Category: CIVICS

Saying BLM Doesn’t Mean you Hate All Cops

Supporting Black Lives doesn’t mean hating all law enforcement officers or opposing “Blue” Lives.

Supporting criminal justice reform; for excessive force, for for-profit corporate contracts, for over-militarization, for more, longer & better training, for excessive incarceration, and yes- for systemic, institutionalized racism does not mean you’re “anti-police.”

Wearing a mask in public & being careful & concerned about Covid is not a “liberal” thing, it’s certainly not a hoax.

Opposing & criticizing Trump isn’t anti-American or sour grapes for a Democrats. Republicans, including President Bush, & several Generals & former Secretaries of State- most Republicans, a few Trump appointees oppose him.

Sharing our positions & opinions and responding to, disagreeing with, and even calling-out errors in each other’s opinions DOESN’T mean anyone hates you or you’re “bad,” or that you’re dumb or always wrong about everything. It means you’re in community. If you love your community, you want it to improve. You want it to be the best it can be.

I have several former students who are cops. I carr about their safety & well being. One of them is one of my dearest friends. I had an uncle who was a cop. I always admired him. I also have a nephew who protested recently. I’m tremendously proud of them.

I also have lots of former students who are Black. Some of whom are are very dear to me. I’d say at least one of them is another of my dearest friends. And several friends in inter-racial marriages. I cannot ignore their fears and concerns and the experiences they’ve shared (and how many they’ve never shared).

These are difficult times. Please be patient & kind with each other. Maybe be even MORE kind & patient with those you disagree with. They don’t hate you, they aren’t attacking YOU. They’re passionate about their beliefs. They’re resisting your positions & opinions, not you as a person, not everyone like you or EVERYTHING you know, believe in or stand for- just what you embrace that they see as hurtful, hateful or divisive.

Isn’t that what you think you hate about them? Not THEM, but some of their ideas? Not WHO they are but a lot of what they seem to stand for that you disagree with or are afraid of or that makes you mad or doesn’t make sense to you. Right?

Two things to try: Ask yourself WHY are hey so passionate about their views? WHY are the opposed to my views? Now ask WHY am I so bent outta shape by what they support? And WHY exactly am I so zealous about what I think. Is there ANY chance whatsoever that maybe either of us don’t know everything?

Words & Pictures Matter

Dear White Friends

Police chiefs in Virginia & in Flint Michigan JOINED protesters. Police chief in Santa Cruz, California took a knee. Not all cops are racist, but we do still have a problem as a nation with systemic inequality in our criminal justice system. And SOME cops in some departments definitely have a problem with excessive force.

It’s not as simple as choosing to “support the blue line” or join “black lives matter” and assuming everyone on the other side is completely wrong, evil or un American.

Now before you hate me, I’m not writing this post to start an argument and I’d rather you unfollow me or mute me than unfriend or block me. I try not to comment on every post I ever disagree with from people.

Part of our problem is assuming that every issue only has 2 sides.

I have friends (former students) that are cops. My uncle was a cop. But that doesn’t make every single cop perfect.

I have a lot of Black & Latino friends & friends in inter-racial marriages. (again, mostly former students) and they are scared for their children. They tell me racial profiling is real. I believe them. I’m too white, male & middle class to have experienced it myself.

Looting & vandalism is wrong, but so is being calloused and blind to real problems. We’re all a little racist, which is also wrong.

Somehow we all need to figure out how to be patient, kind & humble enough to allow each other to disagree without hating and dehumanizing each other.

I’ve read way too much MLK to be trying to tell people to calm down and be patient who are angry and want justice.

Perhaps I’m appealing more to the white people and rural friends & neighbors I know who have no patience or pity for rioters. 400 years of discrimination and abuse that we’d like to think was resolved & forgotten 50 years ago doesn’t just go away.

Just as we want to know that not all cops are racist, guess what? Not all people of color are looters, vandals, rioters or even protesters.

And remember people didn’t like peaceful, non violent forms of protest like taking a knee at the National Anthem. That was not anti-military, anti-veterans, or anti-America. It was supposed to draw attention about racial inequality in the criminal justice system. What if we had listened & encouraged that kind of protest? I wonder if there’d be the crisis there is in cities all across the country this week?

