Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, July 8, 2017

MVNews this week:  Page B:3

B3 Mountain Views News Saturday, July 8, 2017 OPINION B3 Mountain Views News Saturday, July 8, 2017 OPINION 
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Dear Noble Rustics,

 Last November, you real and true Americans chose a New 

York City real estate developer as our 45th President because 

of your disdain for people who have done this sort of thing 

before. You wanted a fresh approach focused on Main Street, 

not Wall Street. A doer, not a talker. And we got a blowhard 

blaggard in lieu of an imperious pol. Close enough for horseshoes, nuclear war 
and populist politics. 

Speaking for all us commie pinko, yellow-rat bastards, let me apologize for all 
the ugly names you were called by members of the reality-based community. You 
know: foolish, naive, superstitious, stubborn, deluded. Bigoted, homophobic, 
misogynistic, obtuse and boorish. Mentally deficient, morally bankrupt and 
unable to discern fact from fiction. You probably remember. 

As it turns out, you farsighted rudimentaries were right, and we fancy pants 
intellectuals were wrong. In a mere six months the Golden Canopy has proved 
his worth. America is Great Again. Peace is at hand. Budget balanced. The 
administration is running like a fine-tuned machine. Yes, it’s being held together 
by rubber bands, paper clips and gum, perhaps, but at least they’re American-
made rubber bands, paper clips and gum. That’s our story and we’re sticking to it. 

The Tweeter of the Free World has reintroduced Troglodyte to the game. That 
he is to tact and diplomacy what spun glass models of the Eiffel Tower are to 
bowling balls is superfluous. Which means, not important. 

The Caustic Comet has you stately ruralites convinced that foreigners are 
different and different is bad. Yesterday was better than today, and the country 
is now blessedly focused on all our tomorrows occurring in black and white. 
Preferably white. 

Rich people receiving large tax cuts is important because rich people need more 
money. Poor people don’t need money. They’re poor and lived without it so long, 
even if some mistakenly did trickle down onto their heads, they wouldn’t know 
what to do with it. Probably waste it on food. 

Another major achievement of the Aerodynamic Coif was pulling out of the 
Paris Climate Accords. What’s the big deal about global warming anyhow? Who 
objects to longer summers? Like you care if some South Seas Island does or 
doesn’t sink, never to be seen again? Those rising oceans could come in handy to 
douse the raging wildfires soon to engulf us. 

Forget the Russians, Iranians and North Koreans, the true enemy of the people 
are hosting morning cable news shows. We know that now. The Cheeto-in-Chief 
only uses Twitter to level the playing field by striking back at the mainstream 
press, which insists on accurately reporting his words and actions. #Totallyunfair. 
And who needs health care? Since the major negative effects will descend on you 
prescient primitives, thanks for taking a bullet for the team. You really are goodol-
boys. Easy to understand your affection for the man you fondly describe as, 
“He’s no intellectual elite.” Certainly proved you right there. 

Yes, experts are overrated. Schooling is for sissies. Louder is better and deafening 
is best. And confusing deafening, is the most best, ever. If you aren’t cheating, you 
aren’t trying. And this administration is full of folks who are obviously trying 
very hard. You professed a desire to shake things up. So, one question: you shook 
up enough yet? 

Will Durst. 
Associate Mouthpiece of the Liberal Media Elite. 





Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf hit the nail on the head last week

when he refused to play along with the Trump administration’s

invasive and unwarranted request for unfettered access to his state’s 
voter rolls. 

“The right to vote is absolute and I have no confidence that you seek to bolster it,” Wolf, aDemocrat, wrote to Kris Kobach, vice chairman of President Donald Trump’s hilariouslymisnamed Election Integrity Commission.

If you’re just tuning in, Kobach, who is Kansas’ Republican Secretary of State and a 2018GOP gubernatorial hopeful, was on a fishing expedition for sensitive information aboutvoters from all 50 states. 

The data he sought included party affiliation, the last four digits of voters’ Social Securitynumbers and their voting history back to 2006.

The bipartisan panel has been charged with uncovering evidence of voter fraud inAmerican elections. 

It would be easy to accuse Wolf, who is up for re-election next year, of merely playingpolitics with an unpopular White House. And there may be some glimmer of truth to that.

But it is also true that 44 states have partly or fully rebuffed Kobach’s request.
Delbert Hosemann, Mississippi’s Republican Secretary of State, rejected the request,
telling one newspaper that Trump’s commission could “go jump in the Gulf of Mexicoand Mississippi is a great state to launch from.”

That bipartisan agreement stems from the simple fact that the request is not onlyunnecessarily invasive, but also because there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud inthe American electoral system.

That’s a conclusion that’s been buttressed by study after study, most notably, an important2014 analysis of voter fraud by Loyola Law School professor Justin Levitt.
Levitt analyzed 14 years’ worth of voting data and found just 31 possible incidents of fraudfrom roughly 241 fraudulent ballots, The Washington Post reported.

That’s out of, by the way, more than 1 billion votes cast during that same time frame, asCNN noted recently.

That mountain of evidence has not stopped Trump from claiming, without proof,
that millions of votes were cast illegally in his 2016 campaign against Democrat HillaryClinton. 

“In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if youdeduct the millions of people who voted illegally,” Trump tweeted last November.

(For the purposes of clarity, Trump did not win in a landslide and there were not millionsof illegal votes cast in the 2016 election.)

