The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘the Constitution’ Category

REFUGEES – PART ONE

There is a reason that I love and admire dogs which is summed up in the statement, “Dogs never bite the hand that feeds them.”  That is a minimalist statement about the quality which dogs generally exhibit but suggests that they’re at the least smart enough not to kill the golden goose.  I would say that dogs are the most loyal and dedicated creatures with whom I have spent my time.  In fact, in terms of honesty they far exceed most of the people I’ve encountered over a lifetime.

Now our friends the French are happily notorious in their love of their canine companions.  It’s unusual to be at a cafe in Paris and not see dogs of several breeds enjoying a bite to eat together with their companion people.  And I can’t help but wonder if this is one of the reasons that ISIS carried out its destructive mission on Friday the 13th.  You see, dogs are considered “unclean” animals in Islam (not radical Islam – just your plain, ordinary vanilla variety).  A devout Muslim is required to wash his clothes three times should a dog lick them or himself if the same tragic fate befell his hand or face.

We currently see that, owing to the civil war in Syria, there are hundreds of thousands of refugees, most of whom are Muslim as one would expect, who have been displaced from their homes.  That is tragic.  And Europe and the western world is being called to step up to the plate and provide them refuge.  Americans have demonstrated their generosity throughout our history and, on the surface, it would seem reasonable to expect us to accommodate some of these.  In fact, President Obama has committed to at least ten thousand of them with talk of that number increasing to a quarter of a million.

As of this writing, there are thirty governors who have said flat out that they will not accept any of these refugees in their states.  Why are these fiends so hard hearted?  Or are they merely fulfilling the duties of their office for which they were elected by attempting to protect the citizens of their states?

It is clear that, despite the objections of these governors, that they have no supportable legal basis for their positions.  The fact that federal law trumps laws that states pass is a long established principle.  Certainly the governors must know that.  But perhaps they’re relying on the fact that this administration has chosen to ignore this Constitutional principle more than three hundred times by declining to intervene and enforce the law when it comes to the subject of “sanctuary cities” which have been established in clear violation of the laws passed by Congress and signed by the president.

It is perhaps telling that when the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, they first turned their attention to the responsibilities and duties of the legislative branch in Article 1.   Only after they had delineated what they considered to be the most important function of government did they turn their attention to the executive branch in Article 2.  And there are few duties that are enumerated in that Article but one of the most important is that, the president  must “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

It is clear what the rationale of the Founders was in the way in which they wrote the Constitution.  They had just participated in a revolution which overthrew a king who could impose law at will.  As a matter of personal and national self-interest, the Founders wanted the law to be made by people who represented the people and wanted to preclude any president from assuming the role that the king had previously held in dictating their affairs.  That seems to be a lesson that our current president either never learned, has forgotten or has purposely chosen to ignore.

While Obama clearly has the authority to bring in an unlimited number of refugees under a 2005 law, if there is anything that will preclude him from doing so will not be the law but his analysis of the political implications of what is a tide of rising public sentiment and even some opposition in his own party.  Those dissident voices come not from a hardness of heart or a lack of concern for the fate of these people but from what might be a well-founded concern that among those are affiliates of ISIS whose stated goal is to do harm to as many of us as possible.

If we have an obligation to accept refugees as we have in the past, it comes from a national sense of charity but there is no legality for us to do so.  Below is a link which is the statement of the UN Human Rights Commission which delineates the responsibilities of its signatory members.

http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/FactSheet20en.pdf

The document is lengthy but well worth reading as it contains some useful historical information as to the reasons it was written as it is.

But there is more to be said on this subject.  And tomorrow is another day in which we shall continue coverage on this important topic.

THE SUPREME COURT HANDS THE GOP A VICTORY

By it’s 6-3 decision that the IRS may interpret the PPACA (Obamacare) to include subsidies to those who purchase insurance through a Federal exchange rather than one established by the states as the law clearly states, the Justices made a political rather than a legal decision and while the President took a lap dance victory lap at the decision, the real winner in this decision was the GOP.  Sadly, I doubt that many of those in the race for the presidential nomination realize that – yet.

To borrow a phrase from Sophia of The Golden Girls, “Picture this” – we’re now at the point where the nominees for both parties have been selected.  And instead of today’s ruling, The Supreme Court ruled that the subsidies for many people were illegal.  Now we have a bunch of people who have had health insurance for several years who suddenly actually have to pay the full freight for that insurance, just like the vast majority of Americans who have insurance.  They naturally view that as being unfair – having to pay for what you bought.  (It’s a mindset that people who shoplift can well understand).

So, as we go into the final stretch before the 2016 election, you would see a flood of headlines in the liberal media and constant reference among the talking heads on television, that since Republicans (who did not vote for the law in the first place) did not provide a fix to an inherent (and I think intentionally designed flaw) in the original law, they are out to persecute minorities, the disadvantaged and everybody else who makes up the mindless mob that is at the core of the Democrat base and are, once again “throwing Granny under the bus.”  (Granny has more tread marks on her withered frame than a month’s output of product at a Michelin factory).

