It’s going to happen. You know that as well as I do. They are going to do it. The Republican majority is going to push Kavanaugh through and right down our throats. Because they can. By the time you read this, they will probably already have done it. But even if by some miracle they should fail, the mere fact that they are attempting it is unethical, immoral, unjust, and a shot right through the Constitution.
It has nothing to do with right vs. wrong, with morality or ethics or justice. None of that matters. The Republican party has stopped even pretending to care about any of that.
It is about power. It is about taking advantage, by hook or crook, and there are plenty of crooks in the GOP, of the opportunity to control the country for the next 20-30 years through manipulation of the Supreme Court, which ultimately has more power domestically than the President.
It is about grabbing the power for 1/3 of America, the conservative to the point of regression third, the ultra religious cultists third, the racist and sexist third, the third of toxic masculinity and a yearning for the return of the 1850’s.
Make no mistake. The manner in which the Republican party has abandoned all ethics and all sense of morality in its ruthless manipulation of the SCOTUS selection process, is best described by one word. Coup. That’s C.O.U.P.
We can only hope that this is the very last straw, the final bullet through the Constitution needed to move independent and undecided voters to the left side of the line in the midterms. Only by retaking not just the House but the Senate as well can sanity be restored. Even then, it will be necessary for a new Congress to impeach at least one unfit SCOTUS judge as ruthlessly as he was shoved onto the court. Then Trump needs to replaced by a landslide in 2020, and a new, rational President should seriously consider adding judges to the court. Steps should also be taken to establish inviolate rules by which SCOTUS justices are nominated, vetted, and seated in the future.
Or the racist, sexist, economically ignorant and societally regressive one third of the country will continue to govern all of us. This is simply unacceptable.
There is a question we no longer need to ask. You know what it is. It’s that question we asked Germans for decades after WWII. How did Germany allow themselves to succumb to Adolf Hitler?
We don’t need to ask any longer because we are seeing how it happened, as it happens right here. In America. In the 21st century. Trump is taking America down that same road, and all we do is watch.
Trump has a rabid core of supporters formed of neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and fake ‘Christians’ who call themselves evangelicals. He has the support of a Republican party that has lost all sense of either ethics or morality. They are dismantling the core values of the Constitution. They have already made America a laughing stock on the world stage. Now Trump and his National Socialists are taking America from laughing stock to world terror.
And all we do is watch. Because, you see, we depend on our democratic underpinnings to save the day. First the mid-terms, then the ouster of Trump in 2020. Hopefully.
Just like all those Germans in the 1930’s who were sure reason would triumph before Hitler and his Nazis took over completely. Oh, and the hopeful ones were in the majority, too. Because, you see, their democracy had two fatal flaws. It was too democratic. It really had no built-in safeguards against a takeover by a charismatic psychopath. And there were insufficient restraints on the power of a single man.
Our own forefathers made exactly the same mistakes. There are no provisions in our Constitution to keep an immoral tyrant from seeking control. And there are roadblocks sufficient to stop a determined Hitler persona from doing whatever he (or she) wants, once in office? The Congress can serve that purpose only if the President’s own party doesn’t also control both houses. The Supreme Court holds no enforcement powers. The nation’s top law enforcement officials serve at the pleasure of the President and his party. The emoluments clause has as much real substance as a Marvel comic book hero. There is no Superman.
IF the United States does manage to survive Donald Trump, these failings need to corrected by Congressional action up to and including Constitutional amendment. It needs to be done with a sense of immediacy. Yes, I have suggestions. They may need to be refined, of course.
1. Psychiatric testing for all Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidate. This can be done by a panel made up of an equal number of psychiatrists from each party. They should also all be teaching level psychiatrists at respected Universities and medical schools, not just anybody with a shingle.
2. No party shall be allowed to control both houses of Congress. The easy fix is for the Supreme Court to allot ‘extra’ votes to the minority party in one of the houses. This is not unfair. Having a single group viewpoint in charge of both houses of Congress is unfair, and dangerous.
