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Can we seek justice and walk humbly with our God?

Many years ago a clergy friend described his condition as “My trusters got busted!” I though the comment communicated very well and I suppose we all feel like that at one time or another. This is more than the discovery of the Easter rabbit or who plays Santa Claus in your house. It happens when something basic seems to get wiped away and the rules appear to no longer apply. Our system of justice has busted a lot of trusters, overloading them like the great New York circuit breakers of the power shortage of some time ago.

I have no law degree so someone with greater knowledge an easily correct my notions. I guess it starts way back with the Magna Carta and the notion that people were tried by a jury of their peers. We have seen a number of cases where a trial by jury was replaced by a grand jury. Perhaps people do not understand the difference. A very simplified definition of a Grand Jury is that it is a legal body empowered to conduct official proceedings to investigate potential criminal conduct and to determine whether potential criminal charges should be brought. We are one of the few countries using grand juries consisting of twelve to twenty-three citizens, a larger number than a trial jury. The Grand Jury Pool includes all persons living in the community under the court’s jurisdiction and the court chooses the candidates. The clerk of the court sends out a mandatory questionnaire to be completed and returned. The court selects the members of the jury on the basis of those questionnaires and the jury is summoned.

In the recent case in Ferguson, Missouri, there was no vetting of the panel. The District Attorney normally provides evidence upon which the grand jury acts. In this case, however, the District Attorney became the lawyer of the potential culprit, turning the proceedings into a jury trial with no one to contest the district attorney’s questions or the evidence presented. The bias of the jury was clearly on the side of the policeman under question and there was no cross examination of the policeman’s testimony. Who would perform the cross examination? It became a trial of the dead victim. Credibility when out the window and the stated contradictions were not addressed.

Our system of justice was compromised by these actions. This bastard process has been repeated in several other incidents. The accountability for action by the police dissolves. The stated reason for action was the policeman’s fear of the victim. He panicked. If he was afraid of large black people, why was he on duty in that neighborhood? The “offense” was that the slain person was walking in the middle of the street. In another case with video evidence, no threat was evident and the plea to allow the victim to breathe fell on deaf ears.

A goodly number of cases occur when police are not held accountable. Policemen act without good judgment and with no one available to prevent abuses. It sounds like the Mei Lei massacre all over again. And then there is the argument that the “perpetrator” might be armed. Hold the NRA accountable for weapons not used to provide a well trained militia (the Constitution’s term) but in an un-trained manner. The proliferation of weapons turns us into the gun fight at OK Corral. And then toss in a few vigilantes for good measure.
It is a horrifying reality that these actions seem more prevalent in the black community, although there are cases among the poorer white communities. Police men can and do act like bullies.

Just for grins, consider the number of persons killed by policemen in the United Kingdom. Zero. And policemen are not armed.

Toss in the 12.9.2014 Senate report on the CIA and torture. That was a Cheney/Bush/Ashcroft response to 911. We lost was more than the Twin Towers. We lost a hunk of our soul.

Lady Justice has had her skirts soiled and credibility must be restored to save us from our own self induced mobbery.

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We are too distracted from our real work as a nation

