A Non-Conforming Take on the First Amendment

I frequently hear, when someone feels they are being unfairly silenced, wholly specious claims that their First Amendment rights have been violated. A celebrated example was when, Phil Robertson, one of the guys from the reality show Duck Dynasty, made appalling remarks about LGBTQ+ people and atheists and the A&E network (very briefly) removed the show from their schedule. People who largely share Robertson’s homophobic views cried foul, claiming that A&E had violated his First Amendment rights. Many people pointed out that this was bullshit, but some for what I think are the wrong reasons.

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Russia Derangement Syndrome

The #MAGA crowd has a nickname for what they see as the irrational hatred liberals have for their Lord and Savior, Donald J. Trump. They call it “Trump Derangement Syndrome.” In their eyes, the left is inexplicably apoplectic because their Great Leader is somehow making America great again by giving away trillions to billionaires, bankrupting the treasury, and by not making Mexico pay for a wall.

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With Friends Like These…

Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar, one of two Muslim women elected to Congress in the Blue Wave of 2018, is feeling the heat, recently succumbing to pressure to apologize for tweets that the political establishment deemed anti-Semitic.

Rep. Omar committed the unpardonable sin of suggesting that the United States government’s often indulgent attitude to the State of Israel might be influenced by political contributions by the lobbying group AIPAC (The American Israel Public Affairs Committee).

In reality, there was nothing counter-factual or anti-Semitic about her remarks and she should never have needed to apologize.

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Racism is a Position, Not a Party

One commonly-played, and uncommonly dishonest, card that right-wing media likes to play is to perpetuate the lie that the present Democratic Party is ideologically unchanged from the Democratic Party of the 18th, 19th, and early 20th Centuries, and thereby the Democratic Party of Barack Obama and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is solely responsible for the nation’s sins of slavery and racial segregation, while Republicans are the party of the Great Emancipator, Abe Lincoln, and therefore deserve credit for everything good that has ever happened to black Americans. Sean Hannity detached his lips from Donald Trump’s ass long enough to repeat this garbage in a recent broadcast, but it appears to be a boilerplate script that resurfaces regularly on Fox News and other conservative outlets.

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Superdelegates

Unfortunately, a Superdelegate is not someone that the Avengers send to a political convention, because that would be kind of awesome. Instead, it’s an undemocratic phenomenon within the Democratic Party that is effectively keeping old school machine politics on life support.

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Why I’m an Atheist

The facile answer to the question of why I am an atheist is that I was born this way, and it’s true that every human being ever on earth begins life without the concept of religion. That must be externally imprinted on us, something human civilization has proven depressingly efficient at doing. In my case, despite my parents’ best efforts, including six years of Catholic middle school and high school, religion failed to find a firm purchase on my mind.

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Judicial Review

The independence of the Judicial branch of our Federal government is one of the key checks and balances created by the framers of the Constitution. So long as their only master was the law of the land, including the Constitution, the Federal bench would be able to restrain the potential excesses of the Executive and Legislative branches without being susceptible to the whims and passions of the electorate.

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House Repairs

In the 2012 elections for the House of Representatives, Republics won 54% of the races despite receiving fewer votes nationwide than the Democrats. In 2016, the Republicans eked out a narrow victory in the nationwide popular vote, 51% to 49%, but ended up controlling 55% of the seats.

In short, our representative democracy is failing at being representative. Continue reading “House Repairs”