In a certain sense, the Court’s ruling today is irrelevant.  If you read the original law you understand that the IRS was vested with a tremendous amount of authority to administer it.  And that agency, which can’t comply with Federal archival registry laws regarding official documents, such as the Lois Lerner emails which it is only beginning to find several years after clearly stating that they were destroyed, had previously stated that in determining the subsidies to which an Obamacare health insurance participant they would rely on the word of the taxpayer as “they were unable to verify the information.”  Funny, they seem pretty capable of determining whether you or I have correctly reported our income.  Today’s ruling simply says that laws don’t matter and that unelected bureaucrats have free reign to do whatever they choose to do.

This decision does have significant implications that are completely unrelated to Obamacare.  Justice Scalia made that point in his scathing dissent from the majority opinion.  I think this decision might best be termed, “The Clinton Decision” – not for Hillary but for sometime hubby, Bill.

Remember back to Slick Willie’s impeachment trial and one of his responses to a question about his sexual activity within the Oval Office.  In typical legalistic fashion, then President Clinton answered one of the questions with the rhetorical question, “It depends on how you define ‘is”.”  We now know that the former president perjured himself under oath – and received a symbolic slap on the wrist with the revocation of his law license.  But in an age where politicians, bureaucrats and government officials regularly knowingly break the law which they are supposed to uphold and enforce – that is an attitude and climate that was the important part of today’s Supreme Court decision – which they essentially endorsed in their decision.

You cannot have it both ways.  If you think you’re justified in breaking this or that law, because it really doesn’t apply to you or really just isn’t that important, then why should you be disturbed if someone robs a convenience store or a policeman uses excessive force in apprehending or perhaps even killing a criminal suspect?

Thomas More’s speech to his son-in-law in A Man For All Seasons comes to mind in which he says he would give the Devil his due and the full protections of the law because if we start making exceptions, even for the Master of Evil, then “All the laws of England will come crashing down and then when the last law has fallen, where will we turn for refuge?”

And that is  what the Supreme Court has decided to inflict on the nation.  Hopefully, a wiser and more constitutionally oriented court in the future will undo the damage that was done by this court and return that august body to its proper role which is to interpret rather than make law.

 

q

THE LIGHT BULB AND THE PSYCHIATRIST

“How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?”

“Only one.  But the light bulb really has to want to change.”

We’ve had a long history of joke telling as a people.  That’s probably a good thing.  “The Reader’s Digest” used to have a regular column entitled, “Laughter – The Best Medicine.”  I don’t know if they still carry that.  In fact, I don’t know whether that magazine is still in publication as I haven’t seen a copy for forty years or more.

At one time I thought that jokes originated in our prison system.  After all, our inmates probably needed a break from making license plates.  It always amazed me how a particular subject for jokes suddenly exploded into our repertoire, whether those were elephant jokes, wife and husband jokes or light bulb jokes, to name only a few.

I remember as a kid going to Barnes & Noble, looking at their closeout section and seeing a book entitled, “Jokes For The John.”  The book had a hole punched in the upper left corner and a chain ran through that so the buyer could attach it to his or her toilet paper roller and always have reading material while heeding nature’s call.  While I’ve never quite understood why so many people seem to think that the bathroom is merely an extension of a library reading room, I am clearly in the minority with that view.  Although I could make a case that an appropriate bit of literature to read there would be, “The Princess And The Pea.”

To return to our title, estimates suggest that about ten percent of us Americans are afflicted with some sort of mental health issue.  While that is a minority, it is as significant a minority as those who are estimated to have an LGBT orientation.  Those who are thus challenged can be found in all sectors of our society.  Mental illness knows no racial, ethnic or economic boundaries.  Nor does it have limitations to certain professions.

The recent coverage by the media of the death of a Google executive who was killed with a heroin overdose by a prostitute, described him as, “A happily married man with five children.”  Perhaps it’s just me, but I don’t think of “happily married people” as going out to enjoy extracurricular sexual activity with prostitutes or hustlers.  Unhappily married people, perhaps.

If we can agree that mental dysfunction exists across all occupations, including those who bring us the news, it is reasonable to believe that it exists among those who make the news.  Certainly there is ample evidence of that as our headlines regularly feature outrageous behavior exhibited by the rich and famous, sometimes narrating the tales of their self-inflicted deaths.  And if Hollywood celebrities and sports icons can be sucked up into this vortex, it seems only reasonable that a similar percentage of our politicians must similarly suffer.

In trying to understand or explain what I can only describe as President Obama’s aberrant behavior in dealing with his role as Chief Executive, it seems that positing a similar mental health issue is one reasonable explanation – perhaps the far more charitable one than an alternative, purposely trying to undermine the country which he was elected to steer toward a brighter future.

Speaker Boehner is apparently going to proceed with a lawsuit in an effort to hold on to the legislative authority which is specifically delegated to the Congress and which President Obama has successively and successfully attacked.  That suit will probably take years before it is heard and will most likely be moot as Obama will long be out of office before – or if – it is even heard.  But there is an alternative that the House might consider.  That is Article II, Section 6 of the Constitution which describes succession to the presidential office:

“In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office…”.