Annotated Gettysburg Address

 Listen to ‘Maladjustedd’ Podcast; Season 2 Episode 4

A Few Facts About the Battle of Gettysburg

  • After a great victory over Union forces at Chancellorsville, General Robert E. Lee marched his Army of Northern Virginia into Pennsylvania in late June 1863
  • The Confederacy hoped that by bringing the war into the northern states, northern politicians would abandon the war and normalize the South’s secession.
  • The Battle of Gettysburg, fought from July 1 to July 3, 1863, is considered a major turning point of the American Civil War. 
  • Estimated 51,112 casualties in this one battle, 31K Union, 39K Confederate; he bloodiest single battle of the entire war

A Few Facts About the Speech

  • Lincoln gave it November 19, 1863. He’d been working on drafts for a few days. The legend that he wrote it on the back of an envelope came from the fact that he continued to make notes and revisions even on the train right from Washington to Pennsylvania.
  • Gettysburg National Cemetery is the final resting place for more than 3,500 Union soldiers killed in the Battle of Gettysburg
  • A few weeks after the burial process started, in October, a dedication ceremony was planned for the Soldiers’ National Cemetery.  The cemetery committee chose Massachusetts statesman and orator Edward Everett to deliver the main speech. The committee asked President Abraham Lincoln to deliver “a few appropriate remarks.”  At the November 19 ceremony, Everett spoke for two hours on the causes of war and the events that led to the Battle of Gettysburg.  

Lincoln’s Speech with Mr. Mallory’s Commentary

“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

A “score” is 20 years, so 4 score and 7 is 87. 1863-1776=87, he’s talking about the Declaration of Independence. The important part isn’t the date it’s the “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Conceived in liberty means that the United States was based on principles of self-government and limits of law and order even on our rulers. That was the British tradition of rights and freedoms going back to the Magna Carta in 1215 AD. The first part of the Declaration of Independence is a treatise on “Social Contract Theory,” the idea that people agree to set up governments existed to protect our rights and basic needs together- we enter a contract together. Without spelling it out Lincoln is insinuating that the Southern states had broken that contract and violated the Constitution when they rebelled and left the union, insisting instead on a form of tyrrany, which included slavery.

Which brings us to “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” The part of the Declaration which we all remember is “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.” Maybe what Jefferson meant was that American colonists had as much right to self-government at the Dukes and Barons and Aristocrats in the House of Lords in parliament, but Lincoln was now making it clear to the mostly poor immigrants fighting for the Union in the Civil War, that this war wasn’t about federalism vs. antifederalism, Southern politicians had threatened to leave over slavery, they left over slavery, so make not mistake; if we believe that “all men are created equal,” are we willing to fight for it?

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. 

Lincoln wanted to make the stakes clear. If we were willing to just roll over and let the confederacy secede, we didn’t really believe in liberty or equality. That’s why this was a test. It was testing not only whether genuine democracy could work after 87 years, and not only our resolve, but whether we really believed in the principles we’d been claiming to believe in for the last nine decades.

We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. 

Thank you Captain obvious. Tell us something we don’t know. It’s printed right here on the program.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate — we cannot consecrate — we cannot hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. 

Now That’s saying something both humble and profound. It’s not about him. It’s not about Edward Everett or Pennsylvania  Governor Andrew Curtin or the Mayor or town council of Gettysburg or the President and professors of Gettysburg Seminary or the members of the committee to establish a memorial there. It was about the thousands of soldiers killed, mortally wounded, injured and captured there. Soldiers fighting to keep the United States alive, fighting to keep liberty and equality alive. That’s who made it a holy place.

Dedicate, consecrate, and hallow are all synonyms. He’s using repetition for effect here. To make something holy (hallow) is to say that it’s special. To be consecrated means to be sacred- revered. Lincoln’s deliberately using religious sounding language. To be dedicated is to be set aside for a special purpose. This would no longer be farmland or wilderness, it would be a cemetery. And not just a cemetery, a special one for military dead. A place that needed to be remembered- an event that needed to be remembered. But Lincoln was about to go on to make a point that it wasn’t even the soldiers that we need to remember, but we need to remember the cause that that died for- and to take up that cause.

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. 

