Archive for Supreme Court

When Hatred Mocks Piety and Democracy

Posted in agnoticism, Atheist, belief, Christianity, culture, faith, freethought, Government, history, humanism, humanity, politics, random, religion, Social, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , on March 4, 2011 by chouck017894

…with the U.S. Supreme Court’s blessing.

On the third of March 2006 a 20-year-old Marine Lance Corporal, recently deployed to Iraq, was killed when the Humvee he was traveling in overturned.  This dedicated young man had volunteered for service in the spirit that democracy best serves the needs of most people.  But the idealistic youth died tragically only to become another  victim of persons who, as the soldier’s funeral was being conducted, spewed out hatred and dared to blaspheme that their deplorable conduct was in honor of God!

The perpetrators of this shameful conduct are some  of the very people that Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder USMC had volunteered to protect so they could have the human rights of free speech, free assembly, and freedom of religious belief.  And how did seven intrusive religious fanatics from Westboro, Kansas show their appreciation for the servicemen who place themselves in harm’s way to protect them?  By picketing near as they could to the funeral services while shouting hatred and swinging signs that said such things as: — Thank God for dead soldiers; Pray for more dead soldiers; Destruction is imminent (implying it is for America); God’s view (with a freak-face looking through a gun-site); God blew up the soldier; God hates the US; and God hates fags; etc.

This insanity is what the notorious “reverend” Fred Waldron Phelps, who presides over a cult group of extremists who call themselves the Westboro Baptist Church, traveled 1100 miles so he could exploit his perverted theology of what is unholy.  The “reverend’s” blessed insight is that American soldiers will continue to die as long as the USA is a democracy that tolerates Jews, Catholics, and those abominable gays (Phelps prefers the term “fags”).

Albert Snyder, the bereaved father of Matthew, would later bring a lawsuit against this offensive and hateful cult on June 5th, 2006, rightfully charging the Westboro Church with defamation, invasion of privacy, and the intentional infliction of emotional damages.  No money value was actually demanded, only that Phelps should pay Snyder’s court costs and  pay some cost in punitive damages.  In 2007 a jury awarded Snyder compensatory damages, but a year later a federal judge reduced the punitive amount!  And then the fickle justice system handed out by an appeals court in bible-belt Richmond, Virginia actually ruled that Snyder was to pay Phelps’ legal costs!

Albert Snyder was determined to fight the hateful cult in memory of his son, and had his lawyers petition the U.S. Supreme Court.  Uh-oh—the very court system that happens to be overstocked with Republican backed Catholic justices, and the group that gave corporations the same equal rights of single citizens—which then ruled 8 to 1 on March 03, 2011 that it was all okay for the Baptist hate-mongers to indulge themselves in raucous demonstrations during the sorrowful time of a serviceman’s funeral! 

How did the Supreme Court Chief Justice, John Roberts, whitewash this ruling?  Roberts laid out the incontestable opinion of the court saying the court protects “…even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate.”  Say what?  Public debate is not a situation that decent persons indulge in where a family is laying to rest a loved one.  What justice or evenhandedness is administered in saying that “public issues” are an excuse to invade the personal sorrows of others?  What type of spirituality or ethics or morality is that?  So the 8 to 1 opinion as guided and delivered by Roberts said the “…protection (granted in the First Amendment) cannot be overcome by a jury finding that the picketing (at the funeral) of Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder of Finksburg, Md., who was killed in a non-combat vehicle accident in Iraq, March 3, 2006, Lance Cpl. Snyder’s funeral was picketed by members of the Westboro Baptist Church, which believes military deaths are the work of a wrathful god.”

And trying to sound so righteously philosophical, Roberts shoveled it on a little deeper, saying, “Speech is powerful.  It can stir people to action, move them to tears of  both joy and sorrow, and—as it did here–inflict great (unnecessary) pain.  On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker.”

Thus did compassion, ethics, moral comportment and common decency get a good kick in the ass.

The Phelps clan, of  course, was overjoyed that god favored their brand of hatred.  But from their apparent volatile mental state, they probably will soon become resentful that the Catholic dominate Supreme Court was such a helpful partner in their hate ministry.

