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…and then they came for me

San Diego’s 10 News is reporting that a county employee has notified a local pastor and his wife that their small Bible study group, averaging 15 people, is in violation of county ordinances and that they must “stop religious assembly or apply for a major use permit.”

Attorney Dean Broyles of The Western Center For Law & Policy was shocked with what happened to the pastor and his wife. Broyles said, “The county asked, ‘Do you have a regular meeting in your home?’ She said, ‘Yes.’ ‘Do you say amen?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Do you pray?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Do you say praise the Lord?’ ‘Yes.'”

I am stunned at this (as I am with many recent developments in our country) and believe this action by the county is unconstitutional and a clear violation of individual rights; of the right of assembly and of freedom of speech. It is beyond the realm of government to ask such questions, quite beyond their business to inquire of the words we speak in our homes.

We cannot stand silent as our country is ravaged; we must speak out.

Martin Niemöller’s poem inscribed on a stone in the New England Holocaust Memorial.

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An Apology to President Obama

Immediately after the inauguration yesterday, I posted a few of my thoughts about the glorious affair. I wrongly fingered our new president as having botched his oath. Turns out it was the chief justice who did the dastardly deed. I apologize Mr. President.

Here’s the oath as it appears in the Constitution:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Not exactly a tongue twister. And yet . . .

1) Roberts begins: “Are you prepared to take the oath, Senator?”

That’s a mistake. Obama was already President at this point. The oath is a prerequisite to the new President’s “Execution of his Office,” per Article II, Section 1, but Obama became President at noon sharp (while the musicians were playing), per the 20th Amendment, Section 1. But we can excuse the Chief Justice for not consulting his wristwatch.

2) “I Barack Hussein Obama,” Roberts begins, at which point Obama follows him, but Roberts is continuing, “do solemnly swear,” requiring Obama to start again. Let’s say they share the blame for this one, for having failed to come up with a game plan during the rehearsal dinner.

3) Roberts: “that I will execute the office of President to the United States faithfully.”

Ouch! First of all, in the Constitution, the “faithfully” immediately precedes “execute.”
And President to the United States?!

4) Then Obama is either surprised at what Roberts had just said because that’s not how Obama practiced it, or he can’t remember everything Roberts has said, so he says “that I will execute” and stops, waiting for help from Roberts.

5) Whereupon Roberts stumbles again: “The off . . . faithfully the Pres . . . the office of President of the United States.” Obama continues “the office of President of the United States faithfully.” I.e., he too now puts the “faithfully” in the wrong place.

6) Now they both seem to recover a bit. Roberts correctly says “And will to the best of my ability, ” which Obama repeats, although he appears to drop the “the.”

7) Both the former Managing Editor of the Harvard Law Review and the former President of the Harvard Law Review, each now heading a branch of the federal government, flawlessly recite “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

8) Roberts then asks whether Obama wants God’s help, to which which Obama says yes.

From Dorf on Law

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Applause for the Supreme Court Gun Possession Ruling

Within the past hour, the Supreme Court issued a clear constitutional interpretation of the second amendment, ruling that Americans have the right to own guns for self-defense and for hunting.

This was a historical ruling, being in U. S. history the first major pronouncement from the Supremes on gun rights. In a 5-4 ruling, the District of Columbia’s 32 year-old-ban was judged incompatible with gun rights under the Second Amendment.

Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said that an individual right to bear arms is supported by “the historical narrative” both before and after the Second Amendment was adopted.

The Constitution does not permit “the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home,” Scalia said. The court also struck down Washington’s requirement that firearms be equipped with trigger locks or kept disassembled, but left intact the licensing of guns.

Yahoo News

While I personally dislike guns and am very uncomfortable with them, I believe one of American’s basic rights is to possess guns and to protect our homes and families by force if necessary. I sincerely pray to God that will never happen, but we must have the ability to be so prepared.

I applaud this Supreme Court ruling.

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My devotional blog is here.

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An Enigma Examined

How is it that persons given identical sets of facts frequently come to contrary conclusions? In recent months I have considered this notion and in some of my writings here, in a collateral way, have marked my observations. The enigma is observable in every class, rank and collection of people. I’ve seen it to hold in families, in churches, and in politics. As recently as last week, we saw a striking example in our country when our Supreme Court Justices ruled 5 to 4 on an issue. How can that be? Why is that so?

