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Are conservative Christian theology and liberal politics compatible?
Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Obama Health Care Reform Supreme Court Prediction
Mood:  smelly
Topic: Political and economic

For my first post here in over a year, I make the following prediction regarding the Supreme Court's upcoming decision on the Obama health care law:  The Court will find that it lacks jurisdiction of the case at this time.  A bare majority will believe it is unconstitutional. But enough of these will also believe that it (or, at least, the tax penalty provision of it) is a "tax" that, when joined with the supporters of the law who also believe it is a "tax," the only strict holding a majority of the court will reach will be that the tax injunction act deprives the Court of juridsiction to decide the case.  (Recall that I said two years ago that the real constitutional problem with the law is that it imposes a tax payable to private corporations at a rate set by those corporations, rather than by Congress.) That will leave us going into the election with a health care law, and health care system, that is presumed to be unconstitutional, but is still on the books until the first time the IRS tries to impose the tax penalty to enforce the individual mandate (at which time the unfortunate taxpayer may sue for a refund and get the law invalidated). The fist time the Court will actually have jurusdiction to reach the constitutionality of the law is 2014.


Posted by ian_j_site2 at 11:58 PM EDT
Friday, 24 June 2011
New web page for my book reviews
Topic: my books

Our Oneness in Christ: Book Reviews

I'm not writing about politics right now--too depressing!  The hope for the world is in the Church.

Posted by ian_j_site2 at 11:55 PM EDT
Tuesday, 22 March 2011
A Disclaimer about my Reported Association with the World Bank
Topic: legal matters

It has come to my attention that Google Books' entry for my book Our Oneness in Christ indicates that I, Ian Johnson, am a Vice President at the World Bank!  This never has been true.  Indeed, the only international banker I have ever met was a retired international banker, whom I met in Topeka, Kansas (hardly a center of international finance!) over 20 years ago. My accurate résumé is posted here.

 My research shows that, as late as 2006, the publication date of my book, there was a man named Ian Johnson who was either Vice President for Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development or Vice President of the Wordld Bank's Program for Sustainable Development.  Both titles are used in different online documents.  But I am NOT THAT Ian Johnson. Google is wrong.

Posted by ian_j_site2 at 10:06 PM EDT
Wednesday, 3 November 2010
General Election 2010: Kansas Constitution no longer equates mental illness and crime
Topic: Political and economic

Success!  Kansas voters overwhelmingly approved Constitutional Amendment Question No. 2 yesterday!

Mental illness is no longer equated with crime in the state constitution! 

Posted by ian_j_site2 at 8:21 PM EDT
Saturday, 23 October 2010
It's about time Kansas quit treating mental illness as an ongoing crime: Constitutional Ballot Question No. 2
Topic: Political and economic

Article 5, section 2 of the Kansas Constitution now reads:

Disqualification to vote. The legislature may, by law, exclude persons from voting because of mental illness or commitment to a jail or penal institution. No person convicted of a felony under the laws of any state or of the United States, unless pardoned or restored to his civil rights, shall be qualified to vote.

The state constitution thus  obviously authorizes the state legislature to disenfranchise anyone who is being treated for any mental illness diagnosed by a properly licensed medical provider--even common depression or "religious psychosis" (a daignosis some would apply to anyone who is serious about religion).  But just as disturbing is the fact that this constitutional provision also includes all mental illnesses in the same class as crimes.  That is, it treats all mental illnesses as ongoing crimes, punishable, should the legislature so choose, by the loss of the right to vote.

 The mischief that might be possible under the current langauge  in only a slightly more toxic political climate is also noteworthy. The same legislature that could deny  psychiatric patients the vote because they are diagnosed (for legitimate therapeutic reasons) with schizophrenia or common depression could also deny the vote to citizens who are diagnosed by properly-qualified medical personnel for political reasons with such contrived maladies as "religious psychosis," "pathological socialist thought disorder" (remember the McCarthy era?) or "homosexual behavior disorder." I consider leaving this invitation in the state constitution dangerous.

 However, Constitutional Amendment Question No. 2 will give Kansas voters the opportunity to remove the words "mental illness or" from this section of the Kansas Constitution, and so to remove mental illness from the same constitutional class as crime.

It's about time.  Vote yes on Ballot Question No. 2.  

Further information about the ballot question can be found in this Ballotpedia article.

