Archive

Monthly Archives: February 2016

Republican ElephantAt the risk of this being too little, too late, I am more and more convinced that Donald Trump is the worst possible person to be nominated for the Republican Party and if the race in November is between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, I will probably be forced to do a write-in because I see serious problems with either of those two individuals.

Marco Rubio is a fine young man and reasonably honest.  He is a compassionate conservative with respect for the Constitution.  I may disagree with him on some things but the only way to find a candidate who is with you on everything is to run yourself.  I do hope he reconsiders pre-existing conditions and for children to be able to stay on their parents’ coverage until age twenty-six with respect to his Health Savings Accounts alternative to Obamacare.

Donald Trump is now talking about gutting the First Amendment; re-writing free speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press to tailor to his way—never touch the Bill of Rights!  Even people who are pro gun-control should (and many do) give serious consideration to the precedent setting—if one Bill of Right goes, who knows what is next.  His mannerisms parody Hitler and Mussolini and people made the ultimate sacrifice in World War II so nobody in the world would have to live that way—we don’t need someone like that leading America!

I cannot guarantee I will vote for Mr. Rubio in the Connecticut Primary on April 26 because I am not sure he will be in the race.  If Trump already iced it by then, I simply won’t show up but I will fill the circle on my op-scan ballot for Marco Rubio he is still in the race and Trump has not acquired the 1,236 delegates needed to go to the convention the decided nominee.

As for Marco emulating the street-toughness of The Donald of which he criticized Trump, hey—the rules change when YOU are attacked on the streets!  Trump did an act with a bottle of bottled water attempting to portray Marco as a nervous little boy with no clue.  This is something the bullies in fourth and fifth grade would do and the teacher would cancel recess and give you a composition to write.  Though a fist is a metaphor in this case, one man’s rights begin where another man’s fist ends and Marco is within his rights to defend himself against Trump’s bullying at this time.  I wish him the best of luck on Super Tuesday.

Advertisements

Republican ElephantIt is starting to shape up like Clinton v. Trump this November.  I light a candle for Marco Rubio; the endorsement from Palmetto State Governor Nikki Haley (R), a very popular woman governor of India –Indian descent did not propel him to victory and he ended up in a virtual tie for second with Texas Senator Ted Cruz, an evangelical who failed to get the majority of evangelical votes in South Carolina’s Bible belt.  It is not going to be easy to stop The Donald.  The opera’s not over until the fat lady sings and the late Yogi Berra would say “it ain’t over till it’s over.”  But it is late in the game, the other team has a five-run lead, and you are facing a pitcher that can strike out a hitter with a repertoire of pitches, not just his fast ball.

Donald Trump managed to take votes from every Republican faction and that is why he is going to be difficult to defeat going forward into Super Tuesday.  He has taken votes from evangelicals and other devout Christians concerned about Christian values.  He has taken votes from 1980s-influenced Reagan Democrats—working class people who do not have the perks in life of the wealthy but support Republican conservative ideals on hot topics like abortion and second amendment.  He has taken votes from the Republican establishment; an establishment that the great Ronald Reagan rebuilt to its lofty status after it was practically destroyed by the Watergate scandal.  He has taken votes from the old Dixi-crat faction of the Democrat Party, who shifted to the Republican party after the Dixi-crats disbanned.  The latter two factions, I would have thought would have opted for a more conservative candidate.  Jeb Bush may hung in for Super Tuesday if the grassroots and establishment were avoiding Trump even if they were not voting for Bush because if the establishment were divided among two or more candidates, he could have captured the establishment by being last man standing representing it.  Ted Cruz, the evangelical, could not win the evangelical vote.  Marco Rubio could not do better than tied for second place with the endorsement of the state’s governor.  With Trump driving a humvee wide enough to cover every lane on the Republican Delegation superhighway, it is going to be very difficult for anyone else.

