Multi-Front Attack on the First Amendment

c_fasm_rpr_2Collective Bargaining is the very embodiment of at least three, if not four of the five rights guaranteed by the First Amendment & public employees, police, fire, civil service and yes public school teachers MUST have it protected for them.
Meanwhile the Supreme Court has equated campaign money with “free speech,” so that billionaires and corporations have enormous leverage over individual voters, but workers are denied the leverage they need to balance their needs with the interests of employers, corporations and political pressure groups.
A free and freely functioning press/media is not only vital, but imperative for the functioning of a participatory democratic-republic. Incidentally, this is also protected by the First Amendment.
If Christians are honest about wanting “religious liberty,” they MUST protect this right for all religions, no matter how egregious their teachings or some interpretations or misinterpretations of their teachings may be. Ironically, the contentious travel ban on 7 majority Muslim countries not only violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment, it also violates many of the teachings of Jesus Christ about welcoming strangers, loving our enemies, and caring for the dispossessed.
The First Amendment protects our rights to free speech & expression, peaceable assembly & association and the right to petition the government for redress of grievances. If you don’t want people to riot, let them march and picket. If you don’t want them to burn or walk on flags or fly them upside-down, then don’t deride them for taking a knee instead of singing the national anthem.
Voting is the most important means of exercising our First Amendment right to freedom of thought and participation in our democratic-republic. The Voting Rights Act was intended to protect this. In recent years it has been gutted and Congress has refused to renew it. In that climate, state governments and officials have taken advantage of the opportunity to make it harder for groups of voters to exercise their God-given right.
Meanwhile systemic dysfunction plagues our criminal justice system. You can argue that you don’t believe it’s “institutionalized racism,” but regardless of cause, there is unarguably demonstrable gross inequity in arrests, grand juries, prosecution and incarceration. Even if this weren’t deliberate discrimination by design- it is undeniable that huge portions of our population are having their 5th, 6th, 8th, and 14th Amendment rights violated or ignored.
So that when Senator with a recognized history of racism has been nominated to become the Attorney General, who’s very role it is to insure justice and fairness and protect the Constitutional rights of American citizens, it is only fitting that another Senator might oppose his nomination by reading a letter from the wife of a slain civil rights leader.
And when the Senate majority leader prevents her from being heard in the well of the Senate itself, not only is he violating the First Amendment right of that Senator, he his violating the rights of ALL Americans who would stand for justice and equality.
Make no mistake- “…our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.”
THIS is why we can’t remain silent. I teach my students that your rights (and your brains, for that matter) are like your muscles, “use ’em or lose ’em.”
Disagree with me. Be offended by me. Think I’m over reacting to the changes in government since the election. But I can’t shut up. YOUR rights are being challenged and eroded and violated. Not just foreigner’s rights, refugees’ rights, Muslim rights, Black rights, Mexican rights, not just liberal’s rights, not just my rights, not just your political opponent’s rights. OUR rights. Americans’ rights. Human rights.
Please take this seriously. It’s not complicated or boring or academic and theoretical.
If you don’t like “#BlackLivesMatter,” how so you feel about #democracymatters? Does the First Amendment matter?
  • Religion
  • Speech
  • Press
  • Assembly
  • Petition

Don’t give up any of them. Don’t deny them to ANYONE, no matter how different they are from you, no matter how differently they exercise each right or how much you disagree with them. These are fundamental human rights. God-given rights. These are the principles on which America was founded.

My recent Facebook Status

I’ve tried to stay off facebook, and I’ll keep trying. Let’s face it, sometimes it’s inflammatory for people you disagree with, sometimes it’s an echo-chamber for people you agree with and the rest of the time it’s an inane time waster at best and a vast wasteland (like TV) at worst.

I just want to let my family & friends know, that I don’t want to be obnoxiously inflammatory, and my political positions are not arbitrary or deliberately intended to offend you- they’re informed, reasoned and motivated by a life long love of country and passionate concern for democracy. I may have biases, but I’ve studied history, I try to read as much as I can and critically analyse facts and information.

Please keep all this in mind. Even when we disagree, please don’t just write me off with contempt. Even if I’m wrong, I’m not your enemy and I’m not stupid. I will try to offer you personally the same dignity and respect, even if I ridicule national figures and officials whom you defend.

It’s not a matter of conservative vs. liberal, libertarian vs. socialist, or old-fashioned vs. progressive. The current administration may not be as fascist as many on the left warn- but it is autocratic, hypocritical, and irresponsible. They are leaning toward authoritarianism and/or kakistocracy, not the centrist, democratic-republic we’ve enjoyed for 240 years. This isn’t just abnormal, this isn’t just change or the swing of the pendulum.

