The Watering Hole, Monday, July 6, 2015: How The Right Gets Religious Freedom Wrong – Still

It appears the Conservatives still don’t understand how religious freedom works, even if their State legislatures do. They definitely don’t understand how the Constitution works. Or how Executive Orders work. Even when they lose at the Supreme Court level, the way our Founding Fathers intended legal disputes to be resolved once and for all (it’s exactly what they said, in slightly different wording), they decide their right to freely practice their religion says they don’t have to obey the Constitution of the United States of America, because they are Americans, and they have Religious Freedom, just like the people who amended the Constitution said. Pay no attention to what the later people amended the Constitution to say, such as Equality Under the Law for everyone and Birthright Citizenship, the direct taxation of income from whatever source derived, the direct election of Senators by the People, the right of women to vote, and term limits on the President. Those are Amendments Conservatives have openly stated they would like to see repealed. Because they just won’t accept losing. I consider it one of their mental defects. (I have plenty of my own, as people who personally know me would be quickly paid to list.) But for a party that traditionally boasted their desire for Law and Order: SCU (Skull Cracking Unit) style life to prevail, they show an astonishing, almost pathological, intent to never be ruled by the laws they say the rest of us must follow.

Proving for anyone wishing to check that he has never read Article III of the Constitution, The Incredible Huck (I never believe a word he says) wrote an op-ed for Fox News Dot Com claiming he would not surrender to judicial tyranny, but you will surrender to his tyranny. He began by mischaracterizing the recent SCOTUS ruling on marriage equality thusly:

America didn’t fight a revolution against the tyranny of one unelected monarch so we could surrender our religious liberty to the tyranny of five unelected lawyers.

You mean like when your side told us to sit down and shut up about the Bush v. Gore ruling, the one where five unelected lawyers told the state of Florida to ignore the Constitution and not continue re-counting the votes because the result might harm the petitioner’s ability to claim victory (the petitioner being Bush and the likely winner of the recount Gore), which meant that if the recount was allowed to continue and it showed that Gore won, Bush would have a harder time claiming victory. That is exactly what they said. And THEN they said that, oh yeah, this decision can never be used as precedent for any future decision ever. Talk about judicial tyranny. How was this marriage equality decision like Bush v. Gore? His second sentence proved his ignorance of the concept of Separation of Church and State.

The Supreme Court is not the Supreme Being, and the Court can no more repeal the laws of nature and nature’s God on marriage than they can the laws of gravity.

There is a great body of scientific experiment that tends to support the Theory of Gravity as being valid. There is nothing which shows that your idea of the “laws of nature and nature’s God on marriage” exist anywhere but in your religious texts. Nor are any of us constitutionally required to live according to your religious texts. That’s what my religious freedom means. And I have never once heard you argue so vociferously against the marriage of divorced people or pregnant women, just gay people. I seriously question how sincere a religious belief this is, and not simply one of ignorant bigotry. But in case you thought Huck understood Article III, he continued

Last Friday’s same-sex marriage decision by the Court, which rejected the will of people in over 30 states, is an out-of-control act of unconstitutional judicial tyranny.

Actually, the other decision I mentioned was an out-of-control act of unconstitutional judicial tyranny. The Marriage Equality decision striking down the unconstitutional will of people in 30 states (because you don’t vote on rights) was exactly what they were created to do. To strike down laws that go too far, that violate the Constitution (of which the 14th Amendment is still a part). But then, Marbury v. Madison was another decision they didn’t like. And so, in traditional Conservative opposite-speak, The Incredible Huck vows to light a match to the Constitution by ignoring it.

While some cowardly politicians will wave the white flag and surrender to the false god of judicial supremacy, I refuse to light a match to our Constitution. We must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat.

Except, Huck, when the Supreme Court rules, it’s over. But you won’t let a little thing like the Constitution get in your way, will you? No, you’re just going to get around it by issuing the biggest, baddest tool of Executive Tyranny you have – the Executive Order. You think that as President, you have the authority to tell everyone working for the federal government that they don’t have to obey a Supreme Court decision. That is a far cry from issuing an EO that tells the Administration how it will carry out a law passed by Congress, which is the purpose and properly constitutional function of an EO. If a President feels a law passed by Congress is unconstitutional, he can fight that law all the way to the Supremes. But if they rule against him, he has no choice. He MUST follow the law. He (or She) can’t just tell the Administration that the oath he took to faithfully carry out the office of President allowed him to ignore the law. Nixon tried that approach and look where it got him. Dead. Okay, it had nothing to do with his death, but he did die Disgraced.