There is one saving grace in that Trump won two primaries without about one-third of the vote; which can lead to the speculation that there exists a two-thirds anti-Trump majority and that when down to two candidates, Trump and either Cruz or Rubio, the anti-Trump majority may congregate around the remaining alternative.  Unfortunately, Trump pointed out that when others drop out, some will vote for him.  Also, delegate distribution is different in every state and once you get to Super Tuesday, it is the delegate-count that counts.  So far the candidates that dropped out had from 0-1 earned delegates which will probably remain uncommitted and it is all a matter of what the super-delegates will do.  But after Super Tuesday, candidates will delegates will begin dropping out and they may end up Trump delegates if they believe Trump is the Republicans’ best chance to claim 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  By the time you get to the winner take all states, even if the last anti-Trump candidate wins them all, it may be too late.

The Trump machine can still be stopped, but we are running out of time.  The Republican conservative establishment is up for election and it will go the way of high-button shoes and pay telephones if the party chooses Trump.  The American people, especially Republicans, are being fooled by the shiny bobbles.  For the anti-Trump coalition of Americans, this is the last gas station before the Interstate so fuel up and get those votes out for Cruz, Rubio, or whomever or the Ronald Reagan Republican party will only be seen in the museums of the mind with hula hoops, Nehru jackets and leisure suits, leg warmers, rotary dial telephones, and LPs and 45s.  Fuel up and stop Trump!

American-Flag1As the primary season heats up and Super Tuesday (03-01-2016) about two weeks away, it will start to unfurl as who competes in November to be our forty-fifth president.  With the primary in my home state of Connecticut after Super Tuesday (04-26-2016) I am not endorsing any candidate at this time; I am simply making a pecking order and it will depend on who is still in the race after Super Tuesday.  I want to share some thoughts on the process of selecting.

You are probably as sick of the mud-slinging and dirty politics that rules the headlines, both traditional and online.  I want you to know that dirty politics has been part of our political and sociopolitical landscape since the very beginning; even George Washington had to deal with it.  As someone with memories of the low-tech world (before the Internet and smart phones), one big difference I see is that it was easier to get a more positive persona of one or more candidates when there were certain details that were not made public.  This was very important because I have said many times, we are a republic or representative democracy, we do not vote bills into laws, we elect (hire) people to do it for us.  Therefore the WHO is far more important than the WHAT.  A person’s politics is one of millions of threads that make up the total person and it is more important to like the total person than just his or her political views.  One of the reasons for the great divide among the two major political parties and everyday people who have liberal or conservative views is that the Internet and social media expose every pimple on every candidate making it virtually impossible to pick a candidate on character alone.  This forces us to choose inside the fortresses of our political ideology and/or political party affiliation.  For this reason, today’s voters seldom vote across party lines and many unaffiliated voters sit it out.

Norman Vincent Peale once wrote a book called The American Character.  Using his power of positive thinking wisdom, he describes through a series of anecdotes the altruistic nature of the American people (in his time) as being courageous, compassionate, and generous, without regard to the hero’s and heroine’s own safety, committed in the spirit of helping others.  On the first Republican Town Hall in South Carolina last Wednesday (02-24-2016) retired neurosurgeon and presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson had a Norman Vincent Peale moment and talked about helping your neighbor, using an example of a man falling out of his apple tree picking apples and his next door neighbor helping him up.  And that it is the responsibility of the people, not the government.  I think a candidate would need to say a little more than that to get my vote, but that is the way the American people used to be; and if only [we] can all be like that again.  I am a big fan of limited government and believe this country could not only be restored to its lofty status by going this direction, but can be better than ever; but it cannot happen with the general attitudes and personalities of twenty-first century Americans who put higher value on their electronic devices than on their fellow man or woman.  You can create a Shagri-La of limited government and limitless potential, but in order for it to sustain, it has to be occupied with the type of people of whom Mr. Peale was referring.

In John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address on 01-20-1961, the famous Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country speech, Kennedy creates a vision for what direction America needs to go.  As far as the vision is concerned, he finalizes it with these words:

All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.

I consider this a major component in the American character of the past that I would like to see resurrected.  It is a secondary form of the ultimate sacrifice but it has nothing to do with dying for your county in a war against your enemies, rather living for your country in a community with your family, friends, and comrades.  The willingness to begin an endeavor and work on it knowing the job will not be finished in [your] lifetime.  Treating, life, success, and the goodness of mankind as a journey, not a destination; this is the American character I speak of that is consistent with Mr. Peale’s persona.  This form of self-sacrifice is in some ways harder than being a soldier in combat, because [you] have to go on living; living in the chaotic world [you] have created—a commitment to live the rest of your life under a banner reading PARDON OUR DUST—UNDER CONSTRUCTION.