Questioning the U.S. Supreme Court

Posted in Atheist, culture, Government, politics, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , on February 1, 2010 by chouck017894

The oath of office taken by each U. S. Supreme Court Justice has them solemnly swear to “…faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me under the Constitution and laws of the United States, so help me God.”  (Italics added.)  Citizens who care about civil rights, civil liberties, and separation of church and state are beginning to get a bit nervous about the U. S. Supreme Court since John G. Roberts was made Chief Justice in 2005.  The extent to which this Court has actually changed national laws—laws with precedence going back seventy to one hundred years—and turning them steadily and covertly to the right is disquieting.  In the present Supreme Court, in the dispensing of “equal justice,” Roberts is more often than not aided and abetted by Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Anthony Alito, with Anthony Kennedy very often inclined to the right.  All were Republican nominated, and all are Catholic.

 Even persons who are only superficially acquainted with the democratic principles expressed in the U.S. Constitution are aware that religion and government are meant to be kept separate for the sake of both.  So it is reason for alarm when a Supreme Court Justice promotes himself as “an avenger of the Christian faith,” and in one of his speeches declare himself to be “a fool for Christ.”  Perhaps Supreme Court Justice Antonio Scalia meant it in jest: for the sake of true equal justice let us hope so.  On the other hand, he has openly shown his favoritism toward his taught beliefs when considering his version of “equal justice” in regard to a religious symbol, the cross, that had been placed on government land in the Mohave Desert in California.

The eight foot tall cross was allegedly erected as a war memorial, so Scalia declared that it did not meet with the definition of a Christian symbol!  The court’s judgment, written by Scalia: the cross is “…the most common symbol of the resting place of the dead.”  Really?  Perhaps the dead Christians slumber peacefully because of it, but what of the Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, native Americans, atheists or others of lesser known faiths who died for the nation?  Does the long shadow cast by that stark unnatural form really grant all those killed in war the respect that they deserve and earned from the nation?  Despite what Christian extremists claim, the United States was NOT founded as a Christian nation.  Article 11 in the U. S. Treaty with Tripoli, 1796-1797, which also officially ended the War of Independence with Great Britain, says, “As the government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion….”

Equal justice means taking into consideration all evidence to be considered in a case.  As an example of how the Supreme Court has significantly changed national laws, consider the case of Herring v. United States.  The nine Justices passed the decision, which cannot be reviewed, of when evidence must be excluded when police, through good faith or negligent conduct, violate the Fourth Amendment.  Limitations on this were presented with this decision, but it fractured old precedence.  Other precedents have suffered as well.  Plaintiffs relying on the Age Discrimination in Employment Act were thrown a curve in the 14 Penn Plaza v. Pyett case when the Justices declared that individual employees cannot bring claims to court under federal age-discrimination law when they are part of collective bargaining agreement that required arbitration.  The Age Discrimination in Employment Act suffered more fracturing in Gross v. FBL Financial Services by making it more difficult for the plaintiffs in this case to meet burden of proof than did plaintiffs in other forms of employment discrimination suits.

And are true democratic principles being exercised when the possible innocence of a person convicted of a crime is denied a means of presenting scientific support of his/her innocence?  In the District Attorney of the Third Judicial District v. Osborne, the Supreme Court passed a 5-4 decision that those convicted of a crime had no Constitutional right to DNA testing, even though it would not cost the government one cent.  Were the Justices at all concerned about assuring that someone might prove their innocence even though they were convicted?  Is a mistake in identity such a rarity in the legal system?   Yeah, sure.

  • see also Supreme Court NOT for the Citizens, January 22, 2010.

Dismantlement of Fair Play Rules

Posted in Atheism, culture, Government, history, politics, random, thoughts, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2010 by chouck017894

Time Frame 1913:  The Federal Reserve Act established the national banking system, and in 1914, when Democrat Woodrow Wilson was President, the Federal Trade Commission Act outlawed unfair or deceptive business practices.  In the closing months of 1929 when Republican Herbert Hoover was President, the stock marked crashed, leading to the 1933 Glass-Steagal Act that set apart the “commercial banks” dealing primarily with checking and savings from the “investment banks” that dabbled in speculative trading and mergers.