I had thought some reflection on Brittany Maynard might prove helpful. As a reminder, she publically stated that she would end her life on her own terms rather than have brain cancer take it from her. The case brought to mind Dr. Walter Russell Bowie who in 1961 was an avid supporter of the Euthanasia Society. This is not a new topic, but one so hot it is diligently avoided. I thought of the case of Karen Ann Quinian who lingered in a persistent vegetative state. John Ashcroft (later Attorney General under George W. Bush) was involved in a similar case, that of Nancy Cruzan, badly damaged in a car wreck in 1983. The court ordered removal of nutrition and hydration in the early ‘90’s. The hospital and the state attorney general (Ashcroft) opposed the request. Only after another trial were the feeding tubes removed and Nancy was released from her persistent vegetative state. Ashcroft’s Assemblies of God pedigree appears to have made him a “right to lifer” even when the patient was comatose. This does not include the cost of caring for patients in such a state which would appear to provide a conflict of interest to the health community. Big, tough issue!
But it seems that we have something more important than life or death going on in the United States. The current brouhaha involves House Speaker John Boehner over the proposed action of President Obama concerning immigration reform. The claim is that the President is damaging the governing process through his executive action. (Unsaid is the fact that Obama has used executive privilege fewer times that any president since Grover Cleveland.) This action is mudding the waters of government, although House Speaker Boehner has prevented hundreds of bills from reaching the floor of the House. One such bill was the Senate passed immigration bill which would have passed in an up/down vote according to many observers. Boehner prevented the bill to be considered, in effect vetoing the bill. The stagnation has been going on for a while and has made executive action necessary.
Just so we know the whole story, Boehner then filed suit against the Affordable Health Care law, supposedly the Obama gift to history. (Health care laws have been in the working since Harry S. Truman. The struggle to get the current law passed required so much compromise as to seriously hamper the law. GOP cooperation has been shown by over 40 attempts to repeal the law.)
One commentator following President Obama’s speech on immigration reform said he had no argument with the content only that it was going to mess up the process. Could the process get more messed up? Immigrants are getting a dose of gradualism like unto the Civil Rights movement.
We seem to have a faulty memory about many processes. Following 9/11, John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales (Presidential Council and later Attorney General) and others in the Bush administration pushed through the USA Patriot Act. There went your Constitutional right to personal privacy. Section 215 allows the FBI to apply for an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to provide “any tangible thing” for investigation. That court has a poor record of guarding civil liberties and is apparently ignored. Currently, the GOP is very loud about wire tapping and the like – it seems as though your phone record is a “thing” for investigation.
These observations, many of which seem lost in our collective memory, portray a confused country in a confused world with a brooding darkness as we enter the coming season of Advent. The Collects for the Day during Advent sure fit our situation! 1. “Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life . . ..” 2. “Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and pre pare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins . . ..” 3. “Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us . . ..” And, finally, 4. “Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation . . ..”
Now is the time to pray for a new heaven and a new earth – beginning in and with us.

When in wonder or in doubt

Musing for All Hallows Eve 2014

​A line from Herman Wouk’s The Caine Mutiny has been running though my mind of late. The line goes “When in wonder or in doubt, run in circle, scream, and shout.” It is both real and the scariest part of this All Hallows Eve.

​The world is a very uncertain place to be at this time. ISIS, Ebola, and a seemingly unending series of very complex and terrifying things fill us with an understandable measure of doubt, if not wonder. This season of our political division assures of the lack of cohesiveness with usually accompanies great tragedies. We usually pull together to accomplish what needs to be done. Instead, our lack of “United” among our “States” merely adds to the confusion.

​The arrival of Ebola patients to this country seems to have seriously damaged our false notion of our “splendid isolation.” We do not know how to respond to our being a part of the world. When it was “over there” we could allow our research into a cure for the dreaded disease to stay on the back burner – a cure was discovered in 2010 but not developed because it was not profitable. Our attitude of superiority has hindered our seeing ourselves as citizens of the world and the splendid words of John Donne (“Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee”) are relegated to a work by Ernest Hemmingway.

​Even within our borders we seem unable to fathom the great racial divide evidenced by events in Ferguson, MO. It is that really “us” and not “them?”

​Last month I visited some of the “Painted Churches of Texas” – there are over twenty in the state. They remain as signs of the immigration of Germans and Czechs. Europe was in great upheaval during the 19th Century. Or consider my dermatologist Adam Czelustra whose family came from Poland to this country in the 1930’s. He describes their migration “for obvious reasons.” This easily translates into the wave of migration we current experience from South and Central America. These persons have stories and struggles for survival. We are part of the entire world.

​For many years I have wondered about the people we exclude from “our world.” (When exactly did we gain ownership of God’s world?) Somewhere in deep and darkest Africa there could be a child who would grow up to be the one who conqueres all the diseases we dread. We allow many things to keep us from discovering the delights of our differences.

​ I read that we may have a new immigration policy following the midterm elections. Immigration was a too hot a potato as we select our leaders. Indeed, our selection process appears to destroy any sense of “United.” The Four Billion Dollars spent in distribution half truths could have been spent in a more useful manner.

​`Our regionalized response to crises defuses the national will. Lincoln’s quote about “a house divided against itself” rings loudly within me and perhaps you.