Another Conservative who is either illiterate or stupid intellectually challenged is Texas Attorney General Bill Ken Paxton. He believes that the Federal Constitutionally Mandated oath to support and defend the United States Constitution does not supersede his state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and that clerks in his state do not have to issue marriage licenses to a particular couple if it violates their religious beliefs. And he would be wrong on both counts. Not only must they all obey the Supremes' decisions, but Texas is one of those states that passed a RFRA that actually says you can’t deny someone their civil rights and use the RFRA as an excuse. Which means Bill Ken Paxton was wrong when he told his state’s clerks they didn’t have to issue licenses to “those” people because the RFRA said so, because the RFRA said the exact opposite.

What the Bill Ken Paxton’s of the world keep ignoring was the original intent of the federal RFRA. It was passed after the Supremes said Native Americans couldn’t use peyote in their thousand-year-old rituals if the federal law says nobody can use it. They thought they were being fair to everyone by saying that the law didn’t allow for any religious exemptions, so nobody could claim one. Except nobody, I mean nobody, seriously meant for federal anti-peyote laws to apply to people who appeared to be responsibly using it for millennia. So they passed the national RFRA to protect the right of Native Americans to practice their religious rituals. And nobody, and I mean nobody, intended for the law to be used to protect someone’s right to violate another person’s civil rights. And the first few state level RFRA’s were similar to the federal law. But that began to change in recent years, and Conservative Christians began using RFRA’s to claim the right to deny their services to gay couples on the grounds that it violated their religious beliefs to in any way support an attempt by gay people to get married. Never mind that the part they were being asked to play may have had nothing at all to do with the marriage itself (though some may), or that it seemed to be the only thing they refused to do on religious grounds. There are plenty of other people in both Lev 18 & Lev 20 (the source of the Conservative Christian Contempt for Teh Gay) that you’re told to treat just as harshly (be it banishment or stoning) but that you refuse to treat so. Are your religious beliefs only that strong when it comes to gay people? You have no problem selling a bridal gown to a pregnant woman? You have no problem selling wedding rings to a divorced woman? You only have a problem selling a cake to a couple of guys who want to celebrate the marriage ceremony they just finished with a party for their friends. I have a seriously hard time believing your wish to discriminate against gays has anything whatsoever to do with your religious beliefs, and everyone to do with your ignorant bigoted ones. So don’t ever lie to us again and claim your religious freedom is being threatened, because it’s not. As some of you know, I live in New York State (to my first-time visitors, How ya doin’?), and when we passed our Marriage Equality Act, we allowed churches and clergy to refuse to marry same-sex couples. I’m pretty sure even more conservative states would have fiercely insisted on having such an exemption in their laws, too. And rightly so.

And nobody’s, I mean nobody’s, religious freedom is being denied in any way. Only their hate.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss religious freedom or anything else you want.

Sunday Roast: Idiot America

How does anyone get out of primary school without knowing basic facts about our own country?  These people think they’re cute, but being so fucking stupid does not qualify as cuteness.

No wonder this country is in such deep shit.  So embarrassed…

This is our daily open thread — Get a clue, morans!!

 

The Watering Hole, Saturday, July 4th, 2015: “The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America”

What we’re celebrating today:
declaration of independence

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

What most Americans are celebrating with today:

SHEAWTCcrop
hot dogs
apple-pie-slicedBaseball + Hot Dogs + Apple Pie = U.S.A.

 

This is our daily Open Thread–celebrate, rant, discuss!

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, July 1, 2015: Activist Judges and What Can Be Done About Them

Gentle readers,

My colleagues in the 2016 presidential race are falling all over themselves because of the Supreme Court’s ruling that gays can get married. Some have called for a Constitutional Amendment to make the Justices have to run for re-election. Let’s face it, every time the Supreme Court overturns the will of the majority by telling them that what they want to do is unconstitutional, my fellow conservatives rail against this as judicial activism. Now, amending the Constitution takes a lot of effort. It’s much easier to use the remedy already in the Constitution: Impeachment. That’s right. Judges can be impeached, just like Bill Clinton. And when impeached, they can be removed from office. Just like Bill…oh, wait. He finished out his term, with a budget surplus & no war. But I digress

On Monday, one of the commenters here at The Zoo wrote, “They also intended the jurisdiction of the Judicial branch of our government to be able to settle all disputes, not just the ones you feel comfortable letting them decide.” Actually, that’s not quite true.

