Sunday Reads: Dissolution is Difficult

Dissolution is difficult to accept….I mean…that is what we are watching before our eyes…The disintegration of democracy? Right?Dissolution…Dissolution.I started to think of the phrase dissolution of government, by the people. Not in a parliamentary way, you know…I’m talking in response to a tyrannical despot.I wrote the word dissolution and it got me thinking. I looked it up on google….Boy the word was used a lot in the end of the 18th Century, and at the beginning of 1800s …uh…that puts it about the time our country was just getting started. (Jefferson turned to Locke when crafting the Declaration of Independence….I think it is just a coincidence the word was popular back then.)I don’t know if the right wing nuts use John Locke a lot in their rantings. Perhaps the libertarians, take his theories and make them something of a cause. All I know, is that all this shit going on made me think of something Locke said ages ago.Yeah, I’m using sparknotes….I have a brain disability, I’m also the only one here without a Ph.D. SparkNotes: Locke’s Second Treatise on Civil Government: Chapters 18-19: Of Tyranny, and Of the Dissolution of Government

Locke defines tyranny as “the exercise of power beyond right.” A just leader is bound by the laws of the legislative and works for the people, whereas a tyrant breaks the laws and acts on his own behalf. Locke notes that any executive body–not just a m onarchy–that ceases to function for the benefit of the people is a tyranny. He then points out factors that limit the people from hastily opposing the government. These include: sanctity of the executive; faith that laws will prevent necessity of force; and the fear that a small group of individuals will never overthrow powerful leaders with success.

Here is what I wanted to get to:

In Chapter 19, Locke finally arrives at the question of forming a new government. When the state ceases to function for the people, it is dissolved, and may be replaced. This occurs when the legislative is changed or usurped by a tyrannical executive po wer, when the legislative or executive breaches its trust, or when the executive ignores its own duties and renders the law meaningless, reducing society to chaos.

When the government is dissolved, the people are free to reform the legislative in order to re-create a civil state that works in their best interest before they fall under tyrannical rule. Why does this doctrine not lead to excessive unrest and f requent rebellion? For several reasons: people are slow to change their old habits and customs; if the people are miserable, they will rebel under any system; and finally, revolutions occur only in the event of the leadership’s flagrant abuse of p ower or breach of trust. This system, Locke argues, protects against rebellion because it allows the people to change their legislative and laws, rather than resorting to force to overthrow them. Locke also notes that all concerns about revolution are foolish, because they represent a fear of a righteous process: it is rightful and dignified for people to rebel against unjust oppression.

Locke even went so far as to say, his theory also applied to monarchies and Kings….cough. But this:

Who judges when the leader has abused his power to such an extent that he may be overthrown? The people, Locke says. The people are the best judge of whether their protector is protecting them. Locke ends by noting that, as long as society lasts, the p ower that each individual gives it cannot revert back to the individual, and, so long as any government lasts, the power that the society gives the legislative cannot revert back to the society. Either of these institutions may be destroyed by the revers ion of the powers vested in them, people always being free to “erect a new form, or under the old form place it in new hands, as they think good.”

Locke completes his picture of a just civil society by returning to his original impetus for writing the Second Treatise–the dissolution of government in the face of tyranny. Locke has lain his groundwork so soundly that his argument for the dissolution of government requires no new ideas, only a synthesis of everything covered so far. Civil society exists to protect the property and liberty of its members–if something break s down anywhere in its government and it no longer fulfills this function, something has gone awry and the people have a right to rid themselves of that government. Where does this right come from? From the natural rights described by Locke starting as far back as Chapter2. If the government in power is not working for them, it is not a just government, and people would be better off in a state of nature.

You can find the actual copy of Locke’s Chapter 19. Of the Dissolution of Government …Here at the ‘From Revolution to Reconstruction and beyond’ project website.(Chapter 2 on Nature…is here.)Then I had to look it up, and see if anyone had used Locke to argue against tRump. Check it out. It is from November 22, 2016! Before we knew that tRump was under investigation for everyfuckingthing…and before we knew the Russians had a hand in…the election. I mean, this was written when it was (without a doubt {laugh}) a legal and non-foreign interfered election…no conspiracy or any of that shit….cough, hack….Yes, in the U.S., the people can reject a president — if they’re sure he’s a tyrant – The Washington Post

If the thousands of protesters chanting “Not my president!” are any indication, the U.S. president-elect’s legitimacy may be in peril.