In the decade after World War II years, prosperity, optimism and jitters over the threat of Communism kept the national financial climate fairly free of gross extortion for a while.  By 1968, when Democrat Lydon Johnson was President, it became necessary to enact the Truth in Lending Act, which required banks to disclose their loan terms and fees.  Greed hates restrictions and so the money-worshipers engineered a means of weakening the Glass-Steagal Act and getting installed the Bank Holding Company Act in 1970.  The clever finagling allowed the “commercial banks,” limited to checking and savings, a means of sidestepping via holding companies so the commercial banks could accept not only deposits but could also make commercial loans.  The next step in loosening banking activities occurred in 1978 when the Supreme Court approved giving the right to banks to make loans in states other than where the banks wer headquartered.  Naturally, that set off a stampede to states such as South Dakota and Delaware where consumer protections were not strong. 

Interest rates climbed after 1978, and a measure was pushed through Congress by Republican Jake Garn of  Utah that pulled off usury caps for mortgages.  By the next year Senator Garn was the chair of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.  His fellow deregulation advocate, M. Danny Wall, of the Office of Thrift Supervision, was made the majority staff director, and the lobbyists were ecstatic.  Thus set in power, Senator Garn then coauthored the Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act, which deregulated the savings and loan businesses.  By 1984, when Republican Ronald Reagan acted as President, the S&Ls began to crash in Texas, and throughout the next decade over 1000 trifts failed nationwide, which cause the loss of $124 billion of taxpayer money.

Time Frame 1988:  Republican George H. W. Bush was president.  The collapse of the Silverado S&L, whose board members included Neil Bush, left a taxpayers’ liability of around $1.3 billion.  The federal Office of Thrift Supervision determined that Neil Bush’s engineering of loans constituted “multiple conflicts of interest.”  Interestingly, early in the next year President G. H. W. Bush move quickly to bail out S&L industries. And curiously the government then took over most of a $5 million second mortgage on the President’s son Jeb’s Miami office building.

Some six years later, 1995, when Democrat William J. Clinton was  President, the Republican dominated Congress jockeyed the Truth in Lending Act into law, a reform that greatly eased the regulations on creditors.  In late December of ’95, the jockeying continued; this time by Republican Newt Gingrich’s involvement and a measure that made it more difficult to sue companies for securities fraud was enacted!  This was followed eight months later with the Office of Thrift Supervision issuing a rule that preëmpted nearly all state laws that had regulated S&L dealings.

 Through 1997-1998 heavy lobbying or the Republican Congress, financed by $200 million from FIRE sector (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate) and $150 million from political donations, pushed agenda items that included the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act to facilitate mergers.   This opened the means for Citicorp and Travelers to merge into a $70 billion corporation—which had been technically illegal under the Glass-Steagall Act. And Conseco was then free to purchase powerhouse Green Tree in a $5 billion deal.  In 1999 the Gramm-Leach-Biley Act was the coup de grâce for the Glass-Steagall Act, and it was not a mercy killing; its passage flung open the door for a wave of megamergers among banks, insurance and securities companies.  The driving force behind this insult to fairness ws Republican Senator Phil Gramm from Texas aided by Republican Representative Jim Leach of Iowa and Thomas J. Biley of Virginia. 

Gramm was not through though.  Just when Congress was anxious to close up shop for the Christmas recess, Senator Gramm cunningly attached a 262 page amendment to an omnibus appropriations bill, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act.  The attachment served to deregulate derivatives trading, which allowed an eruption in new unregulated securities as well as the Enron disaster.  Among the flock of vultures wer the lobbyists for the National Association of Realtors, fat with $13 million, that persuaded Congress to approve the American Homeownership and Economic Opportunity Act, which really made it harder for consumers to get our of lender-required insurance.

Needless to say, abuses in subprime activities exploded.  For example, in 2001 the Federal Trade Commission then had to sue the nation’s second largest subprime originator, Citigroup and its subsidiary Associates, for abusive lending practices that had involve over two million borrowers.  For Citigroup the suit was but a mosquito bite which was brushed off with a trifling $250 million settlement.