​Mike Huckabee, erstwhile candidate for President, has gone so far as to encourage gubernatorial races because they then can decide who can vote and whether the votes will allow people to contest elections. It has already happened in Texas. The Supreme Court appears to not care except as the opinion of the minority. We have lost our cohesive center and we see the nation disintegrating.

​One moment during the past week needs to be remembered. It was the funeral of Benjamin C. Bradlee at the Cathedral Church of Sts. Peter and Paul, i.e. The Washington Cathedral. (The media coverage had not a clue as to what was happening liturgically.) The former editor of the Washington Post was remembered for things such as his support and encouragement of the Watergate reporting and his standing down the Attorney General Mitchell’s threats of retaliation. His tenacious search for facts and sources transformed the Post, according to many people. He had the encouragement and support of publisher Katherine Graham. Sadly, one person described the funeral as “the end of an era.” They marched from the church to the playing of Sousa’s “Washington Post March.”

​I sure hope someone picks up that mantel and can lead us back to a common concern rather than leaving us to “run in circle, scream and shout.”

Illegal Immigrants or Refugees?

September 13th I visited four Roman Catholic Churches near Schulenburg, Texas, known as The Painted Churches. There are many more in the state but these four are conveniently clustered so as to make the trip reasonable. Their origins are in the mid 19th Century when a goodly number of Germans and Czechs came to this country. This got me to wondering why they came at that particular time.
A bit of searching on the web painted the scene of post-Napoleon chaos in Europe with the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire. The German feudal city states were being formed into nations, but there were significant differences among the citizenry. I was surprised to read that the conservative Germans drove out the liberal Germans and the liberal Germans moved to Texas. (It must have been the last influx of liberals into Texas.)
I began to also think of the Irish that came to this country. I had always heard that they were driven from Ireland as a result of the potato famine.
And there was an interesting news account of U. S. lawyers going to the detention camps that hold the people from Central America. The lawyers were giving these Central Americans legal representations, and judges were hearing their cases via television. One case involved a woman that had fled for her life from a murderous husband. (Now that is the best lawyer story I can remember.) These Central Americans became something other than a number – they had faces and names and histories.
If this were happening in any other nation we would call them refugees. We would not call them “illegal aliens.”
I thought of the receptions these people received when they came to this country. The Irish had a tough time in Boston and New York. They were barred from places of business. They took entry level jobs. They provided the manpower to build our industrial society and the profits went to the trusts.
The Germans started newspapers, started the first kindergartens, introduced the Christmas tree, hot dogs and hamburgers and now numbered over fifty million people. Can you think of a world without bratwursts and a good glass of beer? You might think of some notables such as Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, Admiral Nimitz, Albert Einstein, and a great many more.
And how have we welcomed Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, Pakistani, etc.? After building the railroad, and being interned during World War II, and a lot of menial labor, they now fix your computer and deliver your health care. (I have difficulty spelling and/or pronouncing the names of some of my doctors. How would you pronounce “Viwanath Kalapatapu?” His colleagues call him “Dr. K.”)
The current groups of refugees are seen doing yard work, repairing roofs, picking lettuce, doing concrete and tile work. Just exactly whose jobs are they taking?
One of the tenets of the Old and New Testaments – and the Koran – calls for welcoming the stranger, the sojourner, or the alien. It is called the rule of hospitality.
Those “huddled masses yearning to be free” got off that boat and have struggled and scratched out a living – and made this country through the generous gift of their labor, ingenuity, and diligence.
We send aid to refugees in Syria and around the world – and we should. What about those on our own door step? Many years ago David H. C. Head wrote a small book containing the prayers we really say. One of them went “Bless all those in foreign lands and keep them there.”

Leadership in the Age of Anxiety

The numerous crises in our lives of late have drawn criticism concerning the leadership in Ferguson, Missouri and yet another tide of anti-presidential comment. The same goes for the ISIS crisis, a bill in Congress attacking the President as overstepping his authority (while Congress has been in a dysfunctional stupor). These and other events brought to mind the work of Rabbi Edwin H. Friedman.

