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I will freely admit that I am not a Constitutional Lawyer.  I will also admit that my education included not only history classes, but civics classes.  So like everyone else of my generation, I have a basic understanding of our constitution and how our government works.

The unfortunate side of politics today is that there are a slew of people on the Republican side claiming that they only wish to “defend the constitution” and constitutional rights.  Some like the Canadian Senator claims he is a constitutional lawyer.

According to these “learned” people, the Supreme Court has “overstepped” its authority in declaring same-sex marriage as legal.  They claim that the court has no legitimacy in overturning laws that were passed by Congress, States, or popular propositions.  According to these “learned” people, the court does not have the right to determine which laws passed by these means are constitutional or not.

Now, taking into account my admission that I am not a Constitutional Lawyer, I must strongly disagree with these “learned” people.  According to the lessons in my civics classes, that is exactly what the Supreme Court is supposed to do.

According to grammar school civics classes of my time, the Congress is to pass laws. The Executive Branch is supposed to enforce those laws.  When there is a question about the constitutionality of those laws, it is the responsibility of the Supreme Court to determine if those laws are constitutional or not.

If this were not the case, we would never have had cases in the past that guaranteed the civil rights of minorities. We would never have had rulings that desegregated our education system.  In effect, we would be living under a dictatorship.

It works this way.  The court does NOT make laws.  They determine if  laws already passed violates the civil rights of citizens under the Constitution.  If it determines that a law does violate the civil rights of citizens the law becomes void.  Thus in the case of same-sex marriage, the laws prohibiting them were deemed to be unconstitutional, they were struck down and same-sex marriage became legal in all 50 states.

That is not the same as “making” laws.  By default, the court says that same-sex marriage is legal because the laws passed to refuse the right to citizens was deemed to be illegal.  That is what the court is supposed to do  I don’t agree with the Court on every thing either. Like Citizens United.  But, that doesn’t mean they “overstepped” their boundaries. It means I disagree with their ruling, but their ruling is the law of the land and must be adhered to.

Sometimes I think there is a special doctor and pharmacist on Capital Hill just for Republicans.  That doctor prescribes and the pharmacist is tasked with handing out “stupid pills” to members of the Republican Party.  I also think that the more conservative you are, the more pills you are supposed to take every day.  Some of these people must be on a 10 pill per day dosage.  Otherwise, how can you account for their utter stupidity when it coms to the Constitution?

I am offering this doctor and pharmacist idea as a viable excuse for them, because the other answer is that they don’t care about the Constitution and the rights it protects for all citizens.  In either case, they are not only wrong in their interpretation, they are wrong at the top of their lungs.  Can we at least keep the volume down a bit?

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I am not really sure what to say about the political environment today.  We have been ensnared into falling into two basic camps.  Conservative or Liberal.  But, as everyone really knows, that is insane.  The American people as a whole are neither conservative nor liberal.  I believe that the vast majority of the American people are in the middle.

There are arguments about whether or not we are middle-left or middle-right.  I really think it depends on who is running for office.  Yes, there are pockets where ultra-conservative and/or ultra-liberal politics wins out, but that is really a minority not the majority.

This is all coming to a head during this 2016 Presidential Election Cycle.  You can see it everywhere you care to read headlines.  Some “pundits” are calling for a more radical liberal agenda.  Others are calling for an ultra-conservative agenda.  Neither is even listening to the American People.

There are even those who are now claiming that Donald Trump is a “refreshing” political voice.  They argue that he is willing to speak his mind regardless of whom he pisses off.  They say we need more politicians like him to keep our politics from becoming too “boring.”

This is all stupid rhetoric.  What we really need is for our politicians to actually look at our problems and listen to the people.  That is not as hard as you may think it is.  However, it isn’t going to happen, especially on the Republican side, because they believe that the country is ultra-conservative.  They believe that the American people want to be able to discriminate against someone.  They believe that the American people want religious leaders to dictate policy.