It should also be noted that I personally will vote against retention of three Kansas Supreme Court justices (Justices Nuss, Beier and Luckert) because they joined in promulgating a set of Kansas Suupreme Court rules in July 2009 that moved in exactly the opposite direction from Amendment  Question No. 2--i.e., toward treating mental illnesses EXACTLY like crimes, at least in attorney licensure proceedings.  But that's only what I'm going to do.




Posted by ian_j_site2 at 3:44 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 23 October 2010 9:46 PM EDT
Monday, 18 October 2010
Why the Obama coalition collapsed--it abandoned its foundation
Topic: Political and economic

It's not hard to answer the question the press has been raising in recent weeks about why the Obama coalition collapsed.  It collapsed because it abandoned its foundation of actually trying to collaborate WITH the public. 

During the campaign and the transition, the emphasis was on networks of small, local groups that asked for input on major public issues and gave the appearance (false, as it turned out) of actually tring to listen to public input.  The form of the campaign and transition got large nmbers of people to work for the President by giving the foot soldiers an effective illusion of real influence.  It appeared the candidate, later the President-elect, was actually listening.

But something went wrong shortly after the inauguration.  The President stopped listening, even to the public input he had appeared to receive so well before the inauguration.  On issue after issue, once Congress was in session, he preferred politics as usual--though with a Democratic majority that hasn't been seen in some years--over the real change in the very way of doing things in Washington he had previously seemed to promise.   Admittedly, he was aided in reneging on his apparent promise by a Senate which could not do ANYTHING without 60 votes, where the President's party only had 59.  Nevertheless, he stopped listening.

This is not to say that the local groups were disbanded. No, they were preserved, to the extent they could be held together, and the individuals who had enrolled in them to this day continue to receive several e-mails per week urging them to contribute money or contact members of Congress to implement the President's program.  (I know.  I receive these e-mails!)  But the President has quit listening to the small groups, and now focuses on his party's corporate benefactors.

One result of this has been an economic recovery program that very quickly stopped trying to help distressed individuals in favor of an application of the Democratic version of trickle-down economics.  The underlying theory of the Democratic version of trickle-down is the same as the Republican version--if we give enough money to our big corporate friends, eventually they will let some of it trickle down to create some jobs.  Only the list of big corporate friends and the preferred means of making the gift differ, a little bit, between the two parties.  (Republicans tend to favor relieving their friends of taxes others pay, whereas Democrats tend to favor taxing everyone  and giving the money back to their friends directly). The problem with trickle-down, in either partisan form, is that the bigh corporate friends of those in power are only too happy to use the money to create jobs in other countries, where labor is cheaper.  So the effort to build employment through trickle-down is doomed to failure until American labor "catches down" with labor in the Third World.  This is not what the President's supporters wanted, if he had really been listening two years ago.

Another result of this was the health care reform package that was actually enacted.  While it has many good aspects, fundamentally it is designed not to provide affordable health care to normal people but to guarantee the profits of the health insurance industry.  Its centerpiece is its requirement that everyone buy the health insurance industry's product after 2013. The industry, meanwhile, is to be left free to collusively set the price of that product.  (The indutry kept its anitrust law exemption).    This also is not exactly what most of the President's supporters expected two years ago.  

These are only two examples of politics as usual winning out, and the President not listening to the people who elected him.  It is not hard to see why his defunct coalition is not helping him keep control of Congress this year.




Posted by ian_j_site2 at 11:43 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 19 October 2010 8:29 AM EDT
Tuesday, 27 July 2010
The corporate conscience and the end of the U.S. middle class
Topic: Political and economic

This posting is in response to the Yahoo Finance article entitled "The Middle Class in America is Radically Shrinking.  Here are the Stats to Prove it."  The problem identified is that the American middle class is disappearing, resulting in a polarization of the US population into the very rich 1 or 2 percent and the 99 percent poor service sector servants.  The Yahoo commentator, it seems to me, has a part of the cause right, but has not completely identified the causes.  The prmary cause, as I see it, is the transition from the historic situation in which the economy was run by rich people to the current situtation in which the economy is run by rich corporations.

