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The Obligation of Liberty

The Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution set forth unique principles of liberty and justice. Sown into these principles of liberty were seeds of injustice that immediately began to put down deep roots in our government. Over the course of two-hundred forty years, these roots have grown and blossomed into poisonous trees which have spread throughout our country.

America’s creators fought a revolutionary war and participated in vigorous, heated debates among their intellectual peers in order to form a republican government based upon democratic principles. They sought to ensure liberty and justice for all, but they fell far short of their goals. I am not criticizing these men. They did the best they could do according to the wisdom of their time and they were forced into making compromises in order to turn their vision into reality—a document that would govern the people of the United States throughout the generations to come.

These seeds of injustice included protecting the rights of white men who enslaved hundreds of thousands of kidnapped African people for profit. By 1860, the number of slaves in the United States had grown to approximately four million men, women and children. These same white men who believed that all African people were subhuman apes had no problem at all when it came to sex. They enjoyed raping their female slaves. God only knows what they did to the little girls. After the American Civil War, after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery, Master Jim Crow appeared. These same white men (and white women, too) passed laws so they wouldn’t have to drink out of the same water fountains, wouldn’t have to sit next to them in a restaurant or on a bus or have a room next to them in a hotel or share the same bathroom facilities or swim together in a public swimming pool or sit next to them in a classroom or even in a church. Did they truly believe that God is a white supremacist?  A long time ago, I remember reading a quote from a Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. He proudly said,  “We’re good God fearin’ Klan!” Do you think God would be a member of the KKK, which is a vicious hate group?

One hundred years later, in 1960, African-Americans were only allowed to live on the fringes of American society. They were allowed to work at menial jobs and were required to pay taxes, yet they were denied the right to vote. Master Jim Crow continued to rule.

White people fear Black people. They also fear other peoples which they oppress. I wonder why that is? Perhaps a quote from Edmund Burke (Irish Political Philosopher, 1729 – 1797) is topically appropriate here:

People crushed by law, have no hopes but from power. If laws are their enemies, they will be enemies to laws; and those who have much to hope and nothing to lose, will always be dangerous.

Despite all the lynchings, both physical and emotional; despite all the racism that has continued into the 21st century, black people kill white people less often than white people kill black people. Go figure!

While the Founding Fathers were debating in Philadelphia in 1787, white Americans were continuing their wholesale slaughter of the indigenous peoples throughout the North American continent. In 1830, the United States Congress enacted the Indian Removal Act. The Native Americans who had managed to survive the slaughter were forced to leave their homelands and were herded like cattle onto areas of barren land.

The White Anglo-Saxon Protestant’s did not limit their abuse to Africans and Indians. They treated almost all immigrants and all so-called ethnic groups with distain and ethnic slurs: Chinese (Chink); Germans (Kraut); Italians (Dago); the Irish (Mick); Mexicans (Spic); Jewish (Kike); the list goes on and on and on, ad nauseam.

I cannot fathom this type of hatred and abuse.

The same White Anglo-Saxon Protestants responded the same way to other religious groups. During the 1960 presidential campaign, protestants feared that the Roman Catholic Pope would rule America if John Kennedy was elected president. (He didn’t!) Jewish people have been continually persecuted worldwide since before recorded history.

Every single citizen of the United States knows all of this history; if they don’t, they should be ashamed of themselves.

In 2008, Barack Obama, a man of Caucasian and African descent, was elected president of the United States. This was an historic event which signaled, at least to me, that every citizen of the United States had finally and forever come into their birthright—the promise of liberty and justice for all.

However, the attacks on President Obama began before he was even sworn in, the first being the “birth certificate” nonsense. Then the people, in their enduring wisdom, elected a Republican House and Senate which tried their best to obstruct everything he tried to accomplish. Now we have Donald Trump. Hate groups abound. White supremacist ideology is thriving.

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Animals do not judge each other on the basis of their fur color. Homo sapiens are supposed to be smarter and wiser than Animalia. Modern science and genetics have proven that there is no fundamental difference between the so-called races. There is no justification for it. What is the result of racism and religious intolerance? Divisiveness, hatred and suffering. It’s tearing our country apart. It must stop!