Democrats are not much better.  They are very quietly saying things they have said for years.  They also listen too much to Wall Street.  Remember, Wall Street is where most of the money comes from in order to run for office.  As a result, both sides of the aisle have allowed for regulations on financial institutions to be relaxed again.  This is becoming the same old tired politics from our past.

Democrats seem to think that talking quietly is the correct choice to get elected.  Republicans think that being boisterous is the way to get elected.  The problem is that both sides are only looking at primaries and not the over all health of our country.  Instead of discussing how they foresee the country moving forward, they use 20 second sound bites to talk down the other side.  It is basically our fault.  We allow them to use such tactics because we refuse to ask the tough questions.

I said earlier it isn’t difficult to find out just what the American People want.  If you look at the polls, you can see a lot of issues where there is a majority opinion on lots of issues that politicians still try to divide us over.  Things like gun control, for example.  You will discover that the American People want to be able to own guns.  Yet, you will also find that the majority of Americans want reasonable control over who can own guns.  The vast majority of Americans believe in Universal Background Checks before being allowed to purchase a gun.

The majority of American people believe that same-sex marriage is protected by the constitution.  They do not want the government telling churches or religions that they must perform religious marriages, but they do believe that same-sex marriage is legal and should be protected.

You will also find that the vast majority of Americans believe that income inequality is a real problem in growing our economy.  They want a higher minimum wage.  They believe that the super rich should pay more in taxes.  They believe in Social Security and Medicare.  They believe in a woman’s right to choose abortion or not.

Put simply, the American People do not want anyone in government running their personal lives.  They expect the government to protect them from violence, crime, and robber barons.  They expect a fair chance to reach their own version of the American Dream.

But, instead of hearing plans about how we can best achieve the wishes of the American people, we hear about things that only matter to a slim minority of the electorate.  We only hear about what the Conservative Christian Cult wants to hear.  We have politicians calling immigrants “rapists” and other derogative terms.

This is not politics.  This is hate.  This is control.  This is pure stupidity.  As I said this is mostly our fault.  We fail to hold these wackos accountable for their stupidity.  We tolerate their ignorance and hate.  We just turn away and then say, well candidate A is less evil than candidate B.

Then we blame the candidates. We call them liars.  We say they are only interested in their own power.  We have mid-term elections where less than a third of registered voters actually show up to vote.  The next time you really want to blame someone for our political largess, look in the mirror.

The next time your elected official says the Affordable Care Act must be repealed, stand up and ask what is their plan to replace it?  Don’t accept 20 second sound bites as an answer either.  Make them spell out their plan.  The next time they say they support the troops, stand up and ask why they slashed the VA budget again.

The next time they talk about gun rights, ask them who should be allowed to own guns?  Should criminals and mentally impaired be allowed to own weapons?  If not, how are you going to keep them from owning guns without universal background checks.

These are just examples of things you can ask about.  Don’t let the fringe groups on either side take over the conversation.  Make your elected official and candidates answer serious questions.  Make sure they are held accountable and go to the polls.

Democracy only works when the people participate in it.  If you continue to stay home on election day, we will lose the very liberties you cherish so much.  And, it will be our fault!  I say it is time to “take our country back.”  We need to take it back from the crazies before it is too late for all of us.

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Another day, another mass shooting.  On the same day the Colorado movie shooter was convicted of mass murder, less than a month after 9 people were shot to death in a church in Charleston, SC, we have another mass shooting in Tennessee.  There is a difference in this one.  Four service members, all Marines, were killed in this incident.  And, the suspected shooter was reportedly born in Kuwait.

This one difference makes this, according to the right-wing, an act of terrorism.  None of the other mass murders that have taken place are acts of terrorism.  The shooter in Charleston has not been charged with domestic terrorism, but rather mass murder.  The guilty verdict in Colorado was not for domestic terrorism either.  But these shooters were both.  I guess that makes a big difference to the right.

The latest shooting in Tennessee may well be an act of terrorism.  But, so little is known about the shooter that we need to learn more before making any claims about that.  We don’t even know yet if the suspect is a U.S. citizen.  Just because he may have been born in Kuwait, doesn’t mean he isn’t a citizen.  He did graduate from a U.S. High School and the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga.