 Time Frame, entry into the 21st century:  The Republican machine was in full control, and Congress was urged to roll back subprime regulation by Stephen W. Prough, chairman of Ameriquest.  In self-defense the state of Georgia enacted an anti-predatory law designed to protect its citizens from subprime abuses and Ameriquest campaign against it, getting Standard and Poor, a division of McGraw-Hill to refuse to rate Georgia’s mortgage securities.  That effectively choked off credit supply to the state’s homebuyers, and the protective law was soon gutted.

Meanwhile, good old Phil Gramm was still wheeling and dealing.  This good buddy of Republican John McCain joined up with the Swiss investment bank UBS to “advise clients on corporation finance issues and strategy.”  He would also lobby Congress, the Treasury and the Fed on mortgage and banking issues.  Of course there was a great industry push to eliminate predatory lending rules.  By 2003 HSBC could buy pu Household finance, the nation’s fourth largest subprime lender.  Ameriquest succeeded in having New Jersey’s anti-predatory law gutted through intimidation tactics.  Happy with their lucrative activities Ameriquest then shelled out $200 million to the Bush campaign. 

In 2004, with Bush still saddled-up in the Oval Office, the Federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency issued a final ruling which preëmpted states from applying most of their credit laws to national banks and their subsidiaries.  In 2005, what some called the Loan Shark Protection Act (officially known as the Responsible Lending Act) was deceptively billed by its promoter as an anti-predatory lending measure, but which actually preëmpted stronger state laws.  Its sponsor was Republican Representative Robert Ney of Ohio–who would later go to prison for his involvement in the Abramoff scandal.

The Bush-Cheney years would afford the nation such things as the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention Act (2005), sponsored by Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, which actually made it still harder for consumers to discharge debts: businesses, of course, were not affected.  By March of 2007 Republican Senator John McCain announced that Senator Phil Gramm (yes, that Gramm) would join his presidential campaign as its co-chair and economic policy adviser.  But the nation’s financial crisis was already underway, thanks in part to Gramm.  There would follow the virtual meltdown of such outfits as the subprime giant New Century Financial, Dillon Read Capital Management, General Motors finance unit, American Home Mortgage, Countrywide Mortgage lender, and even Wall Street.  Ameriquest simply blew away.

But former bosses of such outfits as Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, and Countrywide were being questioned by Congress about the $40 million they had received throughout the five-year primetime boom.  Monopoly practices, once outlawed, continued with Bear Stearns taking over J. P. Morgan Chase in a Fed-engineered bailout—an action passed without the number of votes that are required by law.  Senator McCain knew how to ease the nation’s problems: just remove regulatory, accounting, and tax impediments to raising capital, he said!  And G. W. Bush said that he would veto legislation that sought to provide $300 billion for struggling homeowners, declaring it would be a “burdensome bailout” and the lenders would have to renegotiate some mortgages.  He would leave office with these words, “In terms of the economy, look, I inherited a recession, I am ending on a recession.”  Records show that there was a surplus in reserve when he swore to serve the people.  Maybe it would look better on his record if he hadn’t immediately given that away to the already-rich.


Corporations Shaft America

Posted in Atheist, culture, Government, history, politics, random, thoughts with tags , , , on September 18, 2009 by chouck017894

Back in 1816 Thomas Jefferson—who wrote the Declaration of Independence and later served as the third president of the United States—was understandably suspicious of the rise of corporations.  He felt that such business structures would function as a perpetual threat to democracy and therefore had to be strictly limited.  Jefferson stated his fears regarding corporations assuming power saying of the looming threat that governing policies must “…crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of the country.”

 Today the United States is bound in shackles to corporations, and they have proven what Jefferson had feared: corporations are, just as are all organized religions, inherently antidemocratic and are presided over by a wealthy select few who have no concern for “the masses.”  Over the decades corporate shysters have underhandedly and intentionally chipped away at the noble democratic principles set down by the nation’s founding fathers to indulge themselves in amassing vast sums of money through corporate stealth, then use that wealth to elevate their private interests over the nation’s common good.  In the process they have managed to tangle laws for citizens protection—such as price controls, monopoly laws, etc.—so that those who invest in their shady work are absolved of any personal responsibility carried out under the umbrella of their corporations. 