On the one hand- little did he know right? That more than 150 years later people all over the world remember, and study this little 2 minute speech. On the other hand, had you ever heard of Edward Everet before I mentioned him a little bit ago?

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. 

Lincoln wants us to be dedicated, consecrated, hallowed- not to get too creepy or too religious but to be “baptised” in the blood of the fallen soldiers at Gettysburg. To be commissioned for a mission, to be initiated into the sacred brotherhood of knights fighting for the same things they were conceived in and dedicated to. Woof! That;s heady stuff.

This is more than just a coach’s pep talk at halftime in the locker room to a team losing an important game. This is a call to something holy. Something akin to saving the world. Something our future depends on. He’s evoking destiny itself. 

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion 

Devotion is another religious sounding word. To be devoted means absolute commitment. A devout believer isn’t casual. They’re disciples, pilgrims, apostles. They’re on a mission for God. And what’s the cause? Just sending Lee’s army back to Virginia? Restoring the Union? Punishing treason? Or was it something bigger? Was it preventing the death of the nation? 

Remember what Lincoln said the war was testing? Whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated could long survive. Conceived how? Dedicated to what?

“Conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Lincoln’s calling us to fight for liberty and equality. Principles worth dying for.

— that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain 

Resolve: to decide firmly on a course of action. But not just an empty promise like a New Year’s resolution. To die in vain- without success or a result, to die for no good reason. If we’re serious about a memorial (or about Memorial Day), it’s not enough to acknowledge their deaths or just admire their cause. If we aren’t also dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, then it doesn’t really matter that they died. If we’re waving the Confederate flag, why’d they die? If we think we’re better than everybody else because of our skin color- which, by the way, we didn’t choose, what was the point?

— that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

For impact sake, I should let Lincoln have the last word, but I want to mention that Lincoln, again is using religious imagery, he’s evoking resurrection. He’s ending on a high note- giving us hope that that nation, that’s being tested whether or not it can long survive- it can live again, and it’s new life can be stronger, more robust and more honest- living up to its promises of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, not just for wealthy land owning white males, but for everybody.

Is it any wonder than 100 years later in 1963 Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would invoke both the Declaration of Independence and Abraham Lincoln in his famous “I have a dream speech,” where he shares that he had a dream that one day this nation would rise up and live out the true meaning of it’s creed. Again, religious language, a creed is a statement of belief- what it is you hold self-evident; like, that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.”

Finally, I want to let you know what I’ve tried to teach my Civics classes for the last twelve years- That “OFthe people, BY the people, FOR the people” bit- the one part everybody seems to remember without even trying to memorize the Gettysburg Address? Please try remembering this about it:

How can government be OF the people? Because you don’t have to be born into nobility or aristocracy. If “all men are created equal,” that means, as British philosopher John Locke postulated, we’re ALL capable of governing; whether that’s voting, having input or actually running for office.

How can government be BY the people? Because that’s our right. To say that we’re “endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights” means that we all have the inherent prerogative to participate and be represented, to have some influence. That’s the true meaning of liberty- not that we can do whatever we want whenever we want, but that we are free from any one person or segment of society controlling all the rest of us entirely. 

How can government be FOR the people? In practice, this is really hard, but in theory- look at Thomas Jefferson’s “Social Contract Theory;” “…to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the government.” John Adams and James Madison made similar statements, that the very purpose of government was to protect the rights and well being of its people, not to preserve the power and privilege of some ruling class as had become the case in most of Europe by 1776. It’s not us and them anymore. We ARE our government. How can we be here for eachother?

I guess that’s another lesson. But don’t stop asking yourself;

“How can we ensure that these dead would not have died in vain?”

And “How can we make sure that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth?”

I don’t know about you, but personally, I think it’s be being devoted to the same cause to which they gave their last full measure of devotion- by being dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” 

I know that not everyone agrees with me, but that’s America.

It’s All a Matter of Interpretation

SIDEBAR | Interpretation https://naea.digication.com/maldog/Elastic_Clause

We’ve talked about this one in class already, but it bears repeating AND, it may be worth discussing at home with your parents.

Generally, is someone believes that the government can only do what the Constitution specifies (enumerated powers; Art I Sec 8) and no more, they are said to have a strict constriction or strict interpretation of the Constitution.