For the sake of this conversation, I want to rule out the possibility of dishonesty and “agenda,” for although I’m not quite naive enough to disallow for such happenings among us, I believe the issue I’m raising exists outside such considerations. Think about this; approximately half of Americans are Republicans; the other half Democrats. Ministers reading the same Bible as their colleagues strongly avow the use of fermented wine for communion; others believe that to be a sin. Some ministers take a literal conservative view of the Bible; others, reading the same Holy Writ plead for liberality. Children reared in the same family, same gene pool, same parental guidelines take wildly divergent paths in the world–some pressing for bigger government with more power; others wanting minimal government invasion into private lives.

Think about abortion. Given the same set of facts, honest people divide into two groups. Standing on what each proclaims as reasonable grounds, one set votes for the rights of the mother; the other for the life of the unborn.

A piece by Paul Martin Lester notes a national survey of photographers, in which a question was posed as to the ethics of a particular situation. Given the same set of facts 38 percent said the response at question was ethical; 34 percent called the action unethical.

In an article in which Ann Morning wrote concerning the definition of the term “race,” she observed that after interviewing over 40 university professors in biology and anthropology, she found their views to vary widely.

Almost 40 percent of these academics took what can be called an “essentialist” view: they described races as groups of people who share certain innate, inherited biological traits. In contrast, over 60 percent held a “constructionist” perspective: they argued that races do not correspond to patterns of human biological variation, but rather that racial groupings are “constructed” through social processes that take place in particular historical, political and economic contexts. In other words, the jury was out on the scientific nature of race.

She goes on to ask,

With a commonly-accepted set of facts, why did they arrive at different opinions about whether the groupings we call races actually exist “in nature,” independent of our study of them, or whether these groups are ones that we humans construct, guided by our cultural presuppositions, and then impose like an artificial grid on the fuzzy reality of human diversity?

What is it that causes this phenomenon? Perhaps a difference in values is the mainspring, yet that leaves unexplained that children from the same families vary distinctly in their views, and should we consider it to be the gene pool and inherent tendencies we are against the same wall. Levels of education seem not to scribe a defining line, nor do church denominations or the area of the country–with some modest exceptions.

Ideas out there? I’m interested in hearing them.

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My devotional blog is here.

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A Hanging of Black for the Supreme Court

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“The Nation will live to regret what the Court has done today.” Justice Antonin Scalia

My mind is reeling. For the first time in our history…the first time under any President…alien combatants, in a time of war, have been granted habeas corpus. Our constitution has been distorted and stained by this shameful ruling. A shroud of black should be draped.

Yesterday the Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that prisoners at Guantánamo Bay have a constitutional right, in our federal court, to challenge their detention. Barbarian terrorists have been extended privileges as though they are American citizens.

Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 “falls short of being a constitutionally adequate substitute” because it failed to offer “the fundamental procedural protections of habeas corpus.”

In my piece today, I want to honor those Justices who love our country, who are patriots, those who spoke in dissent: Justices Antonin Scalia, John G. Roberts, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, Jr. Both Justice John G. Roberts and Justice Antonin Scalia wrote vigorous dissenting papers. I am posting excerpts from one of those.

From Justice Scalia

Today, for the first time in our Nation’s history, the Court confers a constitutional right to habeas corpus on alien enemies detained abroad by our military forces in the course of an ongoing war…. The writ of habeas corpus does not, and never has, run in favor of aliens abroad; the Suspension Clause thus has no application, and the Court’s intervention in this military matter is entirely ultra vires. The game of bait-and-switch that today’s opinion plays upon the Nation’s Commander in Chief will make the war harder on us. It will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed. That consequence would be tolerable if necessary to preserve a time-honored legal principle vital to our constitutional Republic. But it is this Court’s blatant abandonment of such a principle that produces the decision today.

Today the Court warps our Constitution in a way that goes beyond the narrow issue of the reach of the Suspension Clause, invoking judicially brainstormed separation-of-powers principles to establish a manipulable “functional” test for the extraterritorial reach of habeas corpus (and, no doubt, for the extraterritorial reach of other constitutional protections as well). It blatantly misdescribes important precedents, most conspicuously Justice Jackson’s opinion for the Court in Johnson v. Eisentrager. It breaks a chain of precedent as old as the common law that prohibits judicial inquiry into detentions of aliens abroad absent statutory authorization. And, most tragically, it sets our military commanders the impossible task of proving to a civilian court, under whatever standards this Court devises in the future, that evidence supports the confinement of each and every enemy prisoner. The Nation will live to regret what the Court has done today.