This could also be a case of revenge as well.  Maybe the suspect was turned down for recruitment in the military.  It would not be the first time service members were killed for that reason.  True, it doesn’t happen very often but it does happen.  We just don’t know yet.

The right-wing is also arguing that this shooting will be turned into the use of guns and more gun controls.  But, one does have to ask how the suspect got his guns?  If he is a citizen, then he has the right to get guns.  If he is not a citizen, then how could he get his guns?  That is something that also needs to be looked at.

This country has seen way too many mass murders of this type.  Some have been acts of terrorism, but almost all of them have been committed by U.S. Citizens and not foreigners illegally here.  That should raise some red flags as well.  The fact that the only time the right wants to label them as terrorist acts is when the suspect is supposedly a Muslim, also tells us something.

All acts of mass murder, in my opinion, are acts of terrorism.  It doesn’t matter to me who the suspect is or what religion he belongs to.  All that matters is that mass murder is simply an act intended to make people afraid.  That is terrorism.

Until we treat all cases of mass murder as terrorist acts, this will continue to happen.  This case has nothing to do with immigration or any other trivial matter.  It has to do with someone wanting to frighten people.  They are intended to make people fail unsafe in public.  That is the very definition of terrorism.

None of this matters to the right-wing.  This is the perfect example of ISIS coming to our shores and shooting us to death.  It is the very thing that they want you to be terrified about.  It is exactly what people like Donald Trump want to happen.  It allows them scream about the President and his so-called “lack of border control.”  It is another excuse to go to war.

As one right-wing nut tweeted:

We’ve been saying it forever; hit them HARD over there, or they’ll hit us here. Obama’s been playing footsie with ISIS, this happens.

In order to try to keep these things under better control, we need to start treating mass murder as acts of terrorism regardless of who commits the act.  The Charleston shooter should be charged with an act of terrorism.  We need to make sure that anyone committing such crimes, be charged with the real crime they are committing.

No more excuses.  No more sick attempts at getting headlines.  Terrorism is terrorism.  We need to prosecute it as such.  And, if gun laws wer violated in order to get the guns, those responsible for not following the law and selling these terrorists guns should also be prosecuted as accomplices.

Many on the right won’t like what I just said, but I don’t really care.  I am tired of seeing my fellow citizens being killed by terrorists, both foreign and domestic simply because it is too easy to get the guns they need.  We really need to have a real discussion on how to best make things like this less likely.  Reason usually wins out.  Unfortunately the right-wing nuts don’t know how to even spell reason, much less know what it means.  So, I guess I am just howling at the moon.

 

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The State of Texas is showing its bigotry yet again.  This time, they are even trying to deny citizenship to people, who according to the U.S. Constitution are citizens.  According to the Constitution, anyone born in the United States is considered to be a citizen of the United States.  There are no exceptions like the parents are foreigners.  Texas apparently doesn’t agree with the Constitution.

As a result of their hate for the Constitution, Texas has taken a very dangerous step.  The Texas Department of State Health Services simply ignores the birth of children of foreigners in the U.S.  Specifically, they are targeting Latino children born in the U.S.

According to their new “rule” they refuse to issue a Birth Certificate to children of Latino parents who do not have a passport with a current Visa or a U.S. identification.  People with what is known as a matricula consular, which is a photo ID issued by the Mexican Consulate to Mexican Nationals living in the United States were issued birth certificates for their children born in the U.S.  Now, however, the State of Texas refuses to honor these photo ID’s.  They also refuse to honor foreign passports that do not have a current Visa.

This second issue not only affects Mexican, but other Latin American women who have crossed the border seeking asylum.  This means that any child born under these circumstances cannot get a birth certificate.  In other words, Texas is saying the children do not exist.