Of course the Constitution gives no recognition to corporation rights, stating in that noble document the sovereignty and right of self-governing to “The People.”  Nowhere was there made allowance for corporate exercise of power over the citizens that we see in the U.S. today.  But oil, pharmaceutical, insurance, coal and similar conglomerates hold the nation in ransom with absolutely no regard for equality and fair exchange that makes democracy work.  And this abuse of corporate power has been aided and abetted by none other than the U.S. Supreme Court!

Especially the John Roberts Court.  Roberts, we should remember, held political jobs in both the Reagan and Bush I administrations, and he was active in crafting policy aimed at curbing personal privacy rights and religious liberty rights.  In fact, he authored a brief for the Bush administration that proposed allowing clergy-led prayers at public school events! 

Under the “guidance” of Roberts and abetted by Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Antonio Scalia, and Samuel Alito—all Catholic, all Republican sponsored—and antidemocratic elements have lurched forward with stunning favoritism toward corporate power and radical right religious trickery.  With their brand of  “justice” the nation’s workforce, taxpayers, environment, etc. have been repeatedly spurned in favor of corporate law-breaking and theocratic notions.

 This antidemocratic stance of the Supremes has been obvious from at least 1998 (thus even before Roberts), which then set about actually rewriting long standing laws.  In that year the Court rejected  legal precedent to rule that a woman claimant had no valid claim to antidiscrimination by a tire firm because she had not filed her disparity of pay suit within 180 days of first suffering the discrimination.  Totally ignored by the Supremes was that the claimant had not been aware that men holding an equal position had been earning forty percent more for years.  Snickering up their judicial sleeves, the Justices brushed her off and democracy suffered still more loss of integrity.  This is the same Court that struck down the majority wishes in the 2000 national election to put oil men Bush-Cheney in control of government.  That tramping upon the elective process revealed the extent of their alleged “impartial” judgment.

Thanks Supreme Court for giving the U.S. eight historical Bush years.  We’re still paying for it.

GOP = Greedy Outlaw Politicians

Posted in Atheism, Atheist, culture, history, life, thoughts, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 1, 2009 by chouck017894

A Demand for Accountability

With the help of the radical (self-serving) religious right, the radical (self-serving) political right managed in the year 2000 to pervert the democratic principles upon which the United States had become a world power.  It was a frightening demonstration of why church and state must always-and-ever be kept separate.  With George W. Bush as their front man installed as president through interference of a largely Republican appointed Supreme Court that did not listen to popular choice, a gang of outlaw political conspirators was jimmied into the seats of national command. 

The administration of government that was thus set in place thrust itself into activity that was much more than simple dedication to committing mafia-style crimes: it launched a war against democracy.  The radical religious right dreamed of imposing a theocracy: their political partners, however, schemed to bankrupt the nation and thereby open the means to seize permanent control of the nation’s wealth and power.

Immediately all surplus monies held for public benefit got reshuffled and miraculously disappeared into the coffers of the already obscenely rich.  The Justice Department was soon made a malformed instrument used for voter suppression, and legal balance was perverted by the dismissal of the U.S. attorneys that sought to investigate the administration’s illegal transgressions.

War with Iraq had already been in discussion among the political plotters even before their grab for political power had been blessed through use of subterfuge.  Strangely convenient, terrorists decided in this period to drive airplanes into the World Trade Center in New York City and into the financial records department of the Pentagon.  Blamed for the murderous attacks was Osama bin Laden, then said to have been operating out of Afghanistan.  But the “official” propaganda that was dispersed in bulk upon the U.S. citizens was that Iraq had been the base that had harbored the instigators of the attacks.

