and convincing them that such bigotry, racial or otherwise, was ignorant, stupid and harmful to us all, we took the easy way out and got govt to use its power to force them to act as if they had listened and understood that.

But did they? No, they didn't. Look around you, and no, that sort of stupidity isn't limited to skin color. And what that has cost us, has been the substance of all of our rights, and the 'permission' to shirk our responsibilities to say and do what we know to be right. Such a deal, eh? Our seeking to offload our own moral and reasonable responsibilities, to govt, has put us firmly upon the pro-regressive road to losing our ability to make our own moral and reasonable decisions ourselves. From Marriage laws (WTH is Govt involved in those at all for?!), to Education, to Prohibition, to Civil Rights and Health Care - we have sought to rid ourselves of the burdens of making our own decisions for our own lives, and have consequently lost the ability to make our own decisions for our own lives.

I for one am not surprised in the least that we are where we are today. Look around you. It's all ours. Own it. Or do you now really agree with Elizabeth Warren and President Obama, when they say:
"You didn't build that."

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Breakfast Club 30 years ago, tomorrow the HB1490 Workgroup club. The world's an imperfect place.

I'm getting ready to drive to Missouri's capital, Jefferson City, tomorrow morning, to meet up with a number of others - on all sides of the political fence - in the HB1490 Workgroup to help in rewriting our educational curriculum standards for Missouri's public school system.

30 years ago I was watching The Breakfast Club. Now I'm putting ridiculous amounts of time and money into trying to fix a system which makes Mr. Vernon's 'Schermer High School' seem a shining gymnasium on a hill.

I shouldn't disclose details of private email conversations, but a friend who's very much involved in the process made an apropos, and very depressing, analogy between our public system of education and the Titanic, basically that it can't be fixed, it will sink, and in the meantime we do our best to help reduce injuries to as many of the passengers we can, while also doing our best to encourage as many as we can to get to the lifeboats as soon as they can.

For those of you out there with a more optimistic view of things, I'll remind you that we're trying to save a system that was largely designed by a fellow who, in 1909, after setting the template for our modern school systems with their superintendent structures, textbooks, centralized testing, etc, chortled that
"Each year the child is coming to belong more to the State and less and less to the parent.” 
If you're interested, I've got a few more details on that in this post from several years back.

So why am I heading out to Jefferson City early tomorrow morning for our HB1490 workgroup meeting? Partly because I couldn't forgive myself if I didn't do what I could to help make the system less bad, but... fix it? Well... here's a question I've yet to hear come up in any of the debates about 'education reform':
"What do you mean by Education?"
Shouldn't that be the very first question asked, before setting out to reform or fix it?

Yes, it should.
The Brat Pack we ain't, but we're working on it.

Any questions?

One more - a question for myself and everyone else who feels beaten down by the educational system and by the political system: What can't we do about it?

What we can't do, is do nothing. Our system of public education is not separable from our system of government. The education system we are all fighting right now is the very same system that is tearing our system of government apart before our eyes and it would like nothing better than to do so ever faster, without our interference. The state of our nation, our government, our culture and the widespread lack of understanding of all of it, is a result of our current state of education, and as my link points out, this problem began a heck of a lot earlier than the 1960's.

And it's not going to come back, or even improve, if we leave them to their own devices.

So long as we as a people retain some shred of ability to reason, then we have to do our best to change the system through the laws, and as the cooler heads among us have pointed out, that requires engaging with our legislators and with those who'd like nothing better than to 'teach us a thing or two' to the contrary.

And you know what? One of the nicer surprises I've had in this process, is that it is not only possible to work together with those who see things very differently from how I do, it can be interesting and rewarding to do so.

And hey, if you're stuck on the Titanic, might as well rearrange the deck chairs.

 So... see ya'll all again in the morning.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Was Senator Cotton's letter to Iran treasonous? No. Illegal? No. Addressed to the right people? No!

