Government

U.S. Supreme Court says First Amendment applies only to the Federal government!

In a column a couple of weeks ago entitled “Ouch and sorry, but our Forefathers didn’t prohibit Nativity scenes on public land, prayer in school, etc.” the Ole Seagull made some comments and asked some questions based on a Letter to the Editor by Bill Stephenson. For the most part they related the truthfulness and accuracy of some of Stephenson’s comments relating to what our “Founding Fathers” did or meant by putting the words “an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”  in the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Stephenson responded to that column with another Letter to the Editor. Because of the Ole Seagull’s sincere belief that this discussion transcends religion and goes to the core of how the Federal Government has become so involved in our daily lives, on an ever increasing level, he believes it timely and appropriate to continue the dialogue. Comments made by Bill Stephenson from his letter are preceded by his initials “BS” and the response of The Ole Seagull by the initials “TOSG.”

BS:“This time he wanted us to believe that the First Amendment to the Constitution was only intended to apply to ‘Congress.’”

TOSG: That has to be a Freudian Slip because what the Ole Seagull actually did was point out, that as written “the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits ‘Congress,’ from making a law ‘respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” He then asked two questions, “Who does it apply to, local school districts, cities, states, counties” or “Congress?” and “Isn’t that the same Congress defined in Section 1 of Article I of the U.S. Constitution?”

One can only assume that BS read the First Amendment and Section 1 of Article I and reached the same logical conclusion most reasonable persons reading those words would reach. That conclusion, using the words of BS himself is “that the First Amendment to the Constitution was only intended to apply to ‘Congress.’”

BS: “Now, I don’t want to spread ‘misinformation’ here, but I’m pretty sure the ‘Ole Seagull’ was also asking us to believe that State and Local governments were never intended by our ‘Founding Fathers’ to respect any of those rights as well.”

TOSG: Absolutely.

BS: “I certainly hope I’m wrong about this because who knows how many might ask, ‘That can’t be right, can it?’”

TOSG: It doesn’t make any difference how many ask because the answer is still the same, “Of course it’s right;” that is, if the opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court has any bearing on the issue. In terms of “those rights,” as evidenced by its decision in the 1833 case “Barron v City of Baltimore,” the Supreme Court held that “These amendments contain no expression indicating an intention to apply them to the state governments. This court cannot so apply them.”

BS: “It would serve the ‘Ole Seagull’ well to finish reading the First Amendment, and while he has the Constitution out he might read the Fourteenth Amendment too… “Congress added it [14th amendment] about one hundred and fifty years ago to make sure that no one would get confused again about where your rights as a U.S. citizen are protected…”

TOSG: The 14th amendment, ratified in 1868, had nothing to do with what the “Founding Fathers” did or did not do. They were in their graves.

Nor was there any “confusion” at the time of its ratification about who the Bill of Rights, the first amendment in this case, applied to. The U.S. supreme court in the case of “United States v. Cruikshank,” held that “The first amendment to the Constitution prohibits Congress from abridging ‘the right of the people to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.’ This, like the other amendments proposed and adopted at the same time, was not intended to limit the powers of the State governments in respect to their own citizens, but to operate upon the National government alone.” (Underline added)

To an Ole Seagull there doesn’t appear to be any confusion at all, only consistency. It’s probably appropriate to note that this decision was delivered in 1875 about seven years after the 14th amendment was ratified.

Some might ask, “Then how did we get from there to the National government’s growing infringement into our local government, churches, schools, and daily lives?” That’s an article for another day.

Ouch and sorry, but our Forefathers didn’t prohibit Nativity scenes on public land, prayer in school, etc.

In a recent “Letter to the Editor,” published in the Taney County Times, Bill Stephenson of Kirbyville said, “Both Betty Edwards and Gary Groman [a.k.a. the Ole Seagull] recently opined that my and everyone else’s children should be taught in our public schools to be Christians according to what I must suppose is their personal interpretation of what that means.” As to Stephenson’s assertion that the Ole Seagull wrote that his “and everyone else’s children should be taught in our public schools to be Christians according to what I must suppose is their personal interpretation,” put in its kindest light, the Ole Seagull would suggest that Stephenson is inaccurate.