This should not be dismissed as mere rhetorical flourish: A recent pollshows that 18 percent of Americans reject Donald Trump’s legitimacy as president.

Hey, most of that 18% was right here at this blog. We all knew something was rotten in Denmark, as the saying goes. However, it turned out it was the Seychelles…am I right?

What these arguments fail to grasp, however, is that, in the United States, authority is never legitimate if it is tyrannical, no matter how unanimous the vote or impeccable the electoral process. (As Sam Goldman recently pointed out, tyranny – a concept so relevant to ancient Athenian politics – suddenly seems poised for a comeback!)

Perhaps no philosopher is more illuminating on this count than John Locke (1632-1704). In his “Second Treatise on Government,” Locke argues that government derives legitimate authority from the consent of the People. This notion — popular sovereignty — was taken up by the American founders, who used it to justify their experimental republic. “Governments are instituted among Men,” Thomas Jefferson writes in the Declaration of Independence, “deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Americans make their consent known through elections. Trump won the election. Thus popular sovereignty seems to entail that Americans must accept Trump’s authority as legitimate. Right?

Uh, we all know how that turned out.

Elections do not magically transfer the sovereignty of the American people to their leaders. The People retain their sovereignty. They therefore retain the authority to reject a leader’s legitimacy — even after that leader is freely and fairly elected.

If only tRump had been rejected way back then….

… there is a catch to this “Not my president!” business. Only when government becomes destructive to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness is it “the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it,” Jefferson writes in the Declaration of Independence, adding that “when a long train of abuses…evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government.”

Only a lot of tyranny — a “long train of abuses” — justifies denying legitimacy to a government. This qualification would seem to significantly limit the cases in which the People could justly declare “Not my president!”

However, who has the authority to decide when things have gone from merely bad to flat-out tyrannical? Locke is unequivocal: “The people shall be judge.”

It goes on about who is considered a tyrant or what is tyranny…you can read the possible suggestions at the link. It seems laughable now…now that we have passed the point of tRump committing crimes against humanity. Let’s just reminisce about the good old days:

On the other hand, Trump has said, among other things, that he would lock up his political opponentdeport immigrants and register Muslims. He has endorsed torture and expressed a willingness to kill the families of terrorists, which would be a war crime. We know that undivided government is imminent; therefore, such designs are imminently realizable.

Surely some people will think this to be, as Locke wrote, “manifest evidence, that designs are carrying on against their liberties.” Others will disagree.

Because Americans seem to disagree so much about what constitutes tyranny, is it a recipe for disaster if some people are prepared to refuse legitimacy so promptly? Will cries of “Not my president!” proliferate after every election, leading us to chaos and civil war?

These are valid existential anxieties, and theory is of little help here. Instead, Locke offers the practical, empirical consolation that, “Great mistakes in the ruling part, many wrong and inconvenient laws, and all the slips of human frailty, will be born by the people without mutiny or murmur.”

In other words, resistance is hard. Many people are inured to suffering and will thus bear quite a bit of it without complaint. The fact that the People have the sovereign authority to alter or abolish their government sounds frightening until you realize that, well, they probably won’t.

Have we reached that point, when the people have come to the realization that there is “manifest evidence” …tRump and his merry wrecking crew are fucking things up for ill purposes/ I mean people like Sarah Kendzoir have been screaming it over Twitter for years…yes, for years!

Yet the tendency to tolerate so much tyranny makes it all the more significant when citizens finally do become universally persuaded, with “manifest evidence, that designs are carrying on against their liberties.” If this happens, Locke asks, “who is to be blamed for it?”

[…]

Still, if more and more People become convinced that the government is tyrannical until a majority agrees, then it is probably not the People who are defective. When legitimate authority is imperiled, we would do well to first suspect the government of being insufficiently acceptable rather than impugning citizens’ insufficient acceptance of government.