I will try to be speak out less often and with less vitriol (like I have for the last week or so), but please don’t expect me to remain silent as the Constitution, constitutional processes, constitutional principles and constitutional rights are eroded, ignored, and violated.

If things I share or comment on annoy, offend or disturb you, please consider un-following me. If I upset you that much, unfriend or even block me. I won’t be offended. Or, try what I’m going to try- moderate your engagement on Facebook. Who know, maybe some of us (myself included) could stand to give it up for Lent!

Poem about shutting up

c.Oct. 2008
There’s been ink in my veins from an early age

but it seems like it wasn’t meant to be

either I wasn’t meant for it or it wasn’t meant for me

I want to give it up

I want to do what you want me to

don’t know if you’re afraid of it,

or if it makes you not like me

I’m trying to give it up,

because I don’t want to lose you

but I swear God made me this way

so what am I supposed to do?

I’m haunted by the ghost of Tom Joad

I asked God to take me away from me.

to make me silent and submissive like Winston Smith at the end of 1984

only without having to face the rats or betray Julia first

Iowa Voters in Crawford County; Save our Schools!

Dear Jason & Steve,

I am very concerned about recently proposed cuts to our community colleges, state universities, correctional facilities, and human services.

Iowa legislators have failed to abide by our 1995 allowable growth law for several years in a row now.

But I know that you will remember, that Iowa children are our most vital investment, not corporations or out of state interests.

Please do everything you can to oppose the bills which came out of appropriations committees this week. Prove to your constituents that you are willing to put Iowa’s children first.

Thank you for your consideration.

Feel free to copy & paste, although phone calls work even better. (712)269-2178 (515)281-3221

Stick to your principles

Plenty has been said about how Donald Trump’s election wasn’t legitimate. Congressman John Lewis said that his presidency would be illegitimate. I forget which news magazine, but one of them posted a story online about how Trump’s biggest fear is having his legitimacy questioned.

Some would cite how he lost the popular vote by more than 2.8 million. Some argue that he’s unqualified and unprepared. Of course, there’s the fact that Russia meddled in the election process. What’s worse, it would seem that FBI Director William Comey helped. What would be treasonous is if Trump himself knew about it or had a part in it- of course, we do have him on video inviting Russia to hack us.

Not to mention the archaic and many of us feel unnecessary vestige of the slave era, the electoral college.

It ought to be self-evident that any or all of these facts render Trump illegitimate, but I would like to point out that what really makes him illegitimate is his lack of principles- or more to the point, the fact that his behavior and policies are contrary to America’s founding principles.

In his famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. challenged the United States to finally stand up and live out “the true meaning of its creed,” that “all men are created equal.” Lets look at some of our principles.

In the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson expounds on three core democratic principles.

  • All men are created EQUAL- Trump antagonizes Latinos, dehumanizes African Americans, subjugates women, and ridicules people with special needs.
  • And endowed by their creator with certain inalienable RIGHTS- From First Amendment rights to a free press and freedom of assembly, to women’s rights, to LGBT rights. About the only rights that Trump & Co. supports are gun rights.
  • (SOCIAL CONTRACT) To secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.- This is a man who routinely breaks contracts and promises. If he or his cabinet appointees abandon or abolish entire departments and agencies of the Federal government, or slash Social Security, Medicare or veterans’ benefits as alleged, that’s not draining the swamp or bucking the establishment, that’s breaking the social contract. By refusing to make public his taxes or documents connected to business conflicts of interest, by continuing to benefit from foreign business investments, by refusing to divest himself of his businesses, he has broken the social contract and in some cases already violated the Constitution before ever taking office.

Not only does he have severe issues with these three most fundamental principles of our republic, but also with the principles that Madison and Hamilton wove into the Preamble to our Constitution.