I was appalled when I saw Alt-right founder, Richard Spencer, on CNN. The headline: “The Trump Transition. Alt-right founder questions whether Jews are people.”

alt-right-founderReally? I mean, really?

We live in the United States of America. How have we arrived at this? It seems we are going backwards! Even worse than that, it seems we’re headed in the direction of a total collapse of our republican government and sliding down the slope towards fascism. Do you not remember or have you chosen to forget what happened in Germany during 1933-1945? Is this what you want to teach your children?

A quote from President John F. Kennedy is appropriate here:

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. [1]

Plato said:

The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.

Albert Einstein said:

The world is in greater peril from those who tolerate or encourage evil than from those who actually commit it.


I’ve lived most of my life in California; in the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Area. Now I live in Tucson Arizona; in Pima County. I like Tucson, and although Arizona is a Red State, Pima County is mostly Democratic, for which I am grateful.

Next up is from one of Arizona’s finest: Sylvia Allen, an Arizona State Senator. This article is from azcentral.com: [2]

Our Father who art in heaven … could you take a moment out of your busy schedule and come down here, please?

We need You to explain a few things to Arizona State Senator Sylvia Allen.

(I know. You’re shaking your head, aren’t you? This might be too daunting a task even for YOU.)

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Allen, as You know, is a Republican from Snowflake, a Tea Party favorite who wants to pretend Arizona is an independent country rather than a state, and who believes government should stay completely out of people lives — unless she can use her position to help out a son-in-law who got into some hot water over behavior with some of the inmates he was guarding at a women’s prison.

But that’s another story.

Anyway, Big Guy, they were debating a gun bill at a legislative committee meeting at the State Capitol this week so, naturally, Allen brought up religion.

(In Arizona, complete lack of logic is natural. But, you know that, too)

This was one of those crazy bills in which lawmakers want people to be able to bring concealed weapons into public buildings. Allen got upset because a few people expressed common sense opposition to the idea. Lawmakers here cannot abide common sense.

Allen said, “Probably we should be debating a bill requiring every American to attend a church of their choice on Sunday to see if we can get back to having a moral rebirth,” adding “that would never be allowed.”

She hinted that guns in public buildings might be necessary until there is a moral rebirth.

(I couldn’t find anything about that in the New Testament, but I’m no biblical scholar.)

“I believe what’s happening to our country is that there’s a moral erosion of the soul of America,” she said.

Allen later told the Arizona Capitol Times that she wished things were more like they were in the 1950s.

(Again, I know what you’re thinking: Civil rights problems. Women’s rights problems. Voting rights problems. Segregated schools.)

Allen told the Times, “People prayed, people went to church. I remember on Sundays the stores were closed. The biggest thing is religion was kicked out of our public places, out of our schools.”

I’m not sure that even a Supreme Being such as yourself could get through to the lesser beings in the Arizona Legislature, but perhaps You could take a moment and explain to them the Constitutional reason for a separation between church and state. And perhaps explain as well that religion and morality are not something that comes from public schools, but from our faiths, our families and, ultimately, ourselves.

I’m not one for mixing religious faith with newspaper work, but I say this with both exasperation and solicitation:

God help us.


I recently read an article about the paper cups Starbucks is using during the 2016 holiday season. [3]

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Some Christians are outraged that Starbucks’ latest holiday cup features a plain red design instead of explicit references to Christmas. Apparently, they are trying to convince others to boycott Starbucks. How absurd!

Do most Christians actually follow the teachings of Jesus? I know from personal experience that many do follow the teachings of Jesus. I also know that many do not. This is transparent from their words, their actions, and the things they choose to care about or not care about.

Bill Maher said:

Jesus, as a philosopher is wonderful. There’s no greater role model, in my view, than Jesus Christ. It’s just a shame that most of the people who follow him and call themselves Christians act nothing like him. [4]

Life is not easy for anyone. We all face challenges, some more than others. We have choices. Instead of wasting time complaining and thinking about boycotting a corporation over the design of their cups, why not think about doing something good for the benefit of others. You could volunteer at a children’s hospital, for example. There are many children with cancer and other dreadful maladies who would benefit from a volunteer reading books to them. Choose what to care about and choose wisely.