If the partisans of order are alarmed by the implications of popular sovereignty, they might find consolation in the fact that, from the Lockean perspective, protesting tyranny is more likely to preserve the republic than dissolve it.

Emphasis mine.Oh…and…say that louder for the Republicans in the fucking back!

By retaining their sovereignty, the People are a constant reminder to the government: memento mori! Take away our liberty, and we will deny you legitimacy! As such, popular sovereignty is the ultimate check on government power. Thus it is a bizarre logic that defends democratic institutions by adopting a wait-and-see approach to tyranny.

If democratic institutions are held sacred, it is not just — or even primarily — because they preserve order, but because they preserve freedom.

I had to change, edit a portion of the bottom last paragraph below:

Trump is the legitimate winner of the presidential election. But protesters are not protesting the legitimacy of the election, but rather what they fear are the tyrannical inclinations of the coming current administration. And so long as the People remain the source of sovereignty in the United States, they will always be the only ones with the authority to say: Not my president.

Not my president!I’m still saying it. I have been saying it since November 9th, 2016.Perhaps, we need to revisit the Jefferson Monument….and read what is written in stone there.Quotations – Thomas Jefferson Memorial (U.S. National Park Service)

Thomas Jefferson

Rotunda

“I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

I plead with you to go to the link from the US National Park Service and read the rest of the words chiseled into the walls…(before tRump combines the Park Service with the Space Force…and the USNPS website is taken down.)And let me also say…Take that quote and shove it up the ass of all those who slam down Maxine Waters!https://twitter.com/SaysHummingbird/status/1013163473948348416Here are a few news articles and Tweets to update you on the news today:North Korea working to conceal key aspects of its nuclear program, U.S. officials say – The Washington PostDon’t have to say anything more about that, do we?This dude must have watched Zoolander 2? Top French criminal Redoine Faid escapes prison by helicopter | News | Al Jazeera

A well-known French criminal has escaped from prison by helicopter, the country’s prison authority has said.

Local media reported that French-Algerian top gangster Redoine Faid made his second prison break in just over five years at around 11:30am (10:30 GMT) on Sunday.

Faid, 46, was reportedly assisted by at least three armed accomplices who picked him up by helicopter from the Reau prison courtyard, in the southeastern suburbs of Paris, Le Parisien newspaper reported.

Redoine Faid: Paris helicopter prison break for gangster – BBC News

A head and shoulders picture of Redoine Faid in a white shirt and suit

Faid and his accomplices escaped from the prison courtyard – which was not protected by a net – without injuring anyone, French news website Europe 1 reports.

Gunmen took the prisoner from the visiting room before fleeing by air, according to security sources cited by Reuters.

Reports suggest the helicopter pilot may have been taken hostage.

A police search is now under way across the whole Paris region. “Everything is being done to locate the fugitive,” an interior ministry official said

But where is his non-fat mocha java latte?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXmS3M7DrfkRudy Giuliani calls for Iran regime change at rally linked to extreme group | US news | The GuardianUgh…he has resurfaced, this time at some get together giving by an “extreme Iranian opposition group” hell bent on regime change in Tehran.

Giuliani spoke to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an umbrella coalition largely controlled by the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MeK), which was once listed as a terrorist organisation in the US and Europe and is still widely viewed as a Marxist-Islamist cult built around the personality of its leader, Maryam Rajavi.

Migrant crisis: Italy minister Salvini closes ports to NGO boats – BBC News

Migrants saved by boats run by non-governmental organisations will not be allowed into Italy, rightwing Interior Minister Matteo Salvini says.

Mr Salvini has often accused the NGOs of encouraging the trafficking of migrants. He told Corriere della Sera these NGOs were no longer “legitimate”.

