Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Religeous Freedom Restoration Act of 1993

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was proposed as H.R. 1308 to the 103rd Congress of The United States in 1993 by Representative Chuck Shumer (D, NY). He had 170 cosponsors, 135 of them Democrat. At that time, the House of Representatives was composed of 258 Democrats, and 176 Republicans (59%D, 41%R), only 35 of whom had co-sponsored the bill. Ultimately, it passed by a UNANIMOUS vote.

The Senate, at the time, was composed of 57 Democrats, and 43 Republicans. The bill was approved in the Senate by a vote of 97 to 3, with two Democrats, and Jesse Helms (R,NC) voting NO, and then of course it was signed into law by then President Bill Clinton.

The Hobby Lobby case before the Supreme Court (Burwell v. Hobby Lobby) was decided the way it was because mandated elements of the Affordable Care Act contradicted the language of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and of course the purpose of the Supreme Court is to insure that the law is consistent.

So when anti-Christian zealots start to shriek hysterically about how Donald Trump and religiously fanatical conservatives are working to install a theocracy in Washington based on a closed door policy guidance speech that Jeff Sessions made, take a moment to re-visit history for just a half a mo and remind them that they have Chuck Shumer and the solidly Democrat 103rd Congress and Democrat elder statesman Bill Clinton to thank for the RFRA.

But that's just what an average guy thinks.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Russian Influence

I’d like to take a brief look at this whole Russian collusion thing. As was written in a whatanaverageguythings blog entry entitled “Special Counsel”, Russian interference and participation in U.S. policy and politics is nothing new. It’s been going on since the Bolshevik Revolution. What’s interesting is that in this case, the traditional allies of the communist Russians, progressive democrats, are now up in arms and consumed with false indignation about what has been going on for years. And of course the only reason they’re up in arms is because HRC lost the election because America didn’t believe her when she asserted that it was her turn.

But let’s just take a look. Russia is a big place. They have a LOT of proven energy reserves. Energy is their biggest export. It’s one of the ways they exert power over Europe. Those pipelines that move petroleum products and natural gas across Ukraine and Poland into The Czech Republic, the Baltic States, and Germany do more than carry energy, the extend Russia’s power to influence domestic European politics. What European politician wants to face a population unable to heat its homes in the winter, or unable to afford gasoline?

So. When the price of energy is high, the Russian economy does well, and when the market is limited the Kremlin can argue more persuasively for concessions from European governments eager for cheaper energy and stability.

Now let’s examine the U.S. 2016 election from an energy perspective. Barack 0bama had shut down the Keystone XL Pipeline after years of uncertainty (wink, wink), as well as the Dakota Access Pipeline. Hillary Clinton was unlikely to reverse those decisions. She had also promised………. PROMISED to put a lot of coal miners out of work. In an effort to keep world energy prices from falling too far, environmentalists and their allies in the Congress and regulatory agencies had for years opposed the construction of new energy export facilities making it harder for American producers to sell their products abroad, and making it harder for those dependent on Russia to obtain energy at market prices that didn’t come with social strings attached.

Donald Trump on the other hand, promised to reconsider and approve the Keystone XL pipeline, as well to overturn the decision halting construction and activation of the Dakota Access Pipeline. In addition to that permits to build export facilities for coal and LNG are being approved at an increased rate, and the climate for energy export is positive.

Now, if you were Vladimir Putin and you had to pick a candidate and energy policy for the United States, which one would you choose: A) Hillary Clinton who promised to kowtow to her environmental lobby and keep energy production as low and prices as high as possible, or B) Donald Trump who promised to cut energy producers and exporters loose so that energy prices would be driven down and Russian influence in Europe would be lessened?

Clearly, Russia had a financial interest in Clinton’s election and they had every right to expect it just the same as everyone else. What they were doing is what they have always done, and that’s sowing the seeds of mayhem and distrust within the United States. It’s a pity that our educational system and progressive politicians have prepared the soil so well for them.