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The Founding Fathers were intelligent men schooled in political, philosophical, historical, revolutionary and theological ideology. They knew the dangers of having a religious-based government. They knew that religious wars had been fought for thousands of years. They wanted to prevent religious tyranny while preserving religious freedom for all U.S. citizens. Transcripts of the Constitutional Convention’s debates are freely available on the internet for all to read.

Many, if not all, of the men who created our Constitution were Protestant Christians. Yet they chose to create a secular government entirely devoid of religion. The Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787.  Article VII established the procedure for state ratification.  A copy of the Constitution was then sent to each of the thirteen states to ratify. Ratification Conventions were then held in each of the states. The Constitution was ratified on June 21, 1788 and it became effective on March 4, 1789. The states’ Ratification Conventions were grueling and contentious. There was great fear that the new federal government would have the power to usurp the peoples’ rights of liberty and justice. Twelve Amendments to the Constitution were proposed and sent to the states to ratify. The states ratified ten of the twelve proposed amendments effective December 15, 1791; thus, the Bill of Rights was created.

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Amendment I states:

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.

The first part of the Amendment was deemed necessary to safeguard religious freedom. It comprises two parts which mean: (1) Congress (the Federal government) shall (a directive) make no law which would establish or endorse any religion. They feared the government would impose and enforce a religion (any religion) on U.S. citizens. (2) Congress (the Federal government) shall (a directive) make no law prohibiting the free exercise of any religion by any U.S. citizen.

This clause is known as the Freedom of Religion clause. The word “religion” appears only once in the entire document; not in the Constitution itself but in this one clause in the First Amendment. The Framers specifically rejected the requirement of any religious test in order for a U.S. citizen to hold an office within the government.

The Constitution is the supreme law of the land yet it limits what the federal government may do. It specifically states the powers of the three branches of government: the legislative branch, the executive branch, and the judicial branch. These were viewed by the Framers as restrictions. Everything not specifically granting power to the federal government is granted to the states, i.e. the people.

In other words, the Framers created a secular government; a government devoid of any religious creed; a government free of religious tests; a government that is prohibited from endorsing or imposing any religion on any U.S. citizen. Whatever language is used, the Framers intended to separate the government from religion—from any and all religions. The language most often used is: Separation of Church and State.

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The men who wrote and ratified the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were acutely aware that the thirteen colonies had fought and won a war of freedom from Britain’s King George III. They did not want another king. They did not want tyranny and unjust laws being imposed upon them. They wanted liberty and justice for all. This was no small thing. Our Constitution was the first of its kind in the world.

The American Civil War was an undeclared war, meaning Congress did not issue a Declaration of War since the states which had seceded from the Union were not a foreign power. Many people think the Civil War was fought to free the slaves. Slavery was certainly a major factor, but it was not the main reason. The Civil War was fought to preserve the United States Constitution; the preservation of the United States was paramount. President Lincoln and the 37th Congress authorized and executed the procedures and finances to carry on an armed conflict against the Confederate States in order preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.

President Lincoln was obligated to preserve the United States upon taking the oath of office as president of the United States. Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution states:

Before he [the president-elect] enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:–“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

The use of a Bible while being sworn in as president and the phrase, “So help me God,” added at the end of the oath has been used at the discretion of each president since George Washington. Some presidents used a law book instead of a bible and some presidents never mentioned God.

The Declaration of Independence is not law. It is a revolutionary document containing statements of principles. One of these statements is:

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.

The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were written by white men in the 18th century. Women and non-whites are not mentioned. These documents must be viewed in their historical context, which reflect the wisdom of their time. The men who wrote the Constitution wanted it to be a living document, not a static one. They foresaw growth and change in the newly-formed United States and they wanted the Constitution to be flexible enough to ensure the rights of liberty and justice for all future generations.