And the shit continues: Child marriage involving bride of 11 sparks outrage in Malaysia – BBC NewsBut here, back at home…https://twitter.com/ddale8/status/1013423088585924608https://twitter.com/peterdaou/status/1013110674728374272https://twitter.com/SenGillibrand/status/1013407242568241152https://twitter.com/albz/status/1012878578407628800https://twitter.com/VABVOX/status/1013227614520201217https://twitter.com/AdamParkhomenko/status/1013188612320620546https://twitter.com/Amy_Siskind/status/1013135079600738305https://twitter.com/ProudResister/status/1013166953119150080https://twitter.com/tommyxtopher/status/1013232541682323456https://twitter.com/riotwomennn/status/1013407581505839105https://twitter.com/riotwomennn/status/1013396028316364801https://twitter.com/ava/status/1013241603471708160https://twitter.com/davidhogg111/status/1013157312247279617https://twitter.com/summerbrennan/status/1013048108329177089That is it. Anyway, this is an open thread. Have at it.Oh, and since we took a trip back in time….I hate Donald tRump.  He can suck my dick!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJBiqxGEp3MFuck Donald Trumphttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkZ5e94QnWk


Tuesday Reads

T75460-2

Good Morning!!

You’ve probably seen the latest police violence story out of South Carolina. From Mother Jones: Disturbing Video Shows School Cop Body Slam and Drag a Black Female Student.

Authorities in Richland County, South Carolina, are investigating a video that surfaced Monday showing a uniformed officer aggressively confronting a high school student. Local station WIS-TV reports that county sheriff’s deputies are investigating the incident, which took place on Monday at Spring Valley High School, according to school officials. The video, which appears to have been recorded on a cellphone by a classmate, shows a white male officer standing over a black female student sitting at her desk; moments later he grabs the student and flips her on her back. After dragging her across the floor, the officer says, “Hands behind your back—give me your hands.” The video has no additional context as to what led to or followed the altercation.

“Parents are heartbroken as this is just another example of the intolerance that continues to be of issue in Richland County School District Two, particularly with families and children of color,” a local black parents group wrote in a statement responding to the video.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott told WIS-TV that the school resource officer (SRO) was responding to a student who was refusing to leave class. “The student was told she was under arrest for disturbing school and given instructions, which she again refused,” Lott said. “The video then shows the student resisting and being arrested by the SRO.”

Here’s the video.

 

Why on earth was that level of violence necessary? It’s not even clear what this young girl did to cause the teach to order her to leave class. From WISTV10: Sheriff contacts FBI, DOJ to investigate violent incident involving deputy at Spring Valley.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott says he’s asked the FBI to investigate an incident involving a school resource officer at Spring Valley High School.

Monday night Lott called the Special Agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigations for South Carolina, Dave Thomas to request an independent investigation of the incident. Tuesday morning the Sheriff followed up with a formal written request to U.S. Attorney William Nettles and Thomas for the US Justice Department asking for a formal investigation.

Richland School District 2 school officials have banned the officer from the district in response to a video supposedly taken at Spring Valley High School showing the officer slamming and dragging a student from her desk.

School officials confirmed the incident happened on Monday between a female student and school resource officer Ben Fields.

You can watch other angles of the violent attack at the link.

Deputy Ben Fields

Deputy Ben Fields

Sheriff Lott says he wants to know what happened beyond the video. He said his department will cooperate with the federal investigation.

“The public wants answers. I want answers too and we’re going to get them very quickly, and we’re going to make sure the public knows what we’re going to do and why we’re going to do it. There’s nothing that we’re going to hide at the Sheriff’s Department,” Lott said. “His actions reflect on all of us and I’m about as upset as anybody can be right now.”

Fields will not be back at any school pending the results of an investigation, Lt. Wilson said. Fields is currently on unpaid leave.

According to Heavy.com, the girl was using her cell phone in class and refused to get off it. Then a teacher and administrator told her to leave class. I have to believe there was more going on between this girl and the teacher/administration. We’ll probably learn more in the days to come. Also from Heavy, a student named Aaron Johnson who was in class when the incident happened said the girl was new to the school and was “sitting quietly.”

Johnson said, “When I asked (their teacher) Mr. Long if he felt bad for what happened to her … his reply was ‘she should have cooperated.’”

