The Watering hole, Saturday, February 13, 2016: We Need Less of Moore’s Ilk – UPDATED

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is at it again. It seems no matter how hard he tries, which appears to be not very, Moore can’t seem to wrap his head around the fact that the Supreme Court is the highest court in the land, and its rulings take precedence over any state or local law. Despite having lost his job once before in 2003 for refusing to follow the orders of the SCOTUS when they ruled he must remove a monument to the Ten Commandments from state property, Moore may be about to lose his job again, and for the same reason – failing to obey a SCOTUS ruling because it contradicted his personal religious beliefs. Moore claims the SCOTUS ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges is confusing because it says that not only must Alabama let gay people marry, but it has to recognize lawful same-sex marriages in other states. This violates the Chief Justice’s personal religious beliefs and he believes that is reason enough to order all Alabama probate judges in Alabama to stop issuing marriage licences to same-sex couples. He is wrong, of course, and in violation of his oath of office. Again. Like every public official in this country, elected or appointed, Moore took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. That oath does not allow for exceptions where you feel your religious beliefs are being ignored, or because you feel that state law takes precedence over federal law. In fact, on the latter point the Constitution is quite clear. “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.” Chief Justice Roy Moore does not believe this means SCOTUS rulings take precedence over Alabama State Law. How he ever got through law school and was allowed to practice law and even become a judge with this belief is beyond comprehension. What in that clause would make anyone think a state’s constitution or laws would be superior to the federal Constitution? How can any sane, intelligent person make that argument? The answer is they can’t, which means any person making such an argumetn is not sane and intelligent. Especially when they say their religious beliefs are superior to any court rulings. Part of the problem here is that Alabama elects their state’s highest judges rather than appoint them and make them go through a confirmation process conducted by people who at least have more of an understanding of the law than the average voter. (In my home state of New York, our state’s highest court judges are appointed by the governor and confirmed by our State Senate.) Your average voter is completely ignorant about how the law and the constitution work, so putting the choice of who should be deciding how their laws are interpreted in the hands of people who are completely unqualified to make that determination is ridiculous. Too many people wrongly believe this nation is officially Christian and should abide by Christian law, which seems to be based entirely on Jewish Law given how often they quote the Old Testament. This is the kind of person Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is: a conservative evangelical with the warped belief that Christianity is the law of this land, the First Amendment to the contrary notwithstanding. He needs to be impeached, convicted, removed from office and barred from ever holding public office again. So does Associate Justice of the United States Antonin Scalia.

Justice Antonin Scalia is also at it again. What he’s at is demonstrating his complete and utter disqualification to be interpreting our nation’s constitution. In a recent speech to a Catholic high school class, Scalia made the claim that “there is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that prohibits the government from legislating, establishing, or favoring religion over non-religion.” He thinks it’s possible, but he seems unsure, that the Constitution may prohibit the government from favoring one religion over another, but it can certainly favor religion over non-religion. I don’t make any claim to be an expert in the law or the Constitution, but that claim strikes me as being, in legal parlance, “bullshit.” Even before the third amendment sent to the states became the first one ratified (there were twelve amendments sent to the states; the first never passed and the second eventually became the 27th Amendment, and the other ten became the Bill of Rights), there existed a clause barring religion from playing a part in our government. Article VI clearly states “…but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” How then, can one argue, should our laws should be based on the Bible if it’s unconstitutional to require anyone to prove they believe the Bible to be something that should be the basis of our laws? I certainly don’t think it should be. Have you actually read it? It’s horrifying! It’s a form of child abuse to teach children it’s the truth. The same for any deity-based religious text. Prove to me that gods exist before you start telling me I have to do what you claim they say. But you can’t presuppose the existence of gods and claim that as your proof. Nor can you claim that only something like a god can produce everything we see around us, because that would be the same thing. First prove gods exist, then prove they made everything around us. Not the other way around. Don’t say only a god could produce everything around us, so that proves they must exist. Scientists have been debunking that for centuries. Nor can you make the extraordinary claim that gods exist but that it’s up to me to prove you wrong, so in the meantime I have to follow your god’s laws. There are so many flaws in the belief that gods exist, let alone that one or more of them created everything, that it simply defies logic to believe it’s true. And please, don’t tell me my disbelief is because I lack faith. Faith is the rejection of facts, evidence, and experience in favor of believing what one wishes to be true. To say something is true simply because you have faith that it is true is to literally reject logic and reason and say it’s true because you say so. Well, that’s not good enough for me. If you’re going to tell me I have to follow the laws laid down in your deity-based religious text, then I require proof that the deity on which your religious text is based actually exists and will do me harm if I don’t follow those laws. Is that really too much to ask? It’s not enough for you to tell me what your religious texts say will happen, because you still haven’t proven to me that your religious texts are based on anything real. In recent years, the Church of Scientology has been exposed as a giant scam. Nobody seriously believes our bodies were invaded by extraterrestrial beings from a planet billions of miles away. I mean, the entire story line is ridiculous, and I think most people would agree. So why are deity-based creation stories any more credible? Because you say they are? Can you imagine what would happen if someone tried to make Scientology the official religion is the United States and forced everyone to practice it? Well that is exactly what the founders of the United States, under the US Constitution, feared. Did you know that before the United States came along, every nation had an official religion? The USA was the first one to say, “We’re not going to do that. We’re not going to say one religion is better than any other. And we’re not going to say you have to practice one particular religion, or that you can’t practice certain other religions. We’re not going get into any of that at all. You are free to practice whichever religion you wish, or even no religion at all.” And that’s the part Conservative Christians like Associate Justice Scalia and Chief Justice Moore get wrong.