Let’s look at the Constitution itself, Article III to be specific:

Section 1. The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour, and shall, at stated times, receive for their services, a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.

First thing to notice is there is only one court authorized in the Constitution: the Supreme Court. Congress could, if it wanted to, abolish all federal courts. More about that later.

Next, ” The judges … shall hold their offices during good behaviour…” That means they can be removed for “bad behavior”. And what is “bad behavior”? That’s pretty much up to Congress to decide. So if my Republican colleagues really want to do something meaningful, they can impeach the five Justices that voted against their long-held ability to discriminate based on gender. Frankly, given their arguments, I cannot see how they can NOT impeach those Justices. Their ruling seems to epitomize ‘bad behavior’ from the evangelical christian point of view, which demonizes homosexuality as coming from Satan Himself.

Now, let’s turn to the jurisdiction issue. What is the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court? Here’s the clincher:

In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make. (Section 2)

What’s that mean? It means Congress gets to make exceptions as to the Supreme Court’s appellate jurisdiction. Now, back to Section 1. What if Congress eliminates all federal courts except the Supreme Court? The only federal cases the Supreme Court could hear would be “cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party.” In fact, those would be the only federal cases that could be heard, period.

Then, to cap it off, under Section 2, Congress could strip away the Supreme Court’s appellate jurisdiction to hear appeals from the various State Supreme Courts. And here, there’s an appealing “States’ Rights” argument: Why should States’ Supreme Courts be beholden to a Federal Supreme Court? Why should “justice” have to be meted out in Washington?

My conservative colleagues lack the intestinal fortitude and political will to reign in activist judges. When I become President, one of my first tasks will be to address the judiciary and return the courts to the founding father’s original intent: One Supreme Court, with Justices serving for life, so long as they exhibit “good behavior”.

So, come 2016, vote Briseadh na Faire for President. I’m the only candidate for President who knows what’s best for America; the only candidate who acknowledges up front that I will break each and every one of my campaign promises, and, when I do, you won’t be disappointed!

[Briseadh na Faire – it’s hard to pronounce.]

I’m Briseadh na Faire, and I approve this message.

[BriseadhNaFaireforPresidentisnotaffiliatedwithanyPolitcalActionCommitteenorhas receivedtheendorcementofTPZoonoranyotherindividualbusinessnonprofitorganizationorgod.]


OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 29, 2015: In Three Minutes, Rick Santorum Proves He’s Unfit To Be POTUS

In the span of about three minutes, Rick Santorum proved he has no idea what he’s talking about when it comes to how the Government is supposed to function, and shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the White House, let alone be its lawful occupant. Ricky thinks that the recent ruling on Marriage Equality will mean the end of the United States. He believes promoting heterosexual marriage is not only necessary “for the survival of our country,” but more important than talking about climate change.

He began by complaining, as conservatives often do when the SCOTUS rules against them (on account of them being wrong so much), that judges have been entering into the political realm more and more over the past few decades. (Personally, I trace it back to Reagan’s appointees, but that’s probably just me.) He then goes onto complain that they’re “making law” (untrue) and that their job is to “be referees between the Executive and Congressional branches.” Actually, Ricky, it’s more properly referred to as the Legislative branch. And it’s not the job of the SCOTUS to just be referees between the POTUS and the Congress. In fact, that’s not really what their job is at all. Their job is to decide if laws passed by the Congress violate the Constitution. Conservatives like to think that anything a Legislative body passes is automatically constitutional because their job is to pass laws. But being the types who don’t like to follow rules imposed by others (including the framers of the Constitution), Conservatives feel that you’re wrong to ever call them wrong. Many red states are already saying they won’t follow the Supreme Court’s ruling and will refuse to allow same sex couples to marry. And they would be violating their oaths of office if they do so, and could and should face impeachment and removal from office. But they should also face permanent disqualification from ever holding public office again. That’s the mistake Alabama made when they impeached their SCOTUS-disrespecting Chief Justice Roy Moore for refusing to obey the SCOTUS when it said he couldn’t order the Ten Commandments displayed in front of the Court House. They kicked him out of office, but didn’t bar him from holding office again. And now he’s once again the Chief Justice of Alabama and refusing to follow the Constitution again. But that’s another topic.