3. Abolish the Electoral College.
4. Give the Supreme Court enforcement powers.
5 Reduce the power of the President to make war. He/she should not be able to initiate military action alone except as a direct act of defense/retaliation against a specifically identified hostile force/country in response to a clear act of hostility against America itself. This must be limited to defensive action not to include American forces invading foreign nations. Anything other than this must be authorized by Congress.
6. Once justice department officials have been appointed, the President must not be able to fire them without the concurrence of both houses of Congress.
7. The emoluments clause must be re-written and given teeth. A majority of either house of Congress should be able to instigate the opening of an evaluation. The President’s cabinet, since they have been appointed by the President, can have no part in the process, other than opening an evaluation process by simple majority.
8. No individual who has ever lobbied for industry can be placed in charge of a government agency.
9. The Vice-President cannot serve as the tie breaker in a tied Senate vote. A tied vote must send the questionable legislation to a select committee made up of an equal number of Senators from each party to reach an equitable solution.
10. The President must not have the ability to single-handedly push the nuclear button. He/she must have the concurrence of the Chairperson of the Joint Chiefs. To this end, That individual’s office must be located in the White House instead of the Pentagon.
11. Congress must take immediate action on legislation which spells out clearly that the government shall have no connection whatsoever to any religion or religious body or group.
12. Citizens United must be revisited and overturned. Congress. must take corporate and lobbyist donations completely out of American elections.
13. Congress must review every area of Presidential executive authority and determine legislation to limit it.
America, we have a problem. It’s sad but true. Police are out of control in many places in America. They use flimsy excuses to excuse bigotry while beating, maiming, falsely accusing, and killing. This has to be stopped.
Now understand, these unfit officers represent, hopefully, and we are told, a very small percentage of those who wear the uniform properly and proudly with humanity and distinction. But until that vast majority who truly protect and serve stop protecting the racist, bigoted beasts within their ranks; until that vast majority, and the departments themselves, take a stand for what’s right, they can’t complain about the negative spotlight cast upon all of them. John Q Public can’t waltz into a police department and clean it up. It must be the organizations themselves, purging and cleaning from within.
Make no mistake. I’m far from naive. Our police officers have the most difficult, dangerous moment by moment job in the country. They see and deal with the worst levels of our society. I respect them immensely. They face sights and situations and dangers the rest of us can most avoid, thanks to them. Their bravery is for the most part unquestioned. The simple traffic stop we take granted is, for them, never simple and never safe.
But here’s the deal. As tough as that job is, as dangerous, as discouraging, as scary, as thankless, if they cannot find a way to maintain their humanity and discard their prejudices, they shouldn’t be doing the job. For the vast majority of good cops out there, my heart goes out to you, for your bravery, your dedication, your humanity, and perhaps most of all, your resilience. You are the stellar examples we need. But when you protect those among you who shouldn’t be wearing the badge—and in most departments I’m sure those are well known—you do a disservice not only to those whom you have sworn to protect and serve, but more keenly to yourselves.
And yes, I’m fully aware that many if not most, of the excessive force and shoot first, ask questions later incidents are, more than anything, the result of fear, quiet insidious fear, that police officers live with every minute. It has to eat at even the strongest person in uniform. I can’t truly imagine, no matter how hard I try, what it’s like to feel that with every call, every traffic stop, and maintain one’s humanity and not prejudge and not give in to doing it to them before they can do it to you. And yet, that’s exactly what we need our police to do.
I have an idea, for what it’s worth. It goes something like this. I recommend that every officer, particularly in the larger departments cities, be assigned to spend time every week, on the clock, in some activity to help counter the negatives they face. Group talk it out sessions, uplifting and positive activities with the community, things that do nothing but depressurize. Maybe that will help. Maybe you have a thought to make it a better idea. Go for it. Please.