An illegal and disastrous war was launched through falsely representing to the U.S. Congress and to the stunned American public a wholly perverted tangle of “intelligence reports” on Iraq’s alleged relationship with the terrorists.  A department of Homeland Security was contrived through which was set in place the most dangerous attack upon citizen freedoms ever imposed on U.S. citizens.  With the illegal war, wartime contracts to substandard vendors with inside connections were issued, and the people’s legal representatives were suddenly defunded, which made it virtually impossible to police those activities.  There was some justifiable humor to the situation, however, for Security not only spied upon any political protesters, but upon church groups as well.

Probably the ultimate shame of all the Bush administration’s transgression against democratic principles was the denial of human dignity by authorizing the use of torture upon defenseless prisoners that were being held illegally under international laws and U.S. laws.  Never had any previous administration ever dared to act so thoroughly and openly lawless.  And through it all, the power honchos such as Dick Cheney declared himself to be above the law.  He is still pretending his lawlessness was noble and patriotic!

There is no precedent for prosecution of such betrayals of democracy by a president, vice president or senior officers—a fact that the instigators of these crimes hide behind.  But for democracy to allow such flagrant lawlessness to sit in high offices and simply allow them to walk away thumbing their noses at the nation they disgraced is to desecrate the memories of those who fought and died through the centuries to preserve a “land of freedom and justice.”

The breadth, scope, enormity and audacity of the Bush administration’s activities must be placed upon the scales of genuine justice.  The United States of America must again reinstate the principles of freedom, justice and opportunity for all mankind that once inspired admiration and respect from the world.

Our Legal Environment

Posted in Atheist, culture, history, life, politics, religion with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2009 by chouck017894

Rules of the game: That is what cultures and societies establish and speak of as “laws,” and which, ideally, institute a framework of conduct that presumably serves to protect the majority.  But when a minority faction becomes the majority that occupies the seats of law policy for the nation, the likelihood of impartial interpretation of law becomes dubious.

As noted in the earlier posting, Democracy Under Siege (June 20), perfidious factions (extreme religious right) have for years sought to chip away at the safeguards that were established in the United States Constitution in a disloyal attempt to jam their religious interpretations into government rule.  If a wall is not maintained between church and state the result is theocratic bedlam, and gross orgies of persecution and harassment are enthroned as divine justice.  The clerical rule of Iran through the last few decades is a good example of such a divinely brutal system.

The United States skated close to the edge of disaster through eight years under a president that thought he had been divinely chosen to direct policy and the course of action that the nation should follow.  But his appointment had not been by majority choice of the people as it should have been, but by a Supreme Court that was heavily indebted to a Republican power base which had stacked the court with five doctrinally “conservative” Catholic “justices” out of nine seats.

When that court-elected president neared the end of his detrimental term in office, the US Supreme Court under Chief Juistice John G. Roberts, a doctrinally conservative Roman Catholic, openly indicated that the court was s willing to render wide-ranging decisions that would reverse time-honored trends in jurisprudence.  Those desiring a theocratic takeover of the nation were ecstatic at the decisions of the court that limited citizens’ rights to challenge government support for religion!  Anti-evolution propaganda thus gained muscle to combat well-proven evidence of evolution and inject into schools the biblical myth of creation as “scientific creationism.”  The Supreme Court also chose to ignore medical  evidence as a consideration in some abortion cases thus imposing  theocratic limits upon rules that had been established in 1973 in Roe vs. Wade.   And true to doctrinally conservative interpretation of law, the court increased pressure on scientists and educators to alter or even suppress scientitic research and findings that conflicted with the schema of the religious right.  Religious theory was/is being wedged into government policy.

With the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court the nation is now confronted with having still another Roman Catholic added to the Supreme Court, making the religious beliefs of SIX out of nine justices a drastic imbalance in the court’s point of view.  Having a Latina woman on the court is, in itself, a wonderful declaration of democratic principles.  Unfortunately, we should be excused for wondering can such an ideologically imbalanced Supreme  Court remember that narrow dogma is NOT the mark of wise democratic justice?