In a recent column entitled, “An Ole Seagull’s ‘Separation of Church and State 101” The Ole Seagull stated “his basic belief that the ‘created’ have no power or authority to change the laws of the ‘Creator.’” He continued, “The created either follow the laws of the Creator or don’t and must live with the result(s)”

The word “school” was mentioned in the column twice, the first being in connection with a rhetorical question and its answer. The question was, “If the U.S. Constitution, the document upon which our government is based, says there should be no prayer in schools, no nativity scenes on public property, that the Ten Commandments cannot be displayed in public buildings, Christmas should be called ‘Winter Solstice,’ etc., shouldn’t that be the law of the land?” The immediate answer was “Absolutely, and if a frog had wings it should be able to fly but a frog doesn’t have wings and the Constitution contains no such language!”

The second mention of the word “school” was contained in the following paragraph, “Can any reasonably thinking person really believe that the same Congress that encouraged the ‘people of the United States’ to acknowledge ‘with grateful hearts the many single favors of Almighty God,’ intended that the First Amendment they had proposed, not two months prior, be used as a tool to take prayer out of schools, remove the ten commandments from the walls of all public buildings etc.? It flies in the face of logic.”

It really takes a special thought process to get from those two paragraphs, or anything else in the column, to the point of saying the Ole Seagull wrote that Stephenson’s “and everyone else’s children should be taught in our public schools to be Christians according to what I must suppose is their personal interpretation of what that means.” From an Ole Seagull’s perspective, as illustrated in the instant situation, the results from that type of process are based on “A fountain bubbling over with misinformation.”

And the “bubbling over with misinformation” doesn’t stop there. Stephenson goes on to say, “Our nations forefathers knew this was a problem too. Who could they possibly appoint to determine what must be taught, and how?… The only right answer to religious teaching is for government to stay out of it. Completely out of it. So they addressed it in the very first amendment to our Constitution with this law of our land: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

Wow, so that was the rational for the first amendment? That’s the first time the Ole Seagull has ever heard that rational expressed and, for what it matters, in an Ole Seagull’s opinion it is about as valid as what Stephenson said the Ole Seagull wrote.

As originally written and specifically stated, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits “Congress,” from making a law “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Who does it apply to, local school districts, cities, states, counties” or “Congress?”

Isn’t that the same Congress defined in Section 1 of Article I of the U.S. Constitution? Some might ask, “How did we get from a prohibition against the Congress of the United States doing something down to local government entities, taking prayer out of local schools, removing the Ten Commandments from city buildings, or prohibiting the display of Nativity scenes on public land or a public prayer at a meeting or football game? Come to think of it, why does it make any difference? One thing is for sure though; if that was the intention of our Nations Forefathers it was well hidden and not adhered to for well over the first 100 years of our Nation’s history.

An Ole Seagull’s “Separation of Church and State 101”

From the get-go, the Ole Seagull must state his basic belief that the “created” have no power or authority to change the laws of the “Creator.” The created either follow the laws of the Creator or don’t and must live with the result(s) of their decision.

Obviously, who or what the “Creator” is plays a critical role. To an Ole Seagull, even one in the winter of his years and with all his glaring faults, the answer is contained within the words, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” That “Creator” is God.

“Come on Seagull, do you really believe that God created everything?” Absolutely! Through the spring, summer, fall, and into the winter of his years, from the sun coming up every morning to its setting every evening, and all that naturally transpires in between, he has observed an orderliness to the universe that continually testifies to the certainty of God’s creation and His blessing.

“Next you’re going to tell us that you believe that “the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” From an Ole Seagull’s perspective it sure beats the alternative of a Godless “inbreeding monkey evolution” left to itself without God’s hand to direct it.

“Well, God didn’t create this country?” Actually He did. Relatively speaking, it just took a “few years” for Columbus, to “discover” that which God had created and which, at the time of his discovery, was occupied by “Native Americans” who had discovered it centuries before.

“Come on Seagull, what I meant is that God didn’t fight the Revolutionary War which established us as an independent nation or write the U.S. Constitution upon which its government is based.” As an Ole Seagull understands it, that war like all others before it and since, was fought by beings that God created as they exercised their option of free choice. In like manner the U.S. Constitution was written.
“If the U.S. Constitution, the document upon which our government is based, says there should be no prayer in schools, no nativity scenes on public property, that the Ten Commandments cannot be displayed in public buildings, Christmas should be called “Winter Solstice,” etc., shouldn’t that be the law of the land?” Absolutely, and if a frog had wings it should be able to fly but a frog doesn’t have wings and the Constitution contains no such language!