He added, “I think we were all in shock and afraid they would say something to us, he put another girl in handcuffs for standing up, like standing up for the girl.”

Apparently a boy in the class was also arrested and was still being held yesterday. Read more about Ben Fields past history and more videos at the Heavy link.

Hobby Lobby CEO David Green holding a bible.

Hobby Lobby CEO David Green holding a bible.

The family that owns Hobby Lobby created some bad Karma for itself with its lawsuit over having to provide access to birth control in its health insurance plans, and no it’s coming back to bite them. Exclusive from The Daily Beast: Feds Investigate Hobby Lobby Boss for Illicit Artifacts.

In 2011, a shipment of somewhere between 200 to 300 small clay tablets on their way to Oklahoma City from Israel was seized by U.S. Customs agents in Memphis. The tablets were inscribed in cuneiform—the script of ancient Assyria and Babylonia, present-day Iraq—and were thousands of years old. Their destination was the compound of the Hobby Lobby corporation, which became famous last year for winning a landmark Supreme Court case on religious freedom and government mandates. A senior law enforcement source with extensive knowledge of antiquities smuggling confirmed that these ancient artifacts had been purchased and were being imported by the deeply-religious owners of the crafting giant, the Green family of Oklahoma City. For the last four years, law enforcement sources tell The Daily Beast, the Greens have been under federal investigation for the illicit importation of cultural heritage from Iraq.

These tablets, like the other 40,000 or so ancient artifacts owned by the Green family, were destined for the Museum of the Bible, the giant new museum funded by the Greens, slated to open in Washington, D.C., in 2017. Both the seizure of the cuneiform tablets and the subsequent federal investigation were confirmed to us by Cary Summers, the president of the Museum of the Bible.

If the investigation ends with a decision to prosecute, on either criminal or civil charges, the Greens may be forced to forfeit the tablets to the government. There may also be a fine involved. The Green family, who successfully forced the federal government to legally recognize their personal moral standards, now find themselves on the other side of the docket, under suspicion of having attempted to contravene U.S. laws.

It’s not yet clear if a crime has been committed, but the fact that the investigation has gone on so long suggests that some of the antiquities may have been illegally purchased and imported. Read the rest at the link.

Ben_Carson_SaysA new CBS/NYT poll has Ben Carson leading Donald Trump nationally. CBS reports:

Ben Carson has surpassed Donald Trump and now narrowly leads the Republican field in the race for the nomination in the latest national CBS News/New York Times Poll.

Twenty-six percent of Republican primary voters back Carson, giving him a four-point edge over Trump (22 percent). Support for Carson has quadrupled since August.

The rest of the Republican presidential candidates lag far behind in single digits. Marco Rubio is now in third place (eight percent), followed by Jeb Bush (seven percent) and Carly Fiorina (seven percent). All other candidates are at four percent or lower.

Carson has made gains across many key Republican groups. In a reversal from earlier this month, he is now ahead of Trump among women and is running neck and neck with him among men. Carson’s support among evangelicals has risen and he now leads Trump by more than 20 points with this group.

Carson performs well among conservative Republicans and those who identify as Tea partiers. Trump does well with moderates and leads Carson among those without a college degree – although Trump had a larger advantage with non-college graduates earlier this month.

Ben Carson2

Perhaps we’re going to go through a cycle that resembles what happened in the Republican race in 2012–except that the cycles are longer. Could it be that Donald Trump is on his way out? Of course Trump is claiming the polls are mistaken. From Mediaite:

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump explained on MSNBC’s Morning Joe that the reason rival Ben Carson had surpassed him in recent polls was because they weren’t “scientific.” ….

“I think you have to understand polls…” Trump said. “I believe in polls. I generally believe in polls. The thing with these polls, they are all so different. They are coming from all over the lot where one guy is up here, somebody else is up there, you see swings of ten and twelve points immediately, even the same day.”

Trump actually may have a good point. Anyway, the problem with Ben Carson taking over the lead is that he is even scarier than Trump. Paul Waldman at The Week: How Ben Carson’s snoozy demeanor masks his bonkers views.