In the late 1980’s I read Generation to Generation by Edwin H. Friedman, a rabbi who used Bowen’s family therapy principals to understand the dynamics of every system families to businesses to political system. Friedman proclaimed that we all operate on the same emotional voltage and therefore all systems exhibit the same traits. I then read Friedman’s Fables which used the literary device of the fable to present the dynamics we all encounter. I was hooked and signed up for “post graduate seminars” held in Bethesda, Maryland. Over three weeklong sessions the participants heard the seminal ideas of a book that would be published after his death – A Failure of Nerve, Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix. Earlier Friedman had described the work as “Leadership in the Age of Anxiety.”

It sounds like today.

We are surviving some of the quick fixes in our recent past. The quick fixes to 9/11 and two wars haunt us. The rhetoric concerning ISIS has the usual militaristic quick fix. (Does anyone think that our military involvements over the past fifty years solved anything?) Did Ferguson really require more boots on the ground? More sophisticated military hardware did not appear to resolve the issues.

I think the best response from the President was to speak and then, rather than calling for all out war, returned to play golf. He reacted in self-differentiation. Most self-differentiation gathers a great deal of flack. It has brought out the saboteurs, though many of them have been at work since the election. (One St. Louis County policeman called him “our undocumented president.”)

A case could be made for the national sickness being addiction to quick fixes. It happens in families, churches, cities, states, national governments, businesses, and international relationships. We rush from one train wreck to the next. Have we gotten to the point that we are incapable of being led?

I remember a very painful exchange I had with a person who had early onset dementia. He made a statement which had no basis in fact but came from his feelings. Trying to explain the matter was increasing his frustration and mine. The only helpful thing to do was to act on my own understanding and feelings. I could and did appreciate his dilemma, but there was no convincing him.

That may be the model we are living in our country. We have news designed to meet people’s desires and whims. We get very upset when “someone else” doesn’t solve things the way we think they can be solved. It is like hearing “The truth shall make us free” after Pilate has said, “What is truth?”

One of Friedman’s “post graduate seminars” contained a viewing of a tape concerning President Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The different players offered their solution. The air force wanted to bomb them out of existence. The navy wanted to engage the vessel at sea. The army wanted to invade the island and take it over. Every branch had a solution (which was in their area of expertise). Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev both knew we faced the grave threat of nuclear war. Khrushchev had the same multitude of military advisors with the same orientation as the advisors to Kennedy. Our U-2 spy plane had photographed nuclear mission sites being built by the USSR in Cuba but did not want to expose our use of the U-2. After twelve days of long and difficult meetings, Kennedy decided to place a naval blockade around Cuba, not knowing how the USSR would respond. (That is self-differentiation at work.) And it worked. This led to the “Hot Line” connecting Washington and Moscow and the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963.

The resolving issue was stated by Kennedy in June 1963: “For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”

Ferguson, MO – A National Tragedy

Ferguson, Missouri. I find it difficult to un-wrap the many layers involved in the current events, together with a large number of similar incidents with striking similarity. It calls to mind the voting rights battles, the employment battles, the killings, and the thousands of frustrating events that have been experienced by the Afro-American community. I only saw the bombed out remains of Memphis, Tennessee following the assignation of Martin Luther King, Jr. on the heels of Mayor Henry Lobe’s refusal to negotiate wages and working conditions with the sanitation workers of his city. The pent up emotions boiled over in places like Detroit, Chicago, Watts, and the like. People have been killed by police and the police have merely gotten a slap on the wrist. Armed with military surplus, it appears as though they are at war with US communities. Calling out more troops sends a frightening message.

The terrible scepter of racial division bubbles up from the cauldron of our society. We wish, we want, we hope that we could live together in peace. I am reminded that the wolf and the lamb lie down together with the lamb inside the wolf. Is that really peace?

In Ferguson, as in many other places, the so called “minorities” are really a majority and the white minority provides the power structure. Heavy handed police have not worked to build community but have instead settled for dominance. Political districts have been so designed as to perpetuate the current power structure, although the Supreme Court of the United States refuses to acknowledge it.
As a society we say we reject oppression. What we really reject is our oppression and we have far less interest in the oppression of others. We stand up for our rights and refuse to stand up for the rights of the oppressed. It sounds great when we insist that all people are created equal while some people seem to be a bit more equal than others.

