Establishment of a State Religion OK According to Clarence Thomas

Clarence Thomas is OK with states establishing an official religion and that’s why it is important to vote for Hillary Clinton even if frustrated by Bernie Sanders not getting the nomination. The Supreme court is in the balance.

Clarence Thomas has been a controversial figure since he was first nominated to the Supreme Court. We are approaching the 25th anniversary of his nomination in which accusations of sexual harassment were revealed by National Public Radio’s Nina Totenberg. Thomas has been remarkably conservative, some argue even farther to the right than the late Antonin Scalia. Charges of conflict of interest have dogged he and his wife. He virtually never speaks from the bench when cases are presented, so much so that when he finally spoke this past February for the first time in over 10 years it made national news. Just speaking sparks news stories.

So, it is never a surprise that he is in the news again. This time it is for something a good bit more substantial, possibly the biggest issue since his nomination hearings in 1991. He has said that the U.S. Constitution does not prohibit the individual 50 states from establishing official state religions. It came in a dissent in a 5 to 4 case that allowed prayers at town board meetings. Thomas simply says that the Establishment Clause is not included in the implications of the 14th Amendment. The 14 Amendment is used to justify that the U.S. Constitution applies to States, also. In his rather unusual view, the Establishment Clause says that Congress can’t make laws that establish an official national religion (that is a conventional view) and can’t make laws that interfere with a State making laws to establish an official state religion (that is a non-conventional view).

So, this coming November we all will be facing a crucial decision: Whom to elect for President? There are a lot of Bernie Sanders supporters who are unwavering in their devotion. That is truly great. Sanders views are close to my own Social Democrat* views, I admire him tremendously. But, he will not be the nominee. A lot of Bernie Sanders voters claim that they can’t vote for Hillary Clinton. I guess a lot of folks are not Democrats and feel no obligation to support the Democrats’ nominee. No foul there. But, come November an election will  be held and there will not be a viable Social Democrat on the ticket because there is no Social Democrat party in the US that could reasonably launch a viable national campaign. Therefore, Social Democrats have a decision to make between Clinton and Trump.

Look at the 4-4 Supreme Court. Who do you want deciding the upcoming cases on religious freedom, women’s rights, the influence of money in politics, gun laws, etc? Who do you want to pick the next several Supreme Court Justices, men and women who will have huge influence for the next 20 to 40 years? Do you really want Donald Trump to make that decision?

Come November, it will be time for the Social Democrats to hold their nose and vote for Hillary Clinton. In December, it will be a good time to then gather to form a new Social Democrat party in the USA. Then, start the hard work of getting local officials elected, state officials elected, and eventually national officials. You have to start in the minors to work up to the big leagues. Heck, maybe you bolster the already strong Green Party. If you are lucky, maybe you can get Bernie Sanders to be your founder and standard-bearer. Indeed, this may be Bernie Sanders long game, to use the contact lists he gains from the Democratic Party and his own list of workers and contributors to form the basis for a new Social Democrat Party.

*It is worth noting that there is a difference between Social Democrat and Democratic Socialist views. Social Democrats are strong believers in capitalism as the engine of an economy, but that the primary purpose of a society is to build a social system that is constantly supporting the strength of the next generation with education, health, housing and sustenance. Democratic Socialists want to eliminate the capitalist system as fundamentally incompatible with democratic ideals and with social support systems. They believe the state should own and operate the means of production, distribution, etc. So, they sound the same, but they are somewhat different.



Potemkin Schools

What an apt name for these for-profit schools. Just as the Grigory Potemkin is said to have created post-card ideal (but altogether fake) villages to impress Catherine II in her travels, these schools make it appear they are providing a genuine college education when often they are providing a grade in exchange for money, education is incidental, at best. The Department of Education has said it will be creating a loan forgiveness program for students who took on debt while attending schools that used deception to recruit. The degree of deception and other specifics are still to be determined.

What is contemptible is that we have a system that creates this in the first place. If we had free college education at state institutions as Bernie Sanders proposes, then there would be no air for these for-profit schools to breathe. And, that’s as it should be. These schools are warping the landscape of education, creating expectation of ‘grade for money’ for all higher education, and otherwise yielding evidence of the ineffectiveness of college education when actually these schools are the ineffective ones.

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Youth as Investment, Not as Profit Center

Bernie Sanders quite correctly points out that we have shifted from a nation that thinks of education in our children and youth as an investment in our nation’s future to one of treating it as a profit center. Exploitation of that as a profit center leads to many of the maladies that education currently faces. He shows that European nations largely understand the importance of investment, therefore offering free college education. If they can do it, we can, also. I mean, are Europeans more capable than we? Follow the link to read more at Occupy Democrats.