The problem goes way beyond that.  How is a mother supposed to prove she is a child’s mother without a birth certificate?  This happens a lot when dealing with serious medical treatment.  A non-parent cannot make decisions for a minor in emergency situations.  Texas is making sure that the mother cannot make those decisions for her own child because she cannot prove she is the mother.

If that child grows up in the U.S. the child cannot attend school.  A birth certificate is required to enter school.  The State of Texas is simply saying this child does not exist, so this child cannot receive an education.  Four women have sued the State of Texas over this policy.  One of the attorneys for the women said in a written statement:

Even in the darkest hours of Texas’ history of discrimination, officials never denied birth certificates to Hispanic children of immigrants. Everyone born in the United States is entitled to the full rights of citizenship.”

The other problem is that there is no evidence yet that shows birth certificates have been denied to European children born in Texas.  Despite what conservatives want you to think, there are undocumented immigrants from Europe as well.  But, since their numbers are less than Latin American, they aren’t being scrutinized as much.  You don’t hear Donald Trump shouting that undocumented immigrants from Europe are “rapists.”

No, this is a blatant act of discrimination aimed at a certain group of people.  It is denying children born in the U.S. their rightful citizenship simply because their parents are not citizens.  Of course, Texas will claim that it really isn’t bigotry because these children were never born.  They don’t have the necessary documents to prove they were.

Just in case you think this is something new, it has been going on for over a year.  As you can see, the people of Texas who claim to “love the constitution” really hate the constitution.  There is not other explanation for this sad story.

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Now that it has been announced that a deal with Iran has been struck, the question becomes whether it is a good deal or a bad deal?  I have not formed any opinion about the deal yet, simply because I haven’t seen the whole thing.  As I told my children for years, the main reason I worked for a living all of my life is because I failed mind-reading school.  If I had passed, I could have read minds, bought lots of the right stock, and made millions without lifting a finger.  But, since I failed, I had to work.

The unfortunate side of this is that conservatives, especially those running for President, seem to believe they passed mind-reading school.  Ever since a deal was even possible, conservatives have been saying it is a “bad deal.”  Now that one has been reached, the antagonism has reached new highs, or maybe lows.

The President says this deal is based on “verification” rather than “trust.”  For everyone’s sake, I hoe that is correct.  However, conservatives are howling at the moon without even seeing the final draft.  Rather than simply saying that they look forward to reading the text of the deal, and then deciding whether or not it is good or bad, they are just screaming about it.

Lindsey Graham says it has “created a possible death sentence for Israel.”  Mike Huckabee claims it is the beginning of the apocalypse.  Scott Walker says we should only negotiate on “our terms.”  Meaning his idea of “negotiating” is to dictate terms to the other side.

Jeb Bush says that the “net result of this is we’re likely to have proliferation in the region, you’re likely to have an emboldened Iran, not a humble Iran, and you’re likely to have our strongest ally in the region be threatened.”  And, of course Bibi hates the deal.  Then again, Bibi hates anything to do with Iran.

I had asked before what are the options?  As I see it, the options are to either get a deal or go to war.  We have used sanctions and they failed.  Yes, Iran is hurting economically, but they haven’t stopped their nuclear program.  Additionally, our allies have balked at more sanctions.  And couple that with the Greece problem Europe is facing, I don’t see them getting too involved with more sanctions.

Anti-Obama knee-jerk reactions from the right has been common-place since he took office.  There has been nothing proposed by this President that the right hasn’t criticized without even reading it.  That is no way to govern.  Additionally, if this deal is really based on “verification” then they should be praising the President for following in Saint Reagan’s legacy of “trust but verify.”

Unlike our friends on the right, I am going to hold off on my opinion of the deal until I have had a chance to read it.  I suggest you do the same.  It may be a very good deal.  On the other hand it may be a very bad deal.  But, I suspect that it will fall somewhere in between as almost every “negotiated” deal with another country does.  Only time will tell if it will work or not.  The only alternative is another war.  I would prefer that doesn’t happen.

Maybe I should try mind-reading school again.  Heck, if conservatives can pass the course, I should be able to as well.

