Monthly Archives: March 2018

HAPPY VIETNAM VETERANS DAY!

Have yourselves a merry little day all you Vietnam veterans!

And be sure to make time to stop by your Vietnam Veterans Prize Headquarters sometime today to pick up one or more of these great prizes before the US Congress privatizes the whole mess:

Vietnam vets prize headquarters

Everyone needs to replace those bifocals now and then and this is your chance to get a brand new clean pair and have a look at the world the way it is now!

 

Eyeglasses

Artillery ears getting you down?     Do you cup that hand behind the ear and tell that cashier, “Eh?   Say again?” Every time you go to the grocery store?

Your Vietnam Veterans Prize Headquarters has the answer for you…. they’ll take care of those attempts at lip reading in a jiffy!

Diabetes?   Yeah, those needles and insulin are getting expensive, too!

But not for you!    Just stop by the prize HQ and claim yours.

Knees?   Hips?   Ankles?   Feet?   While you’re there, pick up a cane.

The old ticker running down on you?  Have them check out your pacemaker!

Yes, all that and more.    When you finish and you’re ready to head for the parking lot, stop by the rehab office and pick up one of these beauties!

It doesn’t get any better than that!

Thank you for that war.   We couldn’t have done it without you.

Old Jules

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Seven decade tug-of-war between organized religion and the 1st Amendment

Nobody paid a lot of attention to issues of the ‘Separation of Church and State’ between Reynolds v. the United States in 1789 [upholding federal bigamy laws], and Everson v. The Board of Education, 1947 ruling it was okay for Catholic parents to be reimbursed for sending their kids to Catholic schools on buses, same as for public school kids using buses.

Those of us who attended public schools prior to Engels v. Vitale in 1962 managed to survive prayers coming over the intercom each morning without any permanent damage and the only eyebrows raised were in response to boredom.   In one school I attended, popular kids were selected each day to give the prayers and they seemed to compete with one another to add dramatic emphasis, but generally I’d count it all harmless.

Around that time Madalyn Murray O’Hair entered the picture and atheists became militant and vocal.   Maybe it was something in the water.    The Murray v. Curlett Supreme Court decision in 1963 ending religious study in public schools became a harbinger for a long series of religion versus state legal battles.

Maybe it was the times…. the fact is, a person declaring himself to be an atheist prior to the 1960s would have been asking for all manner of difficulties.   My granddad got a visit from the FBI out on his hardscrabble farm around 1953, because one of his neighbors reported he was an ‘atheistic Communist’.   In those times that was serious invective indeed.

But though I’ve spent almost all my adult life not subscribing to any organized religion, which in some circles damns me as an atheist, I’ve often thought the church/state religious battles that emerged to the US Supreme Court were mostly petty embarrassments.     If those were the worst infringements accusers could come up with insofar as the separation of church and state, it would have been better left alone than hold them up as evidence atheists were a lot of nit-picking whiners about nothing.

But that’s roughly what we’re left with.    Lawsuits filed, court time wasted about nativity scenes on courthouse lawns and plaques containing the Ten Commandments.

Ironically, now we see the Christian fundamentalists trying to establish a foothold as a state religion to protect the US from Islamics and scary Sharia Law.    While splinter groups of Mormons drift back into polygamy and assortments of Asian religious establishments creep into suburbia.

Keeping in mind that no legal battle arrives at the door of SCOTUS until it’s been through lower courts and appeal courts.    So the list below really doesn’t convey just how much legal time and money has found its way into the pockets of lawyers as a consequence of the determination of people who don’t want religion anywhere in their lives, and those who want their own religion to be implied as valid by display at public expense:

U.S. Supreme Court Decisions
(arranged by date)

Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145 (1879)

Court finds that the federal antibigamy statute does not violate the First Amendment’s guarantee of the free exercise of religion.

Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1 (1947)

Court finds that a New Jersey law which included students of Catholic schools in reimbursements to parents who sent their children to school on buses operated by the public transportation system does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

McCollum v. Board of Education Dist. 71, 333 U.S. 203 (1948)

Court finds religious instruction in public schools a violation of the establishment clause and therefore unconstitutional.

Burstyn v. Wilson, 72 S. Ct. 777 (1952)

Government may not censor a motion picture because it is offensive to religious beliefs.

Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488 (1961)

Court holds that the state of Maryland cannot require applicants for public office to swear that they believed in the existence of God. The court unanimously rules that a religious test violates the Establishment Clause.

Engel v. Vitale, 82 S. Ct. 1261 (1962)

Any kind of prayer, composed by public school districts, even nondenominational prayer, is unconstitutional government sponsorship of religion.

Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963)

Court finds Bible reading over school intercom unconstitutional and Murray v. Curlett, 374 U.S. 203 (1963) – Court finds forcing a child to participate in Bible reading and prayer unconstitutional.

Epperson v. Arkansas, 89 S. Ct. 266 (1968)

State statue banning teaching of evolution is unconstitutional. A state cannot alter any element in a course of study in order to promote a religious point of view. A state’s attempt to hide behind a nonreligious motivation will not be given credence unless that state can show a secular reason as the foundation for its actions.

Lemon v. Kurtzman, 91 S. Ct. 2105 (1971)

Established the three part test for determining if an action of government violates First Amendment’s separation of church and state:
1) the government action must have a secular purpose;
2) its primary purpose must not be to inhibit or to advance religion;
3) there must be no excessive entanglement between government and religion.

Stone v. Graham, 449 U.S. 39 (1980)

Court finds posting of the Ten Commandments in schools unconstitutional.

Wallace v. Jaffree, 105 S. Ct. 2479 (1985)

State’s moment of silence at public school statute is unconstitutional where legislative record reveals that motivation for statute was the encouragement of prayer. Court majority silent on whether “pure” moment of silence scheme, with no bias in favor of prayer or any other mental process, would be constitutional.