Whereas if one believes that the necessary & proper clause gives the Constitution flexibility enough that you can interpret it to give implied powers to the government, depending on the circumstances, that’s called a loose interpretation or loose construction. 

To make things more complicated, there are people who believe that you should try to interpret the Constitution based on the framers’ original intent. That’s messy because as we know, those attending the constitutional convention in 1789 didn’t all agree on everything. They had different agendas, different interests, and different interpretations of previous laws and documents throughout history. And… guess what? Different historians may interpret each framer’s original intentions differently.

Here’s where it gets even more complicated. Who gets to interpret the Constitution? We all do.

  1. Lawmakers (Senators & Representatives) interpret it different ways when they write laws.
  2. Presidents and members of the executive branch interpret the laws & Constitution they’re expected to carry out differently that their predecessors.
  3. Ultimately the Supreme Court has the responsibility to interpret laws and executive policies and actions and compare them to how they interpret the Constitution. This is called “judicial review” and we’ll talk more about it (if&)when we get to Article III and the Judicial Branch.
  4. State and Local officials all have their interpretations too.
  5. ‘WE THE PEOPLE’ the voters, media consumers, people who exercise our First Amendment rights to have and share our opinions, citizens all have our own interpretations too. 

And we don’t all agree do we? In a classroom with 20 people in it- all living in Iowa, you’ll have Hawkeye fans, Cyclone fans, even Husker fans- but you’ll also have people who don’t care about college sports much or at all. Some people are about willing to fight over whether or not pineapple should be a pizza topping.

Remember, everyone’s life experiences are different, therefore their needs, interests, worries, fears, dreams, aspirations, goals and values are different. That doesn’t mean they’re 100% wrong. It doesn’t make them 100% right either.

Apartment dwellers may care about rent while farmers care about property taxes. Parents care about schools and daycare, while single people may care more about entertainment and sports. Retired people may be more concerned about pensions, Social Security or medicare than the rest of us. Rural/Urban, North/South, Coastal/Midwest, Manufacturing/Agriculture, we all have different ways of understanding issues and different points of view. 

Sometimes we change our minds about things when we learn somehting or know someone that influences our opinions.

A HUGE example from American history is slavery. In 1857 the Supreme Court’s decision on the Dred Scott v. Sandford case determined that slavery had to be permitted in every state because slaves were property and the 5th Amendment prohibits governments from confiscating property. Fortunately, in 1865 the 13th Amendment prohibited slavery and in 1868 the 14th Amendment made clear that African-Americans are equal citizens, not property.

Take any of the principles found in the Preamble to the Constitution and you can interpret each differently.

PRINCIPLEIS IT THIS?OR IS IT THIS?
Perfect UnionONE National Govt. NO States“Layer Cake” Federalism
Justice“Community policing,” walking the beat, getting to know their neighborhoods.Armored personnel carriers & assault weapons like the military
Domestic TranquilityRestrict public protests & rallies to prevent violenceTeach about diversity, inclusion & tolerance
Common DefensePreemtive military strikes, increased defense spendingCooperating with INTERPOL, intelligence gathering, economic sanctions, diplomacy
General WelfareBlanket “shelter-in-place” orders nationwide, developing plans & protocols, cooperation between the CDC & the WHO, maditory vacinationsUnregulated Free-market economics, having state and local governments responsible for health & social issues
Blessings of LibertyLess government intrusionLaws meant to protect rights & equality

PLEASE keep in mind, those are the only possible interpretations of each- they aren’t even “liberal v. conservative” interpretations, just hypothetical ones.

Can you think of some issues either in history or current events, either on the national or state/local levels where you know that people disagree? Where some of your friends disagree? Maybe even where members of your own family disagree? Can you imagine anything that might change your own mind about those issues? Why/Why not? How could you respectfully try to persuade others to your point of view rather than just arguing? Where is there common ground where you could agree or seek compromise? What are areas where you can respectfully agree to disagree and continue to get along without ending your relationship?

Ask your parents or grandparents if there are any issues that they’ve changed their minds about since they were your age. What helped them think differently?