In the preamble of our very Constitution, we make references of the common defense and the general welfare.  Understand, the Constitution was not written by socialists and new-dealists who support the Welfare State.  The Constitution came to be after the Convention of States to replace the failed Articles of Confederation and it was influenced mainly by The Federalist Papers written by Alexander Hamilton and James Madison.  In The Federalist Papers, Hamilton and Madison make reference to the compound adjective self-governing.  While Norman Vincent Peale understood no two individuals are exactly the same, all of the people he personified in The American Character [were] undoubtedly self-governing.  Since we all come into the world with a blank slate, becoming a self-governing person requires education.  With the decline and fall of the American education system over the past sixty-five years and the distractions and dependencies of portable and social media, there are not enough self-governing people to populate our limited government nirvana.  In deference to Bernie Sanders, a good person with some bad ideas, we will be forced to live in such a socialist state and government will have no choice but to be big and growing if we cannot produce self-governing people to populate our limited government world.  And the fact that we cannot afford big government, it is not surprise America is a great nation on the decline.

We need to limit government to resurrect America as the land of opportunity but we do have to make a massive investment in education to ensure we raise generation after generation of self-governing people to populate America as it should be.  This election is a referendum on the presidency, also Congress who has the power to make the laws consistent with the vision of the president elected by the people and for the people, now expanded to the judicial branch with the death of Justice Scalia and the people’s choice for president most-likely determining the balance of the court for a generation albeit I do believe President Obama should appoint since he still has eleven months to go, but it is far deeper than that.  This election is a referendum on the American character.  Are we going to define ourselves as indentured servants to a national government too large to escape omnipotence and diminish the power of the people, or are we going to define ourselves and the self-governing and self-sacrificing people the late of whom the late Norman Vincent Peale has waxed the persona?  We are on the precipice.  I ask every American, man, woman, and child, if filling [your] bucket we call the mind is totally [your] choosing, how do [you] want it filled?  Ask not what your country can do for you.  Ask not what you can do for your country.  Ask who you are; and then ask what you can do for you and donate to your country!  Pardon my dust!

 

American-Flag1I was a mere lad of nine when they lowered the age of the majority from twenty-one to eighteen.  When I was a college sophomore, I saw the drinking age being raised back to twenty-one one year at a time (19, 20, then 21) over three years; it was twenty-one on my graduation day—no matter, I only consume alcohol moderately even as a college student.  When I was sixteen with desires to do things like drive a car and vote in elections, I would never have argued for the age of the majority to return to twenty-one; but I was as young and stupid as every other adolescent was then.  Based on the metamorphosis I have witnessed thirty-five years after graduation, I have become a serious advocate of a global age of the majority of twenty-one across the board; with some reservations about the voting age.

One thing I never expected to happen was the legalization of recreational marijuana.  Some states have done this and I think it is a big mistake.  In Colorado, you have to be twenty-one to drink and purchase alcohol but you can purchase legal marijuana at age eighteen.  Now Washington State, the second state to legalize recreational marijuana, wants to raise the tobacco age to twenty-one.  It seems to me it would be far simpler to just press the 1971 reset button and just make the age of the majority twenty-one across the board although I may be flexible on the voting age.

First of all, the reason for lowering the age of the majority down to eighteen was because we were still engaged in the Viet Nam Conflict and the draft age was lowered from twenty-two to nineteen; in hopes of a better physical specimen serving our country.  It made sense that if you are old enough to give your life for your country, you should be able to have a drink and more important, to vote and have a say whether you should be fighting that war or not.  Since the Viet Nam War ended for good in 1976, all branches of the military are all-volunteer.  If we are ever engaged in a military ordeal that will require invoking a draft, we can give early emancipation to nineteen-year old draftees.