We have historically stood for the great education of the wealthy, a fair education for the rest, and, for many years, no education for minorities. Our media systematically refuses to portray constructive leadership develop among the underclass and settles for the rabble rousers. Even when the labor movement stood up to abusive management, we retaliated with union busting tactics. We continue to overlook the great disparity of wealth in this country. A token of the poor get into the Ivy League schools and their equivalents.

I heard a very quotable statement in a sermon yesterday. “Does our faith direct our politics – or does our politics direct our faith?” What a nasty question to pose! It made be think of Reinhold Niebuhr, Langdon Gilkey, and a number of others you may not know. I wonder what would happen if we educated people in the sciences and in theology? We might have fewer preachers with anti-science mentalities and fewer scientists that were anti-religion. (Some religious proclamations would lead me to be anti-religious!) A good liberal arts education would help but then we would all have to have another degree in one of the sciences, probably computer science in order to earn a living.

As you can probably tell, I think the core values of this society are suffering from something about as deathly as ebola of the soul. High fever (anger), diarrhea (of the mouth), and it is quite deadly.
Pray for our country that we might come to our senses. Pray for those who have been bruised by our society – and move to bind up those wounds. Pray for the powerful that they might use their power to empower others rather than just growing more power for themselves. Could we once more learn that when my brother or sister is hurting, I, too, am hurting?

Superstition

​With so many “hot spots” around the world, it is difficult to focus upon but one. Before I get going, however, I would commend to you delanceyplace [daily@delanceyplace.com] as a source of daily pieces that are well written and important reading. Of late they have featured the role of bananas in US foreign policy and the Statue of Liberty welcoming immigrants to this country.

​However, the very hot topic for today is the plague called EBOLA. Some reactions to this international event include a statement about US Doctors shouldn’t be there in the first place – they were given due warning and there are Christians in Africa to respond to the epidemic. The soul of our nation is in very bad disrepair.

​Even more disappointing is the response of some citizens in the afflicted nations. The President of Liberia said, “Relying on His divine guidance for our survival as a nation,” she announced, “I call on all Liberians to observe three days of national fast and prayer to seek God’s face to have mercy on us and forgive our sins and heal our land, Liberia, as we continue to fight against the deadly Ebola virus.”

“That followed a recent recommendation by the Liberian Council of Churches, which said in a statement last week the outbreak has Biblical implications. “God is angry with Liberia,” the religious leaders said, according to the Daily Observer. “Ebola is a plague. Liberians have to pray and seek God’s forgiveness over the corruption and immoral acts (such as homosexualism, etc.) that continue to penetrate our society. As Christians, we must repent and seek God’s forgiveness.”

They must have a lot of TV Evangelists in Liberia. Shades of Pat Robinson and Jerry Farwell – or the late Mr. Phelps of picketing funerals fame.

Liberians are frightened by the doctors and medicine attempting to restore them to health. This fear has been called superstition. Is this the teaching of religious leaders in Liberia? It sure does not make me want to do “African Bible Study” so popular twenty years ago. But we call many things we do not understand “superstition.” Our reaction to immigrant children could be called superstitious. Any of our knee jerk reactions could be call superstitious.

The readings in the daily lectionary include stories I would consider superstitious. Consider the fate of Abimelech in Judges 9. How does one understand the fate of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5? I have trouble understanding ”Creationism.” Last week PBS carried the last of their series on Mark Twain, a person with great ability at showing us our own folly. The superstition of racism is featured in Tom Sawyer and now we have people wanting it removed from school and public libraries for being racist. I would call that superstition squared.

Somehow we all need to get the picture of a loving God as displayed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Perhaps all the “good news fellowships” have forgotten the call to preach Christ and Him Crucified. It must be because the crucifixion is a very difficult scene in which to talk about loving even those who offend us. “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” I would wager that the process might well also include those who think they know what they are doing.