Nobody can be required by law to do anything just because a religion requires it of its adherents. There may be perfectly valid non-religious reasons to lass a law banning something, and those have to be the ones cited as justification. The one thing you’ll find in common with such valid laws is that they follow a principle common to many religions but also to non-religious philosophies alike. And it’s a principle most atheists you’ll ever meet follow: Treat other people the way you would want them to treat you. You don’t want someone to be able to murder you? Then make it a crime to murder someone. You don’t want someone to be able to steal your stuff, then make it a crime to take other people’s possessions. This has nothing to do with religion, or what reward or punishment (if any) one might have to endure after one dies, it’s simply the right thing to do. I am amazed at how many people distrust atheists. In fact, there are seven states where atheists are barred by law from holding public office. Those laws are unconstitutional, of course, and must eventually be struck down even if they’re never enforced. For reasons surpassing logic, people seem to believe that it’s impossible to have a moral code without a belief in God. This is nonsense. If the only thing that makes you do the morally right thing is the belief that you’ll be rewarded or punished after you’re dead, then you really don’t want to do the morally right thing, do you? I don’t believe in an afterlife, or a reward for good people or a punishment for bad ones. I try to treat other people the way I would like them to treat me because it’s the right thing to do. I’m 100% positive that it won’t make any difference to me one way or the other what happens to me after I’m dead because I won’t be around to experience it. And if you want to wave your religious books in my face and tell me I’ll suffer eternal damnation for not believing what you do, understand that the only thing preventing me from taking your religious book out of your hand and smashing you in the face with it is my morals, the ones you say I can’t possibly have because I lack a belief in God.

UPDATE: Associate justice Antonin Scalia was found dead at his ranch in Texas. http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/us-world/article/Senior-Associate-Justice-Antonin-Scalia-found-6828930.php?

I will not celebrate the death of any man, but I will not weep for this one.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to make fun of religious nutjobs like Moore and Scalia, or discuss anything else you wish..

The Watering Hole, Saturday, February 6, 2016: Stumbling Bloc

When catching up on recent political issues yesterday (after having been focused a bit too much on that goddamned Bundy clan and their terrorist cohorts), I ran across this piece on ThinkProgress about the House “Freedom” Caucus. One of my first thoughts while reading it was “the term  ‘Freedom’ has absolutely no connection with the group’s raison d’etre“; after reading it, I grokked that ‘raison’ – reason – didn’t enter into the equation either. An excerpt:

[House Speaker Paul] Ryan spoke about the divisions in the Republican Party at a policy forum hosted by Heritage Action in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, pointing to groups within the party which demand things that are unachievable and refuse to work across the aisle in any way.
“When voices in the conservative movement demand things that they know we can’t achieve with a Democrat in the White House, all that does is depress our base and in turn help Democrats stay in the White House,” Ryan said. “We can’t do that anymore.”

Just a few hours later, four members of the roughly 40-person House Freedom Caucus, a faction of hardline Republicans, said that they will not work with the president and that realism and compromise will cause Republicans to lose elections.