Was Senator Cotton's letter to the 'leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran' illegal or in any way treasonous? No. Was it addressed to who it should have been addressed to? IMHO, no way, not even close. But before getting into what the letter got wrong, lets look at how the letter and those who signed it are being wronged.

The ridiculous claims that the senator's letter was in any way treasonous or illegal, are not only easily dismissed, they betray a dangerous preference for partisan propaganda over easily verifiable facts, the details of which have been easily and briefly explained in Commentary Magazine.

But on top of the pure idiocy of the accusations, the frothing leftist intelligentsia is either deliberately ignoring, or betraying an appalling ignorance of, a large number of basic facts of record about Democrat congressional behavior over the last 40 years or so - including that of the current President (who reportedly contacted Iranian leadership prior to being sworn in as President).

Several online sources, such as Hot Air, have already done a good job of pointing out the numerous prominent Democrat politicians who have, going back to the 1980's, deliberately sought to undermine or thwart Republican administration's foreign policy, both secretly, and through personal visitations, as this excerpt makes clear:
Senator Ted Kennedy encouraged the Soviets to interfere in the 1984 election. Noah also mentions Nancy Pelosi’s trip to visit Bashar Assad in 2007 against the Bush administration’s express desires. But there are even more instances that speak more directly to Congressional interference with executive branch efforts on foreign policy.
Joe Scarborough pointed out one example this morning on Twitter from the Reagan era. The Reagan administration wanted to block Soviet influence in the Western hemisphere by backing rebellions against Communist dictators, especially in Nicaragua. Reagan supported the contras against Daniel Ortega, a policy which Democrats opposed and for which they later passed the controversial Boland Amendment in an attempt to restrict Reagan’s options in foreign policy (and which led to the Iran-Contra scandal.) Before Boland, though, 10 Democrats in the House — including Edward Boland (D-MA) — wrote a letter to Ortega called the “Dear Commandante” letter pledging their support to his government. See if this sounds familiar [follow the link, it will sound very familiar]
IOW, if the cries of 'Treason!' were to be taken as credible, it would require also charging our sitting Secretary of State John Kerry, several sitting senators on the Democrat side of the aisle, the House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and more than a few of those she 'leads. There are some pedantic quibbles on the language of Sen. Cotton's letter that can be found here, but brushing all the silliness aside, was Sen. Cotton's letter a smart thing to write, and was it addressed to who it needed to be addressed to?

Both answers follow from who it was addressed to: the 'leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran'.

And who are they?

The Iranian regime is a theocratic dictatorship consisting of brutal, primitive and barbaric thugs. A regime which routinely, even daily, condemns America, and its ally Israel, as the Big and Little Satan, a regime which publicly leads prayers for our destruction. Their rule has been repeatedly defined by how brutally it crushes all dissent against it. They publicly state their intentions to wipe out Israel and to dominate the entire Mid-East in the name of (as their own interpretation of) Allah.

So with that in mind, I've got a couple questions:
  • How can you possibly address a letter to them (let alone conduct negotiations with them), with the expectation of it receiving an intelligent response, or serving a rational purpose?
  • How could you not expect the ayatollah to do with that letter exactly what he did, using it as a means of peddling propaganda about America being confused and crumbling?
  • And finally, if you don't want a deal to be made with Iran, what benefit would it serve to strengthen their hand, and the administration's, against congress in the eyes of a world media (not to mention the U.N.) which very much favors the idea of an agreement between Iran and the Obama administration?
Lest my lack of support be taken the wrong way, let me say that I am someone who believes that since the ending of the administration of the second worst president in U.S. History, Jimmy Carter, an invasion of Iran has been at the very least justified, though perhaps not always justifiable, (I don't agree that doing so under this president would be at all wise). I think that any discussions with the Iranian regime that are done with the expectation of producing an agreement that will be adhered to by Iran in any way other than as a means to hobble the United States, is childishly naive and downright stupid. The only comments they should receive from officials of the United States of America, are of condemnation, isolation, and a very clear description of dire consequences to follow from any actions outside their borders - and a bill for any actions they prompt us to take against them.