“Gotcha there Seagull, how about the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which says, among other things, ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.’ ” Are we talking about the same First Amendment that Congress proposed, as part of the Bill of Rights on September 25, 1789? “That’s the one.” Was that same Congress still in session, not two months later, on November 16, 1789? “Sure it was.  Why?”

On November 16, 1789, the First President of the United States, George Washington, issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation.  In that proclamation he stated, “Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint committee requested me to ‘recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanks-giving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many single favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.’”

Can any reasonably thinking person really believe that the same Congress that encouraged the “people of the United States” to acknowledge “with grateful hearts the many single favors of Almighty God,” intended that the First Amendment they had proposed, not two months prior, be used as a tool to take prayer out of schools, remove the ten commandments from the walls of all public buildings etc.? It flies in the face of logic.

“Well, the Supreme Court of the United States says it does!” Is that the same “Supreme Court” that issued the Dred Scott Decision? “I guess so. What was that decision about?” The fallibility of mans law, the imperfection of those who interpret it, and a testimony to what can happen when the created change the laws of the Creator.

Abraham Lincoln’s Black inferiority White superiority quote from Fourth Lincoln Douglas Debate

The Ole Seagull has heard variations of the following quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln many times. This quote is verbatim from the “The National Park Service web site’s “Lincoln Home Historical Site’s Page” entitled: “Fourth Debate Charleston Illinois:”

“I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, [applause]—that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will for ever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”

To provide context for the above quote, the whole section of Lincoln’s speech covering the quote, as contained on the same site and page mentioned above is included:

“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: It will be very difficult for an audience so large as this to hear distinctly what a speaker says, and consequently it is important that as profound silence be preserved as possible.While I was at the hotel to-day, an elderly gentleman called upon me to know whether I was really in favor of producing a perfect equality between the negroes and white people. [Great Laughter.] While I had not proposed to myself on this occasion to say much on that subject, yet as the question was asked me I thought I would occupy perhaps five minutes in saying something in regard to it. I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, [applause]-that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied every thing. I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. [Cheers and laughter.] My understanding is that I can just let her alone. I am now in my fiftieth year, and I certainly never have had a black woman for either a slave or a wife. So it seems to me quite possible for us to get along without making either slaves or wives of negroes. I will add to this that I have never seen, to my knowledge, a man, woman or child who was in favor of producing a perfect equality, social and political, between negroes and white men. I recollect of but one distinguished instance that I ever heard of so frequently as to be entirely satisfied of its correctness-and that is the case of Judge Douglas’s old friend Col. Richard M. Johnson. [Laughter.] I will also add to the remarks I have made (for I am not going to enter at large upon this subject,) that I have never had the least apprehension that I or my friends would marry negroes if there was no law to keep them from it, [laughter] but as Judge Douglas and his friends seem to be in great apprehension that they might, if there were no law to keep them from it, [roars of laughter] I give him the most solemn pledge that I will to the very last stand by the law of this State, which forbids the marrying of white people with negroes. [Continued laughter and applause.] I will add one further word, which is this: that I do not understand that there is any place where an alteration of the social and political relations of the negro and the white man can be made except in the State Legislature-not in the Congress of the United States-and as I do not really apprehend the approach of any such thing myself, and as Judge Douglas seems to be in constant horror that some such danger is rapidly approaching, I propose as the best means to prevent it that the Judge be kept at home and placed in the State Legislature to fight the measure. [Uproarious laughter and applause.] I do not propose dwelling longer at this time on this subject.”

Ten reasons why an Ole Seagull would be toast in politics

Occasionally, someone asks, “Why don’t you run for office?” To that the Ole Seagull most often replies that he is unelectable. The next question is, “Why?” The answer to that is simple, call it a brain defect or whatever, but the Ole Seagull does not have the ability or self control to substitute being politically correct or saying what people want to hear from what he believes.

Now ask yourself could you honestly vote for a person who has these views:

1. Not one more penny of Taney county funds should be spent on the East West Corridor Road in Taney County, or any other major transportation project until there is at least a 10 year plan in place prioritizing Taney County’s transportation needs.

2. The period between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 each year should be declared “Merry Christmas” days at both the Taney county and city of Branson levels. Both should do everything in their power to make Branson the place to come for those wanting to celebrate a traditional Christmas. We market “Christmas” because we want the tourist dollars, but when it comes to standing up for “Christmas” our elected leaders tremble with political correctness and fear of a lawsuit from the ACLU.