Freedom Caucus member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) directly addressed Ryan’s comments, saying that the measures the Speaker thinks are “unachievable” are actually just practical, “small things.”

“On the omnibus, the big spending legislation that happened at the end of last calendar year, our group went to leadership and we asked for a couple small things,” he said. “We said do something on this pro-life issue — after all we have this organization that gets your tax dollars and does all kinds of disgusting things. We said it doesn’t have to be defunded completely, but let’s just do something that’s going to protect the sanctity of life.”

According to a Roll Call piece from September 10th, 2015:

“The House Freedom Caucus has spoken.
On Thursday, the conservative HFC took their seventh official position: They will oppose any spending bill that doesn’t defund Planned Parenthood.

“Given the appalling revelations surrounding Planned Parenthood, we cannot in good moral conscience vote to send taxpayer money to this organization while still fulfilling our duty to represent our constituents. We must therefore oppose any spending measure that contains funding for Planned Parenthood.”

Apparently Rep. Jordan and his group are unaware – or willfully ignorant – of the fact that every investigation into the alleged “disgusting things” Planned Parenthood has been wrongfully accused of have found absolutely no evidence to back up those allegations. FFS, even Texas, after exonerating PP, is now prosecuting the criminals who produced the doctored video “proof” that Planned Parenthood was ‘selling baby parts for fun and profit.’ We all know that Texas HATES Planned Parenthood, so one would think that the turn of events there would give the Caucus pause. But, again, ‘reason’ doesn’t seem to enter into the collective mind of the Freedumb Caucus. But I digress…

The ThinkProgress excerpt continues:

“Another “small thing” Jordan pointed to was a request that legislation to reject Syrian refugees be tucked inside the must-pass omnibus spending measure. The bill would have temporarily halted Obama’s plan to bring roughly 10,000 refugees to the United States because of the persistent threats they face in Syria…
…Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) also implied Wednesday that he is not willing to compromise with others in his party, let alone with Democrats. He said that while he knows he has to be realistic with his expectations, “when you have the will of the people and their voice behind you, it’s amazing what you can accomplish.”

I love the way these (in reality) extreme policy shifts are described as “small things.” And it’s particularly ironic that what the House Freedom Caucus considers to be “small things”, which Speaker Ryan called “unrealistic”, are the same things that the current Republican Presidential candidates are running their campaigns on: overturning Roe v Wade, immigration – along with their favorite hopeless cause, repealing Obamacare. Yes, they’re still wasting time trying to overturn Obamacare, now for the 63rd time. I guess that the Repubican’s motto is “if at first you don’t succeed, keep trying and the hell with real governing.”

Pew Research has an interesting piece from October of 2015 on Congress’s “Freedom Caucus.” Here’s a snippet that I found insightful:

“…the Freedom Caucus does not officially disclose who belongs to it (aside from its nine founding members)[**], though various unofficial lists have circulated. Membership is by invitation only, and meetings are not public.”
What most distinguishes the Freedom Caucus from other House Republicans has been their willingness to defy the wishes of leadership…and to band together with like-minded Republicans who threaten to block any temporary measure to fund the government that didn’t also defund Planned Parenthood.”

**Congressman Matt Salmon (R-AZ) issued a “press release” on January 26th, 2015, announcing the formation of the House Freedom Caucus and its mission statement:

“The House Freedom Caucus gives a voice to countless Americans who feel that Washington does not represent them. We support open, accountable and limited government, the Constitution and the rule of law, and policies that promote the liberty, safety and prosperity of all Americans.
The HFC’s founding members are Rep. Scott Garrett, Rep. Jim Jordan, Rep. John Fleming, Rep. Matt Salmon, Rep. Justin Amash, Rep. Raúl Labrador, Rep. Mick Mulvaney, Rep. Ron DeSantis and Rep. Mark Meadows.”

Along with another 30-odd (very odd!) hard-right Republicans who joined the HFC, after John Boehner decided to give up the position (I suspect mainly so that he could just go home and get drunk,) this small bloc of ultra-conservatives nearly derailed their own party’s contest for the House Speakership by issuing a list of demands questions for Speaker hopefuls. A couple of their “questions” include:

“Would you ensure that the House-passed appropriations bill do not contain funding for Planned Parenthood, unconstitutional amnesty, the Iran deal, and Obamacare?”

~ and ~

“Would you commit to impeach IRS commissioner John Koskisen and pressure the Senate to take it up?”

