Real Voter Fraud

My fellow liberals are understandably upset about various Republican state legislatures passing laws that will restrict voting access to typically disenfranchised people. These laws disproportionately limit votes that would probably be for Democrats. The premise behind the stricter laws is to stamp out that dreaded boogeyman VOTER FRAUD. Of course, we wouldn’t want to remind these legislators that the occurrence of voter fraud is miniscule.

If my Republican friends really want to worry about voter fraud, I’d like to turn their attention to a fraud that goes unnoticed every election. Very simply it is the phenomenon of very stupid people entering the voting booth.

My story actually begins with my own stupidity. The other day I was looking at a map of the proposed Keystone pipeline extension which had a solid line and a dotted line on it. I was having trouble understanding the difference. Like an idiot, I had neglected to notice the legend at the bottom of the map. My almost-eight year old 2nd grader explained the map to me when my wife prompted her to. I then updated my Facebook status to say “The verdict is in. I am not smarter than a 2nd grader.”

Things got worse however later in the day. The Lawson family gathered around the warm glow of the television to watch the game show Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?. For the uninitiated, contestants on this show try to win money by answering questions in topics taught in the first through fifth grades. Each contestant gets the help of one actual fifth grader from a panel that appears in each episode. With that backdrop, the following transpired. Mind you, I am NOT making this up.

The question: Which President of the United States served immediately before Franklin Delano Roosevelt? (Answer: Herbert Hoover)

The contestant thought aloud, “Well, IF Roosevelt served more than one term, then maybe the President who served before Roosevelt was Roosevelt himself?” The host, Jeff Foxworthy was kind enough to tell the woman that there are no trick questions on the show. I could see at this point, things were not going to end well. IF? One of the most well-known facts about Roosevelt was that he was elected four times, the only President with that distinction. Clearly this fact had escaped our poor contestant.

After pushing her brain to its limit she called on her fifth grade partner for assistance. Sadly the young girl was not the best exemplar of our educational system. Her answer was “Abraham Lincoln”. At this point, I went into shock. Lincoln was long dead before Roosevelt was even born. Their terms were not even in the same century. But forgiving man that I am, I gave the poor fifth grader a pass and blamed her teachers for her utter ignorance.

Our adult contestant now had the option to use the fifth grader’s answer or come up with her own. She wisely chose to reject “Abraham Lincoln”. The furrows in her forehead deepened. She descended into intense meditation. And then it came to her. She had arrived at her answer. Her answer was …

JAMES MADISON

Gasping for air, I asked my wife to call the paramedics. Just when I thought the lady recognized the utter impossibility of Lincoln, she picked a President even earlier than Lincoln. In fact, she picked the fourth President of the United States. Could the fourth POTUS possibly have served in the 1930’s? So three possibilities come to mind. She either knew nothing about Madison, or nothing about Roosevelt, or nothing about either. She was a grown-ass woman! She was incapable of making a guess that contained even the slightest hint of deductive reasoning. Had she said Calvin Coolidge, I could have said ok … early 20th century President. Had she said Harry Truman, I could’ve said ok, she’s got a good time frame there and just got the men in the wrong order. But no, her answer was the answer of a blindingly stupid person.

And now the real tragedy … this woman can vote. It makes you wonder just how many of the folks who enter the voting booth cannot discern their anus from a hole in the ground. And if it is true that much of America is dumb-as-a-post stupid, what does that say about the leaders we choose? Is it any wonder we have a Congress that repeatedly makes a spectacle of itself in incompetence? And while I still support our President, is it any wonder that we demanded virtually no relevant experience from him before electing him to the Presidency? Is it any wonder that the current slate of Republican Presidential wanna-be’s appear to be answering a casting call for Saturday Night Live?

The real voter fraud going on in America is that folks who can’t tell the difference between a SALT treaty and a salt shaker are choosing the man or woman who gives the “go” on a nuclear strike. Sadly, while we can legally ask you to produce all sorts of identification to prove you are who you say you are at the ballot box, we can’t legally ensure you won’t put James Madison as a write in candidate on the ballot.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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A New Nation, Conceived in Liberty Without Respect to Religion

Statue of LibertyOn this anniversary of our declaration of independence from Great Britain I stumbled upon two articles. The first, written by my friend Blackiswhite, Imperial Consigliere starts off looking like a reminder that our founding fathers associated liberty with a warning against government overreach and this notion would have been fine but then BiW had to go back to the historical revisionism of the Declaration of Independence being a “Christian document”. This is a sad trend in current political discourse from conservatives who would like to see prayer in the classroom and creationism replace evolution in the science curriculum.

So it was with great pleasure that I tripped over an article on CNN’s Opinion page by historian Kenneth C. Davis entitled, “Why U.S. is not a Christian Nation“. Some choice excerpts:

While president in 1802, Jefferson wrote: “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State … ”

As president, Jefferson was voicing an idea that was fundamental to his view of religion and government, expressed most significantly in the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which he drafted in 1777.

Revised by James Madison and passed by Virginia’s legislature in January 1786, the bill stated: “No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened (sic) in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief …”

— In 1797, with President John Adams in office, the Senate unanimously approved one of America’s earliest foreign treaties, which emphatically stated (Article 11): “As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion, — as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen (Muslims) …”

No one can argue, as “Christian Nation” proponents correctly state, that the Founding Fathers were not Christian, although some notably doubted Christ’s divinity.

More precisely, the founders were, with very few exceptions, mainstream Protestants. Many of them were Episcopalians, the American offshoot of the official Church of England.  …

But the founders, and more specifically the framers of the Constitution, included men who had fought a war for independence — the very war celebrated on the “Glorious Fourth” — against a country in which church and state were essentially one.

They understood the long history of sectarian bloodshed in Europe that brought many pilgrims to America. They knew the dangers of merging government, which was designed to protect individual rights, with religion, which as Jefferson argued, was a matter of individual conscience.

And that is why the U.S. Constitution reads as it does.

The supreme law of the land, written in the summer of 1787, includes no references to religion — including in the presidential oath of office — until the conclusion of Article VI, after all that dull stuff about debts and treaties: “No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” (There is a pro forma “Year of the Lord” reference in the date at the Constitution’s conclusion.)

Original intent? “No religious Test” seems pretty clear cut.

The article goes on to discuss the Bill of Rights vis-a-vis establishing a secular government. Blackiswhite reminds us that our framers were Christians. But as I reminded him at his blog, if a Mexican runs a Chinese restaurant it does not mean you are going to find Mexican food there. A Christian who fully understands the danger of a new nation establishing an official religion will make sure this does NOT happen. It is the founder’s very experience with Christianity and discrimination that prompted them to establish a secular government.

To paraphrase Lee Greenwood, I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free to practice whatever religion I want or no religion at all. I’m proud that in my country the government stays out of my spiritual life and sticks to governing. That is how we were founded. It is fundamental to our country and we must protect this tradition from all those who might hope to change it.

Happy 4th of July, my friends, and Happy Birthday, America!

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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