3. Believes that Branson’s live shows should be declared as an “economic foundational industry” and, at a minimum, require that at least 33 percent of all publically funded marketing be used to promote Branson shows that operate at least two weeks a month for eight months out of the year.

4. Believes that 25 percent of the portion of the Branson Tourism Infrastructure Tax, which may be used the building, maintenance, and operation of the city’s infrastructure should be used to subsidize the water and sewer rates of all Branson residents and businesses except the Ole Seagull’s.

5. The representation on the Branson Lakes Area Tourism Community Enhancement District (TCED) should be changed to one representative from Stone County, and six from the Taney County Branson area, two appointed by Taney County and four by Branson. Currently, on the seven person board, there are two from Indian Point and another from Stone Country for a total of three which is ridiculously disproportional to the actual taxes Indian Point and the portion of Stone County in the TCED pay.

6. Believes the definition of “alien,” stated in “The Merriam Webster OnLine Dictionary” defined as “relating, belonging, or owing allegiance to another country or government” is accurate.

7. Would work to expand the opportunities for aliens complying with the documentation and other applicable requirements to come into the country and work for a specific employer for a period of eight months after which they would be required to leave the country for a period of at least 60 days before being eligible to reapply.

8. Believes that the tax dollars of U.S. Citizens should not be spent on the medical care or the giving of any other benefit that a U.S. Citizen is entitled to any illegal alien except as is required save their life in the event of a medical emergency.

9. Believes that English should be the National language and the only language used on ballots, government forms, etc.

10. See what he means, no need to go on, politically the Ole Seagull’s toast

It’s taxing situation that could increase taxes “with a vengeance”

There has been an ongoing battle between the Missouri Tax Commission and Taney County that could increase taxes “with a vengeance” and has cost the tax payers of Taney County hundreds of thousands of dollars. It revolves around the way real property taxes have been assessed and will be assessed in Taney County.

Anyone watching the fiasco going on between the Taney County Assessor’s Office and the State Tax Commission has to cringe as they watch what has happened and look forward to what will happen. As the Ole Seagull sat in some early meetings it was like a comedic farce filled with smoke and mirrors and “he said she said.”

But, at the end of the day it was more “dark comedy” than funny because, from the outset, it was obvious that, regardless of the outcome, it was going to cost the taxpayers of Taney County money and in the end, for most, higher real estate taxes. In fact, for some it has already started.
If, a taxpayer lives in a condominium, as the Ole Seagull does, the chances are very good that the assessed value of the condo went up at least 20 percent on the most recent assessment notice received. In general that translates to the payment of a substantial increase in property tax on the property.

Does it take an “Assessing Solomon” to figure out that, in the vast majority of cases, if a piece of property, condo or otherwise, was properly assessed previously to the last assessment notice that the property could not possibly have increased in value 20 percent during the last two years. Why there is even a rumor that condos were singled out for this special treatment even though that couldn’t possibly be the case if the assessments were done in a professional, fair and equal manner, but were they?

For what it’s worth, an Ole Seagull would estimate that the issue has already cost the taxpayers of Taney County between $600,000 and $700,000. These are reimbursable funds that the State Tax Commission did not pay because of their allegation that the Taney County Assessor’s office is not properly doing its job properly. Anyone want to guess who is making up the difference? Can we say, “The tax payers of Taney County?”

In the opinion of an Ole Seagull, the sad thing is that when the issue is finally resolved, the majority of those residents living in older homes and businesses with older buildings could be paying much higher real estate taxes than they were when the situation started. What a travesty.

How different things might have been if Taney County had admitted the obvious, said to the Missouri Tax Commission our assessments are too low and asked how it could work with them to get the assessments up to where they should be with a minimum of impact on Taney County’s property owners, particularly those on low and fixed incomes. Instead, our assessor and County Commissioners chose to fight a battle very few, including an Ole Seagull really understood.

The potential results however are very clear. The headline in the June 3 edition of the “Taney County Times” proclaimed just how clear saying, “Taxpayers could see 30 percent increase in property taxes.” An Ole Seagull is just curious, “How could that possibly be happening if the assessments done in the past were done properly?” One can only wonder if the same type of professionalism, seeming arbitrary conduct, and process was used in the past as was used on the blanket assessment of Taney County’s condominiums.