Today’s Conundrum

The old Chinese proverb has come to pass – we live in challenging times! I find myself pondering the plight of children arriving to this country from dangerous homelands. It is strangely like Joseph taking Mary and the baby Jesus to Egypt to escape Herod. Among all those screaming NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard), a few other voices are beginning to be heard. I thought of the Orphans Train that took children from New York to the Mid-West in the late 19th and early 20th century. A few people are viewing this as an opportunity to do a charitable, loving, and honorable work. There are people spending time and energy of finding a solution rather than trying to prevent the problem. Trying to stop the tide of migration is similar to trying to stop the tide of the oceans. “Time and Tide Wait for No One” said Geoffrey Chaucer. (The rest of his poem speaks volumes.)

I remember a political cartoon by Herb Block of the Washington Post. It was during the turbulent 1960’s and school desegregation in Little Rock and many other cities. He depicted an angry crowd surrounding a child on the way to school. His caption read “And a little child shall lead them.” I wonder where the current children will lead us. Biblical texts abound: “Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not for of such is the kingdom of heaven;” “In as much as you have done this unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me;”and “If anyone causes these little ones to stumble, it would be better that a mill stone be hung around his neck and he be thrown into the sea.” That is just for starters.

Then there is the tragedy of a Russian missile fired by rebel Ukrainians at the civilian Malaysian 777 plane. Among the nearly 300 people killed were the top AIDS scientists in the world. Senator McCann offered his usual response – that we should have sent sophisticated weapons to the people of the Ukraine. Can he get through his head that not everything has a military solution? I seem to remember that McCann also wants us to come to the aid of Syria, although that aid could easily fall into the hands of the tyrannous president. Should we also get actively involved with Hamas and Israel? (The Palestinians are collateral damage and not so innocent bystanders.) How many wars does he want notched on his belt? His credibility is approaching that of Sarah Palin.

I am slowly making my way through Brother Emmanuel of Taize’s “A Love Imperfectly Known.” Early in his book he tackles the ancient question of an all powerful and all loving God that appear to be at odds with him/her self. His position is that a truly loving God does not require lock step obedience but instead wants the creation free. If we truly love someone, we want their freedom, not their servitude. That freedom allows people to do hideous things. However, to be truly grounded in love might well lead us to oppose the enslavement of others. Brother Emmanuel also says that people who do not believe or who have rejected the love of God do so as a result of incorrect messages about God, well-meaning or not.

There is a story from Appalachia that pops into my mind. A lad was swimming on Sunday and dove into water he did not know. He struck his head on stone, breaking his neck and killing him. At the funeral the well-meaning preacher proclaimed that God killed the boy and that the boy was in Hell for swimming on Sunday. (That is a message that could leave many people with an anti-God message!) His father, a prominent man in the community, left the church and started his own – “The No Hell Baptist Church.” (God does not seem to want the death of a sinner!)

As we try to live faithfully in our “interesting times,” we do well not to react to the tragedy of evil by limiting the freedom of ourselves or of others. Personally, I think the “Freedom Act” is an example of this type of reaction. It should be re-named “The Un-Freedom Act.”

We slowly make our way through our tangled time and the question remains – where will these children lead us? Can we learn to wage love rather than war? Can we see the futility of stopping the problem rather than discovering the new reality? I truly believe these are faith issues and not merely political ones.