There’s a popular Facebook post going around lately that challenges you to list 10 things that everyone else seems to like, but you don’t (even if it’s unpopular). Talk with your parents or friends about things that are popular that you dislike or disagree with. Why do you feel the way you do? Find out how they feel about those same things. What do you have in common that you didn’t realize you did? Is there anything that they like or dislike that you “don’t get” that surprises you?

Please post your questions, comments, and examples in the comments section below- but please avoid fights & attacks. Inappropriate or abusive comments will be removed. “Error of Opinion May Be Tolerated Where Reason Is Left Free To Combat It,”~Jefferson

What’s ‘Necessary & Proper?’

https://naea.digication.com/maldog/Elastic_Clause/

“— And

To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.”

This last sentence of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution is sometimes known as the “elastic” clause because it gives the Federal government flexibility and room to grow.

One famous example of how this works is the U. S. Air Force. Hot air balloons were a brand new experience in the 1790’s. The Wright Brother’s first fix-winged, powered flight was more than a hundred years away. The framers had provided for an army and a navy, but they didn’t specify anything about an air force let alone a space force in the Constitution.

Of course, this clause something that makes democracy messy; opinion and interpretation.

FOR EXAMPLE: Alexander Hamilton believed that creating a national bank would make America stronger, but Thomas Jefferson feared it would give too much influence to wealthy investors. That was a difference of opinion. Hamilton saw it as “necessary and proper,” but Jefferson found it unnecessary and even worried that it would be improper.

This debate between Federalist and Antifederalist ideas continues even today.

In current events; the Federal Reserve, founded in 1913 to help prevent and alleviate financial crises, is offering $500 billion in loans to banks and businesses to keep them afloat during the expected “Corona Recession.” In some people’s opinions, they interpret this as over-stepping the Fed’s role. They think that natural market forces, not the Federal government should be allowed to determine how the economy works. Others interpret it as doing too little.

Another example; Should the Federal government “nationalize” (take over and control) the manufacturing of ventilators and masks for distribution to hospitals for treatment of Corona virus victims? Some interpet this as absolutely “necessary and proper” while others, (including the current presidentil administration) believe that the free-market, health care corportations should be left alone to negotiate contracts with the states, counties and health care providers (like hospitals).

What do you think? Should there ALWAYS be hard restrictions limiting the power of the national government? Should the national government go ahead and be more activist and have a leadership role, over and above state and local authorities? Or should there be more balance between layers in government?

Are there times where exceptions should be made? like the Great Depression of the 1930’s or WWII in the 1940s, when the elastic clause needs to be invoked for the good of the general public? 

Many Americans feel that the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII violated the Constitution abused human rights. Some argue that the USA Patriot Act enacted for national security after the 9-11 attacks in 2001 violate the habeas corpus clause of Article I, Section 9.  What do you think?

What do you think? Does the ‘Necessary & Proper’ Clause make the Constitution a “living, breathing, evolving, flexible” document adaptable to changing times and different societies? Was it an unnecessary inclusion? Should the Constitution not be open to interpretation & differences of opinion?  What makes a situation necessary or proper for the Federal government to take on more power or responsibility than usual?

Please post your questions, comments, and examples in the comments section below- but please avoid fights & attacks. Inappropriate or abusive comments will be removed. “Error of Opinion May Be Tolerated Where Reason Is Left Free To Combat It,”~Jefferson

Expressed (Enumerated) Powers

In Civics we learn that the Constitution embodies certain kinds of power.

  • Expressed Powers (AKA Enumerated, Itemized, Specified) These are things that the Constitution deliberately and specifically mentions (expresses) that the Government (especially Congress) has.
  • Reserved Powers These are powers “reserved” kept for the State governments. (See also the 9th & 10th Amendments)
  • Implied Powers (Article I, Section 8  the “Necessary & Proper Clause”) AKA the “elastic clause.”) Also from the individual interpretations of lawmakers, presidents, officials or from court precedents and Supreme Court decisions.

Article I Section 8 is a specific (“expressed, enumerated”) list of things the government (especially Congress) is empowered to do.

Take a look at this list and consider what they mean. Do you think it was a good idea to give these powers to the national/federal government? Why/why not? Can you think back to (or look up) Articles of Confederation to see why the framers gave Congress these powers?