But the bad apples have to go. Now. Immediately. Previously good officers who show signs of tending toward excessive violence may not even need to be fired. There are probably plenty of honorable desk jobs that can to be filled, at full pay and benefits, by officers with severe signs of burnout. That seems to me to be the best way of ‘protecting our own.’
I grew up knowing officers. I grew up admiring and respecting police. I still do. But the incidents of brutality and killing of unarmed people, of policing with violence and brutality first, humanity and reason third or fourth, has to stop. The job itself is incredibly hard. There’s no doubt about that. But I also know this. A person with a badge a club a gun and the cover of authority, but lacking in humanity or possessed by racism and bigotry or just burned out, is far more frightening than reassuring. That isn’t the kind of policing we can live with in America.
We can’t accept policing our citizenry with Negans. Not even Dirty Harrys. We need Reagans. We need Marshall Dillons, Reed and McCoys, Jon and Ponches Joe Fridays. And we need officers who see humans rather than colors.
I just read about a school bus driver in Minnesota who was relieved from his route due to leading students in prayer on his bus.
The article said he forced the students to pray with him. He denied that. But he did pray with them, and evidently, on occasion led them.Whether he forced them to pray with him or not isn’t the issue. He should not have been praying with them. Period. Removing him from school buses was entirely proper. It was necessary. The driver said his First Amendment rights were violated. He was wrong.
The action taken by the bus service here is entirely appropriate. Students have the right to pray individually or among themselves. However, the bus driver leading the prayer was in clear violation of the separation between church and state. This is a critical pillar of our Constitution that must be safeguarded at all costs, for the good of the entire citizenry. It had to be addressed, and was. The driver, by the way, was not fired.
During the forty years that I taught theatre, students frequently asked to hold prayer circles before play performances. I never advocated it. I never suggested it. But if they told me they wished to do it among themselves. I always allowed it. I never participated. I made clear to them I couldn’t do this, and I distanced myself. That is the way it must be handled.
Religion is perhaps the most acutely personal aspect of any human being. No particular faith has any right whatsoever to be endorsed by the government, or individuals in government positions, over any other. In the school setting, a teacher or school official must not participate in religious activities during, though it is acceptable in many places for clubs, initiated and conducted by the students themselves, to meet as an after school activity, with a student-requested staff member who agrees to be present for supervision only. The public schools cannot be, and must not, be in the business of advocating any particular religion over any other.
Christians who claim they are ‘under attack’ are crying wolf. Please. They are not in any way under attack. Do they still have the right to pray in their churches and homes? Yes they do. Have any Christian churches been closed down by city/county/state/federal agencies for practicing their religion? Of course they haven’t. Are Christians still free to “witness” for friends and others on behalf of their faith? Yes they are, as long as the people they are witnessing to agree to it. This claim of being attacked is based on one thing only, their not being allowed to enforce their own religions beliefs on others in a multi-cultural, multi-faith society.
BUT 1: The state does not advocate for any particular religion. That is the only way the state can fairly represent all faiths. It is unreasonable, unethical, and improper for Christians to expect to be given preference.
BUT 2: Business owners operate under a state/local license that empowers them to offer their goods to the public. This means ALL the public. It does not give them the right to refuse service to those with whom they disagree, whose skin or nationality or sexuality is different from their own, who wears their hair oddly, etc. It’s a simple—and absolutely vital— matter of civil rights, which are guaranteed to all citizens. Baking a cake or making a pizza for someone who’s ‘different’ does not indicate agreement, comradeship or partnership with them. It’s nothing more than the matter of meeting the responsibility of being licensed to sell to the public. Anyone who thinks that refusing service to someone whose skin color or lifestyle is different from their own is one of their civil rights, is grossly mistaken. The buyer’s civil right to buy a cake, etc., easily overrides the business person’s assumed right to insert the prejudices of their personal religion into the public obligation which is part of their license. Again, the government doesn’t deal in religion. It deals in civil rights. These must be safeguarded for all of its citizens.