But that’s just what an average guy thinks.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Special Counsel

Now, I’m just an average guy, but it seems to me that we have known for years, decades even, nigh on a century that the Russians have been meddling in electoral processes around the globe when it was impossible or too obvious for them to act overtly. It has been acknowledged that even though Senator Joseph McCarthy was an unscrupulous grandstander, he was also correct that there were communist sympathizers operating at the highest levels of the U.S. Government. So barely covert Russian meddling in U.S. politics is nothing new.

The view from here is that rather than aid one candidate or another (HRC was a shoo in remember) the goal was simply to undermine American confidence in its public institutions. Or perhaps the Russians have better polling in the U.S. than any of the companies that do that sort of thing. It was said (I said it myself) that it would be impossible for Trump to overcome the built in lead that HRC had in the Electoral College, and the Big Blue Wall across the upper mid-West into Pennsylvania could never be breached. How did the Russians know what no one else knew?

The answer is, it seems to me, that they didn’t care who won. My belief is that they have four years’ worth of damning emails linking Hillary and Bill Clinton to corruption at the Clinton Foundation that would make Hugo Chavez blush. They also knew and still know that the Clinton’s primary motivator is monetary gain, so they knew how to deal with that. Trump is a different story, but compared to Vladimir Putin or the other dictators of the world, he’s a Boy Scout. So, if HRC wins, they can control her with her emails and cash, and if Trump wins they can cripple his presidency with clever manipulation of misleading and fraudulent news stories and promotion of public unrest. There was no way for the Russians to lose.

However, now there’s a special counsel, who has been give broad investigative powers to investigate “the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election”. That is a much larger picture than is being focused on, because it includes the hacking and release of the Podesta emails which conceivably contain huge as yet unopened cans of worms. Releases by WikiLeaks, and a whole host of other information sources.

People are seeing “going after the Trump campaign”. What actually turns up may be a bit more interesting.

But that’s just what an average guy thinks.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Liberal Book Burning

I would like to take a few moments to call out HBO “comedian” Bill Maher in regards to the fascist mobs that he has rather belatedly referred to as a “liberal book burning”. I’ll include in this all of the other “comedic” types along with pretty nearly all of the on air talent at CNN and MSNBC, and pretty nearly all of the politicians who have let this condition fester over the last few years. Where were they all when this business started?

Now Maher seems to have wakened anew along with a smattering of well-known college professors to complain about the inarguable fascistic behavior of the “anti-fa” movement that aims to silence conservative voices that they don’t agree with. One suspects that most time the black clad goons aren’t even aware of the views they’re fighting against, or that they have the vocabulary, knowledge of history, or intellect to discuss them rationally. One suspects that they are simply taking cues from radically progressive and equally fascistic and totalitarian faculty members. Maher worries that the fascists are trying to shut down open discussion and debate. One wonders where he’s been hiding.
But let’s us take a look for just a moment at the comedy stylings of Bill Maher; John Stewart; John Oliver; Trevor Noah; Stephen Colbert; Samantha Bee; Chelsea Handler; Amy Schumer, and then all of the political “analysts” who are too many in number to remember or name. They have spent the last sixteen years relentlessly mocking every conservative (no need to be a politician) and or traditional or conservative belief, and policy in sight.

Now let’s look at why we mock, and why we participate in mockery. In its most primal form, on the grade school playground, mockery is a form of bullying. It’s a way to ostracize and exclude. It’s a way to have pleasure at the expense of others. It’s a way to shut someone up. You make a funny joke about someone you don’t like and you try to get others to join with you. It's a way to let us feel better about ourselves. It’s why Maher’s studio audience is always full of kindred spirits. If your target won’t or can’t verbally defend themselves or has a smaller, better mannered group of friends than you then you win. You have effectively discounted everything they might have had to say without having to have had a rational thought. You have completely shut them off. You only have to be glib, and loud.

Now how is that different from the black clad fascists spoiling for a fight at Berkeley, or the campus dwellers who prefer to spend their parent’s money on safe spaces in lieu of an education? The goals are exactly the same: to shut off all discussion by any means other than rational debate.

But that’s just what an average guy thinks.