Section 8. The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;

To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures;

To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States;

To establish post offices and post roads;

To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;

To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;

To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;

To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;

To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;

To provide and maintain a navy;

To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;

To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings; — And

To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.

Have you seen or heard any examples in recent current events or history when you have seen leaders or governments apply, employ, struggle over or deny the federal government any of these powers? Are there additional powers that you think the government might need? Are there powers listed here that you don’t think the federal government shouldn’t have or are no longer necessary today even if they may have been in the past?

Discuss it with your parents or friends and think about what they think about governmental power. Be sure to ask them why they feel that way.

Please post your questions, comments, and examples in the comments section below- but please avoid fights & attacks. Inappropriate or abusive comments will be removed. “Error of Opinion May Be Tolerated Where Reason Is Left Free To Combat It,”~Jefferson

What Govt. Can't Do

in Civics we learn that the Constitution embodies certain principles.

  • Popular Sovereignty (“We the people” have ultimate authority)
  • Federalism (shared power between National, state & local levels)
  • Limited Power (Separation of powers & checks & balances intended to prevent concentration of power in one group or one leader)

Article I Section 9 is a specific (“expressed, enumerated,”) list of limits on the government: things it is prohibited from doing by the Constitution itself deliberately, not just by checks and balances.

Take a look at this list and consider what they mean. Do you think it was a good idea to set these limits? Why/why not? Can you think back to (or look up) the list of grievances in the Declaration of Independence to see why the framers set some of these limits?

Have you seen or heard any examples in recent current events or history when you have seen leaders or governments ignore, violate or try to get around any of these limits? It could be our own Federal government, state governments or other countries.

Section 9. The migration or importation of such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person. (Slave importation- one of the several compromises made at the Constitutional Convention)

The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.

No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

{No capitation, or other direct, tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to the census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.5}

No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any state.

No preference shall be given by any regulation of commerce or revenue to the ports of one state over those of another: nor shall vessels bound to, or from, one state, be obliged to enter, clear or pay duties in another.

No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law; and a regular statement and account of receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time.

No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.

Please post your questions, comments, and examples in the comments section below- but please avoid fights & attacks. Inappropriate or abusive comments will be removed. “Error of Opinion May Be Tolerated Where Reason Is Left Free To Combat It,”~Jefferson

Is America is Dead Yet?

Following the exodus of many Christian believers from the religious right “evangelical” church, I’ve heard a few leaders of the “deconstructionist movement” critique hyper patriotism and Christian nationalism as idolatry. I could’t agree more.

Jesus is Lord, not our country, not either party, not any candidate or President. Any time we begin to imagine that our politics and opinions are the only ones that can save us all- we’ve fallen on our knees before a false god.

But as a fan of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Abe Lincoln and American history in general, I want to point out that many if not most practicioners of this blasphemous “civil religion,” aren’t even practicing this false religion correctly. They violate it’s commandments (14th Amendment) and ignore it’s creeds (just as MLK accused us of in his ‘I have a dream’ speech.

The three core tennants/doctrines of our secular (civil) religion were origionally equality, human rights and the social contract theory. The sacred virtues were unity, justice, domestic tranquility, common defense, general welfare and the securing the benefits of freedom for an optimistic future. The holy sacraments were voting, speech, assembly, and ingenuity.

I know, I too have to tear down my own asherath poles of progressivism even as I demand that conservatives grind their baal alters into dust. Egalatarianism, fraternity and liberty aren’t going to get anyone into Heaven or more Christ-like than capitalism, guns or military superiority. But I just can’t help thinking that if you’re gonna depend on horses and chariots instead of God’s Spirit, you should at least depend on the correct horses.

It sees to me if you’re going to elevate America or it’s flag to an object of worship, at least do America the favor of honoring the republic for which it stands, one nation (UNDER) God, indivisible with liberty & justice for ALL- rather than just Republicans standing (never kneeling) for the flag, with God being an afluent, White, male, always supporting one political party over another, polarized with “opportunity” if you work hard enough, and retributive justice if you can afford it.

So, for my deconstrutionist brothers & sisters, as well as for my athiest and agnostic brothers and sisters, I present a thought experiment. Friedrich Nietzsche’s much reviled and misunderstood 1882 story, “Parable of the Madman”- replacing the word “God” with “America.” A decidedly Trump-Era fable.


Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly: “I seek America! I seek America!” — As many of those who did not believe in democracy were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Has she got lost? asked one. Did she lose her way like a child? asked another. Or is she hiding? Is she afraid of us? Has she gone on a voyage? emigrated? — Thus they yelled and laughed.

The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. “Whither is America?” he cried; “I will tell you. We have killed her– you and I. All of us are her murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the land from sea to shining sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire frontier? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying America? Do we smell nothing as yet of the national decomposition? Nations, too, decompose. America is dead. America remains dead. And we have killed her.

“How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever is born after us — for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto.”

here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners; and they, too, were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke into pieces and went out. “I have come too early,” he said then; “my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars and broad stripes — and yet they have done it themselves.

It has been related further that on the same day the madman forced his way into several campaign rallies and there struck up his requiem aeternam demos. Led out and called to account, he is said always to have replied nothing but: “What after all are these party debates, primaries and caucuses now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of America?”

This isn’t how things are supposed to be

It seems to me that on the one hand, we’ve become so tribal and collective in out thinking that criticism of any politician or party with whom we’ve identified ourselves becomes a personal “attack” impugning our own integrity- while at the same time, we’ve become so individualistic, that we refuse to take any corporate responsibility for injustices perpetrated by those politicians, parties, celebrities, groups, subcultures, etc. with witch we’ve identified ourselves.
 
Lets be clear, you don’t hate all law enforcement officers because you believe there’s systemic racism in our criminal justice system. Likewise, we get that you’re not a hateful Klan member even though you want to MAGA, be that as it may- as Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
 
I want my Facebook friends, family, and followers to know that I’m not accusing any of you of anything when I post, re-post or comment on what I do here, I’m sharing MY concerns and my perspectives. But I gotta tell ya, it does frighten and confound me that so many people I love, appreciate, and respect seem desensitized to what I perceive as corruption, injustice or threatening.
 
Maybe it’s my personality type that I both want what’s best for everyone and yet want to avoid conflict, but I often wish we had a three-party or multi-party system. Like while driving on the interstate; I with there were three lanes and not just two because the fast lane goes too fast for me but the slow lane goes too slow. I wish all my Republican friends would denounce and stand up to Trump without feeling like they were admitting to some heinous crime or denying all their other deeply help principles. Meanwhile I wish I could speak out for the progressive issues that align with my personal, political and religious convictions without people accusing me of being “Socialist” or trying to destroy America.
 
So there it is. In religion I believe that Jesus taught that His #1 priority is love. In history & government, I believe that the U.S. is exceptional because it was a republic dedicated to equality, basic human rights, and a participatory form of democracy through federalism intended to offer a process through which ALL people could acquire justice.
 
This isn’t how either America nor Christianity are supposed to work, friends. It’s instinctive to be defensive or to “fight” for what we believe is right. But we’re living in a time that requires us to be creatively maladjusted. When MLK said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.,” he was alluding to Leviticus 19: 1-2; 17-18; 33-34, Romans 12:17-21 and Matthew 5: 38-48.
 
Lefties will admonish me for not being tough enough against hate, but if I hate people who don’t believe they are being hateful- they’re only going to dig in their heels or feel like I’m the one doing the hating.
 
What’s the answer? Be humble and kind? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you? Don’t just repeat what your tribe/echo chambers recite to you but read for yourself?
 
Read Scripture for yourself. Ever read the book of Amos or 2nd Samuel? With all due respect to the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20) have you read the Beatitudes (Matthew 5)? Any of the Psalms?
 
Read many of America’s founding documents since high school Government class? I get that the Federalist Papers and the Constitution can be a little daunting (and dry), so how about the Declaration of Independence? The Gettysburg Address? The Bill of Rights? They’re all easy to find on your phone.
 
John Adams advocated for free universal public schools so that voters could read for themselves. Martin Luther encouraged broad, public education so that believers could read the Bible for themselves.
 
So, I’m sorry if I frustrate of offend you by my being frustrated or offended by things our government officials do which you don’t have a problem with, but it’s just because I love my country.