Edwards v. Aquillard, 107 S. Ct. 2573 (1987)

Unconstitutional for state to require teaching of “creation science” in all instances in which evolution is taught. Statute had a clear religious motivation.

Allegheny County v. ACLU, 492 U.S. 573 (1989)

Court finds that a nativity scene displayed inside a government building violates the Establishment Clause.

Lee v. Weisman, 112 S. Ct. 2649 (1992)

Unconstitutional for a school district to provide any clergy to perform nondenominational prayer at elementary or secondary school graduation. It involves government sponsorship of worship. Court majority was particularly concerned about psychological coercion to which children, as opposed to adults, would be subjected, by having prayers that may violate their beliefs recited at their graduation ceremonies.

Church of Lukumi Babalu Ave., Inc. v. Hialeah, 113 S. Ct. 2217 (1993)

City’s ban on killing animals for religious sacrifices, while allowing sport killing and hunting, was unconstitutional discrimination against the Santeria religion.

https://infidels.org/library/modern/church-state/decisions.html

If you believe this isn’t over yet, you are probably correct.   Because even though religious affiliation in the US is evidently dropping somewhat rapidly, the strength of the fundamentalist right, the Latter Day Saints, the Jews, and the Islamics is gaining, rather than losing momentum.

There’s cause to suspect we’ll see at least another half century before any of the parties involved are powerless.    It’s a crapshoot who will be the last man standing.

Old Jules

Two rich men and the eye of a needle – Philosophy by limerick

Mark 10:25 – “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

Some things don’t need to be said
And a jet plane can mess with your head
Oxygen deprivation
While preaching salvation
Makes camels appear to be thread.

Old Jules

The Ballad of the Corncob and the Lie, Archibald MacLeish circa 1960

Will Faulkner, Will Faulkner,
You are to blame my friend
Telling of a maiden
Brought to no good end,
Raped but with a corn-cob,
Raped but with a lie:
They’ve learned to rape the country
With a corn-cob and a lie.

They’ve learned to rape the country
Though rape is past their power,
They’ve learned to have her virtue
Though feeble to deflower:
To soil her lovely thinking,
The freedom of her mind —
They’ve learned to do it winking
With a corn-cob from behind.

Will Faulkner, Will Faulkner,
They’ve learned those lying arts:
They’ve had her in her freedom
And Oh, it breaks our hearts!
The impotent that could not —
That leered with letching eye,
They’ve learned to rape the country
With a corn-cob and a lie.

[For five years MacLeish was Librarian of Congress, a post he accepted at the urging of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.[2] From 1949 to 1962, MacLeish was Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard University. MacLeish was awarded three Pulitzer Prizes for his work.]

As nearly as I can find, this poem has never found its way to the Internet.   So, since I’m an admirer of MacLeish poetry, and since I’ve posted a number of his other [better] poems here, I add this to the mix.

 

 

The presidents and their ladies

There’s been a temptation on the part of the opposition for the last couple of decades to make as much hay as possible when it’s discovered the US president has a mistress, or had one.  This hasn’t always been so.   Presidents of the past venerated by those finger-pointers and accusers have frequently had their affairs during a time when such matters were left for gossip columnists and rumor mongers.

Lucy Page Mercer Rutherfurd was one of two women believed to have been FDR’s mistresses. Lucy has the distinction, though, of being the only certainty. Eleanor found her letters to FDR. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucy_Mercer_Rutherfurd

Then there was Ike.   Commander of Allied Forces in Europe during the invasion, and Republican president after Truman.

All those years Ike was in office I never knew anyone to criticize him about that particular issue.    If they hated him at all [and the rabid right wingers certainly did] they didn’t bring his private sex life into the conversation.

Then of course there was LBJ and his shenanigans too numerous to bother mentioning except one.

As far as I know Ford, Carter, Reagan and both Bush presidencies were either adultery-free, or discrete enough to keep it out of the public eye.    As was Obama.  Goes to prove some presidents have the good sense to either keep their peckers zipped up safely inside their pants, or go the extra mile to keep it out of the headlines.

And there’s no point even discussing Bill Clinton….. that one’s the record Trump is trying to beat with Stormy Daniels.

Maybe it’s time, really time for a woman president so we can put all this sexual scandal to rest.

Old Jules

The thorny ethics of silence – Philosophy by limerick

This is Stormy. Her reputation was ruined when the president broke their non-disclosure agreement and gabbed to all his evangelist buddies. Now her phone rings day and night and she can’t get a moment of quiet rest.

The porn-star named Stormy was nice
And of course everything has its price
Including discretion
And public confession:
The ethics aren’t all that precise.

Old Jules

The Social Security Entitlement Adventure

What with the Congress and prez conducting a war against Social Security now in 2018, I was surprised to find this in my blog posted back during 2012. After reading through it I find my perspective hasn’t changed all that much, but my dependency on SS has. Old Jules

So Far From Heaven

Good morning readers. I’m obliged you came by for a read.

I got an email yesterday from an old acquaintance who’s carrying a serious chip on his shoulder about somebody calling the Social Security pension he lives on an ‘entitlement’. He raged on about how he paid into it fifty years, and his employers matched everything he paid. So, he says, it’s not an entitlement.

Sheeze. I wonder what else a person would call it. He’s entitled to it. What the hell is it but an entitlement?

But I think he’s concerned that because ‘entitlement’ has become a buzzword for something else he doesn’t like.  Namely a whole range of government payouts to bank owners, automobile companies, multi-national corporations, all manner of people bleeding the US budget dry with bailouts and payoffs.  I think he figures they might quit paying him his pension because they called it an entitlement.  Putting him down…

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