Ben Carson is calm — calm like a cool spring breeze, or a long nap on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The Republican presidential hopeful speaks softly and slowly. He doesn’t wave his arms about. He shows barely any emotion at all. But Ben Carson is also the possessor of ideas that are positively bonkers, not just about policy questions, but about the world and how it works.

This odd combination of a gentle manner and extremist ideas seems to be just what a healthy chunk of the Republican electorate is looking for. Carson is running a close second to Donald Trump nationally, and leading in Iowa. As The New York Times recently reported, Iowa voters in particular are enraptured with Carson’s manner. “That smile and his soft voice makes people very comforted,” said one farmer. “I believe someone as mild-mannered and gentlemanly as Ben Carson is just about the only kind of person that could” get things done in Washington, said another Iowan.

You’d think they were talking about someone with moderate views who’d be able to get along and work with anyone, not someone who wants to outlaw abortion even in cases of rape and incest, thinks we should ditch Medicare, and holds to all manner of weird conspiracy theories. And that’s not to mention all the stuff the retired neurosurgeon says about slavery and Nazis, his belief that Muslims should be barred from the presidency unless they offer a public disavowal of their religion, or his latest proposal to turn the Department of Education into something that sounds like it comes out of China’s Cultural Revolution, in which he would have students report professors who displayed political bias to the government so universities’ funding could be cut.

Read the rest at The Week.

Carson

More interesting Ben Carson links:

Inside Higher Ed: Ben Carson explains how he would have education department identify and end “extreme views” on campus.

News Mic: Ben Carson Just Said Women Seeking Abortions are Tantamount to Slave Owners.

Mother Jones: Does Ben Carson Believe Most Evangelical Voters Are Going to Hell?

Dakinikat told me about this amazing and fascinating story about a historical find related to Thomas Jefferson. From NPR: Historic Chemistry Lab With Links To Thomas Jefferson Discovered Behind Wall.

A hidden chemistry lab was unearthed by a worker doing renovations to the iconic Rotunda at the University of Virginia, and school officials say the room is directly linked to the third U.S. president, Thomas Jefferson, who helped design the building.

The “chemical hearth,” which dates back to the 1820s, is thought to be one of the few remaining in the world. It featured two sources of heat for conducting experiments and a system for pulling out fumes.

According to the University of Virginia press release, the room, described as “a semi-circular niche in the north end of the Lower East Oval Room,” was preserved because the walls of the hearth were sealed shut in the mid-1800s:

This photo from the University of Virginia shows a chemical hearth discovered in the Rotunda at the University of Virginia during renovations at the school in Charlottesville, Va. Dan Addison /University of Virginia Communications

This photo from the University of Virginia shows a chemical hearth discovered in the Rotunda at the University of Virginia during renovations at the school in Charlottesville, Va.
Dan Addison /University of Virginia Communications

“The University of Virginia’s Rotunda still has its secrets, as conservators are discovering amid the building’s ongoing two-year renovation.

“One of them is a chemical hearth, part of an early science classroom. It had been sealed in one of the lower-floor walls of the Rotunda since the 1850s, and thus was protected from the 1895 fire that destroyed much of the building’s interior.
“Two small fireboxes of the hearth were uncovered in a 1970s renovation, but the hearth itself remained hidden until the current round of renovations. When preparing for the current renovations, workers examined some of the cavities in the walls and found the rest of the chemistry hearth.”

The discovery was made by Matt Scheidt, who is a project manager for the company overseeing the renovations to the rotunda, according to the Charlottesville Newsplex. Scheidt told the publication he wanted to know how thick the walls were.

 

What else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread and enjoy the rest of your Tuesday.

 


Sally Quinn: Only Believers Can Be American Citizens

Sally Quinn is insane

Why does the Washington Post keep publishing the bizarre rantings of an insane person like Sally Quinn? Does Ben Bradlee still have that much influence, or is it Bob Woodward’s attachment to Bradlee that ensures that Quinn can keep vomiting forth her hate-filled screeds in, of all things, the “On Faith” column?