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The Constitution does not explicitly state that a woman has a civil right to an abortion if she so chooses. The Constitution does not explicitly state that same-sex marriage is a civil right. The Constitution does not explicitly state the numerous civil rights that we Americans regard as fundamental.  But the Constitution implicitly confers those rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, which states in part:

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

To understand exactly what liberty means is simple. Think only of yourself while examining what liberty means; do not think of anyone else during this analysis. Do you want the government to tell you what you may or may not do in the following examples?

Do you want the government, either federal or state, passing laws regarding:

Who you can love? Who you can marry? How many children you may have? Whether you may divorce your husband or wife? What sexual practices you may or may not perform in your bedroom? Who you may talk to? What music you may listen to? What television programs or movies you may watch? What books you may read? Where you may live? What food you may eat? What you may drink? What college you may attend? Whether you may entertain a person of a different race, religion or ethnicity in your home? Who you may choose as friends? Where you may work? What seat you may sit on in a bus? What clothing you may wear?

None of these things are stated in the Constitution, yet they are implied in the concept of liberty. They are considered Fundamental Rights inherent in the concept of personal liberty and they apply to every U.S. citizen.

We so often take these fundamental rights for granted. Worse, some people want these fundamental rights for themselves yet want to deny them to others. This is a monumental mistake that has caused, and still does cause, severe suffering to millions of people.

If you want these liberties for yourself, you MUST give these same liberties to every citizen of the United States. This is the Obligation of Liberty.

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[1] President Kennedy attributed this quote to Edmund Burke; however, it is widely disputed that Burke ever said this.

[2] http://www.azcentral.com/story/ejmontini/2015/03/26/sylvia-allen-arizona-legislature-mandatory-church/70482802/

[3] http://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/ej-montini/2016/12/22/donald-trump-war-on-christmas-barack-obama-cory-lewandowski-fox-news/95734854/

[4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2555oNAMcfA

 

American Legislative Exchange Council – ALEC

This is a work-in-progress . . . I will be expanding this article as time permits.

ALEC is the single most dangerous organization in the United States. According to sourcewatch.org:

ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wish lists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC’s operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy’s ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.

 

 

Neil Gorsuch – Supreme Court Nominee

Neil Gorsuch is President Trump’s nominee as associate justice of the United States Supreme Court. He is currently a federal judge of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.

This nomination and the senate vote is of the utmost importance to all Americans. It’s the single highest priority issue that everyone should be considering NOW.

A justice of the U.S. Supreme Court serves for his or her lifetime. A justice may not be removed for any reason other than for committing criminal acts.

I’ve watched every minute of the 4-day hearings and I am deeply troubled by Neil Gorsuch’s views and legal philosophy. He continually, ad nauseam, says that Supreme Court precedent is the law. These statements are duplicitous, at best. While the Supreme Court does factor precedent into deciding cases, many Supreme Court rulings have overturned precedent. One example is: Brown v. Board of Education overruled Plessy v. Ferguson. In Bosse v. Oklahoma, 580 U. S. ____ (2016), decided on October 11, 2016, the Supreme Court said: “[I]t is this Court’s prerogative alone to overrule one of its precedents.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee members held four days of confirmation hearings on Judge Gorsuch. The hearings were televised live on C-SPAN. For those of you who do not have access to C-SPAN TV, I have gotten the videoed hearings from the C-SPAN website and present them here for you to watch.

Here’s the link to C-Span’s website that has all videos of the hearings:

https://www.c-span.org/search/?searchtype=Videos&query=senate+confirmation+hearings+Gorsuch

Day 1 – Opening

Day 2 – Part 1

Day 2 – Part 2

Day 3 – Part 1

Day 3 – Part 2

Day 4 – Part 1

Day 4 – Part 2

This ends the 4-day Senate Confirmation Hearings.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on Gorsuch on Monday, April 3 and his nomination is expected to go to the Senate floor the following day, Tuesday, April 4.

Democrats have vowed to filibuster the vote. Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell may change Senate rules to avoid this.

Republicans hope he is passed out of the Senate before they go on their two-week Easter recess, which starts Friday, April 7.

NOW is the time to make your voices heard. Please contact your senators at http://www.senate.gov, where you can leave a message of any length; call your senators’ offices in Washington D.C. and their local offices.

Decisions are made by those who show up!