Preparing for the 4th of July 2014

As I start this musing we are approaching the Two Hundred Thirty-eighth year of our independence from Great Britain. A new bit of alphabet soup has crept into our everyday existence – SCOTUS. This is not to be confused with the fourteenth century Scottish theologian Duns Scotus. Instead it stands for “Supreme Court of the United States.” Duns Scotus is considered by many to be the most important theologian of the High Middle Ages. The importance of SCOTUS is going through a considerable change in our time.
Consider their ruling on interim appointments. The Senate (they make their own rules) decides to have a session without any work being done every three day. SCOTUS rules that the ten day period used in colonial times still stands, though travel to see their constituents involves a matter of hours by air plane as opposed to days or weeks by horse and buggy or stagecoach. This effectively stalls the government, the intention of the Senate. I find it ironic that the appointments were to the National Labor Relations Board, something the GOP would rather see disappear.
This goes along with the decision that family owned corporations are exempt from providing the Affordable Care Acts contraception supplies to women on the basis of the family’s moral judgment. Ladies, you can kiss your religious freedom goodbye. Family corporations now rank right up there with the Pope – though don’t be surprised if Pope Francis suddenly discovers that sexual activity is more inclusive than reproduction. Justice Ginsberg’s dissent is well worth the read and borders on the prophetic. The corporate “person” trumps the individual “person” making individual religious freed (or the rights of citizens) a quaint thing of the past. Congressman Boehner need not have tried 140+ times to repeal the Affordable Care Act – SCOTUS has allowed corporations to cherry pick their observance or their denial.
It still bothers me that the Civil Rights Act can be set aside in states where SCOTUS deems that racial bias no longer exists. It has allowed for additional barriers to make universal suffrage not so universal.
One must admit that in colonial times voting was only the right of land owning males. Of course those “land owning males” pledged their fortunes and their sacred honor for the wellbeing of the fledgling state. Do we seriously think we can live 18th century rules with the people of the 21st century when fortunes are to be amassed and honor is up for grabs? At present we seem to be hurdling back to the 1930’s and undoing anything that happened since the Great Depression, ignoring the Great Recession. SCOTUS decided the 2000 presidential election, though the US Constitution provided another way to resolve the issue.
Government by dollars does not seem headed toward “of the people, by the people and for the people.” The Texas Monthly gave a summary of the rule of the state by Rick Perry. They stated that things went well for you if you were a business or wealthy. The average citizen fared far less favorably. Financial studies show that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. I wonder if anyone has stopped to consider what this does to the largest sector of the GNP – consumer spending. That involves people having money to spend and buying goods and services. It does not include off shore accounts. Does SCOTUS have some sense of the US Government serving someone other than big business and deep pockets?
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
“We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”
Doesn’t that sound familiar? Of course it took to a long time to discover “all men” included ALL – and women – and poor – and sick – the laborer as well land owners and managers. This was no document of the Tea Party.

The Weird World

               It must have been somewhere in the 1960’s that a TV program was all the rage – “The Weird, Weird, Weird World” though I am not sure how many “weirds” were in the title. My foggy memory tells me it starred the Smothers Brothers or Ernie Kovack or Steve Allen – take your pick. My point is that we could easily add another “weird” after the week past.

               Congress, after years of underfunding VA hospitals for many years, discovered the obvious.  The shortage of funding has led to a shortage of doctors. The number of injured (or maimed) people from Afghanistan and Iraq (the Bush Wars) have piled up and swamped the VA. Medical procedures get more complicated by the day. And so the do nothing Congress blamed Eric Shinseki and the President for their own failure. It seems to help to get the first lie in the battle.

               Now politicians know it would be political suicide not to say things such as, “I support our brave men and women in the armed forces 1,000%” even though their support does not carry dollars. Dollars would mean taxes, thought by Congress to be a four letter word. I have heard these war hawks termed chicken hawks, and that deserves a bumper sticker. “Support your local Chicken Hawk!”

               I wonder why no one refers to the U. S. Constitution regarding where responsibility truly lies. Article I, Section 7 reads as follows: “All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.” And what about Article I, 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 Defence (sic.) and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.” Is not the care of veterans a national debt?

 

               The framers of the U. S. Constitution were very careful about limiting the powers of the President.  Read Article II. The document was signed by Geo. Washington and Jms. Madison.

 

               I guess coach did not cover that part of Civics 101.  But why has the Fourth Estate not reminded the populous. How do Boehner and McConnell gather their great indignation over their own ineptitude?

 

               I readily admit that the bureaucratic game of numerical sleight of hand should not have been played by the VA. Politicians are only people licensed to play that game.

 

                I am just glad Maya Angelou does not have to listen to a Supreme Court that thinks that Jim Crow days are over and sees no reason to remove barriers that keep people from voting.

 

               Should you require even more weirdness, consider Thomas Piketty’s Capital.  You may have trouble finding it because it is flying off the shelves. Amazon has trouble keeping it is stock. The 1% will not like it. It seems as though those with capital are eating us up alive. Before long they may be chanting “Let them eat cake.” That line did not work well in 1789.

 

 

               Yes, it is a Weird, Weird, Weird, and another Weird World. Now the first liar is the only one with a chance.

 

              

 

               You will get a brief rest from my musings (or rantings) as I prepare to move from Lubbock to Katy, TX. I have a contract on my house!!!!!!!