Recently, I have found on the Internet some well-written essays arguing for lowering the voting age from eighteen to sixteen.  Duly noted, I said the essays were well written; not that I am buying the argument.  Studies on cranial development are beginning to raise eyebrows as to whether sixteen is too young to drive a car.  It is no fault of any intelligent teenager; scientists just seem to believe the cranium needs more time to get the dare-devil tendency out of oneself.  Now this poses the question: if a person should not be empowered to operate a motor vehicle on our streets and highways because in some instances, they still need to feel the flames to see if they are hot, should that same person be trusted to formulate intelligent opinions unadulterated by peer pressure (meaning not to become a liberal or conservative because their friends are) and hence empowered to be part of the decision-making process in our delicate American democracy?  I say no, but my persona of adolescence is how I lived and what I witnessed when I was part of it.  My visions of teenage lifestyle are used cars in a high school parking lot with loud music, loud voices speaking of things that don’t really matter, rebellious clothing and hairstyles, some of them engaging in alcohol and marijuana, some morally upstanding.  Now as an elder statesman on the outside looking in, do you want that person voting in major elections deciding the future of this country for a generation or more?  And now that social media is a large part of every teenager’s life, the propaganda and bills of goods they could buy into makes it even scarier.  Socialist Democrat Bernie Sanders, at age seventy-four, is very popular among America’s youth and many youngsters are sold on socialism.  At their tender ages, they could vote away freedom and democracy as we know it.  Therefore, I would not support lowering the voting age to sixteen.  I have no reason to raise it above eighteen at the present time.

Unlike my generation, teenagers today have a lot more information available to them due to the Internet and social media.  The problem is until the cranium if fully developed, they have a little trouble sorting fact from fiction.  Youth drivers have the most accidents due to poor judgment.  You also need good judgment to form opinions and make political decisions like what to stand for, what to stand against, and who to vote for in elections.  One thing I have come across this last month on the Internet is how some states are organizing for a Convention of States.  There is a group called conventionofstates.com located in Purcellville, Virginia that argues for limited government.  I am a strong advocate for limited government but I do not approve of such an extreme and drastic method.  Even the John Birch Society is against a Con-Con.

To give you some background, there are two ways to initiate amending the Constitution.  The “safe” method is with the approval of two-thirds of both houses of Congress.  Because members of Congress, like the President, are under oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution…, the limitations of such motion would be for a new amendment to the Constitution, or an amendment to repeal an amendment as the twenty-first repealed the eighteenth (alcohol prohibition).  The second method involves two-thirds of the states’ legislatures (34 out of 50 states) to approve of an application to Congress for a Convention of States defined in Article V.  In any case, a Constitutional change has to be ratified either by three-quarters of both houses of Congress or by three-quarters of the states.  The latter method is risky business.

Unlike elected representatives under a Constitutional Oath, a Convention of States can be made up of everyday citizens under no such oath whatsoever.  You will not know their names or what states they represent.  They can go beyond a simple amendment; they can trash the Constitution and invoke a new one that may not include all the fundamental rights such as free speech, freedom of religion, and the right to bear arms.  A form of Article V existed in the Articles of Confederation we lived under from 1781-1788; one big difference; all thirteen colonies had to be on board.  With the Articles of Confederation proving to be an abysmal failure, the colonists called for The Convention of States in 1787 which led to the Articles of Confederation replaced by our current Constitution which defines the inalienable rights of the people, and made the United States of America the greatest nation God ever allowed on this hunk of mud we call Earth.

Now try to imagine sixteen-year olds attending a convention and making decisions on our Constitution.  If the Constitution goes, so goes the Republic, and so go the freedoms and liberties they are so anxious to have as they cross the borders of Child World to never return again as the song goes.  The same dare devils with used cars in the beach parking lot can abolish freedom and democracy if they were to exercise the same mentality at a Convention of States, or to vote for left-wing candidates that know just how to appeal to these underdeveloped craniums.

If any teenagers are reading this, I am not your enemy.  I am trying to point out how fragile our democracy really is and hope that America will be a free country long after I am buried six feet under.  My thoughts and prayers are with you as you assume your rites of passage into adulthood.  I want you to have opportunities to thrive in a limited government nation as I believe limited government is our best hope for a balanced budget and the ability to build your dreams.  I leave you with this peace of mind: a democracy can vote in a dictator, but a dictatorship cannot vote in a democracy.