BUT 3: The First Amendment of the Constitution does not expressly give, nor does it imply, permission to violate the separation of church and state. It does not allow one person’s religion to eradicate the civil rights of another person. It does not make one person superior to another in the conduct of business due to their religion. Period.
The founding fathers of our country, who were mostly Christians, saw the danger of mixing government and religion. They did everything they could to prevent it. Regardless of what Christian zealots like to think, the Constitution did not—and this was by design—establish the United States as a Christian nation. Our country is a country of many religions, just as it is a melting pot of many cultures and traditions. None has the privilege to enforce itself over others.
Christians who complain that they are “under attack” because they are, in actuality, seeking and being denied special treatment under 1, 2, or 3 above, are behaving like petulant and badly behaved children who don’t get their way. It’s time they realized that. Neither God nor Jesus ,at any time, gave them special permission to consider themselves any better than others. Otherwise, they make end up making their imagined “war on Christians” a self-fulfilling prophecy.
A- Religion is personal, and cannot be enforced by one faith upon another.
B- Society is governed by laws and mores for the well-being, the “…life, liberty and pursuit of happiness,” of all the people.
Never the twain shall meet. Amen.
This is a short mood piece I played around with the other day. The style is 1940’s/50’s noir. The story is . . .
The telephone rang. The woman looked at it. The man looked out the window, pretended not to notice. It rang again. The sound was soft, melodic, not the loud silence shattering clanging you read about in novels. The woman stared at it. She guided a stray wisp of blonde hair back into place with a glossy red, newly manicured pinky finger. The man shifted position, leaned against the wall.
A third ring broke into the subdued jazz music. Glenn Miller’s orchestra playing ‘In the Mood.’ The man moved away from the wall, leaned back against it. The woman made a move as if to get up, changed her mind, sat back.
The instrument rang a fourth time. The man checked his watch. The woman lit a menthol cigarette with a small gold plated lighter. The clerk glided silently across the thick carpet, picked up the receiver. Said something inaudible. Listened. Said something else, laid the receiver soundlessly on the polished wood table, left the room. The woman watched him go. So did the man. Their eyes connected for half a second.
Glenn Miller faded out, replaced by Dizzy Gillespie’s orchestra, ‘All the Things You Are.’ Outside the window, the faint rumble of distant thunder announced the approaching storm. The clerk returned, picked up the receiver, delivered a quiet message, placed the receiver back on the cradle with a hushed click, returned to the desk.
The man went to the window, studied the darkening sky. A couple entered the room, talking quietly. She was short. brunette, trim, black dress, spike heels, almost as pretty as the blonde. He was tall, athletic, gray Brooks Brothers, black shined loafers, not quite as handsome as the man. She laughed at something he said. A faint trace of expensive bourbon drifted from them. They went to the desk. The blonde casually studied the brunette, flicked ashes into a glass ashtray, smoothed the folds of her red satin skirt.
The black gilt trimmed phone rang again, stopped after one ring. The man turned from the window, studied the instrument briefly, returned to looking out as the first big drops drove themselves against the window. The woman stubbed out her cigarette, a single graceful movement. She looked back at the phone as it range again. Once. Twice. She stood up with the same elegant grace, crossed to the phone, picked up the receiver. She spoke a single word, listened, smiled, answered, replaced the handset..
The woman looked up to find the man watching her. Their eyes connected, held for a small moment. He smiled a crooked half smile. She also smiled, the smallest lifting of the corners of her mouth. He nodded. So did she. She turned, walked from the room. The man watched until she was out of sight. The clerk approached, handed the man a glass containing exactly two fingers of aromatic amber liquid, smiled, replied to the man’s questioning look, “On the house.” The man smiled his wry smile, nodded his thanks. He turned back to watch the rain cascade against the glass.