And so I'll ask again, was the senators' letter addressed to the right people?


While I entirely understand the desire of Sen. Cotton and the other signatories to publicly rebuke the Obama administration for attempting to strike a deal with Iran - I have no complaints there at all - and I don't think the letter itself was wrong to write (though a bit weak, and addressing it to Iran made the Senators look weak), but tell me, why the hell would you address such a letter to someone who is not only irrational but our avowed enemy?

Who should it have been addressed to?

How about to those who actually do need to hear and consider it: the President, our media, and We The People of the United States of America? Not to mention the rest of Congress? Were the senators somehow thinking that the Ayatollah would not get such a message of 'how our constitution operates' through other channels than direct postage? We are the ones who are in need of letters such as theirs, there was no need to direct it to those who would have no interest or intention upon receiving it, from doing anything other than using it against us.

Sen. Cotton, if you want to be a true leader, and you certainly have the makings of one, focus your attentions upon helping those you would lead, to understand what it is that must be understood, if America is again to be the leader in the world that it could and should be.

So to wrap up:
  • 1 point to Sen. Cotton for chutzpah.
  • 2 demerits for Sen Cotton and the other signatories for a poorly thought out PR stunt, which wasn't even directed towards those who might have benefited most from it - US.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

If you 'Stand with Ferguson Protesters' please stand far, far away from me.

If you 'Stand with Ferguson Protesters', please stand far, far away from me. And do me another favor while you're at it, don't call them 'peaceful protesters' when I'm around; they are anything but peaceful and it is infuriating to hear them given such undeserved cover to hide behind. Which means of course, that there are plenty of media types doing just that, prattling on about the dastardly police donning riot gear just to 'confront peaceful protesters':
"The shooting took place shortly after midnight following what had been a mostly peaceful protest in front of the department Wednesday night demanding more action over the report."
Here are just a couple of the many things I'd like to say to that:
  1. When you have a 'mostly peaceful' mob gathering in the street and making demands, if you don't prepare for a riot you're a f#$!$%& idiot - that or the Governor of Missouri, or, obviously, both.
  2. There's nothing, nothing, peaceful about an unruly mob gathering in the streets into the night, milling and marching about, loudly chanting insults and threats, obstructing or intimidating passersby, confronting the police and calling them out, to say nothing of throwing rocks and bottles of urine at them, or setting fire to the town.
Peaceful? Really? Here's some of the latest peaceful offerings from the protestors gathered in Ferguson:
From GatewayPundit:

St. Louis County Police Chief complained about the constant pressure put on the county police by outside groups.

If you support such 'peaceful protesters' as these, then you are supporting the effort to bring about political goals by force and violence, and evil will follow from that - how could it not? To expect anything less, or to pretend surprise when evil makes its inevitable entrance as it did last night, is nothing less than a lie.

This entire episode has been a sustained assault upon the public peace and upon the law, and it is no surprise that it has received gushingly sympathetic support, and millions of dollars of Pro-Regressive Leftist George Soros cash infusions, and even aid from those elected to uphold the law and keep the peace.

And what was it that brought Ferguson to the boil yet again? A double dose of appeasement with the the resignation of the embattled Police Chief of Ferguson, following on the heels of Eric Holder's shameful attempt to save face with his drummed up report against Ferguson.

This is a lesson that is lost on the Left in general, and the Obama administration in particular, don't let yourself be drawn into thinking that appeasement is just for prime ministers and presidents - that's the path of fools. It is folly and evil for them to practice, because appeasement is folly and evil for mankind in general - it encourages and leads to the same heart-breakingly avoidable results, an emboldened abuse if power, no matter what level it is practiced on.

Appeasement doesn't disperse the mob, it doesn't deliver "Peace in our time", it doesn't placate evil - it encourages and inflames it - and life is more than happy to teach us that lesson, again, and again, and again; and if that's the type of lesson you want to waste your life on not learning? Please, do it way the hell away from me.