Bench Memos at National Review

I tremble for our country and take umbrage at such “abandonment of principle…”

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My devotional blog is here.

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A Day of Shame in California

Yesterday was a shameful day in California. For on that day, the California Supreme Court ruled that a law defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman is unconstitutional.

This is outrageous. Christianity and every other major religion speaks for marriage in this way. Furthermore, overwhelmingly passed in 2000 by the constituents of California was Proposition 22, a statue protecting traditional marriage, defining marriage as being between one man and one woman.

In handing yesterday’s decision, these four liberal judges blatantly disregarded the will of the people. Justices Marvin Baxter, Ming Chin and Carol Corrigan dissented.


Justice Ming Chin Justice Marvin Baxter Justice Carol Corrigan

Justice Baxter writes:

The court majority “does not have the right to erase, then recast, the age-old definition of marriage, as virtually all societies have understood it, in order to satisfy its own contemporary notions of equality and justice.

I’m certainly far from the only person feeling outrage about this development.

The president of the Campaign for Children and Families, reacted with dismay, insisting “marriage is naturally for a man and a woman.”

“If the institution of marriage is redefined and therefore destroyed in the law, the wellbeing of children is threatened, both emotionally, socially, even physically,” Thomasson added.

A coalition of religious and social conservative groups have vowed to attempt to add a vote calling for a ban on same-sex marriage when California goes to the polls in November’s election.

Perhaps our shame can be mitigated, and this unrighteous and unfair ruling will be reversed.

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My devotional blog is here.

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Respect For The Fallen in Battle

A few days ago Jerry and I were talking about military service and he related how worried his father was during the second world war because of his sons who were overseas fighting for our country.

“He would sit and stare into space, working his jaw, silent and distressed ” Jerry told me. “He was proud of them, but he worried.” But because of the mercy of God and the throw of fortune, all the sons of William Buxton came home unscathed.

Not every parent is so blessed, for many sons give their lives for their country. Most parents, though unspeakably grieved, are proud of such children. Among them are Robin and Michael Read. But now, the Read family is suing.

It seems that Dan Frazier, without their permission, has printed their son’s name on anti-war shirts he is selling online. They are furious and are contending that Dan Frazier of Flagstaff has no right to profit from commercial sale of products that use the dead soldiers’ names without permission.

The shirts read: Bush lied, they died, and Frazier claims the 1st amendment gives him this free speech protection. Frazier’s attorney, Lee Phillips, says this project is clearly political protection, and is “not done for profit.”

PHOENIX — A Tennessee couple who lost their son in Iraq want an Arizona merchant to pay more than $40 billion in damages to survivors of soldiers whose names are on the anti-war shirts he is selling online.

Our military is comprised of volunteers, so of his own free will, the son of Michael and Robin Read prepared himself for battle. Knowing this, it seems of flagrant disrespect that this fallen soldier’s name would be used on anti-war tee-shirts.

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My devotional blog is here.


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Court Orders Starbucks to Pay One Million Dollars

In a file phnoto customers wait for their orders inside a Starbuck's coffee house Thursday, Nov. 17, 2005, in Alameda, Calif.  A Superior Court judge on Thursday, March 20, 2008,  ordered Starbucks Corp. to pay its California baristas more than $100 million in back tips and interest that the coffee chain paid to shift supervisors.    (AP Photo/Ben Margot/file)

A few weeks ago, here on this site, we got to talking about tipping–and during that conversation someone brought up the subject of dropping tips into containers in such places as Starbucks, where, beyond the preparation of the product, little service is given. Well, it seems Starbucks has got themselves into a bit of a bind–at least in one court in California–for the tips have not been going to the barristas, but management has been giving the tips to supervisors. And that appears to be illegal.

SAN DIEGO — A Superior Court judge on Thursday ordered Starbucks Corp. to pay its California baristas more than $100 million in back tips and interest that the coffee chain paid to shift supervisors.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Patricia Cowett also issued an injunction that prevents Starbucks’ shift supervisors from sharing in future tips, saying state law prohibits managers and supervisors from sharing in employee gratuities.

All the details are here and here.