  • We the people- I believe  that Trump cares about himself; he clinically suffers from narcissistic personality disorder at worst, an immature sociopath at best.
  • In order to form a more perfect Union- Trump may say he want’s us to come together and to win again or make America great again- but he was divisive even of his own party while he was running in the primaries. His base supporters wave confederate flags. Never since the Civil War have we been so polarized. This is the furthest thing from unity.
  • Establish Justice- We have been failing poor people and minorities, especially African Americans through our criminal justice system. Not all police are racist and it’s not anti-police to recognize that we have systemic inequality in the grand jury processes and in our penal system. Does anyone believe that appointing an Attorney General who jokes about the Klu Klux Klan being too socially liberal will address these injustices?
  • Domestic Tranquility- He has encouraged violent treatment of dissenters at his rallies, incited and failed to condemn racism and violence perpetrated by his supporters and he plans to continue holding rallies even though the election is over. This is the opposite of seeking harmony or reconciliation.
  • Common Defense- He joked about carpet bombing Middle Eastern countries during the campaign and has alienated our allies, saying that NATO is obsolete and antagonized China and North Korea. He has been reckless in matters of state and ignored Defense and State Department protocols for reaching out to foreign leaders. He has refused to hear intelligence briefings and instead has alienated our intelligence agencies. He’s slandered and devalued various heroic veterans. Worst of all, he admires tyrants and has storied interests with Russia and Vladmir Putin. Forget defense, he in the months since he has been elected has already been putting us all in jeopardy.
  • General Welfare- His cabinet appointees speak volumes. Mostly male, all white, mostly fellow billionaires. This fits on an internet meme:
    • An Attorney General who opposes restoration of the Voting Rights Act
    • A Secretary of Health & Human Services who opposed Medicare
    • A Secretary of the Treasury who opposes Dodd-Frank
    • A Secretary of Education who opposed Public Education
    • A Secretary of Housing & Urban Development who opposes the Fair Housing Act
    • Plans to privatize and cut Social Security & Medicare, repeal the Affordable Care Act, leaving millions without insurance, eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts & privatize public television and public radio, tax plans that will benefit the wealthiest 2% even more than those of those of George W. Bush.
    • Essentially, not just undoing the policies and programs of President Obama, but unraveling 90 years scientific, legal, social, economic and political progress.
  • Promote the blessings of Liberty for ourselves and our posterity- He’s curtailed or circumvented rights to freedom of speech, the  press, assembly and petition. Besides Russian melding, egregious attempts at voter suppression took place in various states in an effort to disenfranchise Latino, Black and poor voters, voter I.D. laws and plans a national registry for Muslim Americans all constitute horrendous attacks on the 1st, 14th and 15th Amendments.

This is not a man of the people. This is not a representative of our shared interests or of our common principles. This man has shown every indication that he intends to rule as an authoritarian. His hyper-nationalism, racism, militarism, and corporatism are a formula for fascism and tyranny.

Our best hope may actually be that he establishes a “kakistocracy,” a government of those most stupid, ignorant, least qualified and unprincipled citizens in power. And that our midterm elections replace the Republican majorities in Congress who enable him.

Reading his tantrums on Twitter leads you to believe that this may be the case. It may not be that he disagrees with or misinterprets the Constitution. It may just be that he doesn’t understand it or is wholly ignorant of it.

How can any president be considered legitimate, who diametrically opposes or violates virtually every one of our most basic principles?

These are the reasons that I believe the man about to take the oath of office is not a legitimate president.

God have mercy on me if I’m wrong. I do not want to end up in prison somewhere for my disloyalty to the state. I love my country, but what I love most about America are the principles of freedom and democracy which I’ve listed above. My family & I faced plenty of ridicule & resentment during the Bush administration because of my opinions.

But if I’m correct in my evaluation of the new president and his administration. Then God help us all. Pray for the president elect, but pray for our entire nation.

#notmypresident #illigitimate

Don’t ever forget, THESE are Donald Trump’s principles…

Millions of Marching Women

That this is SO HUGE the day after the inauguration, the fact that it’s not just in DC and NYC but in HUNDREDS of cities nation wide AND WORLD WIDE- is a phenomenal piece of history. This isn’t just about abortion or birth control or women’s health. This is more than just equal pay for equal work. Much of this is about opposing belittling and objectifying women. This is more than just reaction to the “pussy grabbing” recording or the “golden shower” allegations or sexual harassment charges- in fact, with crowds this large and so diverse in SO MANY cities- this is about far more than just women and women’s issues.

This many people isn’t an anomaly. Even if the vast majority of these people don’t become consistently active and committed, there are just too too many of them that will, for this not to become a movement.

Trump claimed his election was part of a “movement.” Which one? The “birther” movement? The Tea Party? The “Alt-Right?”

The establishment should be scared. Racists should be scared. Privileged straight white males who responded to Trumps pandering to fear and anger, may now actually have something to fear.

Is this the Occupy movement, begun in the 2000’s? Is this Obama’s movement, started in 2008? Is it Bernie Sander’s movement, begun in 2016? Is this a Women’s movement? None of that is quite clear.

What IS clear is that unlike the Tea Party movement, this truly is grass-roots, bottom-up, rather than something bankrolled by billionaires, top-down.

Nothing like this has been seen before in the United States, even at the heights of the anti-Vietnam war and pro civil rights movements. Hundreds of thousands in hundreds of cities simultaneously, peacefully. This is historic.

Millions of young people, yes especially young women and yes especially young women of color, but MILLIONS of young people are initiating their political awareness and political involvement today. This is the death knell of the predominance of rich white conservative males in America. This will mark a sea-change.

Historians take note. Journalists get a clue. Demagogues with aspirations of tyranny take warning.