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To borrow a line from the movie Blazing Saddles, “What in the wide world of sports is going on here?”  The Republican Party’s candidates seem so far out, that they belong in a comedy movie.  Unfortunately, this is way too serious to compare it to a comedy movie.

The right-wing seems to have lost all reason.  The Candidates are all trying to one-up each other on stupidity.  We have Donald Trump saying that immigrants are “rapists.”  Of course the Canadian Senator Cruz agrees with him.  I guess all of those rape cases on our college campuses are being committed by those undocumented immigrants cutting the grass and not those nice male college students.  How could we have missed that?

Of course, not leaving it there, the Donald also said we should “invade” Mexico.,  I am not quite sure why we should invade Mexico.  Doesn’t he realize that if we annex Mexico after our invasion, all of those Mexicans would become citizens?  There wouldn’t be any need for that terrifying thing called “amnesty.”

Pat Buchanan is at it again too.  He is saying that the court’s ruling on same-sex marriage and that the Ten Commandments must be removed from an Oklahoma court-house would cause another “civil rights movement” this time from the right.  In his latest column, he claims these rulings would spark a rebellion similar to the Revolutionary War to “throw off the shackles of unjust laws.”  Apparently, Pat believes that civil rights for everyone is somehow “unjust.”

Marco Rubio even got into the act.  In a speech before the National Right to Life Committee’s annual convention in New Orleans on Friday he compared the fight against abortion rights to the fights to end slavery and for women’s suffrage.  Seems that Rubio thinks that abortion and contraception should be banned world-wide.  He called the historic Roe v. Wade decision “historically and egregiously flawed.”  But didn’t say how it was so flawed.

According to Rubio, the current resident of the White House has sought to expand women’s right to choose (and access to birth control), which is just awful. He hoped the crowd would help send him to the White House so he can reverse any progress that might have been made under said occupant.

Then of course we have Jeb Bush claiming that we are simply just too lazy to help grow our economy.  When the firestorm broke out, he claimed he was taken out of context so it sounded worse than what he meant.  So, to be fair, here is his quote in context so you can decide for yourself.

My aspiration for the country and I believe we can achieve it, is 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see. Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours and, through their productivity, gain more income for their families. That’s the only way we’re going to get out of this rut that we’re in.

I guess he means that if you are working two jobs, getting paid minimum wage for each and have trouble getting by, the answer is just to work more.  Who needs sleep?  Besides, “work makes you free.”  Haven’t we heard that somewhere before?  Like “Arbeit macht frei” signs greeting prisoners entering concentration camps the Nazis ran during World War II?

Of course, this stupidity isn’t limited to just Presidential Candidates.  The governor of Oklahoma said she won’t remove the Ten Commandments from public property simply because she “doesn’t want to.”  Even though it was her State Supreme Court that made the ruling.

Talk Radio’s bloviated fat drug addict was also at it again.  He called Pope Francis a “clown.”  What is the reason for his remark?  The Pope criticized unfettered capitalism.  According to the drug addict:  “Pope Francis is in Bolivia, and he’s come out with another of his anti-capitalism remarks. The Pope, Il Papa, the vicar of Christ said that unfettered capitalism is the devil’s dung.”

As I said earlier, if most of these wackos weren’t running for President, all of this would make for a great comedy movie.  Unfortunately, they are running for President and that is very scary.  We have a couple of candidates calling our neighbors to the south all rapists.  We have one saying we are facing either another revolution or civil war.  And one who compares denying women rights to abortion and contraception as being the same as “women’s suffrage.”  And one who says we are all too lazy to help the economy because we don’t want to work 100 hours per week.

The civil rights of Americans are not part of any of these people’s agenda.  Rather, they want to limit your civil rights to what they believe is right.  They want you to toe the line in order to make others more rich, others more powerful, and others simply run your life.

This is what the Republican Party has sunk to.  This is what the Republican Party wants you to believe is patriotism.  This is what the Republican Party wants you to vote for come November 2016.  In my opinion, what we are really watching is a true American Tragedy.