So they also still believe that the IRS was unfairly targeting conservative groups, despite investigations showing that both religious-right AND non-religious left tax-exempt organizations were audited by the IRS? Paul Ryan is right, they DO need to be “realistic.”

This “freedumb” caucus apparently has zero interest in actual freedom, or governing, or anything beyond their own pseudo-christian-induced tunnel vision. And they’re more than happy to not only fuck with their own party, they’re delighted to fuck with the entire country. As many parents have said to erring children, “This is why we can’t have nice things.”

This is our daily Open Thread–have at it!

The Watering Hole, Tuesday February 2, 2016 Groundhog Day Special – The Iowa Caucus

From the Washington Post as of 8:30 PM PST on2/1/16.

“DES MOINES — Supporters of Sen. Ted Cruz delivered a hard-fought upset win over businessman Donald Trump in the Iowa Republican caucuses Monday night, making good on his bet that a methodical campaign organization would eclipse the New Yorker’s media dominance in the first test of GOP voters.

Live results: Track the Democratic caucus vote

Live results: Track the Republican caucus vote

With 99 percent of the precincts reporting, Cruz (Tex.) was besting Trump by more than 5,100 votes, with fellow senator Marco Rubio of Florida a close third. Cruz appeared to capitalize on deep support from religious and social conservatives and showed that old-fashioned retail politicking could overcome Trump’s massive political rallies in the Hawkeye state.

On the Democratic side, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) were virtually deadlocked with 91 percent of the precincts reporting, as months of heated rhetoric and fierce jockeying in the 2016 race for the White House was finally put to the test on both sides.

What it looks like on the ground in Iowa for the caucuses

Former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley had negligible support and was expected to suspend his campaign Monday night, according to a person close to his campaign.”

The Washington Post

iowa caucus

The Watering Hole, Saturday, January 30, 2016: Bruisin’ From A Cruz-in’

As a human being, you are capable of believing whatever you want to believe whether it has any connection to factual reality or not. For example, while I don’t think either is real, I would believe that The Matrix is real before I believe any crazy story about a mythical being creating the universe and everything in it. At least The Matrix makes some sense and explains better why I seem to encounter several examples of the same kind of thing on my way to work on any given day. Like that car that goes by with one headlight out. I might not see a car like that for several days or weeks, and then one day I’ll see three or four go by me, all on the same drive. Or a car who wants to go slower than I will pull out of an intersection ahead of me before turning off down a side road, but not before another pokey pulls out in front of him, for the obvious sole purpose of keeping me from getting where I want to go in my lifetime. I could more easily accept that these are subroutines being repeated in a computer program than I could that some omnipotent, omniscient Being is trying to send a message to me through bad drivers. (A more effective technique might be to leave a message in green lipstick on my bathroom mirror, knowing that my wife has no green lipstick nor any intention of ever wearing any. I’m more open-minded on the subject.) It makes zero sense to believe in Creationism. And in order for it to make any kind of sense at all, you have to attribute so many contradictory rationales to the Being responsible that it ends up making even less sense. Does God really care if I masturbate or not? Do you really think Jesus never masturbated as a young teenage male? After all, Jesus didn’t find his calling until the last few years of his life. So he wouldn’t have grown up thinking he was God’s personal offspring, or that his “special purpose” really had a special purpose. It just doesn’t make any logical sense. People tell me I say that because I lack Faith, and they’re right. I do lack Faith. Because I need to see evidence, backed by science and observation. It’s true that I will accept something as true just because Neil deGrasse Tyson or Bill Nye says it’s true, but that’s because I know they base their beliefs on evidence, backed by science and observation. And I also know that if evidence based on science and observation proves them wrong, that they’ll change their views. And hearing them explain why they now believe what they didn’t before, I’m more likely to change my views, too. Before you counter with that’s an Appeal to Authority argument, I’ll tell you why it isn’t. First, I’m not arguing any point in particular and telling you it’s true just because NdT says it’s true. Second, I wouldn’t say something is true just because he said it was, but for the reasons he said it was true, which I know derived from evidence based on science and observation (not the millennia-old speculations from scientifically illiterate people.) So I wouldn’t be making an argument that appeals to authority, I would be making one based on the same evidence that appealed to my authority.