So what might Kobach, who is casting the widest possible of nets, be really after in thisunusually offensive request for voters’ personal information and habits?

It’s a red herring, intended to distract public attention away from the ongoing - andlegitimate - investigation into allegations of electoral meddling by Russia.

But something more pernicious might also be at work.

Given this White House’s heavy-handed tactics when it comes to dealing with politicalopponents, and past Republican efforts to disenfranchise whole swaths of the Americanelectorate, I’m going with the explanation offered by Myrna Perez at the Brennan Centerfor Justice at New York University Law School.

“The concern is that this going to be used to justify regressive and disenfranchisingfederal law,” Perez told The Washington Post.

Wolf raised similar concerns in his own letter to Kobach, arguing that such a wholesaledisclosure would violate state law and that there was no assurance that the data would be 
handled securely.

“Your request implies that your office may undertake a systematic effort to suppress thevote in Pennsylvania,” he wrote.

Trump narrowly won the Keystone State in 2016, prevailing over Clinton 48.2 percent to

47.5 percent.
It is not unrealistic to suggest that Kobach’s commission may be trying to identify futureopposition voters and then raise barricades to their participation in the electoral process.
And even if that is not the case, the fact remains that Kobach’s commission is in 
pernicious search of a solution to a non-existent problem. The data suggests that it’s a futileexercise. 

In the meantime, states must continue to resist this unreasonable exercise in federal 

© Copyright 2017 John L. Micek, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.
An award-winning political journalist, Micek is the Opinion Editor and Political Columnistfor PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Readers may follow him on Twitter @
ByJohnLMicek and email him at 

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Normally, the most notable part of a Supreme Court decision isnot the dissent. 

But Monday, Justice Sonia Sotomayor penned a dissent thatis much more interesting in its transparency than the relativelymild majority opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts in acase being watched by everyone interested in the tension betweenchurch and state, and the status of that crumbling wall.

In Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer, a seven-person majority held thatthe state of Missouri could not single out faith-based organizations for exclusion fromgrants that would have paid for property maintenance. The facts are fairly simple. TrinityLutheran is a church that also ran a preschool program. In 2012, it applied for a grantfrom a state program to make playgrounds safer. It’s request for funds to resurface itsplayground was denied based on a state constitutional provision that forbade the use oftaxpayer funding to religious institutions.

That provision was modeled on what is known as the “Blaine Amendment,” a proposedamendment to the U.S. Constitution based in an antipathy toward Catholics. Over acentury ago, in the wake of the Civil War, a Republican congressman named JamesBlaine proposed the amendment to prevent, in part, public money going to parochialschools that were filled with immigrant children.

Many states adopted the language of the original federal amendment, even though ithad failed to muster a two-thirds majority in the Senate. Some of these “mini-Blaines”
are still on the books. 

Which brings us to Missouri.

Trinity Lutheran sued the state, claiming that the only reason it was being deniedfunding was because it was a religious institution. And, as Roberts wrote in a “youthink?” moment, that’s pretty self-evident:

“There is no question that Trinity Lutheran was denied a grant simply because of whatit is … a church.” 

So the only question that remained was, is this exclusion constitutional?

Seven members of the court, including some of the more liberal justices, said “no.”
According to the chief justice, “the exclusion of Trinity Lutheran from a public benefit forwhich it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitutionall the same, and cannot stand.” 

I like the use of the word odious. Every now and then a Supreme Court justice hasto tell it like it is, and cut through that genteel lexicon that makes it difficult to believethat there are human beings on that highest of benches. This was not simply an illegal,
distasteful bit of discrimination against people of faith. It was odious.

Of course, not everyone would agree with that conclusion, including most of themembers of the ACLU. Every time there is a suggestion that public funds are goingto assist religious organizations, the fearsome prospect of a theocracy raises its head.
Whether it be a caliphate or Christendom, the church-state separatists are immediatelymobilized. 

And one of the true believers, excuse the pun, sits on the court. Sotomayor, a womanwho wore a Catholic school uniform for many years, railed against the majority decision.
Her words seem particularly over the top, since Roberts took great pains to limit themajority holding to cases involving “playground resurfacing,” and reserved judgmenton whether it could be extended to other types of discrimination. It was more aboutdiscriminating against entities solely because they were churches or, as Roberts wrote“churches need not apply.”

Sotomayor wasn’t buying that. She clearly saw the diagrammed sentence on the wall:

“If this separation [of church and state] means anything, it means that the governmentcannot … tax its citizens and turn that money over to houses of worship. … The courttoday blinds itself to the outcome this history requires and leads us instead to a placewhere separation of church and state is a constitutional slogan, not a constitutionalcommitment.” 

That’s powerful stuff.

Sotomayor sets this up as if the poor taxpayers of Missouri were being forced topay to prevent some Christian kid from scraping his knees on a rough playground.
She makes this seem as if it’s then a slippery slope to having taxpayers subsidizethe erection of a Mormon Temple, or buy new central air for a mosque. Funny,

Well actually, maybe not. While I strongly reject the idea that the wall between churchand state was built to keep religion out of the public square, it is clear that this case isn’tjust about playgrounds. It could change the way that we think about people and places offaith, and their relation to the secular state. 
2017 Christine Flowers. Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the PhiladelphiaDaily News, and can be reached at 

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