Forgive me if you’ve already heard enough about Quinn’s reaction to Wednesday’s presidential debate. Somehow I missed her latest nonsensical frothings until this afternoon. If only I’d continued on, happily unaware! But instead, I clicked on a link and soon learned that, according to Quinn, Mitt Romney won the first debate because he mentioned god. I also found out that Quinn believes that atheists can’t be American citizens!

When Mitt Romney mentioned the “Creator” in the debate Wednesday, he owned it. “We’re all children of the same God,” he said.

That’s about 85 percent of the country he was talking to. That should have been President Obama’s constituency but he let Romney have it as he let Romney have the debate.

Is that so. Is she really claiming that 85 percent of voters are suddenly going to vote for Mitt Romney now because he mentioned god?

Moving on:

Citing the Declaration of Independence, Romney said: “Second, is that line that says we are endowed by our Creator with our rights, I believe we must maintain our commitment to religious tolerance and freedom in this country. That statement also says that we are endowed by our creator with the right to pursue happiness as we choose. I interpret that as, one, making sure that those people who are less fortunate and can’t care for themselves are cared by — by one another.”

Like most of what Sally Quinn writes, and much of what Mitt Romney says, that makes absolutely no sense, but I’ll have more to say about that in a minute.

Quinn continues (emphasis added):

This is a religious country. Part of claiming your citizenship is claiming a belief in God, even if you are not Christian…. We’ve got the Creator in our Declaration of Independence. We’ve got “In God We Trust” on our coins. We’ve got “one nation under God” in our Pledge of Allegiance. And we say prayers in the Senate and the House of Representatives to God.

An atheist could never get elected dog catcher, much less president….Up until now, the idea of being American and believing in God were synonymous.

I have news for Quinn. This is not a “religious country.” This is a country in which people can worship as they please, but they can’t interfere with other people doing something completely different. Our government, however, is secular and there can be no religious test for American citizenship or for public office.

Quinn wraps up her idiotic piece by announcing that if President Obama wants to win the next debate, he’ll have to “wear God, as much as it offends him to do so.”

WTF?! How do you “wear god?” Is she suggesting that Obama should wear a crucifix around his neck at the next debate? And what does she mean by claiming that Obama is offended by “wearing god?” I’m completely at a loss here.

Frankly, I think Sally Quinn needs to be evaluated by a competent psychiatrist immediately. Furthermore, as long as she continues writing for it, the Washington Post cannot ever again be considered a serious newspaper.

But I want to return to Romney’s quote on the the Declaration of Independence:

“Second, is that line that says we are endowed by our Creator with our rights, I believe we must maintain our commitment to religious tolerance and freedom in this country. That statement also says that we are endowed by our creator with the right to pursue happiness as we choose. I interpret that as, one, making sure that those people who are less fortunate and can’t care for themselves are cared by — by one another.”

That is not at all what Thomas Jefferson wrote. The Declaration of Independence says that we are all “created equal” and have innate rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” There’s nothing in there about the pursuit of happiness “as we choose,” or about who is supposed to take care of “less fortunate” people. Here’s the relevant quote:

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Romney seems to be trying to reinterpret Jefferson’s words–perhaps based on Paul Ryan’s twisted version of Ayn Randism–to mean that “less fortunate” people should help each other, while fortunate ones like Romney help themselves in any way they like. Come to think of it, that’s probably exactly what he does believe. But it’s not what Thomas Jefferson wrote.

It’s abundantly clear that Jefferson was writing about the role of government in making sure that citizens are granted the rights that come from “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” and that when a government no longer protects those rights, the citizens have a right to form a new government. If Mitt Romney doesn’t understand that, then he has no business running for public office, much less serving as President of the United States.

Although I regret reading Sally Quinn’s confused and innane thoughts on the presidential debate, I’m grateful to her for pointing out Mitt Romney’s complete ignorance of the document that laid the foundation for American independence and for the rights that are enumerated in the U.S. Constitution. I hate to think how he would interpret the Bill of Rights.

Oh, and I am a full-fledged citizen even though I don’t accept Sally Quinn’s or Mitt Romney’s twisted religious beliefs, and I have every intention of voting on November 6.