How have we sunk so low that too many of us tolerate this idiocy.  Worse, too many of us actually believe this idiocy.  Let’s hope reason takes over real soon or we will be in worse trouble than we already are.

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I don’t quite know what to say about Jeb Bush.  He is supposed to be the rational thinking smart candidate on the Republican side.  Yet somehow, he just doesn’t seem to understand that what he says will be published.  And, since a lot of what he says is rather dumb, he must either backtrack, or clarify his comments after the fact.

I have done a fair amount of public speaking in my time.  I gave instructional lectures to peers.  I was a trainer and even an adjunct professor at a junior college.  So, I do understand that when you are giving a speech, there is a tendency to speak before thinking.

The other day, poor Jeb was giving an interview to the New Hampshire Union Leader.  During the interview he said:

My aspiration for the country, and I believe we can achieve it, is 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see.  Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours and, through their productivity, gain more income for their families. That’s the only way we’re going to get out of this rut that we’re in.”

There are a few small problems with what Jeb said.  Firstly, productivity over the last 25 years has grown by leaps-and-bounds.  Productivity in this country is at an all-time high.  Secondly, the real problem is there about 6.8 million Americans who are being forced to work part-time rather than full-time so employers don’t have to pay benefits.  Third, the minimum wage in this country is at its lowest since 1972, when considering inflation.

In the post war era, when productivity increased, wages increased.  Today, as productivity increases wages for the workers remains stagnant.  This isn’t the fault of the workers, it the fault of the employers.  When asked if someone working two jobs to make ends meet should work more hours, Jeb backtracked and said no, they should be paid more.

But, Jeb is against raising the minimum wage.  As a matter of fact, Jeb doesn’t believe there should be a federal minimum wage at all.  He believes that the states and/or the employers should set any minimum wages.  The very employers who won’t hire full-time employees so they don’t have to provide any benefits for their workers and thus pocket the money in extra profits.

Something else Jeb has failed to take into consideration is the level of income when employers don’t have to pay overtime to white-collar workers or salaried workers.  That level stops at $23,660.  If you make more than that and are considered “salaried” worker, you don’t get overtime.  The President recommended to double that amount.  Republicans, including Jeb went crazy over that suggestion.

Another thing that Jeb has said in the past is that Social Security retirement age should be raised from 65 to about 68 or 70.  This he claims will help keep the Social Security system solvent.  Somehow, Jeb seems to have missed the point that retirement for full Social Security benefits is already at 68.

Finally, Jeb has praised his brother’s idea of privatizing Social Security.  His staff later said he was not in favor of privatization.  They pointed to the fact he never said the word “privatization” when he praised his brother’s plan.  Unfortunately, you cannot praise the plan without being in favor of privatization.

About the only thing that one can take from Jeb’s recent comments, combined with his past comments is that Jeb thinks the American worker should work more hours, without wage protection for their labors, and work until they are 70 before being allowed to retire.

Democrats accuse Jeb Bush of being just another plutocrat out of touch with the American People.  Republicans say Jeb Bush is a thoughtful and intelligent person looking to make things better.  Turns out Jeb Bush is just another Bush politician who will say anything to anyone.  His story will change depending on to whom he is talking.  When he is blasted for saying something stupid, his staff will find creative ways to defuse the issue.  Like saying not using the word “privatization” means he is not in favor of it even thought the plan he loves means just that.

When it comes down to reality, I say that Jeb Bush is another rich guy running for President with the same goals as every other rich guy running for President.  Protect his donors and blame the American People for their plight.  I say Jeb Bush believes we should all stand in line for hours just to kiss the shoes of those who employ us.  Even if that employment won’t even let us pay our living expenses much less buy any comfort items.

At my count, there about six million Republicans who have declared their desire to run for President.  Everyone of those six million Republicans all favor the same things Jeb Bush favors.  I hate to say this, but the Republican field is beginning to look like having to choose between Moe, Curly, or Larry.  I wonder if the Primary Ballots on the Republican side will have an “other” box to check.  One can only hope!

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