Democracy Under Siege

Posted in Atheist, culture, history, politics, random, religion with tags , , , , , on June 20, 2009 by chouck017894

The founding fathers of the United States wisely set in place a system of checks and balances of government operation that consists of the legislative, the executive, and the judicial branches to protect the foundation of democracy.  Since the early 1950s, however, there have been perfidious factions that have systematically chipped away at these safeguards under the guise of some  divine directive.

By coincidence there has, in this same time period, been an alarming increase in what can only be termed religious hucksterism in the United States, and this can be traced directly to the advent of television technology.  (See also May 9, 2009 blog God’s Political Addiction.)  Affordable television sets in the early 1950s brought the means for enterprising religionists to tap into a lucrative source of self-promotion, and televangelism was born.  Unfortunately, the pulpit entrepreneurs can  only offer their version of ancient mystics’ interpretations of man’s place in the scheme of things, which did not then and do not now translate as ultimate truth.

In addition, no organized religion has ever been founded or conducted on democratic principles; they are always profoundly authoritative, martially oriented, swamped by self-righteousness, and heavily seeped with discrimination.  The promised “reward” that they offer for the  “chosen” or “saved” is always pictured as a “kingdon”—which supports their code of belief that there is no god-given right to self-rule.  Man’s brain, they seem to assume, was not intended by whatever power that caused it to evolve to be used for responsible self supervision.   By their calculations man is meant only to scrounge in a subservient state and god will provide man with enlightened overseers—meaning themselves

This brings us, in a very round-about way, to the United States Supreme Court and the six justices named by the court by Republican presidents through heavy behind-the-scenes evangelical manipulation.  Thus the placement of these justices became a highly questionable factor in the 2000 US national election when the court’s alleged nonpartisan reputation became compromised with an agreement to hear disputes over suspicious election tallying—not just one intrusion into majority choice  but two times–at Republican candidate Bush’s request.  Of course there could be no higher appeal in the question of fairness of the court’s interference: it was only coincidental that three of the justices were appointed by H. G. Bush or that three others had been appointed by Reagan and another appointed by Ford.

True democratic principles collapsed under the court’s ideological interference in the presidential vote recounts.  Glaringly obvious in the court’s suspension of hand recounts of thousands of questionable ballots was the fact that the Supreme Court failed miserably as the nation’s nonpartisan guardian of the nation’s laws.

After the Supreme Court’s interference with the vote counting in 2000 there was, according to the Washington Post and ABC News, a sixty-three percent loss of confidence in the Supreme Court.  The religious right, however, has steadily gained strength from this court’s ideological leaning, and evangelical pressure can now, with fair ease, taint issues presented to this court on items such as abortion, prayer in schools, marriage definitions, creationism, etc. 

The founding fathers must be spinning…

Burden of Proof

Posted in Atheist, Bible, Christianity, culture, history, humanity, politics, random, religion, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on May 12, 2009 by chouck017894

In a court of law, at least in the United States, there is declared an obligation to prove affirmatively a disputed claim relating to an issue that is being contended in court. Because it is always the plaintiff (claimant) that brings the action, it is the plaintiff’s responsibility to persuade the court of the merits (truth) of his case. The plaintiff must therefore establish his case beyond a reasonable doubt.

In a civil case, however, the claimant is allowed what is called “a fair preponderance of the evidence” to establish the truth of his claim. In other words, reasonable doubt can be muddied and manipulated by legal theatrics.

How do these rules of “justice” stand up when questions regarding religion are presented? Unfortunately, history shows repeatedly that in cases debating issues of “belief” the scales of rational justice too often suffer considerable abuse.

In a theocracy, for example, where some religous faction holds iron-fist control of the state, “justice” is balanced against a defendant’s acceptance of the in-power’s religion. In such a religion-dominated governing setup, if one is charged with even a misdemeanor and does not subscribe to the prescribed manmade dogma, the defendant has virtually no chance of receiving genuine justice. When a faith system—any faith system—exerts muscle over the balance of national inquiry, neither spiritual nor human welfare is being served: only those in the seat of power benefit.