 

American-Flag1Is the Senate correct to block anyone President Obama appoints to replace Antonin Scalia?  Socrates would begin by answering the question with a question: How many justices are required to sit on the nation’s highest court bench?  I always thought nine justices was a Constitutional edict, but that is not the case.  According to the History Channel’s website, at a link called: http://www.history.com/news/history-lists/7-things-you-might-not-know-about-the-u-s-supreme-court, the page is dedicated to 7 Things You Might Not Know about the US Supreme Court, this is #2:

There haven’t always been nine justices on the court.

The U.S. Constitution established the Supreme Court but left it to Congress to decide how many justices should make up the court. The Judiciary Act of 1789 set the number at six: a chief justice and five associate justices. In 1807, Congress increased the number of justices to seven; in 1837, the number was bumped up to nine; and in 1863, it rose to 10. In 1866, Congress passed the Judicial Circuits Act, which shrank the number of justices back down to seven and prevented President Andrew Johnson from appointing anyone new to the court. Three years later, in 1869, Congress raised the number of justices to nine, where it has stood ever since. In 1937, in an effort to create a court more friendly to his New Deal programs, President Franklin Roosevelt attempted to convince Congress to pass legislation that would allow a new justice to be added to the court—for a total of up to 15 members—for every justice over 70 who opted not to retire. Congress didn’t go for FDR’s plan.

There have been as few as five and as many as ten in our nation’s history it is up to Congress how many justice should sit on the bench and it has been nine since 1866.  Interesting!  Not only does Congress have the right to block an appointment from confirming, but they can also pass legislation to reduce the number of justices to eight permanently!  In theory less than eight but the quid pro quo that the eight men and women occupying the bench now are serving lifetime terms, none of them can be removed from the bench without just grounds for impeachment so barring unforeseen circumstances, eight would be the minimum.  The Republican controlled Senate (the house that approves judicial appointments) would probably not jump to that extreme for two reasons; (1) their majority is not large enough to override a presidential veto and assuming the next president is a Republican conservative, they would rather have this new president appoint a conservative judge for a 5-4 conservative majority.

President Obama DOES have a Constitutional right to appoint someone; in fact, to choose to simply burn the clock out would be dereliction of duty on his part.  Although there is no penalty for doing this, or at least none anyone would implement during the ten-month lame duck period, it would not look good for public opinion on the legacy of the first African American president, which will be decided in 2037, twenty years after he is out of office.  Likewise, the Senate has a Constitutional right not to confirm any of his appointments.  To deny for the sake of denying seems sophomoric and childish, but this is a very unique situation.  There was no politics to force a justice into retirement of impeach a justice.  For Antonin Scalia, St. Peter called when he did and no politician has a say in that.  In my opinion, if Obama is willing to consider a moderate or moderate conservative appointee, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should reconsider so all three branches of government can function like a well-oiled machine both during the lame-duck administration and into the era of the new president whoever he or she may be.  But I can see their point about five out of nine liberals.

It is hard for me to make the case being a conservative, but I do believe when it comes to the Supreme Court and assuming it will remain a bench of nine far into the future, five conservatives is better for the nation than five liberals regardless how the other two branches align with respect to party and ideology.  Let us not forget that the judicial branch is the most static of the three branches.  It is not the function of the judicial branch to participate in the lawmaking process but to enforce the law as it is in the status quo, possibly interpret a law not clearly written, and void any law in conflict with the Constitution.  The ideal Supreme Court justice is someone status quo minded; objective and value neutral.  If a Supreme Court justice wants to change the law, he has to do what everyone else does, write to his or her congressman.  To be the ideal model of objectivity and value-neutrality would require an automaton; as it turns out, nobody built of flesh completely fits that description.  If we cannot have nine (or whatever number) value-neutral status quo-minded people on the bench, it is the lesser of the evils to have a conservative majority.  A liberal majority on the bench is a threat to the Constitution; and that is no fault of any liberal justice or potential justice.  As I have posted on several occasions, the political continuum is measured relative to the status quo and all three branches of government have to operate with the understanding that the Constitution is the ultimate arbiter and the preservation of the Constitutional status quo is better handled by people whose dynamics do not head in the direction of changing the Constitution.

