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.