Although I tip well in a restaurant or a hotel, I don’t usually leave a tip in this kind of place, for I don’t feel I am being served–I pick up my own coffee, take it to the table, clean up and so on. I really never considered that the barristas had to count on tips to earn a fair wage. I think I resent that, for these drinks are already pricey to begin with, and I believe Starbucks and other such companies should pay their workers an adequate wage. Someone is making lots of money.

Well, because of this ruling Starbuck’s barristas will get some money back, but by the time the attorneys get their fees for this class-action suit, there will be little left.

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My devotional blog is here.

 
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Can a Man Sue God?

I know you probably read a couple a days ago about Senator Ernie Chambers and this business of suing God. The “esteemed Senator” accused God of sending natural disasters, inciting fear among the world’s population and of terrorizing millions.

LINCOLN, Neb. – The defendant in a state senator’s lawsuit is accused of causing untold death and horror and threatening to cause more still. He can be sued in Douglas County, the legislator claims, because He’s everywhere.

State Sen. Ernie Chambers sued God last week. Angered by another lawsuit he considers frivolous, Chambers says he’s trying to make the point that anybody can file a lawsuit against anybody.

Chambers says in his lawsuit that God has made terrorist threats against the senator and his constituents, inspired fear and caused “widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth’s inhabitants.”

rest of the article here

And then,

Poof! ‘God’ Answers Suit, Asserts Lack of Jurisdiction

From ABA Journal

A response to a legislator’s lawsuit from “God” asserts the court lacks jurisdiction to hear a Nebraska legislator’s lawsuit against him.

John Friend, clerk of the Douglas County District Court in Omaha, told the Associated Press the response was one of two filed on God’s behalf. State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha sued God earlier this week to make the point that anyone can file a frivolous lawsuit.

“This one miraculously appeared on the counter,” Friend said. “It just all of a sudden was here—poof!”

The suit also argues that God is immune from earthly laws, he has not been served with the suit, and he should not be blamed for human suffering.

“I created man and woman with free will and next to the promise of immortal life, free will is my greatest gift to you,” it read.

No contact information was on the filing, although it lists St. Michael the Archangel as a witness. Several local lawyers denied that they wrote the response, but they told Omaha’s Action 3 News they are available if God needs them.

“[God] hasn’t called me yet!” said lawyer James Martin Davis.

A second response from “God” lists a phone number for a Corpus Christi law office.

Oh, well. One can’t deny we have an exciting governmental body. What next, I ask?

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My devotional blog is here.

 

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Ban the Water, Bring on the Spittoons.

Once as Jerry and I sat in a hospital room in California, the handsome, finely dressed son of our friend whom we were visiting, reached beneath his chair and pulled out what appeared to be a pound-size coffee can. It was capped with a plastic lid. He removed the lid, leaned over slightly, and with sure aim, spat a large shot of liquid brown stuff into the can. He replaced the lid, shoved the can beneath his chair, and calmly joined the ongoing conversation. I was astonished. The disposing of the tobacco juice from what must have been a wad in his cheek seemed distasteful and nasty, although I must admit he accomplished the deed with a certain dignified aplomb.

There’s a stir going on down in the Arkansas State Legislature where they seem to have some peculiar regulations, especially as regards liquids sitting out on the desktops. Check out this Associated Press report.

“At the Arkansas Legislature, it’s against the rules for a lawmaker to have even a cup of water sitting on his or her desk. That cup of spittle with a day’s worth of tobacco juice is fine, though.”

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By ANDREW DeMILLO, AP Posted: 2007-08-30 06:56:30

 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) – At the Arkansas Legislature, it’s against the rules for a lawmaker to have even a cup of water sitting on his or her desk. That cup of spittle with a day’s worth of tobacco juice is fine, though.

A state representative disgusted by the expectorate wants a state law that would rid the House and Senate of Styrofoam spittoons.

“It’s gross,” said Rep. Pam Adcock, a Little Rock Democrat who plans to file legislation that would ban all tobacco products, not just cigarettes, from the House and Senate chambers.

The complete story is here.

Sometimes they appear kind of strange down in Arkansas…but remember, I’m from the unique state of Missouri which bumps up against Arkansas, so I won’t laugh too exceedingly loud nor too long. Is funny though…those lawmen can’t have a cup of water on their desks, but a handy spittoon is a great idea. Never know when the urge for a long, brown splat might arise within the hallowed halls of the Arkansas legislature.

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My devotional blog is here.