Sunday, January 1, 2017

EDITORIAL: CONSERVATIVE PHILOSOPHY AND THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT
 
 
I have never been able to understand why Republican candidates, Trump included, feel they must pander to fundamentalist Christians – aka “evangelicals”, the religious right, or the Tea Party – in order to be perceived as a true conservative.
 
It has always been my understanding that one of the basic tenets of conservatism is limited government – the belief that the government should intrude in one’s personal and business life as little as possible.  The role of government should be to provide citizens with the freedom necessary to pursue their own goals; conservatism emphasizes empowerment of the individual to solve problems.
 
The Republican Party has perverted conservative philosophy to include the tenets of extreme fundamentalist Christianity.
 
The Libertarian Party, whose core beliefs also emphasize limited government involvement, individual liberty, and increased personal and political freedoms, states “. . . we defend each person's right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest, and welcome the diversity that freedom brings. The world we seek to build is one where individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own ways, without interference from government or any authoritarian power.”
 
Contrary to the belief in limited government, “evangelicals” want the government to tell citizens how to live their lives by forcing the specific religious beliefs of fundamentalist Christianity on them.
 
Religious belief is personal and individual.  It should never be legislated, or used as the basis for legislation.  One’s religious beliefs may cause a person to become involved in political activity as a way of helping society and one’s “fellow man”, but one religious group’s specific religious beliefs and interpretations should NOT be made into law.
 
Murder is not illegal because God said, "Thou Shall Not Kill".  It is illegal because it deprives the victim's civil right to life as guaranteed by the Constitution.
 
If your religious beliefs instruct you that abortion is bad – then do not have an abortion.  If your religious beliefs tell you that homosexuality and same-sex marriage is wrong - then don’t practice homosexuality or marry someone who is the same sex as you.  But you cannot force your specific religious belief on your neighbor, regardless of any sincere desire to save him or her from the “fires of hell”.
 
The religious can certainly "preach the gospel" to those who will listen, but cannot make the government force non-believers to follow their perception of the gospel.
 
America is NOT a “Christian country” - it is not a religious country, period.  The idea of religious freedom and the separation of Church and State is a cornerstone of American democracy.  It is one of the main reasons the first settlers came here.  Separation of Church and State means that the government cannot tell a citizen how to worship or what to believe.  It also guarantees the right of citizens not to worship and not to believe.    
 
A while back I noticed the following observation on a sign displayed at a local Jersey shore eatery –
 
The last time we mixed politics with religion people got burned at the stake!
 
ROBERT D FLACH

 
TRUMP’S CONFLICT OF INTEREST PROBLEMS
 
In a post at THE SURLEY SUBGROUP David J. Herzig says that many experts “believe that President elect Trump’s ownership of active business assets, even in a blind trust, would violate, Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the Constitution which prevents the President from accepting ‘presents’ or ‘Emolument’ from foreign states”.
 
Herzig explains (highlights are mine) -
 
When a businessperson who runs many active businesses runs and wins for President, clearly there would be many second order problems associated with inherent conflicts between running corporations and the country.  When President-elect Trump won the office, many of these conflicts have bubbled to the surface.
 
For example, to avoid a conflict of interest between benefiting one’s personal holdings and the Country’s best interests, assets of the President are placed in a blind trust.  As many have pointed out, this works only when the President does not know the nature of the holdings.  Putting existing businesses into a blind trust does not stop the President from knowing the underlying assets of the trust.  The conflict is not ameliorated by trust structure.  Nor, by the way, would it be fixed if President elect Trump divests but the family continues to own the assets.”
 
The Array of Conflicts of Interest Facing the Trump Presidency” is discussed in detail by Larry Buchanan and Karen Yourish of THE NEW YORK TIMES.
 
This article reiterates (again, highlight is mine) –
 
Ethics experts warn that if Mr. Trump puts his children in control of operations but continues to own the company, he will remain vulnerable to charges that his actions as President are guided by personal financial interests.”
 
To be perfectly honest, I have absolutely no doubt that Trump intends that his actions as President be guided by personal financial interests.  Everything Trump does is about his own personal interests, financial and otherwise, regardless of the ethics, appropriateness, or legality of his actions.
 
Trump MUST sell off ALL of his investments before being sworn in as President and place the proceeds in a blind trust.  Nothing less is acceptable!
 
If this causes a financial loss for Trump it is just too bad.  He should have thought of this before deciding to run for President.

 
THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION THEME SONG
 
The “theme song”, if you will, of President John F Kennedy’s brief administration became “Camelot”, from the Broadway musical of the same name written by Alan Jay Lerner, one of Kennedy's schoolmates at Harvard University.  Jacqueline Kennedy inadvertently coined the phrase "Camelot" as a way to refer to her husband's presidency when she revealed in an interview in Life after the assassination that JFK liked to listen to music from the show.  There will be great presidents again,” she said, “but there will never be another Camelot.”
 
The “theme song” of a Trump Presidency will also come from “Camelot”.  It is “C'est Moi”, which is French for “it’s me”.  In the musical Lancelot, en route to Camelot to join Arthur’s Round Table, sings of the attributes needed of a member of such a prestigious and demanding organization – which boils down basically to perfection.  He asks, “But where in the world is there in the world a man so extraordinaire?”  His answer, obvious to him, is “C’est moi”.
 
Trump is the ultimate narcissist.  Donald Trump truly believes that in all God’s creation there is no man more “extraordinaire” than Donald Trump!  His sole motivation in seeking the Presidency, in doing anything, is “love of self” and certainly not “love of country”.