So it was considerably alarming in the United States when, in the opening days of the 21st century, the citizens of the U.S. found religious fundamentalists actively seeking to destroy the whole foundation of democratic principles in hopes of imposing their narrow concepts of a “Bible-based” nation. Through their clamor and forgery of the nation’s true history they thus placed themselves in the role of plaintiffs in the court of popular evaluation. Unfortunately for them, the claim of “revealed” wisdom and guidance made by these would-be controllers is not a premise that can be advanced beyond reasonable doubt. Presenting the Bible as their authority is not persuasive either, even in a civil court, for there are countless translations and interpretationsof that book. Moreover, the original authors of those stories were convinced that Earth was the center of all Creation.

But there still remain reasons to worry about the religious fanatics seeking to chip away at the principles set forth in the U.S. Constitution and in the Bill of Rights. The heavy-handed manner of the Supreme Court in the 2000 election belied the noble principles of “goverment of the people, by the people, and for the people,” and by Supreme Court rule a man was set in the Oval Office who brazenly claimed to be chosen by God! Inspired by biblical tales no doubt, he and his cohorts quickly mired the nation neck-deep in an illegal war; those who were taken prisoner were held without charge and without access to legal counsel; torture was approved and indulged in; citizens’ rights to privacy were betrayed—and numerous other biblical niceties were extended. Meanwhile the rich quickly got richer as they sank even deeper into spiritual poverty.

God’s Henchmen

Posted in Atheist, Christianity, culture, history, random, religion, secularism, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on April 22, 2009 by chouck017894

In the last quarter of the twentieth century, May 1985 to be exact, Pat Robertson, the televagelical mogul, was featured in a magazine called On Cable. Robertson, filled as usual with eternal boundless self-righteousness (ego), declared that he sought to remake America into a “biblically based nation.” His fiery right-wing politics was characterized by him as the “conservative, religious, and biblical point of view.” That “point of view” had been so slickly packaged by the time of his 1985 interview that his organization was siphoning in more than seventy million dollars a year.

The long held ideals and the values placed on diversity and plurality by the American people were regarded by Robertson to be “extreme dangers” of a secular state. The rights of minorities were being threatened in his “conservative” view drawn from biblical inspiration (that just happened to see nothing wrong with slavery). In public schools, he insisted, the children were being taught “a collective philosophy” that would lead citizens toward Marxism, socialism, or a communisitic type of ideology. In his humble (egocentric) opinion it was logical to denounce the Department of Education as unconstitutional!

Never shy about telling the nation what God wanted, Robertson asserted that the U.S. Supreme Court of the time had departed from history and the constitution. He worried publicly about “encroachment” of the judiciary. Thus Robertson charted a course to “engage” in what he termed “advocacy journalism,” and his Christian Broadcast Network (CBN) “news teams” began grinding out propagandist mini-documentaries with heavy “conservative” messages. Perhaps the heavily tilted Catholic (5 of 9) Supreme Court of today is more to his approval.

The CBN “news team” at that time was headed by a man once the editor of  The Washington Times, which just happened to be owned by the “Reverend” Sun Myung with all his questionable North Korean connections. The “born again” population, Robertson averred, was seriously under-represented in government. The evangelical then tried to ease the minds of skeptics declaring,  “The basic thing people do not understand is that evangelicals in America are not plotting to take away the rights of everybody else.”

Robertson, the modern age version of the biblical prophets, then announced that “God is going to thrust his people into positions they never dreamed they were capable of taking on.” (Bush, Cheney and others that schemed their way into federal government positions did seem to fill the requirements as set down by most biblical stars.) If the heavy tilt of religiously obsessed persons in government positions in recent years has been any indication, and if their corruption of true democratic principles is an example of a “biblically based” nation, can we truthfully say the sly takeover that Robertson advocated was “fairly benign”? 

His prophecy was on the button though; the U.S. got a born againer thrust into a government position that he was incapable of taking on.  With the blessings of eight years of bible-based leadership and conduct now behind us,  is there any doubt that a “biblical point of view” raised the nation’s standards in corruption, spying, waging war, wealth dispersion, imprisonment, torture and similar biblical niceties? 

The rise of televangelism in America from the 1950s is assessed in Time Frames and Taboo Data: A History of Mankind’s Misdirected Beliefs.