There was a reason the framers of the Constitution, and nearly everyone in the Federal and various state governments in the U.S. until about 1870, deeply distrusted corporations. In the early days of our republic, corporations could be created only by a special act of Congress or a state legislature, and were created only for carefully limited purposes for a set period of years.  The framers distrusted corporations because they are not human. Individual wealthy people, like the framers of the Constitution themselves (all of whom were wealthy and influential men) have consciences and normal human ties to their community and nation.  Corporations are artificial people that have no conscience, no ties to the community, and no motives except their own continued existence, expanding power, and, above all, profit.  We are seeing the fruit of going completely and unreservedly corporate in the destruction of our middle class and the impoverishment of almost all of us for the benefit of immortal corporations. 

See my Warning Concerning Idolatry, first posted October 8, 2000, for a related warning about trust in corporations.  I've been saying this for some time!  


Posted by ian_j_site2 at 1:55 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 28 July 2010 9:51 AM EDT
Sunday, 18 July 2010
Christians should pray that Muslims' daily prayers will be answered!
Topic: Positive prayers and posi

Observant Muslims offer Salat prayers five times a day, repeating the same core prayer each time, with some variable additions from the Qur'an.  At the heart of the Salat prayers is Al Fathihah, the first Surah of the Qur'an, which I present here in Yusuf Ali's English understanding:

(1)In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful;

(2)Praise be to God,
the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds;

(3) Most Gracious; Most Merciful;

(4) Master of the Day of Judgment.

(5) Thee do we worship,
thine aid do we seek.

(6) Show us the straight way,

(7) The way of those on whom
Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace
Those whose (portion)
Is not wrath,
and who go not astray.

Qur’an, Surah 1.

I believe as Christians we should pray that, as our Muslim friends, and Muslim world leaders, pray this prayer sincerely, God would graciously answer their prayers.  In this regard, note particularly ayas 6 and 7: "Show us the straight way, the way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed  Thy Grace, those whose (portion) is not wrath, and who go not astray."  On its face, this is a prayer for wisdom, a prayer to be shown the right way.

Of course, the Bible speaks to prayers for wisdom.  James tells us that "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."  James 1:5 (KJV). This text doesn't distinguish between Christians and others, it says that God is willing to give wisdom to anyone who asks.  The next few verses explain that the only qualification for asking and receiving direction from God is being willing to listen and obey:

But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

Bible, James 1:5-8 (KJV).

Bible, James 1:6-8.

God promises wisdom, if we will follow it. But He doesn't give advice.

Jesus himself also said that the only qualification for knowing the truth is willingness to follow it:

Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.

Bible, John 7:16-17 (KJV).

Bible, John 7:16-17 (KJV).

So, it would appear that, as Muslims pray to be shown the straight path, we should pray that God will answer these prayers.  May the best understanding of God win! 


Posted by ian_j_site2 at 6:41 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 18 July 2010 6:50 PM EDT
Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Disability Discrimination: Governents should Comply with Their Own Rules
Topic: Political and economic

I have changed the emphasis of the web site that shares space with this blog.  In the past, it was partly to seek state compliance with Federal anti-discrimination law in the administration of attorney licensure, and partly to try to change the long-term outcome in my own individual case.  I have now given up on my own case as a complete lost cause.  The focus of my site is now totally on obtaining the compliance of the Kansas Supreme Court in general, in future cases invoilving other people. The government--including the state courts--should itself comply with the rules it imposes on the rest of us!

To this end, I have completely rewritten the site and added links to a large quantity of research materials--mostly federal statutes and regulations available for free from Federal Government websites and case law available for free from Google Scholar--for the benefit of others who may want to attempt to challenge in Federal court the new (July 2009) Kansas Rules Relating to Admission of Attorneys.   I remain willing to join with others, who have some reasonable chance of ultimate licensure if they win, and to participate fully in such a challenge.  But it would be an exercise in pure futility for me to attempt such a challenge alone.

My newly-rewritten site can be found at Disability discrimination in attorney licensure in Kansas, Warning and Information for future applicants and their attorneys. 

Posted by ian_j_site2 at 7:39 PM EDT
Wednesday, 10 March 2010
A psalm speaking to politics, politicians and their promises
Topic: Where in the Bible

Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men who cannot save.  When their spirits depart, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them--the Lord, who remains faithful for ever. 

He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry.  The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous. 

The Lord watches over the alien, and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

The Lord reigns forever...

Psalm 147:3-10a (NIV). 


Posted by ian_j_site2 at 8:29 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 10 March 2010 8:37 PM EST

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