We expect a certain amount of hyperbole from our politicians.  Some of us realize that overpromising and under-delivering is how they appeal to the electorate and get themselves installed in office.  But the overpromises which candidate and then first term President Obama have unleashed exceed the bounds of reasonableness and move into the territory of the pathological.  Perhaps that is why two thirds of the public believe that he either “Sometimes” or “Regularly” lies, knowing that his statements are pure fabrications.

While I am not a mental health worker, I am able to recognize when a person has a consistent pattern of deception and telling falsehoods.  Those people would be well served to seek professional help for their condition.  But we can cope with those whom we encounter who suffer from this affliction – if by no other means than by avoiding having any interactions with them – at least until they take the steps necessary to try to overcome their condition.  At least that is true in most cases.  But when the afflicted party holds a high office – the highest office in the world – that then is a different matter.

During his election campaigns, our media characterized the president to be a “Bright and shining light.”  But that light has not lived up to its promised output and has grown dim.  It is, perhaps, for the world’s sake, time to change the bulb – irrespective of whether or not it wants to be changed.

THE SPOKEN AND UNPUBLISHED WORD

It’s been about three weeks since I’ve had the opportunity to add a post to this blog.  I was not abducted by extraterrestrials (though sometimes I feel I’m living among them).  I have been actively adding my thoughts to the Huffington Post community in response both to stories they’ve published, in response to comments left by other readers and by responding to their critique of my comments.  This has become an exhausting effort.  The total number of these is now approaching five hundred.

In the process I’ve met some wonderful people who may not share my vision but who have the intellectual honesty to be willing to debate by using facts rather than hyperbole.  Of the 65 who are now “fans” they form a small coterie.  I suspect that many of the rest are only “fans” so that, given the opportunity, they can have the chance to leave a disparaging remark.  Fortunately, while I might have been an overly-sensitive child, my skin has thickened with the passage of time.

One of those, whose views are diametrically different than mine and with whom I have engaged in vigorous debate, was kind enough to respond to the snarky comment left by another reader, “What planet are you from? Uranus?” He advised, “Pay not attention to idiots.  I have your back.”  That comment literally caused my eyes to tear.

There are some decent people in the world – irrespective of whether we share the same political viewpoint.  But if we take the stand that we are the sole possessor or recipient of “truth” and anyone who disagrees is, by definition, “wrong” we will never reach any consensus or move toward a more prosperous future.  Sadly, that seems to be the majority view of those who comment on the Huffington Post and, in fairness, probably reflects much the same attitude one would find in an ultra-right publication as well.

One of the brief comments I left, which generated far more activity than I would have expected, pertained to the vote to hold Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress.  The rhetoric and hyperbole flowed fast and furiously (no pun intended).  The overwhelming majority of those focused on my being “un-American;” “having no concept of the Constitution – particularly the Fifth Amendment;” or simply pointed to this event as little more than a “Republican witch hunt.”

To summarize my three sentence comment I said, “I didn’t know whether Ms. Lerner had done anything illegal or whether the IRS had engaged in illegal or political activity but that it would be in all of our best interests to get to the truth and, if there were impropriety, to make sure it didn’t happen again.”

If I had a list of statements that I had made over the years which I personally considered “controversial,” this one wouldn’t have qualified.  That was not the reaction of HP readers, twenty-two of whom “faved” my comment – and thirty-eight of whom explained that I was a blithering idiot.  But at least this comment was allowed to stand by the “editorial board” at HP.

Another comment which also generated a lot of interest did not survive the censorship process.  That comment, which follows, was in response to a story which made fun of Brit Hume and FOX News (the greatest evil since Hitler discovered the gas chamber), over the social media effort to rescue the abducted Nigerian school girls by launching a hash tag campaign.

“There’s probably no one in the “civilized world” who doesn’t hope for the safe return of the abducted Christian Nigerian girls. (By civilized world I refer to those who are not members of Boko Haram or any other fundamentalist extreme Islamic terrorist organization).

But this incident is hardly without precedent since in late February, fifty-nine male students were attacked in their Nigerian school and were either shot or burned to death by the same outfit. Where was the outrage; where were the hash tags; where was the love?

Treating symptoms doesn’t cure diseases. And until we admit the real source of these problems and stamp it out as we did with smallpox, we’re all likely candidates for infection – with or without hash tags.

The story here isn’t FOX News. It’s medieval Islamic extremists.”

I can only guess why that comment was deemed as “too outrageous for publication” but I suspect that it was either by using the words, “Islam,” “extremism,” “terrorists,” or some combination of those which caused the deletion.

I would have liked to have had the opportunity to both read and respond to the twenty-two comments that other readers took the trouble to leave.  Sadly, my comment and their responses were deleted before I had the chance to do that.  That is both a discourtesy to me – but more so to those who wanted to share their thoughts.  And it does remind me that what was true more than two hundred years ago is just as true today.

“Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.”
― Benjamin Franklin

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