I am sure the Senate will not dismiss a conservative appointed by President Obama although I think it is unlikely he would not appoint a moderate or liberal from the Sotomayor-Kagan school.  I cannot come to a conclusion as to whether allowing the Supreme Court to function with eight justices, four liberal and four conservative with high probability of tie votes.  But if the Republican-controlled Senate opts for the strategy of delaying until a new president is sworn in, such tactics are more than Constitutionally viable since there is no Constitutional mandate for exactly nine judges and since Congress has the power to change the size of the bench through the legislative process; with either the president signing it into law or a two-thirds majority in both houses to override a possible veto.  Be prepared for an eight-member Supreme Court for the next year or so.

 

In my last post, I stated a 4-4 vote in a Supreme Court with only 8 justices, the ayes have it but no constitutional precedent would be set.  This is the way it was reported on CNN when the news first broke of Scalia’s passing.  The correct remedy is the rulings of the local court would stand.  Supreme Court decisions can be reversed so if the case does not involve a law in conflict with the Constitution or a person being denied one of more of his or her Constitutional rights, the case can be taken up again when a ninth justice is confirmed; by President Obama or by the next president.

American-Flag1When Chief Justice Warren Burger retired in 1986, President Ronald Reagan promoted just William Rehnquist to Chief Justice and appointed Justice Antonin Scalia to the Supreme Court.  Scalia was one of the most outspoken justices in the history of the court and performed the job description the way it is explained in the Constitution.  He was a compassionate man with respect to the will of the states and the people and used the Constitution as a springboard to write the wrongs and preserve the rights of the people guaranteed by the Constitution.

The judicial branch of government is a law enforcement entity and is the one branch that needs to be static until pressed into service with a court case appealed to the highest court in the land.  While today’s presidents want to appoint justices in-line with their political ideology (Democrats appoint liberals, Republicans support conservatives) and the Senate confirms or denies depending on the political ideology of the majority party.  The ideal candidate can have personal feelings about liberal or conservative politics but in his or her work, needs to be a slight hash mark right of the center where the status quo resides—the goal if the judicial branch of government is to preserve and uphold the status quo except when the status quo conflicts with the Constitution in which case the Constitution must win.  A Supreme Court justice must be fair, impartial (although always partisan to the Constitution) and a man or woman of integrity.  Antonin Scalia was that person; and the last of his kind we will see for generations unless the American people readapt the philosophy and temperament of the Reagan years.

Justice Scalia said the death penalty is not defined as cruel and unusual punishment which Americans are protected from by the Eight Amendment.  He did however say that it needs to be implemented in the most technological humane way; i.e. do not put an inmate to death by stoning or crucifixion now that lethal injection is available; and that the Constitution does not mandate ever state must have a death penalty—states have the right to choose.  Antonin Scalia will go down as one of the best Supreme Court justices in history.  Whether you agreed with him or not, he did the job the way it was supposed to be done and was a great scholar of our great Constitution.  He will be missed.  I personally think that President George W. Bush, when appointed John Robberts to replace the Rehnquist, Scalia should have been promoted to Chief Justice and Robberts as an associate justice.  With a Democrat controlled House, it would have been difficult to get that confirmed and would have delayed Robberts confirmation.  Unfortunately, John Robberts turned out to be the twenty-first century Earl Warren who had a conservative background and the Warren Court was one of the most, if not the most liberal courts in history.

Although President Obama will appoint, it is unlikely anyone will be confirmed as the result could be five liberals that will affect how a conservative president can function for decades to come.  The Supreme Court will probably table any votes until Scalia’s replacement is appointed and confirmed by the new president after 01-20-2017 but if anything must be voted on, and if it is a 4-4 tie, the protocol is the ayes have it, but no constitutional precedent is set and it will be re-evaluated when the ninth justice is in place.

To Antonin Scalia, last of his kind.  RIP.