But you can’t do that when you insist on accepting something on Faith alone because, by definition, you are accepting it without evidence based on science and observation. And Faith demands that when the evidence proves you wrong, you discard the evidence and continue to believe the now disproved thing. How can anybody live that like? How can you go through life believing things proven to be false, or follow the advice of a book proven to be self-contradictory and scientifically inaccurate in so many ways? As just one example, bats are not birds, no matter what any religious text tells you, even one followed by two major religions. How could such a text possibly be “the inerrant word of God” when it contains such a blatant error? If the error is entirely attributable to the flawed human who put the words to paper, then how can it be considered “inerrant”? And if it was transcribed exactly as God intended, then how could God not know bats are not birds? Something has to give in to logic and reason if it is going to be a valid argument.

In an interview earlier this week with Dana Loesch (a famous conservative who, by standard conservative reasoning, must fear me quite a lot because she actually blocked me on Twitter, and she would say that if I blocked her, it must have been because I feared her), Rafael Cruz, the foreign-born father of foreign-born US Senator Ted Cruz, actually said this when asked if it was “difficult to see people go at” his son

“It is, Dana, but at the same time, you know, if you are not making a difference, if you are not having an impact, nobody’s going to attack you,” he said. “Jesus said, ‘They persecuted me, they will persecute you.’ When you are having an impact on America, those who disagree with you are going to come out lashing at you with everything they’ve got. But you know what, we get encouraged for seeing that we are making a difference, Ted is making a difference, that truth sets people free. And he’s speaking the truth and those who don’t want to hear it are going to lash out.”

I’ll let the fine folks at PoliticusUSA, FactCheck and Politifact recall just a few of the many lies Ted has told, but I want to respond to a few of the inanities his dad said here. I’ll begin with “…if you are not making a difference, if you are not having an impact, nobody’s going to attack you.” First of all, Conservatives (especially the Christian kind) equate attacking a person’s position with attacking the person himself. So when they don’t like someone’s position, they see no problem with attacking the person himself. Being projectionists, it’s what they would do, so they assume it’s what everyone else is doing to them, even when it clearly isn’t. Second, people are attacked and even murdered all the time, and it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with that person’s impact on anyone else, other than they had the misfortune of being near their attacker at the wrong time. So it is simply, factually untrue that “nobody’s going to attack you” if you aren’t making a difference. This is just pure, delusional, Christian Persecution Complex thinking at work. Raffy then goes on to claim that he and his son “are making a difference, Ted is making a difference, that truth sets people free.” Now I can’t tell if this one is the result of Conservatives not knowing what words mean, not caring what facts are, or a combination of the two, but it’s not true for two reasons. One, nobody’s mind is being changed by the Los Cruz. Nobody is listening to either man for the first time and saying, “You know, he makes a lot of sense. I’m going to start following him.” No, the people listening to them have already made up their minds that what the two men go around saying is true, so they show up to listen for the reinforcement of their own set of beliefs. And, two, Ted isn’t telling the truth (as PoliticusUSA, FactCheck, and PolitiFact have been trying to tell us.) He lies constantly, so how can what he says set anyone free? “And he’s speaking the truth and those who don’t want to hear it are going to lash out.” He’s not speaking the truth, and we are not trying to “lash out” at him, we are pointing out that the things he says all the time are factually incorrect. We’re attacking the things he says, not him personally. Except for the fact that he continues to repeat false things, so we have to question his motives, sanity, intelligence, honesty and character along with them. If Ted would stop repeating lies, nobody would have to attack anything he says, and we certainly wouldn’t have to attack his character. Los Cruz can end the persecution they feel simply by admitting they’re both bearers of false witness. But that’s one Truth about themselves they’ll never face.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss logical reasoning, something Rafael Cruz might have said, or anything in between.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, January 23, 2016: If You Hate Freedom And Liberty, You’ll Love Donald J. Trump

Liberal Libertarianism was something unknown to me when I took my first test at Political Compass. I was familiar enough with the well-known ideologies of Liberal and Conservative, enough to know I’m Liberal while my father’s Conservative. But I wasn’t aware of the “perpendicular” ideologies of Libertarianism and Authoritarianism, the former being how free you think we should individually be versus how much control over your life you believe your rulers should have (and note that I did not mention the word “government” there.) The Liberal/Conservative scale would be an economic one, while the Libertarian/Authoritarians scale would be a social one. Go there. Take the test. If you never have before, you’ll learn something about yourself and how you compare to some famous historical figures.