Ricky thinks that by striking down all statewide bans on same-sex marriage as violations of the federal Constitution, the judges are making law. That is not at all what is happening. Striking down unconstitutional laws is not making laws, it’s nullifying improper ones. No state, no matter how fervently is citizens or (in most cases) its conservative legislature wants to do it, can pass a law repugnant to the Constitution. But then, Conservatives have never liked Marbury v. Madison, because they don’t like being told they can’t do what they want. So it’s not surprising that Ricky thinks the SCOTUS should: a) no longer have lifetime appointments and be elected, instead; b) not have jurisdiction over certain topics; and, c) be required to hear all appeals to their rulings. That’s not at all the way the framers intended it, Ricky. They didn’t want the federal judiciary to be forced to run for office because they knew they would have to appeal to the lowest common denominator to get elected, and that often results in bad judges with misguided priorities. They also intended the jurisdiction of the Judicial branch of our government to be able to settle all disputes, not just the ones you feel comfortable letting them decide. And they also intended that their rulings be final and the Law of the Land. But then that would mean not letting Conservatives do whatever they want to do to the rest of us with impunity.

The Fox News hosts then went on to lament that heterosexual marriage is in decline and that more and more people are choosing to raise families out of wedlock, and that might somehow be a bad thing. But Ricky thinks that instead of using the power of the bully pulpit to discuss climate change, that the president should be putting all of that energy into trying to promote heterosexual marriage. Is that really a valid argument to the declaration that marriage need not depend on the genders of the two people getting married? That’s where it started, but Ricky and the Fox hosts think that all children should be raised in a home where the parents are married. That would be nice, except it doesn’t match Reality. In real life, people die or get divorced, and children grow up with only one parent. That doesn’t make them bad or immoral people, but the way Conservatives talk about “family,” you’d think any kid who grew up without both a male and female parent in the house could never turn out good. (Presidents Clinton and Obama might disagree.) But if marriage is something never once mentioned in the Constitution, and if it’s therefore supposed to be left entirely up to the states to decide who can and cannot enter into these civil arrangements (which, legally, is all they are), then why does Ricky think the president should be talking about it? Why shouldn’t the president talk about Climate Change, and what we should do to counter or slow its worsening effects?

Climate Change is real. It’s not a hoax cooked up by climate scientists to make a lot of money. It is being worsened by human activity, specifically but not limited to, the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas. (There’s no such thing as “clean burning fossil fuels.” The fossil fuel industry just wants you to believe that, or to doubt those of us who rightly claim it’s a lie.) We are close to the point where the cumulative effects of pumping all that carbon dioxide into the atmosphere will not only make the air unbreathable (since we insist on letting the rain forests, those things with all the living things that can breath carbon dioxide and give off oxygen, be destroyed at a breath-taking rate), it will also raise the overall temperature of the planet. This will cause the oceans to warm up and provide storms with more heat and energy. This will cause the storms we do get, no matter what time of year, to be larger, more intense, and more destructive. You can expect to hear about record breaking storms for the next few decades. In fact, if you’re younger than 30, you’ve never experienced a month in which the average surface temperature of the Earth was below average. Will fighting the problem cost money? Of course it will, don’t be silly. The reason the situation is as bad as it is is precisely because we tried to find the least expensive ways to produce energy, instead of the smartest ways. Conservatives would have you believe that anything that reduces profits is a bad thing, even if what the profits are being diverted from is killing the planet. And we can’t regulate businesses to stop polluting our biosphere, because government regulations make the Baby Jesus cry.

I’m getting tired of these people.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss Little Ricky Santorum, marriage equality, climate change, or anything else you wish to discuss.

Sunday Roast: #KeepItDown

Saturday morning, Bree Newsome took matters into her own hands and removed the Confederate flag — a flag that celebrates a heritage of racism, slavery, and treason — from in front of the South Carolina State House.

Newsome and others calling themselves “concerned citizens” released a statement explaining, “Deciding to do what the SC Legislature has thus far neglected to do, the group took down the symbol of white supremacy that inspired the massacre, continued to fly at full mast in defiance of South Carolina’s grief, and flew in defiance of everyone working to actualize a more equitable Carolinian future.”

The flag was soon replaced, but the image of Newsome climbing that pole and removing it is indelible.

This is our daily open thread — Discuss.