I just did and I scored -8.5 on the Economic Left/Right scale (very Liberal) and -8.46 on the Social Libertarian/Authoritarian scale (very Libertarian). Like Gandhi’s views only more so. (But not his courage. Or wisdom. Or sheer animal magnetism.) So naturally I would not be in favor of a very Authoritarian person taking control of the Executive Branch of our government, the ones charged with enforcing the Law. And a Conservative capitalist, to make matters worse, choosing who will rule over the Economy. Nor would a lot of people. Or should you’d think. Or so you’d hope. People with an Authoritarian bent are very scary. They’ll do whatever the person in charge says to do provided they believe the person in charge will accept responsibility for what happens. (Of course, it may not occur to them that the person in charge was lying about accepting responsibility.) In Stanley Milgram’s famous first experiment into trying to answer why WWII German soldiers were so willing to obey orders to murder defenseless people, he found that 26 out of 40 men were willing to administer lethal doses of electricity to a complete stranger just because an experimental socialist told them to. Humans seem to have a natural disposition toward having someone be in authority provided that person was willing to be responsible. We don’t like someone to be in charge who randomly picks people to die every day, and imposes a death penalty on anyone who complains about it. But we like someone who is willing to face the consequences of his actions, assuming the law provides for significant consequences for those actions that do more harm than good. Unfortunately, too many of us may like Donald J. Trump as such an authority figure. Trump is very appealing to the sort of person who gives in to his Authoritarian side. And he’s also appealing to a large group dubbed decades ago by sociologist Don­ald War­ren as Middle Americans Radicals (MARS), who have a lot in common with, but can be distinct from, Tea Party People. This is not good. John W. Dean can explain a little bit about why here and here.

He checks off every box on the list of authoritarian traits. As I have explained on other occasions these personalities are typically male; they are dominating; they oppose equality; they are desirous of personal power; they are amoral, intimidating and bullying, faintly hedonistic, vengeful, pitiless, exploitive, manipulative, and dishonest; they will cheat to win; they are highly prejudiced (racist, sexist, and/or homophobic), mean-spirited, militant, and nationalistic; they tell others what they want to hear, take advantage of “suckers,” and specialize in creating false images to sell themselves. They may or may not be religious, but usually they are both political and economic conservatives and/or Republicans.

You might ask, “Who on Earth would want to be put someone like that in charge of our government?” And the answer would surprise you.

“[A]uthoritarian followers are both men and women, who tend to be highly conventional, always and easily submissive to authority, while willing to work aggressively on behalf of such an authority. They tend to be very religious, with moderate to little education, trusting of untrustworthy authorities, prejudiced (e.g., with respect to gay marriage); they are typically mean-spirited, narrow-minded, intolerant, bullying, zealous, dogmatic, uncritical of their chosen authority, hypocritical, inconsistent, prone to panic easily, highly self-righteous, moralistic, strict disciplinarian, severely punitive; they also demand loyalty and return it, have little self-awareness, and are typically politically and economically conservative Republicans.”

Americans. That’s who. So it’s a good thing our Constitutional form of balanced power government prohibits the kind of tyrannical dictatorship Trump’s opponents fear he’ll bring, and Obama’s enemies claims he has. (FTR, Tyrant Obama’s opponents, if he truly was the tyrant you claim he is, I wouldn’t have been listening to you bitch about him these past seven years, because you would have been taken off the face of the planet. You almost make me wish he was half the tyrant you claim he is. Almost.) A Trump Presidency (as I’m sure he refers to it himself) would be a disaster, and not just because of the type of person he is, but because of the kinds of ideas he outs forward.

A wall? Seriously? And would you believe people lap that shit up? Trump loves Construction. I’ve heard him say it in interviews years ago. He loves to build things. So, naturally, he’d say he wants to build a wall on our southern border. And then has the balls to say he’ll make the country on the other side pay for it. And people believe him! Authoritarians, who may or may not also be racists, white supremacists, and bigots in general, are loving it! Never mind that such a wall would never keep people out. You’d be amazed how far people will go to tunnel across a border. And never mind that no foreign government would be stupid enough to agree to such an arrangement without the threat of military force behind it. Do we want yet another war with Mexico? I don’t.

Then there’s the ban on Muslims entering the country, all because about .005% of the world’s population of Muslims has abandoned their religious beliefs to exert power over a region of the world thousands of miles away. As much as I hate to see anyone brutally rule over another, it’s not our problem as a nation. And it would be even less of a problem if we would stop living with the false belief that we need access to fossil fuels for the foreseeable future. We don’t. And the people who would lose a lot of money should this nation pull its giant head out of its overweight ass and switch to renewable sources of energy (such as Charles and David Koch, to name just two such miscreants) are not the kind of people about whom I could give a pair of fetid dingo’s kidneys. And neither should you.

So, if you truly hate freedom and liberty, if you think we really should have a tyrant in charge, if you honestly believe we all need to have the heavy hand of government crush our spirits daily, then go ahead and vote for Donald J. Trump. I promise you I’ll fight you every step of the way. And I won’t be alone.

This is our daily open thread. Being the Liberal Libertarian that I am, I’ll simply remind you you’re free to discuss any topic you want.

The Watering Hole; Friday January 8 2016; Constitutional Convention, Anyone?

“One of the things I’m going to do on my first day in office: I will
announce that I am a supporter, and as president I will put the weight
of the presidency behind a constitutional convention of the states so
we can pass term limits on members of Congress
and the Supreme Court and so we can pass
a balanced budget amendment.”
(Marco Rubio)

Article V. of the United States Constitution states, in part:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States . . .

There is one huge problem associated with any call for a Constitutional Convention, and it’s a simple one: in a Convention, the entire body of the Constitution is subject to review and can be altered and changed. The more traditional route to Constitutional modification has been via the amendment process, a process which essentially allows one change at a time, and is therefore subject to a great deal of detail-focused scrutiny. It’s highly unlikely that the same could ever be said concerning a Convention — and that moot point is, in itself, very likely a foundational reason as to why such a convention has never yet been called.

Times have changed, however, particularly in regards to the fact that the notion of calling for a Constitutional Convention has now been urged not only by Marco Rubio, but also by, among others, the Koch Brothers’ ALEC organization as well as by wingnut talk radio goombah Mark Levin who, in his book  The Liberty Amendments provides a proposed amendment list, including:

1. Term limits, including for justices.
2. Repealing Amendment 17 and returning the election of senators to state legislatures
3. A congressional supermajority to override Supreme Court decisions….
4. Spending limit based on GDP
5. Taxation capped at 15%
6. Limiting the commerce clause, and strengthening private property rights
7. Power of states to override a federal statute by a three-fifths vote.

Other right wing amendment proposals include

* A redefinition of the General Welfare Clause (the original view was the federal government could not spend money on any topic within the jurisdiction of the states)…

* A prohibition of using international treaties and law to govern the domestic law of the United States

* A limitation on using Executive Orders and federal regulations to enact laws (since Congress is supposed to be the exclusive agency to enact laws)…

* Requiring the sunset of all existing federal taxes and a super-majority vote to replace them with new, fairer taxes

A moment’s ponder of those mere eleven goals strongly suggests that the primary goal of all those who today are calling for a Constitutional Convention is a simple one, i.e. to, in effect, destroy everything good and vital the United States has accomplished  over the last two-and-a-half centuries and has, in result, come to represent both at home and in the world. Given the players in the convention game, it’s not much of a trick to imagine their ultimate goal is to instead convert the country into what could perhaps reasonably be called, say, a Feudal Christian Caliphate, a national entity designed to serve only the needs of the few — the oligarchs and the theocrats — and never the needs of the many, of ‘We the people.’ National well-being will not be the goal;  the goal will, instead, become the directed acquisition and distribution of wealth and power to only the few.

Should that indeed become the case — if a Constitutional Convention is called, i.o.w. — I do herein and hereby volunteer my verbal skills AND assistance to at least the front end of the plutocratic theocracy’s constitutional rewrite project by submitting this slight but generous modification of the 1787 Constitution’s Preamble, written so as to suit the needs and goals of potential beneficiaries everywhere:

We the people of the United States, in order to form
a more perfect union,
establish justice,
insure domestic tranquility,
provide for the common defense,
promote the general welfare,
and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,
the FEUDAL CHRISTIAN CALIPHATE of our dreams
do ordain and establish
this here rewrite of the
Constitution for the United States of America.

Yee Haw.

There is no charge.

P.S. See also: Marco Rubio’s Plan To Lock Tea Party Policies In Place Permanently

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